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  • #75 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: “New England and Rock,” Part 3: The Ancestry of Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, with an Addendum on Further New England Ancestors of the Beach Boys

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : Posted May 21, 2004

    To the psychedelic generation of the late 1960s — the world of the Fillmore and Avalon ballrooms and perhaps the greatest poster art since the Gibson Girl — Grace Slick and the song "White Rabbit" were the ultimate icon and anthem. Both hugely creative and unfortunately often drug-addled, this enormously energetic culture produced "hippies," be-ins, "free parks," and some political and social "revolution." The movement was centered in San Francisco during the year I was in graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley. I never danced with Grace Slick, as I probably did with Janis Joplin (see column #37), but I certainly attended several performances and danced to "White Rabbit" at both of the aforementioned ballrooms. Later the Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship and then simply Starship; after the mid 1970s its popularity waned and Grace left the group in 1988. In addition to "White Rabbit" however, songs such as "It's No Secret," "Somebody to Love," "Volunteers," and others certainly give Grace the status chronologically of "first lady of rock," slightly older than Janis, and a "harder" rocker than "pop" stars such as Cher, Diana Ross, Bette Midler, Madonna, Janet Jackson, etc.

    As mentioned in column #73, a recent revival in “celebrity genealogy” has produced various websites with good data on the immediate background and ancestry of many current “household names.”  I have been impressed with work not only by my friends Richard Brenneman, Rhonda McClure and William Addams Reitwiesner (listed alphabetically), but also by Rob Martindale, who undertakes much of his research, I understand, at the Dallas Public Library, no doubt sometimes helped by another longtime friend of mine, librarian Lloyd Dewitt Bockstruck.  Among current figures researched by Mr. Martindale (see his website), I was much pleased to find Grace Slick and learn of her New England ancestry.  My own NEHGS colleague, Christopher Challender Child, has from time to time enjoyed adding to Mr. Martindale’s work and Chris and I were both pleased to spend several evenings tracing Grace’s ancestry in some detail.  Once again our thanks to Mr. Martindale, who has also undertaken research on other figures I may treat in future columns.  Still more research on contemporary notables of interest, often from biographies I have not examined, is frequently sent to me by yet another distinguished genealogist interested in this topic, Michael J. Wood of London, to whom I’m grateful also for his indexing in the late 1970s and early 1980s of the several thousand charts in the American section of The Mowbray Connection, my life’s work.  Ms. McClure (of Biography magazine), Mr. Martindale, Mr. Reitwiesner, and Mr. Wood have together supplied me with the near ancestry of a considerable number of subjects, and thus with material for many future columns.  To all, and to Chris Child (for inventively reviewing Internet and census sources on many problems), I am indeed grateful.

    Grace Barnett Wing was born in Evanston, Illinois, October 30, 1939, daughter of Ivan W. Wing and Virginia Barnett, natives probably of Seattle, Washington, and Lewiston, Idaho respectively. Grace’s husbands, I wish to add before continuing, have been cinematographer Gerald “Jerry” Slick and Jefferson Starship lighting director Skip Johnson (also a sometime production manager for Prince). Grace’s only child, China Wing Kantner, born in 1971, was by Airplane guitarist Paul Kantner. Grace’s father was half Norwegian and a quarter Swedish, the son of Arthur Milford Wing and Grace Josephine Dow and the granddaughter of Norwegian natives Joseph S. Wing and Anna M. Elstead, and of James Osgood Dow and Mary Charlotte Hawkinson, these last natives of Gorham, Maine, and Grenna, Sweden, respectively. Grace’s mother was probably three-quarters Irish, the daughter of Oregon native Marcus Whitman Barnett and South Dakota native Sue Neill, and granddaughter of Belfast native Harry Kelso Barnett and Salem, Oregon, native Elizabeth Auzella “Lizzie” Whitman. 

    Grace Josephine Dow, born in Red Wing, Minnesota, February 21, 1879, appears on p. 318 of R.P. Dow’s 1929 The Book of Dow, where her mother’s surname is mistakenly given as Hawkins. Marcus Whitman Barnett, b. 1878, appears as number 3928 on p. 241 of the 1889 John Whitman genealogy by Charles H. Farnam. James Osgood Dow was the son of Abraham Dow and Jane Adaline Steele, and granddaughter of Winthrop Dow, Jr. (1760-1835), his wife and cousin Mary Dow (1765-1825), Joseph Steele (b. 1742) and his second wife (m. 1797) Mrs. Judith Haskell Low (b. 1762). Elizabeth Auzella Whitman was a daughter of Perrin Beza Whitman and Priscilla Mace Parker, this last said to be a native of Greenbriar, Virginia, and the daughter of Samuel Parker and Elizabeth Mace (Mace authority Jan Koso tells me this Elizabeth is not likely to be related to the New England Mace family). Perrin Beza Whitman was the son of Samuel Whitman and Mary Jenkins Peabody and the granddaughter of Beza Whitman, Alice Green, Calvin Peabody, and Abigail Fairbanks. 

