22 August 2012

Striking similarity

"He looks just like his father." How often have you heard that said about a child?

I've been reading an article "Sally Hemings's Children: genealogical analysis of the evidence" by Helen Leary published in the (US) National Genealogical Society Quarterly of September 2001. Hemings was a slave in Predident Thomas Jefferson's household at Monticello. In the article Leary examines "the chain of evidence that securely fastens Sally Hemings's children to their father Thomas Jefferson." Part of the evidence mentioned is the "striking similarity" between Sally's son Madison Hemings and Thomas Jefferson.

However such similarities in appearance can occur when there is no known family relationships. For example, there are job opportunities for Sarah Palin look-alikes at strip clubs for the forthcoming Republican National Convention! Google it!

Local genealogical guru Alison Hare CG tells me she can't think of any other cases where similarities in appearance, or commonalities of speech and mannerisms have been used in proving a genealogical case, perhaps because most studies involve more distant generations than the Hemings case.

What's striking similarity? If you see the person approaching from the other direction in the street and greet them as someone you know, only to find it's a look-alike, that would be striking similarity.

Let's explore our experience. Please answer the poll and leave a comment with your experience if it would be helpful.




turner said...

When my late husband Ed Cooke met the son of his half-brother in England, the whole family was struck by the similarity between them. The half-nephew looked very very much like Ed, but was about 5 inches shorter. It was an astonishing similarity for such a distant relationship. Cheers.
Brenda Turner

Linda J. Hauley said...

I have three sisters, no brothers. My youngest (12 years between us) sister and I look very much alike. So much so, that when I was visiting with her a child of about 5 from her neighbourhood saw the two of us standing outside her place admiring her garden and said, "O-o-o-o-o! There's two of them!" We often still chuckle about that.
My other two sisters looked very much alike also. But our resemblance to our mother is very much evident when I look in the mirror!!

Persephone said...

You don't give an option for "all three of the affirmatives"!!

a) I have been mistaken for, and addressed as, my mother on three separate occasions. There was a particular period when she was in her fifties and I was in my thirties when this seemed to happen a lot. It doesn't happen any more.

b) My husband has known me since I was 20 and one of my nieces apparently so resembled me at a younger age that when he first met her, he had quite a jolt.

c) On three separate occasions, I have been mistaken for someone else by a stranger. One fellow carried on a five-minute conversation with me before realizing I was someone else. I, of course, simply assumed that he knew me and I hadn't recognised him. (I suspect I have mild face-blindness.)

Quite apart from myself, I keep running into spooky resemblances between living relatives and long-dead relatives in my family tree and those of others, enough to require a small recovery period.

Anonymous said...

Some years ago, people constantly mistook me for a contemporary friend. If we were seen together, new acquaintances would invariably ask if we were sisters. If they met us separately, they would call each of us by the other's name, or simply ask "are you Amy or Jennifer?" My friend got irritated by the confusion; as an only child, she valued her individuality. I laughed it off; also an only child, I thought it was quite fun to have a taste of a larger "family's" life.

Anonymous said...

In my family we have stiking resemblances between 1st and 2nd cousins as well as between child, parent and grandparents and siblings. It was amazing to go to England and meet a 2nd cousin who looked just like my sister. All my son's 1st cousins on my side look like they could be his brothers and sisters.