Presentation Notes: 2008-2009

Famous People with Cape Cod Roots

Presented by Rhonda McClure - June 10, 2009

Notes by David S. Martin

The presenter for the Annual Meeting and Luncheon of the Society on June 10, 2009 at the Old Yarmouth Inn, was Rhonda McClure, a professional genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Her topic was "Famous People with Cape Cod Roots." She began by reviewing the charms and attractions of Cape Cod in many off-Cape people's minds - cranberry bogs, old houses, old furniture, beaches, fishing, whale-watching, and changing of the seasons. Thus, Cape Cod has held a strong attraction for many people over the years, for both those who have been born there as well as those who come to live permanently there.

The Mayflower story is integral to family history on traditional Cape Cod; of the 102 passengers on the ship, however, only 21 of those had descendants. Thus anyone living today with proven Mayflower ancestry is a descendant of one or more of only these 21 persons. She reviewed the fact that traditionally Mayflower ancestry has been traced only to the male passengers, but that female passengers also count as Mayflower ancestors. She also reminded everyone that Cape Cod was not the original destination of the Mayflower - they were headed for the Virginia Colony, but one important reason they stopped at Cape Cod was that they were running out of beer which was essential for warding off scurvy.

She then provided a list of famous persons who have Mayflower ancestry - for example, Humphrey Bogart to John Howland; Bing Crosby to William Brewster; Orson Welles to Francis Cooke and Richard Warren; Cecil B. DeMille to Resolved and William White; Joanne Woodward to Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris, and Richard Warren; Normal Rockwell to Stephen Hopkins; Ralph Waldo Emerson to John Howland and John Tilley; Henry David Thoreau to Richard Warren; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Sampson, Mullins, Howland, Tilley, and Brewster; both Presidents Bushes and FDR to Francis Cooke; and both Presidents Adams and Calvin Coolidge to William Mullins.

A revised and updated thick volume by Gary Boyd Roberts of NEHGS has recently appeared, entitled Ancestors of American Presidents.

She then went through some of the presidents and listed the Mayflower passengers which they claim. Then she listed some non-presidents who are well known and their relationships to Cape Codders who are not Mayflower passengers. For example, Tennessee Williams to William Merrick; author Joe Lincoln to Edward Bangs, and others. Families such as the Nickersons have many off-Cape descendants as well. To sum up, there are now millions of descendants of both Mayflower and non-Mayflower passengers who have Cape Cod origins.

See the Presentation Notes Index for summaries of other presentations given at the Society's monthly meetings.