Earlier this week, I received an email from a man inquiring about some information and photos in my private family tree at Ancestry.com. He provided details and explained that he believed we had a common ancestor (we did). I replied to the person saying that I was in Little Rock (for the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference) and that I would be able to get more information for him when I returned home. He then replied that he would be arriving shortly to Little Rock to attend the conference as well.
Color me surprised. I did the math and figured out that he and I were 4th cousins. I gave him my cell phone number and waited for him to arrive.
Today I met my 4th cousin at the FGS Conference. He's just great. We talked about our common line as well as our current families. We tracked our name and dicussed the routes taken by our ancestors.
Because we both have interest in Arkansas research, my 4th cousin and I ended up attending some of the same presentations. I imagine the same will be the case tomorrow.
You knew this teachable moment was coming: this little reunion was possible due to the use of online genealogy tools. I've spent so much time cultivating a presence anywhere my genealogy information might be discovered (Ancestry, Footnote, this blog, Facebook, Twitter, message boards, GenealogyWise, etc.). That research strategy has paid off in spades, and I have a newly found 4th cousin to prove it.