I sometimes find myself thinking about what it would be like to host a reunion of everyone in my family tree. Obviously, there are folks I’d bee-line toward to pump for information. What was your ship voyage to America like? Who was your REAL father? Did you really walk to Vermont? Then there are those folks I’d love to sit down with and talk to, genealogy aside. This is a list of those folks.
A few ground rules though.
- I’m including in-laws – because you’d always invite Significant Others.
- In spite of their Importance, I am purposely not inviting any U.S. Presidents. I am distantly related to a few – Adamses, Bushes, Obama, et al. – but I think I would find most of them to be thumping bores.
- And anyone I’ve already mentioned in a blog post is out-of-bounds. Sorry, Lucy – you can come to the next one.
Definite Invitees include:
Carl Hubbell (1903-1988, 4th cousin, four times removed). Legendary pitcher with the New York Giants, twice voted National League Most Valuable Player. In the 1934 All Star Game, he struck out, in succession, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin. All future Hall of Famers. Won 24 straight games over the late 1936 and early ’37 seasons.
Capt. Kimball R. Richmond (1919-1976, 5th Cousin, four times removed). Received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on D-Day, June 6, 1944. From his official commendation:
[W]hen the craft on which his company was moving in on the initial assault upon the coast of France [was] sunk by enemy fire and mines, he swam to shore through a hail of machine gun bullets and artillery fire. Upon reaching the shore, he gathered together the remainder of his company and moved down the beach. Here he established contact with a group of men whose officers had become casualties [… and] organized [them] for an attack against an enemy stronghold on the left flank. In the face of heavy direct enemy fire, he gallantly led his men in a successful assault upon this emplacement, removing an installation that had been inflicting heavy casualties on this part of the beach. Without hesitation, he then pushed inland against the enemy. Completely disregarding his own safety, he led his men across open terrain, captured a position, and successfully defended it against superior forces until relieved.
Agnes Wood. (1882-?, 2nd cousin, three times removed). Women’s national athletic records were printed for the first time in the 1904 edition of Spalding’s Official Athletic Almanac. Competing for Vassar College, Agnes was listed as record holder in both the 50-yard run (6-3/5 seconds) and the 200-yard run (30-3/5 seconds).
Walter D. “Duke” Wood (1914-1972, 3rd Cousin, twice removed). Agnes’ nephew. He might be the only person in my tree who ever stood in the presence of Hitler. A college shot putter at Cornell, he competed for the U.S.A. at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. His wife, Gwendolyn Wilder Wood, was featured in Elgin Watch ads run in 1938-1939, before and after their marriage.
Peter Hassell (1950- , 4th cousin, once removed). Eagle Scout and 1985 U.S. Grand Champion Whistler.
Frederick Samuel Fish (1852–1936, 4th Cousin, five times removed) was a successful corporate attorney, and joined the Studebaker Corporation through his marriage to John Studebaker’s daughter Grace. He became the corporation’s president in 1909 and chairman of the board from 1915 to 1935. He is credited with introducing the manufacture of Studebaker cars, first electric, then gasoline-powered.
Ernest Lester Jones (1876-1929, father-in-law of my 2nd Cousin, twice removed). Founded the American Legion as a national organization to perpetuate the memories of comradeship and sacrifices made by World War I veterans.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, 6th Cousin, six times removed). Hero of bazillions. I once saw his house in Concord, Massachusetts – among his neighbors there were Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau.
Alfred and Madeleine (Wood) Holt (she, 1900-1987, 1st Cousin, three times removed). He was the author of a family biography and several nifty books on such esoteric topics as the origins of American place names and words/phrases.
But also, immediately after their 1920 wedding, the couple moved to China to teach at the Canton Christian College. In 1923, with their toddler son [see next invitee], they escaped the early days of the Nationalist Revolution – at one point, their school provided temporary shelter to Madame Sun, her son, the then-mayor of Canton, and his wife. The Holts got to Hong Kong, where Madeleine gave birth to their daughter Barbara, and the family was soon back home.
Arthur Holt (1921-1996, 2nd Cousin, twice removed). The afore-mentioned son of Alfred and Madeleine. As far as I know, he was the only non-celebrity in my family tree to be eulogized on NPR’s All Things Considered. A prolific inventor, his name is on some 200 patents. He pioneered optical character recognition and magnetic recording of television tape. His most famous idea was one he sold in 1948 for $50 – that long wooden-handled corn-popper-on-wheels toy produced by Fisher-Price.
Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957, 8th Cousin, four times removed). I did a term paper on him in college – research included seeing a triple-feature of To Have and Have Not, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca all the way through, 2-2/3 times. Finally left the theater, bleary-eyed, to find my VW under a foot of snow.
Gerardus Beekman (1653-1723, 7th Great-Grand Uncle). A physician and a wealthy land owner in New York City. His great-grandson James Beekman owned a Manhattan mansion requisitioned by the British Army during the Revolution – property today occupied by Beekman Place. (And if I’m ever going to get the legacy apartment there – the one that is so rightly mine – I have to start being nicer to the old guy.)
BONUS! Through those guys, I am also related to Doonesbury creator, Garry Trudeau (born Garretson Beekman Trudeau) and, by extension, his wife, Jane Pauley. They’d definitely be fun party guests.
Hiram Robert Sharpe (1815-1859, 1st Cousin, 6 times removed). An American boy who took part in a calamity called the Patriot War, or the Rebellion of 1837-38. In brief, a handful of whack-jobs imagined there was a national mandate to take Canada. So they invaded – but no one else did. Hiram was arrested by the British and transported to a prison colony in Tasmania. Upon his release, he opted to stay in Australia, married, and passed away at age 44.
And last but definitely not least…
Betsy Hapeman Hermance (1793-1877, 3rd Great-Grandmother). Because I’d like shake the hand of (and offer a chair to) someone who bore 21 children.