Saturday, December 04, 2010

Did You Know? #33

It is one of the most influential political family of our times, producing, for only the second time in American history, a father and son each serving as the nation's chief executive.

On the first Friday of each year Freed-Hardeman University, in Henderson, TN (my alma mater) hosts its Advisory Board Benefit Dinner, the largest fund r
aising effort of the year. In previous years featured speakers included actor and comedian Tim Conway, former Governor of Arkansas and Fox News host Mike Huckabee, Regis Philbin, Walter Cronkite, and former President and First Lady George H. W. and Barbara Pierce Bush (in separate years). This year's guest speaker is their son, former President George W. Bush.

Bush served for two terms as the 43rd President of the United States. Before that he served as the 46th Governor of Texas, and the first to hold that position to consecutive 4-year terms. As president, according to the White House website, the "most significant event" of his presidency ...

came on September 11, 2001, when terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people on American soil. President Bush responded with a comprehensive strategy to protect the American people. He led the most dramatic reorganization of the federal government since the beginning of the Cold War, reforming the intelligence community and establishing new institutions like the Department of Homeland Security. He built global coalitions to remove violent regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq that threatened America; liberating more than 50 million people from tyranny. He recognized that freedom and hope are the best alternative to the extremist ideology of the terrorists, so he provided unprecedented American support for young democracies and dissidents in the Middle East and beyond. In the more than seven years after September 11, 2001, the United States was not attacked again."

His father, George H. W. Bush, was a hero of WW II (awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action) and served in various elected and appointed positions including "a Representative to Congress from Texas ... Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Chief of the U. S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency" prior to serving two terms as Ronald Reagan's Vice President, and one term as the 41st
President of the United States.

Other prominent members of the Bush family include former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (George W. Bush's younger brother) and Prescott Bush (George H. W. Bush's father), who served as United States Senator from Connecticut from 1952-1963.

what is the connection between our family and the Bush family? As the following chart illustrates, each family can trace their ancestry backwards to a single couple, Henry and Agnes Butler Sherman. This would make Sen. Prescott Sheldon Bush and our grandfather, Orval Bishop Bragg, 12th cousins; Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush and our father, Don C. Bragg, 13th cousins; and Pres. George Walker Bush and our generation of the Bragg family 14th cousins.

Henry Sherman & Agnes Butler
Henry Sherman b.1546
Edmund Sherman b.1548
Samuel Sherman b.1571Edmund Sherman b.1572
Philip Sherman b.1610Esther Sherman b.1606
John Sherman b.1644Esther Ward b.1623
Hannah ShermanDaniel Burr b.1660
William Bourn Jr.Elizabeth Burr b.1696
Hannah BournNathaniel Hull b.1726
Anne FitchEzekiel Hull b.1765
Levi Pierce b.1797
Platt Hull b.1787
Elizabeth Slade Pierce b.1822Ezekiel Hull b.1813
Mary Elizabeth Butler b.1850Rebecca L. Hull b.1841
Flora Sheldon b.1872Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Sen. Prescott Sheldon Bush b.1895Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895
Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush b.1924Don Cicero Bragg b.1920
Pres. George Walker Bush b.1946

* Picture from The Jackson Sun (
Jackson, TN), 12-04-2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Congratulations, Nathan Bragg, A.S.A.

After countless hours of study and testing, Nathan has attained full status as an Actuary and has officially gained membership as an Associate of the Society of Actuaries. Nathan graduated from Boston University with a degree in mathematics in December 2006. He worked as an actuarial associate at Watson Wyatt in Boston from February 2007 until June 2010. At that time he and his wife, Carissa, relocated to North Carolina where Nathan joined an actuarial firm associated with B B & T, a banking firm located in Greensboro.

Carissa graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and worked as a research scientist for Percivia in Cambridge, MA prior to their relocation to Greensboro.

Needless to say, Ann and I are very proud of both Nathan and Carissa.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Did You Know #32

Although his name may be unfamiliar today, in the world of automotive racing one of the first hero's of the sport was Caleb S. Bragg.

