This is an analogy that helps me better
understand the big picture concerning how each of
us is descended. When the results of the
thousands of hours of historical connecting I do
is displayed visually, I see maps. These are maps
of paths leading to and from what I think of as
intersections, and some of these paths can be
followed in the same general direction through
more than 70 intersections.
An intersection is a family group. Following
along with the map analogy, each intersection has
two paths leading in from the north; the mother's
line and the father's line. Each intersection has
as many paths leading out to the south as the
number of children of that couple (which could
range between zero and, according to Guinness,
69). The paths of unmarried children are
deadends. The paths of married children lead to
another intersection.
A family with ten children would create an
intersection of 12 paths. Two of these lead to
the north, or back into the past, and ten of
these lead to the south, or toward the present
time.
Every married child is located in two
intersections (actually it could be more,
considering multiple marriages, but we'll skip
that level of complexity for now). She or he
appears in the intersection that contains her or
his parents and siblings, and she or he also
appears in the intersection that contains her or
his spouse and children (if any).
So while I'm mapping out tens of thousands of
intersections, I think of them in terms of
probability. That is, the probability of a person
of today passing through that particular
intersection as she or he follows her or his
pathways to the past through ancestors.
Although quantifying them is difficult, they
fall somewhere within a range of zero to ten. The
rating depends on the number of children and the
period of time. In your search for ancestors, you
will never pass though the intersection of a
couple without children, so this is clearly a
"0". For me, of all the millions of
intersections that have been created this
century, I only pass through a maximum of three
(my parents' and both sets of grandparents').
Therefore, all intersections created this century
are basically a "0" for me, as well as
for most other people searching for ancestors.
But the possibility begins climbing in the
previous century, and accelerates with each
earlier century. Considering the number of
intersections each of us passes through over
time, the probability of passing through some
specific intersections must reach very close to
100% at some point a number of centuries ago.
These intersections would be rated
"10".
To gain perspective, consider Mayflower
descendants. According to the Mayflower Society,
the 26 Mayflower families (intersections) with
known descendants account for 35 million people
living today. On average, that would be 1.3
million people who pass through each of those
intersections from just four centuries ago. What
would the numbers increase to four or six
centuries before then? Also, those 35 million
Mayflower descendants pass through a very large
number of additional intersections that were
created during the time of the Pilgrims' arrival.
Based on what I've seen so far, it appears
that a large number of intersections with a half
dozen children, created before the end of the
previous millennium, would be rated at least a
"7" and maybe as much as a
"9".
If this is true, what does this suggest about
intersections that were created B.C.? Could it be
that most of them, or at least most of those with
grandchildren, would rate very close to a
"10" for all of us?
