Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Back to Adam

I had another interesting conversation with a friend over the question of whether or not it was possible to trace your genealogy "back to Adam." I guess I am a little surprised at the lack of history background that would make someone believe that this was even possible. But given some of the things people believe, thinking that you can trace your genealogy back to Adam is relatively harmless and inoffensive.

This whole issue is so circular. No matter where you start the discussion you end up with the same issues being repeated over and over. My friend's comments centered around the possibility that you could trace your genealogy back to some known king or whatever that would then link into the Biblical New and Old Testament lines and hence, back to Adam. I don't think you have to disbelieve the Bible to come to the conclusion that the genealogies in the Bible are entirely unsupported with any documents or facts outside of the scriptures themselves. Some of the Biblical personalities are not mentioned elsewhere and any genealogy using those pedigrees assumes a belief in the reliability of the Biblical lineages as well as acceptance of the post-Biblical lines, some of which are very dubious.

Here is an example of a line that claims to be based on "many years of research documentation" that the writer laments "does exist" but which he says, "I personally do not have in my hands." See Joe Orgill's Genealogy Back to Adam. This particular genealogy also claims to have been "Copied from a chart prepared for the New York Stake Genealogical Board by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for the Centennial Exhibition, March, 1936."

OK, let's see if any of this can be authenticated.  That source is listed in another site as follows:

The royal line : chart prepared for the New York Stake Genealogical Board, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints centennial exhibition, March, 1936, Schmuhl, Albert F. 

Mr. Schmuhl seems to be a popular figure with the "Back to Adam" genealogists. He is cited 11,100 times in a Google search. Deseret Book in Salt Lake City, Utah has two "products" by Mr. Schmuhl, Through the Loins of Joseph, Folded Chart and Royal Line Chart, Folded. Neither these or any other books or materials by Mr. Schmuhl appear in a search of thousands of libraries however. The description of the Royal Line Chart is given by Deseret Book as follows:

17"x25" This chart shows lines back to Adam for the following: Heber J. Grant, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, George A. Smith, Prophet Joseph Smith, George Washington, Daniel H. Wells, Orson F. Whitney, Lyman, etc. Folded to fit a 14" binder.
I never thought of it that way, since Roosevelt and I share a common ancestor, I suppose I could claim this Royal Line pedigree also! However, I seem to have hit the jackpot with this Royal Line Chart. I find 1850 references to the chart in Google. However, most of the citations are as follows:

Albert F. Schmuhl, The Royal Line chart, 1929, 1980 revised, Deseret Book Store, Salt Lake City, UT.

Apparently, there is some confusion over whether the Chart was prepared for a 1936 centennial exhibition or earlier in 1929. Hmm. It further appears from reading all the sites that talk about the lineage, that the who thing is premised on the fact that Adam was born in 4000 B.C. (or was it 4004 B.C. or about 4000 B.C.).  By the way, here is another pedigree showing descent from Adam.

OK, who was Albert F. Schmuhl? I can't find a word about this august authority on the ancient lines anywhere on the Web. Some one has been profitably selling this chart for a long time. Anyone know Mr. Schmuhl?


  1. There is an Albert Friedrich Hans Christian Schmuhl in NFS. He was born in 1906 in Rostock Germany, and died in 1988 in American Fork or Salt Lake City, Utah. I can't find an obituary.

    One source leads me to believe that he may have drawn his work from the work of noted genealogist Archibald Bennett, whose back-to-Adam chart is shown in this amusing post:

  2. At least some of this chart may have been entered into newFamilySearch, suggested by this recent message board entry:

    Could Mr. Schmuhl also be found in nFS tree, perhaps via IGI?

  3. You can order the chart and perhaps similar items by the same author from the FHL.

  4. Evidently you can still purchase a copy of Schmuhl's chart at Deseret Book:

    and here:

    It seems like a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, since the Church has addressed the subject of royal genealogies in its English-language magazine:

    The author of the article, Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist, Church Genealogical Department, says:

    "Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between [the time of the Merovingian Kings] and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication.... Given the current state of our records, I feel that when we attempt to extend pedigrees back to Adam we come dangerously close to ignoring the admonition of Paul: 'Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions....'"

  5. We just had a patron donate to the library 4 large notebooks outlining his family history -- each family going back to Adam and Eve. All the pages in the notebooks are handwritten with no documentation for anything.
    We had to tell him that we could not accept them for our collection and said that he might want to research and find another place to donate them to.
    Hated to pass him off to someone else, but it would have done no good to tell him that he could not go back to Adam and it preserved good will to just say we could not accept them.