Are you related to anybody famous? Where do they stand in your family?
The reality is, we are all probably related in some way or another to some famous figure at some point in history—the size of the human population was a lot smaller back then.
But how about now?
Does anybody whose name crosses the news on a regular or semi-regular basis come to your holiday table?
Redditor LoveSimpleHacks asked:
"Who is the most famous person in your family?"
Here were some of those answers.
Barney And Betty
"My grandmother was the voice of Betty Rubble... And the blue bonnet chicken in Foghorn Leghorn, and little red riding hood on Bugs Bunny (and witcheepoo), and Tweety's grandma (along with other women who voiced her.)"
"And she was on I Love Lucy, and she had her own show called Petticoat Junction, and she was on Burns & Allen.. and.. so... so.. so many more. Oh, and my grandfather was Red Ryder on TV." - Chalky_Cupcake
"My grandad is a double Olympic bronze medalist for rowing, he has them displayed in a cabinet in his house."
"He’s also one of the most humble and down to earth people I’ve ever met. Never brags or boasts about it, and never brings it up in conversations as a form of one-upping someone."
"If he does talk about it it’s because someone found out by some other means and has asked him about it." - The_Extreme_Potato
You Mean Reality TV Isn't Real?!
"Well I will have you all know my mom has not only been a guest on the Ricki Lake show and the Queen Latifa Show, but the Sally Jessy Raphael show as well!"
"The last one is the only one we have been able to find video evidence of. My mom is a full on attention-seeker and early 2000’s daytime TV was her stage."
"She was also on a couple of 'court' shows but … those storylines were for sure fake. She just wanted a free trip." - sadmotelvibes
These are the people that represent us and our family on the world stage.
Rutherford? I Hardly Know 'Er Ford!
"My great-great Uncle, Ernest Rutherford. The father of Nuclear Physics!"
"My granny has fond memories of him, and it was a buzz to visit the Nobel Prize Museum and see him honoured there. I can attest that the propensity to be good at physics is not passed on, I was horrendous." - petanotpeter
Its Fleece As White As Snow
"George Ellery Hale. His father owned the Hale Elevator Co, who provided the elevators for Chicago's new skyscrapers after the Chicago fire."
"George was a solar astronomer who made discoveries concerning magnetic fields and sunspots. Some of his most famous work, however, was getting 4 observatories built, including Mount Wilson where Hubble made his discoveries of the expanding universe."
"He got multiple world leading telescopes built. Is considered a founder of astrophysics. Cofounded the Journal of Astrophysics. Received numerous awards for his scientific research and achievements."
"I may be related to Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' and was instrumental in getting Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a federal holiday, but I'm still researching that one." - ProbablyABore
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Is There A Doctor In The House?
"Not famous in the traditional sense, but I have 4 uncles in my family who are world renowned physicians. One has a patent that is used worldwide in cardiac surgery."
"Another just won India's second most prestigious award for citizens' distinguished service from the President of India himself."
"Another is retired but used to be the personal physician to the Royal House of Bhutan. The last is one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the world. Pretty astounding achievements in their fields." - dhalsim282
Another Pandemic, Another Time
"My grandmother was a nurse during the 1918 flu. A large farm family was stricken with the virus so she stayed on the farm and nursed them all back to health."
"The mother was pregnant and when the baby was born, my grandmother returned to care for mom and baby. My grandfather was a close relative of the farmer and worked as a hired hand."
"The baby was the father of singer Christopher Cross." - DamnDame
The world is a lot smaller than we give it credit for, so in doing a true family tree trace, you could find one of these surprising figures in your family.
"My grandma was a very popular governmental figure and since finishing her term, nobody has really been noteworthy in the same position, the job pretty much never gets mentioned."
"I know I'm biased of course, but I keep up with it and there's nearly no news. No outreach. Nothing. Mostly disappointments. People not doing anything with the job."
"Most of her 'fanbase' are pretty old now. But she used to get stopped every time we went out, it was a huge pain as a kid." - ladyalot
Saving The Family
"Both of my paternal great grandmothers walked The Trail of Tears. Both lost their entire families during the walk due to exposure."
