“I’m a Mormon! Yes, I am!” It’s a jaunty Primary song we sang as kids.
Consequently, my genealogy’s been done to death. (Thank you.) I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t expect the ancestry portion of 23andMe to be interesting, because I already know it all. (I’m NOT a know-it-all!)
That’s only half the story. I was raised by my mother. I forgot there’s a whole ‘nother side to the story. My dad’s people are as American as they are Mormon. Furthermore, they came here specifically to join the Plymouth Bay Colony. With rare exception, those who came before the Mormon conversion swept northern Europe arrived in the early 1600s!
Turns out I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution as much as I’m a Daughter of the Utah Pioneers! It also turns out that the branches of family trees that reach into our colonial history are more like tentacles. I’m at once energized and overwhelmed.
Mormon history is much easier to trace. It was but a moment back, as these things go.
I want to know everything! Everything, is a lot. It’s too much! There are so many. I can never know it all! Ooph, that’s hard for me. (I’m a know-it-all.)
How do I know their ships? How do I find their war records?
I found a line that links me to Pres. Warren G. Harding (reputed, before Dump, to be the worst president in U.S. history. But that was before George W and, yeah, the dump we live in now) and to Tonya Harding, as it turns out, haha! Our ancestors go back to a patriot, Capt. Stephen Harding, who founded a town in Pennsylvania and got his name on a monument. His family split, with one brother staying loyal to the crown!
I found a fellow about whom it was written, “He did not agree with the Salem Puritans in their extreme measures and, with Rev. Samuel Whitney, was opposed to persecution.”
There was another line of colonists to Virginia and North Carolina. Never in my life have I imagined I might have ancestors who owned slaves. It horrifies me to wonder now. Many Plymouth Bay ancestors were prosperous. I’m hoping the Southerners were poor as church mice. (Writing that, I immediately recognize that the poor would have been just as racist as the wealthy of the time. Perhaps more so, since the poor are always led to believe that the Other is to blame for their circumstance. And the rich get richer…)
Completely pre-U.S. anthing, I found direct lineage to King Henry III. This may not seem as impressive to others as it does to me, but I’m a descendant of Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, founder of the Plantagenet dynasty. I’m a Plantagenet! Henry the 8th killed every remaining Plantagenet he could find during his reign, because any of them could make a claim to the throne equal to his own.
I’m also related to Charlemagne, as in Pater Europae, Father of Europe, King of The Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages, and still another royal line went no further than a King of something, who was born and died BC. The Mormons don’t really go before Christ, even though the Old Testament is a part of our canon. 😉
The Mormons are right. Genealogy is fun!
I should go back to church and do baptisms for the dead for the House of Plantagenet. The monarchy can’t object. I’m entitled to do temple work for my family.
Speaking of church, just to climb down my family tree yesterday with some sense of control, I – oh god, this is embarrassing to admit – I made a list of every single Mormon convert ancestor, including the wagon/handcart trains each took across this land!
Precisely 50 persons drank the juice and came over. Three are listed in Utah Pioneer records as having come with unknown companies. Seven came after the railroad was completed, ending the Mormon Pioneer period. The remainder came on 17 separate wagon trains and one handcart company, which I’ve mentioned more than once. I’m enormously proud of my ancestors who survived the Martin Handcart Company crossing, and all of them, really – but that one, wow. I find them heroic.
It was very satisfying to wrap that up in a nice, neat bow after a painfully slow work day. I felt so accomplished. Early on, I was so tired at my desk I had that panicked feeling, “Oh my god, how am I gonna make it til 5:00!” You know? I could have continued ’til midnight but, alas, the bell rang and I went to dance.
Just to be perfectly accurate – we are talking history here – I’m not actually Mormon. I let them “keep my name” to bolster their numbers with my paltry one. I had no stance to take. I love my history. I’m proud of my people. I find it as fascinating and enriching as I do strange. It gives me a sense of place in history. I feel like I can connect with the religious fervor of the time, known as the Second Great Awakening. (The First took place during Thomas Jefferson’s life.) Of course, the original fever brought the Puritans.
A couple of years ago, however, The Church made a move I couldn’t endorse with my continued membership, be it in name only or not. They took away the rights of children of gay parents to be baptized and/or serve a mission, until they’re 18 and unless they disavow their parents’ union. This hurt many people. It hurt me, and it had no direct impact on me. It absolutely broke my heart. There was a lot of pain in this valley during that devastating period, and a mass exodus of those of us who hadn’t participated for many years but hadn’t made the divorce official.
Losing My Religion Nov. 20, 2015