pedigree collapse

When the principles of breeding and of inheritance are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining by an easy method whether or not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.
~ Charles Darwin
(The Descent of Man: And Selection in Relation to Sex)

“Seven-Year-Old Charles Darwin in 1816” by Ellen Sharples ~ Charles married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood and they were the parents of ten children.

Two parents… four grandparents… eight great-grandparents…

If the number of ancestors is doubled in each generation as we go back in time, logic suggests there will be about a thousand ancestors per person in ten generations, and about a million of them in twenty generations. But as we go back in time fewer people were on earth than there are now.

However, one does not usually have to go too far back in his or her family history to find cousins marrying cousins of one degree or another. This actually collapses the pedigree, because when cousins have children together, some of the children’s ancestors are repeated in another line. This can make for a non-branching family tree with very tangled roots! The more cousins having children together on one’s pedigree, the more lines of ancestors will be repeated, and the actual number of one’s ancestors will eventually be fewer and fewer…

Following are the cousin marriages I have found so far on our trees. I will continue to update this page when I discover new connections.

Tim & I are 10th cousins, twice removed. Tim’s 11th-great-grandparents and my 9th-great-grandparents were [7968] Nathaniel Bacon and [7969] Hannah Mayo.

Tim’s great-grandfather, [16] George Lincoln Rodgers married his first cousin, [17] Mary Jane Rodgers, Tim’s great-grandmother. George & Mary’s fathers were brothers, and their grandparents in common were [64] Jacob Rogers and [65] Mahala Bedford.

My 2nd-great-grandfather, [56] William Martin White married his first cousin, [57] Ellen C. Hill, my 2nd-great-grandmother. William’s father and Ellen’s mother were siblings, and their grandparents in common were [224] Oliver White and [225] Lydia (—).

My 2nd-great-grandfather, [58] Reuel Gardner Atwood married his half second cousin, once removed, [59] Louisa Jane Atwood, my 2nd-great-grandmother. Reuel & Louisa’s common ancestor was [472] Lt. Nathaniel Atwood.

My 3rd-great-grandfather, [116] Reuel Atwood married his sixth cousin, [117] Abigail Savery Tillson, my 3rd-great-grandmother. Reuel & Abigail’s common 5th-great-grandparents were [7602] John Howland and [7603] Elizabeth Tilley.

My 3rd-great-grandfather, [118] Ebenezer Atwood married his second cousin, twice removed, [119] Waitstill Lucas, my 3rd-great-grandmother. Ebenezer & Waitstill’s common ancestors were [944] Dea. Nathaniel Atwood and [945] Mary (—).

My 3rd-great-grandfather, [122] Warren Freeman married his double fourth cousin, [123] Elisabeth Weekes, my 3rd-great-grandmother. Warren & Elisabeth’s common 3rd-great-grandparents were [3912] Joshua Hopkins and [3913] Mary Cole; and also [3932] Edward Small and [3933] Mary Woodman.

My 4th-great-grandfather, [232] Nathaniel Atwood married his first cousin, [233] Zilpha Shurtleff, my 4th-great-grandmother. Nathaniel & Zilpha’s mothers were sisters, and their grandparents in common were [930] Nathaniel Shaw and [931] Hannah Perkins.

Tim’s 5th-great-grandfather, [376] Asher Huntley married his first cousin, [377] Betsey Wilder Tiffany, Tim’s 5th-great-grandmother. Asher’s mother & Betsey’s father were siblings, and their grandparents in common were [1506] Consider Tiffany and [1507] Naomi Comstock.

My 5th-great-grandfather, [464] Ichabod Atwood married his first cousin, once removed, [465] Hannah Shaw, my 5th great-grandmother. Ichabod & Hannah’s common ancestors were [944] Dea. Nathaniel Atwood and [945] Mary (—).

