This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward from there to today.
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Yesterday, I wrote about how I can claim kinship to at least 13 Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Yesterday and today I also saw how there were many Facebook posts about kinship to the Signers, so I thought it might be helpful to give a “how to” explanation of how I quickly identified those 13 brave Patriots.

I am using the website FamousKin.com as the resource to identify my relationships to various, well, Famous Kin. The key is to identify Gateway Ancestors. So let’s use the 3rd President of the United States, “TJ” Thomas Jefferson, as an example. And let’s do this as his role as a Signer of the Declaration of Independence rather than his Presidency.

Go to the website and click on the Signers button, the 7th one across near the top of the page. Up comes a list, not complete, of people who signed important historic documents. Find Thomas Jefferson in the list, the 17th one down, and click on the “famous kin” link next to his name. Up comes a page with a list of famous people from various walks of life that are related to TJ.

The first entries are famous people from which TJ is directly descended, followed by people who have a kinship to him. As you peruse the list, perhaps your Surname Alarm starts going off. Yes, you recognize a name from your family tree. By definition, if you are related to, say, William the Conqueror, and TJ is related to him as well, then you are, by definition, related to Thomas Jefferson.

So for yesterday’s blog post, I keyed in on two very famous ancestors of mine, William the Conqueror and King Edward I, my 27th and 21st great-grandfathers respectively. I then looked at the famous kin of each Signer, looking for those names in their list and that is how I developed my own list. Note that if you claim King Edward “Longshanks” I in your family tree, you too are related to those same 13 signers … and me! Hello Cousin.

Tomorrow I will get into how you determine the exact relationship between yourself and the Signer of the Declaration of Independence. But I must end with this caveat. The data on FamousKin.com does not contain source references. You need to treat it as you would data from Ancestry or the IGI, as a clue, not as fact. There are better, well sourced, genealogies of various famous people, especially the Presidents. It is there that you can bump up the confidence in claiming your relationship. Perhaps a reader or two will respond with a comment about those more definitive resources.

Next Installment: The Signers, explained, part 2

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved
This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward from there to today.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017

As we enjoy this special American holiday (the original Brexit!), have our hamburgers and hotdogs, salmon and peasi, and watch the fireworks display, remember to give thanks to those patriots who pledged their “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” to ensure the freedom we enjoy.

This article is about a list of kin who were Signers of the Declaration of Independence and that will be a natural outgrowth of The Presidential Project. FamousKin,com does contain the necessary Gateway Ancestor information, but not all 56 Signers are covered by that resource.

A quick scan of the Signers listed using the most common Gateway Ancestors reveals the following Signers of the Declaration are my kin:

Through King Edward I:

Rhode Island: William Ellery
New York: William Floyd
Massachusetts: John Hancock
Virginia: Benjamin Harrison
Virginia: Thomas Jefferson
Virginia: Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Massachusetts: Robert Treat Paine
Delaware: Caesar Rodney
Connecticut: Roger Sherman
New Hampshire: William Whipple

Through William I “the Conqueror”:

Georgia: Button Gwinnett
Georgia: Lyman Hall
New York: Philip Livingston

I am sure there are closer relationships and I still need to work out the kinship, not to mention look up the Signers that are not listed at FamousKin.com.

Hopefully I can get my writing back on track and I do apologize for the time gap. Hard to encourage readership with random posts, eh? (My Canadian side peeks out). But if you choose to follow this blog, you will be alerted to new postings.

Next Installment: The Signers, explained

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved

Genealogical Time

This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward from there to today.
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wow, I really hit the wall there. Writing every day is hard! When I started out with this series, I had plenty of material to cover and it was easy to plan out a week’s worth of articles. But once I cleared the backlog, coming up with new material was quite the challenge. Especially since writing was supplanting research. Then life intervened, hence the gap in material. So maybe I alter my editorial policy and cut back to three times a week. I tip my hat to those of you who are able to daily post content. It definitely isn’t as easy as it looks.

