Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let's join the General Society of Mayflower Descendants

We have known about the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) for some time now and we have seen evidence that I am likely related to multiple pilgrims. We decided to go ahead and try to join the GSMD officially. One of the many things that led to this decisions was that our family line on FamilySearch has been edited in some way to break many of the connections that we thought we had. People have been merging or pruning the tree and we think that some errors may have been made. The process to join the GSMD requires you to provide very authoritative evidence of your direct lineage all the way back to the Mayflower passengers. A lot of the work has already been done for the generations following those pilgrims so our main focus is my immediate 3-5+ generations until we can tie into a line with existing approval of lineage. This will provide two things for us personally: 1) more confident evidence of my pilgrim heritage and 2) knowing that by going through this process we will make it easier for our ancestors or cousins or distant family to prove their lineage and join due to the fact that they may have less generations they need to cover as a result of our work.

We plan to document the process so that others who are considering joining can see what its like. We have heard that it can be rigorous or, depending on what has already been done, it may be relatively simple. We suspect that we have 4 or 5 lines back to the pilgrims and over time we would like to validate all of them.

So here is the first post.

Last night I located The Utah Society, a local member "chapter" of the GSMD. The Utah Society shows on their webpage that you start the process by submitting a "application review" worksheet showing your lineage. This is a real quick and dirty "this is how I think I am related" with no attached documentation at the moment. The idea is that the local historian will poke around their resources to determine what has already been approved by other members to see how much work we will have to do. We have potentially 5 lines so I sent an email to the historian expressing interest in joining and asked if the historian would like to see 1 "application review" at a time or all 5. While we waited for a reply we got to work reviewing our lines to be ready to send the review worksheets.

Here are the 5 lines we are interested in pursuing identified by signers of the Mayflower Compact:
  1. John Tilley and John Howland. (Both signed the compact and John Howland later married John Tilley's daughter Elizabeth.)
  2. Thomas Rogers
  3. Francis Cooke
  4. Peter Brown
  5. Stephen Hopkins
I jumped on my whiteboard desk while we consulted FamilySearch, AncestorFinder, and family trees. These tools and many others can be used to look through your tree and determine paths. We are using a new, private tree to catalog the direct line and will put only direct ancestors and their spouses to have a clean representation of our work. 

See John Lathrop on there? He was not on the Mayflower but is a significant historical religious ancestor and we wanted to see where he fit in.

The only line that we couldn't currently easily walk is the Peter Brown line. We found lots of conflicting evidence and no actual path to Peter Brown. The documentation we had that suggested a line was generated from RelativeFinder possibly when, for some reason, our tree in FamilySearch was in a poorly merged state. 

By the end of the night the historian from the Utah Society had replied stating we could send all 5 application reviews at the same time (now only 4 thanks to Peter Brown). The email also included more information about the application process. This sounds like its going to be a fun adventure.


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