Friday, February 5, 2016

My Long, Long Lost Cousin

It would have made a perfect French Country blog post
if I'd discovered some interesting French person in my genealogy research. 
But nope. English and Irish through and through. 
Still, I found some fascinating folk in my family tree including one really big surprise.

Here's an old photo from a family reunion in the 1920's. Rather a glum lot, isn't it?
My father is in the second row from the bottom, second from the right. 
The "bowl" haircut was definitely in.

It's thrilling when you start looking at your family's roots, 
to see who fought in what war and on what side! 
But it gets downright amazing when you can trace your relatives back 
to before this country was a country.

I started this journey when the TV show, "Who Do You Think You Are," first aired. 
I was hooked after the first episode.

My sister and I signed onto and went to work.

My phone would ring and she would shout, "Guess what I found!" 
or I would call her in Ohio and yell, "You aren't going to believe this!"
It was one of my phone calls to her that started out that way and ended with "I don't believe it!"

I still wonder if it's true.

I was skimming through some online records, tracing my known relatives back to the 1700s 
when a familiar name popped up.

Here's a photo of this person's boyhood home. Can you guess whose house it is?

Now, are you ready to see my famous relative?

Drum roll please  . . . . .

It's . . . Abraham Lincoln!!!


That's what I said!
Yes indeedy, that's what the records showed.
(Sorry for the poor quality of the picture below taken from the computer.)

My father's surname is Shipley and I was able to trace my lineage back to a woman named
Nancy Hanks (yep, seems I might be related to Tom Hanks too!)
You can see Nancy's mother, Lucy Shipley Hanks, at the bottom of the chart above.
But I digress.
Here's a picture of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham's mother.

And here's a picture of me.
Imagine me gaunt and dour-looking instead of perky and wearing a cowboy hat.
See the family resemblance? Yeah, me neither. Well, maybe a little bit.

Anyway, Nancy's mother, Lucy Shipley, was a direct descendant of our
original Shipley family that settled in Maryland in 1668. 
Nancy married a man named Thomas Lincoln and their son was Abraham. 

As in President Abraham Lincoln!!!

I was born in southeastern Ohio; Lincoln was born just down the road in Kentucky.
Lincoln's mother's line can be traced to Robert Shipley. Same as mine.

Now, I realize there is all kinds of controversy about this relationship. 
(She was definitely the president's mother
but some say Nancy was from a different Shipley line;
others claim there's no proof of her birth to Lucy Shipley Hanks, etc. etc.).

But I like to think it's true. 
Hey, if it's on the Internet, it must be true. Right?

So, on Lincoln's birthday Feb. 12, I feel proud that maybe, just maybe, 
he's a long lost cousin.


  1. What a lovely posting. I am with you - might as well go with Cousin Lincoln. We have lived in Colorado Springs 22 years (I also had a shop in Old Colorado City 21 years) but we are in the process of moving to Missouri.

    1. Hi Bernideen, Wish I'd known you were in the Springs. I would have checked out your shop! Good luck in MO!

  2. Well, I personally think this is really cool. Wondering what town you're from in OH - bet it's very close to me in Chas WV! We have the genealogy of both sides of my parents (my Dad's people are Mormon, so that was very easily obtainable from LDS). We have a bit of notoriety in our lineage too which I have yet to divulge. ;)

    1. Hi Rita! Yes, we're almost neighbors. I'm from a very little town on the Ohio River called Brilliant (just south of Steubenville). I've used the LDS records too. Priceless!

    2. Hi Rita! Yes, we're almost neighbors. I'm from a very little town on the Ohio River called Brilliant (just south of Steubenville). I've used the LDS records too. Priceless!

  3. Before I read your answer I thought the tall man on the back row WAS Lincoln!

    1. Hi Patricia, I hadn't noticed that before but now I definitely see the resemblance!

  4. It's so much fun to look back - you never know who you'll find!

  5. Pat,

    I just loved this post. I enjoy genealogy and for this reason. How exciting to find out you could be related to a former President and one of my favorite movie stars.


