Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Bridge

I’ve had the privilege of being to Thailand on three separate occasions. The first time I was on a business trip to Singapore and, for the only time in my work life, I took a week of vacation in the middle of a business trip. I flew to Bangkok where I had made plans to visit my exchange student daughter, Noon, and her family. Noon and her father, Mr. Tabtimdaeng, met me at the airport and took me to their home. We did some sightseeing each day, driving to see many of the sights in the area.

One evening Mr. Tabtimdaeng said, “Tomorrow we’re going to see the bridge.” I had no idea what he meant by that, and when he qualified it by saying that we were going to Kanchanaburi, that didn’t help much. But I dutifully got myself ready the next morning after breakfast, sitting in the living room with my hat and camera – having learned by then that when he came into the living room and said, “we’re going now” that “now” meant, “the car is running and is right outside the door, get in ASAP, as we’re leaving.”

I could tell by the sun that we were heading to the west – having taken trips the prior two days to the north and southeast. But this was a much longer drive – nearly 3 hours. The road signs are often in both Thai and English, so I finally saw the name Kanchanaburi as we neared our destination, still having no idea what we were going to see, except the cryptic announcement of the previous evening of “the bridge.”

Coming into town and still not seeing any sign of a river or a bridge, we turned onto the main street through town. Kanchanaburi is a small city of about 30,000 people, not terribly large. Mr. Tabtimdaeng announced that we were first going to stop at the cemetery. Now I was even more confused – why was it so important that he was taking me to a cemetery? Was this where his ancestors were buried? There was a high wall around the cemetery, so we needed to walk down the street to the entrance a short distance away. It seemed that it was about two city blocks in size with the entrance in the middle of one of the long sides. But as we turned in through the elaborate gate, there was a plaque in English – now it made sense!

The plaque read, “1939-1945 – The land on which this cemetery stands is the gift of the Thai people for the perpetual resting place of the sailors, soldiers and airmen who are honoured here.” Just beyond the gates stretched rows and rows of gravestones – all in English, and all marking the final resting place of those who had given their lives in sacrifice during WWII. But, unlike Normandy, where the American Normandy Cemetery holds the graves of over 9000 Americans, all these graves, nearly 7000 of them, were of British and Dutch individuals. These were all of those who died as Japanese prisoners during the building of the infamous Burmese railway.

For those who not familiar with this story of WWII, the Japanese had conquered much of SE Asia early in the war, including Burma. But Burma was on the far side of the Malay Peninsula and the Japanese wanted to avoid the sea journey around the southern end of the peninsula where British submarines lay in wait, so they decided in 1942 to build a railway from Thailand to Burma (see This also became known as the Death Railway, because 90,000 civilians and 12,000 Allied prisoners died during the roughly one year of building it. The Australian dead had been removed to Australia for burial, but those from Britain and the Netherlands were all buried here.

I was in the presence of greatness! For nearly an hour I wandered among the rows and rows of gravestones, each carrying the name of one of these prisoners, his age, his unit, and a Christian Cross or Star of David as appropriate. It was a sobering experience and I shed many tears as I viewed the final resting place of so many brave men. You can see many pictures of the cemetery by doing a Google search, but pictures do not do this place justice.

It was now nearly lunchtime as we drove the remaining few blocks to “the bridge,” which I immediately recognized – The Bridge Over the River Kwai! The river alongside of which the town lies is the Khwae Yai (with several alternate anglicized spellings such as Kwai). This bridge was immortalized in a book of that name in 1952 (, just 10 years after the bridge was constructed, and then the book became a movie a few years later – a movie which I had seen while growing up. I was face-to-face with history!

While the bridge was bombed on multiple occasions during the war and was eventually put out of commission, it has subsequently been restored (I was told that they used reparations from the Japanese to fund the restoration) and is today a tourist attraction. However, the somewhat remote location to the far west of Thailand and the lengthy drive to get there means that it will never get the volume of clientele that the Thai beaches elsewhere get.

After eating lunch in a small restaurant overlooking the bridge, I was able to walk the length of it. This is done by stepping on metal plates laid across the ties between the two rails. Every so often the excursion train would traverse the bridge (it leaves from the bridge approach, crosses the bridge, goes a few kilometers along the far side, then reverses and comes back). When the train is approaching the bridge, the engineer blows the whistle. This is a signal to those walking across to hurry to the next bridge support (the bridge has nine different sections) and step onto the support along side the track while the train passes by literally a foot or so from where you are standing.

