Monday, February 2, 2009

You can't pick your relatives.

Back in the early 90's I became interested in searching for my ancestors and filling out the details my family tree. I wasn't doing the research in hopes of finding a kinship to any famous historical figure, but simply to discover my roots.

When I started doing genealogy, I knew practically nothing about my ancestors. I knew a little bit about my long deceased grandparents and the name of only one great-grandparent. Fortunately, there were 2nd cousins on my mother's side who had done some work, so I had a starting point.

In those days, very few of us had PCs in our homes and only the nerdyest of nerds were connected to the Internet ......and through dial-up at that.
If you wanted information on your family tree, your choices were talking to those in the family who had some memory of those long gone folks, or else going to courthouses, libraries and cemeteries in the areas where your ancestors once lived; you collected birth certificates, marriage records, death certificates and spent far too much time looking at census records on microfilm.

After a few years of this research, I'd gone about as far as I wanted to take it.
All four of my father's grandparents had come to the United States from Poland (which was technically part of Prussia at the time). Finding the death certificates of these great grandparents gave me the names of their parents; citizenship records gave me the locations of their births.
I'm really not able to take that much further. I'm not likely to visit Poland and as I don't understand the language, a trip there would be pretty much pointless.

Finding information about my mother's side of the family was a different matter all together. Nearly all the branches of her side had been in Georgia since before the American Revolution. Even the late comers, who arrived in Georgia just prior to the American Civil War, had ancestors who'd been in what would become the United States since Colonial days.

A post in my D'offus of the Big-Doofus blog Saturday, [ Obama Bhang] lead me to reading the wikipedia articles on former President Jimmy Carter and his brother Billy. It was these articles which caused me to revive my interest in genealogy.
Their mother was Lillian Carter. This was not news to me. I was around when Carter was governor of Georgia. What was news to me, however, was Lillian Carter's maiden name - Gordy.

My maternal grandfather's grandmother was named Missouri Elizabeth Gordy and I had done a little bit of research on that particular branch.
Some of this gets a bit difficult to explain as the first names of some the Gordy men who were in Georgia early on have the same first name.
To make a long story short, there was a Leonard Gordy (born in Maryland) who died in Hancock County Georgia in 1809. I am descended from Leonard and, of course, his father Peter Gordy.
Ms. Lillian (and of course, Jimmy) are descended from Leonard's brother Peter. Peter (the younger) and Leonard's father - Peter (from Maryland) is our common ancestor.

As bad as this is.....it gets worse.

The Peter Gordy from Maryland was the son of yet another Peter Gordy and the grandson of Adrian Gordy. Are you all still with me on this?

Adrian was the first of the Gordys to come to this country from Scotland. No one seems to be 100% certain of his date of birth.....it's listed as circa 1650-1660. I don't know if anyone knows for sure when he arrived from Scotland.

Besides Peter (#1), Adrian had a house full of children. There were also sons Moses and William and a daughter named Mary. This is so far back.....three hundred years ago.... I can't say there weren't even more children.

At any rate, unlike today, folks in the early 1700's had lots of kids. Those kids had lots of kids.
It would be impossible to list every descendant of Adrian Gordy.
I'm one of his descendants, as is (yikes) Jimmy Carter.

So is, I'm equally horrified to say, Barack Obama.

It's a very small world, indeed.

From http://genforum.genealogy.com/gordy/messages/446.html:

Mary Disharoon m. Adrian Gordy
Mary Gordy m. John Holloway
John Holloway m. Frances Bradford
Elijah Holloway m. Elizabeth Showell
Armel Showell Holloway m. Anna Maria Godfrey
Josiah Holloway m. Martha Mallow
Charlotte Holloway m. Falmouth Kearney
Mary Ann Kearney m. Jacob William Dunham
Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham m. Ruth Lucille Armour
Stanley Armour Dunham m. Madelyn Lee Payne
Stanley Ann Dunham m. Barack Hussein Obama Sr.
Barack Hussein Obama

Update:
A descendant of Adrian Gordy [named Joseph] left this comment:

"Adrian Gordy was my 11ggrandfather. He was born in Virginia and brought to MD as indentured servant of Capt. William Brereton at age 14. Adrian married twice. First to Mary Disharoone with whom there was only one child, Mary. She is 9ggrandmother of Obama. Second marriage was to Rosamond Crouch. They had only two children, twins named Peter and Moses. These boys were almost certainly not Adrian's, but adopted by him upon marriage to Rose. So, while there is a connection, there is a blood link to Carter but not to Obama unless you are a Mary descendent."

