"other births will bring us richness and variety"

My last two postings--although not by design--ended up featuring members of my extended family, collateral line folks who are not direct ancestors. This week--for no good reason, but it is my blog--I will continue that theme. When I began my genealogical research, I focused primarily on my mother's side of the family, and due to a lack of information about her father's side, turned more to her mother. This made sense, too, as my grandmother and her two sisters (and their descendants) were the core of the relatives I know well, the people I still see at holidays and other family gatherings. Delving into the Severin sisters and their ancestry, I got as far back as Thomas Steele (1683? - 22 Feb 1748) and his wife, Martha Morrison (1686 - 22 Oct 1759), seventh great-grandparents, who were the first arrivals (in 1718) in the New World of this part of my family.


Through the Steele descendants, I am related--albeit distantly--to a number of prominent people and families. Of course, Thomas and Martha had six children, and something like thirty-two grandchildren, and the entire US population in--say--1750 was just over one million people, all living on the eastern seaboard, so the odds are in my favor. I certainly can't claim any of these eminent personages' distinctions for my own, but at least I can say that I found their connections to my own flesh and blood. Here are three such people, in chronological order:


First up is Sarah Putnam (28 Nov 1708 - 13 Apr 1802), who married Joseph Steele (1706 - 23 Feb 1788), sixth great-grand uncle, on 2 August 1737, in Middleton, Essex, Massachusetts. He was one of those six children noted above; his older sister Janet Steele (1703 - after 1754) is my forebear. Sarah was part of the noted Putnam family of colonial New England. Her grandfather Edward Putnam, and his brother, Thomas, were accusers in the Salem witch trials; Arthur Miller used Thomas Putnam as the principle villain in The Crucible. Other notable Putnams include Israel Putnam, a General in the Revolutionary War; George Palmer Putnam,who founded the eponymous publishing house; and his grandson, George P Putnam, best known for marrying Amelia Earhart.



John Sullivan (17  Feb 1740 - 23 Jan 1795), was the father of Lydia Sullivan (17 Mar 1763 - 9 Apr 1842), who married Jonathon Steele (3 Sep 1760 - 3 Sep 1824), first cousin, seven times removed, on 17 January 1788, probably in New Hampshire. Jonathon Steele was the son of David Steele (30 Jan 1727 - 19 Jul 1809), another of Thomas and Martha's children. John Sullivan was a delegate to the Continental Congress. After the establishment of the federal government, George Washington nominated Sullivan as the first District Judge of New Hampshire, a post for which he was confirmed. Sullivan also served as Governor of New Hampshire three times. His most notable achievement, however, may have been that he is purported to have fired the first shot in the Revolutionary War; he was later made a General. There are counties named after Sullivan in five states.


Abigail Delano (10 May 1785 - 24 Jun 1869), married Samuel  Cherry (10 Oct 1779 - 10 Oct 1822), fourth great-grand uncle, in 1803, in New York. Samuel Cherry was the older brother of another of my forebears, John Wallace Cherry (27 May 1788 - 10 Feb 1857). Abigail was a descendant of Jonathan Delano, whose other descendants include presidents Ulysses S Grant and Calvin Coolidge, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and astronaut Alan B Shephard. Jonathan Delano's father was Philippe de Lannoy (or de La Noye), the progenitor of all Delano families in the United States, so yes,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt is also a member of this illustrious family.


To point out once more what a small, interconnected world it was, especially in the earliest years of America, I would like to point out that I am also related--collaterally, of course!--to the Delanos through my paternal side, via Francis Cooke (? - 7 Apr 1663), an eleventh great-grandfather; Cooke was Jonathan Delano's grand-uncle by marriage. The aforementioned Calvin Coolidge is also connected to me paternally by marriage. Certainly there is no shared DNA between my discursive self and the famously terse Coolidge, who, when told at dinner that his dining partner had bet she could get more than two words out of him, replied "You lose."

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