Unlikely Relations That Impress No One

Started by Private User on Tuesday, November 23, 2010


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Showing 1-30 of 46 posts
Private User
11/23/2010 at 4:34 AM

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?


11/23/2010 at 6:38 AM

Hi Tim,

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.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 6:45 AM

@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?

11/23/2010 at 7:04 AM

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.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 7:32 AM

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.

11/23/2010 at 8:19 AM


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 ....

11/23/2010 at 8:19 AM

P.S. You are my 20th cousin. Our common ancestor is:

Richard de Venables

11/23/2010 at 10:38 AM

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.

11/23/2010 at 11:16 AM


And what I am finding is the more I find out about the history, the more interested I become in the "ordinary" folk and their extraordinary times.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 11:58 AM

Tim, you are my 22nd cousin 9 times removed with Afreca nic Fergus of Gallloway, Princess of Isle of Man at the top

11/23/2010 at 12:29 PM

Erica, you are my 15th cousin no removeds.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 1:19 PM

@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.

11/23/2010 at 1:32 PM

It makes you think -- dang, if only I had paid attention when I was in college!

I schooled in the Boston area also. Which now has come in handy in trying to sort out the profiles and genealogy in Colonial America, because I have the geographic reference points others may not have.

11/23/2010 at 1:34 PM

P.S. I had no clue I was actually truly related to some of these "first immigrants" until geni. I mean, I sort of knew it was likely, but "family stories" more emphasized the migrations from the south to Out West.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 1:38 PM

@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.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 1:46 PM

Tim, there's a striking resemblence of ur goodself and old georgy... best regds :)

11/23/2010 at 2:10 PM

I'm no musician but I did do art as a young person, so I find it interesting that you come up with a similar sense of satisfaction too. There's something very creative about piecing together the story, and I believe the geni site, in being so visual, helps that process.

Private User
11/23/2010 at 3:32 PM

@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.

11/23/2010 at 6:25 PM

Tim you are my 18th cousin twice removed. And how unlikely is that haha?

11/23/2010 at 6:27 PM

Of course Erica is my 12th cousin, no removes ;)

11/23/2010 at 8:05 PM
11/23/2010 at 8:39 PM

I did it twice Erica, using the circular arrow icon. The first time I got 8th uncles 8th niece or something bizarre like that. I knew you were ~ my 12th cousin, so I clicked on the circle made of arrows and voila, I got a different result.

11/23/2010 at 8:57 PM

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.

11/23/2010 at 9:01 PM

Gotta love database refreshes. I'm always scared I'm going to break it from hitting the button too much. :) :)

The db is taking different approaches to our common ancestors. I get to you via James Gawkroger (my 12 gg) and you get to me via Katherine Featherstone (my 10 gg).

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. :) :)

11/23/2010 at 9:02 PM

You had an ancestor who carried the heart of a king to the Holy Land? What a great story! Who was he?

11/23/2010 at 10:19 PM

Erica "the Disconnectrix" Howton@Erica


It has story, looking for exact profile

11/23/2010 at 10:38 PM

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.

11/24/2010 at 1:13 AM

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....

Showing 1-30 of 46 posts

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