For some time now I have been periodically getting sucked into genealogy. I get sucked in to it in the same way I used to get sucked in to picross, or the way that when there’s any genoa salami in the house I cannot stop until I have eaten it all.
For some reason I’m not proud of this hobby. In some way I’m also almost even embarrassed by it. Right now… I don’t want to admit that I spent almost my entire weekend on wikitree.com following my Ballard ancestry down a deep and winding tunnel.
So I have two topics… why am I more embarrassed by my genealogy habit than I am about my inability to resist delicious salt filled salami slices in the deli drawer.
And also, I found a semi-historically interesting ancestor this weekend.
I knew about this ancestor because my aunt had pointed it out in this amazing giant binder of begats that she loaned me, family members going back into the 1600s. My eight great grandfather, Joseph Ballard, was an accuser in the Salem Witch Trials, not a key player or anything, but an accuser nonetheless. I never really even knew I had ancestors that lived in or near Salem before a month or so ago.
I got fairly excited when I found the text of his accusation.
Complaint v. Mary Lacey Sr. , and Mary Lacey, Jr.
Complaint v. Mary Lacey Sr., and Mary Lacey, Jr.
The examination of Mary Lacey, Jr. is a more interesting read, just because it’s so hard to imagine it happening.
So why do I like genealogy? I think it’s because it’s a puzzle. and it’s a puzzle with a story. I’m searching for details, I’m trying to put them in order in a way that makes sense, and tells a story if one can be found to tell.
But it seems silly, all the adopted people in my family are more part of my family than any of these distant relatives that I share almost the same amount of autosomal DNA with. Almost none if any. Is there some benefit to knowing your history beyond it just being interesting?
Actually the amount of autosomal dna I would share with an eight great grandfather would be something like .09766%.
I think I would be almost as happy following someone else’s tree, and figuring out what I could about the history of their ancestors, but it’s also that when you’re studying these regular people in a different time, you start to try hard to think about what life was like in these times. It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that this part of New York was the frontier once.
But I’m sure there are other things I should be doing instead… like raiding the deli drawer for salami.