"One quickly became a Robin Hood of sorts by stealing things from drunken passed out soldiers at night, then passing out what she could."
"Both of them were the best of friends, married (one married a Frenchmen, the other a Swiss farmer) and had children. One of each of their children married and they were my grandparents. My dad is 92 come March. (I’m 35. Second mid life crisis😅)" - Professor_Quackers
I Know Your Face
"My aunt is not famous, but she's been an actress her whole life and has been lucky enough to get some small parts here and there."
"She was in a movie with Matt Damon, she was recently in a TV show with Alec Baldwin, and she knows a ton of other celebrities".
"She was in House of Cards, Daredevil, etc. But, yeah, she is definitely not famous and she is just scraping by to pay the bills despite doing better than the average actress." - gman4734
So even though someone in your family might not make the newspapers on a daily basis in 2021, they are still an important part of history.
Be sure to give credit where credit is due.
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These days, the deep flaws of humanity are on full display.
Look at the news for just a couple days and you'd concluded that inept leadership, chaotic conflict, disinformation efforts, and environmental violence would appear to be the primary indicators of humanity.
But humanity has its upsides.
When we zoom out and consider the entirety of the human race's accomplishments, we encounter startling examples of ingenuity, courage, and even social connection.
It can be a good exercise to reflect on the amazing feats of our human ancestors. So many things about our current circumstances are owed to the ideas of people hundreds and even thousands of years ago.
ifitwasonlytrue asked, "What did our ancestors do that still blows your mind?"
With a Pinch of Salt
"The Romans with their cement, and the fact that it took so many years for us to realize that when they said water in their recipe they meant seawater." -- Krazypsychic
"Honestly that's more on us. Their entire empire bordered the Mediterranean. Of course they'd use the water from that." -- Terramagi
"And the fact that they developed underfloor heating. Wizardry!" -- Pangolingolin
Think of All the Crevices!
"Cartography. How in the f*** did people draw full continents based solely on sailing the sea? I can't fathom the effort it took to map something like Greenland." -- jtbcorndog
"Yes on all that. Some dude even drew the underparts of Antarctica back before we had high-tech mapping. Not sure how." -- i_like_sp1ce
A Sixth Sense for Water Movements?
"The Polynesians sailed across the Pacific and settled Hawaii eight hundred years ago. Somehow they figured that there was land in the middle of nowhere, and figured out how to make it there." -- zeteo_galeneian
"I was just reading about this. They followed birds migrating. But man, just get in the boat and head out to... unknown!" -- Lbdon1959
"Arguably the greatest explorers of all time. Whichever group of humans makes their way to a new star system would likely be the next time anyone accomplishes such an incredible feat." -- alexm42
Intuitive, But Horrifying
"Cut holes in their skulls for fun or to cure headaches. And many survived." -- wastingtoomuchthyme
"Honestly still get tempted to try this when I get a migraine...." -- languageofsarcasm
"Don't forget trans orbital lobotomies. They just shoved an ice pick into the space behind your eyeball and flicked it around to cure mental illnesses."
"Of course success was pretty random but the fact that they didn't just ALL end up with mashed potatoes for brains is pretty impressive imo." -- ReasonableBeep
Shrinking the Universe with Mathematics
"Map the movement of stars and planets to a startling degree of accuracy." -- Idreamnolonger
"Similarly, old civilizations were able to find out that a year is exactly 365 days and 6 hours. The accounting for leap years has always blown my mind." -- Justice-Gorsuch
"Well without light pollution and some curiosity, it's amazing what humans can do." -- cowboy4life
Quite the Start
"In my ancestors tribe, boys would have to do all this to be considered a 'man':"
"-Go meditate in a small circle in the middle of the wild for a week with no food and minimal water"
"-Hallucinate a spirit guide animal"
"-Tell the trusted medicine man what animal you saw"
"-Dig a hole with straw and leaves and a dead animal on top"
"-Sit for a few days waiting for an eagle to land on the animal"
"-Catch the eagle with your hands and break its neck"
"-Give the feathers to a shield maker to make you your first shield"
"This is just step one of many"
Thank God for This
"Discovered that many foods taste better when you add fire." -- randomguy1972
"Fire also made things easier to digest." -- fungeoneer
"And doesn't give you massive explosive diarrhea, i assure you dingle berries motivated many great evolutionary and technological hurdles, e.g. razor" -- Cronerburger
Little By Little
"Pretty much every known edible and poisonous plant was the result of ancient trial and error." -- julianwolf
"I read somewhere that the way that native Americans did it at least, was whenever they traveled somewhere new and didn't know if a plant was safe to eat they would have a young healthy man or woman take small samples at first."
