Friday, June 27, 2008


So, I am currently amusing myself by trying to find familial connections. That's another thing I do when I'm unsuccessfully chipping away at a brick wall for an ancestor, is try to figure out which of my friends or what celebrities might be my "cousins."

I use the term "cousin" loosely. Technically, it's correct, but after awhile (like your third or fourth cousins) it kind of loses its meaning. Every now and then MSNBC or will do a puff piece on how Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and George Bush and Madonna and Brad Pitt are all related to each other. Related is a strong word. Yes, they probably all belong to the same tree. In fact, I theoretically belong to that tree as well - my colonial English ancestry is the gateway to royal European ancestry (none of those links of which I've verified, but at least one or two that have been researched enough by others to make me believe there is some truth in those connections). In many cases, a colonial family connection is enough to be able to claim a lot of these celebrities as "cousins," but find anyone who can trace their Western European ancestry back far enough and your "cousins" will be endless. I can't find the exact page I read it, but it's something like everybody of European descent today is a descendent of Charlemagne. But at what point does it become silly to claim that familial connection?

On my own tree, I have Brad Pitt listed as a 20th cousin; George W. Bush as a 15th cousin; Princes William and Harry as 15th cousins; that goes back to the late 1300s. The late Christopher Reeve looks to be an 11th cousin through my colonial Pearsall ancestors, but even those common "grandparents" are from the mid-1500s. If I actually claim Brad Pitt as a cousin, then I pretty much have to claim everybody and their mother (and grandmother and great-grandmother) as a cousin. Go far enough back and we're all family. It's kind of humbling and strange and exciting, these family connections, isn't it? It kind of gives new meaning to the idea of the human family, that we're all brothers and sisters.

Anyway, we'll leave the philosophizing to another day. For me, if I start looking for famous cousins, I can connect myself to most of them, which is why I've set a limit on how far back that connection can be before I decide not to include them on my family tree (this is my personal, "for fun" family tree, by the way, not the one I share with others as a serious researcher)...I think I've set that limit at about somewhere between 1400-1500. I made an exception for Brad. If you can claim him as a relation, no matter how far back that connection, it's just silly not to. :)

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is outstanding!

    Here is a blog post from that the Archives of the Sandusky Library that features some ancestors of Christopher Reeve: