Question of the Week: What do you do when you find a "black sheep?"

+40 votes
When you come across a black sheep, murderer, slave owner, thief, or any array of troublemakers, how do you present them in your tree? Do you hide them, avoid them, or are you glad you have something unusual to share?
in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (413k points) <-- cousin told me about this! :)
depends on whether I am doing genealogy or playing minecraft (with the kids, of course)
We could never find my great grandfather William Henry Tyner (Tyner-158) in the 1860 cenus, though he is in Randolph Co. Georgia in the 1850 census. Wm. Henry told family members that his father had been sterile, and that the biological father was a neighbor, whose last name was Raley or Grayley. This information was left out of Mayme Tyner's 1981 book about the Tyners. She was too embarrassed. In 2009 I was asked to do some DNA testing for the Tyner Project, and lo and behold , my y DNA does not match any other Tyners... but does match a Benjamin Raley (Raley-256) who lived nearby in 1850, and whose sister lived in the same household with Wm Henry Tyner's grandparents at the time, along with her 4 children under the age of 4. She eventually married Wm. Henry's mother's brother, who was probably the father of those 4 children. Benjamin Raley was quite a parental type.... he fathered at least 20 children with 4 different women, and sued in court to get custody of a couple of them, saying that the mother was a "loose woman". Bit of a double standard there! If it had not been for the DNA, I probably would never have found this ancestor and all of these cousins, brought to me by a "black sheep".
I am not responsible for any of the great deeds my ancestors did no matter how proud I may be of being related to them.  Likewise I am not responsible for any 'misdeeds'.  I have a few black sheep and they add 'texture' to the tree. I try to see their crimes in the light of the times and accept them as they are.  No hiding.
Хто ми, щоб судити?
Роман --

Google Translate says that in English that becomes "Who Are We to Judge." Does that sound right??

Definitely a unique concept for a name!!
Celebrate, Black Sheep are the best! Especially if they made the newspaper.
That certainly makes things easier and helps to put a bit of 'flesh on the bones' so to speak.
Well, I too have added one Black Sheep so far.  But I'm about to add more. Only fellow genealogists will know what I'm talking about, you come across something and you go hmmm, lets dig on this.  Well, after digging, I thought hmmmm, maybe I should do some history reading (again.)  So I got this book called the Feuds of Eastern KY, and at the same time, I"m trying to help someone find their biological family lines.  There was a line I hadn't developed yet and go figure, once I started working on it, that's were her line looks to come in.   The thing is, there an numerous black sheep in the line, and rather than put Black Sheep on it, I'm wondering, could we have a Gun Slinger or Fuedest tag.  A whole family of black sheep makes a flock!!!!  And funny, people are putting down that so and so was a judge or sheriff, or so and so was acquitted.  But that doesn't mean they were stand up citizens!   Back in the day, you didn't get private votes and everyone showed up to vote with guns in hand!  So imagine how the judge and sheriff got their positions!  Wild West??? Wild Kentucky!!! Who knew!
Ahh, I found in a directory in the early 20th century, Indiana, a daughter who had down as a profession "stripper." With her address posted.   And it named the company she worked for, which I looked up and found that he did have dance halls.   She never seemed to have married, but she did take care of her sibs and mother and not long later, she's listed in a different, normal profession.  I suspect, with such openness and her family living with her, she had some great moral support from her family.  No hiding it.  But I was quite surprised to see it listed that way!

51 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
I was a bit shocked to come across a 19th century child poisoner in an unrelated English branch I was trying to connect. I was adding a family with a husband, wife and two young children from one census but on the next census, the wife and one child were missing. There was no death to be found for the wife so I did a wider search and found her on the census in a hospital in Surrey. Wondering why Surrey when she came from Leeds, I looked on the maps for this hospital, thinking it might be a TB hospital or sanatorium and found it to be Broadmoor high security hospital. Some digging and asking for help on G2G found newspaper reports showing she gave her 17 month old child rat poison and was incarcerated for life. I just wrote a brief bio, stating the facts that were available, without any emotional weighting. I added a couple of newspaper sources and the usual BMD and censuses. I then waited a few months before adding the black sheep category, after careful consideration.
I did notice that a number of nieces of this woman never married so it must have had some huge impact on their lives.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (255k points)
selected by Mary Alves
+27 votes
Black Sheep are kind of fun. The mystery in your background. You had nothing to do with their misdeeds. My grandfather always spoke of Scollay Square in Massachusetts.  Family name. I thought it was hilarious to find its Bawdy history. Disappointed it is no longer there to visit. If you are going for your Dar / SAR I would leave out Benedict Arnold.
by Linda Campbell G2G1 (1.8k points)
+28 votes
Jump for joy in glee!  I think it adds flavor to the family tree :-)

