uncle George, grandpa henry & other organizing rabbit trails

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, All Things Home, Organizing93 Comments

It all started very innocently.  As a part of my organizing push in February, I tackled the lower right built-in in the living room.  It’s not a cabinet we’re in and out of a lot, so it’s been sorely neglected.  It houses our photo albums, boxes of photos, some family mementos, and it’s where we would drop the school photos each year.  It’s also where I would stick random decor, apparently, like the antique scale.

built-in cabinet organizing | miss mustard seed

I’ve been avoiding this cabinet because it’s such a mess, but I finally dove in.  As is the case with most messy cabinets, it looked worse than it was.  It didn’t take me long to get things sorted and labeled.  I readjusted the shelves so the photo albums could stand upright.  I sorted the remaining photos and documents into categories and put them in bins.  I also added labels to everything…

built-in cabinet organizing | photo albums | miss mustard seed

Everything that is loose or in plastic bins will go into archival boxes that I buy when my no-spend February is complete.  By sorting everything out, I know exactly how many boxes I need and the appropriate sizes.

built-in cabinet organizing | miss mustard seed

All of this will go into archival boxes, sorted by year and place.

organizing family photos | miss mustard seed

The boys’ mementos were sorted and added to their “memory boxes” in their closets.   I’ll sort those out with them when I get to cleaning out their closets, which is on the to-do list.

organizing family photos | miss mustard seed

And I set aside a stack of photos to put in albums I buy in March.

organizing family photos | miss mustard seed

I used to be so good at putting photos in albums, but that completely fell off a cliff after 2009.  Since most of the current photos are on our cell phones or computers, I’m also going to make some print-your-own picture books to cover the past few years.

This led to me deciding to make a printed cookbook from my great-grandmother’s recipes.  My mom scanned her cookbook years ago, so we’ve had it in the form of digital files, but I kept losing track of it!  Is it on a thumb drive?  An external hard drive?  A disc?  Where did I see it last?  I make a few of her recipes for holidays, but I wanted to make more of them and preserve her recipes as a part of her legacy for future generations.  So, I spent a few hours last week putting together a book…

organizing family photos | creating a family recipe book | miss mustard seed

It includes typed recipes and scans from her book.  Some of them are so funny, like this recipe written on a calling card!

organizing family photos | creating a family recipe book | miss mustard seed

She also wrote “Television” as a part of any recipe she got off of the TV, like “Television Biscuits” and she included notes about whether recipes were good or not.  Many of the recipes don’t include measurements, cooking temps or times, or give general instructions like, “cook all day.”  It’ll be an adventure cooking some of those recipes, but I’m going to try it!  I thought it would be a fun blog series to cook through her book and share the winning recipes.

And I’ve learned about all sorts of old southern recipes I’ve never even heard of like Rinctum Ditty!

Rinctum Ditty Recipe | miss mustard seed

And, we’re preserving family favorites like Rosa’s Tea Cakes, congealed fruit salad, cheese spread, and macaroni salad.

Tea Cakes Recipe | miss mustard seed

I just ordered the book this morning, so I’ll let you know more about that process, the cost, as well as the quality of the book.  And yes, I broke my no-spend February to order it, but I saw it as a part of organizing.  Maybe that’s a justification, but I’m at peace with it!

Putting together the cookbook made me wish I had more conversations with my great-grandma, Rosa.  I wish I had learned more about her life, asked her to teach me to crochet, and cooked a few of these recipes with her.  In fairness, I was only about 10-12 when she died, so I didn’t have an appreciation for older generations.  Now that I am an adult, I need to follow that pull to know more and connect with the older generations in my family to carry on the stories, pictures, documents, and lineage.

This led me to very innocently starting a family tree on Ancestry.com.  I looked into a few free resources first but decided to sign up for the free trial and give it a try.  I actually knew a lot about our family tree, so I was able to plug people in and find information pretty easily.

Then, it took a turn.  I found this document attached to George C. Ball, my 5th great-grandfather…

Ball Family History | Washington Connection | miss mustard seed

Wait, what?!?  He was invited to the unveiling of the Washington Monument as one of the living descendants of the Washington family?  How did I not know this?  Does that mean we’re related to George Washington??  This turned me into a bit of a crazy woman.  I’m calling my parents asking them what they know.  I’m scouring the site for genealogy information to see if I could find the connection.  I found a genealogy book but was woefully ignorant to how genealogy books are arranged and couldn’t decipher it.  I sat in my office for hours, burry-eyed and determined.  Jeff kept looking in on me and I would tell him, “I’m almost there!  I’m getting so close!”

