My wife, Cindie, began doing genealogy in high school. I didn’t get addicted until May 2011. Cindie was inputting information into Ancestry.com that she had collected while on a recent genealogy trip to New England. I only had three questions I wanted answered about my family tree. One of the questions was about my great grandmother, Almira Cornelia Arnold Hoyt. Was she related to Benedict Arnold –The Traitor?

I asked Cindie to look her up on Ancestry.com but she instead taught me how to use Ancestry.com. I input what we knew about Cornelia and a number of hints appeared. After reviewing everything listed, I determined that her parents were George Washington Arnold and Phebe Taylor Arnold.

I worked back on George Washington Arnold and found his father to be Loudon Arnold, his grandfather to be Owen Arnold Jr. and his great grandfather to be Owen Arnold Sr. Owen Sr. was a British soldier who came to the colonies in the 1740s to fight in King Phillips War against the French. He was captured by the French and returned to Boston at the end of the war.

I could not find Owen Sr. parents, so the line ended. He remained here and married Elizabeth Low. When I investigated her ancestors, I found her grandmother was Mary Arnold, whose great grandparents were William Arnold and Christian Peake Arnold. William and Christian came to Massachusetts in 1634 with four children; Elizabeth, Benedict, Joanne, and Stephen. William was one of the founders of the colony of Rhode Island and his son, Benedict Sr. was the colony’s first governor.

Benedict Sr. had a son, Benedict Jr. Benedict Jr. had two sons named Benedict. Benedict III died young and Benedict IV was born several years later. Benedict IV was the father of Benedict V– The Traitor. So, if I had done my homework correctly, I was related to Benedict Arnold but he was not an ancestor.

For the next two weeks, I spent nearly every waking hour when I was not at work, extending my family tree back in time. When I got back 800 years, I came across Robert the Bruce of Scotland and William the Conquerer of England. I began to have doubts about the validity of some of the sources so I stopped.

My family tree led to several of the founders of Rhode Island. There were many interesting people with stories of historical significance on that tree.

Several years later, I began working on my Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) application. SAR is a lineage society. You need to prove a direct, unbroken lineage to a recognized revolutionary patriot. Starting with yourself, you need your birth certificate, marriage license (if married), and your wife’s and children’s birth certificates. You need the birth, marriage, and death certificates for your parents and grandparents. If available, birth, marriage, and death records for older ancestors are also needed but can be verified through census records.

I ordered Great Grandma Cornelia’s death record from New York. Twelve weeks later, it arrived. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I opened the envelope and reviewed the record. Cornelia’s parents were not George Washington Arnold and Phebe Taylor Arnold. Her parents were Thomas G. Arnold and Lucinda Lewis Arnold. Eight hundred years of a family tree that was wrong! I particularly regretted losing Phebe Taylor Arnold. One of her ancestors, John Taylor, is supposedly the ancestor of ten U. S. presidents, including Abraham Lincoln.

I had to start over. Unfortunately, I could not find anything on either Thomas or Lucinda. Online I found a reference to a book, “The Arnolds of Saratoga County New York”, which is where Thomas was supposedly born. At that time, the book had not been digitized, so it was not online. A hard copy of the book was at the Mormon Library in Salt Lake City, UT. Since Cindie and I were going to Salt Lake in a couple of weeks, I could review it when we got there.

We arrived in Salt Lake in the evening and went to our hotel, which was next to the library. The next morning, we were there waiting outside the doors when the library opened. We went to the seventh floor where the family histories and genealogies are stored. Cindie told me to get to the “A” histories I should go to the wall and turn right. The “A” section would be at the end of the row.

I put my computer and other materials on a table and “speed walked” to the wall and went to the end of the row. When I got there, there was not a single book on the shelves. As I stood there looking dumbfounded, one of the “friends” came up and ask if he could help. I pointed at the empty shelves and he informed me that they were all out being digitized. He suggested that they may have the book either on microfilm of microfiche. They had it on microfiche so he took me over to the microfiche file cabinet and got the film. He set me up on a reader and wished me luck.

Fortunately, the book had an index. I found the listings for Thomas and Lucinda. The first thing I looked at was the common page for the two of them.

The only thing on Thomas was that he was born in Saratoga County, and the information on his marriage to Lucinda. I reviewed the other pages that mentioned Thomas but they contained no useful information. To this day I have not been able to find anything on Thomas G. Arnold. To make it more difficult, I have found information that he and his parents could have been born in New York, Connecticut, or Rhode Island.

Second great grandma, Lucinda Lewis Arnold’s information was much more helpful. The book listed both of her parents and all four of her grandparents. Inputting this information into Ancestry.com, I found all eight of her great grandparents, all 16 of her second great grandparents, all 32 of her third great grandparents, 59 out of 64 of her fourth great grandparents, and 119 out of 128 of her fifth great grandparents. I have since filled in the missing fourth and fifth great parents

The vast majority of her fifth great grandparents were born here, not in England, which means many of them had parents who were part of the “Great Migration” (1620 to 1643).

Four of Lucinda’s ancestors are recognized Revolutionary War patriots.

Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or jrwade49@ gmail.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.