As long as we’re confessing…

In response to this crazy attempt to smear Mitt Romney with the sins of his fathers literally, a few people are disqualifying themselves from future runs for the presidency with similar confessions. I have to admit there’s a skeleton in my family tree, too: apparently, one of my ancestors was hanged as a witch in 17th century Massachusetts.

No one will be surprised at that, I suppose. Especially since if your family can trace its roots in this country back almost 400 years, you might well be related to her, too.


  1. says

    Well, he won’t get my vote anyway, but this pathetic attempt at smearing him must mean there isn’t any real dirt and someone is very afraid of his candidacy.

  2. Tony Popple says

    I would never vote for him, but I must confess that I like having a Mormon candidate in the running. Main-stream Christians seem to get so upset over the idea of having “one of those people” in office.

    When they ask me why it doesn’t bother me, I point out that I can not distinguish the validity of their beliefs from those of the Mormons.

  3. Steve_C says

    Anyone going to ask him if he wears the religious mormon underwear?

    The christians eating their own.

    I’m all for the various denominations sniping at each other. Maybe we’ll stop hearing the “chrisitna Nation” crap for a while.

  4. says


    I’m pretty certain he does wear the garments. If he didn’t have a current Temple recommend I’m pretty sure the LDS church would take exception to him running on his faith.

  5. says

    My family hasn’t been in this country long enough to have descended from folks involved in old-time witch trials. Any skeletons in our family closet are more likely to relate to African colonialism and slave-trading, but we may be clean there, too. My people are all Azorean, not mainlanders, so that had less opportunity to participate in Portuguese imperialism. Poor, but honest. Or something like that.

  6. bigTom says

    Well I didn’t take it as an attack on Romney, just a statement of historical facts. There isn’t a person on the planet, who if we could follow their geneology back far enough wouldn’t have someone nasty show up. Since Zeno doesn’t think he has any we’ll just refer to that as Zeno’s paradox.
    In any case if I were running for pres, I would rather any potentially embarassing history come out early, that gives plenty of time to overcome any negatives. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone on his campaign requested the article be published.

  7. Ian says

    If we’re going all the way back to sins of the great-grandfathers, it seems like the obvious question is how many of us, including writers for the AP, descend from slave-owners. I’m pretty sure I have at least one great-great grandfather who owned slaves. A fact I’m certainly not proud of, but hardly something that would make me a hypocrite for my liberal views towards civil rights.

  8. says

    When I saw that article my first thought was: “Who cares what his great- and great-great-grandfathers did? I can think of much better reasons to not vote for this guy.”

  9. Scott Simmons says

    Yeesh. You can get smeared now for things your great-grandparents did over a hundred years ago? ‘Absurd’ isn’t a strong enough word …

    When I was researching my family tree for a junior high school history project, I found some entries in a genealogy book that included some of my ancestors a bit confusing. I brought it to my mother’s attention there in my grandparents’ den (the book belonged to them): “Mom, it looks like [two of my great-great-grandparents] were first cousins. Is that right?”

    “SSHHHHHHHHH!” My mom waved me to silence. “Grandma’s kind of sensitive about that–we don’t want to talk about it here.” Um, what? OK, whatever … It seems like there should be a point you stop caring about those things, though.

    (I have to say, that was one PAIN-IN-THE-ASS family tree to correctly draw, though.)

  10. Steve_C says

    How but the revelation that Sharpton’s ancestors were owned my Strom Thurmond’s…
    What a mind twister… they may be genetically connected too if they were typical slave owners.

  11. Keanus says

    Simmons is right. Having chased downt the genealogy of both my wife and myself these last several years, I’ve discovered that we both have a host of first, second and third cousin marriages among our ancestors. And despite our having been born and raised in NJ and Texas, we found out that were eighth cousins twice, ninth three times, and tenth cousins more than I care to count. Surprisingly our son has just ten fingers and ten toes and not a trace of albinism. As for the practices of Romney’s ancestors, I care about his attitude, political acumen, and values now, not those of his ancestors.

