Friday, December 20, 2013

Cousins, Community, and So-Called Coincidences

I got a kick out of the post, Everybody cousin, on the Gardener’s Footprint blog, because it described something I believe is true—anywhere you look, anybody could be your cousin.  Perhaps a distant cousin, but a cousin nevertheless.  In fact, my cousin Maurice joked that people are going to have to add DNA tests to their prenup agreements to make sure their future spouse is a distant enough cousin to make it okay to be kissin’ cousins.  (He didn’t say that exactly, but you get my drift). 

Once you take a DNA test, you begin to realize just how many people are cousins. I have almost 1000 cousins in my “Extended DNA Family” on 23andme.com.
My 23andme.com relative list
And these cousins are literally everywhere, from South Africa to South America to South Carolina.    Well, I don’t have any cousins that I know of in South Dakota, but that may just be because they haven’t tested yet. 

One thing I have cherished in my genealogy journey is getting to know some of my DNA cousins through Facebook.  Even though many of us are pretty distant cousins, and others are actually cousins of cousins, we have joined together to form a community, Primos Geneticos (Cousins Genetic).  Just like the AAGSAR community (which, of course, includes many cousins and cousins of cousins), we support one another, pray for one another, share stories both funny and sad, laugh at each other’s jokes, and importantly, help each other in the never-ending quest to trace our family histories.   

As we trace our histories together in these virtual communities, we have discovered many so-called coincidences.  For example, Andrea, one of the AAGSAR family, writes a post about her Shinault family and happens to mention someone named Gamble who traveled with the family from Virginia to New York. I commented that my godfather's Gamble line has links to Virginia.  Later, when I post about Charles Henry Gamble, who was born in Norfolk, Andrea is sure there is a connection.  I can’t wait to see if we can trace it.  When another member of AAGSAR, Xzanthia, helped me to search for military records for Charles Henry, it led to the discovery that he had ties to her hometown, Chattanooga. (According to gedmatch.com,  Xzanthia and I are—you guessed it—distant cousins).   

My cousin Maurice, mentioned above, figures that our family links originate in South Carolina, and gedmatch.com indicates the connection may be as long ago as 7 generations back.  But I have closer DNA cousins with links to the Gaddy's of Wadesboro, North Carolina, where Maurice’s great grandmother was born (read all about her in his two-part post).  So our relatives were neighbors in one state not so very long ago while kin in another in the more distant past.   Speaking of neighbors, the wildest so-called coincidence is one I share with my cousin, Teresa.  So far, she’s the only DNA cousin that I have a paper trail connection to as well.  But in turns out we have another connection:  we lived in the very same building in New York City though at different times.  Not just in the same small town, like my relatives and Maurice’s; not in the same neighborhood.  But in the same building, on the same floor! In a city as big as New York, how could that be?  Please, don’t tell me it’s just a coincidence.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  I have no doubt that just as our ancestors moved in circles with one another, finding strength in community, so too are they bringing us together to do this work of telling their stories.  They leave little signposts to help us find one another, and in doing so, help us to find them.

20 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this post Cousin! This is so very true! There is on such thing as coincidence when it comes to this here thing we call family history. The ancestors call as to one another just as the title of your blog states. Thank you for the shout out cousin! I greatly appreciate you! You've been such a great help in so many ways!

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    1. Thanks, cousin. We're all in this together.

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  2. This is an amazing post Dawn. I believe its always ancestors guiding you. Cant wait to jump on DNA band wagon.

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    1. Thanks, Andrea. The more of us on the DNA bandwagon, the more cousins to help bring down the walls in our family history quest.

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  3. Loved this post, it was a really good read. I smiled at how your found your cousins. You are doing a wonderful job telling your story.

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  4. I'm a firm believer there are NO coincidences in life and especially when it comes to our Ancestors. The fact you landed in AAGSAR and I couldn't stand the thought of you not being there -- blog or no blog -- was no coincidence. That Andrea or Xzanthia are here -- with Maurice & Teresa now joining us is nothing but the Ancestors moving through channels that are open to their call. We are all connected.

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    1. Thanks, Luckie, Thanks to AAGSAR, so many more of us are becoming that open channel to hear the Ancestors' Call.

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  5. It's an Amazing Journey. Every person in your Life is there for a Reason! Great piece!

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    1. Yes, I do so believe that people are in our lives for a reason. Thanks for the support.

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  6. I love this post and there are similar thoughts expressed (mine were fleeting and never posted). I too have about 1000 "cousins" in 23andme. I have also found and bonded with a 3rd cousin (using our family trees and DNA). What's really interesting his birth mother (He was adopted shortly after birth) and I attended genealogy workshops together and found that we had kinfolk in the same general area. We never got around to getting together after flushing out our tree's and lost track of each other. Best wishes for your continued success in the future.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. It sounds like we have had some similar experiences--just another way the are no "coincidences" :-).

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  7. As a member of AAGSAR(8/13) and Primos Geneticos(5/13)...I am glad to see my cousins joining AAGSAR..it is not a coincidence..our common ancestors want to be found. My paternal Aunt Edwina shares with Dawn 5.63396 cM on Ch11 , which we share a common ancestor in our 7th generation born around 1720 :)
    Stephani Juleena Miller

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    1. Thanks, Stephani. Maybe sometime we'll locate that common ancestor!

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  8. This is a wonderful post and you brought a smile to my face this morning. I don't believe in coincidences either. DNA testing showed that one of my oldest and dearest friends shares a tiny segment with Mom & me. I learned within the last 5 years that my great great grandmother's maiden name was Boyd and I for 30 years our next door neighbors were Boyds. We're out of Abbeville & they're out of Spartanburg, SC. I wonder if I can get one of them to take a DNA test. Perhaps our ancestors lay the groundwork for our path to reconnecting.

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    1. Thanks, Sonia. I hope your Boyds do take a DNA test. Not only would if be great to learn you are kin to your neighbors, but every time someone takes a DNA test the databases expand and all of us are that much closer to finding kin.

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  9. I love this post!!!!! Thank you for the shout out as well as the positive feedback. It is appreciated more than you know. There are no coincidences cousin:) You know "Wilson" is my paternal side:)

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    1. Thanks, Ressie. Yes, I have just been checking out Wilson's DNA too, and enjoying it as well! We'll have to see if our Wilsons link up!

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