January 5, 2009

Delusions of Grandeur

Weather they would admit it or not, everyone who researches their family history secretly hopes to find that they’re related to someone famous. I’ve found that I’m related by marriage to professional fisherman Bill Dance. I’ve never really been that interested in fishing. I’ve always been more interested in American history which is why I hoped I would find a connection to James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States, since his grandfather helped settle my home county in Tennessee. No luck.

This has made me wonder if there are decedents of famous historical figures out there and if they’re aware of their genealogy.

Tom Hanks has found that he is related to Abe Lincoln through Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks.

If you’re a fan of the NBC show “Heroes,” you might find it interesting that Jack Coleman who plays “Noah Bennett” a.k.a. “Horn Rim Glasses” (or just “HRG”) is Benjamin Franklin’s 6th great-grandson.

And I’ve heard there are a slew of John Adams’ and Thomas Jefferson’s descendants out there.

Unfortunately, not all of us can be as lucky to find such gems in our family tree. But everyone probably has some very interesting folks in their family tree that contributed to history. And this can lead to a deeper interest and understanding of historical events. War heroes are probably the easiest and most likely to find. I have ancestors in most every American war. During the Civil War, I had several ancestors fighting for both sides. During the American Revolution, one of my ancestors was a General. There were Bakers at the Battle of King’s Mountain, the Battle of Shiloh and at Pearl Harbor. This discovery has made history seem more real to me and inspired me to learn more about these events and my family’s role in them.

So you probably won’t find a connection to a founding father but you’re sure to learn more about history and your place in it. If you’re like me, you might find some little-known hero of history to be proud of.

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