Yeah, this was supposed to be a post for Monday, and it was also supposed to be about health and fitness. Specifically, it was about consumer online genetic testing services. Then it was going to be about bicycling.
But instead, how about a tale of adventure, wanderlust and shocking surprises? There are lots and lots and lots of pictures (let's pretend that's a good thing), and even kinda a fitness angle!
Ok, so maybe not. But I rode my bike around while researching portions of this post. Does that count?
Work with me here, people.
Anyway, recently I got my DNA testing results from 23 and Me. And I thought I'd tell you about all the fascinating and fun information I found out. (And by "fascinating and fun" I mean: "Yikes, I can't believe how many medical horrors I am at high risk for!" kinda fun. As I suspected, I do not appear to have a genetic propensity for a disease-free life. But lots of cool info too. More on that later).
However, instead of exploring genetic testing, I got sidetracked. Something more compelling came up.
Famous last words.
Have any of you ever been taken hostage by Ancestry.com? It's not pretty. I am hoping they have medications for the obsessive behavior it inspires. I have not slept much the last few days.
(Oh, and speaking of "not pretty," anyone else have some real winners in their family trees?)
Fortunately, I did come across some less frightening photos. (My maternal grandfather, whom I wished I could've known had he not died so young, is on the right).
Anyway, this has been my life, hunched over my computer hour after compulsive hour clicking on little leaf "hint" icons and looking at records and getting confused and then just going along with whatever other people figured out about who might be related to whom. If you have not yet wandered onto the site: STAY THE HELL AWAY!!!
But it's too late for me.
And yeah, I know how absolutely fascinating it is to hear about other people's efforts to find out their ancestry. Sort of like hearing about people's weird dreams, their battles with hemorrhoids, their preferred methods for organizing their linen closets, or what they ate for a snack last Thursday.
Whoops--I'm not sure how that got on my phone. I swear I wasn't planning an entire post on lettuce tacos.
OK, so maybe I was.
Anyway, so yeah, I got obsessed with stuff I was finding on the web about my ancestors, and it turns out, if the people back in Ohio aren't making shit up, some of my possible ancestors are kinda pilgrimish. And along the way, a few are buried in... Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Where I live for half the year.
Note: I am WAY lazy. I was in Scotland last summer, where the Lobster spent a bunch of time doing genealogical research. I didn't bother to do any and my last name is... Graham. Couldn't be anything for me to hunt down in Scotland, could there?
But anyway, this time, I got bitten by the bug and wanted to find out more about my relatives, and it became kind of a quest.
It's amazing the stuff I found!
The journey began here...
But not because I flew off anywhere.
The airport picture is totally gratuitous--I took it back when the post was going to be on biking. But it makes my quest seem more adventurey, doesn't it? I'd been busy when the Lobster needed to fly off on a business trip, so I told her to take the car and I'd go get it later. But how cool is it that our airport is just a bike ride away?
Nope, my actual destination was the cemetery. I found out Ebenezer Nickerson and his wife Elizabeth Mayo were buried there.
But the cemetery is big and I couldn't figure out where to start. There didn't seem to be an onsite office like I was hoping.
I looked here...
But no luck.
Plenty of Nickersons in Provincetown (I even live off Nickerson Street) but not the right ones! However, a helpful public works employee suggested I try the Clerk's office in Town Hall and see if they knew where he was buried.
Cool! I didn't know they had info there.
But first, I stopped for supplies at the natural food store. One can not embark on research without sustenance.
Then I approached Town Hall. I like Town Hall.
I was armed with sophisticated research tools.
(Not pictured: the camera phone, because it can't take pictures of itself.)
A nice lady found a big book and found the right page for old Ebenezer and Elizabeth; the pictures I took were so blurry she took pity on me and xeroxed.
At Town Hall, they have stuff to look at while you wait for the poor lady to walk across and xerox things for clueless amateur genealogists:
So I found at that Ebenezer could be found in "Cemetery #1" but the nice lady didn't know where that was.
I went back home, and googled, and eventually found out it was also known as the Winthrop Street Cemetary. Google maps was strangely silent on where that was but I finally figured it out.
Time to resume my adventuring!
I wandered around a bit... and spotted some more of the wrong Nickersons...
And eventually came upon this nice little spot:
And took some badly lit photos of the graves!
They're buried right across the street from the grocery store, so I can always go back with a real camera if I decide I give a crap.
However, can we linger for a moment on the creepy tombstone design?
Who thought scull-and-crossbones lightbulb-head ET-faced medusa-haired man was a pleasant reminder of a life well lived?
However, the real adventurey stuff came later when I continued opening up a few more leaves... and ended up, you guessed it...
At the Mayflower.
And if it's all true, I am related to the coolest f--cking pilgrim of all: Stephen Hopkins!
He got shipwrecked and stranded in Bermuda and then somehow made it to the New World before the Mayflower even sailed.
And here's more about the story behind this picture
He was sentenced to death as a mutineer, yet managed to sweet talk his way out of execution. And when he came back on the Mayflower he was much less of an asshole to the natives compared with other pilgrims. Oh, and later, if the accounts are correct, he kept running into trouble with the law by selling booze when he wasn't supposed to. What's not to like? (Well, ok, maybe the part about him mistreating a servant. That part, not so cool.)
Yet... there are still those Ohio links that I'm not 100% sure of--there could be some wishful thinkers back there, and all you need is one person who is the wrong relative for the whole house of cards to crumble. But then there are lots of other little wriggly leaves on that ancestry tree to explore and who knows where they'll lead?
Hmm, I may be getting on that plane someday after all...
Whew! So that's what I've been doing for the last few day.
Anyone else ever get hopelessly caught up in the whole ancestry obsession?