Family Search’s “Family History Activities”

Tuesday Tips
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I was reading Randy Seaver’s blog, Genea-Musings, where he used FamilySearch’s Famous Relatives and found he was related to Lucille Ball. I thought that is kind of cool. I wonder if I am related also. Sure enough, according to Famous Relatives, I am. Lucy is my 9th cousin once removed. Interestingly, I’m related through Lucy’s mother’s line while Randy is related through Lucy’s father’s line.  On my side, Lucy is related through my father’s line – Roberts-Barnes-Taft line.  It is fun and interesting, but is it accurate?  Maybe.

My research has tentatively found John Whitney s my 5th great-grandfather. I need to research more to discover his mother and three more generations to get to Lucy and my common ancestors Anthony Day (1624-1707) and Susannah Matchett (1623-1717). I might get there someday.

I hadn’t tried Famous Relatives before, so I looked at its capabilities a little more. They have a category of relatives called “Trailblazers.” It showed that I am descended from 15 of the Mayflower passengers. Joan Hurst, a Mayflower passenger, is my 12th great-grandmother on my mother’s father’s (Richard Earl Brown) line. Richard Warren, another Mayflower passenger) is my 10th great-grandfather on my Roberts-Barnes side.

Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor by William Halsall (1882) – Public Domain

My research had never found a Mayflower passenger in my direct lineage, but now, thanks to Famous Relatives, I have 15 lines to follow to potential Mayflower passengers. I’ll bet at least one of them is right. I can see I have lots more research to do on my Roberts and Brown lines. I just wish I could figure out how to do it so my wife’s famous relatives would be identified.

“Famous Relatives” is one of 18 new “Family History Activities” presented by Family Search. Another of the activities is “Where am I from.” A quick look at it shows I have two ancestors from Maine (and 19 in England). One of my ancestors is again John Whitney’s mother, Phebe Day. She apparently was born in Wells, Maine in 1721. She is a second reason to research my Whitney-Day ancestors in depth. Another of my “Maine Ancestors” is wrong. It shows a relationship through Henry Mack Brown’s (1845-1906) wife, Chloey Lavinia Andrews (1846-1885). However, I am confident Henry and Chloey are not the parents of Arthur D. Brown. I’ve written about that error before.[i] I just don’t know how to change it in Family Search, or if I should.

In any event, having a Maine ancestor gives me hope for a reason for in-person Maine research. Wells is only a quick half-hour drive away.

Regardless of rights and wrongs, the various “Family History Activities” at FamilySearch can give hints for further research and might even motivate you to research a particular line in greater depth.


Bump research for
41. Lucy Wilson Taft (___-___),
82. Asa Taft (1774-1839), and
83. Sarah Whitney (1773-1811) up and continue researching various potential Mayflower lineages.


[i] William Henry  Brown (1843-1888) and Marion Sanford (1846-1895) are Arthur’s parents.

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