Monday, September 8, 2014

Do You Have Famous Kin? Can You Prove It?

Many people have stories in their family about being related to famous people.  Do you have famous kin?  Can you prove it?

I am working with a client right now that would like to have proof that she is related to an American President.  She is a member of the DAR and she has a pedigree that connects to an ancestor of President Calvin Coolidge.  The ancestors of many presidents can be found on a website called  The advantage of this particular website is that it includes sources.

The founder of is Rich Hall. He cites an example of a poorly documented relationship between Madonna and Lady Gaga by a genealogist at the New England Historical and Genealogical Society.  Even a highly respected organization like NEHGS can make mistakes.   In his “About” page he states “my pet peeve with most genealogy websites is that they don't share their evidence or sources, I made sure that I share mine. I may not always be right, but at least you know my sources and can judge that for yourself.”    I appreciate the fact that he shows his sources because it enables me to evaluate the evidence in those sources. 

A publicity photo of Judy Garland used in conjunction with "The Harvey Girls" 1946
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Our family has stories of famous kin too.  My wife and Judy Garland are 3rd cousins.  Their common ancestors are from Ontario, Canada: Hugh Fitzpatrick 1809-1878 and Margaret Ross 1807-1845.  Ms. Garland remained very close to her Milne and Fitzpatrick extended family until the death of her Grandmother (Eva Fitzpatrick Milne) who lived with her in California until 1949.  My work on this family was cited as a source by

Finding famous cousins and proving our relationship makes for fun dinner conversations.  People love to talk about these connections.  But some of these claims turn out to be family legends.  Once you are able to prove a famous connection, you will be surprised at how many more connections you will find with other famous people.  Proving a genealogical relationship can be hard work but I am always happy to help!

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