Sunday, March 13, 2011

Have You Met My Cousins, Julia Child and JFK?

I have a new(ish) obsession.

Genealogical research. Mock away, people, mock away.

I started poking around online a few years back, mostly to see what funky names might be lurking in the family tree (Ulysses Grant K__, anyone? Or his uncle, Commodore K__ [that would be his first name, not his title]). Being cheap, I only looked as far as free searches would get me. Got me pretty far, actually, but only in the well-documented (coughGermancough) branches of the family.

But this winter I finally ponied up and became a paid member of an online genealogy website. It is utterly fascinating. I keep uncovering weird bits and pieces of my family's past: my thirteen-year-old grandmother being listed as a boarder at her aunt's house, her father's family's brief residency in Wisconsin (the rest of all of their lives spent in West Virginia and Ohio), my other grandmother's ancestors being French Huguenots... Every day I learn something new, and often something surprising, but always something frustrating.

By which I mean, what is it with the Irish? I mean, my Irish? I mean specifically, my Irish relatives who didn't document anything, changed their answers on the federal census every ten years, and seem to have sprung, fully formed, from the coal mines of northeast Pennsylvania in the latter part of the nineteenth century?

Anyway, impossible-to-trace Irish ancestors notwithstanding, I've found some pretty fun stuff. Tonight I discovered that part of the website has a thingy that allows you to find possible links to famous relatives. Through just my mom's parents, I may be related to Richard Nixon (no!), Ronald Reagan (no!), George W Bush and his mother (that one almost killed me dead), JFK and Jackie O, Vermeer, John Glenn, Shirley Temple, Jonathan Swift, Jimmy Stewart, Doc Holliday and (hold on to your ladles) JULIA CHILD.

A couple clicks of the mousepad, and I'm suddenly related to one of my heroes.

(And more than a few of my least favorite people of all time. Sorry about, um, pretty much everything in the 70's, 80's and 00's. If only I'd known sooner about all the influence I might have wielded. My bad.)

Interestingly, I've been unable to make a connection with the one famous person that my family has always claimed kinship with: Daniel Boone. Whatever, Grandma K__. The internets say you were wrong.

EDIT: Elizabeth II is totes my (eighth) cousin (four times removed). Bow down, people. There's a royal blood cell in these veins.


Grace said...

I have vague childhood connections with a few of the Connecticut branches of the Bush clan, and they are universally mortified by what the gang that moved to Texas turned into.

So, you're not alone.


Related to General Burgoyne and Charles II (by marriage)

Cate said...

ooh, does that mean you'll be going to William & Kate's wedding? take lots of pictures!

I haven't gotten into my own family tree but I find that "Who Do You Think You Are?" celebrity genealogy show fascinating.

Anonymous said...

I looove genealogy, it's my addiction. My friend calls it a "sleeper sport." It's what finally got me interested in history, so it can't be all bad. Glad to hear you're having fun with it too!

Related to Robert the Bruce
(well, that's the rumor but still trying to prove it)

Cindy said...

I love it too! I spent some CRAZY amount of time doing research on my unbelievably "truthy" ancestors too!

What the heck - did you REALLY travel from Canada to Nashville to Virginia to St. Louis in 1910 in 8 months? Who are you kidding? :)

My husband's family has this strong belief they're related to Nathaniel Hawthorne (naming my niece N___ Hawthorne J___-S____ [not too pretentious, eh?]) but I've never found any evidence thereof.

My dad claims Charlemagne, but so does everyone.

So, what I really love is that I think my great-great-grandfather lived within 30 miles of Emily Dickinson.

Now THAT is some royalty!

Cindy said...

Holy Smokes - where did those 2 1/2 hours go?? that's where!!

Oooh the scandals!


Rowena said...

That looks like fun. I'd love to figure out some of the fame and fortune I am linked to by blood.... since there is neither fame nor fortune rattling around in this house.

AG Ambroult said...

Does Lady Tia take milk in her tea? Shall we put your jar of biscuits at your bedside?

(fascinating! I wanna do it! but that would take... effort)

Anonymous said...

John F Kennedy is related to my family and is one of my far cousins.

Alexisnexus said...

for more on the Golden Globes and family history see this story at: