“I Have My Family Tree Back to Adam and Eve”

This is another bit of fiction that needs to be wiped out. I have often heard people (I won’t call them “genealogists”) at various times make the claim they have traced their family tree back to Adam and Eve. Of course, the “documentation” is always sketchy.

Robert C. Gunderson was a Senior Royalty Research Specialist, of the Church Genealogical Department, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). He was an expert in medieval genealogy and started the Royalty Identification Unit in 1972. He passed away in 2003. However, before his death, Gunderson once was asked if such research was possible. He replied:

“The simplest answer is No. Let me explain. In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. a.d. 450–a.d. 752).

“Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source.”

François Weil, a former director of studies (professor) at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris and currently a State Councilor, is another expert in medieval pedigrees who agrees. Weil provides authoritative answers to these questions in his book Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America (2013) published by Harvard University Press.

Both Gunderson and Weil agreed: European royal pedigrees cannot be verified before the 500s A.D.

To learn more, read:

Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. By François Weil. Published by Harvard University Press, Online bookstore; 2013. ISBN 9780674045835. 320 pp. Indexes. Hardcover. $27.95. http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674045835 or available on Amazon as a hardcover book at https://amzn.to/2BloHUu.

19 Comments

Funny, this seems incredible but during my eleven years as the National Genealogical Society Library I heard this at last four times. I didn’t mock anyone but once asked a woman on what she based the genealogy. She told me that it was because her husband had a “ruddy” complexion and one of the patriarchs in the Bible was also described as ruddy.

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Very good article for all to read. Thanks much. Susi

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Dennis Whitfield July 1, 2020 at 8:48 pm

Well the Bible documents much Jewish trees from Adam & Eve thru the old Testament to the New Testament times. Of course every descends from Noah from the Ark except for the Scotch. There was the old Scotchman that had his own boat.

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    I feel driven to say that Scotch normally travels in a barrel or bottle and describing people who were born in Scotland as Scotch takes the biscuit, but not a bourbon!

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I once had a library patron who came to see me say that she had traced her lineage back to Jesus. I asked about evidence and she explained that a cousin had told her that Charlemagne was their gateway ancestor…this, of course, I know is possible – however, she didn’t seem to accept from me that there’s still no proof that Charlemagne was descended from Jesus.

She had no records of her own and hadn’t really done any genealogy work herself – just wanted me to help her find records for their biblical connection. After one session (in which I did do searches with her, even knowing they would be fruitless), she never came back. She’s a lovely person and I suppose in the end if it makes her feel better to have that connection, there’s no harm, however, I still found it frustrating that she didn’t even consider what I was saying might have some merit.

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what a lot of these people don’t realise or know, is that these pedigrees are based on mediaeval chronicles

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Actually, I really have traced, and documented, my ancestry back to Adam and Eve;>) Adam Stabler married Eve Neff in York County, PA about 1810-1815 – my 3rd great grandparents. I love telling friends that I have traced my ancestry to Adam and Eve – most of them could care less!

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Hello, my name is Merin Heckler.. I go by two pseudonyms on two different social media.. be that as it may, I am a great great granddaughter of Mary Margaret Grant…
I found out recently that my grandmother’s family has intermarried with the Bissett Clan of Scotland, over the years.
Bissett, is the maiden name of Stefani Germanotta’s mother; Cynthia…
Stefani’s professional name is, Lady Gaga… she and I are distant cousins… so read, and know your family history… you too could have somebody famous; in your family tree…

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And didn’t Adam and Eve exist before the flood? So if there’s any truth to the myth (and the various other myths with the first man and woman and some kind of magical fruit,) all the documentation would’ve been lost.
There’s evidence of the flood dating back the time Plato said Atlantis sunk, and once again there’s a flood myth in so many religions and they’re eerily similar.
But again, the documents would be gone if there were some kind of pre-flood civilization.
I’m not crazy.

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One of the more notable leaves I discovered clinging to the outer branches of my tree was Henry Fonda. Then I realized Jane came witch this discovery. I immediately trimmed that branch and burned the leavings with the rest of the dreck.

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    I understand your revulsion. I am of Scotch & Irish Descent , when I discovered that Oliver Cromwell is distinctly related to both myself and my husband, though not directly…thank goodness, I honestly wanted to throw up!

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While I recognize that most documentable European pedigrees peter out shortly before Charlemagne, it is my understanding that an exception is those which contain a ‘gateway’ ancestor to the early Irish nobility. If one then accepts the Roman transcriptions of Celtic oral traditions (which, granted, contain at least a couple of ambiguities but which otherwise appear to be reasonable), one can then trace a line back about 2000 years. Any thoughts?

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I find it embarrassing that there are adults who even believe in a literal Adam & Eve.

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Erin Llayvon Woempner July 2, 2020 at 4:41 pm

Sir, the Lord tells us we are the seeds of Adam. That is all the reference I need. Have a blessed day!

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Dennis Whitfield July 4, 2020 at 4:33 pm

They begat then be get & soon forget and here we are descendents of Adam & Eve

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