Born into a wealthy Cincinnati, OH family in 1888, Caleb Smith Bragg, the son of Cais C. Bragg and Eugenia Hofer Bragg [1], was just as comfortable in tailored suits as in a mechanic's suit. Perhaps he even felt most relaxed behind the wheel of a speeding racecar. His first official race took place in April 1910, as this Yale graduate took on the most famous driver of his day, Barney Oldfield, at the "Playa Del Ray, a perfectly round, steeply [2] banked 1-mile bowl near the beach in Los Angeles" [3]. This unknown underdog racer beat Oldfield twice in a row.

Caleb also raced in the very first Indianapolis 500, 1911, unfortunately, while his car was parked in the pit area another driver collided into him, ending his part in that historic event. But, Bragg was back in the mix as Savannah, finishing fourth. In 1912 he finished second in the Santa Monica road race, losing "to "terrible Teddy" Tetzlaff," and the next day he "won a 5-mile match race at Playa Del Ray, setting U.S. closed circuit records for 2, 3, 4, and 5 miles" [4].

When it came time to race again in Indianapolis, Caleb worked alongside "Terrible Teddy," relieving him after 220 miles. When Bragg pulled out of the pits in third place, but quickly took second but had to return to the pits with tire problems. That was all the rest Teddy needed, as he replaced Caleb and finished the race in second place.

The dangers of his chosen line of work were impressed upon him a few months later, when Caleb won the race but lost one of his closest friends, David Bruce-Brown, who was killed during the event. At the 1913 Indianapolis 500 Caleb was the fastest qualifier, but had to exit the race after only 120 laps with mechanical problems, repeating with a similar performance the following year.

Caleb Bragg served as the first president of the Yale Automobile Club, his alma mater. He sat behind the wheel at the starting line for a final time at the 1915 Vanderbilt Cup in San Francisco, turning his attention towards another hobby, the quickly emerging aviation industry [5]. On May 15, 1942, The Wings Club came into existence under the leadership if its first president, Caleb. S. Bragg. Meeting in New York City, the club was dedicated to discuss how to promote aviation [6].

A third area of interest for Caleb was speedboat racing, an area in which "he made his mark" [7]. While indulging in the lifestyle of "a wealthy "playboy" of the 1920s," Bragg "commissioned several top-ranking speedboats during" those years, competing in the Gold Cup races near Detroit, racing boats such as "Baby Bootlegger" to consistent first and second place finishes.

When Caleb Bragg passed away, at the age of 56, his obituary appeared in the New York Times noting him as a "Flier, Auto Racer - Pioneer in Automotive Field - Also Noted as an Inventor - And Speedboat Pilot" [8]. In addition, his obituary revealed the work he did as an "Army test pilot during the First World War." He is described as a "quiet, fearless man, he always was in search of new adventures and new mechanical or scientific problems."

Among his accomplishments are:

  • In May, 1912, he set a world automobile record for five miles, covering the distance in 3 minutes 11 3/4 seconds.
  • At the outbreak of he first World War he was in Paris in 1914 as an attaché' at the United States Embassy.
  • He was co-organizer of the Wright-Martin Company in 1916, and vice president of the Glenn L. Martin Company.
  • He set American altitude records twice within a few days, first by exceeding 20,000 feet, then by reaching 21,000 feet in 1917.
  • He trained a Yale aviation unit in Florida during WWII.
  • He served as an Army captain and test pilot at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio.
  • In 1918 he flew from Dayton to Washington, D.C., in two hours and fifty minutes, then a speed record.
  • In 1919 he established an altitude for seaplanes by flying to a height of 20,000 feet.
  • He and Mr. Kliesrath invented the booster vacuum brake bearing their names and formed the Bragg-Kliesrath Corporation in Long Island City, Queens, and he served as the company’s president.
  • He served as a director of this organization and later was vice president of the Bendix Marine Products Company (which absorbed the Bragg-Kliesrath Corporation).
  • President of the Langley Aviation Corporation.
  • He was vice president and engineer of the C.M. Keys Aircraft Service, Inc.
  • Since 1925 he had applied for more than 150 patents.
  • In 1924-27 he was one of the world's most successful motorboat racers, winning the coveted Gold Cup three times [9].

