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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cousins, cousins everywhere: connections through New England

Images d'Épinal : Cendrillon

I have this friend, she is related to EVERYONE.  No, seriously she has a cousin connection to over half of the people we know in common; maybe even more than that.  She is also the reason I am sitting here today and the first person I go to with genealogy questions. Dare I say she is my genealogy fairy godmother?  Perhaps not, I don’t want to get hit the next time I see her.

What fascinates me about this is the fact that when you have links to colonial New England, like we do, you have links to a lot of other people.  I have one line from the Mayflower, Alden, but unlike most persons of that time my family left the area very quickly.  Within 3 generations they were in New Jersey.  A generation later they were in Kentucky. The next they were in Indiana where my line finally stayed for the next 150+ years.  My other New England family was named Kelley. They were Irish immigrants to the Boston area who then moved to Martha’s Vineyard before landing in Indiana via Ohio. 

I think it is due to this migration pattern that I have fewer links to others with colonial roots.  My friend on the other hand has a multitude of connections to a lot of families because even though her family group moved through New England they married in every town and integrated into the various communities.  Essentialy her family stayed longer and made more connections.  Interesting study in family dynamics and migration patterns, yes?

She and I have 2 confirmed great X-grandparents in common.  They are Christopher Webb and his wife Humility Cooper (or could it be Wheaton), as well as John Crabtree and his wife Alice Courtney.  We are still looking at the links to my husband, but so far it seems they may have as many as 7 cousin connections.  My mother-in-law has long roots in New England, much to her amazement, so this is not as surprising of a find.

Then there are the connections to figures that are larger than life.  My oldest child, the American History buff, has grabbed onto the fact that we are cousins to Presidents on one side and a signer of the Declaration on Independence on the other, all because we have the same colonial genealogical roots.  These cousin connections have sent my son on a research spree (you should have seen him when he was shown his cousins signature on the declaration at the archives).  He comes to me every so often to let me know about another cousin connection he found on the internet.  The hard part?  Trying to explain how distant of a connection this is.  To him a cousin is a cousin darn it, we should be proud of all our ancestors.  It must be that need in people to be connected in some way to people or places that have a historical significance. 

What are your thoughts? 

Do you have lots of cousin connections to fellow genealogy friends?

Did your family stay for longer periods of time, or did they have itchy feet?

I’d love to hear your experiences with researching New England ancestors and families that cross (sometimes more than once) with each other.


  1. Just remember to be home by midnight, or the coach turns back into a pumpkin .... :)

    Seriously, Thank you.

    As to the rest, I find I am more pleased with the cousin connections I have made with my friends and co-workers than with the famous (or infamous) now. Frankly, most people are connected to someone famous somehow -- they just might not know it. I grew up knowing that I had tons of Rev War ancestors, as well as Colonial Founders and royalty. While that got me started on a history bent, it became routine and common to add yet another patriot or noble to the ranks. But finding out the friends that I made along the way are cousins -- that is priceless to me now.

    1. It is nice to know that you are related to some of your closest friends. We can travel crazy genealogy roads together! And... you are welcome. :)

  2. Yes, I think virtually everyone wants to have some famous connection, and that's an especially good way to get kids interested in genealogy. That's great!

    My other thought is that -- especially from reading Heather Rojo's blogs -- I have the impression that everyone from early New England is somehow related to everyone else from early New England. Even if your connections to NE are distant ones, they are probably themselves related to everyone else in the area!

    1. The more I research the more I find that this is true!

  3. I am glad for the thought. My family stayed in New England since they came in the early 1600's. I never thought about the cousin connection before. My friend who got me hooked on the internet and genealogy is descended from William Brewster and so am I. That makes us some sort of cousin I guess. Thanks.

    1. Yes! Distant cousins, but still cousins. Like my friend and I who are 8th cousins 2x removed or something. It is nice to have people to share your experiences with who really appreciates what you find too. As well as people who then can help you with research and historical context of the area.