I’ve had some dumb ideas in my life but this one is extra special. In case you’ve been busy living your life, you should just be aware that next year is the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing in Plymouth. Once I learned that three of my 11th great-grandfathers were passengers, I decided there must be a society for that.
Spoiler alert: There is, in fact, a society for that. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants exists (from what I can tell) to prevent legitimate descendants from joining their ultra-exclusive club. To say their documentation requirements are stringent is quite possibly the understatement of the year.
I thought I chose the easiest of the three lines to document for membership. I’m still not sure if that is correct but it seemed pretty straightforward at the time. I have found official records to support each generation but in some cases, they aren’t the right official records. I mean, I may have proven a connection to a [First and Last Name] but I haven’t proven that person is my [First and Last Name].
What makes this even more difficult is this particular line wasn’t full of Quakers. Those of you with Quaker ancestors know where I’m going with this. They documented EVERYTHING. I have tons of meeting records showing when my people finally got tired of the rule requiring them to marry within the church and decided to bounce. Quaker meeting records are amazing.
So I have established a committed relationship with VitalChek and they now know more about me than Amazon and Google combined. I’m getting pretty good at remembering which states began keeping official vital statistics records in which years. (You’re KILLING ME, New York.) When I got home from work yesterday, I was all excited that I received two more death certificates in the mail. Dear God, what is happening to me?
But here’s the problem: Every time I send them one certificate, they ask for two more. Every answer raises five more questions or life choices which must be documented. I don’t care how many times my 5th great-grandfather remarried after being widowed. But they care. Deeply. And they’re driving me to drink. Heavily. I don’t know why I can’t just send them my raw DNA data and let them figure it out.
I seriously don’t know if I will be able to have an active membership prior to September of 2020 but I’m going to Plymouth anyway. Mayflower II will be in port and I will spend all of the dollars to be part of that celebration. This is what getting old looks like.