Wetherall-Hardman family tree

The following table shows 3 generations of ancestors (parents, grandparents, and great grandparents) and 3 generations of descendants (children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) of the family of William B. Wetherall (1911-2013) and L. Orene Hardman (1913-2003). Last updated 14 February 2021.

The roots, trunk, and branches of the Wetherall-Hardman family
Descendants Bill and Orene Parents Grandparents Great grandparents
Wetherall-Hardman Family Gallery
Wetheralls Bill and Orene with children
Grass Valley, California, 1963
Billy (chair), Mary Ellen, Orene (chair),
Bill (standing), Jerry
Wetheralls Bill with his entire family
Grass Valley, California, 14 June 2009
Wetheralls Grandchildren and great grandchildren
Tsuyoshi, Alex, Ditta w Amrita, Jio, Saori
Grass Valley, California, 14 June 2009
William Owen Wetherall
William Owen Wetherall William Owen Wetherall
b 23 Mar 1941
Sugiyama Etsuko Sugiyama Etsuko
b 18 Feb 1947
Saori and Tsuyoshi
Sugiyama Saori
(Saori Orene Wetherall)
b 25 Nov 1978
Sugiyama Tsuyoshi
(Tsuyoshi Owen Wetherall)
b 7 Mar 1982
Saori is a licensed managerial nutritionist with over a decade of experience overseeing food services in several hospitals. To solve the problem of providing daycare for Anri, her daughter, she started a nursery school and obtained a nursery care license. Through her own company, she now teaches cooking and baking, and gives workshops and personal guidance on healthy eating and dieting, while raising Anri and her little brother Tatsuki.

Tsuyoshi worked in the business center of a major hotel for a couple of years while DJing. He performed mainly in Japan, but also in Korea and Hong Kong, and produced a few CDs. He then became a caregiver, and now works at a hospital with mostly elderly in-patients, but he still mixes and originates music tracks. He also assists Saori in the technical aspects of making and editing videos of her presentations.
Saori and Hiroshi
Kasubuchi Kasubuchi-Sugiyama family
Hiroshi, Saori, Anri, Tatsuki
Tokyo, Japan, 6 January 2021
Image Anri
b 10 May 2014
Tuna Tatsuki
b 3 January 2021
Tuna Matsunaga Sugiyama
Tuna Tuna
b 14 Jun 2010
d 13 Jan 2021
Age 10yrs 7mos
RIP -- Tuna, a red and white American bulldog, was born the last of a liter of 4 pups to Mona, a single mother boarding with the Matsunaga family in the Angyō Dewa neighborhood of Kawaguchi city in Saitama prefecture, Japan. Her favorite pastimes were eating, walking, playing with a ball, getting people's attention, and sleeping.
Tuna liked to hear Saori -- her primary feeder, walker, playmate, and spoiler -- tell her stories about the heroic feats of her canine ancestors in recent and ancient times. Saori nursed Tuna through her final days, while nursing Tatsuki after bringing him home from the hospital on 6 January. Tuna passed away a week later.
Jerry Alan Wetherall
Jerry Alan Wetherall Jerry Alan Wetherall
b 11 Sep 1942
Purita Leon Obispo Purita Leon Obispo
Grass Valley, 2001
Jerry Wetherall recently retired from a career as a research ichthyologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Honolulu, where he settled in the 1970s. Purita Obispo retired from career in frontlines hospital nursing and overseeing a preventive medicine program for an HMO. Both were serious marathoners and skiers and still like to walk. They also enjoy uncling and aunting, and Oahu comes alive when their extended families converge on Hawaii. Wetherall-Obispo clans Wetherall and Obispo clans celebrate in Hawai'i
Joes Seafood Grill, Haleiwa, 15 October 2017
Mary Ellen Wetherall
Mary Ellen Wetherall Mary Ellen Zweig
"ME" "Mennen" "Mellon"
b 24 Jan 1945
d 12 Mar 2017
Age 72
RIP -- Mary Ellen (Wetherall) Zweig was born and raised the first 10 years of her life in San Francisco. She spent most of her life in Grass Valley and Nevada City, but began college and married in San Francisco, and her 1st son was born there. She then lived and worked as a legal secretary in Marin and Placer counties. After the birth of her 2nd son in Auburn, she returned to school and became a registered nurse.
Mary Ellen was an avid fiction reader, played the piano, and loved to sing and dance. She struggled with addictions and medical problems and empathized with others who had difficulties. Her sociability, ready smile, and sense of humor kept her going until she passed away in her sleep at her home in Grass Valley on 12 March 2017. Her family scattered her ashes at places she loved on 18 October 2017.
Ditta and Peter Mary Ellen with Ditta (right) and Peter (center)

Gurditta Singh Khalsa (b 9 June 1970), born Gabriel Zeno Zweig, was Mary Ellen (Wetherall) Zweig's 1st son with Robert Michael Zweig (b 6 Nov 1942), a San Francisco attorney. Bob became Guru Terath Singh Khalsa, who served for many years as a New Mexico State Prosecutor and also Deputy Attorney General.

