Friday, January 18, 2008

"We're Not Related . . . ."

I was listening to a news story about two government officials with the same surname. The news reader ended the piece by saying, "The two men are not related."

How often have you heard that? Or how often have you said "Oh, we're not related?"

Consider what that phrase might mean:

1. "We know we're not siblings."

2. "We don't think we're related (but we really don't know)."

3. "We doubt that we're related and we really aren't interested enough to find out."

A few years ago, I met a man whose surname was one of my family surnames. We joked that we might be related. Then as we compared and shared a bit of information about where our families were from and who they were, it became apparent that we likely are related. That was before I began studying genealogy in earnest. Now I have a great deal more information and I'm certain that he's a cousin. So now, how to broach that topic with him?

Well, that provides a good segue to the 40th Carnival of Genealogy which Jasia has just posted at Creative Gene. [Having resolved to contribute often to the Carnival, I missed this deadline as we got to school for the spring semester!]. The topic of the Carnival is "Finding Living People." A number of the Carnival's regulars and some interesting newcomers talk about meeting new kin as a result of their genealogical adventures.

I've had that experience, too. One of the first people I ever contacted was Steve Bowie, a third cousin. Our common ancestors are John Wesley Bowie (1845-1926) and Amanda McCray Bowie (1848-1924). Of course, contacting Steve was not anxiety-producing because he's done the research on the site James Bowie, Free Man of Color.

On the other hand, I was very nervous when I picked up the telephone one day in 2006 to call some of my Manson cousins in Texas that I had never met before. But we had a great conversation.

Because of the blog, more often the case is that people contact me rather than the other way around. I've met Gines cousins and Brayboy cousins in particular.

At a genealogical conference, I met one of my Brayboy cousins. You can check out Karen's adventures in genealogy here.

Once, in Washington, D.C., a woman walked up to me and asked, "Are you a Gines? Because you look just like my great-grandfather." Well, I am a Gines, and she is part of the South Carolina family."

I need to do more contacting of living relatives, especially in Louisiana. I'm sure I'd learn quite a bit more if I did. So I'm going to go read the Carnival postings to see how to do it!


Thomas MacEntee said...

Hey Greg

I was missing lots of blog carnival deadlines or memes/challenges from other bloggers. Here's how I handle it now: with Jasia's write up of the 41st Edition of the COG and the deadline, I immediately copy and paste that entire paragraph and place it in a new post. I then keep it in Draft" mode.

Each time I go in to look at my posts, I see which drafts I have and what my upcoming deadlines happen to be.

Jewelgirl said...

I like your idea about the same
last name but not related. It
happened to my cousin. She met
a person who claimed he was our
fifth cousin and wrote down the
names. I checked the names out on
the census and saw they were more
recent immigrants, probably not
closely related at all.