Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Interesting Phenomena in Our Family Trees—Coincidence? Serendipity? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation–traveling through time with our tribe? Two more families in the neighborhood.


Aerial view of cul-de-sac with neighbors who are related from Google Earth

Aerial view of cul-de-sac with neighbors who are related from Google Earth

Due to privacy concerns, I will not name two of my neighbors whom we love and are involved with, and with whom I’ve found that I am kin to or were neighbors of as much as 400 years ago!

Founders of New Jersey by Evelyn Hunt Ogden
I wrote a blog post about my 7th great-grandfather, Hartman Vreeland (read it here) who was one of the Founders of the state of New Jersey in the USA. I found a marvelous book by Evelyn Hunt Ogden who listed the founders of NJ and included brief biographies of all the founders. Besides our 7th great-grandfather, I have discovered kinship or connections in present times with ten of this community who were alive and well in New Jersey in the mid and late 1600s!
One of my neighbors used to be a police officer in this area of North Carolina where we now live. In my research, I find his own 10th great- grandfather was the sheriff of the community in New Jersey where my Hartman Vreeland lived! How is that possible? They both purchased land from the Native Americans as well! What an incredible find, and what an amazing ancestral history to discover you share with your neighbor. His grandfather kept my grandfather safe in 1665, and now my neighbor helps keep us safe!

Jamestown Society symbol
Also living on our street is a family where the father used to teach in the same school with my husband, before my husband retired. They are a loving, young family whose child is friends with our grandchild. They moved into our neighborhood after we did, and were not known to us before then. Now I find through my dna, and a paper trail, that I am kin to both the husband and the wife! It looks like our ancestors were together in Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, 400 years ago!

Castlerock Street view from google earth
We live on a cul-de-sac with 12 houses; I can now draw kinship or connections to at least five of my neighbors from 300-400 years ago! Five out of twelve is 41.6% , almost 42% of those twelve, and I haven’t investigated the rest! In my next post, I’ll disclose a discovered kinship to a neighbor in our same subdivision, but on a different street, with whom I can prove a relationship from the 1300’s–over 600 years ago! To me this is a miracle, awesome, and such an amazing adventure in research, dna, and genealogy!

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Interesting Phenomena in our family trees–coincidence? Part 2, the Voorhees Family


Voorhees family, Linda and siblings!

The Voorhees Family of Maryland, with Linda Voorhees in the center (in dark blue) of her siblings. Thanks to Linda for permission to use this photograph.


Time Travel? Six Degrees of Separation? Reincarnation and traveling through life with your tribe? God’s miracle? In this mini-series of blog posts, I am exploring connections I found, especially with my neighbors, as I researched my family tree. Can you imagine what my neighbors thought as I began to say to more and more of them, “I think we might be kin to each other!” LOL Once maybe, but five times!? There are many other connections that coincide with these. It raises questions, makes me think of things I’ve only read about before!
The VanVoorhees family was originally from the Netherlands. They came to this country of America by at least 1660– when Steven Coerte VanVoorhees, born in Hees, Drenthe, Holland in 1600, came to New Amsterdam, New York. The name was shortened to Voorhees in America, with some families changing it to Voorus, Vorhis, and other spellings.
My introduction to the Voorhees family came in 2004, when I moved into a new neighborhood in North Carolina, USA, and Linda Voorhees and her husband Jerry McLaughlin lived across the street from me. They had retired and moved from the Washington DC area, Maryland to be specific. The day we first saw our perspective new house, we met Jerry McLaughlin. He was in his yard working, and we asked him a few questions about the neighborhood. His warm welcome, best wishes and most of all, his incredibly charming laugh…stayed with me and made me feel like we had found the place we were supposed to be. Little did I know how much at “home” this neighborhood would become.
Linda and I became good friends, she is one of the smartest, most giving, kind, and friendly people you could ever meet! Besides that, her past was so very interesting in that she had worked with congressmen, for the World Bank, and had an office in the White House when Bill and Hillary Clinton were there! We became good gardening friends as well and she was President of our local gardening club. We became Red Hatters together also, and had so much shared fun! I was struck by the fact that she had six sisters and one brother! My mother had been one of six sisters and one brother as well, it intrigued me how close to each other both families were.
It wasn’t until 2011 that I began to explore the world of genealogy and develop my family tree. I was truly a newbie, and knew very little about my ancestors when I started. First, I began to see the name McLaughlin crisscrossing my family tree! I even asked Jerry to let me develop a family tree for him so that I could tell if we connected! He already had a lot of family information, but said “sure”. That exploration connected with my Hogue family of Scottish descent, although Jerry was Irish. A lot of Scots of course, settled in Ireland for a period of time before coming to America.
I was exploring and cataloging my Hogue family who came to Pennsylvania in 1747 with some moving to Ohio shortly after 1800. I came across the most wonderful book titled The Story of the Dining Fork, by Joseph T. Harrison, copyright, 1927. The Dining Fork was a valley near a branch of the Tuscarawas River in the southern part of Carroll County and northern part of Harrison County, Ohio. Harrison writes this story in such a way that it covers many historical events of the nineteenth century, at the same time, he writes so personally of the citizens and neighbors that you feel you get to know them a bit! I was intrigued and read most of the book, available from the card catalog on ancestry.com. Imagine my shock and surprise when I discovered that he wrote about neighbors there, Hogues and Voorhees! Wow! Not only were they neighbors, but they were teachers and more at the brand new Scio College built in the town, later to become a Methodist college. Linda and I are both Methodists. It took some work to link these Voorhees to Linda’s family and those particular Hogues to mine! Thanks to Linda’s helping me develop a tree of her family, and many Hogue relatives helping me with my research,  we were able to determine, that the Jacob Voorhees who moved to Ohio from New Jersey, was Linda’s third cousin! Robert S. Hogue who also taught at Scio College, was not my 4th great uncle as I had first thought , but my own cousin as well! They lived and worked together in the late 1860’s, at least 155 years ago! Now Linda and I are friends in 2015. But that was just the first time I found our families in close proximity!
Continuing to work closely with a group of family researchers, I met a woman named Dorothy Hogg Moore from Pennsylvania. In studying her family tree, and how our Hoggs/Hogues were related, I made a startling discovery–several in fact. She was a Voorhees descendant! Another connection! Her family had changed the spelling to Voorus, but her line tracked right back to Garret Voorhees, born 10 April, 1761 in Monmouth, New Jersey, USA, Linda’s fourth great grandfather! That made Linda and Dorothy fifth cousins!

