[Editor’s note: This post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 20 January 2020.]
Internet trolls are people who lurk on social media and generally cause trouble for everybody else. I recently found a list of the ten types of internet trolls, and suspect I probably qualify under No. 5, “The Show-Off, Know-it-All Or Blabbermouth Troll.” Or at least that is how I feel whenever I chime in on one of the Mayflower/Alden-related Facebook pages or the like. It becomes my job to deflate the balloons of some of these wonderful newly-found Mayflower descendants, who have, most unfortunately, inadvertently gathered and believed all the dross of Internet information about their ancestors.
I do feel bad about it, which is why I don’t post very often. It is discouraging when one must post the same things over and over and over and over, and it is amazing how many people resist facts once they have found an interesting old story. Even when I steer newbies to a legitimate website, such as Caleb Johnson’s MayflowerHistory.com, I get the feeling not many of them care to make the effort to look at it.
All of this is important now, of course, with the 2020 celebrations of the four hundredth anniversary of the coming of the Mayflower and her Pilgrims. It got me to thinking that what we really need is a Mayflower clearing house website that would post all the correct information in one spot!
Two thousand twenty also marks sixty years since the inception of the Five Generations Project (now the Silver Books project) in 1960.
That would be nice, but right now the Mayflower Society has plenty on its hands with hundreds of new inquiries and applications. Anyway, it is not as though they haven’t been doing anything. Two thousand twenty also marks sixty years since the inception of the Five Generations Project (now the Silver Books project) in 1960. The idea then was to create documented works to help people apply for membership in the lineage society. The estimate for documenting and publishing five generations of Mayflower descendants in “short” little sketches for every family was something like, oh, five years. Yeah, right.
In these sixty years the General Society of Mayflower Descendants has published in one form or another – silver books, pink pamphlets, etc. – what must be close to 100 different editions and revisions, some now extending into the sixth and seventh generations, all with the intention of “getting it right.” If one wishes to make the effort, one should be able to find in a library or buy a book with vetted information about the early generations of every Mayflower family. Even better, now we have access to indexed images of the fifth-generation “Silver Books” on AmericanAncestors.org.
That is all well and good, and we eagerly look forward to the day when online images of the entire series of books are available, but it doesn’t solve my problem today. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could direct people to a website where they could find, with one push of a button, the reasons why they should not believe in such things as the imaginary “Molyneaux” ancestry of the Mullins family, or the invented royal ancestry of Richard Warren, or that John and Priscilla Alden had a son named Zachariah?
Maybe I’ll put it on the Christmas 2020 wish list.