My Ancestral Connection to Cloris Leachman (1926-2021)

On the 27 January 2021, American actress and comedian Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) died at the age of 94. With an acting career that spanned over seventy years, Leachman had many memorable roles including her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Last Picture Show (1971), Young Frankenstein (1974), and Malcolm in the Middle. Recently, I discovered an ancestral connection to Leachman, which will be discussed below.

Both Leachman and my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), are descendants of Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) and his wife Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628). Reportedly, Leachman is a descendant through Thomas and Margaret’s son Experience Mitchell (ca. 1602-1689), while my paternal grandmother is a descendant through their daughter Constant Mitchell (ca. 1620-aft. 1690). Although Experience and Constant are widely reported as siblings and the children of Thomas and Margaret, some accounts suggest there relationship was different. Despite the fact that Experience is referred to as being the “brother” of Constant in the will of Constant’s husband, John Fobes/Vobes (ca. 1613-1660), there is some proposed uncertainty as to whether the use of “brother” meant sibling or brother-in-law. In the second sense, it is believed that Constant was not the daughter of Thomas and Margaret Mitchell, but the sister of Experience’s wife, Mary UNKNOWN (ca. 1620-aft. 1662), whose parents are currently unknown. Although this may be possible, and would still reflect a ancestral connection of Leachman, Constant being the daughter of Thomas and Margaret is most commonly reported in sources, such as Ezra Stearns’ Genealogical and Family History of the State of New Hampshire (1908). Thus, this relationship is maintained here.

The following chart shows the decent of both Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) and my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), from Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) and Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628).

Cloris Leachman’s Line:My Grandmother’s Line:
1Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) m. Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628)1Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) m. Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628)
2Experience Mitchell (ca. 1602-1689) m. Mary UNKNOWN (ca. 1620-aft. 1662)2Constant Mitchell (ca. 1620-aft. 1690) m. John Fobes (ca. 1613-1660)
3Jacob Mitchell (1643-1675) m. Susanna Pope (1649-1675)3Elizabeth Fobes/Forbes (1657-1737) m. Joseph Russell (1650-1739)
4Mary Mitchell (ca. 1674-bef. 1740) m. Samuel Kingman (1670-1742)4Mary Russell (1683-1752) m. John Lapham (1677-1734)
5Susanna Kingman (1697-1760) m. Solomon Packard (1689-1782)5Thomas Lapham (1705-1779) m. Abigail Wilbor (1711-1775)
6Joanna Packard (1725-?) m. Isaac Allen (1719-?)6Sylvia Lapham (1731-1805) m. Solomon Lapham (1730-1800)
7Jennet Allen (1759-1840) m. John Thompson (1755-1827)7Duty Lapham (1775-1846) m. Mary Colwell (ca. 1772-1812)
8Archibald Thomson Sr. (1782-1859) m. Abigail Emerson (1786-1861)8Benjamin Lapham (ca. 1807-1860) m. Cemantha Broadway/Bradway (ca. 1813-1847)
9Archibald Thomson Jr. (1813-1873) m. Olive Gleason (abt. 1817-1886)9William B. Lapham (1838-1925) m. Emoline Pauline Reynolds (1844-1886)
10Rosaltha Thompson (abt. 1838-aft. 1920) m. Charles Baring Eugene Claiborne (1827-1889)10Horace Irving Lapham (1869-1927) m. Anna Margaret Leishman (1875-1951)
11Rose Claiborne (1871-1951) m. Robert Parker Leachman (1862-1933)11Theodore Alexander Lapham (1910-1955) m. Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985)
12Berkeley Claiborne Leachman (1903-1956) m. Cloris Votruba Wallace (1901-1967)12Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004) m. William G. Kernan (LIVING)
13Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) m. George Englund (1926-2017)

Based on the generations of descent from Thomas Mitchell (1566-aft. 1622) and his wife Margaret Williams (ca. 1568-1628) listed above, my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), and Cloris Leachman (1926-2021) are 10th cousins, once removed. This makes Cloris Leachman my 11th cousin, once removed.

My Ancestral Connection to Christopher Lloyd


Back in October of 2015, many noted the date October 21, 2015 because it was featured in the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II. It was on October 21, 2015 that Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer, arrive to help Marty and Jennifer’s children. The 2015 world depicted in the film featured hover boards, flying cars, and power lace Nike shoes, which many hoped would be a reality when 2015 rolled around. This box-office hit and now classic comedy stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Thomas F. Wilson.