My 5th-great-grandfather, [478] William Shurtleff married his first cousin, once removed, [479] Ruth Shaw, my 5th-great-grandmother. William & Ruth’s common ancestors were [1912] Abiel Shurtleff and [1913] Lydia Barnes.

My 5th-great-grandfather, [488] John Freeman married his second cousin, [489] Abigail Hopkins, my 5th-great-grandmother. John & Abigail’s common great-grandparents were [3906] Richard Sparrow and [3907] Mercy Cobb.

My 7th-great-grandfather, [1952] Edmund Freeman married his second cousin, [1953] Sarah Sparrow, my 7th-great-grandmother. Edmund & Sarah’s common great-grandparents were [15618] Thomas Prence and [15619] Patience Brewster.

Last Revised:  15 November 2017

Ancestor Table

Mount Vernon Cemetery

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Reuel & Louisa Atwood

Mount Vernon Cemetery in Abington, Massachusetts, is where my great-grandparents, Samuel Minor & Emma Flora (Atwood) White, and my 2nd-great-grandparents, Reuel Gardner & Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood, lie buried. I have many Atwoods on my family tree, with a lot of cousin marriages crossing the branches. Reuel & Louisa were half second cousins, once removed, both descendants of Nathaniel Atwood (1693-1767).

Reuel Gardner Atwood, firstborn son of Reuel and Abigail Savery (Tillson) Atwood, was born 5 February 1833 in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and died 19 August 1908 in Henniker, New Hampshire. He married 26 November 1860 at Middleborough, Louisa Jane Atwood, who was born 6 April 1840 in Carver, Massachusetts, and died in 1928 in Abington, Massachusetts, fifth daughter of Ebenezer and Waitstill (Lucas) Atwood.

Reuel worked as a box maker and a fisherman. After Reuel’s death Louisa was living in Henniker, New Hampshire with her son, Frederick, and his family in 1910. By 1920 she was living with her daughter, Emma Flora, and her family at 170 Linwood St. in Abington. Her grandson, John Everett White (my grandfather), fondly remembered the wonderful mittens she knitted for her three grandsons. They had a new pair every winter. Louisa died of tuberculosis at the age of 88.

Louisa & Reuel were the parents of eight children, but only three survived to adulthood and the others are buried here with their parents.

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1. Elsie Fremont Atwood, born 9 August 1862 in Middleborough, died there 25 October 1863, age 1.

2. Elbridge Lincoln Atwood, born 10 August 1865 in Abington, died 20 December 1878 in Boston, Massachusetts, age 13.

3. Frederick Reuel Atwood, born 28 December 1867 in Abington, died 4 February 1963 in Hillsborough, New Hampshire, age 96. He married Janie Mary Patterson, daughter of Thomas S. and Anna M. (Greives) Patterson. Frederick & Janie were the parents of four children.

4. Eustace Lorenzo Atwood, born 2 November 1870 in Abington, died there 22 November 1880, age 10.

5. Emma Flora Atwood (my great-grandmother), born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, age 82. She married Samuel Minor White, son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White. Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons.

6. Amy Grace Atwood, born 17 April 1875 in Abington, died there 23 August 1877, age 2.

7. Samuel Ebenezer Atwood, born 10 March 1877 in Abington, died there 5 December 1880, age 3.

8. Everett Mason Atwood, born 26 November 1880 in Abington, died there 26 October 1971, age 90. He married Alice Matula Merrill and they were the parents of five children. Everett’s nephew was my grandfather, John Everett White, who was named in his honor.

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Samuel White

Engraved on the back of the Atwood stone are the names of their daughter and her husband. Samuel Minor White, fifth son of William Martin and Ellen C. (Hill) White, was born 7 July 1873 in Stonington, Connecticut, very close to where I live now, and died 2 July 1949 in Abington, Massachusetts. He married 21 November 1902 at Rockland, Massachusetts, Emma Flora Atwood, who was born 5 January 1873 in Abington, and died 2 February 1955 in Foxborough, Massachusetts, second daughter of Reuel Gardner and Louisa Jane (Atwood) Atwood.

