Stories From the Past is proud to present The Cousin Connection Project.
I grew up without cousins. Well, I did have cousins. I knew I had cousins. I had even met three of them. But I didn’t know them well, and I didn’t even live in the same state as any of them. I was well into my 40s by the time I started getting to know the rest of my cousins, and I still haven’t met most of them in person.
I met my midwestern cousins on my mother’s side when I moved to Chicago for graduate school. As I sat at Thanksgiving dinner with all those first cousins trying to figure out how my children were related to them and how our children were related to each other, my cousin Allen patiently explained the differences between first, second, third cousins, etc., and the numbers of removal. It was a bit confusing, but I retained enough of the information that I felt comfortable in exploring cousin relationships to others.
Thanks to Facebook, I have been able to connect with even more cousins I have never met in person. With their cooperation, I am getting to know them better one blog post at a time. When my newly discovered cousin Bernie posted a family recipe on Facebook, I decided the recipe would make a great blog post. I felt that I should also identify just how we were related, so with Bernie’s cooperation, and using Allen’s “formula” I created a chart showing my newly discovered relationship. Bernie was great, and the post was so personally rewarding that I offered to do it for all of my cousins on Facebook.
Between Bernie’s post and my next cousin post, I was contacted by a complete stranger named Diedre in Michigan. Diedre gave me some information indicating that we have common ancestors from early colonial America and the Netherlands (AKA Holland at the time). Much of Diedre’s information pointed to a probable family connection by removals with an old family friend in Utah. I could see that I could easily make cousin connections throughout the United States on a regular basis by connecting through common ancestors. I’ll go more into detail about those common ancestors in another cousin connection post, but suffice it to say I can see that I have plenty to keep busy.
Thanks to my U.S. immigrant ancestors, and the cousins I’ve already connected with, I can connect with my past in a completely new and exciting way. Next week I’m connecting with another New York cousin, our family genealogy expert, John Woodgie. After that, Diedre, and I still have plenty of ideas to keep me going well into the new year. This is very rewarding for me, so I am creating a database for these cousin connections, and I am calling it The Cousin Connection Project.
The Cousin Connection Project uses a surname and location database of most ancestors I have been able to identify. The database is organized alphabetically by surname, and should be pretty easy to identify links to common ancestors. If you come across a name, location, and date range that matches names, locations, and date ranges in your own family tree, you can contact me for a free consultation and a possible cousin connection post showing your relationship to me.
I am also including separate databases for Mary Davis Skeen and any other family lines for other historical biographies I decide to tackle in the future. The separate databases will make it easier to identify your own personal relation to other bygone figures. I have already checked Mary Davis and her husband William Skeen (who was from Pennsylvania), against my own family tree, and I have no reason at all to believe that there is a connection to myself (so far).
As the connections grow, I plan to include links to stories, recipes, and family traditions. This is exciting for me, a person who grew up without knowing most of my extended family, including three of my grandparents and most of my first cousins. Where before I felt that I had almost no extended family, suddenly the world is becoming my family. I know that we have often been told that the family of humankind is all related. Some of those estimates claim that we are related by as little as sixth cousins. Other, more scientific endeavors claim that everyone on the earth is related by at least fiftieth cousins. I don’t know how much truth there is to that claim, but I am pretty sure that I am related to enough amateur genealogists to keep my Cousin Connection Project alive for as long as I want to pursue it. Here’s to getting to know you!