  12. says

    Yeah, we trace back to a fellow named Isaac Allerton, who was thrown out of every single colony for one crime or another (usually drunkenness. Now I know where my uncle got it from!)

    BTW, PZ, pictures are hung, people are hanged. Personal bugaboo, or I wouldn’t have mentioned it.

  13. Mat says

    Personally, I’ve got three generations in a row of first-cousin to first-cousin marriages in my line. And an ancestor that shagged Poe. And one who was beheaded at the Tower of London, a lot of Okies and, worst of all, some Republicans.

  14. Unstable Isotope says

    I think this next year of presidential primary coverage will be an interesting psychology test. We will see the craziness of some of our fellow Americans. We have the most diverse group of candidates we have ever had.

    I think I am now disqualified from running for office (as if my blog pontificating hasn’t already done so). Some of my ancestors were slave owners, I learned recently. Also, my great-great-grandmother had a child out of wedlock. I suppose I’m disqualified now?

  15. fyreflye says

    It’s comforting to know that PZ’s ancestors were believers in some kind of religion, especially one that’s been making such a strong a comeback after the Salem unpleasantness that its believers are now petitioning to have Wiccan chaplains approved for the military:

  16. says

    Best line belongs to Mitt’s wife. “The biggest difference between her husband and the other candidates, Ann Romney said, is that ‘he’s had only one wife.'”

  17. says

    “hanged.” It should be “hanged as a witch.” Alison is right — let me reiterate, to add force. But I reiterate politely.

    P.Z., you lived in Utah. It’s entertaining, for this Utah-almost-native, to see Mormons questioned in this way. Some of us remember when Wayne Owens lost narrowly to Jake Garn in a U.S. Senate race, and the poll in the Salt Lake Tribune later indicated that a significant portion of voters for Garn would have voted for Owens “if he had been Mormon.” Owens was a devout Mormon, but didn’t campaign with pictures of his family or lists of the church positions he’d held.

    But Utah also had a Jew for governor early in the 20th century (Simon Bamberger), and used to be unshy about electing non-Mormons when they were better qualified.

    One might wish the nation were so tolerant.

    Polygamy can give one great family stories to tell. One of my great^nth grandfathers on the Stewart side had four wives, and named the firstborn son by each, Benjamin Franklin. The town had four Benjamin Franklin Stewarts running around. They called the Benjamin Franklin A, Benjamin Franklin B, etc.

    The best part? You should see how that confuses the heck out of genealogy charts from the Great Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City.

  18. roystgnr says

    The interesting fact here isn’t that Romney’s ancestor practiced polygamy in 1897, it’s that Romney’s church lied about polygamy in 2006. Whenever the media discusses the statutory rape and polygamy currently practiced by Warren Jeffs or one of the other fundamentalist Mormon branches, the big LDS branch puts out PR claiming that chapter of their history ended in 1890… but their covert post-1890 marriages, their Mexican colonies for perfoming such marriages, and the circuitous language of the 1890 “Manifesto” itself put the lie to that.

    Of course, this still isn’t something that should disqualify Romney from the presidency, not if we have to be pragmatic about it. All the other presidential candidates also belong to churches whose prophet Moses murdered little boys and girls; if Romney’s prophet Joseph Smith liked to touch little girls instead, it’s irrational to single that out to be angry about.

  19. RickD says

    I think one of my great^15 grandfathers killed one of my great^14 grandfathers with an axe in a dispute over one of my great^16 grandmothers (who was also a great^14 grandmother via a separate lineage).

    Two words: coalescent theory.

    (I like the zinger from Mrs. Romney, BTW.)

    I’ve been saying this for quite some time: the party that still worships at Bob Jones U. is not going to nominate a Mormon. It’s just not going to happen – and that doesn’t even take his past positions on abortion rights into account.

  20. roystgnr says

    Oops, almost forgot my own confession:

    I’m told that two of my ancestors fought on opposite sides of (IIRC) the Austro-Prussian War. Now, I’m the product of an American public school history education and thus grossly unqualified to talk about the ethics of complicated 19th century wars, but it’s generally safe to say that when you’ve got groups of hundreds of thousands of men shooting at each other, at least one of those groups is doing something wrong.

