I was thrilled when I discovered the relation of my husband to Stephen Hopkins. There was no story coming down in the family about this. It was a total surprise when I matched a birth date on a handwritten Scott Genealogy I got from my mother-in-law to a name and birth date in a published book of Nova Scotia families.
My family was not interested in my research until I came up with this relationship. When my son was traveling with a Boy Scout troop and one of the stops was Plymouth Plantation, I wrote a postcard to arrive at his hotel the night before he was to spend the day there that he was related to Stephen Hopkins. He came home to tell me about Stephen Hopkins and the significance of his life. He had told someone at Plymouth of his relationship. Stephen Hopkins was not just a member of the pilgrims who came on the Mayflower. He was a leader, a wealthy planter (owned much land and many cattle) and merchant (ran a store or tavern). Because of his previous experience in Virginia, he was also the interpreter whenever the colonists needed to communicate with the Indians.
I could have let this end here but I decided to prove it to the Mayflower Society. Why? I had a friend encourage me when she said you should document your find. I went through my collection and made copies of a published genealogy, birth, marriage and death certificates whenever possible for both the related line and their spouses all the way from my husband to Stephen Hopkins, a total of 13 generations.
The first time I sent it, the evaluator felt there was no proof that the John Godfrey of Chatham, Mass. was the same as the one in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. I found an index (not the book) for "Guysborough Sketches and Essays" by Jost that listed so many surnames I was interested in that I was sure I needed to see the book. However, the library did not have it. I went home and checked the Family History Center in Salt Lake and they had the book. I had the microfilm sent to me. This and two other sources (National Genealogical Society Quarterly Vol. 62, p. 96 and another in Vol. 62, p. 103) was the proof I needed which lists John Godfrey of both Massachusetts and Nova Scotia.
I not only succeeded, but I proved a new line to Stephen Hopkins. The person approving my paperwork decided to send the copies of the sources listed above she felt were new to the society to the Stephen Hopkins committee. I recommend this experience to all. I gained knowledge about the process of documentation, and when you succeed, it is recorded by the Mayflower Society for all in the future.