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  • #25 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Figures in American Folklore

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    Published Date : March 11, 1988
    After a three-month hiatus I return to this column, and to my faithful readers, and wish to discuss one of the three major topics in my new book. Notable Kin Volume Two is available from Carl Boyer, 3rd or the Society's Sales Department for $30 plus $3.50 postage and handling. This new volume completes my examination of the range of the "A New England family published in NEXUS "Notable Kin" columns, 1986-95. The first major topic - tycoons - is followed by coverage of 15 American artists, 12 "Yankee Inventors" and eight antiquarians, plus eight genealogists, associated with NEHGS.

    The next six chapters cover the overall topic of American folklore - descendants and "kin of kin" of Pocahontas, sources for and descendants of the Salem witchcraft victims of 1692, "Nantucket Soup,"  then classic "Figures in American Folklore," Texans, and creators and depictors of the American West. Hollywood, the topic and seven chapters that follow, and tycoons, the preceding topic and first three chapter of Volume Two, may be subjects of later columns. "Figures in American Folklore" covers "Johnny Appleseed," "Buffalo Bill" Cody, "Wild Bill" Hickok, showman P.T. Barnum, the midgets C.S. Stratton ("General Tom Thumb") and his wife, born Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, alleged murderess Lizzie Borden, serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett, and outlaws Jesse and Frank James. Appleseed - John Chapman, 1774-1845 - was a Trumbull descendant and a fourth cousin once-removed of John Quincy Adams through the Fowle family of Charlestown (I added Appleseed and his kinsman, Benjamin Thompson, Jr., Count Rumford, to the George Fowle genealogy by E.C. Fowle, which we published in 1990). Appleseed has other presidential cousins via Richardsons and Morses.

    The great-grandparents of "Buffalo Bill" Cody were Philip Cody and Abigail Emerson, this last of the Ipswich Emersons that also produced the philosopher and poet, plus Presidents Fillmore and Taft. Hickok, a second cousin four times removed of former President Bush, was descended from the Butler, Daggett and Mayhew families of Martha's Vineyard, from Rev. John Robinson of Leyden, and from the Dwights of Northampton, ancestors of four presidents of Yale, two first ladies (Ellen Wilson and Nancy Reagan), Mrs. Rudyard Kipling, and various other figures treated or mentioned in these books. Via their mutual ancestor, Thomas Sherwood of Fairfield, Connecticut (died 1655) Barnum and his discovery and protege, "General Tom Thumb" were half fifth cousins twice removed, and Stratton, like Hickok, was descended from a sister of Scituate founder Timothy Hatherly. Mrs. "Tom Thumb," one of whose middle names was Warren, had five Mayflower lines - from Billington, Cooke, Doty, Hopkins and Richard Warren. Like Hickok and George Bush, she was a Mayhew descendant (three times over).

    Lizzie Borden was a patrilineal cousin of Gail Borden of Borden Milk, and of Canadian Prime Minister Sir Robert Laird Borden. She, Sir Winston Churchill through his mother, and playwright Tennessee Williams were all descended from the immigrant Thomas Cooke of Portsmouth, R.I., subject of the two-volume 1987 genealogy by Jane Fletcher Fiske of the Register. Mudgett, serial killer of "Murder Castle" during Chicago
    =s 1893 World=s Fair, whose victims are said to total over 200, was descended from many of the founding families of Hampton, N.H., including Batchelder, Sanborn, and Dearborn (this line was brought to my attention, in fact, by our own David Curtis Dearborn - a remote cousin). Mudgett was also a Coffin descendant, and distantly related to all of the figures listed in my chapter on "Nantucket Soup." The mother=s mother=s mother=s mother of Jesse and Frank James was Rachel Dorsey of the well-known Maryland family ancestral also to Jane Schwerdtfeger of the Education Department. Several of Rachel=s immediate ancestors were also forebears of the Duchess of Windsor, who is thus a sixth cousin, a half sixth cousin, and a seventh cousin once removed six times over of Jesse and Frank James.

