Twice In One Day

Occasionally, certain individuals I enter into Family Forests are particularly memorable because they trigger a vivid personal memory, and because they also add value to that memory.

Early this morning, Colonel John Thomas Lewis Preston became one of those individuals.

In January 1995 we spent a few days in Lexington, VA attending the funeral of one of Kristine’s friends. It was a solemn and reflective time, and a couple of things made memorable impressions.

Second in impressiveness only to the genuine warmth and gracious Southern hospitality of its people is the sense of heritage and history that permeates Lexington. The Virginia Military Institute, or V.M.I., is a large part of Lexington’s heritage and history. It was founded in 1839 by Colonel John Thomas Lewis Preston, who in April 1861 marched with the corps of cadets for Richmond.

As I entered information about the Colonel and his relatives from the surrounding area, I lingered on thoughts of cadets marching off to war from Lexington, and of my memories of being there one winter almost a century and a half later.

But what I find amazingly coincidental, and the catalyst for this log entry, was what happened just a couple of hours later. Here on an island in the middle of the Pacific, a half a world away from Lexington, VA, in a conversation with some new friends, they mentioned that they are about to go visit the Virginia Military Institute for an alumni event.

What a surprising and interconnected world we live in!

Pathways To The Past

I read a thought provoking article recently in Missing Links: RootsWeb’s Genealogy Journal. It was about “pedigree collapse”, called “implexion”, and connections to Charlemagne. As fun as it is to speculate and theorize, it is even more fun to try out speculations and theories in real life.

The sum total of all the connections in the Presidential Family Forest produces some amazing maps of generation-by-generation pathways to the past, and some lead from recent times to the beginning of the previous millennium. So I decided to find out how many different pathways might lead from a real girl, Kathleen Staige Davis who was born November 17, 1909 in Baltimore, MD, back to Emperor Charlemagne who was said to be born April 02, 742.

Although Progeny’s Family Explorer seems capable of producing, from the Presidential database, a single pedigree chart (without using the space saving feature “Cousin Smart”) leading from this century back to Charlemagne, we will have to wait for some quantum hardware advances to complete the task. It takes approximately 40 generations for people living today to reach back to Charlemagne, which means more than one trillion boxes to fill in on an individual’s full pedigree chart. Having the connections in place to fill in just 1/1,000 of 1% of a person’s 40 generation pedigree chart means the computer would need to fill in names in ten million boxes on the same chart.

So I had to divide the task into three stages. First, I did a ten generation ancestor view of King Edward I “Longshanks” of England (who lived 1239 to 1307, and was one of the main figures in the movie “Braveheart”) which filled in over 572 boxes. Then I did 14-18 generation ancestor views of 66 of Longshanks’ ancestors (according to recorded history) to see which ones led back to Charlemagne, and of those who did, how many different times they lead to Charlemagne (they ranged from 1 to 10 times each).

When I totaled the results, I found that within this database there are at least 154 different paths leading from Longshanks to Charlemagne. Next I did a 28 generation ancestor view of Kathleen Staige Davis (without “Cousin Smart”) and counted how many times King Edward I “Longshanks” of England appeared on her pedigree chart within the 11,402 boxes that had names filled in. It took more than an hour to look through the chart, and I found that Longshanks appeared at least 24 times.

This means that within this database, Kathleen Staige Davis has at least 3,696 different paths leading back to Emperor Charlemagne IF only the paths that pass through King Edward I “Longshanks” of England are counted.

If all of the other different paths that lead through Longshanks’ siblings and contemporaries are counted, there could easily be an additional 15,000 paths between Kathleen Staige Davis and Emperor Charlemagne.

Seeing so many of these digital pathways to the past visually displayed can alter perceptions and conceptions about how each of us is descended, and how connected we actually are to so much of what has gone before.

Could It Ever Happen Again?

If this story is really true, the odds of it ever happening again are probably about as good as winning the lottery three weeks in a row.

According to a great genealogy book from 1858 (one that appears to have been well-researched and a real labor of love), there was a fellow in New England who married and had a family of eight children. After being married for more than forty years, his wife died.

He then married a second time, at the age of 64, and had another family of eight children.

Having “eight children born after the father had passed his sixty-fifth year” or “the youngest born in his 79th year” or having “twelve or more great-grandchildren who were older than some of his children” is certainly unusual, but more unlikely things have happened and will happen again.

However, what is said to have happened on April 27, 1806 seems impossible to ever have happen again.

According to this 1858 book, on that day his daughter Susanna (fourth child by his second wife) was born. Also, his granddaughter Paulina (daughter of Mary, youngest child by his first wife) was born. Also, an unnamed great-grandchild was born. The same Dr. Hart and his women assistants were said to have attended all three births.

What would the odds actually be of someone having a daughter, a granddaughter, and a great-grandchild all born on the same day?

Some of the surnames of descendants of this statistically unique person in the Founders & Patriots Family Forest include: Brown, Bucknam, Call, Cummings, Day, Green, Larabee, Oakes, Richardson, Rogers, Tuck, Vinton, White, and Williams.