How I became directly related to Jesus Christ.
The problem with family trees.
So. There he is in the direct lineage on my Family Search app, my 60th great Grandfather: Jesus Christ. This article explores the problems of using genealogy apps and sites. And literally, they go way back.
So is Jesus really my 60th great grandfather?
First, comes the issue that few believe: Jesus had kid. According to Family Search: two kids, mothered by Mary Magdalene: Sarah and Josephus. If you’re a fan of Dan Brown Novels or Holy Blood Holy Grail you may be familiar with the theory of a flesh-and-blood holy family.
Sarah, the daughter of Jesus and Mary, is revered as the patron saint of the Romani people. While most of us may not believe, we have no way of positively refuting it either. Religious sources from Jesus’ day are few and many accounts that followed years later are based on that vague information. These modern speculations report that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had at least one female child. After the death of Jesus, Mary and Sarah stole off to France. Reports are that Sarah married King Ratharius of the East Franks and she died about 80AD.
Joseph is God’s 72nd grandson?
Another issue here is that my family tree on Family Search shows Jesus’ biological father (my 61st grandfather) as Joseph. If Jesus was immaculately conceived, then that DNA trail can’t be real. The lineage also shows Joseph’s oldest ancestor was a Mr. God Almighty. As most believe there was no Mrs. God Almighty and we have only one account of Adam’s creation, the one that says God sculpted Adam (listed here as his son) from clay and made Eve from his rib bone, God couldn’t be Adam’s biological father. So meek or not, it looks like I’m not in line to inherit the earth, no matter what the app says.
The problem with genealogy sites.
The world’s ancestry is very much a puzzle. All the genealogy sites depend on users to try to piece it together based on official records and information passed down through the family. Most users on these sites have good intentions and would love to complete an accurate puzzle of all human lineage, but there are many reasons for inaccuracy.
- unauthenticated data If your source starts off with “I’ve been told…” there’s a good chance the data is flawed.
- inaccurately-entered data Ancestors are commonly entered twice under two similar names.
- nefarious data It’s possible to add people that don’t exist. Eventually these are likely to be discovered and removed, but it can take a while. And the longer these records are in the database the more problems they cause.
- desire to be related to someone famous Perhaps you’ve heard you’re related to a historical celebrity. There are some who try their best to prove it, whether it’s fact or not.
Having the populace filling in the details of the world’s family tree has actually been of incredible valuable, but sometimes you run across these errors. One problem I run into is that I see data on an uncle that I know is incorrect and want to fix it. However, if you’re going to contribute or refute a record, you’ll need better sources than those before you have used. Citing birth and death certificates or any official record is helpful in making sure records are closer to correct. Many inaccuracies get corrected, but they’re out there (literally, as gospel) until then.
Family Search has a 15-generation-limit on search. While this could just be to conserve computing power, it’s more likely that acceptable authentication beyond this becomes difficult.
The problem with family ties.
What these cases show is that the further back you go in ancestry, the fewer sources you have that can be validated. Geneaology sites like My Heritage, Ancestry and Family Search have done amazing jobs in making near-lost public records available online. But these records only go back so far, a few hundred years if you’re lucky.
DNA wasn’t popularized until 1953, but there are some records of pedigree that go way back. And as you’d expect, they’re related to wealth, land and power. Nobility has always kept great records of lineage. That’s because the destiny of kingdoms was biased on birthright. And since countries were built on consuming smaller kingdoms, there can be a lot of records of nobility out there. Also the Roman Empire covered much of the known world and kept records, many that have survived. While Rome usually had one emperor, there were many, many families and government positions in the republic that were well tracked.
If your family line connects with royalty or Rome, you’ll be shocked how far back they can go. Other than the Mr. Almighty line of my family, I found a relative that pre-dates the Roman Empire born in 710BC on Family Search. But this data is all questionable. I guess it’s possible that I’m related to half the people in the bible and the Cesars, but there really is not enough proof there for me.
Everything you know is wrong.