And I finally found the connection.  I felt like there should’ve been a congratulatory pop-up or something, but it was just me sitting at my desk, realizing I had just learned a little bit more about myself and my heritage and it was pretty cool.

ancestry.com | family tree | miss mustard seed

(If you’re curious to trace the tree, my great-grandparents are on the far left and you can trace the tree from Charles P Allen Sr. over to Augustine Washington, George’s father.)

My 7th great-grandfather is Charles Lawrence Washington, who was George Washington’s youngest brother and the founder of Charles Town, WV.

And that makes Happy Retreat one of my family homes…

happy retreat | miss mustard seed

And, that makes George my 7th great-granduncle.

And, their father, Augustine Washington, is my 8th great-grandfather.

And that means Mt. Vernon, built by Augustine, is one of my family homes, too…

mt. vernon

I finally emerged from my office with a printed family tree, articles, and notes, and showed Jeff my discovery.  I texted my brother and called my mom to let them know of the family connection.  We’re not distant cousins 10-times removed, but direct descendants of the Washington family.

The handy thing about having someone notable in your family tree is that it makes it easier for you to fill out your own tree.  Since extensive study has been done on George Washington’s ancestry, it means that I can piggyback on that work.  Starting with his father, my tree is identical to his in that branch.  This led back to the 1200s…to the Plantagenets…and eventually to Edward “the Longshanks”, Edward I, King of England (and yes, I realized he’s quite the villain)…

…and my 23rd great-grandfather, King Henry III of England.

It also led to King Louis VII of France, my 26th great-grandfather, but I’m still researching that one more.  I haven’t gone back and checked every connection as I did with Washington & King Henry III.

And that means this is also a family home…

I told Jeff on Saturday morning, after this discovery, that he needs to address me as Lady Marian from now on.  And then I did laundry and cleaned the bathrooms.

So, just from cleaning out the cabinet with our photo albums, I have discovered all of these new things about my family and myself and I have found a new obsession – genealogy.  I can see how addictive it is!  I kept thinking that I’ll just research one more person and then I’ll stop.  I’ll find just one more connection and then I’ll get back to cleaning.

While it’s fun to find presidents and royalty in the family tree, I was equally intrigued by my more obscure family members, like my 14th great-grandmother who gave birth to my 13th great-grandfather when she was only 10 years old in 1550.  Of course, no father is recorded.  Was that a case of mistaken dates, a typo, or was she actually 10?  What happened to that poor girl?  Was that commonplace?

I will definitely be doing more digging.

For those interested in researching their own family trees, here is what I found to be helpful…

I’m using Ancestry.com to track the information as well as for research.  I imagined it would auto-populate information if connections were found and it does do that to a certain extent, but you have to review and approve each addition manually.  I’m sure this is to prevent confusion of people with the same name from the same era, etc.  I am also double-checking all of the information against outside sources since not all of the information is 100% accurate.  This has more to do with people adding false or mistaken information or there are conflicting records about a name spelling, birth/death dates, etc. You can attach documents and web sources to people, though, to confirm the information.  I have found that to be very handy when double-checking facts.

Once I found George Washington, I was able to look up his famous ancestors, which is how I found the connection to Henry III.  I used famouskin.com to trace the line, but I double-checked every person against other sources.  Some of the names were not correct, so I had to make some adjustments, add dates, etc.  For outside sources, I’ve been using geni.com to search for specific people, various specific family genealogy sites and eBooks, and wikipedia in the cases of more notable family members.

From looking at famouskin.com, I know I can trace connections to all sorts of people, but I’m not as interested in distant cousins.  At this point, I want to trace my grandparents as far back as I can and then I’ll maybe expand.

I needed another hobby like I needed another ironstone pitcher, but I’ve learned that hobbies tend to find you and it’s hard to ignore something you feel enthusiastic about.  I just hope it doesn’t distract me too much from my organizing!

