Sunday, 6 May 2012

Axes Against Axis: The Rogers in Scotland with the “Sawdust Fusiliers”

World War 2 put tremendous stains on supplies of natural resources of all types, but on wood in particular. In addition to civilian requirements, the military needed timber for road and bridge building in support of the front lines, soldiers’ living quarters, rail lines, ships, coffins, gun stocks, crates to transport food, ammunition and equipment and countless other needs. Britain had plenty of logable forest, particularly in the north, but had neither adequate skilled personnel nor efficient equipment available to perform the task. In WW1 the British Government had turned to Canada to assist with such matters and so it was natural they would do so once again. In May 1940 Canada formed the Canadian Forestry Corps, recruiting from across the country and by 1942 deploying 7000 men in 30 Companies, mostly to the forests of Scotland. Among the first companies deployed was Stanley Edward Rogers (1889-1982), who was soon joined by his sons Sheldon and Emerson. This was a job for which they had been training all their lives.

A Family Business

James Valentine Rogers with crew c.1905.
Stanley was born in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, second son of lumberman James Valentine Rogers (1845-1909). Lumber was a significant industry in the province in the 1800s (after the fishery, of course). The industry had thrived based on extensive timber resources and the close proximity of mills to tidewater. According to the Nova Scotia Lumber Assn. there were 1144 Sawmills in N.S. by 1871 and 1126 of those were water powered.  Relatively new on the scene were portable steam powered sawmills that logging crews could take into the woods with them, initially pulled by a team of horses, later of a self-propelled tractor design. James V. owned his own mill and horses, doing his logging in winter and sawing when weather permitted moving the mill.

Portable steam sawmill of type similar to that used by Rogers crews.
When his father died in 1909 Stanley took over the business and operated it for the next forty years, joined at times by some of his brothers and later his own sons. With a portable mill, Stanley shifted locations often, the pattern reflected in the birthplaces of his children: Audrey and Emerson in Westchester (about 20 kilometres east of the family homestead at Windham Hill near Springfield), Sheldon in Little River (just north of Oxford), then after a break in the business for service in World War One, south to Great Village on the Bay of Fundy shore for Doug  (Cobequid Bay), Emily and Al to the west along the shore in Bass River, and Prescott and Charles a little further west in Little Bass River.  Over the next few years Stanley continued to move the mill about, south to Lakeview and east as far as Antigonish and Guysborough.

Rogers Mill crew, winter 1929-30 front: Willard Rogers,?, Clarence Rogers, Ken MacIntosh, Churchill Newton,? , Back: Grant Peppard, Laurie Cameron, Stanley Rogers, Bill Tanner, Roy Taylor, Ernest Harrison,?, Irwin Sutherland

Being essentially just large steam-boiler engines, the portable sawmills were a constant fire hazard, as their boiler tanks grew hot and fuel fires spit sparks onto surrounding ground that was usually dry brush and wood debris.  Stanley’s son Charles recalls how he and brother Prescott, when they were still too young to help with the actual logging and milling, would often be tasked with keeping watch over the mill site with fire-fighting equipment.
View of Mill from roof of Millstream house.
About 1934 Stanley shifted from portable operations, acquiring one of eastern Canada’s oldest mill structures in Millstream, just south of Stellarton. It was here the family called home for the next ten years, interrupted by one year in nearby Hopewell so that Emily could attend school there. When World War 2 began brothers Emerson, Sheldon and Doug were first to join the armed forces, and were soon followed by Stanley, and later Al and Emily.  By war’s end Stanley and five of his children  were in uniform.


    1940 Doug, Emerson, Sheldon, 1st Field Company, R.C.E.
(For material in the next sections I am heavily indebted to the research of Robert Briggs and in turn to his primary source, “The Sawdust Fusiliers: the Canadian Forestry Corps in the Scottish Highlands in World War Two” by William C. Wonders)
Emerson, Sheldon and Doug signed up early, in September 1939, and headed overseas in January 1940 with the 1st Field Co. Combat Engineers.
In May 1940, as the call went out for loggers and millmen to fill the Forestry Corps., Stanley, already a veteran of one world war, signed up again for service. Recruitment centres for the Corp were spread across the country, with No. 13 Company mobilizing in Halifax in August. The men all first travelled by train to Valcartier, Quebec to receive roughly seven months training. This was important as even though the primary duties overseas for most of them would be similar to their civilian occupation (loggers, black smiths, cooks, etc), they were considered combat troops. When in Scotland a regular portion of each unit’s time, usually weekends, continued to be devoted to military training.  They were expected to prepare defensive positions and participate in repelling any potential German invasion.