    "New England and Texas" covers the Allen-Baldwin-Rice-Farish-Howard Hughes clan in Houston (associated with Rice University, Exxon, and Hughes Tool), the H.L Hunts of Dallas, Stephen F. Austin, founder of the Austin Colony, and the King-Klebergs of the King Ranch. I also cover Gail Borden of Borden Milk, mentioned above (a Roger Williams descendant), "Shanghai Pierce" the Texas cattleman born in Little Compton, R.I., who introduced Brahman cattle to Texas, a brother-in-law of desert artist Georgia O=Keeffe, and Republican Senator John Tower, with a nod to young Governor George Walker Bush, a likely presidential candidate.

    William Marsh Rice was born in Springfield, Mass., and was descended from Governor Thomas Dudley and Dr. Richard Palgrave among immigrants of royal descent. Two great-nieces were Libbie Randen Rice, wife of William Stamps Farish, Jr., president of both Humble Oil Company (now Exxon) and Standard Oil of New Jersey; and Ella Botts Rice, first wife of billionaire aviator, movie producer and recluse, Howard Robard Hughes, Jr. Rice
    =s sister-in-law, the grandmother of Mrs. Farish and Mrs. Hughes, was the daughter of an early Houston mayor and a niece of the wife of Houston founder Augustus Chapman Allen. There are connections "back east" to Kingman Brewster of Yale, and "out west" to the Tunneys of California. Mrs. H.L. Hunt, wife of the oil baron, and mother of Bunker, Nelson, Lamar, Margaret, and Caroline of the Mansion in Dallas, was born Lyda Bunker, of much Nantucket ancestry (at least Bunker, Coffin, Folger, Gardner, Hussey, and Starbuck, most several times over) and a descendant of James Chilton of the Mayflower. Mrs. Richard King, long-time matriarch of her husband=s ranch, was born Henrietta Maria Morse Chamberlain, a descendant of Richard Warren and Gov. William Bradford of the Mayflower, and of Barnstable founder Rev. John Lathrop, an ancestor of Grant, FDR and Bush.

    Stephen F. Austin of the Austin Colony was descended from the Austin of Charlestown, Huggins of Hampton (N.H.), Adams of Newbury, and Nicholas Allen of Dorchester families. President R.B. Hayes was a third cousin once removed. Shanghai Pierce was a Rogers, Alden, Cooke, and Warren Mayflower descendant, shared Fobes and Mitchell ancestors with the late Princess of Wales, and her sons, and was royally descended through the great Anne (Marbury) Hutchinson of Boston, Rhode Island, and New York. A second cousin of Pierce was the paternal grandmother of cinema genius Orson Welles. The industrialist Robert Ralph Young of Fort Worth, who in 1954 wrested control of the New York Central Railroad from Morgans and Vanderbilts, married Anita Ten Eyck O
    =Keeffe, Georgia=s sister, also a Lathrop and Mayflower Fuller descendant, of royal lineage via Edward FitzRandolph of Mass. and N.J. John Tower belonged to a Louisiana branch of the Tower family of Hingham, Mass. Millard Fillmore was a third cousin twice removed and other presidential ancestors were Morse and Fiske. If elected in 2000, George Walker Bush, like his father before him of Yankee, mid-Atlantic and Southern ancestry (the first two legacies reinforced by the ancestry of former First Lady Barbara Pierce Bush) is probably related to over half of the American people (I have not yet traced the ancestry of his wife).

    I shall cover "Molders and Mythologizers of the American West," plus Nantucketers, the descendants of Pocahontas and of the 1692 witchcraft victims, in my next two columns. I hope readers find this series enticing. Both for the surprising inclusion of such folkloric notables in the "New England family," and for the intrinsic interest in these figures themselves, I thought a distillation of this portion of my new book would be of general interest to readers.
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