…or “What do you mean, my fiancee is also my cousin??”

Once upon a time in October 1999, Matt Montgomery was set up on a no-pressure group blind date. The matchmaker was Christina Grotheer, with whom he had gone to graduate school at the University of Virginia, and who worked at that time at AIMR (as did I). The chosen victim was Cheryl Likness, another AIMR employee. I had seen Cheryl around work but had never met her, and apparently even Christina didn’t know her very well. The date actually went very well, in spite of some confusion over why Matt was carrying on about tucking in the shirt he was wearing. We had another group get-together with Cheryl, then Matt and Cheryl went on their first date on Cheryl’s 27th birthday, and…well, you know the rest. By December 2001 Matt and Cheryl were engaged and planning a wedding for June 2002. Cheryl, knowing my fondness for, er, obsession with, genealogy, brought back after Christmas a marvelous treasure trove of her own family history, thinking I would find it interesting in a completely disinterested historical way. I thought so, too, and started reading…lo and behold, the last names started sounding extremely familiar. And the place names, too–Stonington, Connecticut; Westerly, Rhode Island; Hopkinton, Rhode Island…wait a minute! I had been creating a genealogy file just for Cheryl’s benefit (I thought), but suddenly here was Joseph Crandall, Cheryl’s 8th-great-grandfather, who was also my 9th-great-grandfather. And suddenly the file I was working on for my soon-to-be sister-in-law was really my own file as well! Of course, then I had to break the news to Matt and Cheryl that they were related to each other–ninth cousins once removed and eleventh cousins once removed, to be exact. In all good genealogical conscience I insisted that Matt tell the priest who planned to marry them about the newly-discovered consanguinity. I think he just thought I was really weird. But I didn’t want anyone jumping up during that “Does anyone know any just cause or impediment” part. Genealogical duty discharged.

Now, did I also mention that my maternal grandparents were half first cousins once removed?