Peter Owen Vodonick (1983-2004) was Mary Ellen's 2nd son. His father was Emil John Vodonick (b 20 Aug 1946), also an attorney.
Peter Owen Vodonick Peter Owen Vodonick
b 8 Oct 1983
d 9 Oct 2004
Age 21
RIP -- Peter Vodonick was born in Auburn, California, and raised in both Nevada City and Grass Valley. While attending local schools and the Grass Valley campus of Sierra College, he composed and performed rap music with his own band and produced several CDs. He was enrolled in fall courses and finally hitting his stride as a student, when in the dark hours of the morning after the day he turned 21, while walking home from a birthday party in Nevada City, along Highway 20, he was struck by a motor vehicle whose unknown driver remains at large, charged with felony hit-and-run homicide.
Ditta and Alex
Khalsa Ditta and Alex Khalsa
At November 2018 Denver, Colorado release of
LINK Meow Wolf: Origin Story LINK
a documentary film edited by Alex
Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa
b 25 May 1978
Ditta went to school in Berkeley, India, before representing Yogi Tea's European distribution from an office in Amsterdam. He's an artist and artistic designer, and a musician and music producer. He's currently (2021) the lead guitarist of the 4-member Half Broke Horses band in Santa Fe, which features danceable Honky Tonk and Americana. And he designed the band's logo.

Alex was born in New York, raised in Amsterdam, and educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She's now an award-winning editor, director, and producer of documentary and narrative films, trailers, music videos, and commercials, and she heads post production at Film Nest Studios.
Jio and Anoushka Anoushka jamming with her big bother Jio

Siri Parmeshar Khalsa (Jio) (b 1991) was born in Amsterdam, the son of Gurditta Singh Khalsa (Ditta) and Himat Kaur Khalsa.

Amrita Elizabeth Khalsa (b 15 Nov 2008) is the oldest daughter of Ditta and Alessandra Dobrin Khalsa (Alex).

Anoushka Fae Khalsa (b 19 Aug 2015) is Ditta's and Alex's youngest daughter.
Amrita Khalsa Amrita Elizabeth Khalsa
b 15 Nov 2008
Anoushka Khalsa Anoushka Fae Khalsa
b 19 Aug 2015
Clara Cheung
Clara Yang Clara Yang
b 5 Jul 1964
Clara Cheung, later Clara Yang, arrived in San Francisco via China during her childhood, Hong Kong during her teens, and Japan during her 20s. She was sponsored by William B. Wetherall, socially adopted by WBW's family, herself became an attorney, and represented WBW's estate. She is now owns and practices at Mother Lode Law in Placerville, California.

Allan Benjamin Franklin Grant and Sean Thomas Edison Grant are Clara's sons with John "Jack" Phillip Grant (b 26 June 26, d 3 May 2019), "an inventor, engineer, arborist, real estate broker and investor, general contractor, handyman, novice law clerk, notary public, and master of carpentry." (RIP)
Allan Grant Allan
Benjamin Franklin Grant

b 16 Jun 2004
Sean Grant Sean
Thomas Edison Grant

b 18 Nov 2005
The Wetherall line in WBW's family traces back only as far as Maryland in the early 19th century. It may stem from Wetheralls who are known to have come to Maryland from England in the mid 17th century. Or it may descend from other Wetheralls who came to Maryland from England, Scotland, Ireland, or another British territory at another time. The family name, variously spelled, is most closely associated with northern England, especially Cumberland, south of Scotland and east of northern Ireland.
Some Beaman family trees trace George Washington Beaman's line back 8 generations to a Simon Beaman in Massachusetts, whose wife, Alice Young, is supposed to have been the daughter of Alse Young, who was hanged in Connecticut in 1647 for practicing witchcraft. The link is hypothetical.
G.W. Beaman, a chair and cabinet maker, was born in Indiana to parents born in North Carolina and Virginia. His family settled in Iowa, where he married Ohio-born Sidney Shoemaker in 1859.
Wm. Edwin Wetherall
WEW, from Maryland, married Mary Hall in Pennsylvania in 1855, and they settled in Iowa.
William Edwin Wetherall William Edwin Wetherall
b 2 Jun 1834
d 21 May 1914
Age 69
William Franklin Wetherall William Franklin Wetherall
b 28 Feb 1858
d 1 Feb 1929
Age 70
Mary A. Hall Mary A. Hall
b 16 Aug 1841
d 17 Aug 1907
Age 66
William B. Wetherall
William Bascom Wetherall (WBW) was born in Iowa, raised in Idaho until he was 6, educated through high school in Iowa, and went to college and law school in Idaho. He and Orene Hardman, who he met in college, married on 1 June 1938 in San Francisco, California, where all three of their children were born.

