#157: Second Report of the New Rochelle Genealogical Society

157.1  Laura Meehan…From Brooklyn…married at age 17, altho she said at the time she was 19, so approximately 25 when the show begins. No middle name that we know of…no siblings ever mentioned, nor any nieces or nephews which would imply siblings…and she smokes. Nicknamed “Laurie” thru the first half of the first season only…sometimes called that by Rob, occasionally by Buddy, Sally, and Jerry (altho Jerry calls her “Honey” in 2-42…and Rob’s Uncle George calls her “Laurie” in 3-70.)

157.2  When Rob first meets her at Camp Crowder in the flashback episode 1-5, she’s a dancer with the USO and gives her name as Laura Meeker…that’s after Mary Tyler Moore’s then husband Dick Meeker…they were married in 1955 and divorced in 1961. Her maiden name isn’t mentioned again for another 54 episodes, until 2-59 when we meet her old high school beau Jim Darling (Robert Vaughn) who calls her Laura Meehan. True, Laura’s parents appear in 2-37 (the famous “Rosebud” episode) but they aren’t referred to by name, either given or surname…altho we are told her mother was a Middleton…so we actually hear “Middleton” before “Meehan.”

157.3   Laura’s parents only appear once more (3-87)…Rob calls his father-in-law Alan…we never find out Laura’s mother’s name…but they are Meehans from here on out. Laura’s double maiden names of Meeker and Meehan are generally considered to be a continuity mistake beyond salvaging, but I believe there is a very simple way to explain it. When she introduced herself as Laura Meeker she was a USO dancer, so to that extent, she was in show business…and Meeker could very well have been a stage name…perhaps to her ear easier to pronounce…Mee’n? Mee-han?…or to spell…Mee-? Mea-? Me-? Once she and Rob got serious, she went back to being Laura Meehan…no reason not to, since all Rob’s in-laws would be Meehans. Makes sense to me…

chart 544

157.4  As you can see in Chart 544, Laura has a bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins…and no  indication who’s on what side of the family, with the exception of Alan’s older brother Edward, mentioned in Rosebud 2-37, when both sides are arguing about a name for the coming Petrie bambino. Laura points out “there’s already an Edward Jr. in the family.”  Depending on family tradition, he needn’t be the son of Edward Sr., but I think it’s highly likely…still, technically it’s only speculation. Only 2 of Laura’s cousins have last names…Sally’s blind-date Thomas Edson (not Edison)…appears in 1-3, before we have Meehan or Middleton…or even Meeker for that matter…but cousin Donna Palmer is in 3-78, when we do have Laura’s parents’ last names. Thanks for complicating it, writers…

157.5  Now speaking of Edwards…you’ll notice 3 Edwards in Laura’s parents’ generation…couldn’t they all be the same person? Unfortunately, no. Her unmarried cousin Donna’s father is Edward Palmer, not Meehan, so Donna’s mother Matilda is the sister of one of Laura’s parents. Couldn’t Uncle Edward, husband of Aunt Mildred, be Alan Meehan’s older brother? Well, does he look older? Granted, actors can play roles older or younger than their actual ages, but it is interesting to consider the relative ages of these actors as of the day TDVDS debuted, Tuesday Oct. 3 1961…

chart 545

157.6  The real reason this Uncle Edward can’t be Edward Meehan comes when he and Aunt Mildred are saying goodbye to Laura in 3-69…Rob never came home that night to visit with them, being lost in Red Hook with amnesia. Edward is a touchy-feely kind of uncle, but Mildred has a thing about kissing on the lips, so he has to kiss “our favorite grand nephew” Richie on the cheek. He then goes to kiss Laura goodbye on the lips, but is again intercepted by Mildred…kind of an odd bit of business, but suggesting Laura is not blood kin, so fair game in his mind, given his initial gusto and subsequent disappointment…ook. So I’ve speculated that Aunt Mildred is Alan Meehan’s sister and Laura’s aunt by blood…yes, she could very well be a Middleton, but “our favorite grand nephew” suggests they have others, and one could certainly be a son of Edward Jr., not supposing the existence of more relatives than we have to, Occam’s Razor-wise.

157.7  As to where the other collaterals hook up in the tree, we don’t know much. As I mentioned, we do know the names of cousin Donna’s parents…Laura asks after them in 3-78. We also know that cousin Grace is Uncle Howard’s daughter…Laura’s always been like a daughter to him, he says, and his daughter Grace has always been like a niece. Jane Dulo’s character is called “Cousin Margaret” in the credits, but she calls him “Uncle Howard,” so she’s his niece, not daughter. This episode 4-106 is the one where Rob is sick with the flu, but tries to pretend he isn’t for Laura’s party. It’s her turn to host a party of relatives for their Uncle Howard…whom nobody likes, but it is her turn. BTW, Cousin Edabeth who gets married up in Albany (5-149) is played by the daughter of William “Life of Riley” Bendix.

157.8  All thru the series you kind of get the feeling that when they talk about their “families,” they mean their fathers’ family…so these party-goers could all be Meehans. On the other hand, the fact that both Uncle Howard and Laura’s mother appear to be so much younger than Laura’s father hints that Howard’s a Middleton…curiously, neither of Laura’s parents are present at the party to settle it one way or the other.  Bear in mind, the actual ages of the actors are simply guidelines in analyzing their characters…otherwise, Cousin Margaret is 2 years older than Uncle Howard. It’s one way in which our world, the “real world,” can be used to understand the show’s internal universe…but it must be taken with a grain of salt…tubfulls, really…and that’s land salt, not sea salt…I’m Old School.

