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The Genealogy Sojourner: A Marine, A Priest, And A Porthole

Submitted by John Muller on Fri, 12/07/2018 - 12:00 AM

Text Representation Of Search Preview For William George Muller

The U.S.S Oklahoma - A Tale Of Sacrifice And Survival

Today is the seventy-seventh anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. As time passes and the number of survivors continue to dwindle its important to remember and preserve their stories especially if you have a family connection. One such personal story is one my grandfather told me about a marine officer cousin of his that was "shoved out a porthole" of the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack by a catholic priest who was allegedly "too big" to fit through it. His cousin was able to swim to shore and go on to have a distinguished military career. Sadly the heroic priest was lost when the ship capsized. So it got me thinking, all of us have the potential for random connections to history. We just need to know where to look.

Turns Out, William Was My First Cousin Twice Removed!

Here's how I was able to learn more about him and his connection to my family tree:

  1. Genealogy Websites: There are a host of sites available to aid in your research. Here are three to check out:
  2. After Action Accounts: I found these articles provided additional insight:

Recommended Reads

Family gatherings and the resources I've already mentioned are just the beginning. For more clues on helping to track down those elusive members of your family tree, try finding nonfiction history titles related to the time and events they experienced.

For example these are titles I used to get a better understanding of Pearl Harbor and the USS Oklahoma.

Book Cover For At Dawn We Slept Book Cover For Tora! Tora! Tora! Book Cover For Day Of Infamy

Bonus: What's a "First Cousin Twice Removed"?

Not sure how a "First Cousin Twice Removed" is related to you? Here's a decent blog post about cousin relationships that includes a chart. This quote clarifies it pretty well, but check out the charts to fully understand it:

"What happens when you share a common ancestor but are not in the same generation? You define your relationship by determining the total number of generations that you are removed from your cousin and then combine it with your cousin relationship."

Additional Resources

San José Public Library has resources available so you too can do your own investigation and share the results with family and friends.

Blog Category
Local History

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