I have recently taken closer notice of a neat (albeit, questionable) feature of WikTree called Connections. This feature tells you who you are related to by direct “most recent common ancestor” (MRCA), as cousins through marriage, and directly descended from (this would be the most questionable to be taken with a grain of salt…read on).
I do receive periodic notifications from WikiTree with little snippets of “news” and, unfortunately, I am too busy most of the time to really read these notifications. But this week a little snippet caught my eye…I am 20 degrees from Davey Crockett (through several marriages, not by blood). What? Really? Cool…
Ok, but like all things of a genealogical nature, the accuracy of such claims is heavily based on how good the research is. Great, several more hypotheses that I don’t have time to run down. Oh, well. Just for fun, let’s assume that the connections are based on sound research that we can trust. Who else are we allegedly related to?
It’s (not) quite surprising that most of our connections are through our Colonial ancestors – namely the Gages, Stones, and other allied families. Why is this? Mainly because it was more important to Colonial descendants to attempt to try to trace their lineage to some noble family than it was for German descendants who knew they descended from farmers or craftsmen of average birth – they were humbler. And, it is highly popular for U.S. Americans to trace their Colonial ancestors (probably because they can read old English easier than German, French, etc.) But, it’s also because our other lines aren’t as heavily researched as our Gage, Stone, and associated families (probably because other researchers weren’t good at reading German, French, etc. – ’cause, well…I’m not).
So, let’s take a cruise through some of the more well-known names:
Actor, Bill Nye, the science guy is my 7th cousin once removed through our Gage/Stones to MRCA Sarah Waite. Other actors with similar connections include Denise Crosby and Jonathan Frakes, you would know them as Lt. Tasha Yar and Commander Riker from Star Trek, The Next Generation, Mark Hamill better known as Luke Skywalker, his movie-sister, Carrie Fisher aka Princes Leia Skywalker Solo, Robert Dinero, Robert Duvall, Sigourney Weaver (yikes), and a few more.
Valerie June Carter Cash – yes, Johnny Cash’s equally famous wife, she of the Carter family fame. We are 14th cousins through our MRCA, Agnes (Epes) Garrard, a Gage/Stone family ancestor. Other southern entertainers with similar connections include Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Elon Musk. Yup, Elon Musk. We are 10th cousins once removed through our Stone ancestors. The Stones lead to a family of Hills and our possible MRCA is Joseph Hills (bef. 1602-1688). Elon is not the only uber-rich relative of ours, we share ancestors with Bill Gates who is my 11th cousin through the Gages to Abbotts, to Dustins on down to MRCA Agnes (Napper) Woodbury (1598-1672).
One of my favorite science fiction authors, Anne McCaffrey, and I are 9th cousins twice removed through our Gage/Kimball ancestor, Ursula (Scott) Kimball (1598-1661).
What about the founding fathers? Oh my, we have a connection to Thomas Jefferson! Because who in this country isn’t related to Thomas Jefferson?
Oh, Shut the front door! Queen Elizabeth II Windsor (the current Queen of England) is my 10th cousin twice removed through our Stone ancestors to our MRCA Thomasine (Belgrave) Frost (1562-1616). If you recall, my grandmother’s mtDNA, which actually runs through Gage (English) to DeJean (French) to Tucker( maybe Dutch/Danish) to probably Norway, is in the same haplogroup as King Richard III, so she is potentially distantly related to several royal lines. Go, Grandma!
How about our deep, deep ancestors? I’m so glad you asked. I am very excited to report that according to WikiTree we descend from not only William the Conqueror, but the holy grail of ancestors, Charlemagne. It doesn’t get much better than this, folks.
For William the Conqueror, the connection goes something like this. Starting with me and a confirmed lineage to Julian Gage’s (1868-1952) great-great-grandmother, Hezekiah Stone (1711-1771). From here I have not independently validated things, but this family is heavily researched. Hezekiah was the granddaughter of John Waite/Wayte (1618-1693) who came to the United States from Essex, England to Massachusetts as an adult, settling in Maldern. John Waite apparently descends from a noble Puritan line on his mother’s side up to his 3xgreat grandfather.
Here the research starts to come under question due to conflicting records at nearly every generation. The mother of this 3xgreat grandfather may have been Alice Kemp (~1400-~1461) whose great-grandmother was Isabelle Hastings (~1300-1347). Isabelle’s grandfather used “de Hastings”, to be more precise “Sir” Henry de Hastings (1235-bef. 1269). Henry and his father were honest-to-goodness knights! This family held lands in Norfolk and Suffolk. The de Hastings held the position of King’s stewards. Sir Henry died in either France on a business trip or while on a crusade. No one knows for sure. Henry’s maternal line was Huntingdon of Cheshire, England and they descend from the 5th Earl of Chester, Hugh of Cyfeiliog (modern-day Gwynedd). Ole Hugh (1147-1181) was born in either Wales or France and also held the titles Viscount D’avranches and Viscount Bayeux. Hugh’s mother was the granddaughter of King Henry I (1068-1135) through an illegitimate son.
Henry I, King of the English, was the youngest son of France’s Duke William of Normandy…or William the Conqueror. Don’t try to count the generations…it’s impossible in narrative form. Trust me, 28 degrees of separation. I could be the 26th great-granddaughter of William the Conqueror.
As for Charlemagne, well I just might be a 33rd great-granddaughter of his. Taking another deep breath:
We start off the same as William the Conqueror up to Isabella de Hastings where we deviate to her grandmother, Joan Cantilupe (~1216-~1254), the wife of Sir Henry de Hastings. Joan’s father was the 3rd Baron Abergavenny and Constable of Builth Castle. Joan’s paternal grandfather may have been the Sherriff of Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire, and Constable of Nottingham Castle. Jumping through a mother D Gournay, English mother de Dammartin whose father and grandfather were French Counts of Dammartin (de Luzarches), this later patriarch being Alberic de Dammartin I (or Senior, ~1102-~1183). We stay in the de Damartin line for three more generations to a mother Helvide Montdidier/Laon or de Laon (0940-??) whose father Roger de Laon (aft. 0890-0942) was the Count of Laon probably by marriage of the former Count’s widow. Here it starts to get sketchier…
Roger’s mother is in dispute. Her name was Heilwig, but depending on what sources and proof arguments one accepts, she is either the daughter of 1) Eberhard, Marquis of Friuli and his wife Gisela Carolingian, or 2) Hucbald de Gouy and Helvide du Firoul. Now, WikiTree links her to Eberhard and Gisela but a contributor has posted a rather convincing argument against this. If one accepts the less likely trip down the Carolingian lane, then Heilwide’s maternal line of Carolingian leads to her great-grandfather, Charlemagne.
All of this kind of lends credence to my self-proclaimed title of Queen of the World and Ruler of all I survey (though I fashioned that after Lady Polgara, daughter of Belgarath the Sorcerer…never mind, just Google her).
Don’t worry, I don’t take any of this seriously and neither should any family member reading this. I mean, possible, sure – probable, meh. But it is a fun story, isn’t it?