    The remainder of this article covers Grace’s New England ancestry, via the aforementioned couples, in the column’s usual format. Via Dows there are three descents from Hampton, New Hampshire, ur-father Rev. Stephen Batchelder, ancestor also of presidents Nixon and Ford (the former of whom Grace despised). Via Mrs. Judith Haskell Lowe Steele, Grace may claim two immigrant ancestors of royal descent, Mrs. Jane Lawrence Giddings of Ipswich, Massachusetts, whose parents (Thomas Lawrence and Joan Antrobus) were also ancestors of FDR and Taft, and Stonington ur-mother Mrs. Alice Freeman Thompson Parke, a forebear also of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Princes William and Harry, and Warren G. Harding (whom Grace also no doubt despises). Haskell ancestors Thomas and Lucy (Smith) Gardner were also ancestors of the two presidents Adams. Through Whitman and Cary, Grace is a Mayflower descendant via Myles Standish, and other Whitman forebears include Abraham Lincoln ancestors John and Ruth (---) Whitman and U.S. Grant ancestors Samuel and Anne (---) Allen of Braintree. Green ancestors include James and Cecily (Thayer) Davis, forebears of Coolidge and Ford. Via Peabodys, Grace was both a cousin of all the notable historical figures with that surname and a descendant of a further pair of ancestors of the late Princess of Wales – Robert and Joan (Luff) Hibbard.

    Via Fairbanks, Grace obtains a second Mayflower ancestor, William White, plus presidential forebears Thomas Richardson and Katherine Duxford (ancestors of Pierce, Coolidge, the two Bushes, and probably Hoover), and William Reade and Mabel Kendall (again behind the two Bushes and probably Hoover), and the historical surnames Vassall, Hancock, and Prescott. For explanation of the several symbols below (RD, PW, MP, TP and FP), see column #74. 

    1.  Winthrop Dow, Jr. and his wife and cousin Mary Dow; Winthrop Dow & Elizabeth Green, Jedediah Dow & Dorcas Neal; Josiah Dow & Mary Purin(g)ton (parents of Winthrop and Abraham), Jeremiah Green & Dorothy Conner, Abraham Dow & Phebe Green (parents of Jedediah); Joseph Dow & Mary Sanborn, John Green & Abial Marston (parents of Jeremiah & Phebe); William Sanborn &  Mary (---), Ephraim Marston & Abial Sanborn; --- Sanborn & Anne Batchelder (parents of William & John), John Sanborn & Mary Tuck (parents of Abial); Rev. Stephen Batchelder (TP) & --- (TP).

    2.  Judith Haskell, wife of Jonathan Low and Joseph Steele (and mother of Mrs. Jane Adaline Steele Dow); Nathaniel Haskell & Hannah White (parents also of Hannah Haskell, wife of David Low, mother of New York mayor Seth Low, and ancestor of various later notables, including former Massachusetts governor William Floyd Weld); William Haskell & Jemima Hubbard, John White & Lucy Wise; Mark Haskell & Elizabeth Giddings, John Wise & Abigail Gardner; John Giddings & Sarah Alcock, Joseph Wise & Mary Thompson, Thomas Gardner (TP) & Lucy Smith (TP); George Giddings & Jane Lawrence (RD), John Thompson (PW) & Alice Freeman (RD, PW).

    3.  Beza Whitman; Samuel Whitman & Elizabeth Bonney; John Whitman & Elizabeth Cary; Nicholas Whitman & Sarah Vining, James Cary & Mary Standish; Thomas Whitman & Abigail Byram, Josiah Standish & Sarah Allen; John Whitman & Ruth --- (ancestors of Lincoln), Myles Standish (MP) & Barbara ---, Samuel Allen & Anne --- (ancestors of Grant). 

    4.  Alice Green, wife of Beza Whitman above; Hezekiah Green & Alice Leavens; Henry Green & Judith Guile (sister of Coolidge forebear Sarah Guile, wife of Timothy Cooper); Ephraim Guile & Martha Bradley; Samuel Guile & Judith Davis; James Davis (TP) & Cecily Thayer (TP).

    5.  Calvin Peabody; Thomas Peabody, Jr. & Elizabeth Longley; Thomas Peabody & Ruth Cole; Samuel Cole & Elizabeth Hibbard; Joseph Hibbard & Elizabeth Graves; Robert Hibbard (PW) & Joan Luff (PW).

    6.  Abigail Fairbanks, wife of Calvin Peabody above; Cyrus Fairbanks & Abigail Wyman; Jonas Fairbanks & Thankful Wheeler, Abijah Wyman & Abigail Smith; Josiah Wheeler & Martha Prescott, Benjamin Wyman & Elizabeth Hancock (great-aunt of “signer” John Hancock); Obadiah Wheeler, Jr. & Elizabeth White, Francis Wyman & Abigail Reade; Resolved White & Judith Vassall (of the family well known also in England and the Caribbean), Francis Wyman & Elizabeth Richardson, William Reade (TP) & Mabel Kendall (TP); William White (MP) & Susanna ---, Thomas Richardson (FP) & Katherine Duxford (FP).

