High Probability Intersections

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?

Before My Second Cup

Before I had finished my first cup of coffee this morning, I felt I had accomplished more than enough to justify taking the rest of the year off (even though my boss won’t even consider letting me take the rest of the day off).

I was working on the Dukes of Brunswick in the Presidential Family Forest. “Bruno I Unknown” was already in the first edition of the Presidential at the top of the line, but other than a death year and the name of his wife and son, I had no information about him.

But Brunon I, Count of Brunswick from 955 to 972, is responsible for a high-probability intersection (see “upcoming log entry” for an explanation of intersections) that I estimate at least twenties of millions of people living today will eventually pass through, if they follow their roots back thirty-five or so generations.

Brunon I’s parents were also in the first edition of the Presidential, but I had not yet come across the source that connected them to Brunon. With just a couple of mouse clicks, I connected Brunon to more than 120 ancestors stretching back 44 generations (fully-sourced, of course).

With just the addition of a few more people, and a couple more mouse clicks, I connected Brunon to a number of additional lines of descent that stretch throughout Europe and America and lead down to present day. It seems likely that the majority of people in America and Europe will connect into these lines at some point between here and Brunon, if they follow enough of their roots.

Immediately after all of that, I made another connection of equal magnitude. Doesn’t that sound like enough justification for taking a little time off?


In 1866, the court martial of Captain Richard W. Meade was being held in Philadelphia for the loss of the United States steamer “San Jacinto” January 1, 1865 on the Bahama Banks. He was being defended by John Wayne Ashmead, who as a district attorney 15 years earlier, had been in charge of the case that was referred to as “the opening struggle of the Civil War”.

Within just two pages in a rich 1904 historical and genealogical reference source (Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Chester and Delaware Counties, Pennsylvania) can be found some interesting family ties, through both birth and marriage, of attorney and author John Wayne Ashmead.

They include Dr. Benjamin Rush (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, Major-General Thomas Mifflin (the first governor of Pennsylvania), President William McKinley, and George Graham (the inventor of the chronometer).

The source did not say how the “San Jacinto” was lost, but I wonder if the chronometer could have played a part?

Multiple Births

Having entered so many large families in Family Forests, I was curious to know the largest number of children said to have been born to one woman. You will probably be as surprised as I was when you see the number that is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. The answer can be found by going to the website of the National Organization of the Mother of Twins Clubs, Inc. at http://www.nomotc.org/famous.htm and clicking on their “Multiple Multiples” button.

This piqued my interest in the occurrence of multiple births in our Family Forests. A search in “Facts” “Contains” for “twin” in the Founders & Patriots Family Forest locates hundreds of pairs of American twins, mostly from the 1600’s, 1700’s and 1800’s. All of these twins are lineage-linked to their parents, and oftentimes to hundreds or thousands of ancestors, descendants, and other relatives.

The search feature can be more narrowly focused by adding a surname (in “Name” “Contains”) to the above search criteria. Some of the surnames with twins in the Founders & Patriots Family Forest are Alden (2 pairs), Allen (4 pairs), Arnold (2 pairs), Bacon (2 pairs), Barnard, Bartlett (3 pairs), Bascom, Battles (2 pairs), Bigelow, Blodgett, Bow, Bowen, Bradbury, Bridge, Bright, Cadwell, Caldwell, Camp (2 pairs), Capron (5 pairs), Carter, Chase (2 pairs), Child, Clark (2 pairs), Clifford, Coit, Cook (2 pairs), Coolidge (2 pairs), Cunnabell, Cutler (2 pairs), Darrow, Davenport, Delano (2 pairs), Dickinson, Eaton (3 pairs), Emery (5 pairs), Fairbanks (4 pairs), Faxon (3 pairs), Fay (5 pairs), Felton, Foote (9 pairs), French (6 pairs), Gardner, Gilman (2 pairs), Gookin, Gore (2 pairs), Green (12 pairs), Greene, Gregory, Hale (2 pairs), Hart(t) (2 pairs), Hawkins, Hayden (2 pairs), Hill, Hinchliff, Holbrook (2 pairs), Holt, Hotchkiss, Howe (3 pairs), Hurlbut (10 pairs), Isham (4 pairs), Jaquith (2 pairs), James, Jennison, Keith, Kelly, Kendall, Keyes, Kirby, Lane, Latane, Leeds, Linfield, Lithgow, Livermore (4 pairs), Loring, Lovering, Matthews, Meigs, Miller, Mills (3 pairs), Morgan, Morrison, Morse (2 pairs), Munroe, Newcomb (3 pairs), Niles (2 pairs), Parker (3 pairs), Payson, Perry, Pierce (3 pairs), Poor, Porter, Prentice, Prince, Raymond, Redington (4 pairs), Rice (5 pairs), Richardson (3 pairs), Rossiter, Sandford (4 pairs), Savil, Shaw, Skinner, Smith, Stanton, Stearns (3 pairs), Stevens (4 pairs), Stillman, Stoddard, Stone (2 pairs), Thayer (4 pairs), Thorlo (2 pairs), Vinton (4 pairs), Vose (2 pairs), Warner, Welles (2 pairs), White (4 pairs), Whitney, Wood, and Wyncoop.

A search for “triplet” located triplets in the Emerson, Fay, and Tilton families.