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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *