7 Day Family Tree Genealogy & Ancestry Research
Finally! Here’s how to quickly and easily uncover the forgotten pieces of family history you probably thought had been lost forever…even if you haven’t stepped foot in a library since high school and don’t know the first thing about researching online.
7 Day Family Tree Genealogy & Ancestry Research

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In politics, some ties are by blood

The President and Vice President are in fact distant relatives, according to a new analysis of genealogical data following the online digitization of the entire U.S. Federal Census collection. Bush, it appears, is also kin to legendary gunfighter "Wild Bill" Hickock.
Researchers for Ancestry.com finished the arduous task late last week. The data is now available to paid subscribers and for free at 1,200 Mormon LDS family history centers and U.S. public libraries.
"It took 1,500 paleographers six years to read the census manually and to decipher the often unclear 18th and 19th century handwriting," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. "The process was not all that sophisticated, but the database search engine that is now in place is."
Before the project, most of the data was on microfilm, organized by year, date, county and district. Now over five billion names within the Ancestry.com database are searchable too.
During the input process, researchers took note of prominent family histories and determined that family links exist between many such individuals, particularly U.S. politicians.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's ancestors, who were miners, came from Durham, England, according to Sullivan. George Washington was the descendant of a family who lived in a village, now a town, of the same name 10 miles away. The Bishop of Durham once owned the land.
"It is possible that Clinton and Washington are related, because this was a relatively small area and families did not move from place to place as much then as they do now," said Mike Ward, also of Ancestry.com.
Ward added that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are connected through an early New England settler by the name of William Fletcher.
Fletcher, incidentally, was also involved in politics. He served as Commissioner of Chelmsford, Mass., in 1673.
Bush is also a cousin of James "Wild Bill" Hickock, Ward told Discovery News. Both men are related to Benjamin Butler and Susanna Whiting, who had at least two sons: James and Samuel Herrick Butler. The Bush family comes from Samuel's side, while Hickock descended from James.
The researchers also found that presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were related to each other.
In modern times, an intriguing number of connections exist between politicians and famous actors.
Tom Hanks and Abraham Lincoln can both trace their family tree back to the same William Hanks, who was born in 1650.
Lee Marvin, who starred in "The Dirty Dozen," appears to be related to Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Robert E. Lee.
Johnny Depp, who displayed his sword fighting abilities in "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, had a distant ancestor who fought for the Virginia Militia with the Revolutionary War hero Captain Thomas Harris.
The census covers the years 1790 to 1930, with 1890s information missing because much of it burned in a fire. The 1940 census will not become available until 2012, due to privacy laws that prohibit census data from being released until 72 years later.
"A few years ago, the idea that the census would be digitized and indexed online seemed beyond the realm of possibility," said Ruth Carr, a genealogy expert at The New York Public Library.
She added, "Researchers had to work with thousands of reels of microfilm in order to find a specific person or family they wanted to learn about. With the digitization of the census, it is now possible for someone to type a name in the search box, and within seconds view the image of the actual census page."


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