Monday, March 2, 2015


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.  
the Ol’Buzzard

*Note: by the year 1440 you begin doubling by billions: we are truly all brothers and sisters many times removed.


  1. Reality shows are the blight of American TV. I wish the owners would open their eyes and stop dumbing down the American people. But it will never happen. Too much money is at stake.

  2. Going back to 1776, the only American ancestors of mine that I'm thankful for are the ones who were United Empire Loyalists and came north to Canada. That's why I'm a Canadian today and enjoy hockey, good beer, same sex marriage and free healthcare.

  3. You start filling in that tree and by the time you get to the outer branches, you will be amazed at the number of repeat names. The first Hingston in County Cork, possibly in all Ireland, arrived in 1650 something. He was the son of John (?) Hingston, who was the official royal organist to Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.

  4. My mom says she can trace her ancestry back to the Boston Tea Party -- her great-great-great grandma was one of the bags they threw overboard.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."