One of the newest and popular programs on PBS follows the genealogy of celebrities – recently Stephen King.
Not long ago my cousin applied to a commercial DNA service to determine her family roots – her countries of origin. To me (especially since I have no idea of my paternal line,) the idea of following my ‘roots’ means virtually nothing.
I have always considered the whole process of genealogy research an exercise in vanity. Our blood lines, are in fact, counted exponentially – doubling with each prior generation; so the idea of following only one line back to a patriarch/matriarch is like picking one number at bingo.
It is nice to know that my great-great grandfather from Kentucky served in the Union Army and died at Shiloh. But the fact is, there were eight great-great grandfathers four generations back and I have no idea who, or what the other seven were doing.
Going back ten generations would produce 1,024 grandparents equally sharing my DNA – 512 tenth generation grandfathers and 512 grandmothers.
Twenty generations back my and your predecessors numbered 1,046,016 (one million, forty-six thousand and sixteen.) We share equal DNA from our blood line in that generation – no one outranks another. It makes you wonder what the world population was twenty generations ago, and to what percentage of that world we would show a direct linage?
And then there is the DNA test. I had a blood transfusion after a car accident. I wonder how that effects my DNA – another whole set of unknown line?
At what point are we all kin?