Following our time at the bridge, we traveled further up the river and into a mountainous area to a large hydroelectric dam, the Sinakharin Dam, before backtracking down along the river and taking the long drive back east to the Tabtimdaeng home.

I am grateful to my hosts for taking the time to show me so many aspects of Thailand. During those few days we visited historic sites (Ayutthaya and Lop Buri) and beaches (Pattaya). Those greatly increased my knowledge of the country and its people. But those did not affect me as emotionally as this trip to “the bridge” and nearby cemetery.

I was fortunate enough to return to this lovely country twice more and to experience the rich culture and lovely people of Thailand. It remains one of my favorite places to have visited.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Russells, Russells, everywhere

Tracing family lines in the US can be an interesting process. That is especially true with family names that have had a long history. On my mother’s Pierpont side, where the family name goes back to the late 900s, there are apparently only two instances where family members came to the US. One was the two brothers, John and Robert, who came to Boston in 1640 as part of the Great Migration (*1) and who were the forebears of all the New England Pierponts. The other is Henry Pierpoint who came to Virginia in 1623 (*2). I can trace my line through the New England Pierponts all the way back to the origin of the family name (*3), but the Virginia line, while almost certainly connected, cannot be traced that far.

But the Russell family name goes back equally as far as the Pierpont name – to Normandy, France in the early 1000s. However, the Russells seem to have scattered widely about the British Isles over the next several centuries and more of them came to America. One was Robert Russell who also came to Massachusetts during the Great Migration (*3). Like the New England Pierpont line, his family tree can be traced all the way to the origin of the family name. I initially thought this was my own family line, but later discovered that there had been a lot of confusion about two individuals with the same name and that my lineage was through my great*6 grandfather, Robert Russell, who came to New York from Scotland around 1750 (*4). Robert was part of the Clan Russell in Scotland (*5). While this clan also claims that they are descendants of the original Russell/Rozel/Roussel family in Normandy, an exact lineage has not be determined.

But while there are only two Pierpont lines in the US are there other Russell lines other than these two? I was recently contacted by a “cousin”, Chad Russell, who wondered how we might be connected. Let me show what I found about his family line.

Chad Russell Ancestry

·       Chad
·       Donald V (1940-) b. Wyoming
·       Jasper E (1901-1962) b. Colorado
·       Silas Alexander (1863-1940) b. Marysville, KS
·       James Joseph (1841-1898) b. Miller, MO
·       Abraham Frank (1815-1859) b. Washington County, VA
·       Joseph (1790-1859) b. Washington, VA
·       John, Sr. (1758-1821) b. Washington, VA
·       William J (1735-1793) b. Culpeper, VA, Brig. Gen. (*6)
·       William R (1708-1777) b. Orange, VA, Lt. Col.
·       Adam (1693-1716) b. Edinburgh, Scotland
·       John (1673-) b. Scotland
·       James (1650-) b. Scotland
·       Robert (?) b. Scotland

Chad’s line goes back not to MA or NY, but to VA where one of his ancestors came to America around the beginning of the 1700s from Scotland. Thus, he is also descended from the Clan Russell in Scotland (exact connections to me not determined), but through a different immigrant.

This got me wondering about other “famous” Russells and what other immigrants might have that same Russell surname. Here are some that I investigated.

Charles Taze Russell

Charles Taze Russell was the founder of the Watch Tower Society in 1881, which was the forerunner of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. As noted in his biography on Wikipedia (*7), Charles father’s Joseph Lytel Russell was an Irish immigrant from Northern Ireland to Philadelphia in the mid-1850s. This is entirely different line of the Russell family.

Charles Marion Russell

Charles M. Russell was a well-known painter of the Old West (*8). I was able to trace his family back to its immigrant beginnings:
·       Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) b. St. Louis, MO
·       Charles Silas Russell (1833-1917) b. St. Louis, MO
·       Joseph Russell (1786-1850) b. Rockbridge Co, VA
·       Joseph Russell, Sr. (1757-1817) b. Mountain Falls, VA
·       Gen. William J Russell (1735-1793) b. Culpeper, VA
Here it intersects with Chad’s family tree above. This make Charles M Russell the 3rd cousin, 4 times removed of Chad.

