Another reason the book is interesting to me, is the fact that much of the research I have done with my own ancestors dates back to the early settlement of America. My Danish and English ancestors all arrived from England, Australia and Denmark back in the 1800s. My nearest ancestor who was born outside of the United States is my Great-grandfather Marinus Christensen who was born in Torslev, Hjorring, Denmark in 1863. My Great-great-grandparents came from Denmark, England by way of Australia, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But my Tanner line goes back to the 1680s in Rhode Island and some of those ancestors arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.
For me, the defining factor in all of my genealogical pursuits has been the fact that of my 16 Great-great-grandparents, all of them except two, were early pioneer settlers in Utah, California and Arizona. This fact has given me a real, present-day connection to all of my ancestral lines because I grew up in the same areas where they had settled in the 1800s. In each of my family lines there were those who did extensive genealogy. In three of the four sets of Great-grandparents, there are published surname books and in the Tanner line, there are several such books, some beginning with my Great-great-great-grandparents.
The scholarly level of those surname books varies and none of them have adequate source citations. I have mentioned before in these posts, that my interest in genealogy arises primarily because of the omissions and inconsistencies of those surname books and the less-than-accurate oral traditions transmitted to me by my family. For those reasons and others, I am acutely aware of the need for documentation.
Now, as I learn more of the details of the development of genealogy in America, I understand that much of what we have today arises from the same confrontation with undocumented transmission of history. Many of the earliest efforts in America to document genealogy came from a desire to document what had previously only been partially transmitted oral histories. It was not that the original documents did not exists, to some extent, but that there was little or no interest in preserving that history. It is astounding to me, that some of the same issues that prompted John Farmer to compile his Register, are the same motivations that moved me to get involved so heavily in genealogy. See
Farmer, John. A Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England ... To Which Are Added Various Genealogical and Biographical Notes, Collected from Ancient Records, Manuscripts, and Printed Works. Lancaster, Mass: Carter, Andrews & Co, 1829.It helps and motivates me to know that my own ancestors are chronicled in that early genealogical publication and the subsequent one:
Savage, James, and John Farmer. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England Showing Three Generations of Those Who Came Before May, 1692, on the Basis of Farmer's Register. Boston: Little, Brown, 1860.I relate to these early genealogical efforts because the circumstances and the background of those antiquarian genealogists is so similar to my own and they had some of the same concerns about documentation and source citations.
It is interesting to me that after almost two hundred years of genealogical history in America, we are talking about some of the same issues that were raised by these early genealogists.