Not long ago, I was whining to a friend that I hadn’t found a new ancestor in a long time. Well, now I have to unwhine, because I have hit the ancestor lottery – and I mean the Mega-Millions Jackpot.
Gosh, I wish I could have been there, as I could have met several cousins. It would have been like a virtual family reunion.
You see, once you tie into the royal lines with what is known as a gateway ancestor, you’re home free…well…kind of. You’re at least in the door, but you still have to figure out how all of that royalty ties together, and there is a lot of misinformation and wishful thinking out there, believe me.
I learned about a year ago that indeed, I did have a gateway ancestor through Sarah Ludlow born about 1640 in Fairfield, Connecticut, who married Nathaniel Brewster. A gateway ancestor is considered to be an American or colonial settler who descends from documented royalty.
I started slowly working my way backward, after ordering boxes worth of reference material, and not long thereafter, discovered that I was descended, much to my surprise, from King Edward the First, also known as Longshanks.
Little did I know that was only the tip of the iceberg. That’s because European royalty is all related to each other like a big ole kudzu vine. That is, after all, how you kept the money, power and crown in the family.
I discovered the Magna Carta Facebook group and joined. They discussed the most interesting topics, and with the upcoming anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the educational factor was what I’ll just call “spongeworthy.” Given that I had no particular reason to be interested in British royalty before, I wasn’t. But, all of a sudden I have developed an intense interest and I just couldn’t soak up all of the information fast enough.
I kept discovering that I was related to more and more people, like more Kings…King John, King Henry II and III, William the Conqueror, Alfred the Great, Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Scots, King Louis VI, VII and VIII of France…and yes…Charlemagne too.
Now, if what National Geographic reports is true, and you’re descended from Charlemagne, you’re cousins with everyone in contemporary Europe except for newcomers. And all this from one man who lived about 1200 years ago and was exceedingly prolific.
Wow, was I overwhelmed, both by the sheer volume of information, and the fact that…glory be….the research has for the most part been done. Now, I just had to put the pieces together, not search for the pieces of needles in a huge scavenger hunt haystack.
Even that is no small task.
Then, one day on the Facebook Magna Carta group, someone showed a dramatic, stunningly beautiful chart of their royal connections…beginning with them. It was “take your breath away” gorgeous. I’m a visual person and I wanted one, in the worst way, but I didn’t have nearly enough of my genealogy done.
Imagine my big 24X36 frameable chart with me at one end and King Edward I at the other end and a few scatters in-between. Nope, not ready yet.
However, I saw a few more of these charts and I DESPERATELY wanted one, so I decided to drop a note to Ky (rhymes with sky), the man making these pieces of art. I explained to him my quandary…and much to my surprise…Ky offered to help me. Wow! I was stunned. I never expected that.
And just because I needed to know… who was Ky, this man I was willing to send Paypal money to unmet and sight unseen?
Ky White has a BS degree in Weapons Systems Engineering from the US Military Academy and an MA in History from Sam Houston State University. He has always found tales of family history, medieval history, and knights in shining armor to be irresistible. Ok, so far we have a lot in common…well at least that medieval knight part.
Ky has been compiling names, dates, and places, with documentation, for his entire adult life. Ky has gateway ancestors for 3 of his 4 grandparents. That certainly explains his intense interest as well.
About two years ago Ky started posting a daily diary of events that happened in medieval times in several FaceBook groups. One thing led to another, and Ky has recently co-authored a book with Chuck Poley (founder of the Magna Carta Facebook group) on the Magna Carta barons and did the original research linking all the Magna Carta Barons (or their wives) to Charlemagne. That book is not quite ready for publication, but is titled “Descendants & Ancestors of King John, his Supporters, & the Magna Carta Barons through the lines of Charlemagne & William The Conqueror.” Note to self – buy that book when it’s ready.
For the book, Ky created charts showing inter-connected family trees of the barons. Several people wanted to purchase those charts and an internet business was born.
Ky has a website, www.ancestralcharts.com, where you can view his incredible work.
Ky already has two books to his credit with the third Magna Carta book being finalized for print. Ky is currently writing a fourth book on the Crusades and the Crusaders featuring short biographical sketches on about 500 noteworthy Crusaders. Note to self, buy this book too.
