My personal genealogy has never interested me much, knowing as I do that the number of ancestors multiplies by a factor of two with each generation. Thus in AD 1800 someone born in 1975 had about 2^8=256 ancestors of child-bearing age (or slightly fewer if someone has been productive in more than one slot on the diagram). Finding out that a historical figure contributed 1/256 to my genetics and social heritage would not make them all that much more interesting to me.
I draw the line at three generations back, with people that are still remembered. In my case they illustrate an interesting and well-known trend in people’s mobility in Sweden over the past century.
- Generation 1. Eight people born c. 1890 in counties Kalmar (two people who do not join up), Bohus (two people who do not join up), Örebro, Malmöhus, Södermanland and Stockholm.
- Generation 2. Four people born c. 1915 in counties Stockholm (3) and adjacent Södermanland.
- Generation 3. Two people born in c. 1943 in Stockholm county.
- Generation 4. Myself born 1972 in Stockholm county.
Look how they all move to Stockholm in 1910 and get married to someone from a county they’re unlikely to ever have visited before! This is why Stockholm people have no roots. The only genuine ethnic tradition that survives in my family is an infrequent goose feast on Saint Martin’s Day, passed down from the guy from Malmöhus in generation 1. He was a cabinet maker and we’ve got one of his pieces of work in the dining room.