Is anyone else into genealogy?  Have you found any famous grandparents?

uncle George, grandpa henry & other organizing rabbit trails

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93 Comments on “uncle George, grandpa henry & other organizing rabbit trails”

  1. Hi Marian, I have read your blog for years but never commented… however, I think you are related to my husband, his mother was a Ball before marriage and he knows he is related to George Washington through her. His branch of the Ball family has lots of interesting characters, including his mother who hobnobbed with the British Royal Family back in the day! If you are interested I am sure he would be happy to chat with you.

  2. The manually having to approve everything is what turns me off of Ancestry.com And the high cost. FamilySearch automatically populates when it hits a line and you can go in an verify info against sources like census and birth and death records as well as correct things (someone has to “extract” the data from handwritten sources and that can lead to misspellings or wrong dates) just like in Ancestry but it’s free and much easier to use. FamilySearch also collabs with Ancestry so you can transfer info over if you’ve already go it in Ancestry.

    1. Yes! I was surprised how expensive Ancestry.com is. I have enjoyed using it, but I am trying to transfer all of the information over to FamilySearch, so I can continue for free. Thanks for the information.

  3. It’s a rabbit hole to be sure! I can easily get caught up for hours. My direct family from one branch came over on the second Mayflower in 1629 – there was a lot written about that ancestor, Kenelm Winslow. The furthest I’ve gone is to the year 970 in Yorkshire England to an ancestor named Sigrid of Bambaugh. Viking blood, maybe? It’s all so fascinating.

    1. How fun!! 970…that’s amazing. Yes, I’m interested to learn when my ancestors came to America. I know who came, but not when. We do have a German/Swiss side of the family, but I haven’t explored that, yet. All of the other branches are pretty thoroughly American and English.

    2. Just a thought… Most libraries offer free access to all the major genealogy sites. I love tracing my Pilgrim connections.

  4. Fascinating! And I LOL at “Address me as Lady Marian” and then you did laundry and cleaned the bathrooms. Isn’t that just the way it is? And honestly, I wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

  5. My sisters and I played in the kitchen outbuilding at Happy Retreat in Charles Town, WV when we were kids. The owner of the house let us use the kitchen as a clubhouse. I’ve also recently gotten into genealogy–so fascinating! My hubby’s family history reads as a Who’s Who of the founding families in America. So far, all I’ve got on my side is an acquitted murderer who ran away from the crime and became a Baptist minister.

  6. Hi, Marian…

    I’m adopted (closed adoption) and I found my families through Ancestry and their DNA test. Fun hobby! But it can be quite consuming. Anyway, King Edward III of the Platagenet’s is my 18th Great-Grandfather, so, I guess that makes us family!?! Ha! I now have a family home in Minnesota… 😉

  7. We were always told that my grandfather was a cousin of Jesse James. However, it’s never been verified. Just old family lore…

  8. I love genealogy but I’ve never “practiced” it. I was wondering – are ancestry and the other websites USfocused or would they work for an international audience as well?


    1. Yes, Ancestry.com has a worldwide membership option, so you can search the globe and not just the US.

  9. I’ve been going down similar rabbit holes and it’s been so much fun!
    I am distantly related to George (5th cousin seven times removed) and also have a connection to the Estes line that you mentioned (your 3x Great-Grandmother Lucy Gwyn Estes Vaughan). Small world!

  10. What a fun blog post! I gasp upon reading Washington and then squealed with delight each time I read “this is a family home”. How incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  11. First off, your messy cabinet was nothing, I mean NOTHING, compared to the cabinets in my mother’s house. Some felt like the magician’s sleeve and I just kept pulling stuff out. Yiks! But lots of fun too on the genealogy side that I can’t wait to dive into. My maternal grandmother’s bible is a terrific source for starting off, as well as the back of a picture of my great-great-grandparents. Plus I have so many stories from my grandparents about relatives, like the one about my paternal great-grandmother Dolly McClarty (nee Venter), who was quite the scandal as she had been engaged several times, but when she met the dashing professional gambler Jasper McClarty, who used his considerable Irish charm to woo her, they quickly married and moved to Parlier, California, where the Parlier Cousins resided. So many great stories. I look forward to learning more.
    Thank you for the various sites that will assist my journey down the rabbit hole.

  12. This is such a fun and interesting post! My maternal grandmother’s hobby was genealogy. I am directly related to Richard Warren, a passenger on the Mayflower. A few presidents are in the mix, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and yes, Laura Ingalls Wilder. My favorite cousin though is Princess Diana. I answer to the title of the Duchess of Decor. 🙂

  13. HOLY TOLEDO, MARIAN!!!! That is beyond incredible!!!! WOW WOW WOW.

    Oops, I mean Lady Marian, of course. : – )

    Coolest thing ever.

