I'm not talking about your first cousins, whose whereabouts you probably know. I'm talking about those distant cousins, descendants of your great-great (or further back) grandparents in one line or another. They pop up when you least expect it.
As an exercise for a class in Canadian genealogy I took as part of my studies with the National Institute of Genealogical Studies/University of Toronto, I placed a query in a Canadian newspaper which had a genealogical column. This one was in Quebec, in the English-speaking enclave known as the Eastern Townships, where I have ancestral ties. Lo and behold, I got an answer, which led me to cousins there. They are descendants of my 4x great-grandfather Richards Packard, and they live on the same land he settled around 1798!
As indicated in my "About Me" blurb to the left, I am, at the tender age of 62, a student at the University of North Florida. One day in the fall of 2007, as I sat in Spanish grammar class, we were discussing a phrase that does not literally translate from Spanish to English. Unfortunately, I do not remember the phrase, and I apparently did not make note of it. I had just figured out the English equivalent, a phrase my Appalachian-bred friend taught me, when a deep male voice off to my left said it first: "The apple don't fall far from the tree."
After class, I talked to the fellow, a big burly bear of a young man, probably in his 30s. I said, "You're from the Appalachians." He replied, "Yes, ma'am, I shore am," with a wink. Where was he from? East Tennessee. I asked him if he had any Carter relations -- the line of my friend who taught me that phrase, and who also hails from East Tennessee. He didn't think so, but he'd find out. Learning that his surname is Bowers, I asked my friend if she had any Bowers kin. She didn't think so.
During that time, I had done a little research on my mother's line, the Naves. It did not dawn on me that there might be a connection, for the Naves were also from East Tennessee. About two weeks after that event in class, having found out that young Mr. Bowers had no Carter connections, and my friend had no Bowers kin, I received a copy of a book I had ordered from its author. The book is Teter Nave: East Tennessee Pioneer -- His Ancestors and Descendants, by Robert T. Nave and Margaret W. Houghland. When I traced my mother's line back in the lineages in the book, I was stunned.
I had to go back to class the next session and let the young man know that it was not my friend to whom he was related. It was me. My great-great grandfather's name was John Teter Bowers Nave! Oh, yes, young Bowers told me, they had Naves all over the place in their line, too.
Now, that is an example of small world! So -- where are YOUR cousins?