This is an analogy that helps me better understand the big picture concerning how each of us is descended.
When the results of the thousands of hours of historical connecting I do is displayed visually, I see maps. These are maps of paths leading to and from what I think of as intersections, and some of these paths can be followed in the same general direction through more than 70 intersections.
An intersection is a family group. Following along with the map analogy, each intersection has two paths leading in from the north; the mother’s line and the father’s line. Each intersection has as many paths leading out to the south as the number of children of that couple (which could range between zero and, according to Guinness, 69). The paths of unmarried children are dead-ends. The paths of married children lead to another intersection.
A family with ten children would create an intersection of 12 paths. Two of these lead to the north, or back into the past, and ten of these lead to the south, or toward the present time.
Every married child is located in two intersections (actually it could be more, considering multiple marriages, but we’ll skip that level of complexity for now). She or he appears in the intersection that contains her or his parents and siblings, and she or he also appears in the intersection that contains her or his spouse and children (if any).
So while I’m mapping out tens of thousands of intersections, I think of them in terms of probability. That is, the probability of a person of today passing through that particular intersection as she or he follows her or his pathways to the past through ancestors.
Although quantifying them is difficult, they fall somewhere within a range of zero to ten. The rating depends on the number of children and the period of time. In your search for ancestors, you will never pass though the intersection of a couple without children, so this is clearly a “0”. For me, of all the millions of intersections that have been created this century, I only pass through a maximum of three (my parents’ and both sets of grandparents’). Therefore, all intersections created this century are basically a “0” for me, as well as for most other people searching for ancestors.
But the possibility begins climbing in the previous century, and accelerates with each earlier century. Considering the number of intersections each of us passes through over time, the probability of passing through some specific intersections must reach very close to 100% at some point a number of centuries ago. These intersections would be rated “10”.
To gain perspective, consider Mayflower descendants. According to the Mayflower Society, the 26 Mayflower families (intersections) with known descendants account for 35 million people living today. On average, that would be 1.3 million people who pass through each of those intersections from just four centuries ago. What would the numbers increase to four or six centuries before then? Also, those 35 million Mayflower descendants pass through a very large number of additional intersections that were created during the time of the Pilgrims’ arrival.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, it appears that a large number of intersections with a half dozen children, created before the end of the previous millennium, would be rated at least a “7” and maybe as much as a “9”.
If this is true, what does this suggest about intersections that were created B.C.? Could it be that most of them, or at least most of those with grandchildren, would rate very close to a “10” for all of us?