William Hepburn Russell

William is the founder of the Pony Express (*9). Although he is thus associated with the Western US, he was born in Vermont. Let’s trace his family tree:
·       William Hepburn Russell (1812-1872) b. Burlington, VT
·       William Eaton Russell (1785-1814) b. Addison Co, VT
·       Benjamin Russell (1755-1829) b. Ashford, CT
·       Benjamin Russell (1729-1754) b. Ashford, CT
·       Benjamin Russell (1702-1754) b. MA
·       Benjamin Russell (1677-1754) b. Andover, MA
·       Robert Russell (1630-1710) b. England, d. Andover, MA
Robert was the original Russell who came during the Great Migration (*3).

Jane Russell

Ernestine Jane Geraldine Russell was a famous actress in the 1940s (*10). Here is her family tree:
·       Jane Russell (1921-2011) b. MN
·       Roy William Russell (1890-1937) b. Grand Forks, ND
·       William Douglas Russell (1860-1941) b. Ontario, Canada
·       Alexander Russell (1820-1913) b. Scotland

Rosalind Russell

Catherine Rosalind Russell (1907-1976) was born in Waterbury, CT (the same town I was born in) to Irish immigrants, James Edward and Clara Russell (*11).

African-American Russells

There are a number of famous Russells who were born in the southern US and who were descended from African American slaves. Their surnames came from their owners pre-Civil War. These include:
·       Nipsy (Julius) Russell (1918-2005), comedian, born in GA, descended from Ephrain Russell (abt 1858)
·       Bill (William) Russell (1934-), basketball player, born in Monroe, LA


Above I have documented several separate Russell family lines in four separate categories:

·       English immigrants descended from Robert Russell who can be traced back to the original Baron Rozel in Normandy
o   William Hepburn Russell
·       Scottish immigrants from the Clan Russell
o   Myself
o   Chad Russell
o   Charles Marion Russell
o   Jane Russell
·       Irish immigrants who are possibly part of the same ancestry, but for which no documentation or claim exists
o   Charles Taze Russell
o   Rosalind Russell
·       African-Americans who derived their surname from their slave-owners
o   Nipsy Russell
o   Bill Russell

This is a rich family tree with many branches. I’m happy to be a Russell!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Pierpont Genealogy – Lords and Sirs in the Family Tree

People often make a big deal about being able to claim a connection to royalty in their family tree. I have done so myself (*1). However, that is not really such a big thing. If you were able to trace every line of your family tree back far enough, you would almost certainly be able to find a connection to a royal family line.

From the time of my birth in the mid-1900s back to the earliest settlers in the US in the mid-1600s is about 300 years and about 10 generations (in my case, my 8th great grandfather, John Pierpont, was an immigrant in the late 1630s). From there back to 1066 and William the Conqueror, the ancestor of all the royal families in England and France, is roughly another 20 generations. Because you double the number of ancestors with each successive generation back, in 10 generations you have roughly 1000 ancestors (2**10 = 1024). Thus 30 generations are enough to have 1000*1000*1000 or a billion ancestors. But the population of the entire world back then was only 300 million (*2). Thus, in your (and my) family tree, there are many instances of situation where different branches converge by people marrying distant relatives (usually, but not always, where the individuals didn’t even know that they were marrying a relative because the connection was too far removed). Even so, it is nearly certain that you would find a connection to a royal family.

In this blog I’m not looking for a connection like I did when I noted that Queen Elizabeth II is my 30th cousin, and I’ve not asked her for an invitation to the royal wedding taking place this coming weekend. Rather, I just want to document those in my Pierpont family line who were things like “Sir ___ Pierrepont” and some of the circumstances which caused them to be recognized. I’ve documented my Pierpont family line earlier (*3), so let’s look at these individuals.

There is an excellent reference book, “A Genealogical Abstract of Descent of the Family of Pierrepont: From Sir Hugh de Pierrepont, of Picardy, France, A.D. 980” (*4). This book is available online as a Google e-book. It parallels the official Pierpont genealogy (*5)

Normandy Generations

The earliest identified individual with the Pierrepont name was Hugh de Pierrepont (980-????). He is usually called Lord or Sir as he was the lord of the castle after which the family was named. Because the Vikings conquered Normandy several decades earlier (*6), and because Hugh’s descendants were part of the Norman army in 1066, it is most likely that Hugh was given his position by the ruling Viking Normans.

