By now, nearly everyone has heard of the concept, six degrees of separation. According to this theory, each of us is on average, six steps away from any other person on Earth…via a friend of a friend of a friend, etc.
Most hard-core Disney fans would likely choose Walter Elias Disney to connect to, so you can imagine how I lit up when I received information that makes my association to Walt a distinct possibility.
While watching the documentary “Frank and Ollie” my aunt was surprised to hear Ollie mention our tiny hometown. I became fascinated when she told me so I bought myself a copy of the DVD. I couldn’t wait to watch and hear it for myself.
The story of these immensely talented men is as captivating to me as the history of Walt, himself…but I was especially interested in the link to my birthplace. I watched intently to this engaging bit of Disney history and waited to hear them bring up Tuscola, Illinois.
At thirty-two minutes and thirty-seven seconds into the movie, a section titled “Before They Met” begins. Frank and Ollie discuss commonalities between them, that they discovered after knowing each other for some time.
Ollie speaks about a “Strange coincidence… Frank’s mother was born in Tuscola, Illinois the same town that my mother was born in…A little dinky place not far from Champaign-Urbana.”
No way! This is where I was born. My family has been here more than 150 years. It’s where I live today. I was in awe.
That would be enough…but it wasn’t long after, that my aunt informed me about her research on ancestry.com. She discovered that we share with Ollie, a branch in our family tree. The Nelson branch.
I couldn’t wait to see for myself…to find out who, what and where. But time and financial constraints put a hold on my quest. Several months passed before I got around to checking, but I did it.
Turns out…my great, great, great, great grandparents, Benjamin B. Nelson and Delphena S. Miller-Nelson are Oliver Johnston’s great, great grandparents. An actual, historic Disney connection all my own.
Now I’m not really sure how to go about with the separation game…but the associations I’m going to use must have actually met or at least had the opportunity according to time-frame and geography. Maybe it would go something like this:
1st degree – Walter to Oliver
2nd degree – Oliver to his mother (Florence Arclessa Boggs-Johnston)
3rd degree – Mother to her father, Ollie’s grandfather (Benjamin Franklin Boggs)
4th degree – Grandpa to his mother, Ollie’s Great Grandma (Mahala Nelson)
5th degree – Great Grandma to her sister, Ollie’s Great Great Aunt (Eliza Jane Nelson, my great great great grandmother)
6th degree – Great Aunt to her granddaughter, Ollie’s cousin of some sort (Harriett Catherine Wood, my great grandmother)
7th degree – Great Grandma Hattie to her son (Alfred, my grandpa)
8th degree – Grandpa Alfred to ME!
Well…I didn’t make it in 6 degrees…but I did successfully form a connection to Walt Disney in eight degrees and to Ollie in seven. While most people won’t understand the significance…I know that my fellow Disney fans will get it. Isn’t this cool? Can you connect? What’s your story?