But as I sit here, typing my excuse for missing a few days of posting, a topic idea came to mind, that of time. Maybe that is the secret to writing daily – just start typing! You can always go back and rewrite the first few paragraphs after a topic suggests itself to you. So on to today’s subject: Genealogical Time.

How many of you who have been at this for a while have performed an Internet name search and came across a query posted on one of the many message boards. You have that little “ah ha” moment when you say, “hey, that’s my ancestor!” You open the link only to find that it was a query posted by yourself several years back. A little disappointing at first but you might actually find that someone has posted an answer! Or the query itself reminds you of a research thread that you started but set aside while you were chasing a Genealogical Rabbit or two. And maybe in the interim, you have answered your own question through your research. Don’t forget to post that information as an answer to your own question.

And why do I suggest answering your own question? Because, as you have discovered, the Internet is forever. That query you found could have been posted a decade ago. But there it is, right there in your search results. And that is how I define Genealogical Time. Chances are pretty good that you will not get a response to a message board query in a day or two. Enough time may pass that you have forgotten you asked the question in the first place. But there are new entrants to this avocation every day and that next person to do a search might just have an answer for you. That gap in time between question and answer could be years – that’s Genealogical Time.

So how did you miss the answer in the first place? Maybe you stopped checking that message board as you moved on to other things. Perhaps the email account you used for notification of activity is a dormant one. And that brings me to my methodology tip. Use a separate, persistent email account dedicated to your genealogy. Don’t use one linked to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). You may change providers because of a relocation or even cost. You don’t want to have that email address to turn into a dead letter office.

By persistent, I mean an email not tied to your ISP. There are several free email opportunities, with Google’s Gmail being the leader of the pack. Then there’s Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, and several others. I choose to use Google as I like their spam filters, it can be integrated to my smart phone, and I don’t expect it to go away any time soon.

So keep on posting those queries and updating them as time goes on. You never know when the next distant cousin you never even knew you had will find your question and post an answer. Genealogical Time is a turtle, not a rabbit.

Next Installment: Happy Independence Day, 2017

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved

Fathers Day, 2017

This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward to today.
Sunday, June 18, 2017

