Genealogy Wise

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Back in the early days of his CBS "Late Night" show, David Letterman (fellow Hoosier!) did a bit with audience members called "Brush With Greatness." Three or four people would get to stand up and tell of their brief, bizarre, incidental contact with a celebrity, and get a prize (a canned ham or something). It would start out with their true story, but then Dave would always say "but that's not all that happened, was it?" and then the person would read a ridiculous embellishment by the staff writers.

Anyway, I know many of us have reached the point where we realize we're not related to famous people or royalty...but! Maybe our ancestors had a "brush with greatness" that we know of! So, I thought it would be fun to share those stories. It's up to you if you want to add a humorous embellishment, a la "but that's not all that happened..." I'm certainly not soliciting it; I just want to know how many cool stories ordinary ancestors of ordinary people have about the celebrities of their day.

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OK, well, I'll start, then.

My great-great grandmother on my mother's mother's mother's side was Rachel Carman. Her first husband apparently ran out on her shortly after their marriage in 1837. She was one of the first people in Sangamon County to file for divorce, on the grounds of "desertion". Her lawyer was Abraham Lincoln, who was known to the family. He had rescued her brother from almost drowning in a nearby river in 1831, and he'd also been a patron of her father's tavern. Additionally, her second husband, Pierson Roll (from whom my line descends), knew Lincoln well enough to write to him when he was president, requesting that his son-in-law be pardoned for desertion from the Union Army during the Civil War; he had been ill. Due to his father-in-law's intervention, Joshua Jones received a backdated honorable discharge in 1864.



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