So, I’ve finally printed off all the ancestors that Grandma’s Window was able to find for me… and I find myself automatically drawn to the extremes.
The nearest extreme is the Koops, as I already have the touchstones of name and location. My great-great-great-grandfather showed up here back in the 1870’s with my great-great-grandfather in tow (along with the rest of the family… I haven’t looked into that) and the Koops have stayed put ever-after. So I guess I come by it honestly, that I walk past the hospital I was born in, every day. I haven’t strayed very far.
And the furthest extreme is Francis Thijssen, 12 or 13 generations back, in the 1500’s, in Belgium. I strongly suspect Francis is an ancestor of absolutely every Mennonite residing in North America today. I learned that I was descended from Francis when Andrew and I were having lunch in Ghent (after having just seen the castle in which Mennonites had been put to death in the 1500’s).
But what about all those names in between? What about my 8 great-great-grandmothers? I’m just as much a Baerg or a Giesbrecht or a Janzen or a Kroeker or a Pauls or a Dueck or a Dyck or… a Bergman.
Well, it’s time I told you the truth: Andrew and I are fifth cousins.
I still remember the fateful day that we laughingly plugged our names into Grandma’s Window… then watched in horror as the various ways in which we’re related loaded onto the screen.
I’m kidding about the “horror” part. I was just being dramatic. We actually just laughed… and we may have even high-fived. Our closest common ancestor is Jacob Thiessen born in 1785 in Prussia. There were fewer Mennonites back then, so I think it’s somewhat inevitable that many of us Russian Mennonite folk are 5th cousins at the very least.
So… yes, Francis is our common ancestor. But we’re related closer than that too. But hey, it’s not like my grandma could detect the relation!