Month: October 2012


Deal with Devil

Reading through historical newspapers looking for stories relating to your ancestors is interesting not only on a historical level, sometimes it’s just plain fun. For example, while browsing through papers from 1919 looking for any mention of my great-grandfather’s return from the war, I ran across this gem in The Milwaukee Journal from May 5th, 1919.

Deal with Devil

Transcription:

Lives Century After Pact With Devil

St. Paul — St. Paul’s modern Faust is dead.

Edwin E. Fisher, 104, who gained notoriety four years ago by declaring he made a pact with the devil when a child that he should live a hundred years by consigning himself to hades after death, will be buried Sunday afternoon. April 11, 1915, he prepared for the end, scheduled at midnight. He continued at his cabinet maker trade for two years, and retired because of ill health.

I’m going to delve deep into theoretical things here, but it’s something that always sort of fascinated me. Since the completion of the human genome project and the advent of more accessible DNA testing for us “normal” people, there have been amazing things coming out of that area of science and genealogy.

Besides the standard health information and deep ancestry testing, I’ve always been curious about the possibility of our ancestors leaving traces of their memories in their DNA as it gets passed down. This idea has been used in some movies, like the 1980 movie Altered States, or in video games, like the Assassin’s Creed series.

While I doubt that their specific experiences are burned into our DNA, but possibly certain memories related to their experiences. For example, an article that talks about this idea contains this:

Let’s say you have always had a significant fear of bears since you were a child. Even Smokey the Bear and other friendly Hollywood bears could not convince you to regard bears with anything but anxiety and fearful feelings.

Maybe it is possible that deep, deep within your DNA memory banks, your great-great-great-great-grandmother or great-great-great-great-grandfather had a very bad experience with a bear two hundred years ago. Maybe they saw someone be killed by a bear. Maybe they had to climb a tree to save themselves from being eaten by a bear.

Would a life-changing experience like this, resulting in knowledge very useful for survival, possibly be encoded in the DNA and passed on to future generations and you?

Who knows? I find that to be a fascinating idea. Though, I would find it even more fascinating if we could tap into these memories. Maybe then I can finally figure out my great-great-grandfather’s parent’s names.

 

Embarkation of the Pilgrims - Robert Walter Weir - Mayflower

It has been a bit quiet on the genealogy front. I haven’t had as much time to do any research, but recently I have come across some extra time and interest.

I recently added another individual to my “Everything I Know” site. This is the first person I did a site for on my wife’s ancestry. He is James COLLINS. I picked him because we previously had his information down and also information on his parents. Then we ran across a new census record that threw all of that out the window. I try to put together the info we have now (or lack thereof) and try to see if we can track down his real parents.

While researching James COLLINS and getting lost down other lines of my wife’s ancestry, I (tentatively) traced one of her maternal lines back to Plymouth Colony Governor and Mayflower passenger William Bradford. I say tentatively since most of the info I found was surprisingly located on Find-A-Grave entries (sidenote: glad they added those “Family Links” options.) Though, I did back a lot of it up using other sources. I just need to now source and confirm her line back to the more researched lines, though it looks pretty solid. This now adds the “Mayflower Descendant” title to her maternal line along with the other previous titles of “(Tentative) Royal Descendant” and “Daughter of the American Revolution.” All I have on my lines so far is “Sort Of Related to Robert Goulet.”

I’m hoping that if these connections stay true, this will hopefully help our children feel more connected to history. It’s a known fact that I’ve posted about earlier, I didn’t really enjoy History classes very much in school. Though, once I started genealogy and felt more connected to these places and events, I can’t get enough of it anymore. Now when my daughter starts learning about Thanksgiving in school (probably one of the first historical things kids learn) we can tell her that one of the Pilgrims is her 12th-great-grandfather.

Photo: Embarkation of the Pilgrims – Robert Walter Weir – Public Domain – Wikipedia