By the Numbers: Counting the Ancestors

So how many direct ancestors do I have? It seems the answer would be an almost indeterminate number stretching back thousands of year. A more practical question is, how many ancestors have I correctly identified?

Let’s take a look at the numbers. I’ll leave the names for another time, but be assured there is a researched and documented person for each number I’ll use in this article.

I have two parents (second generation); four grandparents (third generation); eight great-grandparents (fourth generation); sixteen 2nd great-grandparents (fifth generation); thirty-two 3rd great-grandparents (sixth generation); sixty-four 4th great-grandparents (seventh generation) and one-hundred twenty-eight fifth great-grandparent (eight generation). With the number doubling each generation, the ninth generation would have 512 ancestors, and the tenth generation 1024 persons.

Well, theoretically those are the numbers … but a little pedigree collapse crept in along the way.

By that I mean the same persons occupied not one, but two, spaces in my direct lineage. Egidius Nipp (1765-1846) and his wife Theresa Willi (1771-1807) are my 4th great grandparents on two lines of my family.

My maternal grandparents, John Schaefers and Leona Ernster, both share a common set of second great-grandparents, that being Egidius Nipp and Theresa Willi. (Any, yes, that means my grandparents were third cousins to each other.)

But getting back to the numbers: I have calculated the per cent of direct ancestors that I’ve identified so far to the 8th generation. Here is how it breaks down:

Parents: 100%

Grandparents;: 100%

Great-grandparents: 100%

2nd great-grandparents 100%

3rd great-grandparents 100%

4th great-grandparents 93.75%

5th great-grandparents 29.6%

It seems that just like housework, genealogy research is never really “done.”  Time to pursue some of those missing fifth great-grandparents.

About maryjlohr

Avid genealogist.
This entry was posted in ancestry, Genealogy, Nipp Genealogy, Research, Schaefers Genealogy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to By the Numbers: Counting the Ancestors

  1. Pat Grohs says:

    Very interesting, Mary. And it sounds like you have even more work ahead. But I know you enjoy it and the rest of us reap the benefits of your dedication to all these details. Thanks!

  2. Amy Van Beek says:

    Gosh Mary this was fun to read. So many of my friends only know of their grandparents, a few of their great grandparents, but beyond that they are lost. We are blessed to have you in the family!

  3. Merlene Whisenand says:

    Are you sure????……..Knowing you, of course you are!

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