12 Generations of Paternal Fathers

Generation 1, self
Wright, Philip George
Generation 2, father
Wright, Allen Lewis
Generation 3, grandfather
Wright, Forrest Ladd
Generation 4, great-grandfather
Wright, William Burns
Lewis, William Eugene
Generation 5, 2nd great-grandfather
Wright, Henry Chandler
Rich, James D.
Lewis, Allen
McKown, Joseph Reed
Generation 6, 3rd great-grandfather
Wright, David Jr.
Morse, Amos
Rich, Jared M
McNeil, Alexander
Lewis, Nathan
Fossett, William Henry
McKown, William Jr.
Grover, Freeman
Generation 7, 4th great-grandfather
Wright, David
Ladd, John I
Morse, William
Morse, Gideon
Rich, Justus
Russell, Thomas
Macomber, Ebenezer
Fossett, Henry
Colman, Joseph
McKown, William
Reed, Joseph
Grover, Ebenezer
Maddocks, Palgrave G Jr.
Generation 8, 5th great-grandfather
Wright, John Jr.
Tenney, John
Ladd, Daniel I
Eastman, William
Morse, Henry
Young, John
Johnson, Timothy
Rich, Thomas
Russell, Thomas
Baldwin, Ebenezer
Lewis, Joseph
Tibbetts, Nathaniel
Macomber, Job
Robinson, John
Fossett, Henry
Fossett, William
Colman, John
Cross, William
McKown, Patrick
Thompson, Samuel
Grover, Thomas
Maddocks, Palsgrave
Pierce, Samuel
Generation 9, 6th great-grandfather
Wright, John
Stowell, David
Tenney, Joseph
Armstrong, John Jr.
Ladd, Daniel Corliss
Roberts, Ephraim Jr.
Eastman, Jonathan
Jewett, Aaron
Morse, William Jr.
Cottle, Thomas
Young, Benajah
Johnson, Daniel
Greeley, Benjamin
Rich, Thomas
Cheney, John
Russell, Joseph
Baldwin, Daniel
Swift, John
Lewis, Isaac
Hasey, John
Tibbetts, Ichabod
Giles, Mark
Macomber, Nathaniel
Pitts, Ebenezer
Robinson, Bryant
Brown, Samuel
Nichols, James
Fossett, Alexander
Colman, Benjamin
Danforth, Samuel
Cross, Noah
McKown, Robert
Fullerton, William Jr.
Thompson, Joseph
Reed, David
Grover, Ebenezer
Dinslow, Benjamin
Maddocks, Henry
Huff, Thomas Jr.
Pierce, Samuel Jr.
Generation 10, 7th great-grandfather
Wright, John
Wyman, Timothy
Stowell, David
Foster, Abram
Tenney, Samuel
Wood, John
Armstrong, John
Durkee, John Jr.
Ladd, Samuel
Hartshorne, John Sr.
Roberts, Ephraim
Smith, Samuel
Eastman, Thomas
Green, Peter
Jewett, Jeremiah
Perley, Samuel
Morse, William Sr.
Hale, Henry
Cottle, Ezra
Lowell, Gideon Sr
Johnson, Thomas
Bixby, Jonathan
Greeley, Joseph
Whittier, Joseph
Rich, Thomas
Cheney, Thomas
Baldwin, Benjamin
Partridge, Samuel
Swift, Thomas
Clarke, Aaron
Lewis, Isaac
Hallett, Joseph
Hasey, William
Dexter, Richard
Tibbetts, Samuel
Tibbetts, Thomas
Giles, Mark
Tibbetts, Joseph
Macomber, John
Southworth, Ichabod
Pitts, Samuel
Hannover, Grenfell
Savage, James
Thompson, Robert
Young, [male]
Colman, Thomas
Brown, Thomas Jr.
Danforth, John
Brown, Joseph III
Cross, Robert
Cromwell, Joseph
Fullerton, William
Andrews, Soloman
Reed, Andrew
Wylie, Robert
Grover, Matthew
Grant, William
Densloe, Benjamin
Moulten, Job
Maddocks, John
Wells, John
Huff, Thomas Sr.
Banfield, George
Peirce, Samuel
Pulsifer, David
Generation 11, 8th great-grandfather
Wright, Joseph
Kendall, John
Wyman, Francis
Wiswall, Enoch
Stowell, Samuel
Stedman, Nathaniel
Foster, Jacob
Parsons, Jeffrey
Tenney, John
Boynton, Joseph
Wood, Thomas
Hazen, Edward
Armstrong, Benjamin
Worth, James
Durkee, John
Lee, Samuel Esq.
Ladd, Daniel Sr.
Corliss, George
