Friday, June 22, 2007

the mayflower sweet pea

This week our household parental authorities have been under the weather. Monday I was not feeling up to doing anything productive and started looking at some genealogy stuff. I thought I would check out some ancestors of my great-great grandmother Beck, born Phoebe Goodenough two hundred years ago this year in Copenhagen, Lewis County. Her parents were pioneers in the Town of Denmark but were originally from Massachusetts. I have a lot of information on the Goodenough (a.k.a. Goodenow, Goodnow, Goodenowe) family going back even before they arrived in America in 1638. Since the records are relatively good in Massachusetts, and there is always more data to mine, I thought this would be an easy task given my limited productivity that day.

What I found very soon was that great-great-grandma Beck was a Mayflower descendant. I traced her ancestry back to Mayflower passenger Richard Warren. Genealogy records can be quite sketchy but this was one of those without-a-doubt cases. What this means is that two presidents, U.S. Grant and FDR, actor Richard Gere, and astronaut Alan Shepard (the first American in space and the first man to play golf on the moon) are cousins. Actually, among Mayflower descendants, those of Warren are by far the most common. He had seven children who survived to adulthood and they each had large families.

Other than that, it doesn’t mean much to me. I have found a lot of things I find more interesting. One ancestor was a Continental Army sergeant who fought under Francis Marion (a.k.a., the Swamp Fox, and one of my boyhood heroes). Another was a famous Methodist circuit rider in early 19th Century Kentucky and Tennessee. The Becks are descended from Palatines, protestant believers driven out of Germany who eventually settled in NYS’s Mohawk Valley.

My favorite ancestor is great grandpa Albert Beck, Phoebe’s boy. He fought in the Civil War, saw action at Gettysburg, injured at a later battle in South Carolina, then joined the 6th U.S. Cavalry after the war and fought Comanche in Texas. He prospected for silver in Colorado and gold in Baja California, lost a farm in Kansas in between. In his forties he showed up in Pomona, California with 50 cents in his pocket and later became a successful Walnut grower. He was also a strong Christian.

However, being a Mayflower descendant seems to matter to some folks. I must admit that it is kind of neat to realize that Sweet Pea, our youngest Mayflower descendant, is a 15th generation American, and a very cute one at that.

Be blessed!

P.S. This is from Wikipedia:

...It is claimed that Warren has the largest posterity of any pilgrim, numbering 14 million, the Mayflower passenger with more descendants than any other passenger.[7]

Among his descendants are: Civil War general and U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, President Franklin D. Roosevelt,[1] astronaut Alan Shepard,[1] author Laura Ingalls Wilder, actress Lucille Ball, actor Richard Gere, actress Joanne Woodward, writers Henry David Thoreau and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lavinia Warren the wife of "General Tom Thumb", aviator Amelia Earhart, actor Orson Welles, Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, the Wright Brothers, actor Bob Newhart, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, chef Julia Child, Irish President Erskine Hamilton Childers, inventor Lee DeForest, and many more. A detailed genealogy of just the first five generations takes up three volumes.

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