  21. says

    Ah, my several-times-great grandfather was an Iowan who fought on the side of the Aggressors in the War of Northern Aggression, and good for him, even though it seems to have cost him dearly — fought in the Mississippi campaign, mustered out with some debilitating illness (malaria, perhaps), and lost his farm shortly after the war.

  22. Graculus says

    What a mind twister… they may be genetically connected too if they were typical slave owners.

    Apparently Al’s direct ancestor was born after Al’s great-grandfather was freed. I think Al can sleep easy.

    As for what’s in the family closet, that depends on what you think is “bad”. I have sheep, cattle and horsethieves, Scots (a bit redundant with “sheep thieves”) and at least one contractor with Hengest, Horsa and Co, Vikings, as well as some bastard aristocracy more recently.

    I think it’s great.

  23. llewelly says

    Of course it’s a ridiculous smear. And it’s every bit as irrelevant and prejudiced as Mitt’s own comments about atheists. But really, no-one familar with history of Christian attitudes toward Mormons. ever doubted it would come up.

    Personally, I find this sad yet darkly amusing. I’ve been telling the many Mormons I’ve known for years that their political allies will turn on them as soon as it looks like a Mormon politician has a chance of getting a publicly visible office. They make half-hearted efforts to argue with me, but I suspect this didn’t surprise any of them either.

    Note this sort of thing doesn’t always end the political moves of a Mormon with polygamy in his ancestry. Mitt did become Governer, and not of Utah.

    But, while I see polygamy in the historical background as irrelevant to Mitt’s fitness for political office, I can think of plenty of relevant complaints.

  24. Ichthyic says

    No fair! two days ago we figured out you were Jesus. Just how many more perks do you want, anyway?

  25. llewelly says

    If all of your readers moved to the same Maine district, and campaigned for all we were worth, you might get one electoral college vote.

  26. says

    Looks like PZ and I have a bit of a blood feud ‘tween us. One of my great-great-somethings on my mother’s side fought in the action around Shiloh on the Southern side. I don’t think any of my forebears owned slaves, though — they were all too poor, farming sand and rocks always one state west of the law. I’ve also got some Indian blood, enough that I might have gotten me a scholarship of some kind if we were able to document it. Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, damn if I know: that wasn’t the sort of thing nice people talked about back then, you see.

  27. wistah says

    No, no, no. He deserves everything and more. I live in Massachusetts and that rat-bastard deserves everything coming his way. Absentee governor, opportunistic presidential candidate, and flip-flopper extraordinaire. Ugh. He’s a liar through and through. Dig up the underwear and the family secrets–the guy’s scarier than shit.

  28. Loren Petrich says

    Let’s see about me.

    My mother is from a poor Southern white family which moved to Seattle, WA. She has relatives who claim that the Confederate side had been the right side in the Civil War.

    My father is from Croatia, back when it was still a part of Yugoslavia. He left it after WWII because he thought that living under Communism was a drag — lots of annoying Party meetings and the like.

  29. MJ Memphis says

    Hell, there was a best-selling book (“Slaves in the Family”, by Edward Ball) airing the dirty laundry of (one side of) my family. My mother’s side of the family are descendants of the Ball family, which owned over 200 plantations and several thousand slaves. I figure I have a whole heckuva lot of black distant cousins.

    Oh, and one of my grandmothers was a co-chairman of the GOP.

  30. MJ Memphis says

    Oh yeah, and one of my grandfathers was in the Klan as a young man. Not, ironically enough, the one descended from the slaveholding family- instead it was the mostly Choctaw one (with just enough white on both sides that he managed to get blue eyes). Go figure.

  31. Stogoe says

    Well, I don’t know about any civil war action in my history, but my ancestors were driven out of Scotland and Ireland by Cromwell. (probably)

  32. Graculus says

    but my ancestors were driven out of Scotland and Ireland by Cromwell.

    Mine were thrown out of Scotland for “unnecessary roughness”.

  33. Barf says

    Ohmigod. What would happen if they found out that millions of us are descended from–the Vikings?

