Who are you related to?

The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Author Dan Brown got it all wrong in The Da Vinci Code. Mary Magdalene was not related to the most famous man who ever lived. She was related to all the most famous men and women who ever lived – and I can prove it, just give me a couple of hours on the Internet.

Forty years ago, when I started family research it was drudgery. You had to spend hours in dusty libraries pouring over old and yellow tomes to establish your ancestry. If you were lucky as I was, you had an old American family of several branches, which at best might lead back to The Mayflower, or if you were a latecomer at least to the Revolutionary War. It was work to solve your genealogical lines then. If you knew your grandparents or great grandparents, you were on your way, but it was no sure thing. It took me more than 20 years to prove the complete lineage of my family.

Today, thanks to the Internet, and the hundreds of genealogies sent in from other researchers, I can do it in an hour or two at most.

Of course, there are still a few flies in the ointment.

Did your great grandpa have five wives, well it would seem so? Oh well, pick the one you like and go with it. With a bit of digging and connecting of lines it will soon fit: suddenly, you and your spouse turn out to be 12th cousins, eight times removed ( which of course makes your children, siblings and cousins as well).

My late mother would have loved our large extended internet family. I can hear her now advising Cousin Abe (Lincoln) not to go the Theatre as the play was mediocre. Or telling Cousin Liz (Windsor) how to properly raise her children. And how she would have wept over the deaths of Cousin Nicky (Romanov) and his family at the hands of the Bolsheviks.

I sense there are some skeptics, out there, who might feel perhaps that perhaps all these family lines might not be true. Back in 1807, Great-Great Grandpa John (Norvell) wrote to Cousin Tom (Jefferson) asking him his opinion about having a career as a newspaper printer. Cousin Tom, in a very famous commentary, wrote back to him:

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vessel. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.”

I concede that those words might apply to research on the genealogy information on internet today, but oh well, what did Cousin Tom know. It’s just like family to give you the advice that you really don’t want to hear.

Just give me a couple of hours and I am sure that I can find out that you are my cousin, and you, and even Kevin Bacon. Yes, thanks to the internet I have a very large and extended family.

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About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in American History, Ancestry, Colonial History, Family History, Genealogy, Internet genealogy, Norvell Family History, Social History, The press, Thomas Jefferson and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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