The next several generations of the de Pierrepont family also inherited the Lord/Sir designation due to this family connection, unlike the method of getting the Sir designation in England due to service to the royal family. These included
·       Sir Godfrey (ca 1020)
·       Sir Godfrey (ca 1050)
·       Sir Ingolbrand (ca 1090), ancestor of the French line

English Generations

Sir Robert de Pierrepont came to England with William the Conqueror and participated with him in the famous Battle of Hastings in 1066. He was given the Sir designation by William for his conduct in that battle. Although the next several generations were called the “lord of the manor”, that was a job, not a title. They lived in the south of England.

Sir Henry de Pierrepont (ca 1250-1290) was the first of the family to move from Sussex to Nottingham. He was knighted by King Edward I in 1280 for his service to the king. That same year he married Annora de Manvers, the sixth generation of her family to live at Holme (later known as Holme Pierrepont (*7)). This began a long chain of the family who continued carrying various titles and who continued to marry into other royal families.

·       Sir Robert (c1275-1333)
·       Sir Henry (1322-) married Margaret FitzWilliam
·       Sir Edmund (-1370)
·       Sir Edmund (-1423)
·       Sir Henry (-1453)
·       Henry, esq (-1468) High Sheriff of Nottingham and Derby
·       Sir Henry (1430-1473), knighted by Edward IV in 1472 for valor at battle of Barton
·       Sir William (-1533), nephew of Sir Henry, knighted by Henry, Prince of Wales in 1503
·       Sir George (-1564) MP of Nottingham, Knight of the Carpet at coronation of Edward VI in 1547
·       Sir Henry (1545-1615) MP for Nottingham, knighted 1603 (*8)

Note that unlike the Sir title which is granted when an individual is knighted for service to the king and is not passed to successive generations, other royal titles can be given which are passed along. In recognition of several generations of continuous service and knighthood, Sir Henry’s son, Robert was given the title of Earl of Kingston upon Hull. This was the first of several titles that were passed along in the family for the next several hundred years.

There are five titles of peerage, from highest to lowest these are: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron (*9).

·       Robert (1584-1643) 1st Earl of Kingston upon Hull (*10)
·       Henry (1606-1680) 2nd Earl of Kingston, Baron, 1st Marquess of Dorchester (*11)
·       Robert (-1682) 3rd Earl of Kingston, Viscount Newark, Baron
·       William (1662-1690) 4th Earl of Kingston
·       Evelyn (1665-1725) 5th Earl of Kingston, Marquis of Dorchester in 1720, 1st Duke of Kingston in 1715, Knight of the Garter 1720
·       Evelyn (1710-1773) 2nd Duke of Kingston, Knight of Garter 1741, Lord of the Bedchamber
·       Charles Meadows (1737-1816) MP, knight of Nottingham, Viscount Newark, Earl Manvers 1806
·       Charles Herbert (1778-1860) 2nd Earl Manvers
·       Sidney William Herbert (1825-1900) 3rd Earl Manvers
·       Charles William Sydney (1854-1926) 4th Earl Manvers
·       Evelyn Robert (1883-1940) 5th Earl Manvers, Viscount Newark, Baron
·       Gervas Evelyn (1881-1955) 6th Earl Manvers (title ended with his death)

Thus, there was a continuous line of knights, earls, viscounts, marquesses and dukes extending for nearly 700 years.

John Pierrepont->Pierpont, who came to America around 1640, was the great-grandson of Sir George (above). But because the various titles and land were passed to the oldest son, Henry, and John’s grandfather, William, did not inherit anything to pass along to his children. However, this was the reason that James Pierpont (1699-1776), the son of Rev. James Pierpont of New Haven, attempted (unsuccessfully) to regain the various British titles that the family had over the years


Monday, May 14, 2018

Genealogy Story – Lawyers and Politicians

Recently I became aware of a Facebook page (*1) produced by Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and now a Fox News contributor. The title of this page is “What If? History that could have been” and it has short 5-10 minute videos about events in US History where Speaker Gingrich explores alternative scenarios that might have happened if things had been just a little bit different. These include such scenarios as “What if Robert F Kennedy had not been killed?”, “What if Japan had won the battle of Midway?”, or “What if the Louisiana Purchase hadn’t happened?”, or more recent history such as, “What if Comey had been honest about the Clinton investigation?”.  As a student and enthusiast about history, I have enjoyed each episode and I encourage you to view them.

