Famous Mennonites I’m Related To!

I love Grandma’s Window! In case you’re unfamiliar, it’s a Low German Mennonite genealogy website. I think in the future, I’ll do a post where I give a run-down of all the features, but here’s a fun one if you’re just getting started.

In addition to more important stuff, like creating a family tree, you can also search for more or less any Mennonite and see how closely you’re related. This is great for dating couples, but also for more trivial things like discovering which celebrities you’re related to. For example, here’s a rundown of some Menno celebs who are my distant frintschoft. (I’ve also included their grandmaonline numbers for easy reference).

  • Children’s entertainer Fred Penner (#371880)- 5th cousins twice removed!
  • Simpsons creator Matt Groening (#28112) – 7th cousins once removed.
  • Former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall (#1276619) – 6th cousin once removed
  • Mennonite historian and U of W professor Royden Loewen (#125408) – 2nd cousin once removed (Woah, that’s close!)
  • Novelist Miriam Toews (#251012) – 5th cousins. (Andrew is related to her in 33 different ways!)
  • Olympic speed skater Cindy Klassen (#1343384) – 8th cousins.
  • Author Rudy Wiebe (#607518) – no relation…
  • Legendary Hollywood actor Cary Grant (#333817) – 5th cousin-in-law once removed – (He was married to actress Dyan Cannon, who was born Diane Friesen (#333816))
  • Renowned Science Fiction writer A.E. Van Vogt (#86972) – 5th cousins twice removed
  • Kleine Gemeinde founder Klaas Reimer (#3944) – 4th granddaughter-in-law (via Andrew)
  • Steinbach mayor/butcher Earl Funk (#359693) – 5th cousin
  • Singer-songwriter John Denver (#328867) – 5 cousins twice removed. Our common ancestor is a Johann Koop.
  • Daily Bonnet writer and my husband Andrew Unger (#529462) – 5th cousin. Ahhhhhhhh!

It’s easy to use. If you don’t have a grandmaonline account, sign up today! Then, you just go to “Relationship Search.” If you know the Grandma’s Window number you can type it where it says “Surname”. If you don’t, you can search for the full first and last name (where you may have to select from a number of individuals with the same name).

Then, after a few minutes (they’ve recently made improvements to the website that really speed up the time), you’ll get a chart that looks like this! You might get more than one chart if you’re related in more than one way… which is common with Mennonites. For example, here’s my relationship chart with Matt Groening. Our common ancestors are Peter Epp and Anna Klassen, both born in the 1680s! It’s also interesting to see where Matt got the name for some of the Simpsons characters. Notice that his father’s name was Homer and his grandfather’s name was Abram.

Grandma’s Window can be used for much more serious things, but I must say, this was a lot of fun! Which Mennonite celebrities are you related to?