I am directly related to Orrin Porter Rockwell.  I am not at all proud of his deeds, but he is interesting to talk about.
by Emma MacBeath G2G6 Pilot (860k points)
I agree that it can add to a page. But I came across a suicide in the family of a person who married into my family. I feel that is a little too personal to add into my tree and  it was excluded. I guess most of it will add color but somethings must be thought through carefully before adding.
I don't consider suicide to be in the black sheep category--rather more in the tragedy category which of course should be dealt with very differently.  You are correct.  Some things need to be handled with care, especially if they are closer to our own time period and would deeply affect the living.
It was my aunt's brother that committed suicide. My whole life she loved talking about her family. And I like to listen to stories before I was born. It was sad and misfortunate. I also have a difficult time with baby and children deaths. I eventually put them in. I have a murderous cousin that was executed in the  1800's. Now that was his decision to make and does indeed add color. I will be adding that soon.
+27 votes
I deal with the slave owners in my family this way.  I research them and tell the truth.

My ansestors were Quakers.  The believed no human being should own another.  But yet they bought young Africans.  

This is where it gets interesting for me.  They educated them.  Kept them housed and well fed a freed them.  Then placed younger children who were slaves with the freed slaves. Then some of my very white family married Africans.  
This is where my connection to Alex Haley and Rosa Parks happens.

My current family is made up of many races.  African , Native American , East Indian , Mexican and a few others.  Just as my ancestors were.

My step father's great uncle was Robert Leroy Parker.  Butch Cassidy.

What I learned is all black sheep aren't always black sheep.  Around  every black sheep are good  people.  We can't change what was.  

I was shocked to find yesterday that a man who was not related to me ,  but a contemporary of my 9 th Great grandfather poisoned over 200 people.  The man was a governor of the Virginia Colony.  He was imprisoned for stealing cattle but not the poisoning of the Indians.  He did it revenge for a massacre that wiped out colonists.  Not that it excuses his actions.  He had no issue.  For some reason that makes me happy.

The story is always bigger and deeper that we know.  Not that there aren't truly black sheep
by Anonymous Roach G2G6 Pilot (185k points)
edited by Anonymous Roach
As far as I'm concerned, family is family.  You take the bad with the don't have to like it (in the case of criminals for example), but it is what it is.
In working on people with counties named after them, I've found a lot of slave owners. Including some who made large fortunes in the slave trade. One even offered an advice service on "handling" slaves."

The thing I have only come to understand recently is that 7-10 years old was considered a good age for buying a slave. Young enough to more easily mold to the owner's wishes. Our slave-oriented "Dear Abby" advised how to take a child away from its mother with minimal disturbance. Sojourner Truth's 1848 speech at the women's rights gathering at Seneca Falls included how she bore 12 children and saw every one of them sold away.

I didn't mark this man as a Black Sheep. He had a county named him, after all. Prominent member of the community. But I did include an indication of the role he played. When it comes to slavery and genealogy, I always try to err on the side of anything that will help people with slaves in their ancestry. I consider that a higher goal than whitewashing the reputation of the slave owners.
+32 votes

I think history is history and it should be told with the facts.

I do, however, have a client who's family has believed a story of the origins of their paternal line for four generations. The true history is being revealed through DNA testing. It's not the story that everyone's parents told them and the client feels the family has the "My Momma and Daddy would have never lied about this" mind-set.

Because of this I am prevented from posting the truth, though if you look hard enough the truth is there. I can't put a name on it. I am even presenting a Paper on this incredible story (it is rich and beautiful and sad all at the same time) at a Conference this year and I can only use first names.

It's a lot of work redacting names from a story, but worth it to have the story told to help teach others about researching a family connected to slavery in the US and to runaway slaves in Canada. The tale of what befell one of those former slave families once they obtained "Freedom". Including the tale ( "My Momma and Daddy would have never lied about this" mind-set) spun to hide it for four generations.

AND who are the black sheep in this story?


by Mags Gaulden G2G6 Pilot (570k points)
edited by Mags Gaulden
Ooh, Mags, I want to read this story, redactions and all!
I agree with Jim!
I too would love the story!
Mags, this sounds like excellent material for a novel. Change the names, do some tweaking... I am so curious and would love to read this family history too.

My mother-in-law did not play by the rules.

She had 3 sons from 3 men while she was married to my father-in-law.  FIL raised them as his own, but being Mexican, caught hell from the Mexican community for not being man-enough to keep his wife at home.

I published these BILs as being step-sons in Find-a-Grave and was asked not to do that by family.  These 3 sons don't look like either parent.

I would  probably not publish this in my MIL's bio, but would include info about my BILs like in FAG.

I would publish black sheep history.  It might be somebody's brick wall and the stories are interesting.  I have a 2nd great uncle who was a medical doctor, and was very often drunk in public "sitting on the curb".  He also served several terms as County Medical Examiner and was a noted doctor in the community.  I would publish this dichotomy.
I would like to hear about this story as well.
+17 votes
Well, let's see...  A somewhat distant cousin killed his mother with an axe. A 5ggrandfather had a couple of slaves in the 1780's.  A 2ggrandmother lived her last few decades in an insane asylum (probably post partum depression).  I also have a family fairly close who spent time in jail for horse theft (the daughter who wasn't involved still had to spend time in an institution until family friends were able to vouch for her)..  And I have some other relatives who have spent time in jail.  I'd have to check their profiles, though, to see if I've entered their stories in yet.  Except for those needing privacy protection I don't have anything against making the stories public.

Oh, I also have a pistol packing mama in one of my trees, but that was her job per a census which listed her and her family.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (409k points)
See, a very colorful, exciting history has been added to the plain ole TREE.  Now you have an interesting heritage. Would make for a Great Book.
+18 votes

For anyone who has slave owners in their family tree, see the top-level Slave Owners in America category. From there you can learn how to categorize these profiles in subcategories, and provide some additional structure within a Biography in order to document this part of their history.

by Eric Weddington G2G6 Pilot (298k points)
Coming out of the closet, here.  Eric, would you add to the Slave Owners in America.  Thank you.  I didn't know about this category.
I didn't know about it, either, Eric. Thanks! I ran across a slave owner the other day, and I can't remember who it was now.

I'm sure I'll run across them again!
One of my ancestors was an early settler in Massachusetts Bay Colony and on his death, freed his "boy".

I believe this information belongs in the persons biography not in a generally accessible directory.

I would not use the Slave Owners in America category as I think that is of little general interest and could lead to unforeseen trouble. Yes, we are "rational" genealogists, amateur and professional but I think a directory could be misused.
Try to look at it from the perspective of African-Americans who are doing genealogical research. The information could be useful to trace their ancestors.

It does no harm to identify a person as having been a slaveholder.

How could such a category be "misused"? What scenario would engender such misuse? More so than any other category?
@Kitty: I will leave it up to you to add the category to Ashbel Smiths' profile. I would imagine that you are in the best position to confirm with sources the fact that he was a slaveholder. I would have to do additional research.

Also note: I did not create these categories. I ran across them one day and thought it would be useful to other genealogical researchers, and so I started to use these categories when I came across the information.
+14 votes
It depends on how long ago the person lived and how closely we're related.

For example, one of my great-great-great grandfathers has been an endless source of amusement for me - not because of the crimes he committed, but because of the sheer outrageousness of the circumstances.  I love talking about his, erm, "adventures", in 1850s Philadelphia.

On the other hand, I discovered a distant cousin who'd changed his name after being convicted of a heinous crime in the 1990s.  He has living children and grandchildren out there, so out of respect to them I don't share those details anywhere online (only in my own records).
by Vicky Majewski G2G6 Mach 7 (79.6k points)
I concur about the timing.  I have a cousin, now deceased, who was convicted of murdering his wife. He went to prison and fought the conviction for years. The verdict was eventually thrown out on a technicality.  While he is deceased, his children are living. I would not include this information in his profile.

