2017-04-27 / Front Page

Search for ancestry leads to inspiration

By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer


Marcee Lee Winthrop founded Bloodlines & Genealogical & Historical Club, which meets every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Elements in Biddeford. Winthrop has been studying her family tree for almost 10 years. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Marcee Lee Winthrop founded Bloodlines & Genealogical & Historical Club, which meets every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Elements in Biddeford. Winthrop has been studying her family tree for almost 10 years. (Garrick Hoffman photo) BIDDEFORD – After nearly 10 years of researching her ancestry, Saco resident Marcee Lee Winthrop, 62, has started a club so she can teach others to do the same.

“I like to say if you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you’re going to,” she said. “I really fully believe that.”

Titled “Bloodlines Genealogical & Historical Club,” members meet every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Elements on Main Street in Biddeford. If someone new joins, the first hour is dedicated to introductions, understanding the member’s level of genealogical interest, discussing whether they are experiencing obstacles in discovering a new member in their family tree, if any, and sharing family stories. The second hour is dedicated to hands-on activities, where people can begin to trace their ancestry.


Bloodlines Genealogical & Historical Club meets 5 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday at Elements in Biddeford. Bloodlines Genealogical & Historical Club meets 5 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday at Elements in Biddeford. The club is open to all ages and levels of genealogical interest, Winthrop said, and she asks people to bring a laptop or tablet so “we can actually get down to work.”

“I know interest is there . . . (but) I’m trying to build more enthusiasm for genealogy, trying to get more people who are like-minded,” she said.

According to Dictionary.com, genealogy is “a record or account of the ancestry and descent of a person, family, group, etc.” as well as “the study of family ancestries and histories” and “descent from an original form or progenitor; lineage; history.”

Winthrop has studied her ancestry since 2009 when she started her journey on Ancestry.com, a website that contains at least 20 billion historical records, 80 million family trees and more than 2 million paying subscribers, according to its website. She hasn’t stopped studying since, and uses both Ancestry.com and WikiTree.com – an online community of genealogists who have compiled nearly 14 million profiles free for viewing – to dig up family history.

“I started with the nearest people to me. That interested me,” she said. “It was something that hooked me in. The more I did it, and the further I got back, I started to see historical figures or people I’ve never dreamed I’m related to, and that piqued even more of an interest. I started saying, oh, that’s who I’m from. It gave me something to be proud of.”

Winthrop discovered that she’s a direct descendant of kings, queens and other significant historical figures, she said, including at least four passengers on the Mayflower. Henry III of England is her 22nd great grandfather, she said, and she’s also related to Henry II of England, John of England – also known as John Lackland – and Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, who served as King of the Franks and Emperor of Rome in the 700s and 800s, c.e., or common era, according to History.com.

On Tuesday, April 18, Winthrop said she “struck the mother load.”

“I found (I’m related to) William the Conqueror,” she said, referring to whom Biography.com describes as the 11th century King of England. “I applauded in the library with everybody watching. I finally said, hey, I’m sorry, but I just found William the Conqueror,” who is Winthrop’s 27th great grandfather, she said.

Ever since discovering she’s related to Mayflower passengers, Winthrop said she now wants to sojourn to the site of Plymouth colony in Massachusetts.

“I’ve never been to Plymouth colony, so I really want to take a trip there now,” she said. “Knowing that (I’m related to the pilgrims), it’d be a very personal trip. I’d take my daughter with me, because it’s her heritage, too.”

Although she is not accredited, Winthrop plans to take a course at Boston University and eventually become a certified genealogist. For now, she believes she can help people discover their ancestry. She’s also writing a book, titled “Ancestor Lottery,” which compiles her family history from 1610 to the present.

“I’ve put in so many hours,” she said. “What people need to know is I (trace genealogy) all the time when I’m not working my other job. I don’t know if everybody who’s looking will find kings or queens, but when they do find something about their ancestors, they may say, oh that’s why I like music, that’s why I like poetry. A lot of times we have the same interests as our ancestors.”

Winthrop is a cashier at Saco Hannaford, and she struggles financially, she said. She said discovering her regal heritage has empowered her to rise above financial adversity and gives her hope.

“It changed my world – and my whole outlook on the world – to find who I’m related to,” she said. “When a person who’s in poverty finds that they have kings and queens and all these things, and they’re related to people like that, it bolsters you up and makes you feel like there’s nothing I can’t take on. It’s very inspiring to me, and inspiring to do something positive and do something to get out of poverty. It makes me feel like, maybe there is some hope, some way to get out of this.

“These ancestors may have been dead a long time but they’ve been helping me for a while now,” she continued. “My ancestors have actually saved me. They’ve saved me in so many ways.”

Bloodlines Genealogical & Historical club will next meet at 5 p.m., Tuesday May 2 at Elements in Biddeford.

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