  14. WOW! I started our ancestry project shortly before christmas and then it stalled as I hit one brick wall after another. But in the intervening months more hints have popped up so I think it’s time to re-invest the time to mover forward. My father immigrated from England and my mother’s family came down from Nova Scotia so the overseas information is harder to dig through as I don’t know all of the locations. AND the spelling of the names seems to change every 100 years or so!

    What a find though!

  15. Having just spent the last several hours trying to pin down which Peter Decker is my 4 times great grandfather I understand the rabbit hole! I do subscribe to Ancestry, but also use Family Search as a wonderful resource. I am retired, so that is a hobby I am willing to pay for. To your reader, both sites offer data on European ancestors, but much of it hasn’t been translated to English which can be challenging. Also, many records were destroyed during WWll, so there may be significant gaps. Still so much fun!

  16. I’m fascinated with the family discoveries you were able to uncover in a short period of time….Welcome to Genealogy, a new addiction! I was hooked when I found that my direct (paternal) ancestors came over on the Mayflower and had the first marriage recorded in Plymouth – John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. Priscilla was a 16-year old orphan who caught the eye of the much older Miles Standish, the first Plymouth governor, and he asked for her hand in marriage. But she chose the younger John Alden instead. Longfellow wrote a poem-story about it, The Courtship of Miles Standish! I love your connection to Washington – so thrilling!

  17. Lady Marion, we are related through King Louis. He was also my grandfather. William Bradford, the leader of the Pilgrims is also a 17 times great-grandfather. We are also related to 3 other Pilgrims, but I don’t remember their names. My mother is a genealogist and has spent years researching our family. It’s so interesting. My husband’s family are O’dells who have been traced to Biblical days. It is a rabbit hole, but a very fun one! Lady Ellen

    1. So nice to meet you, Lady Ellen! 🙂 I haven’t explored the King Louis side, but that’s fun that we’re related through him.

    2. I love the idea of your Grandmother’s cook book. I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Someday, your great-grandchildren will be so happy that you cared to preserve their history.

  18. Several years ago I assembled a book of my grandmother’s recipes. She was an amazing baker and cook. Some were written in her own hand, some “recipes” were just a list of ingredients. I would love to know what the final product was for those ingredients.

  19. How fun! I learned through Family Search that I am a descendent of the Mayflower and William Brewster is my ancestor! It was right before Thanksgiving which made it extra fun.

  20. Wow, that’s so interesting! My Lady!
    I never reply, but just had too this time. It’s time consuming finding ancestry. I found my 8th great grandfather had a lot to do with having a certain King of England beheaded!!!! He then escaped to the US. AND I guess that’s why I’m here! 😳. I quit digging!

  21. How awesome is this?!! What an exciting discovery! I love genealogy and have done a little on my family too. 😊

  22. I started tracing my families Scottish Heritage when I was 17 – no genealogy sites or even the internet back then!
    I had to send money orders over to a genealogy tracing company in Scotland & it cost me over $100 which back then was a lot of money. I received information back but nothing compared to what you can get online for free nowadays.

    I did use Ancestry.com many years back when it first started & feel inspired to start searching again after reading your story. Our families claim to fame on one side is that my Scottish grandmother said we descend from Flora MacDonald – the Scottish heroin who saved Bonnie Prince Charlie – it’s the story that the Skye Boat song is about. But is it true – yet to be determined! 😀

    We are also descendant from more infamous people – 2 convicts that came to Australia as part of the first fleet (our Mayflower equivalent) & who met here & married once free. We have traced their stories & court documents of their trials & they were sent here for trivial misdemeanors like stealing a handkerchief & a loaf of bread. Convict ancestry in Australia is almost as good as royalty over here considering they were the first European origin settlers here – my mum is a member of the Fellowship of First Fleeters.

  23. Marian, the Civil War era of your family tree looks like a Who’s Who of the American South: Allen, Venable, Collier, Vaughan, Jackson, Gainer, Yancey, Pollard, and (of course) Ball. These names are engraved on schools and hospitals, art galleries and libraries, and proudly passed on to children, often as their first names, too! So, not only are you related to GW and King Henry III, but you are also likely an FFV. Polish the sterling and tell Jeff you’d like the horses and hounds ready to hunt by 8 a.m.