Recently I discovered an ancestral connection to Christopher Lloyd, who is an American actor best known for not only his role as Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, but also for his role as Jim Ignatowski in the television series Taxi. This discovery came when I learned that Lloyd’s mother, Ruth, was a Lapham, and that her family is descended from John Lapham (1635-1710) and his wife, Mary Mann (1640-1712). The following is a chart that shows the decent of both Christopher Lloyd (1938-) and my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), from John Lapham (1635-1710) and Mary Mann (1640-1712).

Christopher Lloyd’s Line: My Grandmother’s Line:
1 John Lapham (1635-1710) m. Mary Mann (1640-1712) 1 John Lapham (1635-1710) m. Mary Mann (1640-1712)
2 John Lapham Jr (1677-1748) m. Mary Russell (1683-1752) 2 Nicholas Lapham (1689-1758) m. Mercy Arnold (1701-1756)
3 Joshua Lapham (1721-1789) m. Hannah Sherman (1727-1797) 3 Solomon Lapham (1730-1800) m. Sylvia Lapham (1737-1805)
4 Nathan Lapham (1761-1846) m. Elizabeth Arnold (1759-1834/5) 4 Duty Lapham (1775-1846) m. Mary Colwell (1772-?)
5 Jesse Lapham (1788-1863) m. Elizabeth Griffith (1798-1878) 5 Benjamin Lapham (1807-1860) m. Cemantha Broadway (ca. 1813-1846)
6 Henry Griffith Lapham (1822-1888) m. Samantha Vail (1826-1905) 6 William B. Lapham (1838-1925) m. Emoline Pauline Reynolds (1844-1886)
7 Lewis Henry Lapham (1858-1934) m. Antoinette Dearborn (1861-1956) 7 Horace Irving Lapham (1869-1927) m. Annie Margaret Leishman
8 Ruth Lapham (1896-1984) m. Samuel R. Lloyd (1897-?) 8 Theodore A. Lapham (1910-1955) m. Alice Lucretia Wellin (1916-1985)
9 Christopher Allen Lloyd (1938-) 9 Margaret Ann Lapham (1936-2004) m. William Kernan (LIVING)

Based on the generations of descent from John Lapham (1635-1710) and his wife Mary Mann (1640-1712) listed above, my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), and Christopher Allen Lloyd (1938-) are 7th cousins. This makes Christopher Lloyd my 7th cousin, 2x removed.

From Ireland to Germany to Italy to Mexico: How America’s Source of Immigrants Has Changed in the States, 1850 – 2013

Explore the top countries of origin for immigrants in each state from 1850 to 2013.

Source: From Ireland to Germany to Italy to Mexico: How America’s Source of Immigrants Has Changed in the States, 1850 – 2013

Family History Mystery: Discovering Alexander Balla’s Immigration Details

For a while now, a great deal of mystery has surrounded the immigration details of one of my 2nd great grandfathers, Alexander Balla Sr. (1886-1950). According to oral family history, Alexander left the village and country of his birth, Eszény, Hungary (now Eseny, Ukraine), for the United States when he was between 18 and 22 years old, working aboard the passenger ship in exchange for part or all of the passage fee. Oral family history about his immigration also adds that although one of the reasons Alexander immigrated to the United States was to be with family members that were already living there, another significant reason was the fact that his life had been threatened in Eszény by someone or a group possibly connected to the Black Hand. Despite these details from oral family history, I was never able to track down a shipping manifest for Alexander’s immigration.

Recently, made Texas Immigration and Naturalization records available, which has helped clear up some of the mystery surrounding his immigration. According to both his Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization, which were filed in 1942, Alexander immigrated from Eszény to the United States on May 8, 1906 aboard the SS Pretoria, arriving in New York, New York. In addition to providing the date of his immigration, Alexander’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization provide an additional, and highly interesting, fact about his immigration to the United States. According to these records, Alexander did not arrive in the United States under the name “Alexander Balla,” “Alex Balla,” or even “Sándor Balla.” Instead, he states that his lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was done under a completely different name, that of “Joseph Domoks.” Seeing this was surprising, as there was no mention of his using an assumed name in oral family history or on any other historical record. Although there is a lot of mystery surrounding the threat made against his life, including who exactly did so, it is likely that this motivated him to change his name in order to conceal the fact that he was leaving the country, as well as concealing where he was immigrating to.

