Not me…my ancestors. I, hopefully, will never be burdened with fame (or infamy).

One of the interesting aspects of history for me is studying my own family’s past. Now I don’t get carried away with genealogy and historical records. I just like to piddle with it every now and then. One of my aunts has traced my mom’s side of the family back for several centuries and has boxes upon boxes of documents to back up all of her work. I think that’s really fantastic…I just don’t have time for it. One of the sites that I use (because it is free) is Family Search. It is run by the LDS church, and they have built a pretty fabulous resource for anyone wanting to trace their family tree.

The other day a co-worker (who is a member of the church) told me that Family Search just added a feature called Relative Finder that will take your family history and determine what famous people you are related to. It lists a lot of Mormon prophets, apostles, etc. that I don’t really understand, but it also has presidents and other well known people in the database. Here are the people on my list who I recognized and how we are (were) related.

  • Walter Elias Disney (yes, that Walt Disney), 9th cousin, 4 times removed
  • Buster Joseph Frances Keaton (actor), 10th cousin, 3 times removed
  • Marion Robert Morrison (aka: John Wayne), 11th cousin, 2 times removed
  • Charles Carroll (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), 3rd cousin, 8 times removed
  • Samuel F. B. Morse (invented the telegraph…and Morse code), 8th cousin, 6 times removed
  • Lyman Trumbell (U S Senator who wrote the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery), 7th cousin, 6 times removed

Now the fun ones…the Presidents (in order of presidency):

  • George Washington, 3rd cousin, 11 times removed
  • Millard Fillmore, 6th cousin, 6 times removed
  • Rutherford B. Hayes, 8th cousin, 6 times removed
  • James Garfield, 5th cousin, 6 times removed
  • Grover Cleveland, 9th cousin, 4 times removed
  • Howard Taft, 8th cousin, 6 times removed
  • Harry S Truman, 10th cousin, 4 times removed
  • Gerald Ford, 11th cousin, 1 time removed

So, I had to look up what what the numbers on the cousins and the number of times removed meant. Family Search has a pretty good rundown of how to decipher this mess. Basically the number of cousin is how close the relation is (smaller number = closer relation), and the times removed is essentially the number of generations away. In other words, I’m pretty closely related to George Washington, but we are about 11 generations apart in age.

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