One of the techniques I've been using to build up the family tree to ridiculous proportions is the use of search engines. I plug in the two names of some married couple from my distant past, and see what comes up. In that way, I can piggy-back on the work of others. Once you get back a few generations, you'd be surprised what you can find ... provided that the people live in this country. In other words, it's not much help, or at least less help, for those who came over less than, say, 120 years ago.
So let's meet John Locke and Elizabeth Berry. John lived from 1627 to 1696, while Liz was around from 1635 to 1708. There's a connection to them through my father's mother, although it's not direct. John, by the way, was killed by Indians in Rye, New Hampshire (near Portsmouth).
Having plugged in those names to Google, it was suggested on one of those sites that there was a connection of John Locke to John Locke, the famous philosopher -- one of those guys who bored me in my college philosophy class. ("I'm bored, therefore I am.") I sent this information to my good friend Glenn Locke, author of "The Tall Thin Guy," which you should be visiting regularly if you aren't already. He said he was indeed distantly related to the philosopher too, which makes us technically related.
He said it was a good idea that we didn't get married; I couldn't agree more.
But that wasn't the surprise of the day. Another few Web sites down on the list of search results came another family tree. The page was called "The Ancestry of Halle Berry." John and Liz were her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents. It's only a coincidence that Elizabeth and Halle are both Berrys; Halle picked up the family name from a grandfather.
Related to Halle Berry? Now we're talking. When is that family reunion?