#162: How Green Was My Leaf

chart 570 re

162.1  Last week we ended Adventures in Cousinlandah, but does anything really end?…with Chart 570…wherein William Greenleaf Eliot Jr., grandfather of poet T. S. Eliot, not only had parents who were 1st cousins thru 2 Greenleaf sisters…but himself married one of his parents’ 1st cousins, thru another Greenleaf sister…quite a unique situation, nez pah?  And as I pointed out, the generations overlapped thanks to his great grandparents William Greenleaf and Mary Brown having 15 children over the span of 24 years.


162.2  But enquiring minds want to know…and several questions did occur to me. First, was William Greenleaf Eliot Jr. related to another poet of some renown, John Greenleaf Whittier? It certainly suggests itself…and I must tell you, this has special significance to me because I grew up just down the street from where JGW spent most of his final 16 years…an estate called Oak Knoll, on Summer Street in Danvers, Massachusetts…see today’s wicked ballsy. The answer is a resounding yes, altho as you can see in Chart 571…and by this time you shouldn’t be surprised…it is complicated.

chart 571

162.3  In fact, it goes back 7 generations, to double 1st cousins…a Coffin brother and sister got the ball rolling by marrying a Greenleaf sister and brother. And the key to it all is right in the middle of the chart…WGE’s 2G grandfather Daniel Greenleaf and his brother Nathaniel…and Nate married their double 2nd cousin Judith Coffin. Since Nathaniel and Judith are the 1G grandparents of JGW, we know 2 things: first, JGW and WGE will be related in 2 ways, once thru Nathaniel and once thru Judith…and second, the ultimate relationships will be once removed, since the Judith/Nathaniel/Daniel generation is 1G for JGW, but 2G for WGE.

chart 572

162.4  Complex as it looks, if we take these 2 lines separately, it will prove in the end to be pretty straightforward, as long as we keep careful count! Now in Chart 572, I’ve simplified things somewhat by removing relatives that aren’t relevant…but more importantly, I’ve assumed for the moment that Nathaniel Greenleaf doesn’t exist. Or more precisely, I have pretended that Judith Coffin married somebody that wasn’t related to her or to Daniel Greenleaf. And owing to the fact that WGE himself was the son of 1st cousins, thru the Judith line he and JGW are related 2 ways…both ways being double 5th cousins once removed, making their final relationship thru Judith quadruple 5th cousins once removed. Is there such a thing? Yup…and you’re looking at it!

chart 573

162.5  Then, we “cross out” Judith and do the same thing with Nathaniel…again, a double relationship thanks to the 1st cousin marriage…ending with double 4th cousins once removed. So…quadruple 5C 1R and double 4C 1R…how close is that all together? Easy…4/4096 + 2/1024…or 3/1024 is a shade closer than 4th cousins, 2/1024. Did they exchange Christmas cards, I wonder?

162.6  The next thing I wanted to investigate: since WGE’s parents were both 1st cousins thru the Greenleafs, altho neither bore that as a surname, did any of the other Greenleaf cousins get hitched? Would seem like a lock, wouldn’t it? And so it was…but first, Chart 574 summarizes the data…

chart 574

As I said, William Greenleaf and Mary Brown had 15 children in all…12 lived to adulthood and married, and 11 of those had children. All together, William had 86 grandchildren, of which at least 58 lived to adulthood and at least 49 were married. We must fudge those last 2 numbers because while child #3 Mary Greenleaf and her husband Daniel Bell had 9 children, for some reason the trail on the internet ends there…information goes on for the other 10 siblings, but for Mary, it’s a dead end…short of knowing son Rufus Bell apparently lived to be 101, I can find no other information about those 9 grandchildren. No doubt someday I will, and this section will be revised pronto. But for now, we’ll work with what we’ve got.

162.7  Interesting also to note that since William Greenleaf’s gaggle of grandkids arose from 8 daughters but only 3 sons, more of them had “Greenleaf” as a middle name than a last name…by one, but still…and subject to revised totals of course. And I will refer William’s children as The Siblings, and his grandchildren as The Cousins. But before we get to The Cousins, why not see if there were any interesting marital entanglements within The Siblings. In for a penny, in for a pound, sez me…and according to Chart 575, there were indeed.

chart 575

162.8  Nosiree, The Siblings don’t let us down. John and Anna Greenleaf married Cranch siblings, Lucy and William respectively. Priscilla and Sarah Greenleaf married…wait for it…a man and his nephew, the Appletons. And over on the right, Daniel Greenleaf married his 1st cousin Elizabeth Greenleaf, daughter of his Uncle John. He is the only one of The Siblings to be marry but remain childless.

chart 576

162.9  As to The Cousins, 10 of them married “among themselves”…that’s 5 unions…and as a welcome boon to this humble chart-maker, half of those were from the same family…5 of the 16 children of Margaret Greenleaf and Thomas Dawes, marked in yellow in Chart 576. The Cousins are placed on different levels to make the chart legible, but remember this is all one generation, all Greenleaf 1st cousins. And notice that we get a double whammy from Harrison and George Minot Dawes…they married sisters…who were also of course their 1st cousins. Also interesting is the degree to which this clan loved to honor its various members…Anna Greenleaf and William Cranch gave one of their 13 children “Eliot” as a middle name, after Anna’s sister Elizabeth’s husband, the latter sister 22 years older than the former.

chart 577

162.11  But the family of William and Anna Greenleaf Cranch had some other interesting things going on. As unique as William Greenleaf Eliot Jr.’s situation appeared…his parents were 1st cousins, then he married another of their 1st cousins…it actually happened twice in this family…and the pair of 1st cousins once removed descending were Cranch siblings! Altho, if you notice in Chart 577, 2 of the 4 parents of the 1st cousins once removed ascending weren’t cousins to each other but siblings, Hannah and Margaret Greenleaf Dawes. Determining the interrelationships between succeeding generations would enter the realm of Herculean, seems to me…but that’s real life for you.

chart 578

162.12  Finally, the fact that William Greenleaf Eliot’s wife was named Abigail Adams Cranch is a lead too good not to follow up. And sure enough, she was named after her paternal grandmother’s sister, which is to say her father’s aunt…who was the wife of one POTUS and the mother of another. But I’ve included a bonus on Chart 578…one of The Cousins married her 1st cousin, but on the other side…not a Greenleaf cousin but a Cranch cousin…and out of the 49, I’m sure there were others like this…this is the only one I noticed. We’ll mop up some odds and ends next week, before veering off in a totally unexpected (unless you’re clairvoyant) direction…see yez…

wicked ballsy


I’ll tell you the truth: growing up, I didn’t know what was literally in my own back yard. My family moved to a newly built ranch house in 1956, months shy of my 5th birthday. Not half a mile down the street stood Oak Knoll, for many years the home of poet John Greenleaf Whittier. We’d drive past the entrance all the time…that red line leads to my place. In 1959, the mansion was torn down and the estate turned into a housing development…initially called Greenleaf Glen, then standardized some years later by municipal fiat to Greenleaf Drive. And as I recall, home to some cute — aw, never mind…


Copyright © 2014 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved


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