August 24, 2014

Two Degrees of Separation: SNGF

Randy Seaver always posts the most interesting questions for his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun series on his Genea-Musings blog. I usually don’t get the chance to participate in a timely manner, but this week’s challenge caught my eye right away. Randy asks:

1)  Using your ancestral lines, how far back in time can you go with two degrees of separation?  That means "you knew an ancestor, who knew another ancestor."  When was that second ancestor born?

2)  Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, in a status line on Facebook or a stream post on Google Plus.

Ok, Randy, here’s my answer:

When I was a toddler, my grandmother’s side of the family gathered for a five-generation picture. Although I don’t have any memory of that day, both I and my great-great-grandmother, Minnie (King) Steele, were in it. My mother recently gave me another picture of Minnie holding me.

Minnie King was born November 23, 1873, in Cheshire Township in Gallia County, Ohio. She had just turned 88 years old when she died on December 13, 1961, not long after our picture was taken. Mom says she was her usual cheery and active self right up to the end.

Minnie King Steele 1873-1961 Ohio
Great-great-grandma Minnie (King) Steele and me, 1961

As I looked for the earliest family member Minnie might have known, I breezed past her father and mother, Newel and Electa (Roush) King. I considered her grandfather, Gideon Roush, who lived until July 1894, when Minnie was 20 years old. Could I do better than that?

Yes. Minnie’s life overlapped with her great-grandmother, Hannah (Roush) Roush. Hannah was born December 30, 1790, and died in Cheshire Township at the age of 85 on March 26, 1876. Minnie was about two and a half years old at the time, living in the same small community. How I wish I had a photo of them together!

So with two degrees of separation, my life touched my great-great-grandmother, whose life touched her great-grandmother, who was born as the calendar turned from 1790 to 1791. That’s 223 years and counting.

Kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

We are closer to history than we realize.



  1. It DOES boggle the mind! My husband's grandmother & grand aunt are alive & in their 90's. I recently realized that I had Civil War ancestors still alive when they were children. Did they hear stories of the Civil War from people who'd fought in it? That just sounds crazy. But, I'm going to ask!

  2. Your g-g-grandmother looks so pleased to be holding you, Shelley! How fun that you can go back 223 years! Imagine the stories that could have been passed down.

  3. Wow, what a potential opportunity, Dana. You'll have to let me know what they say. I suppose it's a long shot, but yes, it's sure worth asking. Best of luck!

  4. Nancy, I wish some stories had been passed down, but I'm really hard pressed to recall any. I'm not through digging yet, though :) Right now I'm trying to preserve as much as I can about the people within that first degree of separation. And who knows, maybe I'll find a distant cousin who knows tales from the more distant past...


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