No. 13 Company, Canadian Forestry Corps, Canadian Active Service Force, Saint Michel Train Station, Quebec, October 1940

When training at Valcartier was complete, the company once again boarded a train and returned to Halifax to depart by troop ship for Scotland. They arrived June 30, 1941 at Firth of Clyde as part of a six ship convoy, disembarked July 2 at Gournock, caught a train to Brechin and from there went by truck to South Esk to establish their first camp.  Most CFC personnel built barracks, roads, bridges and set up power plants from scratch. However No. 13 Company’s camp was already nearly completed by civilian contractors when they arrived.  Thus while other companies often took up to 3 months to become operational, No. 13  took less than half that time, beginning timber operations August 14. [No. 13 didn’t stay in one place for the war’s duration as some other companies did.  They moved November 8, 1943 to Orrin Bridge, Muir of Ord; July 15 1944 to Skibo, Spinningdale; and November 14, 1944 back to Orrin Bridge.]
Each company was divided into two sections, one cutting timber and bringing it out of the bush, the other sawing it into lumber at the mill.  The 13th Co. had brought with them some of the most modern logging equipment then available in Canada; a rotary mill, diesel generators, Caterpillar TD9 tractors, lorries, sulkies (pneumatic-tired arches), angle dozers and drum winches.

Nissen hut.
The men in most camps erected Nissen huts for accommodation.  These huts, developed by Peter Nissen of the Royal Engineers in WW1 based on a design he developed while studying mining engineering in Kingston, Ontario, were constructed from prefabricated sheets of corrugated steel. Although easy to transport and assemble, and widely used in both WW1 and WW2 (hundreds of thousands deployed), they were often cold and draughty. The barracks were fitted out with wooden bunks and self-made furniture.
Heavy CFC log truck.

The heavy lumber lorries stained much of the local infrastructure. Road had to be graveled and some bridges reinforced.  No 13 Company in particular had to significantly reinforce Garve Bridge (near their second camp) before moving wood from the area.


No. 13 Co. men with bridging material to repair Garve Bridge near Orrin Bridge

In June 1940, the 1st Field Combat Engineers with Stanley’s sons Emerson, Sheldon and Doug went to France as part of the Second British Expeditionary Force (that will likely be the subject of a future blog post). They reached a point south of Laval before they were ordered back as part of the evacuation more widely famous for the withdrawal at Dunkirk. Back in Britain Sheldon and Emerson headed north to join their father with the 13thCFC. Doug stayed with his unit and eventually went with them to Sicily and Italy in 1943. For a while all three Rogers worked together in the Scottish forests. Sheldon then left them to join the 5th Field Combat Engineers with whom he participated in the D-Day invasion.

Co. 13 in Scotland, August 1941, Brechin

Emerson 4th row, far right?, Stanley, 3rd row ninth from right?

Shortly after arriving 600 men (3 companies) of the Corps received a Royal Inspection by the King and Queen at Balmoral Castle on September 7, 1941, one of the highlights of the wartime experience for many of the CFC members.
His Majesty salutes the CFC.
Queen Inspecting CFC at Balmoral Castle.
Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth looking on.

As for “low”-lights, there was a brawl in Montrose New Year’s Eve 1942 between some members of No. 13 and some Polish soldiers.  A CFC member suffered knife wounds. And in the summer of 1943 one member of the 13th was murdered by another.
A Welcome Presence
The CFC made their presence known in the Scottish highlands. The men at times assisted in local agricultural harvesting, for example No. 13 Company helping with the flax harvest in Mearns in Sept 1941. They participated in local parades, staged Christmas parties for local children and helped with various wartime causes. Some attended religious services in the local churches or joined local lodges such as the Grand Lodge of Scotland in St. Andrew’s. It has also been recounted that it was common practice for forestry workers to pilfer some of the vehicle fuel to give to local taxis in exchange for rides into the village to bars and dances, and that on occasion scrap wood would mysteriously fall from lorries beside homes in need of fuel.
With 7000 men socializing with local communities, it was natural that some of the young local women would find husbands among the CFC foresters. One of those lucky ones was Elizabeth (Betty) Kay Wemyss.  In August of 1943, at the age of 21, she married Emerson Rogers (then age 28) in her home town of St. Andrew’s. 
Winding Down and Moving On
Stanley on leave at Millstream Jan 1944