In San Francisco, Bill clerked for William Healy, a judge on the Ninth District of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, until the Pacific War, during which he worked for the Wage and Price Administration with Cecil Poole. After the war, he joined the law firm of Malone and Sullivan in San Francisco. In 1955 he moved his family to Grass Valley to join Harold Berliner in the Nevada City partnership of Berliner and Wetherall. When Berliner became the District Attorney, WBW went on to practice law in Nevada City under his own shingle for half a century. He served as the City Attorney for Nevada City from 1959 to 1979 and is noted as the author of the city's Historical Ordinance.
William Riley Wetherall William Riley Wetherall
b 2 May 1890
d 4 Jul 1936
Age 46
WFW and Laura
WBW's grandfather, William Franklin Wetherall (WFW), an Iowa farmer, married Laura Beaman, an Iowa farmer's daughter, on 19 October 1886. He later became a sweeper and then a collector for a local newspaper.
WBW was raised by WFW and Laura from 1917-1924. G.W. Beaman briefly lived with them around 1920.
George Washington Beaman George Washington Beaman
b 19 Feb 1838
d 1 Jun 1922
Age 84
WRW and Ida
WBW's father, William Riley Wetherall (WRW), apprenticed as a printer at the newspaper in Knoxville, Iowa, where WFW, his father, worked. He married Ida Mae Baldwin in Nebraska on 1 June 1910. Ida was from Kentucky, but the Baldwins, when migrating west, lived in Knoxville for about a year. Ida and WBW met in high school, but they kept in touch after her family moved to Nebraska, Washington, and finally Idaho. In Washington, she went to business college to become a stenographer.
WRW and Ida lived in Ames, Iowa, where WBW was born. When Ida became ill, they moved to St. Maries, Idaho, where Ida's parents had settled. Ida was put into an asylum in Orofino, and the Baldwins raised "Willie" (as they called WBW) while WRW worked as a compositor for a local newspaper.
WRW returned to Iowa with WBW, who lived with WFW and Laura while in grade school. WRW was drafted into the Army and served in Europe, and 1921 he remarried Nellie Marie Van Houton of Des Moines. During the depression, he changed jobs a few times and was a chicken farmer when he died in 1936, leaving Nellie with 4 young children.
WBW lived with his father, stepmother, and the youngest of his half-siblings while attending high school in Des Moines from 1924-1928.
Laura Belle Beaman Laura Belle Beaman
b 1 Feb 1941
d 12 Feb 1866
Age 75
Sidney Shoemaker Sidney Shoemaker
b 4 Feb 1839
d 8 Dec 1916
Age 77
William Bascom Wetherall William Bascom Wetherall
b 25 Mar 1911
d 19 Jun 2013
Age 102
Mary Hall was born in Pennsylvania to a Virginia-born Pennsylvanian.
Sidney Shoemaker was born in Ohio.
Margaret Howard was born in Virginia.
Elizabeth Grubb may have been born in North Carolina to a German father.
John R. Baldwin John R. Baldwin
b 1828
d 1909
Age 79/80
WBW was "Daddy" to his children but "Bill" to Orene, his neighbors, and friends. He wrote and signed his name William B. Wetherall, but his law office shingle was Wm. B. Wetherall, and the sign on the porch of the Wetherall home said W. B. Wetherall.
"William" had been the first name of the first-born son in WBW's Wetherall line for at least 5 generations, beginning with no later than his paternal great-grandfather William Edwin Wetherall (1834-1914). WBW's first son, breaking tradition, named his son Tsuyoshi Owen Wetherall -- no offense to the clan's tutelary gods intended.
WBW was born "Bascum" -- his mother's father's name -- but at some point in his life the spelling changed.
Newton Bascum Baldwin Newton Bascum Baldwin
b 24 Dec 1862
d 22 Mar 1919
Age 56
Margaret Howard Margaret Howard
b 1835
d 1912
Age 76/77
Ida Mae Baldwin Ida Mae Baldwin
b Mar 1891 (1888)
d 2 Apr 1923
Age 32 (35)
Bascum and Ellen
Newton Bascum Baldwin and Martha Ellen Steele living on neighboring farms in Kentucky, married on 5 December 1880. All 4 of their daughters were born in Kentucky. They left Kentucky around 1904, were in Nebraska by 1907, in Washington by 1908, and in St. Maries, Idaho, from 1910.
Note that "Bascum" was the original spelling of William "Bascom" Wetherall's middle name. "Bascum" appears on his birth certificate and other contemporary documents.
Jonas Steele Jonas Steele
b 1819
d 1868
Age 58/59
