One of my hobbies is genealogy.
I got into it because there was a story in the family that we were descendants of Pocahontas.
To get scholarship money for college, I needed to prove I was at least 1/16th Powhatan Native American. Photos of my maternal grandfather made it seem like not far of a stretch. He had black hair, and other physical features that made me a believer.
I started this journey in 1985 at the library and with letters from relatives.
Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that less than 30 years later, the family tree would be in a little computer in my hand as a phone.
Ancestry.com app. Wow.
I had avoided signing up for the $159/6mo pricetag for years assuming that I could surely find what I needed for free.
After biting the bullet and signing up, the tree really started to grow, fast.
Though we are not direct descendants of the Powhattan tribe, we are related by marriage. She was married to John Rolfe. After she died, he took a second wife, Eliza. We are the Rolfe’s descendants.
I found other relatives who are so amazing: Abraham Lincoln, Stonewall Jackson, Revolutionary and Civil war fighters. So far, the one who gave me the most inspiration is William Clowes. He was a barber-surgeon to Queen Elizabeth II in the 1600’s. I got to hold his portrait in London in May of 2014. It was unreal.
There were the classic features of my grandfather-high cheekbones, dark hair, dark eyes, prominent nose.
I hear in my mind “we come from a long line of scientists, writers, farmers and adventurers, including the Vikings.”
I never got the scholarship money but something more valuable: my place in human history- why I live science, art, gardening and writing. Was William funny? I bet he was.
Mostly, I finally understand why my Nordic hair is so hard to colour (my hairstylist said Nordic and Japanese hair have tight cuticles and are difficult to remove and deposit colour). I’m not sure where the cotton-headed ninnymuggins hair originates. It’s a muppet-full of fine, cottony hair that turns orange in the wrong hands.
I’m rebuilding the stories to pass on to the next generation. So, yes, ancestry.com world price is worth it.
Cottony hair and all.