I've been working with a client on tracing his family tree, and the contrast with our Hesch tree is stunning. Practically all of his family, and his wife's family, came to America around 1620, and so were here for major historic events like settling the eastern seaboard, the Declaration of Independence, the Revolution, the War of 1812, etc. Some of his family lived in Plymouth and some in Salem, Massachusetts then emigrated to Kentucky and points west. We found his family name among the passengers on the Mayflower (Browne), but can't prove a connection to that fellow, only to a Henry Brown who died in the War of !812. There were something like 27 Henry Browns in that war, so it's a brickwall, probably insurmountable.
By contrast, reliable Hesch records go back to only about 1760 in the Bohemian Church books. The earliest Hesch immigrants arrived about 1869, much later than the Browns. (His family was able to leave, ours was not).
Anyway, yesterday, we were talking about his 10th great grandfather, who we'd found by following his mothers' fathers' line back on Ancestry. (Actually, we'd only found one of his 10th generation great grandfathers, ya know? By 10 generations ago, we each have 1024 grandparents to pick from (512 couples) because you have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, 16 great great grands....etc) So to say "direct line ancestors", it's not just your fathers fathers fathers line, it's amazingly diverse.
As we discover the parents of each generation, we try to put them and their lives in historic context, just like Larry and I do with the Hesch ancestors. We research what was happening in Europe during their lifetimes. We've found quite a few collateral families who were close enough to the English court to have been granted estates by Henry VIII after he dispossessed the Catholics and established the Church of England. Those families had extra sons, of course, sons who wouldn't inherit and were never chosen to be a sheriff or mayor or bailiff and didn't marry above themselves, but a few embraced the Reformation, and eventually Puritanism...and America.
Where am I going with this? Only that so MUCH of human history involves invasion and war--useless fighting over philosophies or land, but so often over religion. Incredibly, what was invented as a path for good people to follow became a reason for bloodshed, an excuse to kill, to making heros of the killers and the killed. Has it changed over the centuries? Not at all. We advance in medicine, technology, transportation, farming, aviation....but we also invent more horrible ways to kill each other. Sigh.
Maybe....the current fascination with tracing our ancestors could wake enough of us up to change history, huh?