WBW's Baldwin line seems to have migrated from Ireland to Virginia in the late 18th century. The 1st and 2nd descendant generations, and John Baldwin (3rd), were born in Virginia. John fathered 15 children -- 3 with Rebecca Howard (1828-c1853) -- and 12 with Margaret, Rebecca's younger sister, who he married after Rebecca's death. Bascum, John's 7th and Margaret's 4th child, was the last Baldwin child to be born in Virgina before the family moved to Kentucky. All of his younger siblings were born in Kentucky, and practically all of his siblings are buried there, where many of their descendants still live.
WBW's Steele line appears to have English, Scottish, Irish, and French roots. Some Steele ancestors were born in England, others in Scotland, and their political affiliation is unclear. Scotland-born Reuben Steele (1720-c1770), and Ireland-born Hannah Crockett (1705-c1800), married in Virginia around 1737.
Hannah's father was an Ireland-born son of French immigrants named Crocketagne. Her uncle, who like her father also came to Virginia, was the great grandfather of Davy Crockett, the controversial Tennessee congressman who died at the Alamo in the Republic of Texas.
Martha Ellen Steele Martha Ellen Steele
b 14 Oct 1863
d 27 Apr 1943
Age 79
Elizabeth Grubb Elizabeth Grubb
b 1824
d 1880
Age 55/56
Jonas Steele
Jonas Steele's father is supposed to have been a 3rd cousin of Davy Crockett (1786-1836).
Bill and Orene Parents Grandparents Great grandparents
Orene Wetherall's paternal grandfather, Albert Hardman, was born in Iowa, his father George Hardman in Pennsylvania, and his mother Jane Calvert in New Brunswick. George died either shortly before or after they embarked with Jane's family for Washington Territory in a train of wagons drawn by teams of oxen. The journey took six months, and Albert was about 4 when they arrived in 1864. Jane remarried the following year and Albert left home about 10 years later. His early life is full of travel and adventure.
Orene's paternal grandmother, Lucy Gallaher, born in Oregon to Illinois-born Joseph Gallaher and Missouri-born Ann Kees. Joseph and Mary married and started their family in Missouri before moving to Oregon in a wagon train. Postulated links between Joseph's "Gallaher" line and Irish "Gallaghers" have not been confirmed. Orene's sister said their father, Owen, inherited Lucy's "Black Irish" traits. Ullie described him as "Welsh and dark, blackish" and said Lucy was German, Dutch, and Welsh.
Ullie thought Owen's "Hardman" line went back to German forms of the name but no German links have been found.
George Hardman George Hardman
b ?
d 1860
Age ?
Albert Christopher Hardman Albert Christopher Hardman
b 18 Feb 1860
d 12 Sep 1929
Age 69
Jane Calvert Jane Calvert
b 15 Jul 1842
d 14 Dec 1917
Age 75
Orene Wetherall
Louida Orene Hardman was born in Peck, Idaho, in 1913 and entirely raised and educated in Idaho. She grew up on the ranch her Hardman grandparents had homesteaded on Central Ridge in the late 1890s. She went to grade school in Steele on Central Ridge, but to high school in Peck, where the Hardmans lived after Owen sold the ranch.
Orene completed a 2-year normal school program at the University of Idaho, then taught at Yellow Rose School, one-room grade school near Troy, Idaho, for two years, and at another school near Orofino for one year, before she went to San Francisco in 1938 to marry William B. Wetherall. She attended some classes at San Francisco State before becoming a mother.
Owen Monroe Hardman Owen Monroe Hardman
b 21 Mar 1890
d 24 Aug 1949
Age 59
Albert and Lucy
Albert Hardman and Lucy Gallaher married in Oregon on 13 October 1881. Their first 3 sons were born in Oregon, but Owen was born in Washington. The Hardmans were living in Canada in 1886 when they moved to Idaho and homesteaded on former Nez Perce reservation land on Central Ridge.
Joseph M. Gallaher Joseph M. Gallaher
b 19 Aug 1833
d c1905
Age 71-72
Owen and Ullie
Owen Hardman and Ullie Hunter married in Nez Perce County, Idaho, on 2 April 1910. Ullie was supposed to become a teacher after finishing high school. Her mother opposed the marriage to Owen, who had only a 6th-grade education, but her father liked Owen.
Owen's mother Lucy died in 1904, and in 1906 his father Albert remarried a woman who was younger than Owen's two oldest brothers. Ullie thus found herself living with a step-mother-in-law who was not much older than she was. But Albert groomed Owen, rather than Owen's rowdier older brothers, to run the ranch when he and his new family moved out.
Owen and Ullie raised their daughters -- and Ullie's youngest brother after Ida died -- on the Hardman ranch, then in Peck, where the children went to high school. Both of the Hardman girls and Burton Hunter -- their younger, brother-like uncle -- completed high school, and Orene went to normal college and became a teacher. Orene's older sister, Ullie Adeline "Babe" Emerson, after raising a family, would also go to college, become a teacher, then get a masters degree in education.
