You Have Many Relatives

Letter to Granddaughter

Posted Jun 20, 2012
Last Updated Feb 28, 2019
My granddaughter Morgan was doing a presentation on family history in High School in 2011 and asked for some assistance.  This is the text of the letter I sent her.
"Research into our ancestry is a fascinating thing, especially when we realize that we are related to everyone on the planet and to most of them within 6 generations.  
Let me explain.  You have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great-grandparents.  If you continue numbering to 15 generations, you get 2-4-8-16-32-64-128-256-512-1024-2048-4096-8192-16384-32568.  This means that you could have as many as 32,568 13th Great-Grandparents, each with a different last name and coming from many countries in the world.  (If you add all the grandparents together you have 65,334 grandparents in 15 generations!) However, because everyone is related, it isn’t that many lines, because if any couple goes back a few generations, they find that they have the same 5th or 6th great-grandparents.  Your name is Niles, but even though my name is Penry, I have Niles in my ancestry too.  So even though you are my granddaughter, you are also a cousin.  
What does this mean to each of us?  It means that in your classroom at school, that almost every student is related to every other student in the room, usually within 6 generations and given enough time, we could do the research and tie them together, especially if we have European or African ancestry.  Why Africa?  It is because over 90% of black Americans have some white European blood. Some more or less.  For instance President Obama has 50% white blood.  So, how many relatives do each of us have that are currently living?  Oh, approximately 6 billion!  Which means when anyone gets married, they marry a cousin!  Not necessarily a close relative, but related just the same.  
Because we have so many name lines, we have ancestors from many, countries.  Since your grandfather (me) is a genealogist, he has spent nearly 50 years researching his family, and can tell you that you had ancestors living in many, many countries including, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Belgium, Holland, Israel, Greece, and some countries that no longer exist.  You also have some Native American blood.  Your 11th Great Grandfather was Chief Broom of the Wolf Clan in the Chickamauga Tribe of the Cherokee Nation, and your 10th Great Grandfather was leader of the 2nd group of Cherokees moving to Oklahoma on the "Trail of Tears.”  
You have a great number of well-known American relatives Including Daniel Boone, your 1st Cousin 9 generations removed.  Lewis Wetzel of Ohio history fame. Presidents Roosevelt (both of them), Nixon, Grant, and Hayes.  Former Governors of Connecticut, Mississippi and Illinois. In Columbus your 5th Great-Uncle George Pugh started the Franklin County Library and his statue is in the downtown library.  He was also Franklin County Auditor, Franklin County Probate Judge and President of the Ohio Agricultural Association.  He donated his farm to Columbus.  You have been there many times.  It is the Ohio State Fairgounds.  Your family settled Reynoldsburg and Whitehall.  Their family names were Pugh, McNaughton, Noe and Bixby.  Another of your family built the Dublin-Granville Turnpike (Route 161).  Blacklick Metropark was also a family farm donated to the county and one farm was donated to the state – Tar Hollow State Park.  
In Europe you have a very illustrious ancestry.  These are just a few historical figures and your relationship to them.
Saint Margaret, Queen of Scots born in 1045 in Castle Reka in Hungary your 28th Great-Grandmother
Robert II, King of France born 972 in Orleans, France – your 32 Great-Grandfather
Malcolm III, King of Scotland, born 1031 in Atholl, Scotland was your 28th Great-Grandfather – He is the one killed Macbeth
Coel Hen ap Cunedda, King of Northern Britain, born about 350 in Wales – you 51st Great-Grandfather (This is Old King Cole from the Nursery Rhyme)
Henry I and Matilda, King and Queen of England.  He was born in 1068 in Yorkshire, England.  The are your 27th Great-Grandparents
Æthelwulf, King of Wessex and Kent, born in Kingdom of Wessex, England in 820, your 36th Great-Grandfather
Anne Yaroslavna of Kiev, Queen of France, born 1028 in Kiev, Russia, your 29th Great-Grandmother
If we were to list them all you are descended from dozens of Kings and Queens of Europe, and are related to all of the nobility of Europe.  
Now for immigration – Your Mother’s line – the Penry’s
During the American Revolution, a Doctor Samuel Jones from Wales was a surgeon for George Washington and was also a Congregational Minister from Philadelphia.  For his services, he was given 10,000 acres of land in the Virginia Military Lands in the Ohio Territory.  This land was just north of Delaware, Ohio.   In 1800, a young Welshman named David Pugh from Llandeilo Graban, Wales, immigrated to America and met Dr Jones.  David was a surveyor.  He went into the wilderness to Ohio and surveyed the land for Dr. Jones.  For his services he was given 1,000 acres of land which he could sell.  In 1804, he returned to Wales and sold the land in 50 acre increments.  His Sister Mary, had married David Penry from Gwynddwr, Wales, the parish just across the Wye River from Llandeilo.  David gave them 100 acres of the Ohio Land. (Llandeilo Graban is pronounced Thlan-die-low Grab-un) and Gwynddwr is pronounced Gwen-thur).
In 1806, David Penry, David Pugh and two other couples left Wales, sailing to America.  They landed in Philadelphia and took a carriage ride to the courthouse where they swore allegiance to the United States and immediately became U.S. Citizens.  They then travelled by horse-drawn wagon west through Pennsylvania, and across the Zane Trace Trail to Franklinton (now Columbus).  They then travelled North along the Scioto River to their property.  When they got there, David named the area Radnor, because Llandeilo Graban was in Radnorshire, Wales.  Then the other families from Wales started arriving who had purchased 50 acres, Between 1806 and the War of 1812, over 50 families arrived.  The War of 1812 shut down all immigration from the British Isles until 1825.  Then more families arrived from Wales, including David Penry’s Father and Brothers.  This is your lineage on the Penry family.
5th Great Grandparents: David Penry, born in Wales, married Mary Pugh (farmers)
4th Great-Grandparents: David Penry Jr, the first child born in Radnor married Joanna Jones who was born in Radnorshire, Wales. (farmers)
3rd Great-Grandparents: John Price Penry born in Radnor married Angelina Augusta Fleming born in Radnor (her ancestors were from Tyrone, Ireland).  John was in the Civil War with the 20th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. (farmers)
2nd Great-Grandparents: John Jones Penry born in Radnor married Martha Latham born in Prospect, Ohio whose ancestry was English and came to Ohio from Vermont. (John worked for the Erie Railroad repairing and building locomotives)
Great-Grandparents: Paul David Penry born in Prospect married Doris Thomas born in Prospect, whose family came from Wales in the 1760’s.  Paul was in the 2nd WII in the Pacific. (Paul worked in a factory in Marion, Ohio building Steam Shovels)
Grandparents: Robert W Penry was born in Marion, Ohio and married Mary Smith from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee whose ancestors came from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.  Robert was in the War in Vietnam and retired from the Air Force and as a school teacher.
Parents:Rebecca Ann Penry married Robert Paul Niles from Fort Wayne, Indiana whose ancestry was Scottish.   
Morgan Danielle Niles
Other immigration lines of importance.  The Miner, Avery, Chesebrough, Alden, and Winthrop lines go back to the Mayflower.  Your ancestors settled the Connecticut Colony and in particular the cities of New London and Stonington, Connecticut.  This part of the family were sea captains, fisherman and some say even pirates.
Your grandmother’s ancestry includes the Davis and Lee families from Virginia."

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