Debunking 3 Big Myths about Your Genealogy

New and exciting discovery opportunities will open up for most people, probably including you, when these three emotionally-attached strongholds of common knowledge are exposed for the falsehoods they are.

 

Myth #1: Genealogy is all about your last name.

 

In any other field, anything that represents less than 1% of the whole is considered to be next to nothing. Yet in genealogy, where your last name represents less than 1% of your ancestry most people seem to think genealogy is all about their own surname.

 

The truth is, no matter whether your surname is very unusual or quite common, less than 1% of your own ancestors had your last name, and more than 99% of your own ancestors had different last names.

 

So if almost all of your own ancestors had different last names, this means almost all of your own cousins have different last names, and you may share some of the same ancestors with famous Hollywood actors and actresses, like maybe Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. (see Myth #3 below)

 

Myth #2: All of your ancestors came from ……

 

Many people have grown up believing that all of their ancestors came from Ireland, or Italy, or Norway, or Greece, etc. This is simply not true, even if all four of your grandparents came from the same place.

 

The Big Picture of Genealogy shows that over the centuries your grandparents’ ancestors came from many places. No one has ever had ancestors from only one place, everyone has ancestors from many places, and no matter how geographically identified your surname is, this absolutely includes you.

 

Myth #3: You are not related to anyone famous.

 

You are absolutely related to some famous people, and some of your ancestors were very remarkable people. Some of them were there at key turning points in history, and some of your cousins can be seen on TV. 

 

Discover some of them and become inspired!

 

 P.S. Of course I recommend the Family Forest® New World Edition as the best place to beginning your journey of discovery.

Ted Danson in Damages

Kristine and I watched Damages and I turned to the Family Forest® to see if there were family ties connecting the two stars, Ted Danson and Glenn Close.

 

As often happens when I go exploring in the Family Forest®, I got sidetracked from the original mission. First I visited the Captain’s Log archives and rediscovered the interesting ancestral story relating to Cheers.

 

I also found that I had not yet done a story I had intended to do about Ted in his role as Lemuel Gulliver in the 1996 movie Gulliver’s Travels.  I wonder if Ted knows that according to recorded history, he is a distant cousin of “Gulliver’s Travels” author Jonathan Swift?

 

Then I went looking for ancestors Ted Danson and Glenn Close may share. One potential common ancestor who caught my eye, probably because of my two recent

Bourne Ultimatum posts was Ted’s ancestor Thomas Bourne who came to Plymouth, MA in 1636 and was “the eldest of the Marshfield settlers.”

 

Glenn Close did not appear as one of Thomas Bourne’s descendants, but a number of other famous historical figures and Hollywood celebrities did show up as cousins of Ted.

 

Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, a hero in the War of 1812, is a 5th cousin four times removed. J.P. Morgan is a distant cousin, as are all of the Grosvenors of National Geographic fame.

 

Hollywood celebrity Bourne cousins of Ted Danson include Humphrey Bogart, Christopher Reeve, Richard Gere, and Hugh Heffner.

 

Could Thomas Bourne ever have imagined that four centuries into the future he would have descendants whose names would be recognized internationally?

 

 

Family Ties to the Bourne Ultimatum, Part II

After exploring the descendants of Bourne Ultimatum star Matt Damon’s Stebbins ancestors, I browsed again through the Family Forest® for some of Matt’s other 1600’s ancestors. This time I explored the descendants of his Leonard ancestors.

 

One noticeable difference to Matt’s Stebbins cousins was obvious. Matt’s only Stebbins cousin in the entertainment business (if we’re not counting politicians) I found in the Family Forest® is Clint Eastwood.

 

But Matt’s Family Forest® Leonard cousins must be genetically predisposed toward the entertainment business. They even include the Hollywood icon who has won more Oscars than any other actor or actress, Katharine Hepburn.

 

They also include Katharine Houghton, Lucille Ball, the Baldwin Brothers (Alec, William, Daniel, and Stephen), Anthony Perkins, Raquel Welch, Tahnee Welch, Johnny Carson, Harry Chapin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Gregory Peck.

 

Matt’s non-entertainment Family Forest® Leonard cousins are proportionally much less than his Stebbins cousins. They include Time-Life founder Henry Luce, First Lady Nancy Reagan, Marshall Field IV and V, and George Plimpton.