As a descendant of Peter Gordy, it turns out that I am not related to Adrian Gordy - because was his adopted son......not his biological son. Therefore, I have no biological connection Adrian's daughter, Mary. The good news - no common ancestry with BHO. The bad news - I'm still distantly related to Jimmy Carter.

20 comments:

Dominique said...

O. M. G.

Robert said...

Exactly!

Anonymous said...

I am SURE I was adopted!!!!! signed - your SISTER! sort of

Robert said...

Sorry,sis (AKA anonymous) you can't get out of this that easily.

LarryD said...

Wow. So what is your exact relation?

Robert said...

Well, Larry....it's so far removed that there probably really isn't a word for it. Only thing that can be said is that we share common ancestors who were born about 1660.
I doubt there's anything like 34th cousin twice removed or some such.
Truth be known, there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who share a common ancestor with BHO and don't even know it.

Al said...

My Deepest & Sincerest sympathy!!!!!

Al said...

I forgot to ask,what part of Maryland did the Gordys come from? My paternal grandparents were from Maryland & I have a bit of Scots ancestry.

Robert said...

Hi Al,
Somerset Co. Maryland

Al said...

My Grandparents came from the Hagarstown area up in the NW part of Maryland. So, the good news, It isn't so likely I am related to Obama, the bad, that I'm not so likely to be related to you either.

Robert said...

Don't be so sure you aren't related to BHO. :)
The Northern part of Maryland is much closer to Somerset Co. than Georgia is....and there are connections here.
When you back to ancestors 300 years ago....well, their descendants could have gone anywhere.

Joseph said...

Adrian Gordy was my 11ggrandfather. He was born in Virginia and brought to MD as indentured servant of Capt. William Brereton at age 14. Adrian married twice. First to Mary Disharoone with whom there was only one child, Mary. She is 9ggrandmother of Obama. Second marriage was to Rosamond Crouch. They had only two children, twins named Peter and Moses. These boys were almost certainly not Adrian's, but adopted by him upon marriage to Rose. So, while there is a connection, there is a blood link to Carter but not to Obama unless you are a Mary descendent.

Anonymous said...

My kids are related through this bunch, but aren't ashamed to be related to Obama or Carter or any of the others like Cheney or Laura Bush........which they are. How sad that people can't accept even a distant cousin. I thought this seemed like a Christian blog. My ancestors all came from Poland and there are quite a few I would rather not be related to. I am sorry I even came across this by accident.

Robert said...

Dear Anonymous...you wrote "How sad that people can't accept even a distant cousin."
Then you wrote "My ancestors all came from Poland and there are quite a few I would rather not be related to."
Make up your mind....which is it? You say it's sad that some can't accept a distant cousin yet you admit to having some you wish weren't related.
I'm sorry you came across this too. I'm also sorry you commented anonymously.

TSannie said...

Joseph wrote: "First to Mary Disharoone with whom there was only one child, Mary. She is 9ggrandmother of Obama. Second marriage was to Rosamond Crouch. They had only two children, twins named Peter and Moses. These boys were almost certainly not Adrian's, but adopted by him upon marriage to Rose."

Wow! If this is true, my entire Adrian Gordy lineage is incorrect! Where did you find this, Joseph? I'm quite curious! I thought I was a descendant of Adrian and Mary, but the way this looks, definitely not to Mary and if those boys weren't Adrian's, not by blood to him either. Just when I think I have this genealogy thing figured out! Joseph, if you happen to read this, I'd love to hear from you.

And, Robert, I guess you and I are cousins as well, though probably around a billion times removed.

RBarton said...

I too descend from this Gordy family and proudly claim kinship with Barack Obama. The "horrors" and "Sympathy" that some express about having this relationship bespeaks loudly of racism.

Robert said...

I'm also horrified that I'm related to Jimmy Carter through the Gordy line. Is that racist as well?

firethorn007 said...

Hey, I'm a Gordy and I have no idea who I'm related to! :) Our genealogy is a little tricky......

firethorn007 said...

Hey, How did you find out Adrian was from Virginia? I have heard Scotland or perhaps Jersey Island off the coast of France. ???

Robert Simms said...

Hi. This post was written in 2009. None of the other folks commenting here are likely to see your comment or reply to it. I