It is true that through knowledge of our genealogical heritage, we enrich our lives. For without our forbears, we would not be here. Each of us living today comes from a long line of ancestors that stretches beyond antiquity itself. At no point upon our journey into our past can we find an ancestral parent that did not bring forth at least one offspring. If it were so, the line of pedigree would terminate and so our very existence would become extinct.
The size and breadth of our webdocs is vast. With each generation our parental roots alone increase in size by a power of 2 without regard to the peripheral lines. Each of us has the same number of parents, two. Beyond them are four grandparents, eight great grandparents, sixteen great great grandparents, and so on. Even more so, the webdocs's breadth expands vastly wide along the lines extending from our uncles and aunts into and spreading out from our cousins. The same holds true if we look forward to our descendents along the lines of our children, grandchildren, nephews, and nieces.
With such an overwhelming task before us, where shall we begin. We cannot start at the beginning for it is our unattainable goal. We can only hope to discover some but not all our earliest progenitors. The road we then take must begin in the present. Though long and arduous through diligence and time we shall pass down that road and perhaps see a brief glimpse of our heritage before it fades away over the horizon forever beyond our reach.
The evidence we seek to reclaim our past comes in a variety of forms, not all of which is accurate. Birth and death certificates, Church records, land deeds, estate probate, wills, census records, and tax lists are but a few of the official sources. Many of these contain errors that often lead us down false pathways making us stray from the road. Other less official sources are the memories of our living relatives, newspaper articles, obituaries, bible records, letters, and tombstone inscriptions to mention but a few. These too provide us, more often than not, with misleading information.
The study of genealogy then is not unlike that of a puzzle, yet much worse. For unlike a puzzle, not all the pieces fit, some being misshapen and ill formed. It will take all our skill and ingenuity to put as many of the pieces together so that we can, in the very least, begin to see the slightest picture of our past.
It is in this vain, dear Reader, that the Author has taken the liberty to make some of these pieces fit the puzzle. You are about to begin taking that same short walk down the Road to our common heritage. The evidence, as best as can be determined, will be before you. You are at large to accept or reject those pieces which in your own judgement may or may not fit within the picture of the puzzle. Even if the claims of the Author cannot be upheld without casting the shadow of doubt, perhaps that same shadow will inspire the Reader to undertake his or her own journey. That being done, the Author's work has been accomplished.