Today, as I reflected on Independence Day, I remembered hearing claims that my father's side of the family was related to Roger Sherman, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Through years of genealogy research, I have learned to take family stories with a grain of salt. They are worth investigating, but often unreliable. I had never checked into this particular claim, so I decided to see what information I could find.
Researchers have traced our Sherman lineage back to William Sherman, who was born in England and settled in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in the 1630s. Due to Roger Sherman's status as a Founding Father, I was able to locate his paternal lineage online. I quickly determined that we share no common ancestors, at least as far back as either lineage has been traced. Now, it's possible that the two lines converge at some point in England, but I doubt that the connection would have been remembered after several generations in the New World. After all, how many of us know our third or fourth cousins?
Y-DNA testing could provided a definitive answer to whether the two Sherman lines share a common ancestor at any point. I checked the Sherman DNA Project site, which compares Y chromosome data from various Sherman lineages, but unfortunately it doesn't look like any descendants of William Sherman have been tested. I'll keep checking as new DNA sequences are submitted, but for now it looks like the old family story has been debunked.
Teresa is the the owner of KinSeeker Genealogy Services. She has a Ph.D. in Biology and a lifelong fascination with genealogy. She been researching her own family history for over 20 years and loves helping others "find their stories."
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