For the past two years I have been working tirelessly to complete my application to The General Society of Mayflower Descendants. I filled out the preliminary application. I got a positive answer from the State Historian who informed me of the application process and the types of documentation that would be needed. Generation one (John Howland) through generation seven (Thomas Swan Ingraham) had already been accepted by the Society. That left generations 8-14 for me to prove. I was off and running! It was that generation 8 that was giving me problems. Mary (Ingraham) Baldwin, daughter of Thomas Swan and Julia (Balis) Ingraham. I just wasn't having any luck finding the primary (or secondary for that matter) documents that I needed. I sent off for death certificates. I searched high and low for a missing family bible. I found the bloody thing too, I might add! I sent out emails to the four corners of the world. I virtually stalked anyone that could help me with my search. And now it has all come together. I can prove my case. I am a descendant of four passenger of the Mayflower. John Howland and his wife Elizabeth Tilley and Elizabeth's parents John and Joan (Hurst) Tilley.
So what's my conundrum you ask? Well, now that I have pulled all this information together and put in all the hours of research, I don't really know that I want to finalize my application. I don't need a certificate to tell me my heritage. Sure, it would make it official, but do I really need a society to tell me who I am? Joining would also preserve my research for posterity and make it easier for my descendants to join. But then again, it's my research. I've tracked down the original documents and done the legwork. If I join, am I robbing future generations of the joy of tracking down who they are?
I still haven't decided one way or the other. I might make it official or I might not. That's my prerogative. For me it was all the thrill of the hunt. All that time digging and analyzing and creeping around in dark, dank basements made it worth it. Not to mention all the wonderful people I have met along the way! I will let my nieces and nephew know their ties to the beginning of this country. I want them to own their heritage. I'm just not sure if I want to hand them the proof. I think they can become little researchers themselves.