Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All in the Family - Veep Cheney and Obama 8th Cousins

Press reports this morning (October 17) indicate the Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama are related - 8th cousins.

Lynne Cheney, wife of the US VP, revealed that while researching the Cheney family tree for her new book Blue Skies, No Fences, she discovered that the Vice President and Obama are related -- albeit distantly.

Mrs. Cheney said that it was "an amazing American story that one ancestor . . . could be responsible down the family line for lives that have taken such different and varied paths."

Mrs. Cheney said she traced a common ancestor of the two men to a 17th century immigrant from France - Mareen and Susannah Duvall.

According to Mrs Cheney's spokeswoman, Mr Obama, the son of a Kenyan man and a white woman from Kansas, is distantly related to Mareen Duvall, whose son Samuel married the granddaughter of Mr Cheney's ancestor, also called Richard Cheney

In fact, according to the Chicago Sun-Times Obama and President George W. Bush are 11th cousins.

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton offered a tongue-in-cheek response to the revelation, saying, "Every family has a black sheep."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

FamilySearch Wiki Beta Online

Information courtesy of the RootsMagic Newsletter:

The Family History Department in Salt Lake City has developed a new research support tool called the FamilySearch Wiki at

This resource has been developed to help make family history research advice easier to find and share.

FamilySearch Wiki is intended as an online community for family history researchers and those interested in learning how to be more successful in the search for their ancestors. This site includes all the research outlines published by the Family History Library and many other articles never published such as the wiki material for Japan, China and India.

The site is in beta, so you may find missing pieces, but take it for a spin and feel free to tell others about it.

Tracing Your Family Tree to Adam and Eve. Possible?

This always gives me a chuckle when I hear this from a "family historian." Some genealogists claim that they have extended their ancestral lines back to Adam and Eve. Is this possible? If so, is it necessary for all of us to extend our pedigrees back to them?

From Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist in the LDS Church Genealogical Department in Salt Lake.

"The simplest answer to both questions is No. Let me explain. In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. A.D. 450-A.D. 752)."

Gunderson says, "Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source."

And I firmly agree with Mr. Gunderson. I have been conducting genealogy research for well over 30 years now and I have yet to see a valid, sourced and proven genealogy to anything in this early era.

And this is what I tell my genealogy students: "If it is not sourced, it is not history. An unsourced genealogy should start out as...once upon a time."