    Now, it wasn’t all’a’them Luthernns with their ostkaka, lingonberries, pickled herring, and lutefisk once-upon-a-time, don’cha’know.

    Yah, sure, they’d put up a big fence aroun’ Noth Daykota, Minnysowta, an’ Wissconsyn, an’ put us all in, bet’cha.

    Hmmm, might not be all that bad, tho . . .

    How’sa fishin’ up them parts now-a-days?

  34. abeja says

    Catholics. Jews. Lutherans. Bootleggers. Alcoholics. Spaniards. Mohawk Indians. Poles…. all in my family tree. I shouldn’t even be allowed to live amongst the decent people of society!

  35. AlanM says

    I fear that PZ’s comment (along with a number of others here) may be missing an important issue. Of course it’s not Mitt’s “fault” that his ancestors practiced polygamy (so did mine, BTW, for the same reasons and in the same locations and timeframe). The article in question is stupid for somehow implying otherwise. What IS important to realize is that as a believing member of the church, MItt is absolutely required to believe that the polygamy was introduced by Joseph Smith, speaking as a prophet of God, and continued under Brigham Young, also representing God. He cannot possibly claim that polygamy was not instituted by God without being excommunicated from the church. The same goes for the church’s racial policies of the past.

  36. Don Price says

    Big-time confession (considering the present company):

    My grandfather’s uncle was George McCready Price.

    I’m not sure what that makes my exact relation to him… He was spoken about quite a bit while I was growing up. And my mom recently gave me a book about him–thinking I should be proud to have such an intellectual giant in my pedigree.

  37. abeja says

    Don Price:

    If he was your grandfather’s uncle, then that makes him your great-great-uncle. I think.

  38. Wes says

    My great grandfather was born because my great great grandfather (a farmhand in Kansas) raped my great great grandmother (the 16-year-old daughter of the farmer).

    Guess that means I’ll never amount to anything, seeing as a distant ancestor of mine was such a prick.

  39. Dustin says

    Man, that’s nothing, you lightweights. I’m descended from the pagan rabble that brought Rome to its knees. Roving bands of blue-skinned blood-thirsty vandals and druids trump witches and polygamists every time.

    And if you go back far enough, I’m descended from cannibals.

  40. Bruce Mickle says

    Re: Witchcraft convictions

    This sounds like something my great^n uncle Increase or his son Cotton may have been involved in. They were never any good.


  41. says

    I did a genealogy project a few years ago. I got a little carried away and now have almost 25000 people in the database(GEDitCOM). I can trace my ancestry directly back to the Mayflower and several hundred years before that. I can find many presidents(none direct), and some witches who were hanged.

    I found this interesting entry. Judith White (nee Vassall, born c. 1619 in England, wife of Resolved) protested the persecution of Quakers when Plymouth colony was asked to sign on to a petition. There were some reasonable people back then…

    “She was a mother and woman worthy of her times; like Wickliffe she could see, hear, and act. When the Quakers were persecuted in court she could not sit still and hear them denounced with threatened persecutions and death, but (woman as she was, who had been taught to sit in silence in the church) arose and sternly rebuked the complainer for his unchristian like talk and behavior; and to her bravery, and influence over her husband’s half-brother, Gov. Josiah Winslow, he refused his signature to the circular sent by Massachusetts Bay Colony, and that no worse persecutions are found written on the Old Colony Records, she is entitled to the grateful remembrance of the Pilgrim daughters. Green as Green Harbor be her memory.”

  42. Baratos says

    Well, my grandfather fought in the Philipines for the US during WWII, and my uncle fought in Eastern Europe for the Nazis at the same time. I think we had some very tense family reuinions in the 40s.

  43. says

    My great, great, great grandfather designed many religious buildings which explains why I am an atheist. (There, I knew I would find sin in my family if I looked far back enough.)

  44. says

    OK, John, I am now a write-in candidate for the presidency of the United States. What do you think of my odds?
    Hell, I’d vote for ya. Got a valid exit strategy for Iraq? (read: anything).
    How are you at balancing budgets? Good w/money?

