Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Is Every Famous Person My Relative?

The short answer is "YES."  But the relationships are not always direct and may be a long time ago.  Oh, there are probably no records that document the names, dates, places and relationships.  I almost forgot that!

Kitty Cooper posted Fun with the Relationship Calculator at GENI.com yesterday on her eponymous blog.  I wrote the names down and tested all of them today.

As expected, I am also related to all of the ones she mentioned.  Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator is my 58th great-grandmother.  Who knew!  How cool is that?   The one I was really happy about was Albert Einstein - I am related to him as a second cousin five times removed's husband's wife's husband's sister's husband's sister's husband's great grandson.  Hmmm, not much blood relationship there!  Catherine II the Great, Empress of Russia is my 10th cousin 6 times removed.  Not much blood relationship there either.

I was very despondent that I'm related to Attila the Curse of God and Genghis Khan.  Oh well, we can't choose our ancestors!  

I went looking for other famous persons that I might be related to:

*  John Hancock (whose handwriting was much better than mine) is my 6th cousin 8 times removed:

*  Nathaniel Hawthorne (who was a much better writer than I am) is my 6th cousin 5 times removed:

 *  Orville Wright (who was a much better engineer than I am) is my 7th cousin 3 times removed:

*  Benjamin Franklin (who is one of my all-time favorite historical persons) is my 5th cousin 9 times removed:

*  Lizzie Borden (who was a better chopper than I ever will be) is my 12th cousin 3 times removed:

*  Jesus of Nazareth (whose garment I am not worthy to touch) is related to me as my 17th great grandfather's wife's niece's husband's first cousin once removed's wife's first cousin's wife's first cousin once removed:

[I don't think there are enough generations here - this should be back 80 generations (2000 years, average birth every 25 years) or more, and it's only about 20 to the common ancestor.  someone must have made a mistake!].

The Geni.com tree also says that Almighty God is my 93rd great-grandmother.  Who knew?

Needless to say, I don't know how accurate any of these lines are.  Almost all of them go back to Mother England before 1600, and my experience with that is that there is a lot of wrong genealogy material out there.  Perhaps the folks who added these profiles, and the ancestral links, did a good job of adding reliable data from original source records.  But probably not.

The relationships above are probably most accurate for Orville Wright and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But I haven't done the research for their lines.

At any rate, this is an interesting exercise that draws me into the Geni.com web every once in awhile.

I've hesitated in requesting that my daughters, my brothers and my cousins join my Geni.com tree, but they might find it interesting.  I know my aunts and uncle loved knowing that they were related to European royalty, Mayflower passengers and colonial governors.  That was one way to induce them to at least read my genealogy material I sent at Christmas time.

To answer my question, I think "it seems so - Geni.com can probably find a relationship for any person entered into the system.  However, the relationship may not be correct."

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/08/is-every-famous-person-my-relative.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

Where a relationship involves spouses of cousins there is no blood relationship at all except to the blood descendants of the blood kin.

Making relationship to spouse equivalent to relationship to blood kin is just wrong.

While spouses and their families may well play a role in FAN evaluations, this is a different kettle of fish.

SueFitz said...

It's amazing to see who you might be related to. I did find a president that was a 1st cousin

Ashley said...

Fun post. :)

My experience with Geni after a little more than 7 years of regular use is that the New England lines are really, really good. You'll get the occasional error, but for the most part, that part of the World Family Tree is pretty solid. So if you're like me and still living where your Puritan ancestors did hundreds of years ago, you can feel pretty confident that the connections will check out.

I hear the same thing about the Jewish branches of the tree. There is an incredibly dedicated and sizable Jewish contingent that works very hard at making it the authoritative tree for their ancestry, and it seems to be working. The South African and Norwegian branches are also very strong for the same reason. And as odd as it might sound, Geni is a *huge* deal is Estonia. Estonia! Who knew. :)

So I think a lot of it comes down to location and era. If you enough skilled people working together in one area, you're going to have great stuff going on. If you only have a couple people trying to shoulder all the serious work, it's a lot harder to get anywhere with it, and more errors are going to start getting through.

So my advice to people whenever they say "They have my line wrong!" or something similar? Join and fix it. We need your expertise. Come be our hero. Fix it so future generations get it right. It's the whole point of a collaborative tree -- we make it great by working together, not sitting on the sidelines griping about how it should be better.