Tracing Ancestry to Adam and Eve

While I researching the recently concluded series about the Vermilyea murder and trial, I read many old newspaper pages from the Toronto Star’s Pages of the Past newspaper archive. Reading old newspapers can be fascinating and I was especially taken by the prices of houses, goods and services through the 1930’s period that I was reviewing.

One story on the front page of the February 25, 1935 edition caught my attention in particular. Genealogists may not get mentioned often but here they were on the front page of the daily newspaper in a major Canadian city debating the topic. Here for your enjoyment is the story.

The story’s headline reads:

Tracing Ancestry to Adam, Eve Absurd, Say Toronto Genealogists

There are many people in Toronto with the name of Stewart who are descended from the Stewart kings, but they can’t prove it, Col. Baptist Johnston, a fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, told The Star today, branding as “absurd” the claim of Mrs. Christian Sells Jaeger of Columbus, Ohio, that she has succeeded in tracing her ancestry back through 159 generations to Adam and Eve.

Col. Johnston declared, however, that Harry Drummond, of Deer Park Cres., is able to trace his ancestry back to the Earls of Perth, whose pedigree can be proven to approximately 1200 A.D. So quickly does the human race multiply, he pointed out, that Edward III of England now has tens of thousands of descendants.

“Some people have become almost insane on the topic of genealogy,” Col. Johnston commented. “Very few people can prove their ancestry prior to 1100.

“The late Henry O’Brien K.C. [King’s Counsel], of Toronto, was a descendant of the earls of Thomond, one-time kings of Munster.”

“In the first place I don’t think there is any such individual as Adam,” declared Rabbi M. N. Eisendrath. “How can she trace her pedigree back through Zedekiah, David, Enos and Seth to Adam” he asked, “when many biblical names are not names of persons, but of tribes. In the Old Testament the union of two clans is expressed as a marriage.”

“It is quite impossible to go back with any degree of accuracy beyond the time of the Norman conquest.” observed Prof. R. Flenley of the University of Toronto. “Even the ancestry of kings cannot be traced accurately much more than 1000 years.”

So now we know, we who “have become almost insane on the topic of genealogy.”

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