Another tale from the Northern Neck.
Thea Marshall notes that the search for one's roots sometimes leads to dissappointment and suggests that it might not be a terrible thing.
My grandchildren have become tourists in their native land. My daughter, her husband and their two children, both adopted from Chinese orphanages, are making a return trip to China to introduce the children to their home towns, and for my grandson, Benjamin, it's Harbin, that most northern of Chinese cities, where he was found 11 years ago, abandoned in a train station.
My granddaughter, Hannah, was left 8 years ago at the doorstep of a police station in the more southern city of Guangzhou in Guandong province.
Along with visits to some phenomenal sites, from temples and the Great Wall, museums, Peking duck feasts and the Siberian tiger farm, the trip will perhaps give the children a sense of connectedness to their ancient heritage and, to some degree, their Chinese roots.
That need to know, that search for roots, is very nearly endemic; here in the Northern Neck there are many hundreds of websites devoted to tracking down one's ancestry, and then there is that very special group who has reason to believe that they're descended from the first settlers in Jamestown, and they go to astonishing lengths to prove it.
When they do so, after having submitted all manner of documentation and the documentation is approved, they're invited and welcomed into the Jamestown Society. Today, there are more than 6000 documented members descended from those intrepid Jamestown settlers, from Abbott to Zouch. They can trace their roots back to the 1600's and there are probably thousands more who are descendents, but don't know it.
About five years ago, those from the Northern Neck who qualified formed the Chesapeake Bay Company of the Jamestown Society. There are probably many hundreds of descendents living here, since it's one of the earliest areas into which the Jamestown folks moved as soon as it was open for settlement.
I know a few of the Northern Neck members, and the names of their ancestors, well, they've got the ring of Virginia history, like Richard Lee and Henry Vleet. In reading the criteria for becoming a member, I learned that some Virginians who meet one or more of their criteria might just have an ancestor whose name has been removed because new evidence was found that disqualifies them, so how terrible is that?
Disappointed Jamestown Society applicants well know their American roots, and if Ben and Hannah, on their China odyssey, have a wonderful and fun-filled adventure but don't get a sense of connectedness, well, how terrible is that? In these last ten years, they've been embraced, beloved, and filled with the knowledge that they are enfolded in a large and loving family that includes Mom and Dad, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and more....ready-made roots, ready-made to share.
This is Thea Marshall.