Voorus sisters of Pennsylvania with Dorothy on left, namesake of Dorothy Hogg Moore

The Voorus sisters of Pennsylvania. Dorothy Voorus, fourth from left, is the one who imarried Calvin Hogg, and is the namesake for Dorothy Hogg Moore. thanks to Dorothy H. Moore for permission to use this photograph.

In Dorothy’s tree also, I discovered another amazing thing.  Now, the Hogues who are on my father’s side of the family, were the connection between the Voorhees and me, but here were the Spanglers from my mother’s family—German descent Spanglers, in the family with these Hoggs and Voorus/Voorhees families! Her Spanglers definitely traced back to my Spangler ancestors! We were kin through the Hogues and the Spanglers, and she and Linda through the Voorhees. The Spanglers joined the Voorus’s in the mid 1800’s, and the Voorus’s joined the Hoggs/Hogues around the turn of the century to 1900, so we’re talking interactions again about 100 to 150 years ago! All in one family tree with a neighbor.
But I wasn’t finished yet. My maiden name was Helen Spear Youngblood. I was tracking all my major lines back as far as I could, so the Spears of course were one of those lines. In the Spear/Spier line, I have surnames Banta, Vreeland, and VanSwol among others. It wasn’t long before I ran into the surname Voorhees again! This time it showed that my 8th great-grandfather, Henrich Jansen Spier, 1619-1679, and Linda’s 9th great-grandfather, Steven Coerte VanVoorhees, b,1600 in Hees, Drenthe, Holland, Death 16 Feb 1684 in Flatlands, Kings, New York, United States, were both in New Amsterdam together. In the mid 1600’s, it’s likely they knew each other!
As I explored this time era with this family further, I found more connections with Linda’s family! Look what I wrote her via email late one night as I was researching –this connection takes us back 250 years!
Hi Linda darlin,  As you may have seen, I just wrote a blog post yesterday on an ancestor from the Netherlands, Magdelina Van Swol who married one of my Spiers, my maiden name was Helen Spear Youngblood, same line of Spears/Spiers. Anyway, the Spiers, VanSwols, and Bantas are all contemporaries (in the mid 1600’s!) in my line, so imagine my surprise when I saw Magdalena VanVoorhees married to one of my Banta cousins! Wow! They both lived in Bergen, NJ, and went to the Dutch Reformed Church there. Magdalena (1739 – 1810)) is your 2nd cousin, 8x removed (8 generations removed). Her husband Albert Hendrickse Banta, 1728-1810, is my 2nd cousin, 7x removed! that makes their children our mutual 3rd cousins, removed 7x for you, and 6x for me! LOL We keep crossing paths in this life, we were meant to be friends and neighbors I think!
Awesome! Linda and I became neighbors in 2004, we had never met before. I had never heard the name Voorhees as far as I know. Then in 2011, I started doing genealogy and wow, Linda’s ancestors and mine certainly seem to have traveled through time together! How can we explain this?  How interesting that Linda was not my only neighbor with whom this happened! In the next couple posts, I’ll outline how I found that at least four more of my neighbors’ ancestors and my ancestors knew each other! I’m thinking of Linda’s sending me this definition of coincidence–“a miracle where God’s presence is invisible.” That idea speaks to me! We might also consider, Six Degrees of Separation, Reincarnation, and Serendipity!

LOL I love my neighbors, and my family, and isn’t genealogical research fun!




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Interesting Phenomena in our Family Trees–in Our Lives — Coincidence? Happenstance? Serendipity? Reincarnation? Six Degrees of Separation?


