Friday, February 8, 2019

Relative Finder & Distant Relations

In this blog post, I talked about, where you could log in to Family Search Family Tree and the program would automatically climb your tree, telling you if you're related to anyone famous. While I was related to only 4 famous people, my wife was related to a few hundred and her best friend was related to most of those along with several hundred more. What I found interesting, as I browsed my wife and her friend's famous relatives, is that even though they are related to many of the same people, they are not related to each other.

How could this be? You'd think that if two people were related to a couple of hundred people in common they'd have to be related to each other. The reason it makes sense that they are not related is once you go back enough generations to find a common ancestor, every one of the three people you are comparing have so many ancestors that it's easy for two people to be related to that one famous person but it is pretty long odds that they're related on the same line of ancestors.

Take our relation to Harry S. Truman. I am related to President Truman through my Müller/Schach line in Nürtingen, Esslingen, Württemberg and Truman's mother's father's mother's father's line. My wife is related to Truman on her Cunningham-Rose-Bridge line and Truman's father's father's father's father's line. Finally, my wife's friend is related to Truman on her mother's father's mother's mother's line and on Truman's father's father's father's mother's line. It's easier to see it than to read it.
My wife's connection to President Truman

My connection to President Truman

My wife's friend's connection to President Truman
As you can see, my wife and her friend only have to go back three generations prior to Harry Truman to see that they are not related to each other. I only have to go back one generation to know I'm not related to them through any of Truman's lines.

It really comes down to the exponential increase in the number of ancestors with each generation. After only 10 generations, you have over 1000 ancestors just at that generation, plus nearly 1000 when adding every ancestor in every previous generation.


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