Needless to say, Ky has people waiting for his services, so, I got in line. When it was my turn, I sent Ky my GEDCOM file, telling him who my gateway ancestor was. Ky, in turn, did his magic, connecting my gateway ancestor with his data base that includes more than 27,000 royally connected people and over 1000 coats of arms, representing more than 40 years of work.
Guess what. Ky and his wife are both my distant cousins!!! How about this for a novel way to meet new cousins.
Ky also connected me with Nick Buckingham, who created my shield for me. Now, you know “the rest of the story,” why I wanted my shield.
So, Ky was really my gateway to winning the ancestor lottery. He showed me people I descend from and connect to. I would never have had any idea otherwise. I am descended from a fine mix of Saints and Sinners!
I visited this statue of Lady Godiva’s in Coventry, England two years, ago, entirely unsuspecting that she is my ancestor. In fact, my husband took one look at that statue and announced that I am surely, surely descended from her. I laughed at the time, because it was just an incredulously ridiculous thing to say. I know he was kidding because of her obvious propensity to not behave, but it was uncannily prophetic.
I’m so proud of Lady Godiva, riding nude like that to oppose taxes. She was an innovative woman, that’s for sure. I don’t know if the taxes were reduced or not, but it certainly called attention to the issue and her ride has become her legacy. Indeed, well behaved women seldom make history! That’s my motto anyway. In fact, here I am, at right below, wearing my favorite t-shirt, with one of my favorite fellow non-well-behaved-women, Anne Poole, on an archaeology dig, carrying on the family tradition.
I bet I carry some of Lady Godiva’s genes someplace! Well, I haven’t ridden through town nude, at least not yet…but then again, I’m not dead yet either! Besides…that nude ride thing has already been done – I’ll have to think of something else innovative. Hey, maybe I’ll push the envelope of genetics research…how about that???
I descend from 15 Magna Carta Barons and Sureties, about 20 Crusaders and 3 Saints. Yes, seriously. I know, those Saints are probably rolling over in their graves, but I’m guessing it’s probably not the first time, especially if they knew about Lady Godiva’s ride.
I have to wonder – how many of those Kings carry the warrior gene? Did it help them? It surely would be interesting to do a study. Maybe as full genome sequencing becomes more common, their actual genes will one day be sequenced from their remains. Did I inherit this gene from this line? Do I carry part of King John’s or Lady Godiva’s DNA in me today? Maybe one day I’ll be able to know.
I was dumbstruck, flabbergasted, speechless when I saw who I descend from. Absolutely giddy. I have struck the ancestor mother-lode.
I am extremely excited for my ancestors to have played such a pivotal part at many critical junctures of both European and colonial American history – good or bad – and because they were famous, or infamous, I know who they are what they were doing. It’s recorded in the annals of history. My lucky day, indeed!!!
But wait, that’s not all. Ky can’t possibly fit everyone on the chart, so he also offers a pedigree service. You provide him with the name of your gateway ancestor, and he will send you a detailed pedigree for 6-12 generations back in time from that gateway ancestor. I think this is the best value on the market today. My pedigree document in 40 pages in length. The great thing about these people is that if you google any one of them, there are wiki and other articles and documentation about them with photos, graphics, pictures of medieval documents and locations.
Yes, I should have been at Runnymede this week. British history has suddenly become incredibly fascinating. And those people wearing those funny hats…they are all my cousins, although I doubt they’ll be claiming me anytime soon or inviting me to high tea at the palace.
I’m thinking Queen Elizabeth probably doesn’t care that I’m her cousin 27 different ways to Sunday. Maybe if I bought a hat or a “fascinator” it would improve my odds.
Now, I’ll just let you peruse and enjoy the chart that Ky made, just for me, including my Mayflower ancestors as well. This heirloom chart just arrived from the printers and will be framed and on my wall shortly. Something lovely to enjoy in my lifetime and pass on to my children, along with the rich history and heritage it represents.
Thank you, thank you, Ky!!! I can’t thank Ky enough.
I feel like one of those lucky celebrities on “Who Do You Think You Are” who just received their pedigree scroll and it unrolled all the way down the hallway! I’ve always looked at those scenes with green-eyed envy…but now…thanks to Ky…it’s unexpectedly my turn! What an incredible gift.
If you have a gateway ancestor, it can be your turn too.