With a Grain of Salt

charles martel2
Charles Martel in Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum, 1553

A few years ago, my Great Aunt sent me hundreds of copies of her own family history books, and it’s taken me all this time to read through everything (and even then, I’m sure there are records I haven’t looked at close enough and details I’ve probably missed). About two hundred pages in, there’s a copy of a letter written by another family genealogist about the Damon side of my family tree; my 3rd great-grandfather married a member of the Damon family–Emily Cornelia Damon–and their children were Methodist circuit riders who traveled throughout the country for work. I had overlooked the letter the first few times I read through my Great Aunt’s records, but it caught my eye last weekend–and it seems like the start to an interesting (albeit far-fetched) story. The letter was written on May 19, 1932 and sent from an address in New Jersey:

Dear Bernice and Leon Damon,

Talking about ancestry, I have recently found that you and I, and the rest of the Damons of course, can trace our ancestry back to Charlemagne and Charles Martel, and to years before them, to before 640. We are also descended from Edward the Elder and Alfred the Great, Kings of England, as well as Henry the Fowler, King of Germany in 919. Also Pepin the Little, Louis I, the Good Natured, Charles II, the Bald, Louis II, the Stammerer, Charles III, the Simple, Louis IV, the Stranger, all Kings of France up to 936, and Ethelwolf, and Egbert, Kings of England.

And I can prove it too.

Love to all,

Allen Damon

The furthest back I have been able to trace the Damon line is to John Damon of Scituate, Massachusetts; he was born in 1621 in Kent, England and arrived in America as early as 1633 with his sister, Hannah, and maternal uncle, William Gilson. John worked as a planter in Scituate and inherited the majority of his uncle’s land upon his death in 1639. He married Katherine Merritt, the daughter of Henry Merritt, in 1644, and the couple had six children: Deborah (b. 1645); John (b. 1647); Zachariah (b. 1647); Mary (b. 1651); Daniel (b. 1652); and Zachariah (b. 1654). John is described in the history books as, “…warm-hearted, generous and ever ready to be of such measure of assistance as he was able, to a friend or neighbor who stood in need.”

Charlemagne
Stained-glass of Charlemagne sitting on his throne // Metz, France

But in all of my research, I have never come across his parents’ names or a connection back to “Charlemagne and Charles Martel, and to years before them.” I’m taking this one with a grain of salt, and I think that’s a lesson all of us need to remind ourselves every once in a while, even if we have years of research experience under our belts. It’s fun to add names and dates and photos–to trace as far back as we can on each line of our family tree–but we need to strive for proof and to reinforce each claim with a reliable source or two. I’d still argue that it doesn’t matter how you start researching–in my first few weeks, I traced back to a François Dubois that I’m definitely not related to–but we should still try to leave a verified trail for our descendants one day.

But if anyone has found a Damon family connection to “Charlemagne and Charles Martel, and to years before them,” please send the information my way–as long as you can prove it, too.

11 thoughts on “With a Grain of Salt

  1. My friend had been told her entire life she was Native American in part…they even had names. When she did her DNA not even a smidgen could be found. I would bet most people used to fudge on their origins

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It seems like a lot of people have a similar story! I’m thinking my relative’s claim is a bit exaggerated–if I’d found the proof, I would’ve made sure EVERYONE had at least a million copies. I wish his research existed!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ha ha! I have one of those fanciful genealogies tracing my Crandall line back to Charlemagne. It’s been disproven, of course. Some researchers really do focus on trying to find connections to royalty or Biblical people. I’ll stuck with my ordinary folk.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve seen a few trees on Ancestry.com that trace back to Adam and Eve, and they always make me laugh a little bit. That’s just not possible–I’ll stick with my wonderful ancestors from Dunkirk, too (even the ones who got arrested that one time…oh and that other time…)!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey Cousin! John and Katherine (Merritt) Damon are my 11th great-grandparents! I don’t know if they (we) are descendants of Charlemagne and I haven’t worked on that branch in a long time, maybe I’ll have to take a look 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Small world! And it looks like our ancestors were on the Mayflower together. It was all such a long time ago, but it’s still really cool.

      And good luck with the search–I’m still looking, but it seems so far-fetched. Let me know what you find!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It would be interesting to know what prompted Allen Damon’s letter, beginning, as it does, “Speaking of ancestry,” then throwing a string of kings’ names Bernice and Leon. Could the letter have been facetious?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s driving me crazy that I don’t have the rest of the conversation. You could be right–it could have been facetious. I immediately thought he was being a bit pretentious, but it could’ve all been a joke. I don’t even know how I’m related to any of them yet! A mystery to try to figure out this summer, I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

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