157.9  At any rate…apart from her parents appearing twice, just about everyone else on Laura’s chart, as with the Helpers’ relatives last week, appears or is mentioned only once. The lone exception is Aunts Mildred/Martha/Matilda…one can imagine these were thought to be the same person in the minds of various writers over 158 episodes…the aunt with the little-old-lady-name-that-begins-with-M. The Uncle Edward played by Hal Peary…who BTW was replaced in the role of Throckmorton Gildersleeve on the radio show “Fibber McGee and Molly” by none other than Willard Waterman, Uncle Howard…could then be Donna Palmer’s father, if Matilda and Mildred were the same person…and Aunt Mildred lives in Ohio, as does Aunt Martha. But unless there is absolutely compelling evidence, as last week with Jeanie/Janie in 1-1, different names mean different people, at least to me.

157.10  And Laura has other relatives who aren’t mentioned by name…an uncle who’s a dentist (2-43), a cousin whom she once stepped on to get a better view of Marlo Brando (4-114)…these could be somewhere on Chart 544….no way of knowing. Now…as to the other half…

157.11  Robert Simpson Petrie…The middle name of Simpson is mentioned twice (1-24, 5-140)…and its origin is something we’ll get to in a moment…suffice to say, in the final episode 5-158, when Laura reads the title of Rob’s completed book, she says “Robert F. Petrie”…yes, F and S can sound similar, but she very clearly says F. Born and raised in Danville, Illinois, as was Dick Van Dyke…Rob’s father was from Seattle. He is left-handed…in Jerry’s first appearance (1-7) he calls Rob “Lefty” 3 times, then never again…doesn’t drink, but does smoke…on this show, who doesn’t?

157.12  Attended the University of Illinois, majored in “Dramatics, Journalism, English” (1-5)…then in the early 1950s served in the army…3-69 says signal corps, 5-137 has it as special services, entertainment…mostly at Camp Crowder outside of Joplin, Mo., but later in Anchor, Texas (5-146). Met Laura at Camp Crowder and was married while still in the service. Following that, worked for 2 years back in Danville at either a TV station (2-49) or a radio station (4-124), before moving to New York to work on the Alan Brady Show.

157.13   Most of the place names used on TDVDS are real…altho Rob once mistakenly calls Danville “Westville” (4-108)…but before the Petries moved to New Rochelle, they lived in “Willitstown” (4-119), a fictitious place named after Dick’s wife Marge Willet, said to be an hour’s drive from New Rochelle.

157.14  The Petries’ address is 148 Bonnie Meadow Road. Some sources give the number as 448, which I didn’t catch watching the episodes…altho sharp-eyed viewers will notice that the large package addressed to Rob in 1-16 reads 468.  Still, the Helpers’ gave their address as 146. Carl Reiner lived at 48 Bonnie Meadow Road in New Rochelle, and Rob Reiner grew up there…and the real one only goes up to 99.  And Google Maps will tell you Bonnie Meadow Road is in Scarsdale to the north, but it isn’t…they’re confused because the northern tip of New Rochelle uses Scarsdale’s zip code…but you don’t have to be.


157.15  Rob has one sibling, his younger brother Stacey…altho there is a small but interesting blip. In 1-8, Sally asks, admiringly, do you have a brother? Rob responds: “He’s married.” When we first meet Stacey Petrie in 1-26, he’s only engaged…she asked him.  This is another case where I believe it’s fair play in the Fan Logic Game to assume Rob merely misspoke…he said “married” when he meant “engaged.” As to the rest of his relatives…when compared to Laura’s family…

chart 546

157.16  …what Rob lacks in collaterals…uncles, aunts, and cousins…he makes up for with a patrilineal side that goes back more generations. But first a word about their parents. They conveniently appear once per season…both sets in 2-37 and 3-87, Rob’s only in 1-12, 4-104, and 5-144. A past visit to “Grandma and Grandpa in Chicago” is mentioned in 1-9…undoubtedly Rob’s parents. And as you can see, while Laura’s parents are played by just 2 actors, Rob’s are represented by no less than 5. In the first season, the Empress Carlotta’s Necklace episode, its Will Wright (yup, Ben Weaver from “The Andy Griffith Show”) and Carol Veazie. Isabel Randolph takes over as Clara from the second season on…she appeared twice in the first season, as Rob’s sponsor’s wife Martha Bermont and as Richie’s teacher Mrs. Givens. And at least these 2 actresses look somewhat alike, compared to Rob’s 3 fathers.

157.17  But the big problem with the dads is that he’s Edward in his first season appearance, Sam for the others…a continuity goof so glaring that there’s simply no way to explain it. Another bit of strangeness is that Denver Pyle, as Uncle George Petrie from Danville, speaks with a Southern accent….while none of the other Petries do, not one, ever.

157.18  As to some of the other relatives…in 5-133 “The Great Petrie Fortune,” Dick Van Dyke himself portrays Sam’s Uncle Hezekiah, Rob’s grand uncle…at the reading of his will, the only other relatives present (not Sam nor his father, notice) are Uncle Hez’s half-brother Alfred Reinbeck and Luthuella Detweiller, whom he introduces as “our cousin.” Well, half-brothers with different last names mean they share a mother, who had 2 husbands…how Cousin Luthuella fits in is anybody’s guess.

