My Convertible Life

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Family Tree in Google's Branches

Yesterday I met my forty-eleventh cousin.

That's not technically accurate, but that's what my grandmother would have called him. 

Actually, his great-grandfather and my great-great-grandmother were brother and sister -- which makes us third cousins once removed. Trust me on this one.

I found him online. No, not like that. Even weirder, actually. 

A few years ago, I was googling myself (that still sounds dirty, doesn't it?) to find some online articles I wrote in grad school. One of the links that showed up took me to someone's online family tree -- and I was in it. Along with my parents and grandparents, my brother, my husband and my son. But I had no idea who the guy was that posted the tree. Freaky, huh?

Long story short, I emailed him, discovered that my great-great-great-grandfather was his great-great grandfather -- and given that that makes us very distantly related in the present day, we'd never met or really even heard of each other. Except that he'd done all this genealogy research and pieced together an extensive family tree that he posted online.

And through the magic of social media, we became Facebook friends and began keeping up with each other's families. Then yesterday he came by with his wife and youngest daughter (after calling ahead, of course) while they were in town visiting friends. They turned out to be lovely people (not that I should be surprised -- they are related to me, after all) and we had a really nice visit.

It's a funny thing to think about, but we're all related to loads of people out there who we've never met -- and most of them, we never will. I'm sure there's a lesson in there about being nice to strangers and treating everyone like your brother. But then again, maybe we're nicer to strangers sometimes than we are to our own family.

So instead of looking for some great moral in all of this, you might want to stick with the high entertainment factor of finding yourself online. Go ahead and google yourself. You never know where you might turn up.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really cool post and revelation! When I google myself, I can trace myself back to middle school when I posted on a forum when I was doing research about Hawaii! Lol.



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