Lucy J. Gallaher Lucy J. Gallaher
b 7 Dec 1864
d 20 Feb 1904
Age 39
Mary Ann Kees Mary Ann Kees
b 19 Dec 1840
d Spring 1906
Age 65
Louida Orene Hardman Louida Orene Hardman
b 21 Nov 1913
d 9 Aug 2003
Age 89
Jane Calvert was born in British North America, aka Canada. Ullie speculated that her father, born in Maine, might have been related to the Lord Baltimore Calverts. No evidence has been found.
Mary Kees was born in Missouri. She and her husband Joseph M. Gallaher were 1st cousins. Her "Black Irish" features are clearly seen in her daughter Lucy Gallaher and grandson Owen Hardman. Orene Hardman and Billy Wetherall in succession inherited her dark hari.
Sophia Ellis was born in Missouri.
Bridget Forbes may have been born in Tennessee.
Andrew Milton Hunter Andrew Milton Hunter
b 18 Dec 1828
d 9 Sep 1908
Age 79
Orene Wetherall was "Mommy" to her children, "Orene" to everyone else, but also "Bug" to her kinfolk, childhood friends, Bill, and closest later friends.
"Louida" was a fusion of the names of her paternal grandmother "Lucy" Hardman and maternal grandmother "Ida" (Thomas) Hunter. "Lou" was also the name of her maternal uncle "Louie" Hunter. She didn't like the name, but at times she used "L. Orene Wetherall" address labels and "L.O.W." stationery.
She was dubbed "Little Bugs" by her parents from the time she began crawling. Later in her life, still "cute as a bug", her "logo" became a "lady bug". People gave her, and she sometimes bought, pins, buttons, scarves, stationery, refrigerator magnets, and other items with red-and-black "lady bug" motiffs. And her first car was a Volkswagon "Bug".
Many elderly wards at Golden Empire Convalescent Hospital knew the volunteer Pink Lady, who shampooed their hair or joined them in various activities, as "Orene". Many students and graduates of Nevada Union High School greeted their strict but fair and friendly attendance clerk, when seeing her in town, as "Mrs. Wetherall".
Albert Douglas Hunter Albert Douglas Hunter
b 19 Apr 1862
d 10 Feb 1945
Age 82
Sophia Jane Ellis Sophia Jane Ellis
b 2 Sep 1829
d 4 Mar 1893
Age 62
Ullie May Hunter Ullie May Hunter
b 9 Jan 1891
d 25 Jan 1980
Age 89
Albert and Ida
Albert Douglas Hunter and Ida Frances Thomas married in Missouri on 6 March 1890. They moved to Idaho in 1899 with the 4 surviving of their 5 children, and by 1914 they had had 4 more. But Ida died in an influenza epidemic on her return from a visit to Missouri in 1920, leaving her youngest children in the care of her oldest.
Nathan Clingman Thomas Nathan Clingman Thomas
b 22 Aug 1832
d 21/22 Jan 1881
Age 48
Hunters and Thomases in Missouri and Idaho
The Hunter family of Ullie's father Albert and the Thomas family of her mother Ida were especially close. Albert was born in Howell County, Missouri, to Missouri-born parents. Ida's Thomas line went back to North Carolina in the early 1800s, and her parents married there, and her oldest siblings were born there, but the family lived in Kentucky for a while, and two children were born, before they settled in Howell County, Missouri, where Ida was born.
In addition to Ida's marriage to Albert, Ida's younger sister Emma married Albert's younger brother John, and when Emma died John married Ida's and Emma's older sister Jane.
Ullie Hunter's family moved to Idaho from southern Missouri with their 4 surviving children in 1899 when Ullie, the oldest, was 8. The family homesteaded on Central Ridge and had 4 more children. Two of Ida's brothers and a couple of cousins also moved to Idaho. One of her cousins farmed next door to the Hardman ranch, and the Hardmans bought part of the Thomas farm when it was sold.
Ida Frances Thomas Ida Frances Thomas
b 24 Nov 1872
d 4 Feb 1920
Age 47
Bridget Obedience Forbes Bridget Obedience Forbes
(1853 Thomas, 1885 White)
b 11 May 1833 (1834)
d 18 Sep 1891
Age 58 (57)
Ullie thought her line of Hunters might have been Yaegers who translated their name from German to English. No evidence of this in her line has been found.
Ullie thought "Thomas" might once have been "Tomas" and gained an "h" through Scotification. No evidence of this in her Thomas line has been found.
Nathan and Bridget
Bridget divorced Nathan and remarried in the late 1870s. Nathan later migrated, or fled, to Washington Territory. The circumstances of his death are equivocal.
Descendants Bill and Orene Parents Grandparents Great grandparents