    1. I’m not sure what an FFV is. Can you fill me in? And yes, I knew our family names were from pretty prominent Virginia families, but I’ve never researched it all. Several family members have, but most of their information is on paper.

    2. Then it will also mean a connection to slavery, which would be a sad reality of having ancestry in the south. How do you take in that kind of info?

      1. I’ve known for many years that the bulk of my family is from Virginia, they fought for the south in the Civil War, and, as prominent families, I’m sure many of them owned slaves. I hate the idea of slavery and the fact that some of my ancestors were willing participants. It does make me sad and I wish it wasn’t a part of the history of my family or this country, but it is. I do think it’s important to remember our history, though, and learn from it. May we never forget that we are all created in God’s image and we are all valuable and precious.

        1. Hundreds years of power and privilege in the family tree and the ways you have benefitted from this ancestry makes it easy for you to say “all are created in God’s image” without having to really do anything about it. Maybe that’s not your job, and it’s clearly not the focus of this blog. However, that kind of statement just seems a bit insensitive to me. Until I became a member of a minority and oppressed group (at age 36) it was easy for me to say such things too.

          1. Susan, I really do appreciate this conversation and your perspective. I mean this with complete sincerity when I ask what would an appropriate response have been?

      2. Slavery has always existed in the world until it was abolished in the 1800s.so that is also important to remember

  24. My ancestors came to this country in 1638 on the same ship as the first printing press! Geneaology is so fun – you can find a lot of surprises! I also love old family recipes – I’ve been doing a blog since 2013 using my grandma’s recipes, along with some from my mom and other friends and relatives! 🙂

  25. I discovered my love of geology several years and along with it that I was a direct descendant of the king of Scotland, Robert the Bruce, yes another notorious rascal! We all had to start somewhere I guess.

    I continue to find interesting twists and turns to my family tree. Ancestry.com constantly adds more sources and records to their database so you never know what may pop up when you sign on.

  26. So, Lady Marian, when are you going to get busy and redecorate Mount Vernon and the home in France? Perhaps they could use a little blue and white and boxwood milk paint on a few things!!!….lololo

    1. Ha, so funny!! I do think I’ll start a little collection of family homes in the US and England to tour. That would be a fun experience.

  27. We recently found out that my husband is a direct descendant of a man who came here on the mayflower . So direct that the descendant married a mayflower man . We are still working on the lineage.

  28. Wow, what a family tree! How exciting to learn all of that family history. While tracking someone down to offer them a family heirloom that was in my possession, we had a lengthy phone conversation and I learned that Happy Retreat is owned by her family.

  29. It is such a delightful rabbit hole…. this genealogy hobby. I’ve spent many evenings sitting down for an hour to work on the family tree only to look up and realize 4-5 hours have passed! We’ve found so much out about our family, and have then had branches that just seemed to vanish and end. Oh the joys and sorrows of genealogy research.

  30. The old recipes you have are what caught my attention. What is a “small” cup? Do you know?

    1. My great-aunt (Rosa’s daughter) said she thought that meant a level cup as opposed to a heaping cup. Rose used a literal tea cup as her measuring cup, so it’ll be an adventure to see how things turn out!

  31. Oh my goodness~

    I was all smiles at “apparently a scale” and “more ironstone” however now my mind is spinning delightfully by your cookbook, and family history. I just returned home from out of town to 4 inches of water in the basement and have discovered we have 6 bins of photos and albums, not to mention the 47,000 pics on my cell phone, so yes I am very interested in looking way back in time. You have spurred an interest in online formats to find out who I really am. I am related to Winston Churchill, as are BOTH of my parents! I now need to know much more.

    Thank you My Lady .. can we ever stop learning? I think not … with a bow to you I will dip in once the water has dried and the house is back in some semblance of order!

    This was one giant post! Put you feet up and have Jeff serve you a cup of tea.


    1. Oh, man! I am so sorry to hear about the flooding. What a bummer. I hope all of the photos survived and it sounds like it’s a good incentive to preserve them. 🙂

      1. Thank you My Lady :))) The fans and dehumidifiers are running away and things are becoming drier each day. We lost some framed pictures and needlepoint, and photos but best of all my hubby, Scottie and I have now seen many photos long buried. We had a flood in Minnesota 5 years ago (please check your pipes and washing machine!) that totaled our main floor and basement to the tune of $70,000… so this one is small comparably. Water is just no fun sometimes.