But the wife swapping ancestors of the 18th century? I'm all over it....
Timing and circumstances are everything.  Like you, I would not include the potentially hurtful stories in a public profile for living people or for people with living first-degree links (siblings, parents, children, spouses.)  Everybody else is fair game.
+15 votes
Black Sheep are interesting, in that you often seem to come across them in the family tree as "THAT PERSON NO ONE WANTS TO TALK ABOUT". Later, you find out that they did something that the family is embarrassed to be associated with, and so it goes. But I like to treat it like a band-aid. Leave it on for too long, and the wound begins to fester. Rip it off and while it might be a bit painful, it gives things a chance to heal.

My wife's great-something-grandfather turned out to be a murderer, and he was one of the last 2 men executed in the state of Florida by hanging. The state changed to using the electric chair afterwards. I found this absolutely fascinating. My wife - maybe not so much, but she wasn't opposed to it. Her great-aunt? Maybe a bit less enthusiastic - she was closer to the generation that heard the story whispered in hush-hush tones between adults and it was probably something she was taught to be embarrassed about.

Regardless, I see it as history - as a fact - and I won't go out of my way to make someone uncomfortable about it, but I won't hide it either.

I've got kissing-and-marrying cousins in my tree, too, so while I don't think that fully constitutes a "Black Sheep", it is an awkward piece of history that I have hanging out there. And an Uncle who was a Moonshiner, who rode around on his white horse with his silver plated six-shooters and probably killed a few of the officers of the law back in the day who got a bit too nosy about the location of their still.
by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.3m points)
It is pretty basic, the events that occurred within our families are part of the total history.  How much of these stories you make public is your choice, embrace your families regardless of shortcomings that you may stumble upon in this journey.  It is a story of life, good or bad, we all encounter the pitfalls.
Good advice but you do not want to hurt the living by publicizing details of their miscreant direct ancestor!
Something of the nature I mentioned is actually out there as a historical fact, so a bit late for that. When you're the first or last to do something in history, it tends to get published on historical websites in various locations. So the cat was already out of the bag. But point taken - if something truly was a skeleton locked safely in his closet, then it might be better to leave it there if it's not already out in the open somewhere.
+13 votes
I tell the story using the facts, but bear in mind the mores of the society where the ancestor lived. Choice of language is really important and I believe we have to be respectful in terms of "categories".

I have been having an ongoing discussion about a bigamist with another member. Yes, technically he is a bigamist but he had few choices. He provided well for his family, told them he was leaving, then emigrated as far as he could and later he remarried. He rose to political prominence, but I can find no evidence that his original wife's family accused him of bigamy in his new country where they too were resident. There is documented evidence of some contact.

Would we label every mother of an illegitimate child as a "whore" or would we like ourselves to go through history as a criminal because of childhood shoplifting as happened to many of Australia's first settlers?
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (174k points)
Context is very important. Thank you, Fiona!
+12 votes
I guess I love the "Black Sheep"  as he or she make for interesting relatives and conversations. I have several hanging on the family tree and I guess for a while I was considered one as well. I came from a very religious family. My first husband joined the Hells Angels. After I escaped that mess I became a "lady preacher" a real no no from the family church. I pastored black and Native American churches for a few years before the family accepted that I was really ok. I've been "clergylady" first as my CB handle then online name. After 44 years it is pretty acceptable today.  :)

I answered the Do you have ... question with three black sheep from my rapist murderer late husband, my bigamist hobo king uncle, my aunt who was a gangsters girl... way back there were slave owners but they were considered respectable back then. My grandfather abandoned my terminally ill grandmother and lived with a woman who signed (as mother) for my great aunt to get married when she was really just 14 but they said she was 18.
by Mary Calder G2G4 (4.7k points)
edited by Mary Calder
I love the part about "CB handle."  That's definitely something to put in a narrative for all the future generations who will never know the wonder of CB radio.
+7 votes
I include the blac sheep and the record of their life in the census, birth, marriage, and death records. I might cite a newspaper article, if I know it, however, the average reader will not know the wolf beneath the sheep's clothing without researching the sources or considering the dates. I'll write a "fictional work" later and incorporate the stories of the truth with fake names.

Consider this, if I were the descendant of the army deserter, the slave owner, the wife killer, or the town drunk, would I want it broadcast around the world? Certainly not. If my Forebearer was a famous gangster, I would probably be okay with others knowing. Be honest if the black sheep's lamb inquires, but be sensitive of the lamb's feelings.
by Bev Spreeman G2G6 Mach 1 (10.6k points)

Certainly not? I beg to differ.