Hartshorne, Thomas
Swan, Robert
Roberts, Robert
Hendrick, Daniel
Smith, Nathanial
Emerson, Michael
Eastman, Roger
Green, John
Dustin, Thomas Jr.
Jewett, Jeremiah
Kimball, Caleb
Morse, Benjamin Sr.
Merrill, Daniel
Hale, John
Kelly, John
Cottle, William
Woodbridge, Thomas
Lowell, Percival
Swett, John
Johnson, John Jr.
Ordway, Edward
Bixby, Joseph
Smith, William
Greeley, Andrew
Wilford, Gilbert
Whittier, Thomas
Peasley, Joseph
Petty, John
Cheney, Thomas
Woodis, Henry
Baldwin, Henry
Knowlton, Thomas
Partridge, John
Rose, Thomas
Swift, Thomas
Stockbridge, Charles Jr.
Clark, Daniel
Wade, Robert Jr.
Lewis, John
Davis, Samuel
Gorham, John
Hasey, William
Tuttle, John
Cross, Stephen
Tibbetts, Jeremiah
Tuttle, John
Dam, John
Giles, Mark
Macomber, John Jr.
Williams, Nathaniel
Southworth, Nathaniel
Hodges, Henry Sr.
Pitts, Peter
Bobbitt, Edward
French, Nathaniel
Hunter, John
Whittemore, John Sr.
Coleman, Tobias
Chute, James
Danforth, William
White, Nathaniel
Thurston, Hannah
Graves, Samuel
Andrews, William
Murray, John
McIntyre, William
Grover, Thomas
Freethy, James
Grant, William
Kennard, Edward
Maddocks, Henry
Church, Caleb
Wells, John
Huff, Ferdinando
Banfield, John
Shortridge, Richard
Peirce, Abraham
Pulsifer, Benedict
Generation 12, 9th great-grandfather
Wright, John
Hassell, Richard
Kendall, Francis
Bartlett, Thomas
Wymant, Francis
Reade, William
Wiswall, Thomas
Oliver, John
Stowell, Samuel
Farrow, John
Stedman, Isaac
Willis, Michael
Foster, Reginald
Lord, Robert
Parsons, James
Vinson, William
Tenney, Thomas
Parratt, Francis
Boynton, John
Swan, Richard
Grant, Thomas
Armstrong, Jonathan
Worth, Lionel
Durgy, William
Lee, Henry
Masters, Nathaniel
Ladd, Nathaniel
Corliss, Thomas
Davis, Thomas
Hartshorne, [male]
Acy, William
Smith, Robert
Emerson, Thomas
Webster, John Sr.
Eastman, Nicholas
Wheeler, John
Jewett, Joseph
Dickenson, Thomas
Kimball, Richard
Haseltine, Robert
Morse, Anthony
Sawyer, William
Merrill, Nathaniel
Clough, John Sr.
Hale, Thomas
Somerby, Henry
Kelly, John
Knight, Richard
Woodbridge, John Esq.
Jones, Thomas
Lowell, Richard
Chandler, William
Swett, Stephen
Plummer, Samuel
Johnson, John
Mousall, Thomas
Ordway, James
Wood, Isaiah
Bixby, George
Keyes, Robert
Moyse, Joseph
Dow, Thomas
Peasley, Joseph
Barnard, Thomas
Cheney, William
Richardson, Ezekiel
Knowlton, William
Partridge, George
Seabury, Samuel
Rose, Thomas
Allyn, Robert
Swift, Thomas
Tomson, John
Stockbridge, Charles
Tilden, Stephen
Clark, Daniel
Pratt, Daniel
Wade, Robert
Royce, Jonathan
Hasey, William
Lewis, Edward
Browne, Abraham
Howland, John
Jacobs, Richard
Cheney, John
Tibbetts, Henry
Canney, Thomas
Tuttle, John
Pomphret, William
Giles, Matthew
Macomber, John Sr.
Evans, William
Williams, Richard
Rogers, John
Southworth, Constant
Gray, Edward
Andrews, Henry
French, John
Tisdale, John Sr.
Whittemore, Daniel
Bassett, Joseph
Coleman, Thomas
Jackson, Nicholas
Thurloe, Francis
White, unknown
Pearson, John
Thurston, Daniel
Andrews, John
Grover, Thomas
Chadwick, John
Freethy, William
Milberry, Henry
Grant, Peter
Wellington, Roger
Church, Richard
Sprague, William
Wells, Thomas
Littlefield, Francis Sr.
Hough, Atherton
Moses, John
Pickering, John Sr.
Peirce, Abraham
Waters, Richard