 

How many times might you have enjoyed a Hollywood motion picture, and not known that you actually share ancestors with the star? Certainly some.

Family Ties to the The Bourne Ultimatum

 

How many cousins of The Bourne Ultimatum star Matt Damon will watch him when the movie premiers tomorrow, and have no idea they share ancestors with him? Probably plenty!

 

I browsed through the Family Forest® for cousins who share early 1600’s Stebbins ancestors (only one of a number of his early American immigrant families I could have used) with Matt.

 

Many common and not so common surnames appeared, such as Adams and Brown and Johnson and Jones and Smith, to Gerbode and Gildersleeve and Kleberg and Sheehan and Wurts.

 

A number of Matt’s famous and/or prominent Stebbins cousins from the past and present also appeared. They include Emily Dickinson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, all of the descendants of the founder of the King Ranch in Texas, President Rutherford B. Hayes, Vice-President Dick Cheney, presidential candidates Howard Dean and Mitt Romney, two-time baseball All-Star Ray Boone and his All-Star descendants, billionaire Warren Buffett, all of the descendants of Hawaiian missionaries Rev. Amos Starr Cooke and Rev. Samuel Chenery Damon, the owners of Kahua Ranch, and Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood.

 

How many times might you have enjoyed a Hollywood motion picture, and not known that you actually share ancestors with the celebrity star? Certainly some.

 

  

 

Lillian Gish to Glenn Close

Inspired by a well-done tribute to early Hollywood legend Lillian Gish on YouTube, I explored a fun web of Kevin Bacon style six-degrees-of-separation connections.  

A Family Forest® kinship report for Lillian Gish reveals mostly everyday people, including probably many who have been enjoying her movies for years without having any idea that they share ancestors with their famous cousin.

 

But among the list of Lillian’s relatives are a number of leaders most people will quickly recognize on the chart. 

 

One of Lillian’s relatives is Glenn Close, and she can be seen starting this week in Damages.

 

Another interesting facet is the relevance of the Common Ancestor column on the chart. Millions of people should be able to quickly recognize one or more of them as their own ancestor.

 

This means that they are not only a cousin of Lillian Gish, but that they are also a cousin of the person Lillian shares that ancestor with.

 

So if you spot one of your own ancestors on the chart you will be connected by family ties to at least two of your famous cousins.

 

I predict that when you discover that you are actually a cousin of Lillian Gish, or Glenn Close, or Richard Gere, or Clint Eastwood, etc., you will also discover that you are magnetically drawn to their movies and/or TV series.

 

 

What is an Ancestral History Cartographer?

 Cartographer: one who produces maps.

When ancient mariners returned from their voyages of discovery, they turned their records and logs over to monastic type individuals (map makers, cartographers) who would turn that data into maps which other mariners would use on subsequent journeys to the same regions.

When those mariners returned, they turned their new records and logs over to same monastic type individuals who would then use the new data to make corrections and improvements to those maps, and then produce new maps that other mariners would use on subsequent journeys to the same regions.

That’s similar to what I have been doing digitally with a vast wealth of professionally recorded history for over a decade.

Over the centuries many have journeyed to ancestral regions and brought back their findings. I am comparing and distilling those findings, digitally connecting the dots of recorded history according to where the experts say they should be connected, and producing new maps of generation-by-generation ancestral pathways that zigzag through thousands of years of recorded history through the lives of actual people.

Most of these maps have never been seen before, and visually following one’s curiosity through the world’s largest maps of human genetic migration can be truly fascinating and enriching.

What is an Ancestral History Tour Guide?

 

By dictionary definition, I am a genealogist. In reality, I am not what one usually expects a genealogist to be. 

 

By analogy, think of true genealogists as master chefs. Highly trained professional experts who start from scratch and create precision works.

 

Think of an ancestral history tour guide as similar to a person who reviews fine dining restaurants for guides such as Fodors, Frommers, or newspapers such as the New York Times, and directs readers to the best of the best to save them time, money, and aggravation.

That’s what I am doing, and have been doing for tens of thousands of hours already, with many hundreds of warehouses of professionally recorded history. I explore through the fine print of a vast wealth of ancestral history details that the experts have discovered and recorded over the centuries, and I leave a well-marked digital trail to the exact locations of just the best of the best.

