Monday, 17 September 2012

Three degrees of separation

In his regular Saturday Night Genealogy Fun posting, Randy Seaver set the following challenge:

Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with three degrees of separation? That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor, who knew another ancestor." When was that third ancestor born?

This struck me because of its similarity to my recent post on children and their grandparents. That three-step chain could not stretch back too far when it begins with my grandchildren, but if I were to add a step on the other end … ?

Our 3xgreat grandmother, Caroline KUHN, grew up in the region of Uckermark (currently in north-eastern Germany) in the mid-nineteenth century.

Her paternal grandmother, Sophie GRUENHAGEN, was born in 1763 but died in 1824 so she never knew Caroline. On the other hand, Anna BERT, her maternal grandmother lived in Gramzow well into Caroline's teen years.

This makes my three degree chain:

  1. I enjoyed almost 12 years of the life of Sydney Thomas CRAMER (1902-1963).
  2. He lived in the same home as Caroline KUHN (1835-1906).
  3. She grew up within a short distance of the home of Anna BERT (abt 1760-1850).

I imagined that I could do better by following the line of S T CRAMER's wife, Isabel Corry SUDDABY. Her mother, Jane DAVIES was born in 1877 and I visited her regularly (with my mother) during the 1950s. But Jane was born after her parents left Rhyl, so it is unlikely that she knew her grandmother Susannah (b 1815). Making either of her parents the mid-point of the chain limits the next (evidence-supported) step to post-1800, despite the individual longevity of 2xgreat grandmother, Jane.

Family historians need a ready supply of answers to the inevitable question "So, why do you do this?". Without the opportunity to analyse our tree, how else could I comprehend that the Seven Years' War was not merely a footnote of "ancient" history, but the lived reality of someone just three lifetimes removed from me!

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