In preparation for the 1944 Normandy invasion, some companies moved to Southampton to construct rafts to be towed across the channel.  Some went with the invasion force, supporting front line operations, and even helping to hold the front line against the December 1944 Ardennes counter-offensive by the Germans. The 13th Company was one of the ones that remained in Scotland to continue their work.
No. 13 Company ceased operations in Scotland March 17, 1945. After shutting down the Orrin Bridge camp, Stanley and the rest of the Company headed for the train at Beauly on June 11 and began the journey home. The Company was officially disbanded August 31, 1945
During their four and a half years in the highlands, No.13 Company produced 19.7 million FBM of sawn lumber, or about 5% (1/20) of the total production of the CFC, a commendable accomplishment considering they were one of thirty CFC companies!  In addition there were many tens of thousands of poles, tons of pulpwood and other products.
Back in Canada
After the war Emerson returned to Canada with Betty, settling in Sydney Forks, Nova Scotia to raise their family. Stanley moved they rest of the family from Millstream to Oxford, buying an electric sawmill in the south end of town and setting up business as S.E. Rogers & Sons.
Thursday Aug. 23, 1951 the Oxford Journal reported that “S.E. Rogers & Sons have sold their electric sawmill on
Lower Main Street
to J.B. Alcorne of Bear River, N.S. who moved the machinery away.”
After winding down his lumber operation Stanley set up an Insurance Business which he ran for almost twenty years before retiring at age 80 and passing the business off to son Sheldon.
The reinforced bridges and road extensions left behind in Scotland were an appreciated legacy of the CFC presence. And having brought the modern methods and equipment to Scotland, the CFC demonstrated more efficient cutting and clearing techniques that the Scottish forestry industry would adopt post war.

Steve Rogers is the son of Charles Rogers and grandson of Stanley E. Rogers

Births, Deaths and Marriages
Public Member Trees,
Canadian Censuses of 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, Library and Archives Canada
(Indexed on-line at and
Nova Scotia Lumber Industry
Economic Impact Analysis of Timber Management & Supply Changes on Nova Scotia’s Forest Industry, Report to the Department of Natural Resources, May 2011
Canadian Forestry Corps.
The Sawdust Fusiliers: the Canadian Forestry Corps in the Scottish Highlands in World War Two, William C. Wonders, Canadian Pulp and Paper Association
Canadian Forestry Corps.,  Bob Briggs,
Canadian Forestry Corps in the local woods, Rambling On,
James Valentine Rogers and Stanley E Rogers
Windham Hill is Home: A Rogers Genealogy, Alice Rogers Nieman, 1989, Halcraft Printers Inc., Halifax
Oxford Journal, Aug., 10, 2011, Sixty Years Ago Today
Portable Steam Powered Sawmill:
Photo by Ruth Tate, Historical Ouachita County, Morrison and Eppinette
Rogers mill crews, Millstream, Rogers brothers in Europe, Stanley in 1944:
Collection of Charles D. Rogers
All other images:
Canadian Forestry Corps.,  Bob Briggs,
and in turn…   The Sawdust Fusiliers: by William C. Wonders, Collections of Robert J. Briggs, Mitchell Bell, Major James Matthew Soy, Charles Frederick Neale, Marie Pemberton

Friday, 27 April 2012

Why Being Related to Diana, Princess of Wales Puts Me No Closer to a Place in Line for the British Throne

Yes, it is true. Diana is my ninth cousin once removed (which is really to say she and my father are ninth cousins).  That makes me 10th cousins with her son Prince William, who is second in line for the Throne after his father Prince Charles. While this sounds impressive to some, it shouldn’t. I’ll show you why.

The Basics: “Nth" Cousins, “X” Times Removed

Let’s start with a few simple definitions and observations that will help keep things straight.

Your 1st cousin is one with whom you share a pair of Grandparents (you have two pair). That is, one of their parents is a sibling of one of your parents.  The pair of common ancestors is two generations back from you.

Your 2nd cousin shares with you one pair out of your four pairs of Great Grandparents. Here, the common ancestors are three generations back.

Your 3rd cousin shares one of your 8 pairs of Great Great Grandparents (or “2nd Great Grandparents”), who are four generations back.

So now you can see the basic rule emerge:
Your “nth” cousin shares with you a pair of common ancestors, Grandparents with “n-1Greats in front of the Grand, who are “n+1” generations back from you.

My 10th cousin Prince William shares with me a pair of 9th Great Grandparents who lived 11 generations ago.  That pair was Jedediah Strong (1637-1733) and his wife Freedom Woodward (1642-1681).

