• May 26, 2020

Family tree - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

e-Edition Subscribe

Family tree

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010 12:00 am

It sounds like the old kid’s song about the ankle bone being connected to the shin bone and the shin bone being connected to the knee bone, etc.

Thanks to genealogists, we find out that President Obama and the Republican who captured Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat and — in the process put a kink in the health care plans of Democrats — actually are distant relatives.

The Associated Press reported that the New England Historic Genealogical Society has determined that Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Scott Brown’s mother, Judith Ann Rugg, both descend from Richard Singletary of Haverhill, Mass.

But it also is reported that the mutual ancestor died in 1687 at the ripe old age of 102. For the record, that makes the president and the new senator 10th cousins, hardly stuff of congenial family reunions.

But we Americans love such nostalgic and trivial stuff, even if it really doesn’t have any relevance in a political or even contemporary context. There’s nothing like a coincidence to tickle our soap opera inner selves.

"I think it’s a really interesting thing, where you have the separation between a Democrat and a Republican, but you have one link," said David Allen Lambert, the society genealogist who co-discovered the connection with colleague Chris Child.

Lambert said the work was aided by prior research about Obama, as well as Brown’s cooperation with the society when researchers first contacted him in December.

This family tree stuff really isn’t that new when it comes to Obama. In 2008, the society discovered that the current president is related to seven prior presidents, including George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry S. Truman and James Madison.

And for some variety, they also discovered Obama and actor Brad Pitt are related.

This seems to bolster the six degrees of separation theory that is based on the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is, at most, six steps away from any other person. It was popularized in a play written by John Guare and has resulted in a trivia game called the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The idea is to link Bacon with any other actor or actress and his or her film roles within six steps.

OK, so it took 10 steps to link Obama and Brown.

Taking all this nonsense a step further, we don’t know how many steps it took, but apparently George Stephanopoulos, co-anchor of ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” is related to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Stephanopoulos underwent DNA testing to promote “Faces of America With Henry Louis Gates Jr.,” a four-part series on family histories making its premiere Feb. 10 on PBS. The TV anchor was told Friday by Gates on air that he’s probably a material cousin of Hillary.

All righty now … anybody want to bet where the new theory of relativity is headed?

Odessa, TX

Current Conditions

Humidity: 29%
Winds: NW at 4mph
Feels Like: 75°

Your Extended Forecast


High 82°/Low 61°
Sunny. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s.


High 93°/Low 61°
Mix of sun and clouds. Highs in the low 90s and lows in the low 60s.


High 88°/Low 63°
Times of sun and clouds. Highs in the upper 80s and lows in the low 60s.
Online Features

Pet Central


Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>



Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>



Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>



Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>

  • ALL-ACCESS: Subscribe to our e-edition and premium website at myoaoa.com.
    You can read your daily newspaper without taking a walk to the driveway.
    Look back at yesterday's newspaper, or issues from months ago with our archive feature.
    Call circulation at 432-337-7314 to sign up today.