When Samuel was about 12, he ran away from home because he did not get along with his stepmother. He would not discuss with anyone his whereabouts between leaving home and marrying Flora, although his sons speculated that he probably went to sea. He had been told that his mother was dead, but I discovered that his parents were actually divorced and that his mother was living in the poor house of Stonington with two illegitimate children who were born after the divorce. Samuel was named after his grand-uncle, Samuel Minor White.

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Flora Atwood

In 1901 Flora was working as a bookkeeper. She was working in Whitman, Massachusetts, where her cousin lived when she met Samuel. Samuel & Flora were married by Fred Hovey Allen, Clergyman. Samuel was a hard-working laborer and in 1905 was working in a box mill. Flora inherited the house at 170 Linwood St. in Abington, where the couple raised their three sons. She had a baby grand piano she loved to play.

My grandfather, their son, remembered that the house had a huge elm tree with an oriole nest and a lawn swing. Flora treasured her bed of dark red peonies. The family always had one horse, one cow (sometimes up to three), sometimes pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits. Samuel worked at a slaughtering house and at times slaughtered his own pigs. Each morning he left a list on the kitchen table of chores to be done by his sons, which weren’t always completed.

During the boys’ college vacations, a man came to cut firewood into stove lengths and all helped to stack the wood in the basement. Samuel also worked for a Mr. Dudley peddling ice. The ice was harvested from Mill Pond and the wagon served the city of Brockton. Sometimes the ice was harvested with horses. The horses pulled chisels which cut the ice, which then floated down the pond where machines pulled it up to the ice house. Sometimes a team of horses would slip into the water. Ladies would have to order the ice desired, and a meat cart came once every two weeks. My grandfather and his brothers would wait for the cart and a slice of bologna was often tossed out to them.

Flora & Samuel were known as Grammy & Grampy to their grandchildren. My mother spoke fondly of them, which is why I wanted to be called Grammy by my grandchildren. Tim didn’t want to be called Grampy, though, so he goes by Grandpa. Samuel died of colon cancer five days before his 76th birthday. Flora died of an ear infection and mastoiditis at the age of 82.

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Flora & Samuel were the parents of three sons:

1. Earl Martin “Bob” White, born 5 December 1902 in Rockland, Massachusetts, died 9 October 1965, age 62. He married Ruth Lois Tilden, daughter of Henry Edward and Ruth Ann (Crocker) Tilden, who was born 20 October 1905 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and died 7 July 1991 in Bourne, Massachusetts. Bob & Ruth were the parents of two daughters.

2. John Everett White (my grandfather), born 8 June 1905 in Rockland, died 4 April 2001 in Dennis Port, Massachusetts, age 95. He married Emma Freeman Thompson, daughter of Martin Freeman and Amanda Eliza (Hamblin) Thompson. John & Emma were the parents of two children.

3. Lincoln White, born 11 February 1909 in Abington, died 31 August 1993 in Monson, Massachussets, age 84. He married Marjorie Elizabeth Cary, daughter of Herbert Francis and Elizabeth (Blagborough) Cary. Lincoln & Marjorie were the parents of two sons.

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Emma Flora (Atwood) White (1873-1955)
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Samuel Minor White (1873-1949)

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This marker on Reuel’s grave probably indicates that he served in the Civil War. He was 28 years old when it began.
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This tree’s branches reach over the Atwood plot.
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View of the Atwood plot. Reuel & Louisa and their children lie buried behind the large stone, with flat stones marking the individual graves. Other Atwoods, children mostly, lie buried in front of it with various kinds of stones. I’m not sure how these Atwoods are connected to Louisa & Reuel.

Tim and I revisited this cemetery on March 5. Our first visit was so many years ago, but now that I have a better camera I want to return and photograph as many family plots as I can, retracing our steps.