Saturday, December 7, 2019

Adding Generations of Judds to the Family Tree

Last week I solved a mystery that's had me stumped for the past decade.

When and where did my fourth great-grandfather George Felix Gervais (Anglicized to Jarvis) die? For that answer, see Solving The Mysterious Disappearance of My Québécois Grandfather.

In that post, I blogged only a passing mention of George's wife Adeline Parmelia Judd.

Finding a family connection

Adeline - born on February 1, 1845 in Warwick, Quebec - was the daughter of Levi and Ruth (Young) Judd. Those names caught the eye of Janice Webster Brown, author of Cow Hampshire - New Hampshire's history blog, who immediately recognized a distant family link.

Joking that she was a cousin to everyone, Janice pinpointed our common ancestor as Thomas Judd who was born in England in 1608, emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony by 1634, and died in Northampton, Massachusetts on November 12, 1688. Today, he's credited as a founder of Hartford, Connecticut.

I wasn't familiar with Thomas Judd. He wasn't in my family tree.

In fact, my Judd line stopped with Levi Judd's father, Amon Judd (1771-1847) who was my sixth great-grandfather.

The Judd Tree Blooms

Although my research time and energy had been dedicated elsewhere, my curiosity was sufficiently piqued.

I began sifting through New England's very well-documented genealogy records and quickly climbed five generations beyond Amon to Thomas Judd, my 11th great-grandfather.

All told, I added 13 new direct ancestors to my pedigree (including spouses and their forebears). My Judd line took the following path:

  • Adeline Parmelia (Judd) Jarvis: 4th great-grandmother
  • Levi Judd: 5th great-grandfather
  • Amon Judd: 6th great-grandfather
  • Levi Judd: 7th great-grandfather
  • Nathan Judd: 8th great-grandfather
  • Benjamin Judd Jr.: 9th great-grandfather
  • Benjamin Judd: 10th great-grandfather
  • Thomas Judd: 11th great-grandfather

A Tangential Connection

I don't often recount my own personal history on this blog, but the Judd connection simply cannot be overlooked.

Growing up, my parents listened to country music. They made it the soundtrack of our lives.

Exposure to the genre sparked a life-long passion for Wynonna Judd whose voice was unlike anything else on the radio. Rising above the monotonous twangy drivel, I appreciated her distinction. There's grit and depth infused into her expansive range that you can really latch onto.

Over the years I've seen her in concert many times, like catching up with an old friend (perhaps my sustained affinity is just an indulged fondness for childhood).

The first time I saw her perform live was April 24, 1993 at McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, Colorado. The date is etched in my mind because I had joined her fan club and won a pass to meet her backstage.

My aunt took me to the concert. I was devastated disappointed when venue security confiscated my camera at the entrance. I would have to remember the experience with my mind's eye.

My aunt didn't have a pass, so she sent me backstage alone.

A long line of fans were inching their way to Wynonna for a picture. The woman in line behind me (much more skilled at sneaking her camera into the venue) generously offered to take and mail me a photo (remember, this was before the internet). I scrawled my address on a cocktail napkin.

Finally, it was my moment. Wynonna reached over and hugged me close to her.

"We gonna make some noise tonight?" she growled.

I was star-struck. "Yes!" was all I could muster. We smiled. A photo was snapped. And I was whisked away.

A month later I received an envelope in the mail. Inside there was no note. Just a photograph.

Family Sleuther and Wynonna
April 24, 1993, McNichols Sports Arena, Denver, CO

While I typically turn my nose up at family historians focused on surfacing links to celebrities, my newly expanded Judd line had me curious whether we shared a distant connection.

I suppose a perk of achieving any kind of fame is that you encounter folks eager to map out your ancestry. Unsurprisingly, the pedigree for Wynonna, her sister actress Ashley, and their mother Naomi Judd is pretty well documented.

As it turns out, Wynonna's eighth great-grandfather, Benjamin Judd Jr., is my ninth great-grandfather.

It appears that we are ninth cousins once removed. Or, when you consider that just centuries ago pedigree collapse meant the world was much more closely related, Wynonna and I are really just strangers and no closer than we were before I wrote this blog.

Nonetheless, this is my new fun fact that I'm keeping in my back pocket along with a particular photo.


  1. What a great story!! And I can't believe you can trace back to your 11th eyes are green with envy!

    1. Honestly, I can hardly believe it either. It seems to only happen on my family lines that arrived in North America during the Colonial era.

  2. If it wasn’t for my stubbornness that every set of grandparents must be thoroughly researched from their children on down to as current as I can reach I might never have discovered that I am distant cousins with Randy Travis, Justin Timberlake and artist, Bob Timberlake by way of my biological maternal lines.

    1. That's a great collection of relatives to bring to the table, Dawn! Your stubbornness clearly pays off. We're both set for the next round of genealogy trivia. :)

  3. So, we're cousins, distant ones of course. Thomas is my 8th great grandfather. I don't have a record of his wife, though. Another mystery to be solved.

    1. Always another mystery! :) Thank you for connecting with more of my kin, Janice.