157.19  Now a good deal of genealogy on both sides is revealed in episode 2-37 “What’s in a Middle Name.” And for the record, their son Richie Petrie’s middle name is not “Rosebud”…it does say that on his birth certificate, but even if it doesn’t literally say “R.O.S.E.B.U.D.”, that’s what is meant…because as Rob tells him he actually has 7 middle names…he is Richard Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses Davis Petrie…this was done to please all the relatives, who each preferred…


157.20  And in this episode, various family connections are spelled out…including that Sam already has “2 nephews named Sam.” Now in playing the Fan Logic Game, I decided to include speculations of my own on the charts as green lines…and I noticed I really wasn’t doing much speculating. I mean, putting cousins, uncles, and aunts on one side of the family or the other is in most cases pure guesswork, without a shred of evidence to back any of it up…so I haven’t been doing it. So in Chart 546, I do indulge in a bit of speculation about Rob’s middle name Simpson.

157.21  And it definitely is Simpson…at the end of 1-24, Laura calls him “Robert Simpson Petrie.” And he confirms this when applying for unemployment in the flashback episode 5-140, in his exchange with the clerk, played by the wonderful Reta Shaw. She asks for his middle name and he replies “S”. She says: “S?” He says: “Simpson…I was named after…um…Simpson”  and he seems embarrassed to be revealing this information. Why? While the laugh-track laughs at it, the point of this gag escapes me…but let’s run with it. One possibility is that it’s his mother Clara’s never revealed maiden name…a common practice, nez pah?

157.22  Another possibility stems from the Rosebud episode…Grampa Petrie never explains why his choice is Ulysses David…altho when Rob is explaining it all to Richie on the blackboard, he says that David was his (Grampa Petrie’s) father’s name. It is then not much of a leap to assume that Ulysses was Grampa Petrie’s own name, and perhaps further his full name was Ulysses Simpson Petrie. Not for nothing, but he did name his son Sam, which was President Grant’s nickname at West Point, after U.S. or Uncle Sam. This of course all falls into the Fan Logic category of unsupported but entirely plausible… 😉 😉

chart 547

157.23  Finally, because it does give you some revealing insights…real world versus TDVDS universe…above are Rob’s relatives with the ages of the actors, as I did with Laura’s family, as of the show’s debut, October 3 1961…next week, we’ll look at the families of the rest of the show’s characters.

wicked petrie


A couple of interesting screen captures. For whatever reason, they used a ton of make-up on Rob in 1-1, the pilot episode…then never again, thank goodness. Sometimes more, sometimes less…the above is the worst of it.

shirt green

And from 5-154, here’s Rob acting in a low-budget movie with Italian sex kitten Lucianna Mazetta*, played American actress Jayne Massey, who seemed to specialize in “foreign” roles. Now I always assumed that when a woman is wearing a man’s shirt like that, it was the first thing she grabbed when getting out of bed…and that’s all she was wearing. This up-skirt…or should we say up-shirt…reveals something a bit more modest, more’s the pity.

* Mazetta was Rose Marie’s birth name…Italian father, Polish mother…an outstanding mix…and I know that for a fact…!!!


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


#156: First Report of the New Rochelle Genealogical Society

Preface…The Fan Logic Game…

“Who knew anybody would pay attention?”  — Carl Reiner

In constructing a biography for a fictional character, what we know about them is only what we’re told by their creators…and if that information is inconsistent or incomplete, there’s nothing further that can be done…no “basis in reality” exists. As an example, on various episodes of “I Love Lucy,” Ethel Mertz neé Potter is given 3 different middle names…Roberta, Louise, and Mae…and we’re stuck with that discrepancy. To play the Fan Logic Game you assemble all known facts about a fictional character, then try to construct a consistent narrative…which may not be possible, even for something as basic as their name, as with Ethel. Still, for some of us it’s a whale of a good time…and it’s very rude to criticize somebody else’s hobby.

Funny thing is, some people do…well, Uncle Wiki does…they call it “fancruft”…excessive detail, only of interest to the most meticulous (they might say “anal”) of chroniclers. In fact, I’m sure some Wikipedians will consider this blog you’re reading now merely “an indiscriminate collection of information”…based on “things only mentioned once.” Talk about spoilsports, nez pah? Still, since Wikipedia is such a sprawling affair, francruft does creep in…for example, they mention that in the comic strip Peanuts, Violet’s last name is Gray…despite the fact that out of nearly 18,000 strips, it’s mentioned exactly ONCE. So there ya go…Now then…

156.1  Over the past several months, I watched all 158 episodes of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”…and I took notes…boy, did I take notes! Certainly I missed a few things…but full steam ahead with what I got. For family trees, characters that are seen on the show will be represented by a screen capture of the actor or actress. People who are mentioned but never seen will be represented by black circles and connected by black lines, where those connections are known or can be logically inferred. Where you see green circles and lines, that is speculation…the Fan Logic Game. So black, you can’t argue with…watch the show…it’s in there!….green you can.

156.2   Also, TDVDS ran for 5 seasons…I will cite episodes like this: 3-90, where 3 means the 3rd season and 90 is the cumulative number of the episode, from 1 to 158…this will help “position” the information as the series evolved. Finally, there is a problem with collaterals. Generally, unless they’re given last names, and sometimes even if they are, it’s impossible to know on which side of the family uncles, aunts, and cousins belong…and even the sex of a “cousin” may be undetermined.

156.3  This week we start with Millie and Jerry Helper…their trees are simpler than the Petries and Meehans…a good way to ease into the method and madness of the Fan Logic Game. And…there is this minor debate about them among some ‘crufters…which today I will emphatically settle…and don’t look so surprised!