  45. raj says

    Much as I despise Mitt “The Snit” Romney’s candidacy, I do believe that it is a bit unfair to tar him with the practices and beliefs of his grandparents and great-grandparents.

    Of somewhat greater relevance, perhaps, is the fact that his father, the George Romney, the late governor of Michigan, was famously quoted as saying that he had been “brainwashed” about the Vietnam War to explain his change of position from pro- to anti. If George could be so easily brainwashed, it’s likely that Mitt can be, too. Acorns don’t fall that far from the tree.

  46. says

    Five generations ago, a relative of mine was arrested for conspiring to jaywalk. And occasionally, I feel the spirits calling me, trying to lure me off my curb. But I fight the impulse, because I know if I did, I’d have to get dressed and discard my Uzi, to avoid attracting suspicion.

  47. G. Tingey says

    Ancestors …..

    Two were lord chancellors of England ( Father and son ) …
    Others were penniless refugees who came here, fleeing the religious persecution of Louis XIV ….
    One, somewhere, somewhen, must have been a speaker (representative) at one of the Norse parliaments ( as in “Allthing” or “Tynwald” ) because that is what “Tingey” means …..

  48. says

    OK, John, I am now a write-in candidate for the presidency of the United States. What do you think of my odds?

    Given the size of your readership, not bad if you make a campaign on Pharyngula…

    Can I be your Secretary of State?

  49. says

    Hah, during the early half of the twentieth century my maternal and paternal lines were on opposite sides of each of the conflicts in South Africa

    1900: Boer War
    Paternal side figthing to the bitter end
    Maternal side figthing for the British

    1914: The Rebellion
    Paternal side joins the rebellion (still bitter about the war)
    Maternal side joins the forces fighting against the rebellion

    Paternal side joins the underground forces fighting the government (still really bitter about the war)
    Maternal side joins the SAAF after lying about his age and is shot down over Italy in ’44 after dropping weapons for the Poles in Warsaw.

  50. says

    I’m really torn over Mitt’s campaign. I think most of America assumes that Mormons are just another variant of Christianity. In reality they’re about the closest thing to polytheism that America has and, for a long while, fervantly denied their Christian ties. So…in a selfish way, I hope he runs, because it will finally put the LDS Church in the spotlight and maybe, just maybe, the LDS Church will be forced to pony-up with explanations for several of their more questionable doctrine. Of course, that’s my pipe dream. I know that my initial path to atheism was started by examining Mormonism. If more people realize the hoax that Joseph Smith managed to pull off, it might just encourage them to delve into their own religion and question their own theological origins. *crosses fingers*
    Then again, his candidacy might bring a certain credibility and spotlight to the LDS Church. And, we all know that there are gullible people just waiting to find a religion that promotes “Families forever” and “apple pie.” The fine print gets a little dicey, but most people don’t get to read that stuff until after the baptism. Plus, I get a little tense whenever an American based religion, that also happens to own billions and billions of dollars in property and stock, gets a foothold into the executive branch of the government.

  51. Ian H Spedding FCD says

    That’s nothing, if you go back far enough I’m descended from something that probably looked a bit like one of those cute little meerkats…

  52. Steevl says

    Do many Americans know their family history to the extent of previous commenters? I’ve noticed before that it’s something people are interested in in the US. In Britain, not so much. I only know about the family members I’ve met in person; I didn’t even know my grandfather had a sister until I saw her at his funeral.

    Tangentially, it’s one of the things I love about evolution that, technically, I’m related to every living thing on the planet.

  53. BlueIndependent says

    This is a pretty lame attempt, especially if you’re going back to the NINETEENTH century to find something to complain about.

    I’m no fan of Romney either, but seriously, all the news is in his voting record, not what his dead relatives did during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

    I’m going to be flatly honest, and say that personally I don’t have a problem with the whole multiple wives thing. If they got it to work, then more power to ’em. Just so long as there’s no underage exploitation and any other such unlawful behavior.

    Anyways, I say the question of Mitt should stay focused on his career, not his family tree.

