Finding my roots

A friend asked me a question. I still haven’t found the answer.
In search of the answer, I found, preserved in Google’s cache (I don’t know how much longer it would have been there) my father’s family tree, going all the way back to 1746 in, of all places, New Jersey. (The furthest back I’d ever been able to go was about 1840.) Supposedly my Farquhar ancestor who came over on the boat was one John Farquhar, who arrived in either North Carolina or Virginia sometime in the 1730s. But my source on that is about as reliable as the Weekly World News.

It appears that John Farquhar was actually the brother of my direct ancestor, a Scotsman who was named, appropriately (I think), Adam Farquhar. And John did eventually end up heading south. Adam headed west.

I never could trace Adam’s family back. There’s a huge gap between 1729, Adam’s birth date, and 1382, when Farquhar Shaw, the founder of Clan Farquharson, lived–“Farquhar” used to be a Gaelic first name, which can be translated “beloved man” or “honest man,” but Shaw was so highly regarded that his descendants called themselves “Farquharson,” literally, “Son of Farquhar.” Later, some of his descendants shortened the last name back to “Farquhar.” So how are Adam and Farquhar Shaw related? All that’s known is that Adam’s father was born between 1700 and 1710. We don’t even know his first name.

Anglos have always had problems with the name “Farquhar”–it’s pronounced FAR-kwur, in case you’re wondering–but we always hear goofy variations of the pronounciation, and far-out spellings. Adam apparently often went by “Adam Forker.” The children of his second wife tended to retain the Scottish spelling and pronounciation, while the children of his first wife tended to go by “Forker.”

Adam’s Farquhars mostly ended up in Ohio, and a lot of his Forkers ended up further west, in Kansas. One of his descendants, Della Forker, married a Kansan named Walter Percy Chrysler–the founder of Chrysler Corporation.

How many people can say their half fourth cousin twice removed married Walter Chrysler?

Probably more than you think. My great great great grandfather Dr. Edward Andrew Farquhar had 11 kids.

Dr. Edward connects me to a trio of other people you’re likely to have heard of–at least if you’re American. Dr. Edward married Elizabeth Stratton, whose great great great grandmother was named Deborah Adams. Deborah Adams’ father was named John Adams, and he was born in Plymouth, Mass., in 1630. That fact made me really start to wonder. You’ve probably heard of some people named Adams from Massachusetts.

Declaration of Independence signer Samuel Adams and U.S. presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams were descended from an English immigrant named Henry Adams. Henry Adams’ grandfather, also named Henry Adams, had an older brother named Richard. Elizabeth Stratton is descended from Richard Adams, making her the sixth cousin three times removed of John and Samuel Adams. Which makes me the sixth cousin eight times removed of John and Samuel Adams.

This stuff is addictive.

Oh, and to answer the other obvious question: not counting the Adams family–which I’ve traced back to 1392 and expect to be able to go back at least one generation further–I can trace my earliest ancestor back to 1462, in England.

3 thoughts on “Finding my roots

  • November 16, 2003 at 12:25 pm
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    I did the family research thing back in the mid 70’s. Could only go back to the late 1700’s on my father’s side, as so many French Catholic birth and marriage records in Louisiana were lost in church fires. My maternal grandfather was an Irish Presbyterian named Webb, and we traced the family back to the 1500’s in Country Antrim, Ireland. This is where they prepare Old Bushmill’s Irish Whisky, a sometimes favorite beverage of mine. On Grandpa’s side of the family, there were many Presbyterian ministers, and the birth and marriage records were extremely well-maintained. One of the ancestors married a woman named Elizabeth Taylor, who we believe was descended from US President Zachary Taylor. Interesting what things you can and can’t find digging through old family and church records.

  • November 17, 2003 at 6:46 am
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    Well hello cousin – my mother’s dad was into geneology and always told me to tell people I was the 13th direct descendent of John and Pricilla Alden (that info and a $1.50 always got me a cup of coffee) They were also members of the original Plymouth Colony, made sort of famous by Longfellow’s poem, “The Courtship of Miles Standish” (both also distant relatives). I saw Grandpa’s research once and noted THE Adams and a few other minor notables fed into the bloodline later on. Plymouth Colony was small enough that most people who can trace their history to that group find themselves related somehow at some point or another. Our thread didn’t travel too far afterwards though – I grew up about 30 miles from Plymouth, Mass.

  • January 8, 2004 at 10:03 pm
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    Hello everyone. I have an ancestor named Margaret Farquhar, born around 1831 in Conneticutt. I am not sure who the parents are, but I have heard that she might be the daughter of a Gov., but not sure of the state. Could any of you possibly have any info. I would very much appreciate anything help.

    Thank you,
    Nate

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