Ancestry Anomalies – Part 3
More than “Kissin'” Cousins

This is the third post regarding anomalies in our family tree. I discovered that my 3rd Great Grandmother, Sarah Ann Fleming, had parents that were first(!) cousins to each other. In the tree segment below, you may notice a bunch of “Fleming” surnames. The Fleming Clan (literally, a clan) originated in Scotland in the 14/1500’s; our branch of the clan settled into what is now West Virginia.

Looking at the family tree segment you will see Sarah Ann linked to her parents Alexander and Mary Eliza Fleming, my 4th great grandparents. In the next column to the right you can see more Flemings; the names of interest here are Mary and Nathan Fleming who were brother and sister. Their parents were William Fleming and Jane Frame who appear at my 6th Grandparent level twice. Of note, Alexander Fleming at top right was a Fleming, but only distantly related to William; as a consequence of this distance, Matthew Fleming who married Mary Fleming, was probably only her distant cousin.

I asked ChatGPT how many ancestors a person has – this is the answer I got:

The number of ancestors a person has depends on how far back in their family tree you’re considering and whether there is any overlap due to shared ancestors. Each generation back doubles the number of ancestors because each person has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so on.

For example:

  • You have 2 parents.
  • You have 4 grandparents.
  • You have 8 great-grandparents.
  • You have 16 great-great-grandparents.

So, if you go back 10 generations, you would theoretically have 2^10 = 1,024 direct ancestors. However, this is a simplified model because it doesn’t account for intermarriages or instances where distant relatives are common to multiple lines of descent, which can reduce the actual number of unique ancestors. Additionally, for practical reasons, tracing back all lineages accurately for many generations is often impossible due to missing records or incomplete genealogical data

There was no mention of the fact that if you go back in the progression 2^x that eventually the number would exceed the entire population of the planet. That’s an interesting concept.

Great Grandkids

In the photo above, Mikey (5) and Alex (9), our two great grandsons are enjoying a carnival ride somewhere in Northern California. (Photo courtesy of Granddaughter Anna.) The boys look like they’re having a bit of fun out there.

The big news, however, is that today is Alex’s 9th Birthday. Anna sent me this photo of him and his birthday cake. Looking all smiles and handsome, Alex will be getting a new pair of rollerblades and numerous other goodies for his 9th. Happy Birthday, Alex!

We really miss the great grandkids, the boys above and the two girls, who all live near each other in the Santa Rosa, California area. We, however, no longer travel to that area because both Damsel and I carry concealed sidearms for self protection all the time and cannot carry in California because of their insane (and unconstitutional) gun restrictions. That may be resolved one of these years, but we’re not holding our breath.

Perhaps we can convince our (broke in California) three Granddaughters and their significant others to bring the Kids to Arizona for a visit. We will probably wind up helping them to “foot the bill” for all the travel expenses, but it would be worth it to us to see them all again.

Meanwhile, Happy Birthday to Alex and many happy returns!

Ancestry Anomalies – Part 2

This is the second of three posts about some of the anomalies we discovered while researching our ancestry and family tree. Part 1 covered a part of the family tree where one set of my great-great grandparents were first cousins twice removed.

In this part, we discuss the union between a pair of my third-great grandparents, William Burl “Squire Billy” Snodgrass and his wife Mary Joliffe Snodgrass. Her unmarried name and his were the same, since Billy’s father Francis, and Mary’s father John, were first cousins. Francis and John’s fathers were brothers, so Billy and Mary were second cousins. Brothers William and Charles Snodgrass (Billy’s and Mary’s grandfathers, respectively) appear in the third column in the (clickable) tree image below. Their parents were John Snodgrass and Hannah Vernon, appearing twice in the fourth column. Maybe that makes John and Hannah my double 6th great grandparents? I’m not sure how that works.

I can understand marriages between related people might have been common since the population in 18th century Virginia may have been limited to the pioneers and their offspring residing there at that time. These marriages took place just after the American Revolution and before the mass influx of more settlers from Europe and abroad.

“Squire Billy” and Mary Joliffe Snodgrass were the parents of Civil War Veteran (W. Virginia Infantry) Enos Snodgrass, who was my Dad’s Great Grandfather. Pictured below are four generations with Enos (seated), James (my great grandfather), Mary (my grandmother) and Jack (my Dad at about age six or so). Clickable Photo circa 1920.

