In the past year I’ve gotten really interested in genealogy.  So what have I learned this past year?

1) We’re all mutts – If you ever need to discredit a person who displays annoying levels of nationalism, there would be no better way than to research their family tree.
2) The world is smaller than we think – It’s amazing how interconnected the world is by a few binding ties in our family tree.  Recently, I came across a direct descendant named George Bunker.  Like most people, my mind immediately wondered if there was a connection to Bunker Hill of Revolutionary War fame.  Sure enough, it was George Bunker’s land that was called Bunker Hill that was such a key moment in American history.
3) Famous relatives – I think each of us secretly wish we come from some type of historic family lineage.  By and large, my family history is filled with anonymous, working class citizens.  Every once in awhile you’ll go far back enough or hit a spot where suddenly there’s a ton of information on a person or family name.  This is a red flag that this is a person of importance…for either famous or infamous reasons.  Probably my most notable relative would be William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony.  However, KK has a direct line to Scottish royalty, probably most notable would be Robert The Bruce of Braveheart fame (although that movie was pretty much complete fiction)
4) Perhaps, most interesting of all is the complete and utter improbability of your existence.  I had a relative fall out of the Mayflower and get scooped back in during a storm, broken off engagements, deaths that occur shortly after giving birth, chance encounters that twist fate with each generation.  If you really think about it, it will boggle your mind and make you realize how blessed you are to have a shot at life.

So I guess what I’m saying is I encourage you to spend time looking at your family history.  It’s not a daunting as you might think.  Go visit your grandma, grandpa or elder in your family and spend an afternoon talking about their parents and grandparents.  It’ll make their day and you’ll get insight into information that would otherwise be lost in a few generations.  Chances are someone has already beat you to the punch and started the research.  Steal liberally from their work.  Get an account for a month and run with it.  Some of the information will be junk but you can always validate it against other sources.  You’ll be amazed what you find