Our Bragg family is related to Caleb Bragg through the marriage of Orpha Munson (our 3rd cousins 5 times removed) with James Bragg (3rd cousins 3 times removed). Here is the connection:

Samuel Munson & Martha (Mary) Farnes
Solomon Munson b.1688Waitstill Munson b.1697
Samuel Munson b.1717Samuel Munson b.1724
Samuel Munson Jr. b.1763Waitstill Munson b.1760
Isaac Munson b.1802Orpha Munson b.1793
Joel Munson b.1846
James L. Bragg b.1833
Elvira Belle Munson b.1871
Gladys Gilbreath b.1898
Gladys Gilbreath b.1898

Don Cicero Bragg b.1920

This makes James L. Bragg (b.1833) our 4th cousins 4 times removed and Caleb S. Bragg's 4th cousins 3 times removed:

Nicholas Bragge & Sara Langbrady
Henry Bragg b.1657John Bragg b.1659
Alexander Bragg b.1680Thomas Bragg b.1685
Nicholas Bragg b.1732 John Bragg b.1717
James Bragg b.1784John Bragg b.1749
James L. Bragg b.1833John Bragg b.1780

Caleb S Bragg b.1824

Caius Cobb Bragg b.1857

Caleb Smith Bragg b.1888


[1] Caleb Bragg Dies, New York Times, Tues., Oct. 26, 1943, pg. 23:1; Transcribed by Bob Holcombe, 6/13/01.
[2] Caleb Bragg Dies, Bragg also "took a post-graduate engineering course at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1909."
[3] Tim Considine, American Grand Prix Racing: A Century of Drivers & Cars, Osceola, WI, Motorbooks International, 1997; Bragg even "put up the prize money, $2,000 cash to the winner of two out of three two-lap sprints."
[4] Tim Considine.
[5] Tim Considine.
[6] A Brief History of the Wings Club
[7] Michael Carmichael, BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES, via email to The Wings Club.
[8] Caleb Bragg Dies, New York Times, Tues., Oct. 26, 1943, pg. 23:1; Transcribed by Bob Holcombe, 6/13/01. The paper reported that he died in that city "on Sunday in Memorial Hospital after a long illness at the age of 56."
[9] THE NATIONAL CIVIL WAR NAVAL MUSEUM, Columbus, GA; submitted to the Wings Club site by Robert Holcombe, Curator/Historian;

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Did You Know #31

She has been called "Miss Photogenic," "Miss San Diego," "Miss Maid of California," and "The Worst Actress of All Time." She tried out for the role of Mary Ann in "Gilligan's Island" in the mid-1960's, and has appeared as a "Foster Grant" sunglasses girl. In 1995 she was ranked #18 in Empire magazine's one 100 Sexiest Stars in film history.

Raquel Welch was born in Chicago on September 5, 1940 to a Bolivian aerospace engineer and the daughter of Irish-American architect Emery Stanford Hall. When Jo Raquel Tejada was only two the family relocated to San Diego, California.

Raquel was married four times (James Westley Welch; Patrick Curtis; André Weinfeld, and Richard Palmer) and worked as the weather girl for a local San Diego TV channel. She appeared in a number of TV and movie roles, but her big break came in 1966 when she appeared in the movie One Million Years B.C. and quickly assumed a role she retains today, as an American Sex Symbol (which she has likened to being a convict).

Here is the family connection:

Baron William De Ros VI and Margaret Fitzalan
Margaret De Ros b.1398

Baron Thomas De Ros IIX b.1406
Anne Tuchet b.1422
Richard De Ros b.1428
Margaret Dutton b.1446
Mary De Ros b.1478
Richard Aston b.1465
Margaret Capell b.1500
Thomas Aston b.1490
Geoffrey Warde b.1526
Ellen Aston b.1510
Thomas Warde b.1548
Thomas Lathrop b.1536
Richard Ward b.1575
John Lathrop b.1584
Gov. Andrew Ward I b.1597
Abigail Lathrop b.1636
Esther Ward b.1623
John Clark b.1672
Daniel Burr b.1660
John Clark b.1700
Elizabeth Burr b.1696
Cutting Clark b. 1754
Nathaniel Hull b.1726
Betsey Clark b.1786
Ezekiel Hull b.1765
Elbridge Gerry Hall b. 1810
Platt Hull b.1787
Justin Smith Hall b. 1840
Ezekiel Hull b.1813
Emery Stanford Hall b. 1869
Rebecca L. Hull b.1841
Josephine Sarah Hall b. 1909
Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Jo Raquel Tejada b. 1940 [Raquel Welch]17
Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895

This would make Raquel Welch and our grandfather 17th cousins, making us 17th cousins 2 times removed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Did You Know #30

You never know what you will find out when you start digging into genealogy records. Every family will a few "skeletons in the closet," so what can you do? You can't change the past, so you just have to take "the good, bad, and ugly" and accept it. That being said, here's a family connection that is guaranteed to "make your day."