But one particular episode specifically caught my attention. It was titled, “What if Aaron Burr hadn’t shot Alexander Hamilton?” Since Aaron Burr is my 2nd cousin, six times removed, I have a particular interest in things related to him. I’ve written a little bit about him previously (*2), but I’d like to go into a little more depth about several aspects of the Burr family and their involvement in the early years of the United States.

Aaron Burr, Sr., and Princeton

Aaron Burr, Sr., was born in 1716 in Connecticut. He attended Yale College, graduating in 1735. While there he became personally familiar with Jonathan Edwards and his wife Sarah [Pierpont] Edwards, daughter of my great*7 grandfather, James Pierpont, the principal founder of Yale. In 1736, Burr became the minister of the Presbyterian Church of Newark, NJ.

In the early 1740s, a rift in the Presbyterian church affected the faculty and student body at Yale. As a result of this rift, Burr, Jonathan Edwards, and Jonathan Dickinson founded the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton University) in 1746 (*3). Dickinson became the first president but died just a few months later. Burr then became the second president, serving from 1748-1757. In 1752, he married Esther Edwards, the daughter of Jonathan Edwards. They had two children, Sarah “Sally” (b. 1754), and Aaron Burr, Jr. (b. 1756).

Burr, Sr., passed away in 1757. Jonathan Edwards then became president. Burr’s two children were given briefly into the care of the Edwards, but Burr’s wife, Edward’s wife, and then Edward’s himself all passed away within the next year. The two children eventually ended up under the guardianship of Timothy Edwards, their maternal uncle.

Aaron Burr, Jr.

Aaron Burr, Jr., was educated at Princeton with original plans to enter the ministry (*4). But just a year or so later he changed career paths and went to law school at the Litchfield Law School which was run by his brother-in-law (see below). Then with the start of the Revolutionary War, he entered the military from 1775 to 1779. Returning to his law studies, he passed the bar in 1792 and began his law practice in New York City.

Burr served in the New York State Assembly, then as the New York State Attorney General, then as a U.S. Senator from New York. He ran for president in the 1796 election, coming in fourth behind John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Pinckney. (At the time, members of the electoral college cast two ballots but did not specify an office. The first-place finisher became president and the runner-up vice-president). In 1800, Jefferson and Burr were again candidates, the Democratic-Republican party (the original name of the Democratic party) wanting to have two candidates (one from the South, and one from the North) in order to draw voters from both parts of the country. The two men finished in a dead heat and the House of Representatives had to take a subsequent vote where they elected Jefferson as the president and Burr as the vice-president. But the two men did not particularly like each other. However, as the president of the Senate, Burr did an admirable job, including shepherding passage of the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which provided for the elections of the president and vice-president to prevent the situation that Jefferson and Burr found themselves in. In addition, he helped set many of the Senate rules and procedures that are still in use to this day.

Unfortunately, Burr is most remembered for his famous duel with Alexander Hamilton. Dueling was outlawed in New York and was punishable by death and it was illegal in New Jersey (where the duel took place) but the consequences were less severe. There have been many speculations about who shot first, whether Hamilton had modified his pistol to have a hair trigger, whether Hamilton was even aiming at Burr, etc. But the end result was that Hamilton was severely wounded. He was evacuated to Manhattan where he died the following day. Burr fled to South Carolina, but soon returned to finish his term as Vice-president. Charges against him were eventually dropped, including in New Jersey where the indictment was thrown out on the basis that although Hamilton had been shot in that state, he had died in New York.

Sarah Burr, Tapping Reeve, and the Litchfield Law School

Tapping Reeve attended the College of New Jersey, getting his bachelor’s degree in 1763 and his master’s degree in 1766. While working his master’s degree he also served as the headmaster of a nearby grammar school and as a tutor to the two children of Aaron Burr, Sr., who was the president of the college. In 1771, when he was 26, he married Sarah Burr, who was then only 17. After a year of study of law in Hartford, CT, he and Sarah moved to Litchfield, CT to open a new law practice. In 1773, he built a six-room, two-story house and in addition to practicing law began teaching law students. His first student was his new brother-in-law, Aaron Burr, Jr. (*6).