“X times removed” just means you are that many generations down the line from the stated cousin relationship.  If Diana is my father’s 9th cousin, she is my 9th cousin once removed and my daughter Nicky’s 9th cousin 2x removed. Being one generation removed from Diana’s 9th cousin relationship with my father, I am 10th cousins with someone one generation down from her, i.e. Prince William.  And Nicky will be 11th cousins with any children born to Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.

Now that that’s clear, let’s move on….

How Many Great Great etc. Grandparents Does One Have That Far Back?

Simple answer: potentially 1024 pairs (or potentially 2048 individuals). When we talk about first cousins, each has two pairs of grandparents, one pair of which is common to each individual in the cousin group. Second cousins each have 2 x 2 pairs at the level of the common pair.  Third cousins 2 x 2 x 2 = 8 pairs, etc.  For nth cousins, each has 2n pairs of ancestors at the level of the common pair.

So Prince William and I (whom we have already said share one pair of 9th Great Grandparents who lived 11 generations ago) each have 210=1024 pairs of 9th Great Grandparents, and one of my 1024 pairs is the same as one of his 1024.  Unfortunately for my royal aspirations, eligibility for the Throne is contingent upon descent from a different one of his 1024 9th Great Grandparent pairs, one that I do not share (that I know of, yet). That would be Electress Sophia of Hanover (1630-1714) and her husband Ernest Augustus, Elector of Brunswick-L√ľneburg, parents of George I of Great Britain.

Now for a minor adjustment that explains why I said “potentially” 1024. It is likely some of the pairs, in fact many of the pairs, in each group will be duplicates. My Great Grandfather Burpee Tupper married his first cousin Linda Azuba Tupper, which means their common grandparents show up twice in the 16-pair-long list of my 3rd Great Grandparents.  By the time this duplication ripples through my pedigree to the level of 9th Great Grandparents, it is responsible for 64 pairs of my 1024 pairs being duplicates of others in the group. This is the result of just one known overlap. There are undoubtedly many others and they become more likely to occur the further back the tree is constructed.

To calculate the potential size of groups in this exercise, one must assume no inter-marrying between related individuals.

How Many Other 10th Cousins Do Prince William and I Have In Common?

To answer this question one must make an assumption about how many children on average in each family group in each generation go on to have children of their own.  This number varies depending on culture, economic circumstances, child mortality rates and many other things. For the sake of this demonstration I am going to assume that each couple has three children that in turn reproduce.  This number may seem high by modern standards, but one doesn’t have to look back many generations to see families with double digit numbers of children were the norm.

If the original ancestral pair had three children and they each had three, then two generations down the line we have a total pool of 3 x 3 = 9 first cousins. (From the perspective of an individual member of the group that would be one “self” + two siblings + six 1st cousins). In the following generation there are 3 x 3 x 3 = 27 cousins (from the perspective of an individual member: one self, two siblings, six 1st cousins, and the balance of eighteen 2nd cousins). For simplicity’s sake let us just observe that the total number of cousins at a level that includes up to and including “nth” cousins is represented by 3n+1. If we had assumed four children per family we would use 4n+1, etc.

As we have assumed 3 children per family, Prince William and I as 10th cousins could be expected to belong to a group of 10th cousins numbering 310 = 177,147 (but again, from an individual’s perspective a couple of these are siblings, six are 1st cousins, 18 are second cousins, etc.).  To give you a sense of the power of our family size assumption, changing the assumed number of children per family from 3 to 4 pushes the 10th cousin pool size from 144,147 to over 4.1 million. Assuming 5 children per family makes it 48.8 million.  Suddenly being Prince William’s 10th cousin doesn’t seem quite so special.  It is even less special when one remembers that this is not even the “throne-eligible” cousin pool.  Prince William belongs to the Royal group, equally as large, that has descended from Sophia of Hanover.  And he also belongs to possibly over a thousand other equally large groups, each equally as un-royal as the one I share with him.

How Many Total 10th Cousins Might I Have?