Clinton Eastwood, Jr. was born on May 31, 1930 in San Francisco, CA to Clinton Eastwood, Sr. and Margaret Ruth Runner. Clint worked as a lifeguard after graduating from High School and prior to serving in the military during the Korean conflict, where he served as a boot camp swimming instructor, a position he shagged when his plane crashed into the Pacific. Eastwood swam three miles to reach the shore. He moved to Los Angeles after his military service where he got a job digging swimming pools. Two of his army friends, David Janssen and Martin Milner, encouraged Clint to get into acting, and he started taking small acting jobs. He landed a conract with Universal Studios in 1954, but then was cut because they thought his adam's apple was too big (also fired by the same director, on the same day, was a little known stunt man named Burt Reynolds).

One day Eastwood was visiting a friend on the CBS lot when a movie executive spotted him and thought, "He looks like a cowboy!" He was asked to try out for the role of Rowdy Yates on the popular TV show "Rawhide," and the rest is history. He really hit the big time in movies with
A Fistful of Dollars (1964); For a Few Dollars More (1965); and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). The 1970's brought Eastwood into another movie franchise with Dirty Harry (1971) and its popular sequels. Everybody has they favorite Eastwood movies. My personal favorites are The First Traveling Saleslady (1956, co-starred with James Arness), Hang 'Em High (1968), Coogan's Bluff (1968), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), Space Cowboys (2000), and Million Dollar Baby (2004). And who couldn't love Every Which Way But Loose (1978) with Clyde the orangutan?

Clint Eastwood is one of the greatest actors of all time, a wonderful director, and has served as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. His awards and honors are far more than can be detailed here.

So what is the family connection? Well, it depends. There are well over 60 different ways the relationship could be established reaching as high as 24th cousins. But the closest relationships are traced through the Hull family (Clint Eastwood's 6th great-grandmother was Sarah Hull). Sarah was the third cousin of our 7th great-grandfather Nathanial Hull.

Eastwood's great-great grandparents were Edward F. and Cordelia Kellogg Bartholomew. If you trace the connection through Cordelia Kellogg then Clint Eastwood and Dad are 11th cousins.

Thomas Hull & Joan Peson
Richard Hull b.1599
Dr. John Hull b.1640
Dr. Benjamin Hull b.1667
Sarah Hull b.1710
Samuel Hall IV b.1747
Hezekiah Hall
Jane Hall
Cordelia Kellogg b.1828
Sophia Amelia Bartholomew b.1859
Waldo Erroll Runner b.1882
Margaret Ruth Runner b.1909
Clinton Eastwood Jr. b.1930
George Hull b.1590
Lt. Cornelius Hull b.1628
Cornelius Hull b.1655
Nathaniel Hull b.1694
Nathaniel Hull b.1726
Ezekiel Hull b.1765
Platt Hull b.1787
Ezekiel Hull b.1813
Rebecca L. Hull b.1841
Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895
Don Cicero Bragg b.1920

But, if you trace the connection through Cordelia's husband, Edward F. Bartholomew, then Clint Eastwood and Dad are 10th cousins, 1 time removed. The reason is because the married couple, Cordelia Kellogg and Edward F. Bartholomew, Clint Eastwood's great-grandparents, were both grandchildren of Sarah Hull (Edward F. Bartholomew was her great-grandchild while Cordelia Kellogg was her great-great grandparents).

Thomas Hull & Joan Peson
Richard Hull b.1599
Dr. John Hull b.1640
Dr. Benjamin Hull b.1667
Sarah Hull b.1710
Samuel Hall IV b.1747
Elizabeth Hall b.1790
Edward F. Bartholomew b.1828
Sophia Amelia Bartholomew b.1859
Waldo Erroll Runner b.1882
Margaret Ruth Runner b.1909
Clinton Eastwood Jr. b.1930

George Hull b.1590
Lt. Cornelius Hull b.1628
Cornelius Hull b.1655
Nathaniel Hull b.1694
Nathaniel Hull b.1726
Ezekiel Hull b.1765
Platt Hull b.1787
Ezekiel Hull b.1813
Rebecca L. Hull b.1841
Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895
Don Cicero Bragg b.1920


Clint Eastwood, The Internet Movie Database

Friday, August 06, 2010

Did You Know #29

The eighth day of August is a special day in our national, and even our world's history. Consider just a few of the reasons why this is true ...