    For the Batchelder-Sanborn-Marston-Green-Dow descents see vol. 2 of Joseph Dow's History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire (1893) plus the 1898 Batchelder and 1899 Sanborn genealogies. For the ancestry of Mrs. Judith Haksell Low Steele see Abbot Low Moffat, Old Low, Old Low's Son: The Descendants of Seth Low and Mary Porter, 1807-1956 (1956) and the Gloucester, Massachusetts, VRs (1: 683, 2: 520, 347). Beza Whitman appears on p. 138 of vol. 14 of Mayflower Families Through Five Generations (MF) (1997), covering the progeny of Myles Standish. For the ancestry of Alice Green see C.W. Bowen, The History of Woodstock, Connecticut: Genealogies of Woodstock Families, vol. 6 (1935), pp. 56-7, 60 plus the 1897 Guild/Guile/Gile genealogy. Mary Jenkins Peabody and her parents appear on p. 131 of the 1909 Peabody genealogy; for Coles and Hibbards see Sidney Perley, The History of Salem, Massachusetts, vol. 2 (1926) p. 134 and the 1901 Hibbard genealogy (p. 17 where this Elizabeth Hibbard is said to marry Benjamin Haskell of Gloucester; the Gloucester VRs, however, include marriages for Benjamin Haskell to only Elizabeth Allen of Rehoboth in 1708 and Elizabeth Bennett in 1725. This last is certainly the Mrs. Elizabeth Hibbard Bennett, a first cousin of Mrs. Cole, whose husband John Bennett died in Gloucester, February 1, 1724/5; see E.B. Sumner, Descendants of Thomas Farr of Harpswell, Maine and Ninety Allied Families [1959] pp. 26, 165-67). Abigail "Nabby" Fairbanks appears on p. 112 of the 1897 Fairbanks genealogy and her father, Cyrus Fairbanks on p. 100 of MF, vol. 13 (2002), as a descendant of William White; for Abigail's Wyman and Richardson ancestry see, in addition to The Richardson Memorial (1876) and Richardson coverage in Massachusetts and Maine Families in the Ancestry of Walter Goodwin Davis, 3 vols. (1996), V.D. Wyman, Wyman Historic Genealogy, Lowell Genealogy Supplement and Phelps Ancestral Lines (1941), pp. 21, 35, 41 esp., and H.S. Nourse The Birth, Marriage, and Death Register of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1643-1850 (1890), p. 79.

    Michael Thomas Meggison, Beach Boys genealogical scholar and author of column #71, writes that Eli Barnum Finney, #28 in the AT of Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wilson (but not an ancestor of Mike Love) appears on p. 322 of History of Northern Wisconsin (1881), wherein he is stated to have been born in Groton, Tompkins Co., New York, December 24, 1827, and to have married Ellen “C. Cogan … formerly from Lowell, Mass.” in Watertown, Wisconsin, December 29, 1850. Albert H., great grandfather of the Wilson brothers, is listed among their six children. E.B.’s parents, Michael reports, were Uri Finney, b. 1804-5, #890, pp. 46, 88 of Howard Finney’s 1957 Finney-Phinney Families in America, and Mary Graves, who is not treated in any of the Graves genealogies or newsletters published by Kenneth Vance Graves. Uri’s parents, Abraham Finney (1772-1843) and Huldah Gifford (ca. 1775-1828), sometime also of Groton, New York, also appear in Register 138 (1978): 298, and were children themselves of Jonathan Finney (1736-73), Phebe Phelps (1739-1813), Thomas Gifford (1746-86), and Lydia Thomson (1753-1844).  Their Mayflower descent and ancestors in common with the late Diana, Princess of Wales, can be outlined as follows:

    1.  Phebe Phelps, wife of Jonathan Finney; Cornelius Phelps & Margaret Dewey; Nathaniel Dewey & Margaret Burroughs; Josiah Dewey & Hepzibah Lyman; Richard Lyman & Hepzibah Ford; Thomas Ford (TP) & Elizabeth Charde (TP).  See the 1899 Phelps (p. 138), 1898 Dewey (pp.383-392, 395) and 1948 Stevens-Miller (pp. 349-56, 386-87) genealogies.

    2.  Lydia Thomson, wife of Thomas Gifford; John Thomson & Lydia Wood; Shubael Thomson & Susanna Parlow, Elnathan Wood & Mary Billington; John Thomson, Jr. & Mary Tinkham, Isaac Billington & Hannah Glass; John Thomson & Mary Cooke, Ephraim Tinkham & Mary Brown, Francis  Billington & Christian Penn; Francis Cooke (MP, TP) & Hester le Mahieu (TP), Peter Brown (MP) & Martha ---, John Billington (MP) & Elinor --- (MP).  See MF 12 (rev. ed., 1999, Cooke), pp. 519-20, 7, 2nd ed. (2002, Brown), pp. 150-51, 21 (2001, Billington), pp. 99-100.  

    My next column will be personal and reflective.  In #77 I shall return, as promised, to more “New England in Hollywood.”

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