Conundrum

Conundrum: “Anything that arouses curiosity or perplexes because it is unexplained, inexplicable, or secret.”

Whenever I mention the following set of facts, it either arouses perplexity, or generates a completely blank stare.

1) To know all of your 40-generation ancestry (back to about the time of Charlemagne) requires filling in over one trillion boxes on your ancestor chart.

2) The fortieth column of the chart (about 700 A.D., plus or minus a century) requires filling in over 500 billion boxes.

3) There was definitely a person in each of those boxes, or you would not have been born (at least you would not have been born as you).

4) The world population just passed six billion people.

The conundrum is this: If there are only slightly more than six billion people on the planet today, who belongs in those more than 500 billion boxes on your ancestor chart about 12 centuries ago?

Actually, there’s only one possible explanation. The people in those more than 500 billion boxes cannot all be different individuals. A large number of the individuals from that time period each belong in a great number of different boxes on your chart.

This explanation either arouses more perplexity, or reinforces the completely blank stare. Descent from ancestors in two lines is usually a difficult concept for most people to grasp, so telling people that they have sometimes tens of thousands of different ancestral pathways leading to some of their individual ancestors almost always creates disbelief.

But this is not just a theory of mine. This is the picture that appears from digitally connecting the dots of 2,000+ years of ancestral history according to where the experts say those dots should be connected. Anyone who explores the Odyssey Edition of the A&E Family Forest will see countless examples of exactly how this happens.

What is still a theory of mine is that enough fully-sourced connections are in place in the new Odyssey Edition to produce 40-generation pedigree charts for some people with more than 1/100th of 1% of the boxes filled in. As insignificant as that tiny percent sounds, in this case it requires filling in at least 109,951,163 boxes with the names of one’s ancestors.

As certain as I feel about this, I can’t prove it yet because my combination of hardware and software quits counting just before it reaches 3.7 million boxes. Does anyone have the technology yet to confirm this theory?

The Swift Walker

In 1818 a 15-year-old Vermont-born boy, a Mayflower Descendant (of Elder William Brewster), was indentured in Montreal to the American Fur Company. He was embarking on a six-month journey by boat to the future site of Chicago, Fort Dearborn.

This was the beginning of a highly successful career that included years of trading with the Indians. They came to call him Pa-pa-ma-ta-be, which is said to translate to “The Swift Walker”.

I recall a self-help book from years ago that advised people who wanted to be successful to walk 10% faster. The life of Hon. Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard seems to provide an excellent example of the value of that sage advice.

His early fur trading adventures lead to an impressive list of accomplishments in the Chicago area, many of them firsts. They are said to include:

Writing the first insurance policy in Chicago
Establishing the first packing house in Chicago
Helping organize the first Episcopal church in Chicago
Inaugurating the first packet line between Chicago and Buffalo
Building the Lake House, the first large hotel in Chicago
Being one of the first trustees of the Town of Chicago
Being a director in the Chicago Water Works
Helping organize the Chicago Board of Trade
Being a director of Chicago Banks
Being a member of the Legislature

The one that really caught my attention was writing the first insurance policy in Chicago. I’ve been in and out of Chicago numerous times via planes, trains, and automobiles, and it’s a huge place. How many millions of insurance policies are written in Chicago annually now? How many have been written there during the 170 or so years since the first policy? How many will be written there in the future?

Could the Hon. Gurdon Saltonstall Hubbard have possibly imagined how many insurance policies would follow his?