Finding a Genealogical Big Sister

Caitlin Clark

Caitlin Clark. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There are two things I truly enjoy in this life: researching family history, and watching my granddaughters grow up. The best is when I can combine both at once.

I've been fortunate—in addition to their love for playing and watching basketball, my two granddaughters enjoy filling in their family trees. (An individual tree for each, of course. Having “one’s own” family tree is an honor akin to not having to share a bedroom anymore!) However, it’s not always easy to keep an eight-year-old and a nine-year-old focused on filling in the blanks on a pedigree chart, especially if the Sacramento Kings are having a winning streak. One of my ways of sustaining their interest is to help them find a relatable hero somewhere in their tree—a genealogical big sister, if you will.

Finding someone connected to our family history who my granddaughters will relate to isn’t always easy. Tell them that they have a distant relationship with Clara Barton or Eleanor Roosevelt, and you’ll be met with blank stares. But recently I got very lucky when a phenomenal young lady on the basketball court came to my rescue. At 22 years of age, superstar Caitlin Clark has become the record-breaking scoring leader among all Division I college basketball players in NCAA history1—and in doing so has unknowingly done me a huge personal favor. I can’t think of a better figure to help kindle my granddaughters’ interest in family history research.

It was the Clark surname that first grabbed my attention, as I come from a long line of Clarks. However, I wasn’t sure if some random Clark family connection would be enough to impress my granddaughters. I could hear them already: “That's nice Grandpa, but can I change my Poppa's profile picture on his page now?” This turned out to be a dead end anyway, as my family’s Clarks don’t appear to have any overlap with the amazing Ms. Caitlin’s Clarks.

It was about then that I noticed one of my other favorite things: the possibility of Mayflower ancestry. It's a legacy that my granddaughters have been taught to appreciate from an early age, along with their various connections to several Salem witches. Let’s just say those two little ones have no problem coming up with Thanksgiving-related projects at school.

Photo of a school project about Constance Hopkins

This direction of inquiry turned out to be the right one to take, as I quickly discovered the name Bradford in Caitlin Clark’s family tree.2 As my adoptive great-grandmother (whose desk I sit at as I write this) was a ninth-generation descendant of Governor Bradford, I knew I had likely found my connection.

The connection from my granddaughters to Caitlin Clark is straightforward, at least in theory.3 4 5 6 While my somewhat anecdotal research and pedigree charts are very much still works in progress, I hope you will find the lines are simple enough. I'm happy to be able to share even the possibility of a Mayflower connection in common with such an amazing basketball player, and that she may share a connection with my two young aspiring players. Maybe we can score this as a possible point for “Grandpa’s dead people charts?”

Chart showing Caitlin Clark connection

Perpetuating family history means making our research relatable and relevant for young people. I hope that our possible connection to the venerable Caitlin Clark will inspire my granddaughters to keep our family story alive for generations to come.


Further Learning

Free Video: Getting Family Involved in Your Research
As genealogists, we all understand how fascinating family history research can be, especially when you break down a brick wall or make an exciting discovery. So, naturally, our family members must be eager to get involved in our research and hear all about our discoveries…right? Unfortunately, for most of us, finding ways to get our relatives interested in family history is almost as much of a challenge as the research itself! In this engaging panel discussion, our genealogists discuss their tips for getting family involved in your research.

Family History Activities for Kids
These free, easy-to-do activities will keep kids entertained and get them thinking about their family history. They are designed to teach critical skills while encouraging kids to explore their personal connection to the past.

Free Video: Introducing our National Family History Curriculum
American Ancestors has developed a unique national family history curriculum designed to expose students from any background to the concepts, benefits, and joys of family history. In this video, Youth Genealogy Curriculum Coordinator Dustin Axe shares objectives, content and inclusive teaching strategies from the curriculum.



1 “Why March Madness is all about Caitlin Clark” by Alex Abad-Santos, Vox.

2 Community Trees - Mayflower Pilgrim Genealogies,, for generations listed through Daniel Clark who married Rebecca Davis, Submission ID 2:2:2:MMXD-DP8

3 Connecticut, U.S., Wills, and Probate Records, 1609-1999,, for the will of Daniel Clark, husband of Rebecca, names his son “Marvel;” Connecticut, U.S., Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection), for Marven [Marvel] Clark born to Daniel Clark [sic: Samuel?] and his wife Rebeckha.

4 Iowa, U.S., Marriage Records, 1880-1947,, names the parents of Elliot Monroe Clark as “Marvin [Marvel] Clark and Huldah Beeman; Denty County, Missouri Death Certificates, also confirms the name of his mother as “Huldy Beaman.”

5 Oren Andrew Seaton, The Seaton family with Genealogy and Biographies, Rane and Company, Topeka, Kansas, 1906, p. 169 for generations from Elliot Monroe Clark to Arthur Clark

6 See also memorial no. 143156261 for generations from Arthur Clark to Elmer Clark; U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, for the generations of Elmer Clark to Dwaine Clark; The Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa, Sunday, Aug 29, 2004, for generations to Caitlin Clark.

Jeff Record

About Jeff Record

Jeff Record received a B.A. degree in Philosophy from Santa Clara University, and works as a teaching assistant with special needs children at a local school. He recently co-authored with Christopher C. Child, “William and Lydia (Swift) Young of Windham, Connecticut: A John Howland and Richard Warren Line,” for the Mayflower Descendant. Jeff enjoys helping his ancestors complete their unfinished business, and successfully petitioned the Secretary of the Army to overturn a 150 year old dishonorable Civil War discharge. A former Elder with the Mother Lode Colony of Mayflower Descendants in the State of California, Jeff and his wife currently live with their Golden Retriever near California’s Gold Country where he continues to explore, discover, and research family history.View all posts by Jeff Record