#159 Adventures in Cousinland: B.N.A.

…which you old stamp collectors will recognize as standing for British North America…

Whoa, that was a close call…but it came out all right in the end…no harm done…we can even laugh about it now…it was kind of fun, but kind of um, weird for a moment there. What happened was this:

159.1  Attacking Uncle Wiki’s list of famous people who married cousins, I decided this week to be systematic about it and finish of with people from North American history. I noticed 2 who married 1st cousins once removed, and started with them…first, Martin Van Buren, the 8th POTUS, and the first to be born in the independent United States, in 1782.

mvb jcc

159.2  Got out a blank pedigree charts, started looking thru the ancestors. Now what does it mean when 2 people are 1C 1R? It means that one of them is the 1st cousin of a parent of the other…nothing more. Same as the uncle/aunt/nephew/niece relationship, where one of them is the sibling of a parent of the other. In both these cases, they are of 2 different…adjacent…generations. The older generation is the 1C 1R ascending…or in Spanish “2nd uncle/aunt”…the younger generation is the 1C 1R descending, or “2nd nephew/niece.” In this case, the 1C 1R’s are husband and wife…and there is a tendency I think to assume a husband is older (and taller!) than his wife, but obviously that need not be so.

159.3  And most of the time…but not always!…an uncle or 1C 1R ascending is considerably older than a niece or 1C 1R descending. That was the case back in 154.7-9, where William Ellery was 15 years older than his wife and 1C 1R Abigail Carey. Not quite like that here…Martin Van Buren was just 1 year older than Hannah Hoes…in fact, they are described as childhood sweethearts. But as I sifted thru their pedigrees…something was not quite right…lemme double-check this here…2 different wives…hmmm…It was looking like Martin’s wife Hannah Hoes wasn’t the 1st cousin of Martin’s mother Maria Hoes…but her half-sister! (I wonder how many people, enthralled by King Arthur’s Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table, also recall that he had a bastard son Mordred by his half-sister Margawse…granted, they didn’t know at the time…and it was a long time ago…)

159.4  So Van Buren married his half-aunt? A little too close for comfort, I suppose…still, I’m here to learn, not to judge. And after all, your mother’s half-sister is related to you by the same degree as a 1st cousin, 1/8. So it goes down in history as 1C 1R, which is an understandable obfuscation. Digging further, I hit this at a site called WikiTree…that’s Uncle Wiki’s double half-3rd cousin…


159.5  …which states that Maria and Hannah Hoes were not half-sisters, but…sisters! Could they have meant half-sisters? The underlined names are links, and checking those…no, it’s sisters…Martin Van Buren married his aunt! Now granted, these folks grew up in the Dutch enclave of Kinderhook, NY…Van Buren is even described as the only President for whom English was his second language…he spoke English to the nation, but Dutch to his family. Certainly there was more than the usual amount of intermarrying going on in this parochial community…still…geez louise!

159.6  So back to the drawing board we go…get a fresh pedigree sheet and start from the beginning…slowly and carefully, review everything…and thankfully, I found the problem. And it was genealogy’s classic bugaboo: 2 different individuals with the same name. Turns out there were 2 different Johannes Dirksen Hoes’s…one the grandfather of the other, born 53 years apart. JDH born 1700 was Maria’s father…she had a brother named Dirk…and his son, JDH born 1753, was the father of Hannah, as per Chart 552. So Martin Van Buren was 1st cousin to the younger JDH, and married the daughter = 1st cousin once removed…after all. But as I said, it had me going there for a minute there…aye chihuahua!

chart 552

159.7  Good example here of how generations can overlap. Dirk Hoes was born in 1724, first child in his family…followed by 5 siblings by 1739…then Maria came along in 1748….which is how her son and his granddaughter end up about the same age. And I should mention that the spelling of names in Chart 552 is somewhat standardized…you will find Van Schaak also spelled as Schaick and Schaich…and Quackenbush can be Quakenbuss and even Quakkenbos. You’ll also notice 2 Van Alen individuals…I found no immediate relation between them…but more Hoes and Van Burens kept popping up further back, so it wouldn’t surprise me…just not enough hours in the day, you know?

chart 553.png

159.8  Next we have John C. Calhoun…7th Vice President, serving under both John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson…and chosen in 1957 as one of the 5 greatest Senators of all time. He too married his 1st cousin once removed descending. This one was pretty straightforward…altho one interesting blip did emerge. Remember, these were the days when spelling…even proper names…was quite loosey-goosey compared to today. John C. Calhoun’s father-in-law, also his 1st cousin of course, changed the spelling of his last name to “Colhoun”…altho at least one of his sons changed it back. Back in Ireland, it was Colquhoun, Colchoun, any number of ways.


159.9  OK, time for a singalong…Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat…nobody knows where the Swamp Fox at…and HEY LQQK! It’s Leslie Nielsen! As an aside, the Western craze on TV thru the 1950s and early 60s developed in sort of an odd way, looking back on it. Eventually, the characterization of the lead role on a show amounted to merely what kind of a gun he used and what kind of a hat he wore. Examples…gun: Wanted: Dead of Alive, Shotgun Slade, The Rifleman, Johnny Yuma–The Rebel…hat: Davy Crockett & Daniel Boone, Zorro, Hotel de Paree (below)…or both: Wyatt Earp, Yancy Derringer, Bat Masterson, Have Gun Will Travel…well, with Paladin, it was a hat and a holster, but you get the picture.

