The first couple of discoveries I made about famous relations, courtesy of Geni, were startling and exciting: Jack Kerouac, my ninth cousin? No way! And I *have* had people say I look a little like Jim Carrey, evidently my 11th cousin...
But the more famous people I find I'm related to, the more incredulous I become: Truman Capote is my 25th cousin? Come on. Gore Vidal, my 20th? Jack Kennedy too? ELVIS? Wait a minute ... By the time I got to George Washington and Charlemagne, I started to think there was something wrong with Geni. If I'm related to all these people, doesn't it mean they're all related to one another? And if so, why haven't we heard in the news that JFK was related to Elvis?
I should say that I have a basic account and don't know if I can afford a Pro account anytime soon to see the exact connections between myself and all these people. That might go some way to alleviating my doubts.
And when I tell people "Hey guess what, I'm related to George Washington," no one believes me! Especially members of my own birth family: they think it's a mistake, or nonsense. It doesn't seem to engage them, either: they react like I told them I lost two pounds or found a dollar: "That's nice."
Does anyone else have this experience? Any advice, thoughts, counsel on any of it?
The answer is simple: We are of course all ultimately related. Think of it this way: You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents and so fourth, doubling the number of direct ancestors for each generation backwards (leaving out cousin marriages and the like which would bring the number down a trifle). So the tree of everyone of us expands drastically backwards! Of course this will make the chances for some overlap between two given individuals trees at one point back in time unavoidable. No surprise there: From you to me there is always some big inverted V-shape connecting some branches of our trees.
Seen in another way, we all stem from the same origins somewhere in ancient times making us share basically the same human genome. Relations all over.
Hope that helped.
@Bjorn: Thanks, man!!
@Odd-Wiking: Yeah, I tell my kids (who were absolutely incredulous) that if I told them that we were related to an 18th-century farmer in Virginia, they'd probably believe it -- but if I said that farmer was George Washington, they wouldn't believe it, in part because we think of these famous people (past and present) as icons who don't have earthly cousins and siblings and great uncles like we do.
Still ... I can't shake the incredulity entirely loose, in part because some of these people -- Truman Capote, Gore Vidal, Ernest Hemingway in particular -- have had a profound effect on my development, much more so than other people. So it's a little unreal that there's a connection, however distant or tenuous, you know?
Well, the connection of two individuals trees simply does not care whether one or the other person was/is famous or not. That does not enter the equation. :)
We are all connected, even to the famous ones. Finding those connections to a famous person is even *easier* as their genealogy is often well known and represented in Geni.
Tim, I get the same reaction from everyone in my family, also a couple close friends I've shared with. It's getting so I just keep it all to myself. I'm making a book for my son and any future grandchildren I may have. I have it sorted into groups, rather like the Geni Projects. My son did say teachers will hate any child of his, when every time they study someone in history they pipe up with "He's my 12th cousin once removed," or "He's my 27th gr grandfather." What teacher would believe them? I taught for 30 years, and would have thought a kid was a real crackpot if he/she claimed to be related to so many famous people.
I started my family tree by myself and outside "the big tree."
When I ran into a marriage connection to a Gore in Tennessee, I thought -- gee, I wonder if that's the same Gore family as Vice President Al Gore, Jr? It was just idle curiosity really.
So set out, with geni's help, to prove it to myself, step by step.
I am now ready to claim my share of "the internet" profits. :) :) It is true ... even though I was, oh come on, no way ....
P.S. You are my 20th cousin. Our common ancestor is:
I get that same response from people too. It makes perfect sense to me that we are all connected somehow. So far I have only got info on one of my grandparents and the amount of people I'm related to (famous or not) astounds me, i can't wait to find out more about the other three grandparents and who they were related to. History seems even more interesting when you find out the people you are reading about were your ancestors.
Tim, you are my 22nd cousin 9 times removed with Afreca nic Fergus of Gallloway, Princess of Isle of Man at the top
@Rolana & Erica: I agree with both of you and just want to be clear that I don't pursue family research to root out tenuous connections to celebrities!
