I'm drawn to genealogy as a
Success - finding another link to my historical past - hinges on learning history, locating and interpreting records of the time, and stepping out of my 21st century mindset.
Successful completion of one level ("I found my 2nd great-grandmother!"), like any good game, propels you to the next more challenging playing field ("What do you mean the courthouse records naming my 3rd great-grandmother were destroyed in a fire?!").
Where's The Challenge?
Sometimes, though, genealogy isn't challenging.
I have this ancestor who is everywhere in the historical record and just lacks the luring excitement of what I find most entertaining about ancestor hunting.
My fifth great-grandfather Ambrose Jones fought in the American Revolution. His service is to be commended and I count myself honored to be among his many descendants. But that's just it. There are many many descendants who have thoroughly documented his service and life. There's little hunt left to be done and I'm constantly reminded of it.
For example, when I log into my preferred genealogy website, I can be sure that among the new hints vying for my attention are a handful for Grandpa Jones.
When I review my new DNA matches, I have to trudge through an overwhelming abundance of cousins who descend from this single man. I'm regularly reminded of his prodigious progeny.
Even Grandpa Jones' ancestral line allegedly connects me to a million other people. How fitting that Ambrose's purported great-grandfather John Lewis may link me to famous cousins.
I know his life's story was amazing. So amazing a descendant wrote a book about it. I don't begrudge him that and I am glad for it.
He presents no real genealogical challenge and is always around the corner with hints and DNA matches. When I'm struggling to piece together a slew of murky family lines in more recent history, I can be sure Grandpa Jones is ready to boast about his pervasive and ever growing presence.
He's like the Charlemagne of my recent ancestry. Everyone can and does claim him.
How about you? Who's your family's Charlemagne?