156.4  Dr. Jerry HelperLives next door to the Petries in New Rochelle, NY…146 Bonnie Meadow Road. A dentist…sometimes his office is in his home, other times it’s in “the city” and he takes the train with Rob. Of course, it’s perfectly possible he has 2 offices, right? Born in San Francisco…he smokes…at one point he owns a 1958 Edsel…in one episode he wears glasses. Played by Jerry Paris (also born in San Francisco as William Gerald Paris)…Jerry Helper appears in only 35 of 158 episodes. Paris first directed episode 2-18…and the more he directed, the less he acted. We see him below, along with a toupée-less Carl Reiner whuppin’ up the peanut gallery.

mil and jer

156.5  And wouldn’t you know it…there is no definitive answer to the question of his actual first name. In 3-67, Rob calls him “Gerald” and he doesn’t object. In 5-156, he calls himself “Dr. Jerome Helper.” So that’s a pick ’em. Now the Helpers were named after Jerry and Millie Schoenbaum, neighbors and closest friends of Carl and Estelle Reiner, first in the Bronx, then in New Rochelle, Westchester County. The house-hunting episode (4-119) is based on real life. The real neighbor Jerry was born in 1921, in Chicago, and I found his family in the 1930 and 1940 census records…but he’s always called just “Jerry”…if that would have been a clue.

156.6  Mildred Krumbermacher…Millie Helper…or just plain MilHer maiden name was mentioned twice, but never spelled out…so it could be Crumbermacher…the net is split about 50/50. But for some reason, a K is always funnier than a C, you know?. Played in 61 episodes by Ann Morgan Guilbert…that’s her high school yearbook picture above. Tap dancer with Laura in USO…her father was a presser (4-122) or a tailor (5-156)…she smokes. Early on, has an annoying habit of repeating herself…He’s awful…Jerry, you’re awful…Isn’t he awful? Fortunately, this gimmick was abandoned after the 2nd season. And Chart 543 shows what we know about Millie and Jerry’s families…

chart 543

156.7  …and it isn’t that much, really. Except for Jerry and Millie…and their kids, whom we’ll get to in a moment…everyone else appears or is mentioned only once. Now I said back in 156.1 that black lines represent things actually said on the show, or that can be logically inferred…green lines are speculation. And there is a principle I use in playing the Fan Logic Game illustrated here with Millie’s niece Cynthia…called Occam’s Razor.

156.8  William of Ockham was a 14th century philosopher whose frequent and effective used of the doctrine of lex parisomoniae lead to it’s being nicknamed as his “razor”…most popularly stated 300 years later as “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”…or as we would say today “Keep it simple, stupid!” In plain English, when you have 2 equally plausible explanations, and no reason to choose one over the other, chose the one that is the simplest.

156.9  In 3-82, it’s Millie’s sister who owns the cabin on Lake Sissimanunu…and in 5-151, when Alan Brady plans to attend the Petries’ anniversary party for the Helpers, Millie invites a bunch of friends and relatives, including her niece Cynthia, who auditions a dance routine. It is not said there is a connection between Millie’s sister and niece. On the other hand, no other Krumbermacher siblings are ever mentioned. Cynthia could be the daughter of the Sissimanunu sister, or of a different sibling. Occam’s Razor recommends you not invent relatives when you don’t have to, and here we don’t have to…hence the green line, indicating speculation.

156.10  As to Jerry’s 4 cousins…well, actually 3 cousins and one cousin-in-law…there’s Sheila Marshak,  his red-headed “kid cousin” who recommends a marriage councilor (3-92). Sally sees her but we don’t…we see the blonde he’s also out with, psychiatrist and family friend Dr. Toni Gagliarti. Then we have cousin Terry, who is also at the anniversary party…some on the net say “Terry Helper” but we must stick to what we see and hear on the show…your cousin need not have the same last name as you, and here he is only called Terry.

156.11  He? Truth is, we don’t see him so don’t know his sex. But in the 20th century, a whole group of surnames, used as given names for boys, were changing into girls’ names…Lynn, Joyce, Shirley, Dale, Kelly, Allison, Dana, Lindsay, Laurie, Beverly, Hillary, Vivian, etc. On TDVDS, these tended to be used for men… Stacey Petrie, Rob’s brother…Racy Tracy Rattigan, the obnoxious Brit played by Richard Dawson…Leslie “Les” Merkle*, Rob’s old army buddy turned movie director, by Michael Constantine. Women were given more traditional feminine names, so my story is that Terry’s a male…and I’m sticking to it.

* As this transition progressed, there was the unusual possibility of a father and daughter sharing the same name, and I knew of one. I went to high school with a girl named Leslie…and my father worked with her father, also named Leslie, or Les as they called him.

156.12  And the married couple Hy and Blanche are at the party as well…Millie warns Laura about them…she’s a flirt, he’s a lush…and she calls them “Jerry’s cousins”…obviously one is a cousin-in-law, no way to know which. The trouble is when Blanche asks Rob to guess who she is, he knows she is Blanche because they’ve met before (not shown on the show) and he calls her “Millie’s cousin.” What do we do with that…Millie said she’s “Jerry’s cousin.” Yes, a cousin on one side of the family can marry a cousin on the other side…unusual, but it happens. But applying Occam’s Razor, there is a simpler explanation…Rob considers any cousin of Jerry’s to be a cousin of Millie’s…by marriage…and that’s how he remembers Blanche.

156.13  Finally, how many children do the Helpers have? Really, I’m surprised there’s any debate about this…on the show, it’s stated as clear as day. In 2-44, Rob is directing a play for the PTA…Millie wants the role of Cleopatra, but they’re going to give it to the kindergarten teacher. Millie says: “Is it right for the kindergarten teacher to play Cleopatra?” and Jerry replies: “Is it right for a mother of 3…sit down, Millie.” This is the only time their exact number of children is mentioned, so there is no contradictory information. It’s 3…Patty, Freddie, and Ellen.

