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Genealogies —
      Rogerses, Townsleys, Whitehouses, Woodruffs, and other family members . . .
      All the way back to the Australopithecines and chimpanzees, almost!

My mother's family tree (of which my sister Jackie made copies for her siblings) seems originally to have been written out, in fine mid-nineteenth-century penmanship, by her grandfather, George Meredith Whitehouse. It covered the Whitehouses and the Woodruffs and their ancestors — and also, in its back pages, the ancestors my mother wrote down for my father's side, the Rogerses and Townsleys and their ancestors. As a first step in setting that information down in a more permanent and accessible form, I put up on this site an ďahnentafel,Ē or ancestor table — a narrative genealogy going back one generation at a time rather than focusing on one ancestral line at a time.
      That table was from the point of view (or of descendancy) of my son Joel, and included the ancestors of both of my parents (and of Maureen's, as well) in one comprehensive file. But it grew too large and unwieldy and was sometimes unclear. Now I have broken the genealogical information into two parts — one for Rogers and Townsley ancestors, the other for Whitehouse and Woodruff ones. I've been able to expand my mother's information considerably through information I've found on the internet. To differentiate between the information from my mother and that gleaned from internet sources, I've presented all the latter in italic type.
      I can't vouch for any of the information I got from the internet; I haven't gone out and checked it against courthouse records or tombstone dates, for instance, as real genealogists do. And many of the internet resources I've used are not as reliable as I was naively assuming them to be — particularly those I found on the mormon genealogical site (www.familysearch.org), a source true genealogists view with suspicion. I hope that people will not pick up any of the questionable information I have recorded here to give added support to their own genealogies. Please remember to take any of the italicized information with a grain of salt!
     Fortunately, some of the more dedicated genealogists (many of whom have put years into their researches) have emailed me to correct some of my errors. According to the information in an email from Terence Kelley, it seems that, back a couple of hundred years ago, my fatherís family tree may have interleaved with my motherís. If Kelley is right in saying that "All Ostranders descend from [the] marriage in 1679" of Pieter Ostrander and Rebecca Traphagen, my parents were actually sixth cousins once removed (that is, Winifred Whitehouse Rogers would have been the sixth cousin of Bertha Townsley, my father's mother) — a relationship they never suspected while they were alive.
      Through the kindness of other strangers, or through other resources available on the internet, I've also discovered some fascinating tidbits — such as Reuben Townsley's capture and adoption by a Native American tribe, his finding civilization distasteful, and his death in the Revolutionary Army only three weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Or our apparent distant relationship (through Reuben Townsley's great-grandmother Hannah Wright) to Orville and Wilbur Wright. Or the life of Evert Van Steltyn Pels, who emigrated from Pomerania to Albany, rented a farm in Manhattan, and had his eldest son captured by a Native American tribe. (Many of those captured with him were burnt alive, but he was adopted into the tribe, where he married and had children. When his friends later asked for his return, "the savages answered that he 'wished to stay with his squaw and pappoose, and he ought to.'")
      As to the structure of this ahnentafel: Each generation going back, of course, has twice the number of members of the one before it, and the individuals can be kept in some reasonable order by assigning each a number. The number assigned to a person's father is twice his or her own number, and the number assigned to the mother is twice plus one (that is, the mother's number is one more than the father's; all of my parentsí male ancestors have even numbers, and all the females have odd numbers). If you go back very many generations the numbers increase to astronomical proportions (into the billions when you get back to Mabel of Gloucester, one of my motherís purported ancestors who was born around 1100), but of course this does not mean that you have an astronomical number of ancestors. There is always a lot of duplication. In my motherís family tree, for instance, it was clear that my siblings and I (and Woodruff ancestors for several generations back) were descended from Thomas Mayhew (the governor of Martha's Vineyard) through three different lines. Therefore, Thomas Mayhew is assigned not just one ancestral number, but three (and not even all in the same generation).
      And we are likewise descended from John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, both of whom came over on the Mayflower, through two different lines. It is by way of Howland and Tilley, by the way, that we seem to be related to Richard Milhous Nixon — a twelfth cousin or so — and also to the singer Edith Piaf. Furthermore, it seems that Hetty Green (1834–1916) — known as "the witch of Wall Street," and said to have been the richest, most miserly, and most despised woman in America — was also a Howland descendant, another distant cousin.
     We're also related to Nixon (and to Daniel Webster, John Greenleaf Whittier, and President Gerald Ford), it seems (according to Wikipedia.org) through the great nonconformist clergyman (and founder of Hampton, New Hampshire) the Rev. Stephen Bachiler.
     And according to yet another website, we're also related (through Thomas Pope and Sarah Jenney — a descendant of Sir John Fastolf, whom Shakespeare immortalized as Falstaff) to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, General Douglas MacArthur, George Herbert Walker Bush, and, yes, the other Bushes as well — yes, even that one.
      Damn. If he's a relative, maybe it's time to forget this whole genealogy business.
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                                    — Tom Rogers.

Send e-mail to: trogers@alumni.gwu.edu


[Nota bene: This page, like all the others in this site, is in progress. I welcome all corrections, additions, and suggestions.]

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Copyright © 1999–2006 T. N. R. Rogers. All rights reserved. Last revised 26 apr 2006.