Wetherall families

The above family tree is intended to show individuals in recent ancestral and descendant generations of the Wetherall-Hardman family. The following family tree features only the Wetherall-Hardman family, and five generations of ancestral families, as couples or unions rather than as individuals.

Table Numbers and Titles
Ancestral generation n beginning with parental generation n = 1
123 4 5 6
Number of lineal ancestors An = 2^n in each generation n beginning with parental generation n = 1
1. Wetherall-Hardman2. Wetherall-Baldwin4. Wetherall-Beaman 8. Wetherall-Hall16. Wetherall-?32. Wetherall-?
3. Hardman-Hunter5. Baldwin-Steele 9. Beaman-Shoemaker17. Hall-Haynan33. ?
6. Hardman-Gallaher10. Baldwin-Howard18. Beaman-Randall34. Hall-?
7. Hunter-Thomas11. Steele-Grubb19. Shoemaker-Miller35. Haynan-?
12. Hardman-Calvert20. Baldwin-Seale36. Beaman-Langdon
Descending consanguineous and adopted families13. Gallaher-Kees21. Howard-Mark37. Randall-?
  1.1  Wetherall-Sugiyama14. Hunter-Ellis22. Steele-Powers38. Shoemaker-Weaver
  1.2  Wetherall-Obispo15. Thomas-Forbes23. Grubb-Poe39. Miller-?
  1.3  Wetherall-Zweig / Vodonick24. Hardman-?40. Baldwin-Newberry
  1.31 Khalsa-Dobrin25. Calvert-Thomas41. Seale-Bates
  1.4  Cheung-Yang / Grant26. Gallaher-?42. Howard-Flannery
27. Kees-?43. Mark-Benjay
In-law families28. Hunter-?44. Steele-Keeling
  1.1a  Sugiyama29. Ellis-?45. Powers-?
  1.2a  Obispo30. Thomas-Deyton46. Grubb-?
31. Forbes-Sellers47. Poe-?
Selected collateral families48. Hardman-?
  2.2  Ryswyk-Wetherall49. ?
  3.1  Emerson-Hardman50. Calvert-Bodge
  4.6  Wetherall-Rodgers51. Thomas-?
  5.22 Severns-Anstine52. Gallaher-?
  7.3  Keene-Hunter53. ?
  7.9  Hunter-Foley54. Kees-?
 15.93 Vincent-Thomas55. ?
56. Hunter-?
57. ?
58. Ellis-?
59. ?
60. Thomas-Hunsucker
61. Deyton-Knight
62. Forbes-?
63. Sellers-Garland


Numbering of nuclear families and family members

Every ancestral family or union has been assigned a unique identification number. The purpose of this number is to facilitate discussion of the more significant direct and collateral families and their members.

The "Wetherall-Hardman" family is the family of William B. Wetherall and L. Orene Hardman, who married in San Francisco and eventually settled in Grass Valley, California. They are descendants of Iowa and Idaho families which in turn stem from families that stem from families that stem from families as far back as there were families -- or unions between men and women.

In this family history, I will speak of "families" as unions of family lines -- hence the "Wetherall-Hardman" family is a union of a particular "Wetherall" family line and a particular "Hardman" family line. To facilitate the organization of information about both families and their members, I have named and numbered the component families or unions according to the scheme in the following chart.

These so-called "nuclear" families are numbered by generation of ancestry going back (or "up") in time. Members are numbered by order of birth within each generation of descent going forward (or "down") in time. The "back" and "forward" numbering schemes, however, are somewhat different.

Ancestors and ancestral families

The ancestral families of Family 1 are sequentially numbered Family 2, Family 3, and so forth according to a simple numbering scheme I adopted for this purpose -- rather than identify each family according to its generation.

Note that even numbered families (Family 2, 4, 6, 8) represent families of lineal male ancestors of Family 1, while odd numbered families (Family 3, 5, 7, 9) represent families of lineal female ancestors.

Note also that the numbers of the main patrilineal line families (Families 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, et cetera) represent the number of lineal ancestral families in each generation -- namely, there is 1 family in the present (0th) generation, 2 in the 1st generation back, 4 in the 2nd generation back, and 8, 16, and 32 in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations back, et cetera.

There is, of course, a mathematical relationship between the family number and the family's generation in relation to Family 1. See the "Family history 101" article for details.

Descendants and descendant families

Descendants of families are numbered going forward in time with decimal numbers affixed to the family number. The children of the Family 1, for example, are numbered in order of their birth -- 1.1 (1st child, Billy), 1.2 (2nd child, Jerry), 1.3 (3rd child, Mary Ellen), and 1.4 (4th "adopted" child, Clara).

Subsequent generations can be similar described. The Wetherall-Hardman grandchildren through Mary Ellen (1.3), for example, are represented as 1.31 (Gabriel / Gurditta), and their great-grandchildren), again through Mary Ellen, are 1.311 (Siri Parmeshar) 1.312 (Amrita).

The same scheme is used to describe the descendants of other ancestral families. Hence William B. Wetherall, the first son of the Wetherall-Baldwin family (Family 2), is 2.1, his first younger sibling Mary is 2.2, while Mary's second child is 2.22, and her second child's first child is 2.221.

Individuals common to two or more families

Individuals born into one family may become members of other families through marriage or adoption. Such individuals, when listed as members of two or more families, will be identified by two or more numbers which facilitate cross-referencing between their multiple families.