  • In 1709 Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated before the King of Portugal the power of hot air to lift.
  • In 1863, just after the Union victory at Gettysburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee submitted his resignation to Confederate President Jefferson Davis (his resignation was not accepted).
  • In 1911 Francis Holdton submitted would be the nation's 1,000,000th patent (it was for tubeless tires).
  • In 1945 the Soviet Union declared war on Japan.
  • Also in 1945, the United States joined the United Nations.
  • In 1974 President Richard Nixon announced that he would resign the presidency at noon the following day.
  • And in 2000 a submarine, the H. L. Hunley was raised from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Charleston, SC. The last time the Hunley had been seen was as it quietly pulled away from the shore on the evening that it successfully sank the Housatonic on February 17, 1864. The eight man crew's remains were recovered from the Hunley which had been their crypt for over 137 years.

August the eight has also seen the birth of some people who would eventually make their mark, especially on the entertainment industry ...

  • In 1921 television producer William Asher was born. He would some of TV's most iconic shows such as I Love Lucy, Make Room For Daddy, and of course, Bewitched, in which his own wife, Elizabeth Montgomery starred.

  • Also born in 1921 was the high diving actress Esther Williams.

  • In 1922 western actor Rory Calhoun was born.

  • In 1926 Richard Anderson was born. He played Steve Austin's boss Oscar Goldman, in The Six Million Dollar Man.

  • 1932 witnessed the birth of M..M..Mel Tililis, country music superstar.

  • Dustin Hoffman was born in 1937.

  • Connie Stevens was born in 1938.

  • CHiPs co-star Larry Wilcox was born in 1947.

  • Keith Carridine, who shared hosting duties of Wild West Tech with his brother David, was born on this day in 1949.

  • And Happy Days co-star Don Most (Ralph Malph) was born on August 8, 1953.

Two countries celebrate August the eighth as national holidays ...
  • In Tanzania it is Farmer's Day.
  • Taiwan celebrates Father's Day on August 8.
Although it is not recognized as such in the United States, for our family, August the eighth is father's day as well.

Don Cicero Bragg was born in Bruce, IL on August 8, 1920. Named in honor of his maternal grandfather, Cicero Gilbreath, he was the second child of Orval Bishop and Gladys Gilbreath Bragg. He, like so many of his ancestors before him, grew up a farmer. But there is so much more of him.

He is a hero, a patriot, serving our country in its time of greatest need in the 20th century in the Philippines and later in Japan, during World War II. Following his military service he returned to the states and began his family. Over the years he was a selfless provider for those he loved. He never sought special recognition, and, sadly, so few times was extended it.

Over the years he worked the good earth, was employed as a mechanic, sometimes a truck driver. Yet, he would take time to fish and play ball with us. My earliest memories of church are of joining he and Bonnie on warm Sunday mornings outside the Bruce Church, the family station wagon's rear facing the open door of the meeting house, and Bonnie on blankets in the back singing along with the hymns.

As I've grown older I've come to recognize Dad as a man of great courage. I was probably around eleven years old on my very first foray out of the Land of Lincoln. While it took somewhat of a caravan to carry it off, he led us across the Indiana border to Turkey Run. It was a wonderful trip.

Times have changed so much with the passing of time. Today, while our children live so far away from us, with modern technology we are still able to keep in touch quite easily. But it can still not compare with the "good old days" where family lived nearby and we could witness first-hand his care for his own parents.

When it came to the modern conveniences we have grown use to today, we knew nothing of in our day to day lives. No indoor bathroom facilities, air conditioning, or cable TV, and, and yes, even in those primitive conditions we had joy and love as we grew up. Dad's laughter filled our home.

Dad is a great example of what it means to love. Married 64 years, 13 children, life has brought many ups and downs. It is especially in the "down" times that his love always rose to the occasion. He and Mom led in offering the daily support Bonnie needed. While doctors gave her only five years to live, Mom and Dad gave her a real, meaningful life that brought immeasurable joy to our family. At the passing of both Bob and Bonnie, Mom and Dad provided strength to us all.