156.14  In the entire run of the series, Ellen is mentioned several times, but only appears twice…in 1-5 and 1-19, played by different girls. We hear about Freddie a lot, but he is only shown 3 times, all played by the same boy…you see him in Chart 543, from the car commercial Mel’s trying to direct, wearing a jersey that inexplicably reads “Metts” with 2 T’s.  Early on, Richie plays with both Ellen and Freddie…as he gets older, it’s more just Freddie.

156.15  Patty is on the show only twice, but is never seen or heard…both times she is talking to an adult on the telephone from the Helper house…she is clearly older, because in 2-52 she is babysitting Richie and Freddie…”the little ones” as Millie calls them…and calls Millie at the Petries’ when they start getting out of hand. Those who think there are only 2 Helper children suggest that when they say “Patty” they mean “Ellen”…that it’s just “a mistake”…which is not how the Fan Logic Game is played…you can’t just say everything is a mistake, what fun is that? Altho, as we shall see, some things can reasonably be judged as misstatements.

156.16  But the relative ages confirm Patty is older…Ellen is said to be Richie’s age, in Richie’s class at school, and Freddie is a year older. So “Ellen” can hardly be baby-sitting Richie and Freddie! The question is, was there time for the Helpers to have an older daughter? Now I don’t like doing time-lines, because they are almost always completely irreconcilable…how many years married, how many years working together, things like that tend to be all over the board, and not just on TDVDS…but I’ll take a stab at it.

156.17  Rob and Laura were married while he was stationed at Camp Crowder in Missouri. None of their parents were invited, a bone of contention on more than one occasion. Thus episode 4-104 is a flashback to when Laura first met Rob’s parents…they have only been married a few months, and at that time Millie and Jerry are already married. After Rob got out of the service, he worked in his hometown of Danville, Illinois for 2 years (4-124) before moving to New York to work with Alan Brady. And he was at his new job for only a couple of months when Laura announces she’s pregnant…in the writing staff’s old office (2-37).

156.18  And in 1-15, Millie is pregnant with somebody while Laura is pregnant with Richie. The time is near, and Rob has been going to bed at night fully clothed, to be ready for the trip to the hospital…he learned this trick from Jerry, who did it, according to Millie, for Ellen. Trouble is, Freddie is older than Ellen, so who is Millie pregnant with? If she’s already had Ellen, the youngest, then they’ve run out of kids! She must have meant Patty or Freddie…so she really did misspeak…using a name they were planning for this baby. See what I mean about time-lines!

156.19  At any rate, the existence of older sister Patty now boils down to how long Rob was in the Army, and I confess I don’t have the answer to that, if it’s known at all. But if he stayed in another year, then worked in Danville for 2 years…that would give Millie and Jerry 3 years to have Patty and Freddie…and the Richie and Ellen pregnancies could then coincide. That way, Patty would be 2 years older than Freddie…or if Rob stayed in for 2 years, 3 years older. Seems downright plausible to me. But there is one last puzzle.

156.20  Jerry says “mother of 3” in episode 2-44, the 14th episode of the second season. Freddie and Ellen were established early in the first season…but Patty, on the phone, didn’t come along until 8 episodes later, 2-52. So how do we wiggle out of that one? Well, several possibilities occur to me…the episodes could have been filmed in a different order than that in which they were broadcast. Or it might have been assumed as a premise of the show that the Helpers had 3 children, and as of 2-44 the third one simply hadn’t been mentioned yet. Or there might have been an earlier reference to Patty and I missed it! But I have a more interesting explanation, and it goes back to the very first episode, 1-1, which was also the pilot.

156.21  And in the pilot, and only in the pilot, the Petries had different next-door-neighbors! That’s them below, Sam (Michael Keith), Dot or Dottie (Barbara Eiler), and their 15-year-old daughter Janie (Mary Lee Dearing)….no last name given…some assume it was Susman or Sussman…as in Janie Susman, the “girl down the street” who babysat for the Petries’ lawyer Marvin Birmingham in 3-91, altho neither of those characters were ever seen. And not for nothing, but there is another neighborhood Janie, played by Wendy Wilson, who goes crazy for the Redcoats in 4-114, altho her mother’s name is given as Carol.


156.22  And here’s another case where the Fan Logic Game allows, in my opinion, something to be chalked up to a slip of the tongue…in the first half of the pilot, Janie is not seen, and is mentioned only once, by Rob, as a babysitter for Richie…and he calls her “Jeanie.” In the second half of the show, when she is present, she is addressed as “Janie” a total of 8 times, by Laura, Rob, and her father. So it’s fair to say her name is Janie…whether “Jeanie” was misspoken by Dick Van Dyke the actor, or was a mistake in the script that nobody caught, is a good question.

157.23  But…to come to the point, Janie does babysit Richie in the pilot, she and her parents do live next door, and Richie goes to school with and plays with her unseen younger sister, Ellen! So perhaps “mother of 3” comes from the fact that somebody remembered that “Ellen” next door had an older babysitting sister…except the neighbors in the pilot had no last name…all the more reason to speculate they were Susmans…and never Helpers!  Ann Morgan Guilbert said that she and Jerry Paris were recruited when it was decided the neighbors should be played by comedic actors, which Keith and Eiler were not. Back next week with more…same time, same channel…

wicked petrie


“The Andy Griffith Show” had that early 60s Mercury Comet, with the slanty tail-lights, that pops up episode after episode. TDVDC had this chess set…usually on the Petries’ dining table, altho once it finds its way to a ski lodge. And one time, Rob and Jerry actually play a game. It’s Rob’s move, but his mind is on other things…I hope he notices his king’s in check from Jerry’s squid-headed bishop.