159.10  Gosh, the way they presented the short-lived Hotel de Paree, the hat was the star…Earl Holliman was only there because they needed a head to put it on. BTW, those mirrors in the hatband are called “conches” (a more typical one in red)…and as you can see, in this instance they weren’t polished silver dollars as some folks think.


159.11  So when Walt Disney introduced his viewers to Texas John Slaughter, all he did was show us “a turned-up white stetson and a pearl-handled gun…” Indeed, that’s exactly how the theme song started out…that was all you really needed to know, his hat and his gun. And the reason for this was actually quite logical. Even tho they were called “adult Westerns”…compare Rawhide and Gunsmoke to The Cisco Kid and The Roy Rogers Show…the marketing of tie-in products was exclusively to children…give ’em a hat and a gun and they’re good to go.chart 554.png

159.12  Anyway, ole Tail-on-His-Hat married his first cousin, their mothers being sisters. He and his wife were also second cousins, having grandmothers who were the Baluet (or Balluet) sisters. All researchers who name the Baluet sisters’ parents call their father Jean Veillet…none explain the name change, altho such things are not unknown. And not for nothing, but Marion’s parents were also first cousins.sir john a

159.13  Now for those of you keeping score at home, I will confirm that the Wiki list is so far today 3 for 3. But here comes a stumble. Sir John A. MacDonald was the first Prime Minister of Canada…I daresay you will seldom see such a bemused expression on the face of a world leader (above, left)…and heck, they even have a holiday for him…see todays’ wicked ballsy. Uncle Wiki says he married his 1st cousin…but if you consult Chart 555

chart 555.png

 159.14 …it’s actually half-1st cousins, as their mothers were half-sisters. And while it certainly doesn’t excuse it, you can see where the mix-up might originate…the half-sisters’ fathers were both named Shaw, altho it is said they were “unrelated”…which those well-versed in genealogy will understand could mean 6th cousins…or 10th cousins…still, no connection has yet turned up. As another aside, I does my heart good to see this arrangement. As an example of Occam’s Razor…the principle that you should use the simplest explanation, all things being equal…I have in the past cited Gomer and Goober Pyle on the Andy Griffith Show. With the same last name, and knowing nothing else, it’s safe to say their fathers were brothers, if “cousins” means 1st cousins. But another possibility is their mothers were sisters, and each married a Pyle, these fathers unrelated to each other. And everybody laughed at me…well, “knowing nothing else” isn’t quite accurate, since the first time Goober’s last name is given, Andy calls him Goober Beasley…so there’s that…

mad tay

 159.15  Thus, today Uncle Wiki is 3 for 4…still not bad. But while I’m thinking of it, permit me to present one more set of cousins. In this case, they didn’t marry each other…but were both POTUS’s. In terms of Presidents related to each other, we have 3 cases of direct ancestry…Bush 43 the son of Bush 41…John Quincy Adams the son of John Adams…and Benjamin Harrison the grandson of William Henry Harrison. As to collaterals, there have never been brothers or 1st cousins who were President. The 2 Roosevelts were 5th cousins, the most famous collaterals, but not the closest…that would be James Madison and Zachary Taylor, who were 2nd cousins. And 2nd cousins today are very often dismissed as “distant cousins,” which is why you may be hearing about this for the first time.

chart 556

159.16  Madison and Taylor’s fathers were 1st cousins, their grandparents brother and sister…Chart 556  in yellow. They were also 3rd cousins once removed, in pink, Madison being Taylor’s father’s 3rd cousin thru the Thorntons. And based on what we’ve been discovering thru Adventures in Cousinland, it’s fair to say that when kinship between 2 famous people is quoted, it’s very likely merely the closest relationship…and I haven’t tried to be a completist about it, if such a thing were even possible…but then again, it’s hard to resist when additional connections present themselves.

159.17  Two other things I’d like to mention about Chart 556. First, I have excluded spouses and other relatives who aren’t relevant to the relationships we’re examining…altho 2 of those I have included, and each for a reason. You’ll see where Zachary Taylor’s grandfather was also named Zachary Taylor, as was his son, the POTUS’s uncle. Now with an uncle and grandfather sharing your name, you might style yourself as III…or if the grandfather were no longer living, II or even Junior. President Zachary Taylor’s preference was to do neither, and he had every right.

159.18  You’ll also notice Zachary Taylor’s maternal grandmother, Sarah Bailey. Given that Taylor’s mother was named Sarah Dabney Strother, you might think yourself justified in assuming her mother was a Dabney…but as you can see, that wasn’t the case…here Dabney was her father’s middle name…and it was he who got it from his mother. Just recalling what they say about the word “assume”…

chart 557

159.19  Finally, a thought on diagramming family trees…don’t be afraid to be creative. If, for example, Chart 556 seems to you a bit expansive, you can certainly scrunch down Francis Thornton at the top, as in Chart 557…just make sure it’s clear and understandable, that’s all.  Next week, Adventures in Cousinland goes roaring off in a different direction…see yez…

wicked ballsy


Gosh, how I love sitting down in the morning with a steaming cup of java and the local paper…and not all the chuckles are on the funny pages…no siree…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s