Disclaimer -- this is NOT a post about the SCOTUS decision to allow gay marriage in all 50 of the United States. I am religiously driven not politically driven so I will not be discussing that here. This is about something else.
Anybody who has read my blog realizes that I am a family history hound. My research comes and goes in spurts as my interest, time, and available information ebbs and flows. Right now it is flowing. One particularly late night last week I had been chasing down some information I hadn't noticed before -- maybe it was something new posted on Ancestry.com or maybe I just hadn't looked closely but there it was.
The Mayflower. The Mayflower connection I guess that every family historian is curious about and hopes for. This came from other people's research and I would, of course, have to do my own before I totally lay claim to it but it looks promising.
This leads me to the problem.
This particular branch of my family is the most difficult to prove and, to date, it is the most interesting. Why is it so hard to prove? Well, proof requires documentation. Documentation can be in the form of birth certificates, death certificates, census records, land records, etc. As you go farther back in the search these pieces of documentation aren't as forthcoming as you might imagine. Early census records didn't list each member of the family but rather the head of family and then a counting of the people in the family by gender and age. So, what does one do when you get farther back? Family Bibles are always great sources if you are lucky enough to have one. Published genealogies are generally accepted as proof of lineage with dealing with membership into heritage based groups and societies such as the DAR, The Mayflower Society, DRT, etc.
So, what is the problem you might ask. My grandmother. My poor grandmother. I loved her dearly, still do and now I am very upset over her lack of "paper trail". I can prove that she was married to my grandfather. I can prove she had four children, five granddaughters, lived in the same house for close to a century, I can even find her on the census records. However, what I can't prove is that she was ever born. She has no birth certificate as she was born before they were required here in Texas and, even though they became mandatory in 1903, many home births were never recorded anywhere and there were a LOT of home births in the early 1900's. And, there is no marriage license for her parents. Don't be shocked. I am not. And there is not to say there wasn't one, I just can't find it. Yes, the census records prove that she was born but it doesn't prove parentage and that is the hitch in my giddy-up.
So, early in my quest for Mayflower recognition, I am stopped. I can prove everything past this point but am stymied early on in the quest. I am sad first and foremost for my grandmother -- she has no paper trail as a child -- and secondly for me and my daughter and my cousins who would be eligible to flaunt this rich heritage but for the want of a piece of paper.
So, for all my 60's free-loving friends, for all my friends who feel that marriage is too confining, to all my friends who feel that marriage is redundant, to all my friends who ask what importance there is in a piece of paper --- friends -- IT IS IMPORTANT!!!!
For anybody planning to have children under any circumstances -- GET MARRIED! THE PIECE OF PAPER ISN'T JUST PAPER!!!!
Whether it is a civil union, a religious ceremony, a consentual agreement -- just get the piece of paper. And keep it. Put it someplace safe. Make copies and pass them around the family. Whatever. Your grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even your 11th great-granddaughter would really appreciate it.
I am done here.