This set is called Ganine Gothic, after Peter Ganine, the sculptor who designed it in 1947. It proved enormously popular, and was still available from the Sears Wishbook two decades later. Oddly enough, a more traditional set is shown at Alan Brady’s apartment in the pilot episode, below…and never again.



Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#155 Adventures in Cousinland: Quills Down

155.1  When I first surveyed this list of “coupled cousins” from Uncle Wiki…the inspiration for the Adventures in Cousinland mini-series…I noticed 5 gentlemen designated as Signers of the Declaration of Independence. I thought 5 seemed a low number, given the 56 signatories. And in researching those 5, wouldn’t you know…I found 4 more.


155.2   3 of them were on the list, just not as Signers…a pair were more famous as POTUS’s, and one was the great grandfather of one…so let’s have a whack at ’em…

155.3 …but before I do that, a couple of thoughts about the list itself. First, I am only considering the first part of it, labeled “Commoners”…yeah, like you and me…peasants. The other parts on Royalty and Aristocracy are another thing entirely. They’re primarily European, and these families are ridiculously tangled. The cousin relationships they give are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, they correctly give Elizabeth II and Philip as 3rd cousins and 2nd cousins once removed…I found 3 more relationships further back, and that certainly can’t be the end of it!

155.4  Second…with the “commoners,” they don’t go much deeper than 2nd cousins…75 couples are listed, among them only 3 are said to be 3rd cousins, and one, the Roosevelts, are 5th cousins once removed. Many of these are American “Founding Families,” and these clans are also copiously intertwined. As an example, they gave Charles Carroll of Carrollton as marrying his 2nd cousin…this turned out not to be the case, altho I found no fewer than 5 ways he and his wife were related…here. What happened was, I noticed many “duplicate” surnames in the various pedigrees, and decided to go for it. Among the other couples listed, there are undoubtedly more distant relationships in addition to the ones given…my mission is just to check Uncle Wiki’s accuracy…well, try to stick with that, anyway.

155.5  And third…so far, Uncle Wiki is proving to be surprisingly accurate. Still, I have no intention of trying to correct those that are wrong. Just try it yourself…the gatekeepers will change it right back…and maybe accuse you of “original research” to boot. So I say screw ’em, with all due respect. (I might humbly add that if you peruse the “Talk” page associated with the Coupled Cousins list, the arguing is all about what should be included, not the accuracy of what finally makes the cut. Sheesh.)

155.6  That off my chest…John Adams, POTUS #2, was a Signer. They say he married his 3rd cousin…and he did. We covered this way back in Related How Again #11 and I have used the chart I used then, in a simplified version…which is why all the charts this time will have those fancier boxes…

chart 538

155.7  While I’m thinking of it…in those days they would jokingly call John and Samuel Adams “the Adams Brothers”…they weren’t…but if you wondered what they were, check Related How Again #10.

155.8  Next, another gent you’ve heard of…Thomas Jefferson, who also married his 3rd cousin. Check!

chart 539

155.9  Benjamin Harrison signed? No, not that one (POTUS #23)…but that one’s great grandfather, the father of William Henry Harrison (POTUS #9). And this BH was the 5th in a row named BH. I first found him to be Elizabeth Bassett’s 3rd cousin thru the Churchills…but Uncle Wiki said 2nd cousin…could that be true too?…it was, thru the Burwells.

chart 540

155.10  Finally, a Signer not on the list at all, Francis Lightfoot Lee of Virginia. We looked at him in our series on middle names back in Related How Again? #115…and as I noted…


…the main FLL wikipage says he married his 2nd cousin once removed. As you can see, I didn’t believe it, but…in the fullness of time, we do get around to checking it…and he surely did…no boo-boo this time. In Chart 541 I have included a third Corbin sister, as it was her husband…and not a surname from a direct ancestor…that was the source of his middle name “Lightfoot.”

chart 541

155.11  One other thing…last week I introduced a handy chart to help ferret out married cousins, based on siblings in the parents’, grandparents’, and great grandparents’ generation. It works for removed cousins as well, only on different levels…P for parent, GP for grandparent, GGP for great grandparent…as outlined in Chart 542

chart 542

Next week, Adventures in Cousinland takes a break for a very special Report from the New Rochelle Genealogical Society…I trust you won’t find it “dopey-stupid”…and don’t forget the Potato Poopies…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#154 Adventures in Cousinland: Sisters Cutt


154.1  Today we look at 3 more Signers of the Declaration of Independence to see if they really married close relatives as Uncle Wiki claims here. And…surprise, surprise…a special guest star will emerge. We begin with the tale of the 3 Cutt Sisters.

154.2  William Whipple Jr. was a Signer representing the state of New Hampshire. His mother Mary Cutt’s sister Mehitable married Jotham Odiorne Jr., and it came to pass that William fell in love with his 1st cousin Mehitable “Hetty” Odiorne. As the family story goes, all were assembled for the wedding at the Odiorne mansion…but there was a problem…no bride.

154.3  Hetty was discovered upstairs, happily rocking in her rocking chair, her bridal ensemble laid out on the bed, untouched. She flatly refused to get dressed…saying today was not the day she was going to get married…and nothing and no one could change her mind, including her intended. It appears not to have been recorded why she was behaving that way, but Whipple was worked up enough to give her an ultimatum: now or never…she chose never.

chart 533

154.4  He eventually recovered from this setback and married another 1st cousin, Catherine Moffatt, daughter of another of his mother’s sisters, Catherine, as per Chart 533. Hetty also married and raised a family with some one else, so happy ending all around, and more power to them.