For example, William B. Wetherall and L. Orene (Hardman) Wetherall are both 1.0 as principals (parents) of the Wetherall-Hardman family (Family 1). But WBW is 2.1 as the 1st child of the Wetherall-Baldwin family (Family 2), while LOW is 3.2 is the 2nd child of the Hardman-Hunter family (Family 3).

One could also describe WBW as 4.21, signifying his descent from Family 4 (his paternal grandparents' family) or as 5.41, denoting his descent from Family 5 (his maternal grandparents' family), and so forth, while LOW is 6.52 and 7.12 as a descendant of respectively her paternal and maternal grandparents' families, et cetera. However, there is no reason to identify them other than in relation to their two immediate families -- namely their natal and marital families.

Such multiple identification facilitates cross-referencing tables of data showing members of two families that are linked by individuals through marriage or equivalent relationships. The same scheme will also be used to represent individuals in either lineal (direct) or collateral (branch) families and to cross-reference families that are linked through the individual by marriage or adoption or fostering.

Patriarchal silliness

Ancestry.com's June 2021 "Update" featured a "Scoop" titled "What can your father's name tell you about yourself?" The question baited readers with the statement that "Cultures all across the world use patriarchal surnames to convey special significance. Exploring your last name or your father's last name can help you understand your family history and culture."

Well, sure, it can -- but so can exploring your mother's family name, or the other 2 names of your 4 grandparents, or the other 4 names of your 8 great grandparents, or the other 8 names of your 16 great great grandparents, et cetera.

Every child is the product of a father and a mother. Which parent is more important is an odd question, since even in cases when the parents have never even met -- as when a child is conceived from a donated ovum and/or sperm -- a child has to have had a mother and father.

Most societies have been both patrilineal and patriarchal, which link the father's authority to his "seeds" -- a common metaphor for the sperm that vie for an ovum, whether in a womb or glass vessel. And married women and their children are generally regarded as part their husband's and father's family, especially when a man's wife and children acquire his family name.

But true family histories need to put aside the infatuation with paternal lineages which ignore or trivialize the other genetic and social streams that not only have fed, but constitute the vastly larger part, of the river that bears only the father's family name.


Family tables

On this website, nuclear families are described in tables listing member names and particulars such as dates and places of birth and death. The tables are numbered according to the above scheme.

Most nuclear families consist of two parents and their natural, adopted, or fostered offspring. More than two parents may be listed when there are half or step siblings.

Parental unions include legal and common-law marriages and other partnerships. Distinctions in the kind of the partnership will be made when necessarily. Distinctions between formal and informal adoptions and foster relationships, and half or step relationships, will also be clarified when necessary.

Table headings

All family tables have the following titles and headings.

Table   Number of table of other family in which member is an offspring or progenitor.
1. For parents this family is generally the one into which they were born.
2. For children this family is generally the family they established through marriage.
Name   Full name if known.
1. For those with previous family names (usually the mother), their previous name (or names) will be shown in (parentheses) in lieu of the common family name.
2. For those with later family names (usually married daughters), their later name (or names) will be shown in [brackets].
Birth   Day, month, and year of birth.
Death   Day, month, and year of death.
Age   Age in years at time of death.
Born   City and state, or city and country, where born.
Died   City and state, or city and country, where born.
Relics   Place (name of cemetery if known) where body is buried, or where ashes are buried, deposited, or scattered.
Vocation   Representative occupation.

Family members

Within the tables, members are listed in the following order.

  1. Parents -- when known, and whether married or divorced -- are highlighted in gray.
  2. The father is generally listed before the mother. However, the mother will be listed first when she represents the ancestral line under consideration (e.g., Wetherall-Zweig). In either case, however, the father is usually the source of the family name of the mother (if married) and the children (whether or not the parents were married). Exceptions will be noted.
  3. Children are generally listed in the order of their birth. However, adopted or fostered children (whether the adoption or fostering was confirmed through legal procedures) will be listed among natural children in the order of their joining the family relative to the births of the natural children. Accordingly, an adopted child born before the 2nd and 3rd natural child, but adopted between the 3rd and 4th natural child, will be listed between the 3rd and 4th natural child.
  4. Step and half siblings treated like adopted and fostered children. When more than two parents are involved, as in remarriages of polygamous relationships, children will be grouped under by their parents. The same rule that applies to the numbering of adopted and fostered children will apply to the numbering of step and half children in relationship to the common progenitor -- if, as usual, one exists. More complex situations will be described as required.


Collateral relationships in Wetherall-Hardman family

Collateral relationships present the most difficulty. Brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins are all collateral relatives.

Most cousins we know are "1st cousins" and beyond that the terminology becomes confusing. There are also 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and subsequent cousins within the same generation. And all such cousins can be once, twice, thrice, four times, and further "removed" by 1, 2, 3, 4, or more degrees of generational separation.

And there are also such things as "double cousins".

1st, 2nd, and 3rd cousins

1st cousins are the closest cousins -- the children of aunts and uncles defined as sisters or brothers of one's mother or father -- hence people who share the same grandparents.

