2016 is an election year here in the U.S. – and one of the most interesting we have seen in a long time. Since a member of our family is running for President, I had to take this opportunity to talk about her and our other famous cousins. Yes, we are related to Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton. Okay – it’s a distant connection, but a connection nonetheless. Hillary Rodham Clinton and I are ninth cousins. We share an 8th great grandfather. I don’t believe that would give any of us influence over her campaign – but it is a fun fact. Let’s face it, if we go back far enough, all of our family trees intersect at some point. Each of us has 1,024 8th great grandparents – a number that doubles with each generation. A LOT of people had something to do with who we are and how we got here.
So here’s the breakdown my relationship with Hillary:
As you can see, we have a common great-grandparent, Jean Doyon (1619-1664) who was the first Doyon to settle in North America. He had five children, one of whom died at the age of 17. His surviving four children had twenty-five children between them. It was the start of what would become a very large descendency.
Hillary’s connection to her 8th great-grandfather is matrilineal and mine is patrilineal. This connection to Hillary is not one I would have stumbled upon in constructing our family tree. I would have no reason to wander down that branch of her tree. But because Jean Doyon is a fairly well-known and much-written-about figure in the settlement of Quebec, and because genealogy has become one of the most popular hobbies in the world, things like this crop up on the internet.
To prove my point about intersecting family trees, and as long as we are on the subject of famous people, I have another 8th great grandfather, Zacharie Cloutier (1590-1677) who I share with: Madonna; Celine Dion; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and Jack Kerouac, just to name a few. One of my 9th great grandmothers had a sister who married a gent named Jean Guyon (1619-1694). If you trace his descendants you will find that we are (distantly) related to Angelina Jolie-Pitt. I don’t think Brad and Angie are going to be inviting any of us to Thanksgiving dinner this year, but we could make a case that we are “family”. Indeed, connections such as these are more common than you might think.
Through the wonders of the internet and Ancestry.com, I have come to know a 6th cousin who looks remarkably like my paternal grandfather (yeah, spooky…). He lives in Oklahoma and has a sister who lives in the Charleston, SC area, not far from me. Small, small world. So next time you are sitting at, say, an airport, waiting to catch a flight, sipping a latte, and struggling to sign on to their elusive WiFi, take a few minutes to look around. You may be traveling with one of your cousins.