        I am going to research the scanning device you purchased as it sounds like it would be helpful to us.

        Thank you again.. for your rich posts. I am sure you have more hours in a day than I could dream of!

  32. I started genealogy when I was a young girl. We would go to visit my great grandparents, and I was bored to death. My parents suggested I ask them questions and write down the dates and such. Once the hobby bites, that’s it! I grew up knowing my maternal great grands and also my great, great grandfather who lived to be 101. I’ve read and studied genealogy for years and have never come up with anyone particulary “famous.” I’m having trouble even “crossing the pond!” My family has apparently been here for centuries! It’s a fun hobby, but keep in mind that everything you find on Ancestry and FamilySearch is folklore until you can back it up with documentation.
    I love the idea of your recipe book. With all of the family information I have, this would be a wonderful way of sharing some of our family history without getting the proverbial eye rolls…:)

    1. What a neat thing that your parents taught you!

      And, yes, I’ve been doing research to find documentation to prove the connection or to use sources that site historical documents/genealogy, etc.

  33. Congratulations that is way too fun. If you end up breaking one of your ironstone pitchers you can turn it into a crown! Lady Marian has quite the ring. The boys should clean the toilets from now on. Oh Maybe only when you’re wearing your crown!

    1. Oh my goodness, so funny! Yes, I was wondering what happened to my family jewels. 🙂 The line of kings didn’t continue through Edward I, so I just ended up in the wrong line to inherit a tiara.

      1. One of my dear friends is related to King Edward I. He was not Mr. nice guy at all but she is the life of the party.
        Her American branch ended up in New Bedford, Mass, And Ledyard, Ct. No tiara there either1

  34. Too funny! We might be related, as there was a Susie Pollard in my family tree, and I live in Birmingham, AL. (That is where Oakwood Cemetery is. ). I will have to check. There is nothing more Southern than playing “how are we related?”. At any rate, this is a fun pastime, and I know several people who have gotten so completely hooked on the whole geneology thing that they became professionals. The cook book sounds like a great project. I wrote a Southern memoir/cookbook some years ago about my own mother and published her recipes.

    1. Oh, that book sounds like a treasure. Good for you for taking the time to do it! You’ll have to let me know if it’s the same Susie Pollard!

  35. I started with Ancestry a number of years ago on a cold Saturday in January with an enticement for a free trial while I was checking my email. Six hours later, my husband as calling me to dinner, since I had unconsciously neglected everyone and everything, so absorbed I was in tracking down ancestors and another obsession was born! I was thinking that George Washington’s mother was Mary Ball Washington. Could you be related doubly? It makes me sad that I didn’t start this a lot earlier when I could have asked older relatives what they knew. I have run into “brick walls” all over the place and they might have been able to steer me in a new direction.

    1. I actually am! The connection through his brother is the most direct line, but Col. Burgess Ball was also his George Washington’s cousin and served as one of his aides.

  36. Marion, the Rinctum Ditty recipe brought back memories. In Arkadelphia Arkansas it was called Caracas. We had it the night before Thanksgiving or Christmas- cheap & easy for the hostess with a house full of relatives to make. My father always grumbled b/c it had no meat. I never liked it. This was before Velveeta cheese, & the cheese didn’t melt, it just seperated & it was served over saltine crackers! What fun to remember!

    1. Yeah, my mom told me about it because I had never heard of it. Apparently, they would have it on Sundays as an easy supper.

  37. Based on what I know about my ancestors, I doubt that there is anyone illustrious in my lineage; they were people who came to the U.S. in the great immigration wave to escape poverty and the lack of opportunities. There is the possibility that a very famous person is related to my late husband’s family. This man’s parents and my husband’s paternal grandfather came from places just a few miles apart in the old country and the surnames are just variations of the same name. The thing that convinces me that there must be a connection is the family resemblance. This guy is a dead ringer for my father-in-law. Several times I have glanced at a TV and wondered why Dad’s picture is on the screen only to realize that it’s the famous guy. (It’s especially unsettling since Dad passed away some time ago.) If I ever sign up for Ancestry, this is one branch I will check out.

