Genealogy Meets Set Theory

Maybe I’m easily enthused, but I still get a boot out of finding overlap between my mother’s tree and my father’s.

In the rarefied world of Set Theory and Venn Diagrams, we’d call Mom’s tree Field A, and Dad’s Field B. The shaded area is the overlap – i.e., the people who appear in both.

The folks being discussed today are direct ancestors, true blood relations. So, being ancestors and all, such couples routinely give birth to a child who is also a direct ancestor. The kicker in today’s case is that the three couples being profiled each gave birth to two of my direct ancestors – one in each of my parents’ trees.

1. The HENRY HOWLAND & ANNE AIRES Story involves a Big-Deal Guy in Mom’s tree, so we’ll take them on first. But we’ll start on Dad’s side.

Henry Howland Jr. (1604-1671) is thought to have come to Massachusetts with his brother Arthur aboard either the Fortune in 1621, or the Anne in 1623. A Quaker, Henry went to Rhode Island with the rest of his lot after being cast out of the Massachusetts settlements. Eventually his descendants ventured off into New York State – Dutchess and Saratoga Counties – marrying into the Waites, the Weeks family, the Husteds, and *TAAA-DAAA!* the Watsons.

Elder brother (and Big-Deal Guy) John Howland (1598?-1672) was a passenger on the Mayflower, and signed the Mayflower Compact. He is also well-known as the guy who crossed the Atlantic but fell overboard in Cape Cod Bay during a storm. He caught hold of a mast line, so it’s told, and was pulled to safety.

“Howland Overboard” – a painting by maritime artist Mike Haywood.
The same John Howland, in later, drier times.

John Howland remained in the general Plymouth Metropolitan Area, as did his descendants who met up with, and married into, the Richmond families of Bristol County, Mass. Circa 1785, a bunch of Richmonds moved to Vermont. The next generation settled in NE Ohio, where Mary Gifford Richmond was born. She married Joseph Brown, and their daughter Libbie married George Earl. Libbie & George were the parents of my ultimate connected ancestor – The Common Denominator – my genealogical Rome to which all roads lead… Lula Earl Ralston, Mom’s great-grandmother.

Henry & Anne Howland are my 12th Great-Grandparents on my Mom’s tree, but my 11th Great-Grandparents on Dad’s.

2. JOHN GIFFORD & ELISHUA CROWELL are kind of a frustrating case. The Gifford family was the focus of massive amounts of research many years ago. Sadly, it’s all riddled with errors and pretty much unusable.

The important stuff to me – and it seems everyone can agree on at least this much: They came from England sometime between 1630-1650, lived on Cape Cod, and had children named Yelverton and Mary, among  others.

Dad’s Line:  Son Yelverton Gifford (1676-1772) had a daughter named Elizabeth, who married into the same Waite family as did Henry Howland’s descendant above. Waite marries Weeks, Weeks marries Husted, and Husted marries Watson. (For what it’s worth, to run into a name like Yelverton Gifford is a researcher’s dream! So much easier than Joe Brown or John Hayes!)

Mom’s Line:  Yelverton’s sister Mary Gifford (1669-1689?) lived just long enough to marry Joshua Ransom and have two children. Daughter Mary Ransom married Samuel Knight; their granddaughter Demis (Dimmis?) Knight married Ariel Jones, and they moved to Vermont. From here on it’s a rerun of the Howland story: Richmonds, Ohio, and the very same Mary Gifford Richmond (presumably named for her short-lived ancestor), grandmother of Lula Earl Ralston.

John & Elishua Gifford are 9th Great-Grandparents on Dad’s side, but 11th Great-Grandparents on Mom’s.

3. CONRAEDT TEN EYCK & MARIA BOELE – At last! A respite from the Anglo onslaught! These folks came over in the first wave of Dutch settlers who populated New York State along the Hudson River between Manhattan and Albany. These were isolated, insular communities – and everyone was related to everyone else. So while these two are the first couple from New Amsterdam I’ve found in both my parents’ trees, I fully expect they won’t be the last.

The connection between the couple’s son Jacob Ten Eyck (1647-1693) and the Watsons includes the marriage of Conraedt & Maria’s great-granddaughter, Geertje Schermerhorn, to one Gerrit Heermans. At this point, we settle into the same family for several generations – but, lest we start feeling lazy and complacent, they changed the spelling of their surname whenever possible: Heermans to Heermance to Hermance… until we finally get to Hermans, H-E-R-M-A-N-S, in Cohoes, New York, and my great-grandmother Jessie, wife of Rev. A. S. Watson.

On the maternal tree, Jacob’s younger brother Mathys Ten Eyck (1658-1741) married Jannetje Roosa, and their daughter Marytjen married Tjerck M. Van Keuren. They had a daughter called Jenneke Van Keuren – she married Dirk Westbrook. Daughter Lydia Westbrook married Marshall Stanley… Jane Stanley married Robert Hubbell… Lydia Hubbell married Robert Earl… and their great-granddaughter was (WHO ELSE??!) the venerable, utterly indefatigable Lula Earl Ralston.

The Ten Eycks are the same as the Giffords – 9th Great-Grandparents on Dad’s side, and 11th Great-Grandparents on Mom’s.

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