Is it Something in the DNA?

I’ve always been interested in genealogy. It started in Sixth grade, when I was required to do a report about my family for English class. I interviewed all my relatives (all within shouting distance, anyway), and came away with very little. My parents and grandparents, it seemed, had little interest in their family trees and it was hard to find out anything really constructive or juicy. Plus, my extended family mostly came from far away from my home in Mt. Pleasant, MI. I wrote to some family members in Flint and Detroit, but didn’t get anything but vague answers. It was frustrating.
About a year and a half ago, spurred by genealogy shows on PBS and NBC, I got a membership to Ancestry.com and tackled the subject anew. Ancestry.com is a great tool where you not only get access to a LOT of records databases, but also have access to other members who let you peek at their public trees for people you both might be related to. Those things give you access to a real wealth of information to help people trace their roots back. The site has a bit of a learning curve and you have to use discretion in borrowing from information provided from other public members. I’ve had to learn, for example, to weed out those trees which show children being born to 60 year-old mothers (possible now, but I suspect out of the realm of possibility then!).
What does all this have to do with GEM Theatrics? Wait for it! Wait for it!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve also been fascinated by American History, especially from the Revolution to the Civil War. And also, for as long as I can remember, John Adams has been my favorite Founding Father. He wasn’t tall or athletic — he was sort of like me. He was intelligent and cerebral — he was sort of like me. He was “obnoxious and disliked” — he was sort of like me (depending who you ask). So, while Washington was a great hero (again depending who you ask), Franklin was a great negotiator, wit, and diplomat, Paul Revere and Sam Adams were great zealots and Tom Paine was a great spinner of propaganda, I always gravitated to John Adams. Also, I suppose I envied him; he found the love of his life fairly early and never, till death, let her go. It took me a lot longer to make that discovery (thanks, MB, for finally bringing that joy to me!). I read everything I could about John Adams, and I fell in love with the play “1776”. A few years ago, I got the opportunity to actually be in this show at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. I didn’t play John Adams, but it was close enough.
I can feel you fidgeting in your seats, so I’ll get to it: Through the magic of Ancestry.com, I can now say, without any real certainly whatever (but I don’t care), that I may be related to John Adams. Documents point to the distinct possibility that my 11th Great Grandfather was Robert Adams, whose brother, Henry Adams, founded the Adams dynasty in America that would turn out two Presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams. And that possibility has made me wonder: Did I gravitate to John Adams early in my life because he seemed like me, and that was it, or was there something deeper going on? Could John Adams have been my very distant cousin and could that DNA have left some sort of subliminal imprint on my being? I don’t know either enough science or philosophy to figure all of that out. For now, I just revel in the discovery and bask in the possibility of reflected glory. For a day, at least, it makes me smile!
“My Dearest Friend” is now ready to tour! Show video is coming to the website very soon! So, if you know a venue where folks would like to have history and romance come alive, or if you know a social studies or history teacher who needs to fill an hour in history class — send them here to the website. We can make it happen! Let us play for you!

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One Comment on “Is it Something in the DNA?”

  1. Greg Says:

    Awesome!


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