Simultaneous Ancestors

One of the common misconceptions about ancestors is that they are all along a straight line into the past. This leads to statements like “My ancestors are from _______ (Ireland, Italy, etc.)”; made with the absolute certainty they that only came from that one country.

When I tell some people they also had many ancestors from other places, they often stare at me as if I had just told them they had ancestors from Jupiter, and assume I’ve been out in the sun too long.

I have ancestors who came to America from Hungary only a century ago. Although I know nothing of their parents, the normal assumption would be that their ancestors had been in Hungary for many centuries before then. After all, people stayed in the same places in the old days, didn’t they?

While my Hungarian ancestors were living their lives about 1640, supposedly in Hungary, another one of my ancestors came to America from England with seven of her younger children (who all married and left numerous descendants in VA and MD). Her name is Anne Lovelace (PIN 21293 in F&P, PIN 29085 in Presidential), and she was the widow of Rev. John Gorsuch. She was English; therefore her ancestors were English, right?

A 20 generation ancestor view of Anne in Presidential (with “Include siblings” and “Cousin Smart” de-selected) fills in only 1,060 boxes on her ancestor chart. This is only one percent of her ancestry during that time period. But what does this small sliver reveal?

It does show that Anne did have many English ancestors. It also shows that at the very same time many of them were living, she also had ancestors living in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Holland, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, many places in Spain, and very many places in France. How many other places would I find if I knew the other 99% of Anne’s ancestry?

Looking at the maps that appear from our Family Forest project of connecting the dots of recorded history, it appears impossible for someone to have ancestors from one part of Europe without having ancestors from all parts of Europe.

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