The numbers we calculated above represent only the potential 10th cousin pool descending from Jedediah Stong and Freedom Woodward, the one ancestral pair that was common to me and Prince William. But each of us has potentially 1024 such pairs of 9th Great Grandparents.  Therefore with an average of 3 children per family one would have 1024 x 144,147 = 181.4 million cousins just extending out to the 10th cousins (adding more generations, e.g. 11th cousins, 12th cousins, etc. would grow this number exponentially). With a 4 child per family assumption the 10th cousin pool for each of us becomes 4.3 billion, while a 5 child assumption grows it to over 50 billion cousins each. And this is just at our own generation level.  What about when we add in the great many of our parents’ cousins (our cousins once removed) that would still be alive as well as the offspring of our many cousins who might have children of their own already? Now we’re easily into the realm of over 100 billion living cousins each! The entire population of the planet is estimated to be just over 7 billion. What is going on here?

The Grand False Assumption

The reason our calculation unrealistically brings us to many multiples of the total population of the Earth is that we made a whopper of a false assumption right at the start. We assumed “no inter-marrying between related individuals”. In fact for all practical purposes, virtually all marriages are between related individuals! By the time one looks back just ten or eleven generations the overlapping of tree branches is overwhelming and comprehensive.  If one has thorough information available one can find a connection to just about anyone.  Certainly 10 or eleven generations is enough to connect virtually any two persons of European descent, i.e. most of the population of Europe, North American, Australia and large parts of South America.  Just the living descendants of your many pairs of 9th Great Grandparents may number in the hundreds of millions.

Yes, I am related to Diana, Princess of Wales. But so are you. The difference is I have found enough information to connect a line of dots between her and me. There are likely many more possible connecting-dot-routes from me to the Princess.  And likely many routes connecting you to her, and you to me, and you to any one of my neighbours and quite possibly to everyone I’ve ever met.

So unless some cataclysm renders me the last person on Earth, I think I am unlikely to ever lay claim to the British throne.  But just in case, I plan to start working on establishing a legitimate line of descent from Electress Sophia.

Just Cuz (s) Part 2: Presidents, Poets & Performers

Mayflower Descendants Again

Amateur genealogical research is often hampered by incomplete or apparently non-existent  records. Countless branches of many family trees, including my own, come to abrupt dead-ends, sometimes only a few generations back, as recent immigrants seem to have truly left their pasts behind them, perhaps deliberately.  And so it is very satisfying to have one of your branches take you into colonial New England and in particular to the Plymouth Colony which has been extraordinarily well researched and documented. 

Some have claimed that early settlers kept meticulous records tracing their genealogy in order to secure or maintain social standing within the British Empire (a notion that seems at odds with most of the settlers’ professed pursuit of egalitarian utopias). An ongoing pride in one’s ancestors’ roles in the founding of colonies and later the Revolutionary War fed the practice. Today the New England Historic Genealogical Society is one of the most prominent organizations in the field, and should you make your own connection to early New England colonists, chances are the extensive work already done will then lead you to a treasure trove of famous cousins who have already been traced to the same roots.

The most recent article (No.7) in this series looked at celebrity cousins related to my wife Jennifer Lanthier through her McDougall/Parlee bloodlines, which led in turn to the Soules of New England. This installment looks at famous relations connected to my side of the family by way of the New England heritage of my paternal Grandmother, Juanita Tupper.  Surprisingly, a handful of the personalities are common to both groups, albeit by different routes.
The Mayflower

The Mayflower brought colonists, known today as Pilgrims, to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620.  There were 102 passengers and a crew of about 25.  Many were fleeing religious persecution, others were hired servants or farmers recruited by London merchants.  A group of 37 were members of a separatist congregation picked up from Leiden, Holland en route . The colony was the second established successfully in North America by the English after Jamestown, Virginia and it would later become the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in what was to become the United States.

During the first winter roughly half of the original passengers died. Of those that survived, three feature in the Lanthier-Rogers/Tupper family tree, each from a different contingent of the colonists.

John Alden, from Harwich, Essex, was a hired-hand, the ship’s cooper, but decided to join the settlers.  He is said to be the first person from the ship to set foot on Plymouth Rock and was the seventh signer of the Mayflower Compact, the colony’s governing document.  He served terms as assistant governor and treasurer of the colony and was a member of its council of war.

Myles Standish, from Chorley, Lancashire, was a military officer hired by the Pilgrims as a military advisor for the colony.  Standish was active in the colony administration in a number of roles including assistant governor, treasurer and agent for the colony in England. He also served as the commander of the colony’s militia from its inception until he died in 1656.

Henry Sampson (Samson), originally from Henlow, Bedfordshire, was a child of 16 when he was picked up with his aunt and uncle Ann and Edward Tilley in Leiden.  Both the Tilleys were among those who died in the first winter.

