01 January 2013

A Conundrum of Sorts

For the past two years I have been working tirelessly to complete my application to The General Society of Mayflower DescendantsI 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. 


  1. My grandmother proved her lineage and joined the Mayflower Society so it wouldn't be so hard for me to do so. I've also traced several more lines than her so I could submit my own work. I haven't bothered to do it myself: 1) it costs money to do this! and 2)I already have the bragging rights, I don't need a card to give me permission. :)

  2. Interesting article. Yes it is about the "thrill of the hunt." I have this dilemma from time to time. I even have research in ancestry.com, I haven't made public yet, but definitely plan to do that when "the time is right." Eventually I want to get everything out there I can because there will always be plenty of research, in my view, for others to do if they are interested, and my research can only help them. But I hope those that follow me will come to know about "the thrill of the hunt." Happy New Year and Happy Blogging!

  3. I understand your reasoning. I often have the same thoughts when someone wants we to help them and I see some very easy research that will find much for them. I usually just point them in the right direction and let them find it for themselves. In this way they often get bitten by Bugus genealoga. What I suggest is that you find some young'un in your family and point them in the right direction. You may end up with someone as interested in your common ancestry as yourself.

    Jack TAYLOR

  4. Attend a meeting before you decide whether or not to join. I did (I'm also a Howland descendant!) and I loved the people I met at the NH Society. It was like a big family reunion to meet so many people with so many family connections, and they are all into genealogy. For the first few years I just attended luncheons for fun, but soon I became active on the board and have held several positions. My favorite positions were scholarship chair and newsletter editor. Being a member is much, much more than just having a certificate to hang on the wall.

    1. Well hello cousin! Thanks for the advice. I'm still weighing both sides to this but I hadn't really considered the social side to being a member. Hmmm..... More food for thought!