154.5  Next…William Ellery Jr. was from Connecticut, and most on-line sources say he married his 2nd cousin. A few hedge their bets by saying “distant cousin” which is completely appropriate. Certainly “2nd” doesn’t sound that distant compared to say “10th”…but with a Coefficient of Relationship of 1/32, you and your 2nd cousin share only 3% of your genes, which is to say, you’re 97% unrelated, and that’s a fact.

154.6  The sticking point is that so many present day commentators don’t know what a 2nd cousin is…further, they haven’t the slightest clue about removed cousins…so pretty much nothing can be taken at face value. A few sites say 1st cousin once removed, as does Uncle Wiki, and they are to be commended…because that was indeed the case…he married the daughter of his 1st cousin thru his father’s sister. Thus Ellery was the 1C 1R ascending, his wife the 1C 1R descending…or as they’d say in Spanish, they were 2nd uncle and 2nd niece.

chart 534

154.7  Back when I was a child, a local newspaper ran a column on local history called “Their Ways Were Not Our Ways”…and truer words were never spoken. I daresay the overwhelming majority of Baby Boomers will go thru their entire lifetime without encountering a single case of married cousins. And among younger folks, the “ick factor” is practically off the charts, be it 1st cousin or 10th. Yet as Adventures in Cousinland is meant to document, such was not uncommon, even into the early 20th century…and outside of the Western World, still occurs to this day.

154.8  And as bad as marrying your 1st cousin is viewed…despite it being legal in about half the states and virtually all of the rest of the world…1st cousin once removed seems even worse…altho the relationship is not as close…1st cousins 1/8…1C 1R 1/16. There is these days a fixation on “balance of power”…a 40-year-old is in complete control of a 20-year-old, the latter thought to have command over its life choices comparable practically to an infant. So the lecherous fiend who couldn’t corral his 1st cousin should find his 1st cousin’s daughter easy prey. Crazy, I know, but there you go.

154.9  Grown-ups understand that’s not how the ways of the heart work, but tongues will wag. Sure enough, in this case Abigail Carey was William Ellery Jr.’s second wife, and 15 years his junior. I say, mind your own business…yes, even 250 years later. Ironically, there is a silver lining here. If only the aversion to marrying your cousin’s child could be channeled into revising our kinship nomenclature…because this perceived “power imbalance” in marrying your 1st cousin’s child mirrors that of marrying your sibling’s child, where you are the uncle and they are the niece. Move this uncle/niece taboo one step sideways on the family tree, and you have a 2nd uncle marrying his 2nd niece. Saying it that way reaffirms why it’s so “terrible,” and at the same time dispenses with the whole “cousin removed” system, which is so confusing to so many people in the first place. I’m just sayin’…

154.10  Finally, we come to Stephen Hopkins, a Connecticut colleague of Whipple’s. My standard operating procedure, before actually identifying ancestors, is to do a quick google search and see what the web thinks…as I mentioned above, for example, they almost unanimously get Whipple wrong. And for Hopkins, I found not one mention of his marrying a cousin…uh oh. And about this time, I did something I should have done ages ago…I put together a blank pedigree chart to conveniently verify up to 3rd cousins, below. (Remember, the word “pedigree” means a chart where only fathers and mothers are given, but none of their siblings, hence no other collaterals…uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.)


154.11  The 2 individuals at the bottom are the groom and bride. Above them, their parents, then their grandparents, and finally their great grandparents, stacked on top of one another to save space. The legend to the right tells you what to look for…siblings in the parents’ generation…one on the husband’s side, one on the wife’s side…means the married couple are 1st cousin…siblings among the grandparents, 2nd cousins, etc. And as you can see when we fill out Chart 535  for Stephen Hopkins and Sarah Scott, no sibs show up…the top row includes 16 different surnames. BTW, Hopkins’ maternal great grandfather John Whipple is a different branch than William Whipple Jr.’s…no close relationship was found…perhaps there’s one in the Old Country much further back.

chart 535

154.12  But could there be siblings in the great great grandparents’ generation, making them 4th cousins? Sure, it’s possible, I just didn’t go there. Feel free to…you could investigate the Whipples while you’re at it…and I’d love to hear the results. But it’s now time to introduce our special guest star…

154.13  Because when I did goggle Hopkins and cousin, the name that repeatedly popped up was that of the infamous Benedict Arnold. Honestly, it’s difficult to imagine a genealogy buff not also becoming a history buff, if they weren’t already…you pretty much can’t help yourself. Turns out that our  Benedict Arnold…General Benedict Arnold…was actually Benedict Arnold IV…the “original” was an early governor of Connecticut, sadly, in the public’s mind anyway, tarred with the same brush as his notorious great grandson.

chart 536

154.14  At any rate, it is said that Stephen Hopkins and our  Benedict Arnold were “cousins”…some go so far as to say 1st cousins. As Chart 536 reveals, they were instead both 3rd cousins thru their 2G grandfather William Arnold, and 4th cousins thru 3G grandfather Nicholas Arnold. Done and done?

chart 537

154.15  Not quite…I happened to notice along the way that 2 of Stephen Hopkins’ female cousins married 2 Arnold brothers. Ah, just couldn’t resist, could ya, Stolf?  Of course not. Notice that in Chart 537, the orange lines of descent are only colored so as to not be confused with the black lines they overlap…otherwise, no difference is intended.

