Thursday, February 17, 2011

"I'm so glad you're here, Related-To-Everyone Man!"

"... just for a frame of reference," says Captain Obvious.

One of my fellow staff members at the Family History Center is a lovely retired gentleman who has such enthusiasm for family history, teaching, and people in general, that several patrons show up weekly to have him help them with their pursuits. We all enjoy working with him.

When I met him in November, we started comparing notes on our family trees - where our people come from, what famous people we're related to, the kinds of research we like. I discovered that Gene has an uncanny ability to track down living relatives in everyday places, like at church or in his neighborhood. Whenever he finds a new cousin, he tells us the next time we're together. I used to tease him that he's related to everybody.

Last Wednesday I joked, "We should see if you're related to me."

We plugged our jump drives into the same computer's USB ports, started up FamilyInsight (found in all FHCs, and available for purchase for home use), clicked on the command that would review both our databases and find matches, and...

We're related.

We share two sets of common ancestors: Philippe Cazier and Marie Taine (my paternal grandmother's line); and Jacob French and Susan Warren (my maternal grandmother's line).

Amazingly, my grandmothers are (so far) not related.

Yesterday, as we again looked through our respective data and found these ancestors, Gene excitedly scribbled down my information (this was before we both had the brilliant idea of creating GEDCOMS and copying and pasting them to each other's jump drives - he was that excited). He called me last night with his findings.

"We're ninth cousins, three times removed," he said.

I don't have much information on these people; I found them in the IGI, which is a great place to start but shouldn't be depended on for accurate information. Some submitters are meticulous record-keepers who can back up every fact; others, not so much. I'm motivated now to more deeply research these families and see what I can come up with.

Our ancestors come from the 16th and 17th centuries, so there's nothing obvious to distinguish us as relatives, but it's fun to work with him every week and to now have this added bond.

The same thing happened to my grandparents while they worked at their FHC in the Boise area - one of their fellow staff members shared a line with Gran. Then we discovered that this staff member's sister lives here and is in MY congregation. She and I keep saying we need to get together and compare notes, but it hasn't happened yet. I should get cracking.

It's always fun to find a new cousin.