One of the most popular and fallible sources for ancestry is what you’ve been told by your family. The first time I ran across this was when I was told my mother’s great grandfather was born in Germany. Nope. He was born in Kentucky. And his mother was born in Kentucky. And his grandfather and great grandfather were both born in the US. Somewhere along the way the tale got twisted and it’s likely someone in the family decided the grand-old English surname of Vice was actually a typical Ellis-Island revision for the German Weiss. While we likely have some Germanic ancestry, Great, Great, Great Grandpa was not born under the table of a beer hall at Oktoberfest in Munich. In my research, I’ve run across numerous other bits of family history that turned out to be wrong and was severely hampered finding the facts. It’s common that families did their best to bury the darker truths.
Sometimes the facts don’t add up.
An issue with public records is that their accuracy is dependent on the humans who entered them. My sister had her DNA tested and showed up that she was 1/8th native American. It confirmed some long-told family stories. But in looking at official birth and death certificates, everyone for generations—dating back to late 1700s Census reports—is showing up as white. So how’s that possible? In looking at old family photos from around 1900 there are obviously people there with darker skin and Native American features. It finally occurred to me that it didn’t add up because the official records were just plain wrong. The census shows that Kentucky, in the late 1700s, had almost as many white women as white men, but I think that’s not correct.
What we’re fairly certain of is that Robert Vice was born in Virginia, fought in the Revolutionary War and received a land grant in Kentucky for his service. He then promptly uprooted the family to head to the wilds beyond the Cumberland Gap. It appears that there were at least six young Vice sons looking for brides. While many families did come west at this time, the wilderness was likely place to find single young men looking to carve out their future. That would mean there were fewer white women to marry. And I’m suggesting that some of these brothers (and the dozens of other males from that era that I’m related to) married Native American women.
So why lie about this ancestry? There was good reason to have your wife considered white in the 1700’s. A Native American woman at the time didn’t even have status as a person. Neither she nor her children would have any rights whatsoever. So it would be easy for the unscrupulous to snatch a man’s land from his native wife and kids when he passed away.
So when the marshall came around taking the census, I’m thinking the husbands shooed the wives and kids off to hide in the barns while the men logged their families as white. And even if the marshall knew the ancestry of the wife and kids, he may have logged them as white anyway to keep the peace in the area. It’s likely that many families found themselves in the same situation and my 1/8 Native ancestry added up from multiple relatives. True of not, that’s the most logical conclusion I can come up with.
Data and DNA.
DNA has added an interesting twist to finding your roots. While substantially better proof than public record, DNA can reveal things that were much more taboo in the past, like illegitimate children, births to unwed mothers, marriages to make women “honest”, etc.
DNA is used to determine other less-polite things too, like racial purity. In recent years a white supremacist discovered that he was 14% black and it’s not a Dave Chapelle joke. It’s also become common that Native Americans are required to prove how much native blood they have in order to get a share of tribe casino funds. DNA has been useful in finding long-lost relatives, but some people I know regretted what they’ve found and would prefer that long-lost relatives remain long lost.
Why Mormons rule genealogy.
The Moron church is very interested in your past. Ancestry.com (a paid service), Family Search (a free service), Find a Grave (a public service) are all backed by Mormon dollars. These are all wonderful resources and we should be thankful they’re there. But why are Mormons interested in your ancestry? The simple answer is that Mormons want to baptize their ancestors by proxy. And you can’t do that unless you know who they are. So elaborate systems, aided by the populace, were set up to find that out.
The journey of finding your roots shouldn’t be focused on finding the famous in your family tree. Plenty show up in mine, but with authenticity being in question, I’ve never printed up a Ben Franklin is my Great Uncle and all I got is this lousy T-shirt T-shirt. As you can tell by my experience, the further back you go, the more inaccurate the information. And making the claim you’re related to someone famous, even when you have “proof” is usually met with skepticism. For me, the fulfilling part is in getting to know my ancestors (good or bad) and getting to understand how I ended up here.
Links above are not affiliate links, so I make no money from them. I greatly appreciate the support of creation of articles like this from those who buy me a coffee below.