52 Ancestors: #7 Melick: I am my own grandpa

Here’s the story of how I got hooked on genealogy, and how I discovered that my parents are cousins.

Several years ago, I decided on a whim to do a free trial membership on ancestry.com. I was going on my merry way adding lots of people to my tree, starting with the ancestors I knew and then from the hints from other peoples trees (without really checking many sources! I’ve come a long way since then, and I’m still trying to clean up my tree and make sure that I really have sources/reasons for each relationship/person included). Anyways, I was going along, and I was working on some ancestors back in the late 1700’s/1800’s, and started coming across source hints from The Story of An Old Farm by Andrew D. Mellick, Jr., a book with a lot of the history of the Melick/Mellick/Moelich family in America. At first, I didn’t think anything of this, since I’m a Melick and my dad has a copy or two of this book at home. But then, I realized that I had been working on my mom’s side of the tree – what was going on? I quickly navigated back through my tree, and sure enough, it looked like I had a Melick ancestor on my mom’s side too!

At this point, I was wondering (1) – is this really right that there’s a Melick on my mom’s side, and (2), how is this Melick ancestor related to my dad’s line of Melick’s? So, at this point, I realized that sources really are important, and went back through the line from my mom to Rebecca Melick, the first Melick on her side, to check if this really was correct. It was, as far as I could tell. Then I started working back on my dad’s side to see if these two Melick lines met. They did. Rebecca Melick, who is my mom’s 4x great grandmother, is the sister of my dad’s 3x great grandfather, Jonas Melick. Since then, I’ve discovered that just about all Melicks/Mellicks/etc. in America are related, since we all descend from a few immigrants who were related. 

For those of you keeping track, that means my parents are 5th cousins once removed, my mom is my 6th cousin, my dad is my 5th cousin twice removed, and I’m my own 6th cousin once removed.

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Relationship chart from me to myself

 After I broke the news to my parents that they’re cousins, it became a running family joke. My mom now proudly claims The Story of an Old Farm as her own history too. Finding out something so interesting got me hooked on genealogy, and I’ve been researching my family history ever since. It’s a little like that song ‘I Am My Own Grandpa’.

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Strange finds: human hair used in WWII Navy Instruments

Today while I was transcribing one of my Licking county ancestors’ obituaries, I noticed this strange, intriguing little piece of news a few columns over. A Maryland company had accepted a woman’s length of hair which had been cut 18 years before, and the company planned to use it in the manufacture of navy instruments.

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“Accept Hair” from The Newark Advocate, page 11, published in Newark, Ohio on 14 December 1942

What in the world was the navy using human hair for?? A quick Google search brought up this article from the Defense Media Network which informed me that human hair (especially blonde hair) was extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, and that these temperature changes induced changes in the hair that could be measured with great precision. At least if it had never been touched by a curling iron or chemicals. It was therefore used in meteorological instruments such as radiosonde hygrometers

You learn something new every day!