  54. says

    Do many Americans know their family history to the extent of previous commenters?

    Most people don’t spend to much time on it. I went nuts for a year or so doing it…and haven’t spent much time on it since. Some family members have taken my work and picked up where I left off.

  55. says

    Yes, it’s kind of a hobby that is especially popular among older people. We have a fairly thorough genealogy of my father’s side of the family back to before the Revolutionary War that an aunt spent many years compiling, and we have one for my mother’s side that goes back to sometime before 1600, I think (apparently, that one was easier: Swedish peasants didn’t move around too much, so they could just visit a few old churches in the old country and get complete lists.)

  56. says

    I’m not sure what’s in my family tree, but I’ll tell you something: I bet at least one of my ancestors is guilty of statutory rape. After all, centuries ago, it was common for 12- and 13-year-olds to marry men in their thirties or older. Oh, and since I’m half-Hawaiian, my ancestors were probably uneducated, tribal savages who didn’t believe in God* and performed ritualistic sacrifice and cannibalism. Give me a break. What’s next? Maybe Romney’s a closet alcoholic because he took a sip of Daddy’s beer when he was ten years old? I know! During prom, he and his date disappeared for five minutes, during which Romney fathered an illegitimate child and is paying the date hush money to keep it a secret. Ridiculous? Considering today’s political atmosphere, maybe not…

  57. CJColucci says

    All religions, officially, at least, demand belief in some weird shit. Much of it has no real relevance to public life or decent behavior. I tend to assume that most politicians of mainstream religious belief are really “conventionalists.” They were raised in a particular religion, associate their generally normal enough and conventional moral views with that religion, and have little grasp of the subtle differences between their religion and someone else’s. They are baptist or catholic because that’s how they were raised, and wouldn’t be noticeably different if they had been raised episcopalian or jewish. What I watch out for are “serious” religionists. Does anyone know whether Romney is merely a fairly conventional person raised Mormon or a real believer in weird shit?

  58. Kseniya says

    Just so long as there’s no underage exploitation and any other such unlawful behavior.

    Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? Polygamy is “unlawful” in some parts of the world. Like here, in the USA. Plenty of people object to it. Like you, I’m not one of them – the idea doesn’t fill me with horror or revulsion – though I personally have no desire to ever be a member of some man’s harem.

    Anyways, I say the question of Mitt should stay focused on his career, not his family tree.

    Yes, of course. I’m resident of The People’s Republic of Massachusetts, and though I think Mitt is a decent man I was not thrilled with his reign as Guv. It seems that whenever the GOP takes the wheel, many of the neediest people at the bottom of the socioecononic ladder suffer, particularly the mentally illl, despite the presumably good intentions of “fiscally responsible” leadership. The policies don’t work; trickle-down economics, true to its name, yields nothing but a trickle; the invisible hand is a myth.

    If my wanting to see a hybrid set of policies composed of the best features of free-market capitalism and socialism makes me a commie (which apparently it does across most of America) then so be it. I’m a second-generation Ukrainian-American whose grandparents lived through the Holodomor and the rise of Lysenkoism, so I’m not unaware of the dangers of Socialism as implemented by the Soviets. How ironic that Lysenko was Ukrainian…

    Speaking of irony, political suppression of good science in favor of junk science was a hallmark of the Soviet Union, and is a hallmark of the Bush administration – and yet it’s “socialists” like me who object to that.

    But I digress…

    A glimpse into the effects Romney’s balanced budget has had on mental health care in Massachusetts can be found here.

    As the daughter of a mental health professional, as a future mental health care providor myself, and as a citizen of the Commonwealth (and of the world) this is MUCH more important to me than how many wives somebody’s mmph-grandfather had. “Compassionate Conservatism” strikes again. Sigh. Forgive them, they know not what they do?

  59. jackd says

    BlueIndependent #67 – Perhaps I’m overly influenced by reading Under the Banner of Heaven, but my impression is that what we would term underage exploitation was common in plural marriage. Certainly it’s a serious problem in the current LDS splinter groups.