Alexander Balla’s 1942 Declaration of Intention
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Declaration of Intention

Alexander Balla’s 1942 Petition for Naturalization
Alexander Balla’s 1942 Petition for Naturalization

The information provided by Alexander’s Declaration of Intention and Petition for Naturalization records, is, moreover, supported, with slight differences, by the SS Pretoria ship manifest for his arrival. According to this record, Alexander arrived on May 6, 1906, instead of May 8, 1906 as stated on his naturalization records. His name is enumerated on this ship manifest as “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”), which is slightly different than what is found on his naturalization record (“Joseph Domoks”). This immigration record also states that Alexander arrived in the United States to be with his brother, István Balla (Steven Balla Jr.), who he reported was living in Tompkins Cove, Rockland Co., New York.

Immigration Record for Alexander Balla, who appears on line 12 of the manifest with his assumed name of “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”).
Immigration Record for Alexander Balla, who appears on line 12 of the manifest with his assumed name of “Jozsef Domokos” (or “Jozsef Jomokos”).

207 Years Ago Today (or Thereabouts)

It is claimed that on September 8, 1806, two-hundred and seven years ago today, Brooks Worthington (1806-1894), my 5th great grandfather, was born in North Carolina, most likely in Greensboro in Guilford County, the son of Joab Worthington (1779-1851) and Martha Jane Matthews (1785-1860). Despite this claim, I have not yet been able to find any proof that he was in fact born on this date. It does appear that he was born in 1806, but I have not found a record showing his specific birth date as of yet.

Worthington Crest

The following is an excerpt about Brooks Worthington’s life from the biography of Brooks’s son-in-law, Alson G. Bodenhamer, published in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Johnson and Pettis Counties, Missouri (1895):

He [Alson G. Bodenhamer] was married, November 15 1857, to Esther Worthington, who was born September 12 1836 in Davidson County, NC. She was the daughter of Brooks and Hannah (Green) Worthington, also natives of that state where they were farmers. Brooks Worthington was also an expert shoemaker, and after his removal to Indianapolis, Ind. worked at this business for one year. In 1840, however, he came to Missouri choosing Lafayette County as his future home. There the wife and mother died in 1855. Mr. Worthington was again married, the lady on this occasion being Lucy Lanear. He continued to make his home on that farm until the decease of his second companion, when he moved to California, where his daughter was living. On his return from the Golden State, he spent a few years on the old place, and then went to Carroll County, Ark. where he died December 24, 1894, at the age of eighty eight years.

By his first marriage Mr. Worthington became the father of nine children. Charles married Margaret Meadows, and is now living in California. Joab married Eliza Alkire, and is now deceased but his wife makes her home in Indian Territory. John never married, and died during the late war. Elizabeth is now Mrs. Johnson Mulky, and lives in California. Mrs Bodenhamer was the next born. Jacob chose for his wife Elmira Couch, and they make their home on a farm in Boone County, Ark. David is single, and is a resident of the Golden State. Ellen married James Fulkerson, and both are deceased; and Catherine died when six years old.

Source for Brooks Worthington’s reported birth date: “Worthington Family of England, Maryland, Virginia and Randolph Co NC Notes” (2011) by Donald Gradeless; and The Worthington Family History Society.

84 Years Ago Today

On September 7, 1929, eighty-four years ago today, Samuel L. Beeney (1857-1929), my 3rd great grandfather, died in Newark, Licking Co., Ohio. Following his death, Samuel was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Newark.

Headstone of Samuel L. Beeney
Headstone of Samuel L. Beeney

Samuel was born in 1857 the son of Charles B. Beeney (1815-1903) and Christiana Lyons (1824-1901). In 1880, Samuel married Eva Flora McLaughlin (1863-1899), with whom he had five children before their divorce: Charlotte, Bertha, Walter, Alice, and George (my 2nd great grandfather). Throughout his life, Samuel was an educator, eventually opening a Business College in Newark.

Samuel L. Beeney
Samuel L. Beeney

The following is Samuel’s biography from the History of Southeastern Ohio and the Muskingum Valley 1788-1928, by Thomas William Lewis (Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1928):

As an educator of high standing Samuel L. Beeney contributed materially toward Newark’s advancement, and his attention is now devoted to business affairs, in which he has been equally successful. He was born January 13, 1857, in Eden township, and in both the paternal and maternal lines represents old and highly respected families of Licking county. His father, Charles B. Beeney, was a native of England and in early life made the voyage to the United States in company with his parents, Jesse and Mary Beeney, who located in Licking county, Ohio, in 1828, hewing a farm out of the wilderness. Jesse Beeney was a member of the Church of Christ and an adherent of the democratic party. Charles B. Beeney was a cooper and later engaged in farming. Success attended his well directed labors, and his religious and political views coincided with those of his father.