  38. Ancestry.com is so addictive–especially if you participate in their DNA program. I’ve met distant cousins in Scotland, England and Canada through matches. My last royal ancestor was King John of Magna Carta fame, and my family began its slow, downward move ordinary citizens after him. No tiaras for me either. I am also descended from two Salem witches. But my biggest surprise was to discover that my husband and I (who come from very different geographic backgrounds) are actually eighth cousins.

    1. Several people have told me that over the years and I never saw the resemblance until recently.

  39. Just when I think I couldn’t be more envious! I love genealogy as well (Charlemagne appears on my Mom’s line) but I had to stop because it was literally interfering with all other duties. I do need to correct you on the British “family home” though. That’s a picture of the Houses of Parliament. Your actual British family home would be a lot nicer than even that!

    1. Oh, good to know! That picture came up as being of Westminster Palace in several searches. Perhaps they are connected?

  40. Family history is a long time passion… My famous relative and distant cousin is M M, wife of the current Crown Prince of Norway. My husband traces his roots to William Bradford, Mayflower preacher… I am currently writing a piece on my son’s Minnesota Hawkins family roots–early legislator… Politics then was somewhat like it is now, but it did not resort to forced mask-wearing and isolation to quell the masses…

  41. On my mother’s side, we are related to the Boelyns and one Lord High Mayor of London. Numerous knights and a couple of castles! On my father’s side, we are related to a man who shot his brother and other distressing occurances. The difficulty with incorrect name spellings has put me down for the count right now. I think the recorder might have been unfamiliar with Russian/Polish/German names and just sounded them out. And just when I think I have worked it out, nope, wrong line. I was also startled by the large families. 11 kids, 10 kids, and numerous stillbirths and small child deaths. Whew!!

    1. Re: name spellings. I had the opposite problem. I was stymied by “John and Mary Smith”. It’s like looking for a specific needle in a giant needle stack.

  42. Congratulations! My only fame sort of is related to Billy the Kid Billy’s step father was William Antrim related to me. Too bad my father wasn’t alive because he always said his ancestors were horse thieves.
    Also if you ever get to England and visit Princess Di’s estate just up the road there is the Washington Homestead. And my ancestors up the road who were Quakers originated. Food for thought!

  43. FFV= First Family of Virginia , like Richard Henry Lee sings about in the musical 1776…or Fine Foods of Virginia, which used to make the area around Broad St and The Boulevard in Richmond next to the old train station (now the science museum) smell heavenly!

  44. I read recently that Princess Diana’s family was related to George Washington and that The Spencers helped the Washington’s out financially. He was a cousin. You’ve got an interesting family tree marion.

  45. You had a great day on Ancestry! I’ve put my membership on hold for a few months as I’d lost interest and needed that $100 for something else, but you may have renewed my curiosity. Right after I put my membership on hold, of course, I received a hint about a full-blooded Cherokee woman to whom I am related. Up to then, all of the hints Ancestry kept e-mailing me about were hints about information I had added myself, very often about my paternal grandmother for some reason. I’m looking forward now to getting back to “fleshing out” my tree. I’ve some branches going back to the 400’s and others I can’t get much past the 1800s because the one time I subscribed to the international membership I found all of the records for my French/German relatives were in either French or German and useless to me. I do know one of my relatives was one of the first landowners on Nantucket Island and I have, unfortunately, at least one slaveowner in my background. But, I guess if you are related to George Washington, so do you!

  46. I have never commented either but I’m an amateur genealogist too. This year I found out My 10th great grandparents were John and Mary Brewster who were pilgrims on the Mayflower. So interesting! Also, I have a recipe from my great grandma where one of the ingredients is ‘a scoop of lard, the size of a hen’s egg’.

  47. I was really enjoying your organized cabinets when I saw that you went to Ancestry.com. I thought “uh oh, Marion’s in trouble now”.
    About 15 years ago I signed up for the free Ancestry trial. It was a Sunday afternoon and The Hubs was watching football. Before I knew it, he was sticking his head in the computer room to wish me a good night. What seemed like an hour later, The Hubs was back asking me if I had been up all night. Yup, it was 6:00 a.m. and he was up to get ready for work.I didn’t fall down the rabbit hole, I dove head first. All these years later, and I’m still at it.
    Your German side can be tricky as so many records were destroyed during WWII. Since some of Germany was ceded to Poland with the Treaty Of Versailles, try looking at Polish web sites for info. I was able to find my 3x German Great Grandparents.

