We Are Family

Happy Throwback Thursday, friends!  One of the projects I mentioned working on prior to my most recent absence from the blogosphere was that I had uncovered some pretty cool genealogical finds within my family, and two in particular that I want to share today.  Now, I fully recognize what a boring subject ancestry can be, especially when you’re talking about someone else’s family, but I think if you’ll stick with me here, you’ll see that it’s worth the read. 

Honestly, when I started looking into my family’s history, I didn’t really have much interest in genealogy at all, but I took on a project following the death of my Grandma (who raised me and was really my mother).  I wanted to do something to honor her which would also help me deal with my grief.  She was really proud of her parents and siblings, so this seemed like the logical choice.  First, I researched and then designed a book that showed both Grandma and Granddaddy’s heritage and how each branch of their families relocated and such until the stars aligned for the two of them to meet.  Most of Grandma’s family started in England and made their way to North Carolina.  Many of Granddaddy’s family originated right here in America since his mother was half-Cherokee, and I picked up their trail in South Carolina.

The cover of the book I made

Grandma and Granddaddy met as teenagers in a small town in North Florida where she was born and had been raised and near the town where he was born and had been raised.  During my lifetime, neither of them seemed to know a whole lot about their own ancestors past the names of their grandparents.  That’s why this first cool thing I’m about to share makes me particularly sad that they aren’t alive anymore for me to show them…

I found numerous documents backing up the trail of where each family had originated and moved further south through the generations… And that’s when one particular document seemed familiar while I was researching her family… Because I had already seen it when I researched his family!  Turns out that Granddaddy’s mother’s father’s father’s father and Grandma’s mother’s father’s father were both residents of a small town in Georgia in the 1830s, and both were Privates in the same regiment under the same Captain in the Indian Wars there!

(Of course, it goes without saying, I don’t like the injustice to the indigenous people, and I don’t even understand it considering Granddaddy’s mother was half-indigenous herself, but how cool is it that their ancestors knew each other!)

(To add to the weird coincidences found throughout history, when I later did research for my next-door neighbor and made her family’s genealogy book, I found documentation where her 3x great grandfather sold land to my 4x great grandfather —  in a city approximately 200 miles from where we both live!)

Finally, growing up, I always knew Grandma – whose maiden name was Milton – was related to John Milton the poet (born in 1608), and we also knew she was not a direct descendant of the poet.  I was able to crack the code and find documentation to show how we’re related – with Grandma being the poet’s first cousin 9 times removed.  (That’s not the cool thing yet.)  Turns out the poet’s paternal grandfather had one son that was the poet’s dad, one son that was Grandma’s 9th great grandfather, and one son that was among those missing in the lost Roanoke Colony.  (Still not the cool thing yet.)

John Milton, the poet

Now, fast forward from 1608 to 1807 when another John Milton was born in Georgia.  This John Milton ended up being the fifth Governor of Florida during most of the Civil War.  (He was a very prejudiced man and killed himself upon learning that the South lost.)  Several sources claim this John Milton was a direct descendant of the poet John Milton, though I’ve also found some conflicting documents that seem to indicate he was actually the 5th great grandson of the brother (that was also Grandma’s direct ancestor) of the poet’s father.  At any rate, I think you can imagine that either way, we’re going back as many as ten generations from Grandma’s children to wherever they and the Governor John Milton’s family meshes together.  (Now we’re finally going to see the other cool thing.)

Which is why it’s so strange that being separated by a few hundred years, a couple of continents, and a few generations, Grandma’s son, my own Uncle David, is the living doppelganger to the aforementioned governor!  What do you think?

The governor is on the left and Uncle David is on the right.  The truth is, if Uncle David wasn’t wearing the hat, his hair and hairline at the time he was that age also looked exactly like the governor’s, but the only other non-hat photos I had of him at that age were of his profile.

(I have to admit, as strange as this is, I can’t take credit for actually discovering it.  Uncle David was up at the Florida State Capitol Building and, while waiting for his wife, stood in the corridor minding his business when some tourists came up to him and wanted to shake his hand.  They told him what a magnificent actor the state had selected in portraying the former governor.  Uncle David was perplexed until he looked over his shoulder and realized he was standing directly in front of a portrait of his cousin the governor.)

Let’s talk:  Do you know of any unrelated people who met long before their descendants also met?  Do you have any family members who look just like another distant family member?  Do you think Uncle David should try to pick up some extra income standing around the State Capitol building portraying the former governor? 

19 thoughts on “We Are Family

  1. Oh that I had come from posh stock, young Rachel. I can only talk of the gypsy, Eliza Mean born in the 17th century to talk of…having said that I am a tad proud of my Romani part-pedigree. A very fine post indeed. Best wishes, The Old Fool without a horse and caravan.

  2. Wow Rachel, you sure have done a lot of work to get this far. It’s amazing how much your Uncle looks like the Governor! Uncanny. I have found some of my ancestors but just really dont know where to go next. Cudos to you. Your gramma and grampa would be so amazed by what you have found.

  3. Hi Rachel – I learned of your article from The Milton Reunion Facebook page. Fascinating! When I was doing family research many years ago, I read in a book that our Miltons are descended from Lord Christopher Milton, who was Lord Chancellor of England in the 1609s. The book said that he was poet John Milton’s brother.
    Your Uncle David is definitely Governor John’s doppelgänger. Amazing resemblance!

    • Hi, Trish… First of all, thank you for visiting my blog! You know how many variations of the old records there can be. I think between your findings of us being from the poet’s brother, or mine of us being from the poet’s dad’s brother, we’re both probably close to the truth, but who knows if we’ll ever really know. 🙂

  4. It’s funny how genes and characteristics travel through generations.
    My older daughter and I have done some genealogy. We even hired someone (just for a few hours of work) to try to find out a bit more in Russian/Jewish records.

    • That’s so cool. Did you have much success? It’s been my experience that the Mormons have the most accurate info. Of course so much is lost in the past as far as a lot of what we’d like to know, i.e., Jewish records, slavery records, Native American records, etc.

      • We only paid for 5 hours of research, I think. We have family trees on Ancestry, but I haven’t done any other research in a while. Yes, Mormons have extensive records as part of their religious beliefs. We don’t read Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, etc., so need someone who can navigate and read those records. Do you watch Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates on PBS?

      • No, I haven’t heard of it, but it sounds interesting. I did some work for my boss whose grandparents come from Italy, and was able to get on an Italian and use Google to translate a lot of it for me, and I got quite a bit of info. If you can find the Russian or Yiddish already typed (so you can copy & paste), you can get a decent enough translation on Google now. If you want to see if the Mormons have anything that can help, it’s a free website and very user-friendly: https://www.familysearch.org/

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