With over 10K downloads under it’s belt to-date, it’s safe to say that the We’re Related app is gaining traction amongst the modern genealogy set. Now that it’s fixed a glitch which prevented people with big trees from using the app, I can now join in the fun.
The app has the potential for being a provider of new genealogy leads. I’ve already discovered new lines of research through it already. I only have one big caveat. The matches We’re Related provides are generated by family trees hosted by Ancestry. The lines of descent the app displays in order to illustrate how two people are related come from Ancestry.com family trees created by other people. These trees are only as accurate and reliable as the information put into them. That’s a nice way to say you still need to vet each and every generational link in the genealogy chain.
I can say that of the 50 or so individuals the app claims I’m related to, 90% have been 100% correct. That’s not bad going. I’d also say that another 5% were close – close enough for me to quickly work out where the correct ancestral connections lays.
Here’s an overview of some of my favourite new cousin matches:
Senator John McCain
My match with Senator John McCain was bang on the money. I already knew I was related to Sen. McCain already, so this came as no surprise. However, I was impressed to see it pop u in my app matches. This is yet another match in a staggering myriad of matches from my colonial Pennsylvania Quaker ancestors.
As a decades-long veteran of the music industry, I was ALL kinds of excited when Jimi showed up as a match. He is amongst my all time favourite guitarists and recording artists. Sadly, once I looked the line of descent, as shown above, it all quickly fell to pieces. Isaac Winston is my 10x great grandfather. Mary Ann, his daughter, is my 9x great aunt. However, while she did marry, I cannot find any record which shows she married a Chiles. Not for love nor money. Which means I’ve discounted this match. I do have Chiles relations, so I may return back to Jimi to see if there is indeed a connection…or not.
Again, this one came as no surprise. I’ve had President George Washington in my family tree for a long time. Still, it was nice to see him appear…with a correct line of descent.
As with George Washington, I’ve long known about my connection to President Zachary Taylor via the Lee family of Virginia. Again, it was great to see his line of descent matched with those provided by antiquarian genealogy books I’d consulted when I researched when building this branch of my family tree.
Henry David Thoreau
This match simply blew me away. With a dual degree in Philosophy and Comparative Western Literature, I read plenty of Thoreau while at university. Discovering I was related to one of America’s towering 19th Century writers was quite a thing to behold. And it didn’t hurt that Thoreau opened up an entirely new line of inquiry for my Cary ancestry…one that has taken me deep into 16th Century England.
Sir Winston Churchill, the venerated British Prime Minister – better remembered for his term in office during WWII rather than his second run at Prime Minister in the early days of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign – was also a known connection to me. However, that our supposed link came via a Jane Patrick came as a thunderbolt. I have no idea who she is.
Looking at my side of the shared equation, the problem with this match quickly became apparent:
Charity Young is my 9x great grandmother via my Fugate ancestry. Which makes her mother, Mary Ann Montgomery, my 10x great grandmother. However, the wrong Thomas Montgomery is showing. This isn’t the Thomas Montgomery that’s in my own tree (see the image below, which shows the correct Thomas). The one shown in the image above is some other unknown Thomas Montgomery.
Here’s the Thomas Montgomery in my tree. He is the father of Mary Ann:
Somehow, this other person’s Thomas has taken priority over my 10x great grandfather, Thomas Montgomery. That’s where this particular error lays – which is why I couldn’t figure out where this Jane Patrick fits into the story. She doesn’t, and shouldn’t be there.
The ancestor I share in common with Winston Churchill is actually Katherine Swynford, Duchess of Lancaster (1350- 1403). This connection makes Winston my 15th Cousin, 3x removed. Yep, that is one VERY distant connection 😉
I can thank Google Books and the British antiquarian Visitations of series (via https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&q=vistitations+of#tbm=bks&q=visitations+of ) for the correct Montgomery family lineage. This ancestry resources is invaluable. It’s old. The pedigrees and lineages contained within this series of books have been vetted, argued over, and researched for centuries. It’s my ‘go to’ resource when picking up ancestral trails for my English, Welsh, Scottish and northern Irish family lines.
A quick peek at the family line that connected me to Kanye was 100% correct. The gem of this discovery has been a new line of Wests in Delaware and Maryland who were free people of colour. Looking at the names of his earliest known West ancestors is even more exciting. Old Quaker names, with Quaker spellings, like Rebeckah, Susanna, Ezekiel, and Hezekiah among his colonial West ancestors suggests a connection between his fpoc West ancestors and my Quaker West ancestors, some of whom left southern Pennsylvania for Maryland and Delaware early in the 1700s. It’s something I will be researching in 2017.
My Scotts-Irish Roanes and Henry family seem to have produced a staggering number of performers for descendants. Christina is one among many. Other performers from the Roane-Henry family include: Willie Nelson, Ron Howard, and Dakota Fanning.
Overall, the app is just plain good fun. However, it can open up new doors of discovery too. Take my advice though and do some digging and research before getting too excited.
It’s available to download via https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ancestry.notables&hl=en