Today I read the tale of Alice Lake. I came upon the tragic story of Alice while researching my own family tragedy in the death of Rebecca Cornell and the subsequent hanging of her son Thomas Cornell II for her murder. Rebecca and Alice both suffered horrible deaths. Rebecca was possibly murdered and her body burned past recognition while her family ate dinner in the next room. Alice was hanged for witchcraft after being plagued by haunting visions of her lost child. Rebecca and Alice also shared one other detail in common; their daughter in law was Sarah Earle.
One of the things I enjoy most about genealogy is discovering the unexpected. Family history can seem rather dull until you discover that first axe murderer hanging around the branches of the old family tree.
Researching the lines connected to my Mayflower ancestor has turned up some interesting gems to say the least. The great thing about Mayflower passengers is that they are such a big topic of interest that they have been researched extensively. There are groups dedicated to the Mayflower passengers as a whole, groups dedicated to the genealogy of each passenger individually, and top historians in the field are researching the topic nonstop. Due to all the interest and research early lines that might otherwise be hard to research are heavily documented for all to find.
Recently while following some of the lines in my Mayflower line I encountered the name Borden associated with the town of Fall River, Massachusetts. Most people might not immediately recognize why it’s noteworthy that I came across the surname Borden from Fall River but I have read enough on an infamous Borden from Fall River that it jumped out at me as soon as I spotted the information. The surname jumped right to the top of my priority list with one question in mind. Were we related to the infamous murderess Lizzie Borden from Fall River?
No Sharp Objects at Family Functions?
No need to resort to finger foods at the next family function. While, yes indeed, we are related to dear cousin Lizzie it’s a very distant connection. Lizzie is my 7th cousin 5 times removed. Our closest ancestor, my 11th great grandfather, was Richard Borden who died in 1671. In a less researched line it likely would have taken decades, if ever, to discover the distant connection. Useless but fun information discovered, go me!
There are so many people who connect to any one family tree that the odds of NOT finding something noteworthy are slim. Consider for a moment that your great grandparents could have each been one of 10 children, and they likely had a large family, and so on for each generation through time. The numbers of individuals connected can quickly jump into the hundreds and thousands!
My Great Grandpa was a Native American Chief
Many of us grew up with some sort of family legend. In my family there were tales of my Great Grandmother being Native American and her being related to the first Native American judge, on another side there were claims of being related to President Adams. Interestingly enough despite all my research to prove these tales I grew up hearing; I have found zero evidence to back up these claims…and plenty of evidence to call it nothing more than myth.
I don’t know how these stories got started or why they continued to be passed down generation after generation. It was hard to let go of these so-called truths I had grown up with and accept a new set of facts actually supported by historical documents but I have to follow what the records show to be true. Family legends can be a good jumping off point for research but don’t be afraid to alter your perceptions if the facts don’t add up. I never found the connections I thought would be there but I did find an Abraham Lincoln connection and Lizzie Borden. You win some, you lose some.
In the end, the best stories are waiting to be found.