Not long ago, I discovered that one set of my great-grandparents is buried in a beautiful little cemetery in Chestnut Hill, MA, across the highway from Boston College, where I went to school. All those years I was there, and I never knew my family was so closeby.
Let's say that the connection to famous people is novel and even at times exciting, but the connections to the local and the unsung are far more profoundly moving.
@Erica: I know what you mean.
When I started this research about 10 years ago, I asked my mother about her grandparents, and she didn't know where they were buried. All she remembered was "a cemetery in Boston" she went to as a girl.
Since then, I've been to able to piece together our own immigration story, to learn that I am only third-generation American. I found this startling, because growing up we never thought of ourselves as recent people in America -- if we thought about it at all!
This research is the one non-arts-related hobby I have, and I find it as immensely gratifying as music or drawing.
@Erica: When I tell people what genealogy is like, I tell them that it's like cleaning eons of dirt and smoke off a mural by Michelangelo: it may take you all week to get one square inch clear, but with patience and effort, eventually you start to see a hand, a foot, a face ... and the excitement is that a wonderful picture is beginning to emerge.
I get a different result - how interesting.
I wish I had the tree I had now when I was going to school. I never got good grades in History. Never cared. Every thing was so dry. Learn the name the date, Go on to the next persson. Learn the name a date etc. If I knew that during the Crusades, that I had an ancestor that carried the heart of a king to the Holy Land so it could be buried there. That Charlemagne was in my direct line. Even the fact that I wasn't just part German and Irish, put that I had ancestors from every part of Europe and then be able to say, he was my XX great grand dad etc when there was a lesson, I might of learned something.
As is it, just from looking at profiles and stories in profiles, I now can say that I know more about history than was ever put out in class. And I know they never named Kingdoms like Argon or that the Anglos or the Saxons did not come from England (always thought they did).
Learn something new everyday without trying just trying to see why someone was put in the tree the way they were, then read some of the stories and get a real insight into who they were, not just that there was an invation in 1055, Makes all the dif.
Gotta love database refreshes. I'm always scared I'm going to break it from hitting the button too much. :) :)
There are a few (ha) merges pending in the path. That might alter results some. We should check again in a few weeks.
The good news is that my side up the tree passes my "it doesn't smell rotten" test. Not that I'm looking *that* closely. :) :)
JAMES DOUGLAS (Marvin's twenty-times-great-grandfather) was born in 1286 in Douglas, Lanarkshire, Scotland to
William Douglas4688 and Elizabeth Stewart4689, as shown in family tree 364. James died on 25 August 1330, aged about 44,
in Acre, Hazafon, Palestine, Israel. James died on 25 August 1330, aged about 44, in Santiago de Compostela, La Coruna,
Galicia, Spain. He was buried in Scotland.
Note: Sir James, son of William "le Hardi", continued his father's fight for Scottish independence at the side of Robert the
Bruce. He fought with Bruce at Methven in 1306 then led a raid on Douglas Castle, his Douglasdale Estate, which
had been confiscated by the English. Disguised as peasants, Sir James and his men surprised and defeated the English
garrison in the battle which has become known as the "Douglas Larder". Once again disguising his men, this time as
oxen, he attacked and captured Roxburgh Castle. His stealthy and effective means of combat are remembered in a
children's bedtime song,
Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,
Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
The Black Douglas shall no get ye.
Sir James also played a major role in the defeat of the English Army at the Battle of Bannockburn and was one of the
signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath, at Arbroath Abbey, in 1320. On the death of Bruce in 1329, Sir James was
entrusted with the Monarch's heart in order to carry it on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was killed fighting the
Moors in Spain while on this pilgrimage in 1330.
Hate to point this out, folks, but by the same token that we all are connected to famous people, we are of course as connected to the *infamous* ones, Hitler and the like. We might think of this too, being glad to steer our own destinies no matter what the common genes and crossing ancestry paths tell....