The other day I came to the realization that most of my and my wife’s ancestors were already in the United States at the time of the American Revolution. That means most of my children’s ancestors who migrated here were not immigrants to the United States. Most of them actually were immigrants to some European Colony, in most cases British. As a dumb mental exercise I decided to try and figure just how many people that might have been. Here is what I came up with.
- All of my paternal grandfathers ancestors may have lived in the thirteen colonies at the time of the Revolution. I estimate that my direct ancestors in the Murray line, alive at the time of the American Revolution, consisted of 8 children and their 16 parents as well as, potentially, 32 grandparents. That is a total of 56 ancestors just for my paternal grandfather.
- My paternal grandmother was descended from Scandinavian and German stock who immigrated to the United States in the mid-19th century. I estimate that this group of ancestors consisted of four children living in Germany with their 8 parents/16 grandparents and 6 Scandinavian children with their 12 parents/24 grandparents. In all a total of 70 ancestors in the Nelson line.
- My maternal grandfather’s ancestors consisted of 8 children/16 parents/32 grandparents. Total of 56 in the Tunison line. Some of this group of parents and grandparents may have immigrated but all of the children were born in the newly formed United States.
- My maternal grandmother’s ancestors also consisted of 8 children/16 parents/32 grandparents with a total of 56 in the Lepper line and, again, all of the children born in the United States.
The result, then, is that I may possibly have had as many as 238 ancestors alive at the time of the American Revolution with 168 of them potentially living in the United States. I do not know who all of these people are….yet. For most of my families I have a pretty complete line back to the early 19th century. Before that, biology does what it does and the numbers fall out. There is a possibility that some of the early ancestor’s, especially the grandparents of the revolutionary children, may have immigrated. It is also highly probable, given the mortality rates for those times, that many of the grandparents had already passed. Some of the parents may also have already died. There may have been a few great grandparents still around as well. There is also the very real possibility of some interbreeding. Back in the day, families were spread pretty thin and cousins were often necessarily part of the marriage pool. Hopefully, I will be able to determine some of those details someday.
A similar exercise with my wifes family yields the following result
- paternal grandfather – Summers line – 4/8/16 = 28 total
- paternal grandmother – Cary line – 6/12/24 = 42 total
- maternal grandfather – McLaughlin line – 6/12/24 = 42 total (there is a shared ancestor family in this group and the following group)
- maternal grandmother – Stallard line6/12/24 = 42 total
This is a smaller total of 154 but all of them may have been in the United States at the time of the Revolution. The reason for the smaller number is that a couple of the children in the direct line were late children and one of the male direct ancestors had a late second marriage which produced our ancestor. That meant that there were fewer generations in that time period and consequently fewer ancestors.
The grand total, therefore, works out to be 322 in the United States and 70 in Europe. 56 of these ancestors were born within 10 years of the Founding and could be considered the first natural born citizens of the United States. Clearly at some point all of my relatives, with the possible exception of some as yet unknown native American branches, were immigrants. But at the moment the United States became a reality most of my children’s direct ancestors, who were alive at the time, were there to witness and participate in the event. It is quite a large number of people and although I have information about some of them, it is hard not to get overwhelmed thinking about chasing them all down.