Finding Relatives

RelativeFinder.org is an amazing website for determining relationships between people. With the updated interface, you can use it to determine relationships between any two people who have records in FamilySearch.org.

Hey, Cousin!

It has been amazing to me to see how I’m related to people I would never think had any kinship to me at all. For example, the current mission president in my area comes from a Jewish family. Yet he’s my 10th cousin. His wife is also a 10th cousin, though along a different line.

One of the fun things Relative Finder does is tell you if/how you are related to various famous people. Want to know if you have actors or athletes or scientists in the family tree? Relative Finder can do that for you.

The image above is from the Rapelje home circa 1800. Joris Rapelje (19) and his bride, Catalynje Trico (18) were amongst the first settlers of New Amsterdam (now New York City). Catalynje is my 11th Great Grandmother. Her daughter (also my direct-line ancestor) was the first European child born in New Amsterdam (a settlement on the southern tip of Manhatten).

Curious whether two people you are researching might be related? Just grab the Person ID (PID) number (XXXX-XXX format) for the two folks in Family Search and go to “Connect: Connect two deceased people” or use “Relatives: Masquerade” to search out famous relatives of a deceased person.

Turns out Emma Hale [Smith] is my 4th cousin (a few times removed). Her Relief Society officers are also cousins or direct ancestors (for example, Eliza Snow is a 6th cousin).

Not everyone who has fascinated me is a cousin.

I adore Catherine Laur [Fuller Warren], but she is not my cousin. Her husband, who died at Haun’s Mill, is a cousin, however. For a moment, I thought maybe I could reserve ordinance work for her children, one of whom (John Fuller) I entered into Family Search after finding his records in 2016. Alas, someone else enjoyed the privilege of performing his proxy ordinances, less than two weeks after I added him to Family Search.

Another person I adore is Marie Boulen [du Four], an early Walloon protestant who died around 1650. I tumbled across Marie when a daughter was doing proxy baptisms a few years ago. Marie’s husband and son emigrated to New Amsterdam with the new Mme du Four after Marie’s death. Even though the island of Manhatten used to be a tiny place, which Marie’s son shared with my Walloon ancestors, I do not appear to be related to Marie Boulen.

No More Strangers

Though we might not all be traceable cousins, our congregations are filled with people who are in turn kin to much of the world. The ancestors and cousins of your friends undoubtedly include individuals from every political stripe and nation in the world. The other night I learned that a friend’s grandfather was a key adviser to General Franco of Spain.

I myself am grand-daughter of a former General who served Chiang Kai-shek. Through that lineage, I am undoubtedly related to millions of Chinese in Fujian province and Taiwan.

Our family is currently reading the portion of Alma that talks of the missionary labors of Ammon and Aaron. They chose to minister to a nation with whom their ancestors had been at war for centuries, even though lore told them the two nations arose from a common parentage. This willingness to sacrifice on behalf of former enemies is a tale we don’t see in the Bible, other than in the sacrifice of Christ himself. And Christ himself never directly ministered to those outside the family of Israel. The closest the Bible comes to the inclusive love of Ammon and Aaron is the story of how Jonah, under duress, was eventually willing to preach to the people of Nineveh.

The entire Book of Mormon is a love letter from a doomed people to us, people to whom they were not known kin. Throughout the Book of Mormon, we learn of God’s desire to unite us all with our best hope of heaven, God’s commitment to the covenant He made with us from before the foundation of the world.

I encourage you to reach out to learn more about your relatives, the struggles they endured, the cultures they embraced, and the good they did. In today’s polarized world, we can find unity and perspective through understanding our relatives in the complex human past. We can push past labels and xenophobia to find commonality and shared history.

This entry was posted in General by Meg Stout. Bookmark the permalink.

About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

7 thoughts on “Finding Relatives

  1. I just checked, and don’t find any family connections to Joris Rapelje–or to any of the variant spellings that I could find among his descendants on Family Search. I do feel some kinship to the family, though, because just two blocks west of our home in Brooklyn is Rapelye Street. It’s just two blocks long, and those two blocks are separated by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but it’s a link to the early days of the Dutch settlement in New York.

  2. Hi Mark! It’s Mike F. Liz says hi! We miss Brooklyn.

    Andrew was in our ward here for a couple of years here in Az.

  3. The last time I looked at RelativeFinder a few years ago, it was making random connections between people for no apparent reason in order to create a link. It doesn’t seem to be doing that anymore, although that may be because it looks like someone’s made a link in FamilySearch that looks to be almost certainly wrong, and all my connections to notable people all go through this wrong link.

  4. Ah, well if you family tree in FamilySearch.org is wrong, then relationships in RelativeFinder.org will also be wrong.

    You can reach out for an assist to get the incorrect information corrected. I think if you go under the “Help” tab you should be able to open a case to get things corrected.

  5. I now have better insight into why I have such a hard time finding a relative with any temple ordinances that aren’t done…

    Out of curiosity, I checked to see if I am related to President Joy D. Jones (and by extension, to my sister-in-law). Unfortunately for President Jones, her parents are deceased. Fortunately for me, that means I could find them in Family Search. Putting their PIDs into Relative Finder then sifting through to eliminate dupicates, I find that between our 15 generation charts, we have 146 unique common ancestors.

    I bet if I were to repeat this exercise with every notable Church leader (the kind with bios and parents listed on lds.org), I would find that I have tens of thousands of common ancestors with these notable leaders (there are roughly 65,000 ancestors in a 15 generation ancestry tree, assuming they are all unique (which is rarely the case)).

    Now that Family Search makes it trivially easy to search one’s 15 generation chart for any temple work that has not yet been performed, all my thousands (upon thousands) of cousins who are faithful members of the Church have helped complete almost all the work in my personal 15 generation corner of humanity.

    Cool!

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