I have an army deserter amongst my ancestors. British redcoat who deserted at Albany around 1700. First off, the story is already out there, and it's not like we can make it go away. Second, I think the story is interesting, and do not want it suppressed. Not sure why you would get to decide it should be.

I have a more recent example - a cousin, not an ancestor. Grover Cleveland Bergdoll, whose Wiki page barely touches on all the various kinds of trouble he got himself into. I don't see why it should be hushed up when he was a leading tabloid figure at the time. Famous at the level of, say, Julian Assange nowadays. I would argue that Bergdoll definitely deserves to have the "Black Sheep" tag. Dunno that the deserter from 1700 deserves the same.

I had no problem with adding it to Terry Nichols, serving in prison for his role in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City back in the 1990s. He deserves his "Black Sheep" tag, too. That said, it is something that I use sparingly.

I'm tracing the roots of my family and hope to encourage any relatives to contact me - not be embarrassed about what I write. When they do, surely we will discuss family secrets like a Civil War draft dodger (no records exist but the story was passed on to me). They may enjoy joining wikitree and add the full story as we share our tree.

I'm on a mission. I'm a genealogist working for myself. I enjoy a good story, but the fun of the research for me is the research, the puzzle of which wife birthed which children when all three wives were called Minnie in the Census records, finding out how I'm 26% Norwegian and 20% British but all my Great-Great grandparents came to America from Germany.

Wikitree offers many people many benefits, and I will share the family  story with my relatives before I share it with all of you. ☺ The stories I know are in recent history so real people could be affected, and some are more sensitive than me.

If you, reader, are related, please join Wikitree and we'll track down the black sheep. The black sheep are interesting, but there are a lot of hard working farmers to wade through with 10 to 12 children each. Your help will be welcome! Bev
+10 votes
I share them and try to find more information to figure out what exactly happened if say it was murder.

I've found a couple of murders in the family tree. There's even a photo of one found dead back in the 20's.

I enjoy them. Adds color.
by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (947k points)
+10 votes
Once a black sheep has been identified, it needs something of the spirit of a detective to find out why/what. I've found several in my family: two murderers, someone jailed for prostituting a daughter, a few suicides, a man who kept a mistress and illegitimate child on the side, then on the death of his wife married the mistress and somehow incorporated the illegitimate child into his household (he was a functionary of the Swedish Court). I love a good mystery and have enjoyed solving these. However, one has to be careful about what one says unless all this was very long ago -- there are sometimes living descendants who may not like to know that Uncle Jack was a murderer. I try to limit what I write about a black sheep to pointers to where those who dare can find more information.
by Laurie Keller G2G6 (7.0k points)
It has been confirmed, with DNA, that President Warren G. Harding did in fact have an illegitimate child. With a woman he "kept" while in office as President. You can always get away with more if you are rich and powerful, of course. But "Black Sheep" probably wouldn't be appropriate here. Not even with the massive Teapot Dome scandal which didn't blossom fully to public awareness because Harding died in office. Despite all that, "Black Sheep" still doesn't seem right.

It's too bad people are embarrassed or ashamed what ancestors did. Especially if they never even heard of the person growing up. In the case of a murder, it isn't just about protecting the reputation of the killer so their descendants won't be feel bad about it. Or shouldn't be. The descendants of whomever they killed have a right to know the story and to have the story told.

In general, I'm favor of the stories being told. It's a big part of what makes this all interesting.
I'm not really ashamed because in my view it happened long ago and far away. One of the murderers I mentioned was my great grandfather, and the person he murdered was my great grandmother. I've been asked once or twice by cousins why "Uncle Fred never talked about his dad", in which case I've told them. I've also posted one or two newspaper articles about it online. I did have more trouble with the ancestor who prostituted her daughter -- one of my cousins got furious and forbid me ever to speak of it. But those who are curious will find out about it if they look, and cousin aside, I will tell anyone who asks where she was between 1919 and 1930. There's a very fat file about her court case and imprisonment in the Minnesota Historical Society (where I found it). Trouble is, I do still want to keep contact with my cousin!
What?  Are Presidents exempt from disparagement on  If the shoe fits, wear it.  We could run a shoe store with the past dozen or so Presidents.
+8 votes
Indications of who owned slaves in an area can potentially be helpful to the descendants of slaves. That's a good reason, all by itself. Many (most?) slaves have white ancestry, too - 75% for "quadroons" and 87.5% for"octaroons". Even if it's not limited to slave owners (think overseers, managers, and random predators as well), anything that can help with the difficulties encountered by people with slavery in their ancestry ought to be done, if possible.