  6. How amazing! It's nice to think that one can have such a famous ancestor in the family
    I have mainly Irish and Ukrainian roots, and those roots are very vague as my ancestors were very poor and came to this country as refugees in their time. My daughter-in-law knows her family lineage back to the 1600's on both her mother's and father's side.

    1. Thanks Pat. Your family history sounds so interesting. So glad you stopped by for a visit.

  7. What a fabulous man to be related to! I just knew that was his log cabin. I certainly do see the family resemblance. We do a lot of genealogy in our church. My sis is a lot better at it than I am. Just need to take the time! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Hey Jann! Thanks for visiting. I'm sure everyone has an interesting ancestor tucked away in a closet somewhere!

  8. This is a fun find! I like the TV show Finding Your Roots. My cousin dug our maternal line for me a few years ago when I published a book about my mother. I didn't find anyone famous but there is supposedly an Indian Princess. A paternal aunt wrote a book about my father's side years ago, and she did all the research the hard way: trekking through cemeteries and courthouses. Mostly they were all cattle rustlers, horse thieves and moonshiners, nobody famous there either.

    1. Thanks Scribbler. I think cattle rustlers and moonshiners are famous in their own right! I'm sure I've got a couple of those too.

  9. Wow....great find. Coming from the Land of Lincoln, Illinois, we have made the trek to all the Lincolns' homes, so I have visited your great---greats....home. LOL. Small world, love this story, true or not! And if you did a dour face, I imagine that you would have a resemblance to the Nancy Lincoln. Sandi

    1. Thanks for visiting Sandi. I'd love to see those homes some day. Working on the dour look!

  10. Actually, I read an Abraham Lincoln quote on the internet that said, "You can't trust everything you read on the Internet".

    How fun to trace your ancestry. My father's side has been traced back to France hundreds of years ago. But the only famous person we came up with was Jesse James! My great grandmother was a James.

    Have fun as you and your sister continue your search and Thanks for Sharing Your Cup!

    1. Wow! Jesse James is pretty cool too! Ron's family is related to the Clantons from the OK Corral. Who knew?

    2. Wow! Jesse James is pretty cool too! Ron's family is related to the Clantons from the OK Corral. Who knew?

  11. Genealogy is such a fascinating hobby, Pat. Here's hoping you're related to Lincoln (and yes, I do think you look like his mother--great portrait of you btw). We traced our ancestry back to someone on the Mayflower, but like you, we have one weak link :( Thanks for partying with us at Vintage Charm.

    1. Thanks Diana. It's hard to beat Mayflower ancestry. Very cool. Let's chose to ignore those weak links!

  12. That is fascinating. My mother is very into her ancestry and she is always linking us to someone. The most famous person is Winston Churchill's Mother Jennie Jerome. That would make Winston my 6th cousin once removed. I have seen a portrait of my 4 or 5 times great grandmother who was from Ireland and I think I look the most like her. It is very interesting for sure. The facial features will travel down many generations, it is amazing. Mom does the dna too and their have been matches to my Grandfather from the different relatives and she has found cousins she didn't know we had and they are very similar to the family in looks and behavior. Mom just loves doing this. Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

    1. Thanks for visiting Sherry. Your family history is fascinating. I have some Churchill connection too. Maybe we're related!!

  13. Well, that was just a great find, wasn't it?!! It's really exciting when you get to find out special things about your family. I think I know about the joy you and your sister shared as you made discoveries.... I shared some info. I gleaned from my deceased father's WWII letters with my uncle (my Dad's brother). My uncle filled in some blanks about the comments my Dad was making as he wrote home and I shared some pictures my uncle didn't have.
    I'm a member of the Mayflower Society. My ancestor was on board (as was his future wife, and four in-laws).
    I hope you'll continue to enjoy the discoveries with your sister.