Both John Alden and Myles Standish are my 10th Great Grandfathers by way of their children Sarah Alden and Alexander Standish who married in Plymouth and produced Mercy Standish, my 8th Great Grandmother.  Henry Sampson is my 9th Great Grandfather by way of Mercy Standish marrying his son Caleb.

Rogers Lineage

Stephen Rogers (& Michael, Debbie & Greg) → Charles Dawson Rogers → Juanita May Tupper → Rufus Burpee Tupper →  Ruth Amelia Newcomb → Eleanor Pineo → Elijah Pineo → David  Pineo → Elizabeth Polly Sampson → David Sampson…

  • David Sampson       → Mercy Standish → Sarah Alden → John Alden
  • David Sampson       → Mercy Standish → Alexander Standish → Myles Standish
  • David Sampson      → Caleb Sampson → Henry Sampson
Other Descendants of Henry Sampson

Sarah Heath Palin is a former Governor of Alaska and Republican Party nominee for Vice President in 2008.

Through her father Sarah shares Henry Sampson with us as an ancestor. Through her mother, Palin can trace her heritage to four additional Mayflower passengers; John Howland, Richard Warren, Stephen Hopkins and William Brewster, and also to the sister of yet another - Sarah Soule, sister of George.  Sarah Soule is also an ancestor of my wife Jennifer Lanthier (see No. 7 in the Series).

Sarah Heath  Charles Heath →  Nellie Brandt →  May Ruddock →  Thomas Ruddock →  Rhoda Damon →  Rhoda Thayer  → Micah Thayer →  Elizabeth Sampson    Stephen Sampson →  Henry Sampson

George W. Bush was the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

George W. can claim Mayflower ancestors through both his mother and his father, George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States. Through his father George W.’s Mayflower ancestors include Francis Cooke and John Howland.  Both father and son also share lineage with Sarah Soule and thus with Jennifer Lanthier. Through his mother’s family Bush shares the same ancestor with us as does Palin - Henry Sampson

George W. Bush    Barbara Pierce →  Marvin Pierce →  Scott Pierce →  Jonas Pierce →  Chloe Holbrook →  John Holbrook →  John Holbrook →  Zilpha Thayer →  Mary Sampson →  Stephen Sampson →  Henry Sampson

Other Descendants of John Alden

John Adams was the 2nd President of the United States following his two terms serving as Vice-President in George Washington’s administration.

John Quincy Adams was the 6th President of the United States and son of 2nd President John Adams.

John Quincy Adams → John Adams → John Adams → Hannah Bass → Ruth Alden → John Alden
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a poet known mainly for his lyric poems depicting stories from mythology or legend. Among his better known works are “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “The Song of Hiawatha”.  He was one of the Fireside Poets, a group of 19th century poets from New England and was considered the most popular American poet of his day.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow    Zilpha Wadsworth  Peleg Wadsworth → Mercy Wiswall →  Priscilla Pabodie → Elizabeth Alden → John Alden
William Cullen Bryant, another of the Fireside Poets, was perhaps best known for “Thanatopsis” (meditation on death) and his book “The Ages”, a panoramic history of civilization told through verse.  He career also involved time as editor of a number of publications including half a century at the head of the New York Evening Post.

William Cullen Bryant    Sarah Snell →  Ebenezer Snell → Zachariah Snell →  Anna Alden → Jonathan Alden → John Alden
Orson Welles was an actor, director, writer and producer in theatre, radio and film. In theatre he is best remembered for Caesar (1937), a Broadway adaptation of Julius Caesar, and in radio for The War of the Worlds (1938), considered the most famous broadcast in the history of the medium. His film Citizen Kane (1941) is considered by many film scholars to be the greatest motion picture of all time.

Orson Welles    Richard Welles →  Mary Head →  Orson Head → Jonathan Head → Ruth Little →  Fobes Little → Constant Fobes →  Martha Pabodie → Elizabeth Alden → John Alden

Marilyn Monroe (her professional name) was an actress who starred in many successful films in the 1950s and 1960s and became known as a major sex symbol.

Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Mortenson with her birth certificate naming her father as Martin Edward Mortenson. Her surname was almost immediately changed to Baker, the last name of her mother’s first husband and whose name her mother still used (Monroe was her mother’s maiden name). Throughout her life Monroe maintained that Mortenson was not her father and that as a child she had been shown a photograph by her mother that she was told was of her actual father, Charles Stanley Gifford.  If this claim is true, then Marilyn joins the ranks of John Alden’s descendants.

Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jeane Baker) → Charles Stanley Gifford →  Frederick Gifford →  Charles Gifford → Lydia Tompkins → Uriah Tompkins →  Micah Tompkins → Sarah Coe → Sarah Pabodie → Elizabeth Alden → John Alden

Descendants of John Alden and Myles Standish via Sarah and Alexander

Deborah Sampson is famous as one of a small number of women who have documented military combat experience from the Revolutionary War.  In order to join the Continental Army she impersonated a man and was nearly discovered a number of times, particularly after receiving two musket balls in the thigh in a skirmish near Tarrytown, New York and needing medical attention. In this instance she fled the hospital rather than be discovered and removed one of the musket balls herself with a penknife.

She was honorably discharged at West Point in 1783.

Deborah Sampson  Jonathan Sampson → Jonathan Sampson →  Lydia Standish → Alexander Standish & Sarah Alden → Myles Standish, John Alden

Dick Van Dyke is an actor and comedian best known for the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and films Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bye Bye Birdie. 

Dick Van Dyke    Hazel McCord  → Charles McCord →  Susan Child → David Lorenzo Child → Susannah Tinkham → Isaiah Tinkham → Sarah Soule → Zachariah Soule → Sarah Standish →
Alexander Standish & Sarah Alden → Myles Standish, John Alden
Dan Quayle was the 44th Vice President of the United States, serving under President George H.W. Bush.

Dan Quayle    James Quayle →  Marie Cline →  Adelia Burras →  Oscar Burras → Sally Standish → Peleg Standish →  Zachariah Standish → Zachariah Standish →  Ebenezer Standish → Alexander Standish & Sarah Alden → Myles Standish, John Alden

Summary of Relationships to Me (Steve Rogers):

Henry Sampson                                    9th Great Grandfather
John Alden                                           10th Great Grandfather
Myles Standish                                     10th Great Grandfather
Deborah Sampson                                3th Cousin 7x Removed
John Adams                                         3th Cousin 8x Removed
John Quincy Adams                             4th Cousin 7x Removed
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow              5th Cousin 6x Removed
William Cullen Bryant                           5th Cousin 6x Removed
Sarah Palin                                           9th Cousin 1x Removed
Dick Van Dyke                                    9th Cousin 1x Removed
Dan Quayle                                          9th Cousin 1x Removed
Orson Welles                                       9th Cousin 2x Removed
Marilyn Monroe                                   9th Cousin 2x Removed
George W. Bush                                   10th Cousin

Just Cuz (s)

“Listen here, Pilgrim…”

In a general sense, a pilgrim is any traveler who is on a journey to a holy place, but in the United States “Pilgrim” generally refers to any of the early settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts who came seeking religious freedom.  The Pilgrims’ Plymouth Colony established in 1620 was the second successful English settlement in the U.S. after Jamestown and eventually came to be the oldest continuously inhabited British Settlement in the U.S.

The Mayflower was the ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, and its story is well known as a symbol of early European colonization of North America.  But between 1600 and roughly 1640 over 250 ships arrived in Virginia and Massachusetts and with over 7100 families considered to be pilgrims. There are millions of Mayflower descendants living today and many millions more who can legitimately be called descendants of other New England pilgrims. Featured below are just a few who all trace their bloodlines back to the same Plymouth colony family, the Soules (Sooles).

George Soule (1595-1679)

George Soule was one of the original 102 Pilgrims who arrived in 1620 on the Mayflower and was one of the forty-one signers of the Mayflower Compact, the governing document of the Colony. George and his wife Mary had nine children, and it is their second, John, from whom our first two featured cousins descend.

Richard Gere is an actor who starred in numerous hit films including American Gigolo, An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman.  Richard is George Soule’s 9th Great Grandson.

Richard Gere → Homer Gere → Albert Gere → George Gere →Sarah Tewksbury → Lucinda Fuller → Consider Fuller → Archippus Fuller → Sarah Wright → Sarah Soule → John Soule → George Soule

Dick Van Dyke is an actor and comedian best known for the TV series The Dick Van Dyke Show and films Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bye Bye Birdie.  Dick is also a 9th Great Grandson of George Soule.

Dick Van Dyke    Hazel McCord  → Charles McCord →  Susan Child → David Lorenzo Child → Susannah Tinkham → Isaiah Tinkham → Sarah Soule → Zachariah Soule → Benjamin Soule → John Soule → George Soule


Sarah Soule (Soole) (1600 – 1656)

Sarah was George Soule’s eldest sister.  Both were children of Thomas Soule (1569 -1615) and Mary Iddenden (1573 -1656).  Sarah married Samuel Hinckley in 1617 in Hawkhurst, Kent, England and had at least the first six of their nine children before moving in 1635 to join her brother in Massachusetts. Three of her children, Susannah, Thomas and Elizabeth, figure in this note.

