It fascinates me to find connections between different branches of my family tree, possibly because I’ve always known there was a connection between my parents (besides the obvious).
Before you start thinking “cocktails in Appalachia,” I should explain that this is not a close connection. My father’s (maternal) great-grandmother is my mother’s (paternal) first cousin twice removed. That’s six degrees of separation, and the prevailing theory says that everyone in the world can be connected at six degrees.
Since I started genealogy, I’ve been hoping to find a connection between my maternal grandparents. It didn’t seem very likely, as my grandfather’s family has lived in the same county for 150 years and my grandmother was born two counties away (with mountains, a formidable barrier, in between). But somehow I had a feeling the connection was there.
A few weeks ago, I found an 1820 Census record for Burke County, North Carolina and discovered that my grandmother’s 4x great-grandfather, Peter Stroud, was enumerated nine households away from my grandfather’s 3x great-grandfather. Connection number one established. From this point on, I felt it was more likely to find some sort of intermarriage.
I found it (actually them) this weekend. One would think that it would have happened long ago, when the families lived in such close proximity. But it actually happened after the families made their way to Murray County, Georgia.
The first intermarriage I found was that my grandmother’s first cousin three times removed (John William Stroud) married my grandfather’s paternal first cousin once removed (Mary Jane Hemphill). Upon further review, I discovered that John William Stroud had a sister, Joanna, who married another relative of my grandfather. This time it was a maternal great-uncle, James C. Ellis, thus establishing a connection on both sides of his family.
Genealogy is all about establishing connections to others; I think it is a bonus to find connections within the family tree.