Monday, July 25, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation

In a conversation on google+ a few days ago, Megan Smolenyak asked whether or not two cousins could be connected within 6 degrees?  To quote Wikipedia, "Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.

One of my favorite ancestors, and the one who piqued my interest in genealogy, was my paternal gg-grandfather, Britton Wainright.  He died of heatstroke on July 9, 1863 when, as a member of the Indiana Home Guard, he and others marched to confront John Hunt Morgan of Morgan's Raiders.  I've written extensively about Britton in a series of posts

Click to enlarge

Over the years, Morgan's story has become larger than life.  It seems like everywhere I go, I am confronted with reminders.  The bike trail I ride on has an historical marker recalling the spot where Morgan and his raiders attacked a train.

Last October, my cousin Barbara and I, traveled to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky to research our Probert ancestors and attend a meeting of the Mongtomery County Genealogical Society.  Following the meeting, we were able to get in the Historical Society.  They had a traveling exhibit of some of Morgan's artifacts on display, including his saddle. One of the members helped hold out part of the saddle where Morgan's information was embossed.

General John Hunt Morgan
2nd Kentucky Cavalry
So last Friday, I traveled to the Lexington Cemetery to track down the grave of a gg-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Dimond Probert, from a totally different paternal line.  I had forgotten that this cemetery was also the burial location for John Hunt Morgan, his parents, and many other Morgan family members.

Grave of John Hunt Morgan
(Note the Confederate flag at the base)
Morgan Family Plot

The parents of Morgan have a substantial monument and are surrounded by a circle of graves of their children. This memorial is not 100 yards from the gravesite of my grandmother where a Union fatality of the Civil War is buried.  When we were in Mt. Sterling, we were told of both Union and Confederate forces being in Mt. Sterling at the same time shooting at each other.  As a result of one of these encounters, the Court House was burned.

So back to the six degrees of separation game.  I guess I can connect my gg-grandfather, Britton, to my gg-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth.  1) Britton died marching to confront Morgan. 2) Morgan is buried in Lexington Cemetery. 3) Mary Elizabeth Probert is buried about 100 yards from Morgan.  And an additional link -- Morgan was in Mt. Sterling when my gg-grandfather, Thomas Probert, was living there.  Does the game work for dead people?


  1. At least the dead stay put and we don't have to search for them somewhere else.

  2. I love the way you put this together! These quirky things are such a delight.

  3. That is very cool Kathy, what fun! Puts quite a perspective on 6 degrees!

  4. This is just what I am talking about also! Very cool! I like the way you showed the six degrees connection, I've been wondering how to do that, and you just showed me! Thanks!


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