146.1 About 6 years ago, I started really getting interested in genealogy and kinship. Today’s blog is an expanded version of my first research project. Well, technically, my “first” was determining exactly how FDR and Eleanor were related…5th cousins or something else? Turned out to be something else, 5th cousins once removed…FDR was the 5th cousin of Eleanor’s father Elliott…and also of course 5th cousin of Elliott’s brother, President Teddy Roosevelt. But that wasn’t really research…anyone who wondered about this just had to find a Roosevelt family tree and it would all be laid out plain as day.
146.2 Today’s question did not yield a pat answer, so I had to do the digging for myself. I got to thinking about John F. Kennedy and his siblings. Giddy with Camelot, the media duly reported all their comings and goings. But what about Jack’s 1st cousins? You never heard anything about them…except for lawyer Joe Gargan, son of Rose Kennedy’s sister Mary Agnes….he was with Teddy at Chappaquiddick. In fact, “Joey” was more a brother than a 1st cousin…he and his 2 sisters were raised by Rose and Joe, and he was just 2 years older than Ted….Jack was 15 years older than Ted, Bobby 7.
146.3 So I reconstructed the family tree, and found JFK had 14 1st cousins…4 on his father’s side and 10 on his mother’s. But the interesting thing was this: he had no 1st cousins named Kennedy! Call me cynical, but I can see where having the Kennedy name made news, while just being a relative might not. Or maybe this group was just very low-key…
146.4 But as you can see on Chart 507, Jack’s father Joe had 2 sisters and a brother…and that brother died in infancy. Thus Jack had one Connelly and 3 Burke 1st cousins thru his father’s sisters, Mary and Margaret.
146.5 And of course, there were no Kennedys among the 1st cousins on the Fitzgerald side…just 3 Gargans and 7 Fitzgeralds…hence our “law-firm”…Connelly, Burke, Gargan & Fitzgerald. Not for nothing, but there could have been Kennedys on the Fitzgerald side…there were and are thousands of them, and intermarriage among immigrant populations wasn’t unheard of. But I’d like to touch upon 3 of Rose’s relatives named Fred Fitzgerald…her youngest brother, that brother’s son, and her second youngest brother John Francis Fitzgerald Jr.’s son. In Chart 508 (as well as Chart 507) I wanted to include full names where possible…first, middle, and last. JFK 1st cousins Robert P. Fitzgerald and Joseph F. Gargan Jr. (as well as Sr.) resisted all efforts at decoding, so I used the initials…these could turn up yet! But the 3 Freds also proved puzzling.
146.6 Only 2 of them are mentioned in the Fitzgerald Family Bible, now resident at the John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum….the same Bible Jack used at his inauguration. Rose’s youngest brother is called Frederick Hannon Fitzgerald… after their mother Mary Josephine “Josie” Hannon…and his dates of birth and death are correct. His son Fred is not mentioned…and Rose’s brother John Francis Jr.’s son is listed correctly by date of birth, but called simply “Fred.”
146.7 Full names for the 2 younger Freds? The 1940 census lists John Francis Jr.’s son as “Frederick H.”…H for Hannon would be a reasonable guess, but only a guess. Trouble is, all 3 of the Freds are sometimes called Frederick Harold Fitzgerald…and that gets around 2000 Goggle hits, while Frederick Hannon Fitzgerald only gets around 700.
146.8 Granted, family bibles aren’t always reliable…a slip of the pen, a momentary confusion of memory, or even a “traditional” family mistake are all possible. And even when the information is solid, reading the penmanship can be a challenge.
146.9 So…not to point fingers, but I found one website that reproduces the 6 pages of handwritten information from the Fitzgerald Bible, then attempts to transcribe them, warning that there may be errors, so compare to the originals. Good advice…the transcription with the birth date 1904 is Hannon…but with the death date 1935 it’s Harold. And you can see for your self above, it really is Hannon both times. I’m not saying this is the ultimate source of Harold…he could be real after all…wish I had the money for Ancestry.com…maybe a Kickstarter is in order… 😉 😉
146.10 But before we leave the Fitzgeralds, is it true that Rose’s parents were 2nd cousins? As you can see in Chart 509, absolutely. And how does this effect the 1st cousins? Using Ted and Joey Gargan as an example, they are both 1st cousins and double 4th cousins.
146.11 Getting back to the Kennedy side…OK, no Kennedy 1st cousins…how about, for the sake of argument, Kennedy 2nd cousins?
And surprisingly, as per Chart 511, there are none of those either…Joe’s father and Jack’s grandfather Patrick Joseph “P.J.” Kennedy had 3 sisters, and only one brother, who again died in infancy. Thus, there are Kane, Mahoney, and Caulfield 2nd cousins, but no Kennedys. At this point, I really don’t feel like giving up…so how about 3rd cousins? Ah, and now we must delve into the genealogical mysteries of the Kennedys of Ireland…we’ll reconvene next week, OK?
…and speaking of the Old Country, what do you make of this, dear friends? I can see at least 2 problems…first, the precise identity of JFK’s great great grandfather is a matter of some dispute, believe it or not. More on that next week. And second, nobody can be 1/48th anything…the denominator has to be a power of 2. Well, 11/512 is close to 1/48, off by .00065. I’m just sayin’…
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