Sarah and Samuel’s eldest was daughter Susannah, born 1607. Among Susannah’s 9th Great Grandchildren are two political adversaries from the bitterly fought 2008 U.S Presidential election.

Sarah Heath Palin is a former Governor of Alaska and Republican Party nominee for Vice President in 2008.
Sarah Heath  Sarah Sheeran →  Helen Louise Gower →  James Carl Gower →  Arthur Collins Gower →  Cornelius Norton Gower →  Susannah Norton  → Lydia Claghorn →  Susannah Gibbs  → Abigail Smith →  Shubael Smith →  Susannah HinckleySarah Soule

Barack Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States.

The Obama link to the Plymouth colonists was first revealed during the 2008 campaign by researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Palin’s connection was first announced in a 2010 press release by, which also sponsors the NBC show Who Do You Think You Are?

Barack H. Obama  S. Ann Dunham →  Stanley A. Dunham →  Ralph W. E. Dunham →  Jacob William Dunham →  Jacob Mackey Dunham →  Jacob Dunham →  Samuel Dunham →  Mary Smith →  Shubael Smith →  Samuel Smith →  Susannah Hinckley  Sarah Soule

Sarah Soule and Samuel Hinckley’s second child after Susannah was Thomas, born 1618.  Thomas held several prominent government roles in the colony during his lifetime including serving as its Governor from 1680 – 1692.  Through his son Samuel, born to his first wife Mary, Governor Thomas is the direct ancestor of two U.S. Presidents.

Thomas’s 9th Great Grandson is George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

George W. Bush  George H.W. Bush  Dorothy Walker →  George Herbert Walker →  Martha Adela Beaky →  Mary Ann Bangs →  Elijah Keeler Bangs →  Lemuel Bangs →  Joseph Bangs →  Mary Hinckley →  Samuel Hinckley →  Gov. Thomas Hinckley  Sarah Soule

George H.W. Bush was the 41st President of the United States (1989-93), and a former Vice-President of the U.S. and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He is the father of 43rd President George W. Bush, and Gov. Thomas Soule’s 8th Great Grandson.


Sarah and Samuel’s fourth child, their third daughter, was Elizabeth, born 1631.  It is through Elizabeth that we are able to connect our family tree to the impressive collection of celebrities and political figures outlined above.  Elizabeth is the 8th Great Grandmother of Jennifer Lanthier and her siblings.
Jennifer, Kateri and James Lanthier    Jane Frances McDougall →  Cyrus William McDougall →  Mary Louise Parlee →  Zachariah Parlee →  Henry Parlee →  Peter Parlee →  Lydia Robbins →  John Robins →  Mary Parker →  Elizabeth Hinckley  Sarah Soule

Summing up, Jennifer, James and Kateri are Sarah Soule’s Ninth Great Grandchildren, President George H.W. Bush’s 10th Cousins, 10th Cousins 1x Removed of President George W. Bush, President Barack H. Obama and Sarah Palin, and 11th Cousins of Richard Gere and Dick Van Dyke.

One Big Happy Family

Before one gets too excited, proud or embarrassed of any of these connections, a little perspective is needed.  By the time one gets back to 9th Great Grandparents, each of us has over 2000 direct bloodline branches in our family tree (assuming no overlaps, which is almost never a valid assumption) so chances are someone famous is in there.  But looking at it the other way is far more impressive. If one assumes an average of three reproducing offspring per family per generation, a conservative assumption given the much larger families of yester-year (and again assuming no overlap due to inter-relation marriages), any single descendant today of one person 11 generations ago such as Sarah Soule’s father Thomas, would have 11th cousins numbering in the hundreds of thousands tracing to that ancestor.  If the average number of children per generation is assumed to be five, that total number of cousins climbs to the tens of millions.  Add a couple of additional generations and you quickly get to a hypothetical cousin pool that exceeds the current population of the planet.  How is that possible?  Because we started by assuming no inter-relation marriages.  In fact the vast majority of marriages in any family tree can be found to be between relations if one had full information to trace back far enough.  The fun is in finding the connections and hoping they are far enough back to ensure the health of the gene pool.

Steve Rogers is married to Jennifer Lanthier and undoubtedly some sort of distant cousin to her.