Can one half-Danish person’s family tree connect us all? – The Post

Can one half-Danish person’s family tree connect us all?

TV pilot about ancestry research will bring Kristian Pedersen to Copenhagen this summer

The Descendant himself, Kristian Pedersen (photo: The Descendant/Facebook)
June 25th, 2015 5:00 pm| by Jenna Kleinwort

American citizen Kristian Pedersen has a mission. In his TV pilot ‘The Descendant’ he raises the question whether one person’s family would be able to connect us all in order to show the importance of ancestry and how far-reaching its origins can be.

Abandoned by his own father at the age of four, family and ancestry has a very personal meaning to Pedersen.

Related to most US presidents
Pedersen carried out research and found that his ancestry is spread all over the world, across continents and in lots of different countries. He has also established he is related to most American presidents – cause enough to encourage Pedersen to dedicate a whole TV show to its findings.

Pedersen hopes his show will send him across oceans to find his relatives around the globe. A research-related journey to Copenhagen awaits Pedersen this summer, since his father was a Danish immigrant.

Interview with The Descendant

Tell us more about the findings you have made during your ancestry research.

During my research I’ve found out that I am a direct descendant of two-thirds of those who sailed on The Mayflower that landed in Plymouth in 1620. I’m also descended from the Indians (The Wampanoag tribe) that met them when they arrived.

Two women hanged during the Salem witch trials of 1692 were my ninth great-grandparents and I am a distant cousin of almost every US president. Many of my ancestors were responsible for the founding of the United States.

I used to believe my father was the only connection I had to Denmark, but I discovered that I was also connected through my mother’s side as well.

I’m currently trying to complete a line that may connect me to an ancient king of Denmark. My father’s family is 100 percent Scandinavian.

What makes the show interesting to the broader public?

What makes my show different from others is that although the show is based on my family tree, the purpose and premise is to show the audience we are all connected.

DNA research is now able to tell us how much neanderthal and homo sapiens we are. It can connect one drop of blood to thousands of years of human migration.

In a polarised world, a show like mine could perhaps make people a little more tolerant of each other, knowing we are all part of one another.

We also show how the simplest action and seemingly insignificant moments in time can change history in a very large way.

My ninth great-grandfather John Howland, for example, was John Carver’s servant aboard the Mayflower. Howland fell overboard in a storm. The sails were down and the rigging was dragging behind the ship. He caught a rope and was pulled back aboard.

Had he NOT caught that rope, the world would be very different, I would not be here, the wars in the Gulf would never have happened, as the US president George W Bush is a direct descendant.

Imagine, had John missed that rope and drowned in the Atlantic in December of 1620, there would have been no wars, no 9/11. Perhaps a more peaceful world? We also feature dramatic re-enactments of moments of historical significance.

What was the feedback you received for the show?

In the United States I have received a lot of positive press. We have some network interest and I’ve been interviewed by several television and radio stations and newspapers, and the public seems to be genuinely interested. I was formerly a well-known musician so my connections in that industry have helped.

However, some of the older societies don’t like people poking around researching the history they don’t want changed.

Some of the older genealogy groups with ties to people of great wealth prefer that some of history’s secrets remain secret. My research has been received with threats of violence on several occasions as well.

What are your expectations coming to Copenhagen?

I don’t know what to expect in Denmark. I never knew my father, who was 100 percent Danish. My last name, Pedersen, was the only connection I ever had.

Through my research I found the niece of my grandfather Robert Ove Niels Pedersen. She invited me to Denmark and is taking me into her home as a guest for one week.

She has set an ambitious itinerary that will see us visiting the homesteads of my great-great-grandfathers as well as touring museums, palaces and Copenhagen’s nightlife and music venues, and more.

I have never been more excited to visit any other place on earth. So when I get to Copenhagen I want to experience the culture, history, people and especially the nightlife and food.

I want to connect to Denmark because it’s part of me already.