Thanks to my cousin Erin, who provided the photo above a couple of months ago when she and her Dad (my first cousin Kim) met up with us here in town for the first time. We might have never been in touch except for the DNA results from a couple of on line sources, which showed us our close relationship and put us in touch with each other.

I am working on Ancestry Anomalies Part 3 which might be the final chapter in my anomalous genealogy.

Ancestry Anomalies – Part 1

Several years ago, Damsel and I decided to join the Ancestry® Genealogy Service to start tracing our heritage back a few generations. Damsel’s sister, who is an ancestry enthusiast, got us interested in getting started in the whole genealogy thing.

We both did the DNA testing and each of us have found and have been in contact with cousins we never knew about. That is a subject for another post since this one will highlight the first in a series of anomalies in our family tree. We already posted about a Native American Ancestor a while back. Damsel’s tree will not be detailed here since her sister has most of that on a separate account.

Common logic dictates that a person has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents and so forth up to a large theoretical number in eons gone by, most commonly on powers of two. We have traced only as far as to our 6th great grandparents, which, in theory, should be a total of 256 6th level ancestors. Of course, this is not the case in my tree as we shall discuss below.

Consider the image above; the lowest level couple would be my 2nd great-grandparents, i.e my Dad’s great-grandparents on his Dad’s side. The highest level couple are my 6th great grandparents (one of 128 possible couples). Looking at the left side of the diagram, you can see two generations between the top couple and my great-great-grandpa John. On the right side of the diagram, you can see three generations between the same top couple and my great-great-grandma, Rebecca. That would seem to make the top couple, John B and Dorcas D both my 5th and 6th level great grandparents. In the first generation below John B and Dorcas D, John B Jr. and Elizabeth are siblings, making the union between John M and Rebecca as first cousins twice removed.

Here is a 1895 photo of John and Rebecca who were related as shown in the diagram. None of their descendants, to my knowledge, had any symptoms of close inbreeding. This photo taken late in their lives at the hotel they managed in Pacolet Springs, South Carolina. Photo not clickable.

Spring Flowerburst

We spent the early part of the Holiday yesterday in remembrance of those who were unable to return from the battles that kept America a Free and Sovereign Republic. We also recognize that all of our battles aren’t necessarily “out and out warfare” in the classical sense. We have plenty of troubles domestically with those wishing to disarm and enslave us. So, prepare accordingly.

Now, we will post some of the beautiful flowers that are opening daily in this late spring season in and around our Arizona home. Photo credits are both Damsel and CapnBob. Click on the images to enlarge.

Cherry Red Cactus Flower Cluster:

Cactus flower of unknown species – a gift from our sister, BB:

A Fish Hook Cactus Flower:

A Flower Trio from our Argentine Giant Cactus:

These are but a small fraction of the flowers we see here each spring. Some cacti are native and some are imported from elsewhere. We hope you enjoyed your Holiday and our flower photos. Come back soon.

Easter Sunday

Today is the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox — those are the criteria establishing the day upon which Jesus’ Resurrection is celebrated. Since the date bounces around from year-to-year, it can never be determined when the actual anniversary of the rising of Christ from the tomb occurs. Regardless, we recognize the event on the above defined date annually since it is the spirit of the Holy Day we celebrate.

Luke 24:1-7 (KJV) —

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Happy Easter Sunday to all. Damsel and I will start the day with our Resurrection devotional service and Communion. Later, we will celebrate with an Easter Dinner here at home. He is Risen!

Unrelated to all above, our Desert Cacti have been blooming and yesterday one of the Hedgehog cactus flowers opened in all its glory. Click on the image to enlarge.

Tucker’s Second Birthday

Today is Tucker’s second birthday — well, it’s not known what his real birthday is since he was found wandering south of town and nobody claimed him, so the vet who examined him estimated his age to be a year old a year ago today. We adopted him a year ago this coming Saturday, so that anniversary will be this weekend.

After we lost Bay Bay last year, we weren’t expecting to adopt another pet as soon as we found Tucker, but there he was at a Humane Society adoption event at Tractor Supply and it was love at first sight for both us and the little guy.

Tucker is a long-haired chihuahua mix and weighs in at about eleven pounds. He has mostly black fur with a white patch on his right neck, a little blaze on his forehead and a large white “tuxedo shirt” down his chest.

Since we adopted him, Tucker has completely adapted to our routines and he is a wonderful and loving little guy. We look forward to having him around for a long time to come.

So happy birthday little man!