2) There are a lot of fictional people once you get far enough back. I don't know if FamilySearch members don't realize that these people are likely fictional, or if they're going off of the theory that even these fictional people have a grain of truth to their existence. I'm comfortable working off of that last one personally--after all, once you get far enough back, stories are really all the record you have. But it was interesting to see how, in my lines at least, Christian figures and ancient Anglo-Saxon gods collide to create a strangely cobbled-together pedigree.
(Another thought: though I don't know this from my own genealogy, I've read posts from people of color, especially black people, online talking about how much of a struggle it is to find their own ancestors. Again, records weren't kept for them and they usually couldn't keep records for themselves. Projects like Alex Haley's are honestly incredible for how much they've been able to uncover.)
4) You can find a lot of interesting names in your genealogy. Good ideas for characters (or future children), right? Here are just a few examples from mine:
- Ambrose Austen
- Asaph Carpenter
- Grace Frost
- Resolved White
I didn't know, however that Scottish names followed a similar pattern--"O'Riley" is "of Riley," with Riley being the father's name. Irish names also do this: "FitzPatrick" would be the son of Patrick, with "FerchPatrick" (or "VerchPatrick") being the feminine version (which was also lost during standardization). In general, other last names are often taken from the family job of the time, a notable feature (like red hair), or the location where the family lived.
6) There was just as much drama back in ye olden times as there is now. Here are some of stories I discovered:
- I do appear to be related to at least a handful of kings and queens in England, France, and other European countries, including Boadicea, who seems pretty cool.
- One of my female ancestors was a courtier who was allowed in Elizabeth I's privy.
- Two of my ancestors were on the Mayflower, once of whom became the Assistant Governor to Plymouth.
- At least two of my ancestors had young boys who died during their journeys across the Atlantic. One of them fell overboard and was lost.
- A four-year-girl who was dearly loved by one of my female ancestors fell ill during the journey overseas. My ancestor decided to perform a healing blessing, despite being a woman. She was like, “If God’s gonna strike me down, at least I don’t have to cross this ocean!” In the end, the little girl recovered.
- Two of my ancestors (one female, one male) were accused and imprisoned during the Salem Witch Trials, but they both survived.
- Naturally, there are lots of weird family arrangements, including polygamy, child brides, married cousins, and children born out of wedlock who were raised by their parents' future spouses.
- A mysterious silver spoon with initials no one recognized was passed down through part of my family. ("What is this spoon? IDK, let's keep it.")
- One of my female ancestors was said to have a "fragile disposition" and was basically allergic to the cold. (This is the only evidence I've seen of any of my ancestors having the chronic illnesses I do.)
- Three different Johns in the same family (three generations of Johns) died in the same month from the same smallpox epidemic.
- A female ancestor died at the age of 26 after spilling hot water on her legs.
- Another of my ancestors died from varicose veins, which run in the family.
- One of my male ancestors was going to join the Gold Rush, but he was travelling with LDS pioneers and fell in love with one of the women. So he stayed with her in Utah instead of going to California. Later, he went to California to see what he'd missed and decided that he didn't really miss anything.
- Another female ancestor, who was thought to be dying on the pioneer trail, dreamed of her future house and future sons.
- A female ancestor who was a leader in the Church was very rigid about clothing, saying that it was "immoral" to wear imported bonnets and other clothes that weren't sewn by your own hand and that it was "sinful" to wear your hair down in a "modern hairstyle." She'd probably think I was the Devil, haha.
- One female ancestor was a maid for a rich family who then adopted her when their own child died. She later married a Spanish sea captain, but fell in love with and finally married the LDS missionary who converted her to the Church (also my ancestor). She found him to be a better and more devoted husband.
- A female ancestor was pelted with rotten eggs while being baptized into the Church.
- A male ancestor talked in his sleep and scared his wife half to death by yelling about oxen getting stuck one night.
- A female ancestor was very proud of her white porch, and she cleaned it all the time.
- Many of my ancestors were known for their singing voices and their love of books. :)
More than anything, when it comes to family history, I wish I could read the personal accounts of my female ancestors. Unfortunately, only a handful kept journals (likely because women weren't literate for most of history), and most of those, I don't have access to. I just have these stories that were posted on FamilySearch. From the diary entries I have read, I know that much of their writing is devoted to farm duties and other things I have no interest in. I know also that brutal stories of trauma are often included, and those can be hard on my mental health. But family dynamics, love stories, and other personal aspects are sprinkled into these diaries, and those are the things I want to read. I want to know the things we have in common. I want to know if my ancestors fangirled over books or struggled with chronic pain or fell head-over-heels in love and had no idea how to talk to the guy they liked.
Images via ldsmag.com, Celtic_Warlock on AminoApps, orthodoxwiki.org, imgflip.com, funlurnsvg.com, and danazemack.com.