"Usually started with just rubbing it on their skin, then they would chew it a lil bit and spit it out. Then they'd eat just a little bit and wait. Eat a little more and wait."
"Then eat a lot and see what happens."
"This is smart bc if it was harmful but didn't leave a rash they wouldn't get too sick from eating just a little bit. (Unless of course it was deadly af, and in that case at least only one person died instead of the whole tribe.)" -- Chef_Zed
"Survive what for most species would be certain extinction."
"96% of the population died around 100 thousand years ago in an ice age, and we still managed to live with barely 10,000 people!"
"How they all, at some point, discovered the bow."
"Even with no connections to other continents, they all figured out a piece of string connected to two ends of a piece of wood could make arrows fly farther."
"Cheese, wtf?? Who the hell thought that consuming moldy cow juice that sat in a container for months would be fine?" -- enricofermi5784
"Starving people. Food wasn't always as easy to get as it is now."
"I have a feeling that's how most fermented foods were discovered. People took a chance on eating rotten food vs. starving to death." -- whatever--this-means
"Greeks were able to estimate pi and figure out its irrationality (though you'd be basically removed from civic circles if you suggested as much) 2000+ years ago without any sort of calculator." -- Libreska
"You're probably thinking of Phi, not Pi. The golden ratios irrationality was discovered by Pythagorean who was (perhaps apocryphally) promptly thrown off a cliff into the sea for proving that the most beautiful ratio was irrational and therefore impure." -- Adventure_Time_Snail
Can't Go Without a Melody
"The oldest known flute is dated 42-44,000 years ago."
"I feel like it's safe to assume that the voice and percussion were our first musical instruments, but the fact that people were carving flutes out of animal bones so long ago has always blown my mind."
"Agriculture. Like, damn. What a huge win. You mean we don't have hunt and gather anymore? The years of observation and experimentation it must have taken to figure it out is crazy to me."
Feelin Strong One Day
"Manage to build Stonehenge."
"What kind of substance was available back then that motivated so many groups of people to drag tons of rock hundreds of miles only to prop em up in a circle and leave."
A Horrifying Amount of Time to Reflect
"Keep themselves entertained throughout the day. No phones, no TV, no computers, no books even, no music. Surely there's only a set amount of tasks and jobs to do on an everyday basis."
"Then what? Talk to your family the remaining hours of the day? Sit in silence? Sleep?"
One Thing Led to Another
"Found a plant, watched it grow fruit. Took the pit out of that fruit, cooked it over fire. Then took the cooked pits, smashed them all up really tiny, poured hot water over them, and drank it."
"And then discovered that this magic potion gives the drinker energy."
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Imagine being hungry during the caveman days and contemplating whether or not you can eat that giant serpent that just slithered across your path.
Or being captivated by the brightness of a berry and assuming it is delicious enough to eat.
In both scenarios, you either lived to share your delectable discovery with others or died from ingesting something not meant for human consumption. That is, if you weren't consumed first.
Thanks to our intrepid ancestors who did all the hard work for us to determine what was good enough to eat, the only thing we need to worry about is the expiration date.
Curious to pick the brain of strangers, Redditor cplfromholland asked:
Maybe The Third Time's A Charm
"Not exactly a common food, but was watching an episode of one of those survival shows that were popular several years ago. The guy was trying to survive in the South American rainforests and came across a kind of frond eaten by the locals."
"The part that caught me off guard was that he explained the frond couldn't be eaten raw. Trying to eat it uncooked would cause horrible digestive problems, namely diarrhea and cramps, It would be unpleasant but survivable. So the guy boils the frond... and explains that it's still inedible. In order to safely eat this frond you had to boil it once, toss the water out, and then boil it a second time before eating it."
