I’ve always held an interest in the early years in the New World. The settling of the original colonies up through the Revolutionary War has always piqued some passion in me. Having lived on the east coast, I felt my soul connect somehow with the past and those brave, early comers. I found myself frequently entering old cemeteries and reading the tombstones from the 1600s and 1700s, imagining what it must have been like during these years. I still have a small Revolutionary War replica cannon that I purchased in Boston several decades ago. It sits on my bookshelf as a reminder of that historic city and important era in United States history.
It was good to know of my Crow family’s long history in this nation, including my Crow ancestors fighting in the war for our independence. However, I sometimes fantasized as a young person that I had Mayflower ancestors. I did not, however, have reason to believe this to be the case, until one day when my uncle Ed (my father’s brother) received a phone call from a woman in California, Barbara, who stated she had been searching for her cousins for quite some time. They quickly established that he was the right person.
A Newfound Cousin
After speaking with Ed, Barbara called my father. Next, I received a call from my father telling me I should get out my application for the Daughters of the American Revolution. He told me Barbara wanted to speak with me and asked if I was willing to all her. Of course I was interested!
I called my newfound cousin Barbara and found that she’d not only traced our family history back to the U.S. Colonial period, but that she written a lovely book that lays out the role our ancestors played in the earliest years of this nation. And she told me something else. We are Mayflower descendants.
I am an 11th-great granddaughter of John and Joan Tilley. I am a 10th great-granddaughter of their daughter Elizabeth and her husband, John Howland, both Mayflower passengers. As well, I am a 12th great-granddaughter of Elder William Brewster and his wife, Mary. Anyone with an Ancestry.com account can look up my public tree under my username, lauriemorey.
What does any of this have to do with reopening records to adopted citizens? Because of my adoption, my original birth record is sealed from me. So, I cannot provide one of the basic eligibility documents to societies for those with Mayflower ancestry. When I applied to the John Howland Society, the person in charge of membership sympathized with my situation, and tried very hard to make several suggestions. Unfortunately, the bottom line is that, even though it exists, I can’t give them a birth certificate showing my genetic parentage like a non-adopted person might be able to do.