Next Installment: TBD

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved
This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward day by day.
Friday, June 16, 2017

I suppose every family has a favorite dish or two that could be thought of as the “family food.” But can they claim a genealogical tie to a special holiday dish and a lunch box staple? I can! I’ll start with the genealogy story and you should soon be able to see where this is going …

One of my immigrant ancestors is William Durgy (c. 1632-1704). His origin is believed to be County Meath, Ireland. William was captured by Cromwell’s forces and sent to the Barbadoes, likely as a slave. Earning his freedom, he signed on as an indentured servant to Thomas Bishop of Ipswich.1 Bishop was a ship captain and was very prosperous,2 Also employed in the Bishop household was Martha Cross (1643-1727). Her father sued Durgy for “abusing” his daughter and Durgy counter-sued for Robert withdrawing his consent to marriage. Durgy won the case and their first child, John (1665-1739), was born two weeks later.. Practical justice, I presume.

William and Martha had as many as 10 children and their surname became the Americanized “Durkee,” My line is descended from their first son, John. You can learn more about the Durkee clan via The Society of Genealogy of Durkee website, here. They have published a book documenting the first six generations and back issues of their newsletter are also helpful in learning more about the Durkee family.

My line of descent is William Durgy, John Durkee, John Durkee Jr., Mary (Durkee) Armstrong, Olive (Armstrong) Tenney, Lydia (Tenney) Wright. Lydia married my patriot ancestor, David Wright. William Durgy is my 9th great-grandfather. So where’s the beef, you might ask?

According to The Society of Genealogy of Durkee, William and Martha are the progenitors of almost all the Durkees in America. One of their descendants was Eugene R. Durkee, who founded Durkee Foods in 1851 in Buffalo, New York. There is an interesting history for the Durkee Bottlers published by the Society for historical Archaeology, Inc. here. Eugene is descended from William and Martha’s son Thomas and is my 5th cousin, 5 times removed.

So there is the food connection but there are two items in particular to discuss. First we have the special holiday dish. In 1955, Dorcas Reilly, working in the home economics department of the Campbell Soup Company, came up with the recipe for Green Bean Casserole. The idea was to make use of two staples people had on hand: green beans and Campbell’s Mushroom Soup3 But what would a green bean casserole be without a topping of Durkee’s French Fried Onions??? Alas, in 1995 French’s Famous Foods, Inc. rebranded Durkee’s French Fried Onions with the French’s name.4

Meanwhile, from Swampscott, Massachusetts, another Durkee descendant, H. Allen Durkee, partnered with fellow WWI veteran Fred L. Mower to form Durkee-Mower, Inc., headquartered in Lynn, Massachusetts. They purchased the recipe for a sweet marshmallow cream and eventually branded it Marshmallow Fluff. A 1960 marketing campaign coined the name Fluffebutter for that lunch box favorite, a sandwich of peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff.5 2017 marks the 100 year anniversary of marshmallow cream now universally known as Marshmallow Fluff. There is an interesting article in the March 7, 2017 Boston Globe about Fluff and other New England confections Why Marshmallow Fluff couldn’t have been created anywhere other than Massachusetts by Mimi Graney, author and the founder of Somerville’s annual What the Fluff? Festival.6
H Alan Durkee is William Durgy’s 7th great-grandson and my 7th cousin, 2 times removed.


2New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial: A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation, Volume 4, William Richard Cutter p, 1772

4“French’s History” http://www.frenchs.com/our-story/

6Graney, M. (2017, March 7). Why Marshmallow Fluff couldn’t have been created anywhere other than Massachusetts. The Boston Globe. Lifestyle section.


Next Installment: TBD

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved
This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward to today.
Thursday, June 15, 2017

I was originally going to write for Thursday about my immigrant ancestors and the ships that brought them to America, but I realized that my data needs a little more cleanup in that respect, so I am deferring the subject to a later date. But that work suggested the following update. Consider this a Family Friday extra 🙂

I wrote about Deacon John Wright (1601-1688) last Friday. He is my direct paternal 9th great-grandfather and an immigrant to America from England. As I work with this blog, I am realizing there is much more to learn about John and am considering moving him up on my to-do list.