"Some dude a long time ago had to trial and error his way through this; what motherf'ker was like 'yes this made me violently sh*t myself the last two times I tried it, but maybe this time will be different.'"
All Fish Are Not Created Equal
"Pufferfish. Generally they are extremely poisonous to humans and will cause paralysis or death. However, you can eat it if properly handled. How many people had to die to figure out which parts could be consumed and how they needed to be prepared."
"You still occasionally see people getting sick from eating it at restaurants now. If I recall correctly, I think I once read chefs who use it in Japan must take a written examination regarding the proper food care when handling it before being able to serve it. Absolutely wild to think people take the risk to eat it."
"Legend has it that it was goats. A farmer noticed his goats acting differently when eating a certain cherry, and somehow, processing, roasting, and grinding the beans to drink became quite a popular thing."
"That's correct as far as I'm aware - an Ethiopian goat farmer in the 9th century noticed his goats became more energetic after eating the coffee cherry. I'm not sure if he was the one that then took the beans, roasted them and brewed them, but Kaldi, the goat farmer is often attributed with the discovery of the elixir of life."
"How bout some bird-spit soup."
"In a few Asian countries, swifts nest are collected to make soup. Swifts build their nest with their spit. Their saliva is a delicacy in south east Asia and it is supposed to have multiple health benefits."
The Foulest Fruit
"Dudes - who the f'k cracked open a durian and decided that yes, I will eat the thing that smells of dead and onion."
"I got curious and bought one from Chinatown in NYC."
"The man selling it asked me with broken English and a shit eating grin 'you want me open this?' To which I replied 'no, I know what I'm buying.'"
"I opened it on my back porch and the smell made me gag. Tastes like onion custard. Wouldn't recommend."
"F'kin Cashews man. The process is so complicated. They grow on the underside of a fruit, like a single testicle w a lump of cancer on the end. Once you take the nut off, you have to fry it past 190 degrees Celsius to process the shells, because inside those shells is not only the cashew, but an extremely caustic acid that will burn you if not cooked out. Who the f'k wanted to eat the cancer lump that bad?"
"Anything that takes multiple steps to make it edible always makes me wonder who had the patience to figure out all the steps."
Fungus Among Us
Mushrooms, so many are poisonous, but someone kept trying h them."
"'All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once.' - Terry Pratchett"
"A lot of dairy products.... sour cream, it's in the name, it's sour, gone bad, but nope, let's just give it a taste, cottage cheese, I don't know where cottage comes from but it's literally curdled.... let's just dig in and see what we got here... I'm sure most of this stuff was discovered during a famine."
"Oysters. That mother f'ker was hungry."
"20,000 years ago: 'Hey, maybe if you pry open this rock there will be something to eat inside.'"
"What did you find?"
"Cool I bet it goes with cocktail sauce"
"Soy sauce. It's a bunch of rotten soy bean juice with salt in it. Who tf thought that was a good idea to try."
People don't usually live their lives considering the future generations too heavily.
Sure, one's children and grandchildren are in the plans. But rarely do the children 200 years from now factor into the plans.
Thus, people live life rather precariously. They take chances, go pursue strange adventures, carry on risque and dramatic relationships. In the vacuum of a single life, that's all well enough.
But for the people generations down the line, looking back on those old biographies, an ancestor's approach can seem wild. It might even leave one feeling that if one small detail turned out differently, the whole story would have went in a different direction.
And that is of existential importance for the person looking at the history.
starman123 asked, "Reddit, what parts of your family history is interesting?"
"Interesting, if not incredibly sad. I had a great great grandma (or aunt, can't remember) who had 13 children out of wedlock, all by different men. She was nicknamed notoriously loose Julie by her town."
"The doctor told her not to have anymore children after the 12th, but she did so, and both her and that baby died."
"The community felt she was such a stain on the town's reputation they refused to bury her in the town cemetery (back in the old days, small town)."
Life Took a Turn
"Grandfather had an affair with my grandmother's sister. He got her pregnant and when the little boy turned 7, he went to live with my grandparents...and they raised him as their own."
"The pain my grandmother must have felt is insane. I didn't learn this until this year at 36."
