I am a member. Previously, my family had only known about 4 generations back. Now I have my Y chromosome line back to 344 B.C. I have over 6,000 people on my tree now. The reason I was able to find that many is because they were mostly royalty with plenty of history recorded. Royalty always came from royalty for as long as history has been recorded with mine mainly coming from Kings of the Franks, and some Vikings. I have a high percentage of blood that came through Charlemagne, and that runs back to Romans including Mark Anthony.
I've learned a LOT of history in the process. I live in a part of the country where if you had family here in the early 1700's, your ancestors most likely came in through Jamestown. My 8th GGF captained a ship that came to Jamestown in 1609. His Son was captain of a ship that came in to New England in 1620. Almost all my ancestors did come in throuh Jamestown. Now I know who they were, who they married, where they lived and all sorts of other interesting stuff. The first King took that last name in 1326.
I was lucky because my 5th Great Grandfather moved down into N.C. and the courthouses weren't burned during the Revolutionary War like the ones up in Virginia were. My 6th Great Grandfather had 5 boys, but records of the other 4 were lost in courthouse burnings up in Virginia, so there are a lot of missing links.
It's costing me 35 bucks a month, but I've enjoyed it. Most will not be as lucky as I was though. Everyone else I know can only go back a few generations.
Wow! We have one line we've traced back to the 7th century AD, and I thought we'd done well!
On Dave's side of the family, both his parents trace to people who came over on the Mayflower. (our "early port of entry" up here in the frozen north
) His family kept meticulous "bible" records for a number of generations before coming over here.
On my side, as my Dad says, "the immigration laws were a lot tougher" when his family came over. (he is first generation American) fortunately, we still have family ties to our German relatives, and fortunately many of the records have survived both world wars. So that is the part of the family we've traced back so far.
My Mom's side is the most mystery. Some we know, partially from records, and some parts from "oral history" within the family, that doesn't show in records. For instance, we know that her mother's family left the colonies at the beginning of the revolution (Tories or "Loyalist" take your pick!
) and moved up to PEI. There the patriarch of that line took a MicMac indian woman as an indentured servant, fell in love with her and later married her. They had a slew of children, but since it "wasn't done" for "good" families to have indian blood, it's not in any written records that Sophie was a Native American. (I still have revolutionary era coins from this side of the family) Before coming to the colonies, they were from Scotland, and there is a castle there with the same name, though we don't know for sure if there is a connection.
My grandfathers side only can be traced back a short way. By his explanation, "There was a lot of fum-diddling behind the barns" up in Vermont in the early days.
So yes, I agree, Tom, it's a lot of fun to learn these things, and we can START to keep better records going forward for our own children and grandchildren. Because of the technology available now, we have located and scanned in many old family photos, so they can be enjoyed by generations to come, hopefully long after the prints have faded away.