One man’s quest to find his ancestors and his heritage.
When financial journalist Griffeth was contacted by a relative seeking information about his family, he caught the genealogy bug in a big way. And no wonder: Few family trees are as interesting and well-documented as his own, which reaches back to the Puritans in England. Griffeth began a piecemeal journey through graveyards, churches and small towns to discover his ancestors and to understand where and how they lived. In the process, he learned just how important faith was to all of them. Here, he attempts to weave thumbnail histories of Protestantism’s various sects and movements into an account of his personal journey. On the whole, he juggles the two approaches well and provides worthwhile background for lay readers. Beginning in 16th-century England, Griffeth introduces the various lines of his family history, their ancient churches and cities. Then he moves on to the Netherlands, where many Puritans fled to escape persecution in their native land. Some, dissatisfied with their Dutch surroundings, later sailed to the American continent. Several of Griffeth’s ancestors arrived just after the Mayflower did, and their journey in life and faith continued from there. A woman executed during the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials and a frontier Methodist circuit-rider number among the author’s forebears—nearly all of whom were intricately connected to faith traditions ranging from Puritanism and Presbyterianism to a host of others. Griffeth’s personal, straight-from-my-journal approach occasionally leads to melodramatic prose, but this anecdotal account offers an edifying look at the diverse history of Protestantism in America.
Touching insights garnered from a single extended family’s odyssey of faith.