  60. Matt T. says

    No, I’ve heard that some people are very well-hung …

    And now, a scene from Blazing Saddles:

    Charlie: They said you was hung!
    Sherrif Bart: And they was right!

    I love that movie. Anyhow, my momma went nuts a few years back and traced her family (through Poppaw) back to Scotland. Apparently, we’ve been either on the losing side of every battle since 1600 or so, or we’ve been making money off it. If not, we’ve been highwaymen, horse thieves, con men and Methodist preachers. Paw Bean’s people had to leave Alabama extremely quickly in the early 1830s because one of ’em the nose off a prominent citizen in a bar fight. Great-grandfather Ans Bean fought at Shiloh for the Confederacy. He was shot in the ass during a retreat and captured with his captain. His captain died, and Paw Bean married the widow and that’s how my immediate family wound up owning a good bit of land in Southwest Itawamba County, Mississippi. But, like a Faulkner novel, it took less than two generations for the farm to disappear. Most of that was my pappaw’s fault, who’s wandering feet just weren’t cut out to walk behind a plow but wound up with the job. One of my uncles was dishonorable discharged for dealing in the black market in the Philipines during WWII. I shudder to think what that rotten old man had gotten into.

    Back when Momma was doing the geneology thing, she was trying to help my social-ladder-climbing aunt get into the DAR, where one has to have a relative who fought in the Revolutionary War. We wound up claiming two brothers, one of whom wound up being a major branch in the family that gave the world none other than Richard M. Nixon. One of Maw Bean’s ancestors was John Wilkes Booth, still a fairly common, if old, name in my part of Mississippi.

  61. says

    since I’m half-Hawaiian

    Well, I’m descended from one of the brothers of James Cook, so I can’t help but feel I owe you an apology for how my great^n-uncle comported himself while he was there, and what he started. Taking hostages, and passing himself off as Lono? Sorry about that, Brandon!

    I wouldn’t have wished his gory end on him or anyone else, but I can’t honestly say that he wasn’t totally sucking around for it, either, the way he behaved. Someday, though, I do want to get down to UCLA and check out their The Death of Captain Cook: a grand serious-pantomimic-ballet, in three parts. It’s the concept of the juxtaposition of all the violence of his death with the pantomime and ballet (grand! serious!) that intrigues me.

  62. Kagehi says

    My ancestors where Scottish and Dutch mostly.. And our clan guarded the borders and protected Hermitage castle (also the only clan in Scotland that still owns “most” of there original lands). The official record indicates we where some tough bastards that never lost anything we got involved in, be it against the English or our thieving neighbors when they dropped by to steal sheep. You might own me some sheep Matt T… lol Which also, unfortunately, means we probably sat out a lot of fights on the side lines, waiting to see who was going to get their asses kicked, before deciding if it was worth helping.

    Or.. We where somehow involved in inventing Chocolate… Who knows. Lot of other stuff mixed in too, German, possibly French, etc. Bloody Heinz 57 background. None of them made it to America though until like the late 1800s or early 1900s. Really hard to say what most of my ancestors where involved in.

  63. says

    Guess I’m doomed — I mean, sure, I’m not a citizen, which I’m told is a problem, but also, my ancestors killed Our^H^H^H Your^H^H^H^H Their Lord and Saviour.

  64. Graculus says

    I’ve noticed before that it’s something people are interested in in the US. In Britain, not so much.

    Erm, I’m originally British.

    My great aunt dug up the ones with the penchant for livestock, (although the sheep were a given, us being near the Scottish border and all.) The horses and cattle just demonstrate that were were higher up the social ladder than most. Oh, and that’s the “respectable” side of the family. I haven’t bothered looking into my family tree too closely (I don’t want to find any Normans ;-) ).

    I think the main thing is how seriously geneology is regarded. In my family, at least, it’s just for fits and giggles.

  65. khan says

    Genealogy only records the official relations.

    I know in my own family that some cousins and second cousins are not the genetic children of their official fathers.

  66. BlueMako says

    I know I’ve got Germans, Irish, Italians, and Welsh in my ancestry, but beyond that I don’t know much…