Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mayflower ancestry and what have you

Today I finally had a moment to satisfy the vague curiosity I had been feeling about my Mayflower ancestors in anticipation of Thanksgiving. My Pilgrim line and Nate's both come from the same child of Elizabeth Tilley and John Howland, but I couldn't remember exactly which child or how it came down to me. I knew the Howlands came from my mom's side, and I thought through the Eppersons, but there are still about 14 zillion possibilities of direction even within those parameters. It's times like those that this blog really earns its keep. Its keep is exactly zero dollars and minimal effort, so you should be pretty relieved that it's worth it. 

I clicked on the Mayflower label, my Mayflower post came up, and I refreshed my memory ever so slightly. That Mayflower post was worth exactly the zero dollars it earns; it was so sketchy about the directness of the line that it took me about twenty minutes of looking at my family tree to find the link. But I found it!
See that Ammi Chipman in the very bottom right? That is the brother of Nate's ancestor, and their dad was the Howlands' grand-something-son. It is because the daughters of that line are my ancestors that I couldn't find the line. They turn from Chipmans to Simmonses to Atkinsons so fast I missed them the first few times I looked. Eventually, as I mentioned in the Mayflower post, my great-grandma Irva Shurtleff Epperson was born. 

Funnily and strangely, as coincidences are, I found a John Carver in my line during my search who was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1661. (Cue the laugh track.) It's funny because John Howland, my Pilgrim man, came on the Mayflower to Plymouth as a servant to the Governor named John Carver--the guy who wrote the Mayflower Compact. They came (as you will remember or Wikipedia will remind you) in 1620, so this John Carver I'm related to is clearly not the same John Carver, and it's really not remarkable since both those names were fairly common in England just then (and now, and always, I assume). But it is a fun coincidence and it gave me a couple minutes' research to do.

The moral of this story is, what's the point of all this? I know, that's not even a moral! I can't remember who came from where and when, and I mix up their stories, and I forget which pioneers came from which pilgrims, and I get confused when Swedish ancestors move to Copenhagen, Denmark before the emigrate (that one sent me on a convoluted tangent today), and to make matters worse, it all comes out a little confusedly and boring when I write it up here. I think I should take a writing lesson from Bill Bryson on how to relay lots and lots frankly useless facts in a way that makes them sound amusing and even potentially worthwhile. Now, now, don't worry; the actual reason I do any research into my family history is just for my personal edification. I like doing it, and to be honest I am a little embarrassed to even say it's "research," because I don't uncover anything new. It's interesting to me, even if there is no visible point to it. It's better than building ships in bottles or giant lego cities, right? (Correction--building ships in bottles is awesome and now I can't stop thinking about how much I want a ship in a bottle. Maybe a mini Mayflower, for the Howlands sake!)

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