“We’re Related” – Part 4
by Don Taylor
So, my wife says to me, “I thought you were going to look at my family also in “We’re Related.” I had mentioned in my first article, “We’re Related – My Possible Relatives – First Look,” that I was looking forward to seeing how well the app did looking at her family.
Switching user trees in “We’re Related” is cumbersome. You need to add another tree, identify yourself in that tree, then remove your old tree from being used. Also, the app uses your name from somewhere and not the tree and person you are saying you are. In any event, the app uses my photo instead of my wife’s even though it uses her name in some places and my name in other locations. It is frustrating, but nothing you can’t think your way around. It just tells me that the app was intended only for one person and one tree.
I researched my wife’s tree before and learned Patrick Swayze was my wife’s ninth cousin. I also read that John Cameron Swayze (Timex – takes a licking and keeps on ticking) was related to Patrick, so must be related to my wife also but I didn’t trace the relationship. I figured one or both of them would show up in “We’re Related.” I was wrong. Neither of them are in the first potential cousins suggested. “We’re Related suggested the following relationships:
- Michelle Obama 8th Cousin, 2x Removed 8 Generations to the common ancestor
- Elon Musk 8th Cousin, 2x Removed 8 “
- Miley Cyrus 7th Cousin, 1x Removed 7 “
- Britney Spears 8th Cousin, 2x Removed 8 “
- Johnny Depp 7th Cousin, 3x Removed 7 “
- Christina Aguilera 8th Cousin, 2x Removed 8 “
“We’re Related” extends family trees to a common ancestor, I figured the shorter the line, the more likely it would be that I could confirm a relationship. Miley Cyrus and Johnny Depp were the closest famous people suggested by the app with only seven generations before the common ancestor. Of individuals with eight individuals before the common ancestor, I thought she’s like the idea that Michelle Obama was related, so I selected her from the “eights.”
Miley Ray Cyrus
Born Destiny Hope Cyrus in 1992, Miley Cyrus is a singer, songwriter, and actress. She is known for her role as Penny in the animated movie “Bolt,” where she not only starred but was nominated for a Golden Globe award for the original song, “I Thought I Lost You.” She and my wife are supposedly 7th cousins, 1x removed. The relationship follows the Howell/Hobbs line:
- Clarence Howell
- Mary L. Hobbs
- Annie Deborah Long
- Martha Ann Bryan
- Cherry Price
- Mary Brown Agreed
- Hardy Brown
- William Brown – Supposed Common Ancestor.
I have looked carefully at Mary Hobbs, Annie Long, Martha Bryan, and Cherry Price’s lives and written about them (as noted above). I agree that Cherry Price’s mother appears to be Mary Brown. I suspect Hardy Brown is Mary Brown’s father, but I haven’t confirmed that yet. I have no knowledge of William Brown nor a clue regarding Hardy Brown’s parents. My wife’s relationship with Miley Cyrus is very possible.
John Christopher Depp, II, is a famous actor, producer, and musician. He is best known for his roles in “Edward Scissorhands,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.” He was born in 1963 in Kentucky. He and my wife are supposedly 7th cousins, 3x removed. The relationship follows the Howell/Pankey line:
- Clarence Fletcher Howell
- James Dallas Howell (1879-1964)
- Peter Fletcher Howell (1842-1924)
- Caroline M. A Pankey, (1810 … ?)
- Thomas A Pankey (c. 1760 – 1829)
- Samuel Pankey Agree
- Stephen Pankey Unknown
- Jean Panetier Unknown
I have looked carefully at Howell/Pankey line through Thomas A. Pankey, and I agree that Thomas’s father was likely Samuel Pankey. I have no knowledge of Stephen Pankey being Thomas Pankey’s father nor have I seen anything suggesting the Panetier surname. My wife’s relationship with Johnny Depp is possible.
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born in Chicago, IL, in 1964 and married Barack Obama in 1992. She campaigned for her husband in 2008 and became First Lady of the United States with his inauguration on January 20, 2009. Michelle and my wife are supposedly 8th cousins, 2x removed. The relationship follows the Darling line exclusively on my wife’s side.
- Robert Harry Darling (1907-1969)
- Rufus Harry Darling (1857-1917)
- Rufus Holton Darling (1816-1857)
- Abner Darling (1780-1839)
- Abner Darling (1747-1800)
- Ebenezer Darling (1718-1790)
- Benjamin Darling (1687-1772)
- Dennis Darling (1640-1717) – Common Ancestor – Agree!
This is the first “We’re Related” suggested famous person relationship wherein their suggestion of a common ancestor is an ancestor known to me and one with I agree. I have confirmed that Dennis Darling (1640-1717) had at least ten children. One was my wife’s ancestor Benjamin; one was Michelle’s supposed ancestor, John. Although I don’t have their names, I am fairly sure that John had at least 13 children, one of whom could easily have been Martha Darling. I suspect that the genealogical research for the famous people, like Michelle Obama, is pretty solid, so I’m am fairly confident that the relationship of Michelle Obama being my wife’s 8th cousin twice removed, is very probable.
“We’re Related” has not suggested any of our friends are related to my wife yet.
Relationships to Famous People
I have expanded my chart, Relationships to Famous People and have moved it to a Google Spreadsheet.
“We’re Related” is a fun little app to look at possibilities. It pleases me to think that Michelle Obama and my wife are related. But more importantly, “We’re Related” helps me think about key relationships in my tree and has the potential of providing clues into further research. Ancestry has clearly improved its algorithms and appears to use feedback from researchers so that matches aren’t presented that are unlikely or impossible.