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24 October 2008

It's Catching! More Cousins Discovered in the Library...

It seldom happens that you meet someone in person whom you connect to genealogically, although it seems to be happening quite frequently at the CGS Library. First Marianne Frey, Dick Rees and Lavinia Schwarz discovered that they shared New England ancestors, then board members John Moore and Shirley Thomson found that they were fifth cousins, once removed.

Now it has happened again to member Dorothy Koenig, nationally-recognized expert on early Dutch families in New Amsterdam. On Saturday, November 11, 2008. Dorothy volunteered her services as a consultant as part of the California Genealogical Society October Family History Month activities. Laura Spurrier, one of our volunteer librarians, signed up for a one-on-one, members only session with Dorothy. Laura was pretty sure she had a Dutch line but needed help documenting a link in the early nineteenth century. Laura came to the meeting with charts to help explain the problem. Dorothy looked, looked some more, and came to the realization that one of Laura's charts contained her own ancestors! The cousins connect via the Hegeman, Van Wyck, Polhemius and Rapalje families.

The story became even more astounding when another CGS volunteer librarian entered the discussion. Barbara Hill was also in the library that day and connects to both Dorothy and Laura through the early Rapalje line. Just like that – three instant cousins, instead of two.

Dorothy wrote to let me know that the cousins share another coincidence: "All three of us – Laura, Barbara, and I – have retired from our careers at the Library on the University of California Berkeley campus. It must be the genes we share!"

So is there a statistician out there who can calculate the odds of finding a cousin at the California Genealogical Society Library? They're starting to look pretty good to me!