Slave owners: Important not to sweep it under the rug for another reason. One is simply that it happened. It's factual. Nowadays, the state of Texas has been moving to remove mentions of slavery in its textbooks. To my thinking, that's wrong for many reasons, but making sure the facts are available somewhere matters.

That said: Just this week, I came upon a couple of unusual stories. One, a man who divorced his wife of many years, and married a different woman weeks later who was 40 years younger than him. Might be black sheep, no?

One of his grandsons went to prison, I've just discovered, for manslaughter. In Texas, 1909. Pardoned after about a year and a half. That one, I think I'll be looking into more. There might be something in a newspaper about it.
by Anonymous Winter G2G6 Mach 7 (71.6k points)
+9 votes
Whatever someone has done, it is history and should be recorded in all honesty.

One of my direct forebearers owned sugar plantations in the 1760s, therefore slaves. He was divorced from his wife by Act of Parliament for HER adultery. He had two Mistresses in the town. One was Mulatto, the other a slave. By them he had children. The mulatto he brought back to England and set her up in London. They had four daughters. By the slave he had two children whom he brought to England, the slave remained on the Island and was on the returns of 1817.

History written - how do we know all this - from his will. He acknowleged all these People and provided for them in his will.

I am not proud of his behavior, but that is as it happend in those days.
by Chris Gilson-Taylor G2G1 (1.0k points)
+9 votes
I have several slave owners in my family tree; great-great-great-grandfathers, uncles, cousins, way back then. I don't think it meant they intentionally were mean to the slaves, they just had "help" for farming, and they figured they could use all the help they could get.

It doesn't make me feel any way in particular - I just think it adds a different dimension as to how I perceived my family then and now.
by Derek Blackman G2G6 Mach 1 (19.3k points)
I think it's a little troubling that there seems to be more concern about the feelings of those associated with the slave owners here than for the slaves.
Good point, Elizabeth.
Cool story.
+10 votes
A cousin of mine who lived two hundred years ago invited her younger sister to live with her and her husband.  One day the husband came in from the field, saw the sister alone, and raped her.  When the older sister came she was of course, furious.  It's not clear that she killed her husband; perhaps he took his own life, but in any event, ended up dead.  The younger sister bore his child.  

A descendant of that child was writing her genealogy and asked me how to handle this.  I asked her what the rest of the younger sister's life was like.  She said she went on to marry, have more children and be a respected member of the community.  And the child?  She was raised by an aunt and uncle and went on to marry and be a respected member of the community.  

Then, I suggested, both the sister and her daughter had to overcome significant (though undeserved) stigma to go on an live the good lives they lived.  It took courage and effort.  If you hide their troubles, you deprive them of the respect they earned.  

The woman who asked the question was pleased with my answer about something that took place over a century ago.  Her brother, who also knew the story, was totally appalled that anyone would commit it to print.

I haven't yet put this section of my extended family onto WikiTree.....!
by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (375k points)
+9 votes

Another "Black Sheep" story.  I'm descended from Richard Cheney, who lived in Maryland in the 1600s.Two elections ago, a reporter discovered that Richard Cheney also had two more famous descendants:      (   One was Vice President Dick Cheney (on his mother's side;  his own Cheneys were a New England family), the other was candidate Barack Obama.  A reporter who discovered this tried to approach Vice President Cheney for a comment;  he did get a comment from Mrs. Cheney, who said, well that's interesting, but we're still going to vote for McCain. The reporter was able to get a response from candidate Obama, who, learning that Dick Cheney was his 8th cousin, once removed, quickly smiled and responded, "well, yes, we've always considered him the black sheep of the family."  

In these polarized times, descendants of Richard Cheney of the 1600's that I've told this story to have winced a little;  some liked being related to President Obama and others liked being related to Vice President Cheney, but almost none wanted to be related to both of their newfound famous cousins.  I assure them that family is family, you don't get to choose. 

by Jack Day G2G6 Pilot (375k points)
+10 votes
Find out as much as I can, and celebrate him or her!  We all have them, and there is no sense pretending otherwise.
by Abbie M. G2G Crew (500 points)

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+35 votes
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