So, I decided to run my own numbers, for comparison. I brought up my Legacy Family Tree database, created a fan chart, and started counting. Out of 1022 ancestors, reaching back to the early 1700's, I've traced 113. That's 11 percent!
Here's the chart:
One quarter of my ancestry is German. My grandfather Arnold Aaron Anthony Stoelt was born of German immigrants. While I do have a photocopy of the family Bible naming his parents and grandparents, I have done very little German research.
While I have found 15 out of my 16 great-great grandparents, that missing person is my Civil War ancestor, my great-grandmother Rhoda Ruth Prosser's father, who reportedly died in the Civil War. Almost 40 years of research has failed to come up with a first name or family of origin for him.
In totaling up my numbers, I'm not counting women for whom I only have a first name. I'm also not counting names for which I don't have any evidence. My great great great grandmother Abigail Stanley was reportedly born in August 1790 to Joseph and Phylen Stanley - I haven't found any proof, and I'm beginning to think this handwritten family tree, handed down from my grandmother, was incorrect.
And, to be honest, I know that some of my lines have good documentation going back to the 10th generation, and I just haven't taken the time and careful effort to enter them into my database. My 3rd great grandfather Benjamin Curtis, who died in Michigan in 1888, has a well documented ancestry going back to 1700's New England. Another 3rd great-grandmother, Betsy Webb (granddaughter of my Revolutionary War patriot Jonathan Webb) goes back to William Bradford. Levi Lane (1784-1856) fought in the War of 1812 (mental note - I need to get his pension file), and I'd like to trace his Vermont ancestors.
And, since this is my own ancestry we're talking about here, I'm also not counting the ancestors of my dearly beloved grandmother Ervilla Varran Stoelt, who was my mother's stepmother. She had a stepfather, Elmer Van Wagoner (and yes, I traced his ancestry), and he had a stepmother, Frances Nora Tanner (you have to ask?). Her life story is important to me, because I own the beautiful crazy quilt she sewed in 1890.
So, next time you're thinking that your ancestry is finished and there's nothing left to search, think again!