As I noted in (*2), the Litchfield Law School had considerable influence on American politics. Although it only operated for sixty years, its graduates included two vice-presidents, three US Supreme Court justices, six US cabinet members, 97 members of the US House of Representatives, and 28 members of the US Senate. In addition to Aaron Burr, Jr., and his sister being my 2nd cousins (six times removed), others of these influential individuals in law or politics were also my relatives. Some of the graduates of the Litchfield Law School were:

·       Aaron Burr, Jr. – US Vice-president, US Representative from NY, NY Attorney General (2nd cousin, six times removed)
·       John C. Calhoun – US Vice-president, US Senator from SC, Secretary of State, Secretary of War
·       Henry Waggaman Edwards – US Representative from CT, US Senator from CT, CT Senate, CT House of Representatives, Governor of CT (grandson of Jonathan Edwards, so also my second cousin, six times removed)
·       John Stark Edwards – US Representative from OH (brother of Henry Waggaman, so another second cousin, six times removed)
·       Samuel Foote – US Representative from CT, US Senator from CT, Governor of CT (third cousin, five times removed)
·       Horace Mann – Educational Reformer, US Representative from MA
·       Elisha Phelps – US Representative from CT, CT House of Representatives, CT Senate (second cousin of second cousin, six times removed)
·       John Pierpont – US Senator from VT, VT House of Representatives, Chief Justice of VT Supreme Count (second cousin, six times removed)
·       Frederick Tallmadge – US Representative from NY, NY Senate (fifth cousin, five times removed)
·       Stephen Upson – GA General Assembly (third cousin, five times removed)


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Wolcott Genealogy Connections

I have a Facebook friend, Robert Perry. He writes some amazing stories about his time growing up in Wolcott, and I have written a number of stories about Wolcott History. While we have never actually met as he graduated from Wolcott High School many years after I did, we have a mutual admiration for each other’s writing.

Recently I was reading one of his stories where he mentioned his moving “to the tiny cottage that my great-grandfather built in the land of five generations of my mother’s ancestors, the mountaintop Town of Wolcott.” Since I knew so many of the long-time families in Wolcott, I messaged him and asked, “What was their family name? Maybe we’re related.”

Even before getting a response, I managed to find his mother’s obituary on the Internet which gave the names of her parents and began building a family tree for them. Thus began a very interesting day as I explored the various lines of Robert’s family tree to see if any family names occurred in it that also occur in my own family tree. Before the day was over I had discovered four connections!

The hint to the first connection was in his mother’s grandmother, Lillie Coe (1880-1915). The Coe last name is well known in Wolcott and persists in the name of a road in town, Coe Road. (I note that my parents were good friends of the Coes for many years, even participating in the wedding of Albert and Betty Coe while my parents were technically on their honeymoon. Albert Coe was a nephew of Lillie, and thus a first cousin of Robert’s mother.) But, the only Coe in my family tree is the name of the spouse of my great-great-uncle, George Talmadge (*1). In tracing Mary [Coe] Talmadge’s family tree, I found a common ancestor, John Coe (1658-1741). John is Robert’s great*8 grandfather, and Mary’s great*4 grandfather. This is a second order relationship, i.e. a cousin of a cousin, but a relationship nonetheless.

The second connection was something that showed up as I traced our two Coe lines back and noticed that there were three instances of a male Coe marrying a female with the last name of Elmer (they lived near each other in the Torrington area for many years). Following each of them, I found that Joseph Elmer (1718-1769) is the great*6 grandfather of Robert as well as the great*2 grandfather of Mary Coe. This is another second order relationship, but one that is closer than the previous connection.

The third connection was a more direct one as Mary Coe’s grandmother was Lois Bassett. Our common ancestor is my great*7 grandfather, John Bassett (1652-1714) who is also Robert’s great*8 grandfather. This makes us 8th cousins, once removed – a true blood relationship, although a distant one.

Finally, Robert mentioned that his paternal grandmother’s last name was Trombley. My wife had a great-grandmother Trombley when she was growing up, so I investigated that line as well. Both lines go back to the early days of Quebec (1600s) where they intersect. But since my wife’s “grandma Trombley” was actually her step-great-grandmother, that is not a direct connection either.

I was also able to give Robert information on some of his ancestors who came to the US from Sweden in the 1880s.

I love genealogy – and now I have a new person whom I can address as “cousin”!