Throwback Thursday: Genealogical Breakthroughs

Finding a 12th great-grandparent is gratifying, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. As you can see in the chart, the number of direct ancestors doubles with each generation, and quickly reaches dauntingly high numbers. (I added a few more generations at the bottom.)

It’s throwback Thursday, the perfect day for learning about new ancestors! I had some huge breakthroughs today and yesterday, all of them in my father’s maternal family. Basically, working in two different parts of that line, I discovered new 10th, 11th, and even 12th great-grandparents!

The chart at right illuminates just how difficult it can be to get a complete picture of your ancestors. The number of direct ancestors doubles with each generation, and quickly reaches dauntingly high numbers. We each have more than 16,000 12th great-grandparents! This is why family history research never really ends. (Disclaimer: The chart does not account for the fact that the further you go back, the more likely it is that relatives have intermarried, so the real numbers of separate individuals will be lower.)

I am most excited about the 12th great-grandfather. It’s the first line I’ve managed to extend beyond the 11th great-grandparent level. I began with my already-known 10th great-grandfather, Pierfrancesco Pocconi, born about 1575. And I finally discovered the names of his parents, my 11th great-grandparents. They were Andrea Pocconi and Bartolomea (her surname is still unknown). I don’t have dates of birth, but I do know that he died in 1620 and she died in 1602. Pierfrancesco was one of their younger children; he had a brother born in 1560. So their parents were probably born around 1540 or a bit earlier, though of course that is a wild guess. (Despite commonly held modern-day beliefs that people in Medieval times began having children while still in their teens, I am not finding that in Marche, Italy, in this time period, at least not in my family. Almost all first-time parents I’ve found were in their twenties.)

After discovering my 11th great-grandparents, I was able to take a step further, and found a name for Andrea’s father, my 12th great-grandfather. He was Pierpaolo Pocconi. He would probably have been born in the early 1500s, though I am still searching for documents with dates.

Moving back to my 10th great-grandfather, Pierfrancesco, I also made a breakthrough there. I’d had his wife listed as Giovanna, surname unknown. As it turned out, that was wrong. Giovanna was Pierfrancesco’s second wife, and I am not descended from her. I did not even know he’d been married before. His first wife, Antonia Trinella (1575-1600) was my 10th great-grandmother. They married 10 June 1596, and she died 4 Aug 1600, at the age of 25, after giving birth to two sons. The second son, Filippo Pocconi, was my 9th great-grandfather. He married Giovanna, whose surname seems to have been Vedovi, in 1602, and they went on to have four more sons and a daughter.

In addition, I have discovered a previously elusive surname for a different 10th great-grandmother, and that discovery led to the names of her parents. I’d known that Bastiano Tarini (born 1580) married a woman also named Antonia, but I did not have a surname for her. I have now discovered that her name was Antonia Del Monte, and her parents were Baldo Del Monte and yet another Antonia, though I don’t know the elder Antonia’s last name. So my family tree now includes another set of 11th great-grandparents!

Lest I get too excited, a glance at the chart above reminds me that I still have 16,383 12th great-grandparents and 8,182 11th great-grandparents to find. This could take a while.

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