Small World Times Two!

On Sunday a tiny baby was blessed in our ward. I didn’t know the family at all (it turns out that pregnancy didn’t sit well with the mother at all, so they haven’t been around), but I’ve known people with the same last name, which I will abbreviate as J. In particular, when my oldest younger brother turned 12 and stole my home teaching companion (our father), my new companion was Brother J.

I was 16 years old, and Brother J. remained my companion for several years, possibly until I left for BYU. Before and after visits we would visit in his car. He heard about school, girls, and friends, and he told me about playing football when he was young, his children and grandchildren, and their activities. He and his wife sometimes came to my high school orchestra concerts. He was a good man for me to be around, and serving with him was very good for teenage me.

Anyway, when I heard that the baby’s middle name was Brother J.’s first name, I knew they were related. I went to talk to the young father after Sacrament Meeting, and he said (pointing to his own father standing next to him), “Yes, [Brother J.] is [N.]’s father.”

But it gets better.

I shook hands with the baby’s paternal grandfather, N., and he suddenly asked me if I work in the U District [of Seattle]. After my reply in the affirmative, he followed up asking if I rode the bus home in the afternoon, which was when I recognized him.

My old home teaching companion’s son is my bus driver.

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About Ben Pratt

I am married to a brilliant and lovely woman. Remarkably, our union has produced three brilliant and lovely daughters! We enjoy reading, going for walks and bike rides, and Friday night pizza picnics in the family room. Descended from Parley P. Pratt (founding editor of this blog's namesake), Charles Henry Wilcken, Zachariah Bruyn Decker, Jesse N. Smith, Frederick G. Williams, and a host of farmers, missionaries, colonizers, businessmen, and pilots, I was raised in Chandler, AZ. I have degrees in physics from both Brigham Young University (BS) and the University of Washington (MS). I earn my filthy lucre teaching physics, mathematics, and fine arts at a public charter school in Mesa, AZ.

14 thoughts on “Small World Times Two!

  1. Someone please call Disney and queue the song, “It’s a Small World (After All).”

    Does this mean you will now receive reduced or free fare when riding the bus in the afternoon? ;-)

    I had an interesting moment when I transferred from high school in Orem, UT to Mesa, AZ. I walked into my Arizona history class and saw a fomer classmate from Orem, UT. Weird, huh?

  2. Everybody knows everybody else in the Mormon world. Very strange. When I was in Singapore I met A)a guy I knew when I was a teenager in New Jersey and B)a guy who knew my father when he was a teenager in New Jersey and went to my father’s wedding. That’s what happens when you’re all the House of Israel — interconnectedness.

  3. That’s no big deal!

    My first mission companion in Japan was the reason that dark-haired girl (the one I never quite mustered up the nerve to ask out) was in my Japanese class at BYU the year before. It’s interesting to think what might have happened had I got up the nerve and started dating her, she “Dear John-ed” him and then I became his missionary companion!

  4. My DH Mike’s Mom and my Dad served in the same mission and are even in the same mission photo. Well of course the big one is we are 4th cousins and did not know until we had been married for 20 years with 4 kids. Still freaks the kids out. :D

  5. Brian, it’s too bad that I use a bus pass! Unfortunately, N. is a part-time driver and will receive a different assignment after next week.

    Joanna, you reminded me that Brother J. and I are both descended from Jesse N. Smith, which would make the young father in the post mostly likely my 4th cousin. Crazy!

    Speaking of small world family connections, I have a post in mind that I’ve been thinking about since I was a teen, though when I first conceived of it, it was going to be a movie, not a blog post. Watch for it.

  6. I took a class on social networks last semester and ended up coming up with a list of five reasons why the mormon world is so interconnected in a way the rest of the world isn’t (wards based on geography, high attendance of universities in Utah, mission, etc). I really think someone should write a book on this, or at least a decent article. Its too bad that effective social networks experiments are difficult, because there really is something fascinating about just how small the mormon world is.

    And JA Benson, some friends and I have developed the theory that the church’s focus on genealogy is really all about inbreeding avoidance.

  7. My favorite story of this sort involved two college roommates, K and G, who lived downstairs from me. G was invited to share Thanksgiving with K’s family, who lived not so far away. When G chatted with K’s mother it was learned that before she married K’s father, she had been engaged to G’s father.

  8. On my Dad’s mission, he and his companion felt inspired one night to go tracking on a certain street, where they met the B family. They taught them a couple of times, but then my Dad was transferred to a different area. Fast forward about 30 years, and my fiance and I were at dinner with our parents where they were meeting for the first time. My MIL mentioned that she had lived in ****, NY, and my dad vaguely remembered teaching a B family, but he thought it was a different part of NY. After the dinner, we went home and my dad got out his mission journals. It turns out he had tracked out my MIL’s family (and recorded it in his journal), and she had gotten baptized a few months after he was transferred.
    I always knew we met in the pre-existence! :-D Actually, there was a Mormon Journal article in the Ensign a few years back. It’s kind of a fun bit of connection for us.

  9. I just want to say that I love reading these stories at M*. Thanks Ben.

  10. Megan#6- The story behind our “inbreeding” is I have always been interested in Family History. Since DH and I are both from pioneer lines in every direction, I checked both of our genealogies way before we got married. As it turns out my FIL did not disclose a name change in one of the lines and naturally that was it.

    As for “inbreeding” biologist have established that humans subconsciously seek out people who are similar to them genetically for friends and mates. We subconsciously send out some kind of homing signal to our “own” and our “own” respond. Crazy, but true.

  11. On my mission I was talking to my trainer while waiting for a bus one day. The topic of his girlfriend came up, and he showed me her picture. I was shocked and said “hey that’s Ann” (or whatever her name was) She was in my ward at Ricks College and I hometaught her and her roommates.

    At the end of my mission I was training a kid from American Fork, and one day I asked my companion if he knew a certain girl I had dated in High School who had since moved to American Fork. Turns out they were best friends.

  12. Ben do you keep a journal? You should archive everything you write, and save it forever like your scriptophile sister. I love reading the little glimpses into your experience.

    Oh yeah, we had a potluck at work some time ago, and as it turns out, the guy who brought the veggie tray is our third/fourth cousin once removed. He sits in a cubicle around the corner from my department. Crazy!

  13. I moved quite a bit as a child. We had a new Ward every couple of years. In every single one we found ward members we were related to. The pattern contined after I moved out. I even had Mission companions I was related to.

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