 

This allows you and other Family Forest® explorers to quickly zoom into the most relevant ancestral history knowledge, the best of the best, without wading through hundreds or thousands of repetitions of information and misinformation (as is often necessary on the Internet).

 

This is the way I wanted to find my ancestry presented when I became curious; distilled to the best of the best of what the experts had already discovered.

 

Actually, isn’t this the way you hope to explore any topic which interests you?

 

Wouldn’t you rather start any research quest by first finding out what a reasonably intelligent person has discovered after filtering though all of the repetitions and misinformation while searching for the best of the best?

 

 

So What, Who Cares?

Everyone would, if they only knew. And we would like to give them this special experience via the
Family Forest® Project
.

 

A couple of recent comments suggest that the distant past is irrelevant and there is no good reason for knowing who one’s early ancestors were.

 

These opinions can only be held by someone who has not yet seen any of their own ancestors portrayed in a Hollywood movie or someone who has never stood transfixed in a museum gazing at an ancestor captured on canvas at a pivotal moment in history.

 

Paraphrasing Thomas Aquinas, to him who has not yet experienced it, no explanation is possible. To him who has experienced it, no explanation is necessary.

Try to find these “Ah Ha!” experiences for yourself, and for your family. You and your family will be delighted you did.

Genealogy’s Big Picture

 

Think about it. For centuries genealogy has been a subject that has been explored, figuratively speaking, through a microscope; small bits or segments of information are viewed in great detail.

 

This is a worthwhile and enriching perspective that will always be beneficial in genealogy, but this perspective is severely hobbled by the limitations of paper-based knowledge, and it lacks the ability to deliver the most exciting “Ah Ha!” experiences ancestral history is waiting to reveal.

 

With this approach, it is very easy to not even notice that there is a very much larger picture to see. And the picture of the ancestral heritage of each of us grows very big very quickly as we proceed into the past, as you can see on the two charts at our site.

 

The computer allows us new possibilities to explore a much more exciting perspective, the really Big Picture that literally relates to each of us personally, in various ways as we follow our curiosity.

 

The Big Picture of genealogy is a multi-continent multi-millennium view that computers allow us to explore visually, after centuries of paper-based ancestral history knowledge has been digitally indexed and lineage-linked as the Family Forest® Project has done.

 

When this vast wealth of professionally recorded ancestral history is filtered into

stage-three digital content, the world’s largest maps of human genetic migration

can be summoned with a few mouse-clicks.

 

These countless charts/maps provide fascinating and surprising views , of our ancestral heritage which are waiting to be explored for personal enrichment. Genealogy’s Big Picture is both fun and captivating.

Britney Spears and a Pivotal Moment at Jamestown

I just came across an interesting entry in a lineage book of the National Society Daughters of Colonial Wars (NSDCW). It said that Richard Pace “PREVENTED THE ENTIRE COLONY OF JAMESTOWN FROM BEING ELIMINATED BY WARNING AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE OF THE INDIAN MASSACRE OF 22 MAR 1622.”

 

According to the ancestral history already digitally mapped out in the Family Forest®, Richard Pace is one of the 11th great-grandfathers of Britney Spears (Britney is another distant cousin of mine, through our Briquebec Castle ancestor).

 

According to recorded history, Richard Pace was warned of the impending massacre by the Indian who was assigned to kill Richard.

 

Richard used this knowledge to save the lives of people who became the ancestors of countless millions of people living today. Among the immediate beneficiaries of this warning was at least one of my own ancestors.

 

Also according to the ancestral history already digitally mapped out in the Family Forest®, Peter Montague, arrived in Jamestown in 1621. I am descended from Peter’s son, also named Peter, who was born in the 1630’s.

 

If Richard Pace had not survived his planned assassination and gone on to warn the Jamestown Colony, if Peter Montague had not survived the Indian massacre, if one of my 8th great-grandfathers had never been born, would I have never been born? Or would I have been born as someone else?

 

History pivots on small events. If one Indian had not disobeyed his Chief , there would be no Family Forest® today, and maybe no Britney Spears (her 10th great-grandfather George Pace was born well before the massacre, and may or may not have been at Jamestown at the time).

 

Bruce Harrison

Ancestral History Tour Guide and Cartographer