"My Swedish ancestors arrived to Australia by boat. When they arrived one of them got crushed by a crate that fell off a crane on the docks. He made it all the way and didn't even get to set foot in Australia." -- nimernith
"Dam even just the flight from Europe to Australia is anxiety fuel, can't imagine taking a boat all the way there. I'll take my chances in Europe eating potatoes." -- Another_Human
Expand on that Takeover, Please
"My great uncle traced our family back 14 generations. We tried to take over in Wales, failed and were then banished." -- [deleted]
"Did you find this out after trying to enter wales?" -- c0ber
"Do you ever sit by a window during a cold, summer rain; looking out soulfully into the darkness? And as you slowly draw your fingers against the fogged glass; yearn for what could have been yours?" -- IronCorvus
An Empowered Line
"Women in my family have been going to college for seven generations (since the 1840s). Most of them have Master's degrees."
"Also one of these women (either my g-grandma or my g-g-grandma) was involved in the first car wreck in her city as a teenager when she stole her parent's car and drove it into a horse-drawn buggy. A legend."
"I'm related to John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln. There's a family legend that John actually survived the manhunt and lived in a family attic until he died of old age. There are also various other escape theories running about."
"When my family tried to get the bones of the body the US government claims is John Wilkes tested, a judge first denied exhumation."
"There are three vertebrae being kept by the US Army Medical Command, and they also denied permission, claiming that the test which would require less than .4 grams of bone would be too destructive."
A Very Great Grandmother
"My great grandmother was the first woman to vote in Maine." -- Jeffveilleux2
"Get that suffrage girl!!" -- Nopef***this
"Epic Gamer Moment #53" -- SSJRobbieRotten
"Hot" -- DuncansAlpha
An Alarming Discovery
"My family tree has this one branch that loops back to itself..." -- The_Blatalian
"Break out the banjo." -- steven_hawking_legs
"Are you your own grandpa?" -- Myfourcats1
"Fellow loopedy-loop tree, I see you." -- Chieftain-drake
"My grandfather is an identical twin. During WW2 he joined the military and his twin took his place at his job. Grandfather got out of the army made up a new name he's been going by since." -- handsthefram
A Historical Claim
"One of my great something grandfathers was Thomas Wolsey, the cardinal over England during the reign of Henry VIII and the guy who attempted to get the pope to let Henry divorce Cathrine of Argon. Apparently I came from one of the bastard children he fathered with Joan Larke."
An Organized Crime Plot?
"There were two Tilley's on the Mayflower that I could potentially be very distant relatives to. Apparently a prostitute and a horse thief." -- cockapooch
"Elizabeth Tilley is my 14th great grandmother. No word on her profession or penchant for equine thievery." -- hedpe70
"I'm both Austrian and Italian, but also neither of those."
"My ancestors immigrated from a place that was technically Austria, they wrote Austria on all their paperwork. But now it's Italy. My ancestors would tell you they were Italian."
"Anyways. I should be eligible for Italian citizenship by blood, but when I applied, they essentially said, 'No, you're Austrian". So I attempted the same in Austria. Their reply? 'No, you're Italian.' "
A Succinct Description
"I probably have the factor wrong, but somewhere around my 8x great uncle was President James Buchanan: the US's only bachelor president who was most likely gay and hands-down the worst president in our history."
Middle Age Success
"My family was running one of the biggest french pottery businesses during the middle age." -- julos42
"You mother is a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries." -- AlienStoriesGiphy
Tough Act to Follow
"Up until me, every single person in my blood line got laid." -- dlordjr
"I hear it skips a generation." -- omgwhatsavailable
"Ah so you followed sex ed nice." -- Ovisers318872
A Slight, Permanent Tweak
"When my family came to America (somewhere around the late 1800s, early 1900s) we added an 'O' onto the front of our name to make it sound Irish."
"Everyone was giving low-paying jobs to the Irish and it was an easy way to get a job at the time."
A Big Reveal
"My grandparents were dating and got engaged. During this time my grandmother's mum and my grandfather's dad began having an affair. On the day of my grandparent's wedding they left their respective partners and told people they were together. So it makes them step brother and sister."
"My grandmother is still salty about it as you can imagine."
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