Now that my family tree entries have grown past 20,000, interesting facts have begun to emerge. I have found that the ancestors of some of my current neighbors, some extended family I’d only met through my research, and another blogger whom I only know through blogging —- our ancestors probably knew each other because they went to the same church, lived on the same street, were even married, or were in some way connected–as much as 150 years ago, some 200 years ago, and some as much as 400 years ago! How do we explain that we now know each other in 2015–that we never knew each other before recently, but there are these connections!?
I have been amazed, and as I’ve looked at the facts, and discussed it with folks… some say it just proves we are all related. Some think it is reincarnation. Some look at it with curiosity like I do…how can we explain it? If it were just one neighbor, we could chalk it up to serendipity, but five neighbors?!
I thought maybe I’d blog about it a bit, maybe discuss some of the examples, and see what you all think. I’d really like to know! Respectfully of course! LOL
Let me tell you why I thought of some of these concepts to possibly explain what I have found. In Wikipedia we find this statement: “Six degrees of separation is the theory that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. It was originally set out by Frigyes Karinthy in 1929” We have this image from Wikipedia, an original work by Dannie Walker, that beautifully illustrates this concept and it sticks in my mind!

Six Degrees of Separation visualization by Dannie Walker featured in Wikipedia article about this subject. see link in accompanying post

Six Degrees of Separation visualization by Dannie Walker featured in Wikipedia article about this subject. see link in accompanying post


Also from Wikipedia, an article on Reincarnation states: “Reincarnation is the religious or philosophical concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, can begin a new life in a new body. This doctrine is a central tenet of the Indian religions. It is also a common belief of various ancient and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar and is found in many tribal societies around the world, in places such as Siberia, West Africa, North America, and Australia.”

The concept of having had a past life enters into reincarnation of course. I have read in many places that people often, or usually “travel” lifetimes with the same people important to them, their tribe so to say. I once met a psychic and researcher, the Assistant Director of the Rhine Parapsychology Research Center at Duke University. Even though that was over thirty years ago, and she is deceased now, I have audio tapes from our encounter. She said I had lived several past lives and told me that my immediate family had always been with me, although in different roles and sexes. She said Max (my husband) and I were brother and sister in ancient Tibet–that we worked in a monastery. She said Max was the cook…and he is the cook now in our own family! Wow–no wonder he’s so good at it! LOL

Now I am 65, almost 66 years old. Ten years ago we moved into a brand new neighborhood, where everyone was new, not just us. We did not know anyone here, nor had we ever lived in this county, although we had earlier lived about 30 miles away from here before moving to the coast of North Carolina  for a while. When we moved here, I was not doing genealogical research. I had been an active professional psychologist and avid volunteer until age 50 when I was stopped in my tracks by heart disease. At that point I was just coping with my illness, in and out of the hospital, expecting truly to die at any moment. Meeting my new neighbors, who became close friends, made a huge difference in my life, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Did we come to this neighborhood by coincidence? One of my neighbors, Linda Voorhees McLaughlin, reminded me of this definition of coincidence: “a miracle where God’s presence is invisible!” Isn’t that wonderful, it gives me chills, and makes me wonder about God’s hand in bringing this particular group of people together as neighbors.

It was about 2011, almost four years ago that I started doing genealogical research, starting as a way to create a gift for my last living Aunt– a family tree. The initial effort got me hooked! I was amazed, intrigued, and highly entertained by all the things I began to discover!

Before long I ran into the name of one of my neighbors in my family tree! The McLaughlin family lived across the street from us, and now I began to see that name in our family tree! Both of those intersecting lines were Scottish, my Hogues and McLaughlin. In that very same Hogue line, within the first year of my research, I began to see the names Burgess, McKay, (pronounced McCoy) Pryor, and Hamilton names associated with my Hogue family and my next door neighbors, Dora McKay Burgess and her husband John Hamilton Pryor! I kept digging. I even offered to trace the family trees of my neighbors in hopes of discovering the kinship or connection! They were kind enough to let me!

As I worked on their trees, I was surprised to learn that Jerry McLaughlin’s wife Linda had been a Voorhees by birth, because having never heard that name before moving here and becoming neighbors and friends, well yes, I found Voorhees all over my family tree! What was going on?!
Then there was my friend Lynn! We were neighbors also, friends over gardening hobbies! We were “daylily buddies”. I didn’t even know her maiden name until last year! By the time I discovered her maiden name, I was kin to her as well! Pierces, we shared a tenth great-grandfather! I shared her Baird line as well! She had moved here from Pennsylvania. While I had been in North Carolina for a while, I had grown up in Virginia, and knew no Pierces, Voorhees, Burgesses, or Pryors that I knew of! There’s more! It turns out I am kin to, or have found my ancestors working with, or going to church with at least five of my neighbors! That is NOT coincidence, but what is it?

These mysteries and others are the ones I am going to write about for the next four or more blog posts anyway. I hope that you will enjoy the exploration of all of this with me, and join in a discussion so that I can know what you think.

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