As I said on Friday, many secondary sources place John and his wife Priscilla in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1630. That suggests he was part of the Winthrop Fleet migration but his name appears on no passenger manifest that has been found to date. I did find once source stating he was part of the fleet, but it requires supporting documentation.1

John first appeared in official records in 1640: “John, a first settler of Woburn, ]Mass.,] subscribed the “town orders” (at Charlestown) Dec. 18, 1640; selectman of Woburn, 1645-47, 1649-58, 1660-64, 1670, 1680-81; commissioner of the rate, 1646, 1671; deacon of Woburn church from Nov. 10, 1664, to his death.”2 A thank you to William R Cutter, esq., the town librarian of Woburn Massachusetts for his research into the town founders! There is a linear foot of papers on the Wright family in the Woburn Public Library awaiting my review. Some day …

Interestingly enough, John is not mentioned in The Great Migration series nor does he appear in the 1638 land records of Charlestown. One possible explanation is that he arrived after 1638 or, if the other sources that place him there in 1630 are correct, then it is likely he arrived as a servant, perhaps indentured. I wonder if a household census or survey exists for the 1630’s.

My curiosity is up and I will need to work this further. More to come at a later date.

Next Installment: Family Friday: The Family Food

1“Carr-Harris – History & Genealogy” by Carr-Harris, Gordon Grant Macdonnel, (Printed in 1966 for private circulation) Wright Pt I – App I p 1 Woburn [Mass.] Public Library, special collection, Call number: G2 C31C

2“Wright Family of Woburn, Mass.” By William R. Cutter, Esq., Librarian of the Public Library, Woburn, Mass. New England Historic Genealogical Register, Jan. 1883, Vol. 37, p. 76

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved
This article is part of a series journaling my progress with what I call The Presidential Project. The first article was posted on 25 May, 2017 and can be found here: Back to the Blog and you can read forward day by day.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

In honor of Flag Day, I thought I would write about Francis Scott Key, author of the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner, America’s National Anthem. I chose him not only because of the obvious holiday connection but also because he is part of The Presidential Project. I discovered Francis Scott Key is my 18th cousin 3 times removed. The connection is actually closer but I have yet to finish my Peerage subproject, with the Percy line yet to be completed. But I recognize several names that will be closer Gateway Ancestors when all is said and done. You can read Key’s Wikipedia biography here.

Again, my primary source of data for The Presidential Project is the website FamousKin.com. Francis Scott Key’s page is here. Analyzing the data presented there, Key has 28 Gateway Ancestors leading to famous kinfolk. They are:

Alan la Zouche

Alice de Audley

Bartholomew de Badlesmere

Edward I, King of England

Edward III of England

Edward Stafford

Elizabeth de Badlesmere

Eudo la Zouche

Henry Plantagenet

Hugh de Kevelioc

Hugh le Bigod

Isabella de Beauchamp

Joan Beaufort

John FitzRobert

John of Gaunt

Philip Key

Ralph de Neville

Sir Edmund Mortimer

Sir Henry “Hotspur” Percy

Sir Henry Percy

Sir Hugh I de Audley

Sir John Berkeley of Beverstone, Gloucestershire, England

Sir Maurice de Berkeley

Sir Roger de Quincy

Sir Saher de Quincy

Sir William de Cantilupe

Thomas Howard

William the Conqueror

Those Gateway Ancestors lead to an Architect, an Artist, 18 authors, 2 aviators, 3 educators, 2 explorers, 3 fashonistas, 3 financiers, 11 First Ladies, 12 Governors, 14 industrialists, an inventor, 3 Kings, 3 Magna Carta sureties, one Mayflower passenger (Richard More), 8 military men, 26 movie stars, 3 musicians, 8 notorious folk, 6 poets, 6 politicians, 8 from the Revolutionary War, the Queen of England and 6 members of the Royal Family, a scientist, 3 Secretaries of State, 2 Senators, 14 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 3 from the Space Program, 3 Supreme Court justices, 13 television stars, 4 Vice Presidents, and 4 of Henry VIII’s wives. No partridge in a pear tree, though. No Kevin Bacon, either.

So, if you have a Gateway Ancestor in your family tree, you are, through him or her, related to a subset of the famous ancestors listed for Francis Scott Key. And, of course, to him as well. That should give you a glimpse into what I’ve found intriguing about my project.

Next Installment: tbd

(c) 2017 Philip G Wright, all rights reserved