We all know the story of the Pilgrims, who settled in America in the 1600s. They came over from Europe seeking freedom to practice their religion and sought to start a new colony in North America.
It's probably safe to assume they never would have anticipated what would transpire over the next handful of centuries. We can start with the Revolutionary War and go from there, but suffice to say the America we live in now is quite a bit different than the one they arrived in those many years ago.
Have you ever wondered if your family tree traces as far back as then? That you are the descendant of a Pilgrim who settled in North America?
You can find out
For the first time there is an online database that will tell you if you do, in fact, have a Pilgrim relative. The project to build the collection of names was launched last year with help from the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, and it looks at those who were aboard the Mayflower when it arrived in 1620.
There were about 132 passengers and crew aboard, with 51 of them known to have descendants. How many? The database includes 193,000 birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial records through five generations of all but one of the 51.
The database has authenticated the information for more than 7,300 families -- or just shy of 60,000 people, and from there the number of people who could be related grows even greater. In fact, there are an estimated 35 million descendants across the globe, with about 10 million of them believed to be in the United States.
Now, it will not provide a direct link between you and your Pilgrim ancestor, even if you have one. The database needs the name of someone who would be a fifth-generation descendant, meaning they lived in the 1700s and 1800s.
So how do I check?
First, you click here. That will take you to a page where you enter in the names of your relative who lived in those centuries.
The information you enter will be checked against a series of books that is called "Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Descendants of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620." Also known as the "Silver Books," the names were acquired by AmericanAncestors via a partnership with the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.
In all, the database includes things like recorded birthdays, baptisms, marriage, death and deed records. It also features the names of parents and spouses, where available.
It does not cost anything to take a quick look and track down some names, but access to things like photos as well as an even greater database of names will cost $35 for a three-month membership.
Don't wish your Pilgrim relatieve a Happy Birthday on Facebook
OK right, if you happen to have a Pilgrim relative they certainly have nothing to do with Facebook. But if they did, you would not want to wish them a Happy Birthday on the site. Click here to find out why.