Reality shows have taken a major hold on American television. From Lock Up to Survivor, from Honey Boo Boo to My 600 Pound Life Americans are tuning in to orchestrated entertainment packaged as real life.
A number of programs on the fringe of ‘reality’ are the genealogy shows – we will trace your ancestor line back to….. - for your entertainment and enlightenment; now doesn’t that make you proud?
We would all like to think we could trace our ancestry back to a hero, a President, a horse thief, a famous politician, a general, hooker or at least someone of note; and the reality is we all probably can – all of the above.
I have mentioned in prior blogs that by exponential counting we rack up our ancestral count very quickly (doubling each generation.)
On the genealogy TV programs they always manage to WOW the person researched and the audience with a blood line back to someone of note. The research may not be easy, but it is a pretty easy call to make a famous connection.
If you are not a recent immigrant to the United States your distant American ancestry is a watered down linage of thousands of direct ancestors – probably among them a hero, a horse thief, a famous politician, general, hooker or whatever would spin your prop.
Let’s go back to 1776. Using twenty years as a generation scale (birth to giving birth) we will have to go back nineteen generations; and nineteen generations back you have five hundred thousand (500,000) great grandparents: two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) grandmothers and two hundred and fifty thousand grandfathers – and you are equally kin to each of them. There is a pretty good chance among a half-a-million ancestors you can come up with your dream bloodline; even the snobbish connection to the Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution.
How about Mayflower ancestry. In 1620 the European population of the New World (Massachusetts and Virginia) was approximately 500; and back twenty-one generations your direct ancestry was something over two million (2,000,000.)
Even if you are of slave descendants, it only takes one interracial breeding to put you on the track to the Mayflower passengers and crew.
Though it may disdain you to think of it - you and I are quite likely kin at some point in the generational chain.
*Note: by the year 1440 you begin doubling by billions: we are truly all brothers and sisters many times removed.