The New England Genealogical Historic Society announced last week that President Obama and Massachusetts senator-elect, Scott Brown, are 10th cousins. Both the President’s mother and Brown’s mother are descendants of Richard Singletary (1585-1687) of Massachusetts. The two men’s cousinship proves a theory that I came up with years ago while researching my family genealogy–go back ten generations and you will have more cousins than you can shake a stick at.
When Dad submitted a DNA sample to Family Tree DNA in 2008, the test results verified my papertrail leading to John Young who settled in southeastern Virginia, near the Cumberland Gap, in the 1780s. But I was surprised that the test revealed an equally close DNA link to a second John Young (1778-1836) of Buckfield, Oxford County, Maine.
Here’s how my “We’re All Cousins” theory works. My mother’s great-great grandfather, Dodridge Bryant (family legend says he is related to William Cullen Bryant) was born in Massachusetts. Seeing how Maine is less than 100 miles from Massachusetts, it is entirely possible that my parents’ lines intersect within the last ten generations. On top of that, I am probably related to President Obama. You’re doubtful, you say? Consider the probability that Obama and George Walker Bush are related. Yep, they too can call each other “cousin”, although they had to go back eleven generations to find a common ancestor.
President Obama is also kin to James Madison, Dick Cheney, Winston Churchill, Jimmy Carter, Robert E. Lee, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Harry S. Truman, and Brad Pitt.
So, go back ten generations–alright, make it twelve— and you will be claiming most of your co-workers, neighbors, and, very likely, President Obama, as cousins.