Since this blog was established I have presented some interesting family connections of people who obviously had no real knowledge of our family's existence. As much as I enjoyed watching Larry Bird play with the Boston Celtics, Henry Fonda's performance in
The Ox-Bow Incident, or even watching James Arness' portrayal of Marshal Matt Dillon (and even have a personally autographed picture of him), I'm under no delusion that he knows us. To us, the biggest star of them all was born on August 8, 1920, and he is our Dad.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday Dad!!

On Sunday, August 8, 2010 Dad will turn 90 years old.

Dad, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do. We love you more than words can express. I hope this video will say what is in our hearts.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Did You Know #28

NOTE: I wanted to comment on the previous Did You Know entry, number 27. Upon further reflection I was somewhat struck by the fact that I was really excited about the link to James Arness and Peter Graves, it never really hit me to think it of interest to see a clear link with English royalty. Sometimes, even if by accident, we do have a way of getting our priorities right. Curiosity got the best of me about who these people were that I'd passed over without giving them a thought.

John of Gaunt1 (20th great grandfather) was born in AD 1340 to King Edward III of England and Queen Philippa in Ghent, Belgium (hence his moniker, "Gaunt"). In 1342 he became Earl of Richmond, a knight in 1355, and first married to his cousin Blanche (the daughter of Duke of Lancaster) in 1359 leading to his becoming.the Earl of Lancaster in 1361, and Duke of Lancaster in 1362. He, along with his brother Edward the Black Prince, waged war with France leading the English forces in 1370. While engaged in this war his wife, Blanche, died and John remarried the daughter of Pedro the Cruel, Constance. This marriage empowered John to seize the title of king of Castile and Leon. Now that he had the title, he just needed a kingdom. After 16 years of fruitless pursuit he returned to England where the demands of the national government awaited.

Turmoil enveloped John as he did battle with Parliament, defended the religious leader John Wycliffe, saw his nephew crowned King Richard II, and while guarding the border of Scotland his palace was burned in the peasant's revolt in June 1381. With his attention directed to Scotland, and then France, John was building a tradition of military failure. In the arts he sh
owed great taste, becoming the patron of Geoffrey Chaucer, whose work Boke of the Duchesse was a lament for John's first wife, Blanche.

John married a third time (following the death of Constance in 1394, taking
Catherine Swynford2 (20th great grandmother) as his bride. She was the daughter of Sir Payne de Roet. With a reputation of great beauty, Catherine had been raised in a convent after the death of her parents early in her life. When she was 16 she was called back to the royal court where she became the wife of Sir Hugh Swynford.

Catherine is the ancestor of at least 5 Ameican presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, and Princess Dianna. It was following his death that she married John of Gaunt. Prior to their marriage the couple had already become the parents. Their extra-marital children bore the name Beaufort, who following John and Catherine's marriage were given a legitimate status. John died on February 3, 1399. His remains rest in St. Paul's Cathedral, London, England. His wife, Catherine (or Katherine de Roet) outlived John by only four years.

King Edward III (also known as Edward Plantagenet), the father of John of Gaunt, is our 21st great grandfather. He was born in 1312 at Windsor, Berkshire, England to King Edward II and Isabella of France. King Edward III reigned as King of England for fifty years (1327-77). He was made Earl of Chester in 1320, and Duke of Aquitaine in 1325. Edward spent much of the late 1320's in France with his uncle Charles IV.

Edward was crowned King in 1327, although his mother, and her lover Roger Mortimer actually reigned in his name. He was married to
Philippa, the daughter of the Count of Hainaut, the next year. In 1330 he set into motion a plan that resulted in the arrest and execution of Mortimer, and taking his rightful place as monarch of England. Following the death of Scotland's Robert the Bruce, Edward took advantage of the new king's youthfulness and invaded Scotland in 1332. He fought with France in what has come to be known as the Hundred Years' War. Another blow to England during his reign was the plague, or Black Death.

While over his long reign Edward'
s "main ambition was military glory, he was not a bad ruler of England. He was liberal, kindly, good-tempered and easy of access."3 King Edward III died of a stroke on June 21, 1377 in Surrey, England. His body was interred in London's Westminster Abbey.


