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  • #26 Royal Descents, Notable Kin, and Printed Sources: Western and Nantucket Figures

    Gary Boyd Roberts

    In my last column we covered various figures in American folklore, plus a group of "mythic" Texans more fully treated in my new Notable Kin Volume Two (NK2), still available from Carl Boyer, 3rd or the Society’s Sales Department for $30 plus $3.50 postage and handling. Today we begin with a third NK2 "folklore" chapter, on "Molders and Mythologizers of the American West". The first four of these are gunmen Samuel Colt (b. 1814), Oliver Fisher Winchester (b. 1810), and Eliphalet Remington, Jr. (b.1793) and his son Philo (b. 1816). All four were distant kinsmen of two or more presidents – Colt through Lords of Hartford, Loomises of Windsor, Smiths of South Hadley, Footes of Wethersfield, and Stanleys of Hartford; Winchester via Whites of Brookline (ancestors of the Adamses) and Aspinwalls (ancestors of Mrs. Monroe and FDR); and Remingtons via Cookes of Windsor. Colt and the Remingtons shared descent with the late Princess of Wales via Mrs. Elizabeth Charde Cooke Ford of Windsor. The Remingtons were of royal descent via Samuel and Judith (Everard) Appleton of Ipswich and of Mayflower descent through Edward Doty. Eliphalet Remington was a second cousin of the grandfather of western painter and sculptor Frederic Remington, also a Cooke descendant and distant kinsman of Princes William and Harry.

    Hat manufacturer John Batterson Stetson was descended from the Crandalls of Providence and Sarah Stetson, a sister of J.B.’s great-grandfather, married James Bliven, Jr. of Westerly, Rhode Island, and was an ancestress of Charles Stanley Gifford, possible father of Marilyn Monroe. Homestead champion Galusha Aaron Grow was a Waite of Ipswich, a Lathrop of Barnstable, and a Hinckley descendant; Waites were also ancestors of Emerson and Hawthorne, and Lathrops of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Longfellow, J.L. Motley and Presidents Grant, FDR and Bush. And barbed wire improver Joseph Farwell Glidden shared Loomis ancestors with Samuel Colt and Squire forebears with the two Presidents Adams, Fillmore, Taft and Coolidge.

    In addition to these "molders" of the west, I also treat the painter George Catlin and writers Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jack London, and Louis L’Amour. Catlin was descended from Connecticut Governors William Leete and John Webster (and from a sister of Robert Treat), from Hartford founder Rev. Thomas Hooker, and from the Ways of Lyme, ancestors also of Sir Winston Churchill and John Wayne. Laura Ingalls Wilder was descended from Richard Warren of the Mayflower and related to a variety of presidents; her closest kinsman among these last was U.S Grant, a third cousin once removed via Delanos of Tolland, Connecticut. Jack London was indeed illegitimate but was also descended from kings – Edward I of England (d. 1307), via the immigrant Mrs Jane Deighton Lugg Negus, a sister-in-law of Governor Thomas Dudley and of Taunton ur-father Richard Williams. The mother of Louis L’Amour was a Dearborn and our reference librarian, David Curtis Dearborn, got to know the novelist and his sister and also revised their patrilineal descent. Like serial killer Herman Webster Mudgett, L’Amour was descended from Dearborns, Sanborns and Batchelders of Hampton, N.H.

    I considered figures of Nanctucket ancestry "folkloric" because of the island’s association with whaling and its almost incredible endogomy, or cousin intermarriage. Of the eleven founding families of Nantucket, two - Coffin and Starbuck - were in the ancestry of almost every notable figure I traced with forebears on the island. Several other well-known families – Bunker (from which diplomat Ellsworth Bunker and oil man Bunker Hunt), Macy (from which the New York department store founder), Folger (from which the Shakespeare Library donor and the coffee family), and Hussey (kinsmen of the Husseys behind Quaker-derived James Dean, the actor, and President Richard Nixon) – also appear in the ancestry of most whaling Nantucketers. My chapter "Nantucket Soup" treats the island ancestry, in all cases including Coffin and Starbuck, of historians Henry and Brooks Adams, Episcopal Bishop Phillips Brooks, First Lady Edith Carow Roosevelt, historian Charles Beard, North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin of Watergate fame, short story writer O. Henry, the wife of Texas oil man H.L. Hunt (and mother of Bunker, Herbert, Lamar, Margaret and Caroline), authoress Anne (Morrow) Lindbergh (wife of the aviator), and reformer and feminist Lucretia Coffin Mott, an island native. In chapter 48 (pp. 196-97, 200) I note the Nantucket ancestry of Edwin McMasters Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, and of the wives of Panama Canal builder George Washington Goethals, and novelist Owen Wister.

    Other than Benjamin Franklin, whose mother was a daughter of the first Nantucket Folger, one simply "swims" in this Nantucket ancestry. Of the 32 great-great-great grandparents of O. Henry’s paternal grandmother (Ruth Coffin Worth) two were Worths, two Macys, six Gardners, two Husseys, four Bunkers, two Starbucks, two Coffins, one Folger, and a daughter and grandson of Pilgrim John Howland. The great-great grandparents of Nantucket-born Mrs. Mott included four Coffins, a Starbuck, a Macy, two Gardners, a Folger, and a Bunker. Mrs. Hunt, whose family had moved from Nantucket to Cincinnati to Arkansas, was the granddaughter of Charles Waldo Bunker and Lydia Starbuck. Bunker’s sixteen great-great grandparents included two Bunkers, four Gardners and two Coffins. Lydia Starbuck was over half non-Nantucket in ancestry, but her 64 great-great-great-great grandparents included two Starbucks, two Coffins, a Bunker, two Folgers, a Gardner, and a Hussey. Nantucketers were almost all Quakers and in a recent lecture in Washington, D.C. to Descendants of Early Quakers (a national hereditary society) I spoke on the Quaker ancestry of Presidents Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Hoover, Nixon and Bush, these Nantucket Quakers and some of their notable descendants, the noted descendants of two Rhode Island immigrants of royal descent (RD) whose own progeny was largely Quaker (Mrs. Katherine Marbury Scott of Providence, sister of the famed Anne Hutchinson, and Acting Gov. Jeremiah Clarke of Newport), plus notable descendants of RD Welsh and English Quakers to Pennsylvania and the Quaker New Jersey ancestry of the late Princess of Wales.

    In my next column I will comment on the descendants and "kin of kin" of Pocahontas, and the literature on, and some descendants of, the Salem witchcraft victims of 1692. Once more, I hope this summary of part of my new book proves of interest. Late next month I lecture in Salt Lake City on geographic divisions and major sources for the mid-Atlantic and southern states. I undertook a brief survey of the southern states in three earlier columns; then promised coverage of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware will compose another column within the next several weeks.
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