By Monica Stark
Shirley Ruth Payne is proud of her heritage. Tracing back her ancestry, the 86-year-old Atrium resident has come to find out she is a descendant of Mayflower boarders.
After many trips to the San Francisco Genealogy Family History Library, Payne said she found seven ancestors, some on double genealogy lines tracing back to the 1620 Mayflower voyage to the New World.
An up-to-date member of the Mother Lode Colony of the Society of Mayflower Descendants, Payne said she hasn’t gone to many of the Folsom-based meetings, but she is proud.
Hanging on her wall, are a few framed certifications verifying her lineage: one from The General Society of Mayflower Descendants and another from the Alden Kindred of America.
Payne has even been to Plymouth a few times to visit relatives who live in nearby Carver. Excited as she was to tell them about their heritage, she said not many were interested. She said her son is not too impressed either, but she’s hoping to encourage her granddaughter to take some interest.
“I wish I would have known in school, because I was interested anyhow. I like to read. I used to go to the library and check out as many as they would allow,” she said.
Dressed as a Pilgrim and holding a model of the Mayflower during the photo shoot, Payne described her outfit as a “big long-sleeve Moo Moo” with a bonnet and cuffs.
Born in Somerville, Mass., Payne had a troubling childhood. Her mother died when she was 2 years old and later the impressionable girl ran away from home to live with her father’s relative. Intent on earning her high school diploma, she arranged with the superintendent of schools to work half a day and go to school the other half.
Those survival skills Payne learned as a young child arguably have helped her today. She now spends her day taking care of herself – mending clothes she once sewed herself, reading magazines, keeping her apartment tidy and keeping in touch with her only living son who lives in Las Vegas.