1 John of Gaunt []

2 Isabella []

3 King Edward []

Saturday, July 24, 2010

(A Double-Barreled) Did You Know #27

This has been, to me, the most enjoyable work in preparing a post to our family blog. It is filled with some of my fondest memories growing up: gathering around the old black and white, and especially Bonnie's enjoyment at the certainty that SHE was going to be the very first victim in EVERY single episode. As the familiar theme wafted towards her bed her anticipation would build until finally, as pistols blazed, she would exclaim, "Ouch, they got me!" Even today, if you were to call my cell phone, that familiar theme serves as my ringtone.

James King Aurness was born in May 1923 in Minneapolis, MN. As a young man he already towered over his classmates as he was on his way to his familiar height of 6' 6". During the second World War he served with 3rd Infantry Division and served a leading role in the invasion of Anzio, where he sustained a severe leg room that would plague him as he ages and was noticeable in his work as he mounted and dismounted his horse. Urged by his younger brother, James made his way to California to begin his acting career, appearing first in "The Farmer's Daughter" (1947). Following the advice of that movie's director, H.C. Potter, James "Aurness" became James "Arness."

Perhaps his biggest break came from his work with John Wayne. After making a few movies together, he was on the Duke's mind when he was approached with the offer of starring in a new television program based on the popular radio show, Gunsmoke. Wayne was not interested, but he knew just who to recommend, and he even introduced the first episode (you can see his introduction on YouTube)

From 1955 until 1975 James Arness kept the peace in Dodge City, tried to keep the peace between Doc and Chester (and later Festus), and kept from kissing Miss Kitty. Following the end of the television series he starred in How the West Was Won television series, the short-lived McClain's Law (1981), and a re-make of John Wayne's Red River (1988), and a number of made for TV Gunsmoke movies.

He was married to Virginia Chapman from 1948 until their divorce in 1963. They had three children. His only daughter, Jenny, appeared in two episodes of Gunsmoke, but sadly she died of a drug overdose in 1975, just as Gunsmoke was ending its run. James Arness and Janet Surtrees were married in 1978.

If we are related to James Arness, that obviously we are related to his younger brother, Peter Graves (born in 1926), who likewise had a long-running television career at Agent Jim Phelps in "Mission: Impossible" (1966). Peter made many movies, one of the most memorable being the pilot on Airplane (1980). Sadly, Peter passed away on March 14th of his year.

To find the family connection we must go back a number of generations to John of Gaunt, Prince of England (1340-1398), son of King Edward III (1312-1377). John had a number of wives, but in 1395 he married Catherine de Roet, Duchess Of Lancaster. The chart below traces out the two family lines:

Prince John of Gaunt and Duchess Catherine de Roet
John "Fairborn" De Beaufort
Marquess Of Somerset b.1373
Joan De Beaufort b.1379
Joan Beaufort b.1398
Jane Neville b.1399
Annabella Stewart b.1440Thomas Hare b.1418
Elizabeth Gordon b.1462John Hare b.1438
Robert Keith b.1483Nicholas Hare b.1460
Janet Keith b.1514John Hare b.1506
William Lyon b.1540John Hare b.1526
Richard Lyon b.1590Elizabeth Hare b.1555
Richard Lyon b.1624Richard Ward b.1575
Richard Lyon b.1653Gov. Andrew Ward I b.1597
Daniel Lyon b.1697Esther Ward b.1623
Ruth LyonDaniel Burr b.1660
Levi BeardsleyElizabeth Burr b.1696
Esther Beardsley b.1791Nathaniel Hull b.1726
Ann Maria Graves b.1820Ezekiel Hull b.1765
Josephine Jenks b.1841Platt Hull b.1787
Hess Graves Duesler b.1859
Ezekiel Hull b.1813
Ruth Duesler b.1894
Rebecca L. Hull b.1841
James King Aurness (ARNESS) b.1923 and Peter Duesler Aurness (Graves)
Frank Martin Bragg b.1867
Orval Bishop Bragg b.1895

Don Cicero Bragg b.1920

As the above chart illustrates, James Arness, Peter Graves and Frank Martin Bragg (our great-grandfather) are 18th cousins, being three generations later we are 18th cousins 3 times removed of James Arness and Peter Graves.