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A family 'e-union'
March 15, 2008 - Bill Ackerbauer
Since I started writing this blog a few weeks ago, I've received a number of inquiries from people who've read it. By far, the question they most commonly ask is something along the lines of "Hey, I see your last name is Ackerbauer. Are you related to so-and-so? I think we're related."
I've recently been contacted by distant cousins (people I never knew existed) in the Utica area and Florida, for example. And the other night, my wife came home from her art class and said another woman in the class asked, out of the blue, if anyone in the class had ever heard of "this Bill Ackerbauer character ..." Turns out I'm related to her, too.
I'm pretty terrible at arithmetic (but not bad compared to the average English major), so I might have this figure wrong, but it occurred to me that if my great-grandfather Rupert Ackerbauer had five children, and his children each had four children, and they each had three children (these are estimates, but close), that would mean I have 60 cousins in my generation alone, all who have him as a common great grandfather.
I started to ponder how many other cousins I might estimate if I factor in my father's father's mother's family, my father's mother's family (I think she had seven or eight siblings!) ... and then my mother's mother's mother's family and my mother's mother's father's family and so on ... but I started to reach for a calculator and got a little woozy. Anybody who's played a certain popular party game knows where this might lead -- if Kevin Bacon is my fifth cousin twice removed on my father's brother's uncle's side, I'd rather not know about it.
At any rate, I thought I would pass on this little tidbit for the genealogically inclined. The Web site www.ellisisland.org has an easy-to-use searchable database of passenger records at Ellis Island. If your ancestors sailed into New York Harbor on a steamer from the old country (whether that's in Europe or elsewhere), their names are probably in the database.
Here's what I found about my great-grandfather on that site (I understand his name really only has one 'p' ... but nobody's pperfect):
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