Contacting Distant Relatives
2022 marks the 20th year that I have been researching my family's history. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was going through a box of my late maternal grandmother's things that the genealogy bug bit me; it was while I was going through old notes and newspaper clippings that I realized that I really didn't know as much about my family as I thought that I did.
So began a journey that has lasted for 2 decades, and will probably last for as many more as I have here in this world. It started off with a curiosity about my maternal grandmother's family and quickly snowballed into a full fledge need to know as much about my family - both maternal and paternal sides - as I could learn.
Through this journey I have been fortunate enough to have made contact with a number of near and distant relatives, most of whom I never knew, and a few that I had known but had lost touch with over the years. I have been in contact with relatives from all sides of my family tree, and have even had the pleasure of meeting several in person.
With each contact I have learned more about my family history and I've been able to tell my relatives about my own discoveries and help them to understand more about our shared family members. I have even been able to solve family mysteries - more secrets than mysteries really - and have been able to discover my paternal grandfather's biological father and learn more about his (and my) extended and previously unknown family. I have also uncovered another family secret involving my paternal grandfather's mother - my great-grandmother - and her true lineage as well. I have also been able to help a few of my distant cousins determine their own paternity (with the help of other DNA matches).
So far I have had very positive interactions with a number of my distant relatives, both in-person and through email, telephone calls and online chats. I've even been able to visit several maternal cousins over in England in the town that my maternal grandfather's family has lived in for over 400 years (and returned the favor by entertaining the same relatives here in Canada). This has been an unexpected bonus for me that I never even thought of when I started my research.
Through my paternal family, on both my grandmother and grandfather's sides, I have discovered a number of very famous relatives, both living and ancestral. This has helped me significantly in putting together hundreds of years worth of family history. My paternal grandmother's side of the family originated in Scotland, and a number of my Scottish ancestors were very influential people and their history has been well documented. My paternal grandfather's family though, is even more intriguing, and it is documented back almost 1,000 years.
On my paternal grandfather's side are a number of ancestors of significant influence and power; royalty and nobility, each of whom had their family histories carefully documented through the centuries. It is this side of the family that has yielded the greatest amount of information...and the greatest number of mysteries. Through the years my paternal family has had their fingers in a number of historic events, and the large number of famous descendants is astonishing.
As I continue to work my way through my paternal family history, I continue to find additional famous distant relatives that I have known, but only in name and reputation. A significant number of past and current royalty, politicians, business people, artists and celebrities occupy a place in my paternal family tree. Each time I think I cannot possibly add another famous distant relative to my tree, I find another one to add. My tree is now filled with well known distant relatives ranging from the British Royal Family to Hollywood celebrities, both living and dead.
I have not as yet made contact with any of my living famous distant relatives (at least not since I have found out that they are relatives) but I hope that one day I may be fortunate enough to do so. Will 2022 be the year that this happens?
Even if I don't make any meaningful contact with one of these more famous cousins, I'm still very fortunate to have made contact with so many other previously unknown cousins. Famous or not, the relatives that I have made contact with have been wonderful, and the help that we have been able to provide to one another has been tremendous, and that is what has made my genealogical journey so extraordinary.