In Licking county Charles B. Beeney married Miss Christiana Lyons, a native of Ireland, in which country her parents, John and Margaret E. (Carlisle) Lyons, were married. They left the Emerald isle in 1837 and cast in their lot with the pioneer farmers of Licking county, Ohio, where they spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. Lyons was a Presbyterian and conscientiously followed the teachings of his church. Mr. and Mrs. Charles B. Beeney resided for a number of years in Newark and both passed away in this city. Their family numbered five children, of whom Samuel L. was the second in order of birth. His brother, John W., was born April 1, 1855, and became a teacher. In later life he followed agricultural pursuits and on June 30, 1927, was called to his finale rest. By his marriage with Mattie Warthen, of St. Louisville, Ohio, he had three children : Robert and Howard Beeney ; and Mrs. Mamie Lewis, of Trauscona, Manitoba, Canada. John W. Beeney is survived by his second wife, Mrs. Lena (Metzner) Beeney, to whom he was married in Utica, Ohio, and Edward L., their only child, is living in Newark. Margaret, the next in order of birth, is deceased. Marie is now Mrs. Hugh W. Gorley and makes her home in Newark. Emma is the wife of Henry W. Hansberger, a prominent realtor of Newark.

Samuel L. Beeney received his early instruction in the rural schools of his native township and completed his studies in the Teachers Training School at Utica, Ohio. For eleven years he was a public school teacher and in 1885 opened the Newark Business College, of which he was sole owner. As principal he successfully conducted the college for twenty-nine years, developing an institution second to none in the character and thoroughness of its instruction, and since 1914 has been a solicitor for the Hooper Franklin Insurance Agency, making his headquarters in Newark. He specializes in fire insurance and has mastered the art of salesmanship. Endowed by nature with more than one talent, he is an able writer and a frequent contributor to various newspapers. Mr. Beeney established the Ohio Teachers’ Journal, which he edited and published for four years, when he transferred his interest to the National Educator published in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Beeney is a strong champion of those movements and projects which make for good citizenship and was active in the war savings campaign. In politics he is a democrat, and his religious views are indicated by his affiliation with the Church of Christ. Traveling affords him much enjoyment, and he has visited nine countries, including the Holy Land, thus broadening his outlook upon life. He is interested in those things which have cultural value, tending to raise the individual to a higher level, and his personal qualities are such as make for strong and enduring regard.

298 Years Ago Today

On August 10, 1715, two hundred and ninety-eight years ago today, John Stearns (ca. 1692-1765) and Deliverance Bigelow (1695-1762), my 7th great grandparents, were married in Watertown, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts.

Marriage Record of John Stearns and Deliverance Bigelow
Marriage Record of John Stearns and Deliverance Bigelow

A transcription of the marriage record above reads as follows: “John Stearns and Deliverance Biglow Both of Watertown were joined in Marriag August of 10th 1715 by Mr. Sammuel Argier Minister in Watertown.”

Following their marriage, John and Deliverance remained in Watertown for a few years, where their first two children were born. By about 1720, they relocated to Worcester, Worcester Co., Massachusetts, where they had at least nine more children.

80 Years Ago Today

On July 18, 1933, eighty years ago today, Harry Carl Hamilton (1891-1960) and Goldia “Goldie” Mae Worthington (1912-2006), my maternal great grandparents, were married in Boone Co., Arkansas.

Marriage Record of Harry C. Hamilton and Goldie M. Worthington
Marriage Record of Harry C. Hamilton and Goldie M. Worthington

An interesting item found on the record for their marriage (shown above) is the fact that Harry claimed he was 38 years old, which would have made his birth year 1895, when he was actually 42 years old, being born in 1891. Although the difference in his real and reported ages is not that significant, perhaps a 38 year old marrying a 21 year old sounded a little better to them (or just Harry) than a 42 year old marrying a 21 year old. It is also possible that Harry made the change in order to prevent people from his past tracking him down, something he wanted to avoid by all oral accounts.

Following their marriage Harry and Goldie lived in Harrison, Boone Co., Arkansas, where they had the first two of their seven children. In about 1941, Harry relocated his family to Oklahoma, where they had their remaining children.