154.16  Where there’s a problem is up at the top, with Thomas Arnold on the right, great grandfather of Woodward (yes, his mother’s maiden name) and Joseph Arnold, who married Stephen Hopkins’ 1st cousins on his mother’s side, Ruth and Patience Wilkinson. Seems there may have been 2 different Thomas Arnolds. All agree that William Arnold, 2G grandfather of Hopkins and Benedict Arnold IV, had a half-brother named Thomas…and it is well documented that when William Arnold and family immigrated to the Colonies, there was a Thomas Arnold with them. What’s disputed is if this was the same Thomas Arnold…one school of thought says it was not, and that William’s half-brother Thomas stayed in England his entire life.

154.17  Both sides muster volumes of evidence, but so far the case is undecided. Genealogy’s like that. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume Thomas and William Arnold were half-brothers…how does that make Stephen Hopkins and the Arnold brothers related? Answer below…next time, we pick up a couple of stragglers…




Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

#153 Adventures in Cousinland: Webheads

153.1  Actually, I meant “webheads” as a play-on-words on “Webster” as a jbsurname…and when I went to school, a webhead was a Spiderman fan…now I guess it refers to a devotee of the internet. And yes, a webster is a weaver, not an arachnid…but moving right along…

153.2  Adventures in Cousinland examines some of the “coupled cousins” as they call them on Uncle Wiki’s list, here. Five of them were Signers of the Declaration of Independence, and one of those is from my old stamping grounds, Josiah Bartlett. His family emigrated from England and settled in Beverly, Massachusetts…next to the town I grew up in. He was born a bit north of there in Amesbury, both towns in Essex County…but he spent his adult life practicing medicine in New Hampshire, and represented that state at the First and Second Continental Congresses.

153.3  And yes indeed, Josiah Bartlett did marry his 1st cousin Mary Bartlett, daughter of his father’s brother. Such things were normal in those days…they were hardly scorned and shunned and pelted with stones. Genealogical sources today will call her Mary Bartlett (Bartlett), the second Bartlett being her maid name. So that one checks out, straightforward as can be….but still, there’s a wrinkle…

chart 528

153.4  …in some biographies, Josiah Bartlett’s mother Hannah Webster is said to be related to the eminent statesman Daniel Webster. Consider this excerpt from a website a whole lot fancier than this one…

dr d

153.5  Just goes to show you, “fancy” isn’t everything…they spell the town of Beverly wrong, with an “ey” at the end. What’s more, the “Dr. Webster” who taught Bartlett Greek and Latin can’t be Daniel…he was indeed an LL.D., Doctor of Laws…but he was born in 1782, 53 years after Bartlett. Another biography says “Dr. John Webster” was the teacher…Bartlett did have a grandfather, an uncle, and a 1st cousin 20 years his senior all named John Webster, but I can find none of them referred to as “Dr.”

153.6  At any rate, when it comes to purported relationships to famous people, especially those who share one’s surname, demand obviously exceeds supply, if you get my drift, and I think you do. And they don’t get much more famous than Daniel Webster. Among his many accomplishments was representing Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, and in 1957 a committee headed by then 38-year-old Sen. John F. Kennedy named Webster one of the top 5 Senators in history, along with Henry Clay (KY), John C. Calhoun (SC), Robert La Follette, Sr. (WI), and Robert Taft (OH). Interestingly, Kennedy had published “Profiles in Courage” the year before, profiling 8 Senators, of which only Webster and Taft were included. Not for nothing, it’s believed most if not all of that Pulitzer Prize-winning book was written by his speech-writer Theodore Sorensen.

153.7  But the question at hand is whether Bartlett and his mother were related (eventually) to Daniel Webster…and you might as well throw the father of the American dictionary Noah Webster into the mix…since it is not uncommon to see him confused with Daniel Webster. And it is now believed that these represent 3 distinct lines of Websters, originating in 3 different parts of England…

chart 529

153.8  … pink for Hannah, yellow for Daniel, green for Noah…and each family settled in a different colony…Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut respectively.

chart 530

153.9  The Josiah Bartlett/Daniel Webster connection consists of the suggestion that John Sr. in Chart 530 was the son of Thomas Sr. in Chart 531, making them 4th cousins…but this is generally discounted.

chart 531

True, the home towns in Chart 529 look like they’re relatively close together, but you must remember families in those days seldom strayed from their roots, for generations at a time. And finishing off with Noah Webster, I couldn’t resist including a 1st cousin marriage I noticed…I’m sure there were others in all 3 of these Webster lines.

chart 532

153.10  But even if you are one of those enlightened fortunates who knows that Daniel and Noah Webster were 2 different people, I’ll bet you still can’t help wondering if they were related. And there’s a curious thing, because you will find it said both that they were “cousins” and that they were “not related.” Can they be both? In a way, sure…because if they are very distant cousins, they are for all intents and purposes “not related.”

153.11  And it turns out that’s exactly the case here…their Webster lines have yet to be connected, but they are supposedly related none-the-less…as 10th cousins once removed…that is, Noah Webster Jr. was 10th cousin to Daniel’s father Capt. Ebenezer Webster thru the Gilbert family.

chartt geni

153.12  I found the above at Geni.com, and a grand bit of detective work, if true. I don’t like this sort of parent/child horizontal format…it could be called a “half-pedigree” since a full pedigree chart will show both everyone’s father and mother, leaving out siblings and other collaterals. This chart includes just one parent, the connecting one, which is fine for bare bones…but you’ll notice that sometimes a woman is identified by her maiden name, sometimes by her married name…and in  one instance, a family name is thereby lost…that of Marshfield, which I saw fit to re-insert.

153.13  So would you consider Daniel and Noah Webster “related”? Well, were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln related? Yes, 10th cousins. Were George Washington and Richard Nixon related? Yes, 10th cousins 3 times removed. See Related How Again? #34  for more along these lines…I report, you decide. More cousiny adventures next week… 


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved