If you’ve read much of my blog over the past few years, it’s pretty obvious that I have been able to document a lot of connections to other individuals – both in the history of my hometown, Wolcott, CT, and in Connecticut history as well. Part of this is due to the sheer number of relatives that we all have as well as the modern tools we now have for doing genealogical research.
One’s family tree expands by a factor of two for every generation we go back – the father’s side and the mother’s side. From my own birth in the middle of the 20th century back to the early 1700s there are about 8-9 generations. Thus there are a potential of several hundred great*7 grandparents in that length of time (2 to the 9th power is 512). However, not all of one’s ancestral lines can be traced back that far, some were not in the US until later in history, and there are some duplicates where two branches converge. But with the current tools, I have about 200 documented ancestors at the great*7 grandparent level in my family tree. And with each of those individuals having the potential for perhaps several hundred descendants (for arguments sake let’s say 400), that gives me 80,000 possible individuals at various levels of “cousin-ness” (of which I have only documented a few thousand).
Until recent years, most of these distant connections would have been unknown. So while many of us may have had people growing up around us who were related to us in some fashion, we would not be aware of most of those connections. The ones we knew best were our first cousins, and, if we were fortunate enough, a few of our second cousins. That was true of me as well – my siblings and I knew all 15 or so of our first cousins and we interacted with them frequently, and we knew of and occasionally met some of our second cousins.
However, there was one branch of our family tree that was well documented. My mother’s maiden name was Pierpont, and the Pierpont Family Association maintained a large document which kept track of all the descendants of the New England Pierpont family (primarily the descendants of James Pierpont, one of my great*7 grandfathers). And since there was an annual Pierpont Family Reunion where all the people in this tree (at least those that we had an address for) were invited, we knew of and had an opportunity to meet with all the people in this descendant tree (they have met for every year since 1924). This is of course only one of the 200 ancestors that I have since documented, but the Pierpont family were pretty prolific and the potential pool of attendees was pretty large. Of those, those who attended numbered between 30 and 100, with there only being a single instance where the 100 was exceeded (1998). But the attendee list was different each year, so we got to know perhaps a couple of hundred Pierpont relatives by meeting them and because the family descendant tree was so well documented, we knew the names of many more.
Our immediate family was relatively involved, with my grandfather and two of my uncles/aunts being president of the PFA at various times, my father having been the vice-president, and my mother having been the secretary for a few years as well. So our particular branch of the family tree were often the ones to be recognized for having the largest number attending, and when my aunt and uncle from Arizona were there a few times they received the distance trophy. In more recent years, with the generation of my parents having nearly all passed away, there has only occasionally been a representative from my immediate family (aunts/uncles/cousins/etc.). However, with my renewed interest in genealogy from the past few years, I am planning on attending this coming weekend!
But to get back to the point of this blog, I’d like to mention my Pierpont relatives who lived near me in my hometown and whom I knew growing up. They didn’t necessarily have the last name of Pierpont anymore due to them being descended through a female who took on her husband’s last name, but they are still relatives. So, in no particular order, here are my Pierpont relatives who lived in Wolcott (at least back when I lived there while growing up).
· My Uncle Zeke (Clarence) and Aunt Babs (Barbara) Pierpont and their family who lived just a few houses from us (only my cousin Rob and his wife are still in Wolcott)
· My Uncle Tony and Aunt Vi (Violet) Semeraro and their family who lived at the other end of town
· The Kraft family (Howard & Marian) and their children and grandchildren (note that the Krafts were also related to the Peterson family in Wolcott). My 3rd cousin, Bob Kraft, is the current PFA family historian/genealogist
· Margaret [Miller] [Northrop] Hall – she was the mother of Marian [Northrop] Kraft and Jean [Northrop] Fleming
· Byron and Jean Fleming
· The Garrigus family (I’ve documented this connection here - http://ramblinrussells.blogspot.com/2017/03/wolcott-history-inter-family-marriages.html). It is recorded in the PFA minutes from 1948 that “Morton Pierpont gave a humorous account on how families inter-marry, namely the Garriguses and Pierponts, and said he felt like his own grandpa.”
While this is certainly just a handful of individuals compared to all the other Wolcott families who are related to me through other of my ancestors, it is always nice to grow up in proximity to ones relatives.