  48. I can spend HOURSSSS on Family Search tracing different lines. You have to be careful though because there are a lot of inaccuracies input by people who didn’t know what they were doing. Also keep track of every line you trace so that when you find an exciting one, you can “retrace” your steps later. I’ve always known my Great Aunt was married to Morgan Earp, but how exciting to find out my Viking ancestry and family who were Kings and Queens of Denmark!

    1. Yes, I am learning that! I have been able to find documentation for the connection with Washington, but I haven’t gotten to the others. I thought I would focus on that one first.

  49. Oh how I love ancestry.com!!! Since we homeschool, I try only to get on during holidays bc I lose hours upon hours on it!!! I am DAR, a member of Society of Mayflower (through Richard Warren), FF of Virginia, and FF of Tennessee. I have many many Quakers and Tailors in my lineage. I have two great grandfathers who were elders in the church at Northampton, Mass, who brought in Jonathan Edwards and then encouraged him into evangelism and THE GREAT AWAKENING! I have an 11th g-grandfather who gave his property and home in Boston to the first headmaster of what would become Harvard 3 yrs later! At the time, it was called Little Cambridge. And Louisa May Alcott is my 7th cousin once removed!!! Soooo I adore your lineage to GW!!!! We are Rev War re-enactors and I get all shivery talking about him!! 🤣. Can’t wait to hear more of your discoveries. I am related to the Lees of VA too. Surely you’ve seen the musical, 1776! It’s great-your boys can watch it too-just know John Adam’s language is a little unsavory-probably normal for that time-like Martin Luther’s language is a little rough for us now, but was probably normal for the 1500s! Ohhhhh how exciting genealogy is!!! Xoxo!

  50. Marian – FFV = First Families of Virginia 🙂 “First Families of Virginia (FFV) were those families in Colonial Virginia who were socially prominent and wealthy, but not necessarily the earliest settlers. They descended from English colonists who primarily settled at Jamestown, Williamsburg, The Northern Neck and along the James River and other navigable waters in Virginia during the 17th century” – I bet you’re family is one of the first! what fun to research makes me want to start!

  51. Tracing your ancestry can be so mind-boggling. I’m lucky as family members on both sides of my family have done much of the legwork. There is a great site for Irish descendents where you can find a map of your family property back in the mid 1800s and then have a modern map overlay it. Then to stand on your ancestor’s property and see their view is incredible!
    I’ve also taken my mom to Sweden to visit her ancestors’ hometowns and it gives you such a feeling of connection.

  52. My husband goes down the ancestry rabbit hole often! It’s a hobby. No one famous though. Putting things in order is so satisfying, a little at a time! That’s my preferred way when it comes to cabinets and storage areas.

  53. Ah, yes! You have been pulled into the genealogy rabbit hole! But man, is it ever a fun place to be. Keep your eyes open because there will be many serendipitous things happen that will take you along another trail. Those are the best. And is it all very addictive. I’m connected to the first mate of Black Beard the pirate, but along a collateral line. Enjoy the journey! It’s is so much fun.

  54. Fascinating! Such a thoroughly enjoyable read re. your ancestry; the Claiborne name is an old one in Virginia. Claiborne Robins (used as first name when females married out of the family, so to speak) was Robins Pharm.
    I’m not sure of famous relatives but my forefathers (Hamrick) arrived in the New World in 1654 and my 8th (?) Great Grandfather fought with George Washington during the American Revolution.

  55. I too am a genealogy nut, and have been searching for 50 years for ancestors. No one really famous, or connections to royalty, but I do have a distant ancestor who was one of the last women to be hung in Sweden for witchcraft…and after reading what I’ve found, she was no witch…but genealogy has given me a huge new outlook on “History”. I think all high school age kids should be required to find two or three generations of their own trees as a class, and I do feel that it would make History much more appealing & interesting to that generation. I would have paid more attention to my history classes if I knew I was related to someone who fought in that war, or was living at that same time….Also, I always tell my husband that my full blown membership to world wide ancestry is far cheaper than more trips to Sweden & England and that satisfies him, and makes me happy to renew every year! Once you’ve been bitten – well, you will see. I have many other projects that get set aside while I follow another link to someone somewhere…..I credit it all with making me a much more knowledgeable, an interesting person! Good luck in your pursuits~

  56. Can you share where you had the cookbook made? I would like to put one together with my mother-in-law’s recipes.
    Thank you!

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