I found an note I made to myself a while back. It said, “call Carole W., relative of William Booth.”

General William BoothCarole had written a sweet note using the “contact us” form at our website. She’d made a donation to help the survivors of a California wildfire and said that she had a soft spot in her heart for the Army because William Booth was a distant relative.

I wrote back asking if I could call her to find out what it was like to grow up in a family that is connected to the legendary founder of The Salvation Army. She and I spoke briefly on the phone. Carole promised to write her relatives in England to get family photos for us to see and told me that even though he was a long way off on the family tree, being related to William Booth was deeply moving.

My guess is that being related to William Booth isn’t like growing up in a family connected to the infamous lawyer who banned “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and the others from the game of baseball for life.

Yes, my paternal grandfather’s uncle was the notable Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Many baseball fans still hold a grudge against him for keeping Shoeless Joe out of the Hall of Fame, but his decision is also praised because it cleaned up the game at a time when it was under threat from gambling interests.

We can’t all be related to a man who began a religious movement that has brought countless men and women in out of the cold, rehabilitated them body and soul, and introduced them to eternity with Jesus Christ. Some of us have to be related to an often-maligned historical figure.

It seems like every family has a story of a famous (or infamous) relative. Who are you related to?

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