Double cousins result when siblings from one family marry siblings from another family. A child born between a maternal aunt and a paternal uncle, for example, would be a double cousin. And children of a union between an aunt and an uncle on either side are double nieces or double nephews to their aunts and uncles.

2nd cousins are the children of first cousins -- thus people who share the same great grandparents.

3rd cousins are the children of second cousins -- or people who share the same great-great (2nd great) grandparents.

One of my contacts was the wife of a 3rd cousin, Thomas Lee, who I have never (and most likely will never) meet. We are total strangers to each other -- as I ultimately am to his ancestors -- including (1) his mother Mary (Hunter) Lee, a 2nd cousin and student of my mother Orene (Hardman) Wetherall in a one-room country school in the 1930s, (2) his maternal grandfather John Abraham Hunter, a 1st cousin of my maternal grandmother Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman, and (3) our common great-great parents, Nathan Thomas and Obedience Forbes, who were the parents of Ullie M.'s mother and John A.'s father, who of course were siblings.

FAMILIES AND MEMBERS                                           RELATIONSHIP
15. Thomas-Forbes (common relatives)
15.4 Jobe Cornelius Thomas  15.10 Ida Frances (Thomas) Hunter  Siblings
Thomas-Winchester           7. Hunter-Thomas
15.32 John Abraham Thomas   15.101 Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman  1st cousins
Thomas-Wilson               3. Hardman-Hunter
15.332 Mary (Thomas) Lee    15.1012 Orene (Hardman) Wetherall  2nd cousins
                            15.10121 William Wetherall         2nd cousins once removed
Lee-Thomas                  1. Wetherall-Hardman
15.3323 Thomas Lee          15.10121 William Wetherall         3rd cousins
Lee-Townsley/Davis          1.1 Wetherall-Sugiyama
15.33231 1st Lee child      15.101211 Saori                    4th cousins
15.33232 2nd Lee child      15.101212 Tsuyoshi

Cousins once, twice, thrice removed

A "removed " relative is one who is one, two, or more generations "separated" diagonally on a cross-generational chart. In other words, the collateral generations are different.

Two examples come to mind in the Wetherall-Hardman family pyramid, including lineal and collateral families.

Theo and Stephen

Eleanor Theodosia "Theo" Vincent nee Thomas (15.93) was geographically and socially the closest collateral relative of Louida Orene Wetherall nee Hardman (3.2) and the Wetherall family in both San Francisco and Grass Valley. More Wetherall family time was shared with the Vincents than with all other relatives combined.

Theo was a first cousin of Orene Wetherall's mother Ullie Hardman nee Hunter (7.1), since Theo's father (15.9) and Ullie's mother (15.10) were siblings. Theo and Orene were therefore first cousins once removed.

To Orene's children -- namely this writer and his two siblings -- Theo was a first cousin twice removed, and to Orene's grandchildren she was a first cousin three times removed, et cetera.

15.10 Ida        15.9 Wesley   Siblings
Hunter-Thomas    Thomas-Jayne
15.101 Ullie     15.93 Theo    1st cousins
15.1012 Orene    15.93 Theo    1st cousins once removed
15.10121 Billy   15.93 Theo    1st cousins twice removed
15.10122 Jerry
15.10123 Mary Ellen
Wetherall-Sugiyama (Billy)
15.101211 Saori  15.93 Theo    1st cousins thrice removed
15.101212 Tsuyoshi
Zweig-Wetherall (Mary Ellen)
15.101231 Ditta  15.93 Theo    1st cousins thrice removed
15.101232 Peter

Theo's son Stephen was related to the Wetherall family like this.

15. Thomas-Forbes
15.10 Ida Thomas       15.9 Wesley Thomas   Siblings
7. Hunter-Thomas       15.9 Thomas-Jayne
15.101 Ullie Hunter    15.93 Theo Thomas    1st cousins
3. Hardman-Hunter
15.1012 Orene Hardman  15.93 Theo Thomas    1st cousins once removed
15.93 Vincent-Thomas
15.93 Theo Vincent     15.931 Stephen       Mother and son
1. Wetherall-Hardman
15.1012 Orene          15.931 Stephen       2nd cousins
15.10121 Billy         15.931 Stephen       2nd cousins once removed
15.10122 Jerry
15.10123 Mary Ellen
1.1 Wetherall-Sugiyama (Billy)
7.1211 Saori           15.931 Stephen       2nd cousins twice removed
7.1212 Tsuyoshi
Zweig-Wetherall (Mary Ellen)
15.101231 Ditta        15.931 Stephen       2nd cousins twice removed
15.101232 Peter
Burton Hunter and descendants

Ullie (Hunter) Hardman was 29, and her youngest sibling, Burton Lyle Hunter, was 5, when their mother Ida Frances Hunter died in 1920 during the second wave of the 1918-1920 flu epidemic. The Hardmans, raising their daughters Babe and Bug on Central Ridge, took Burton into the family. Babe was 9 and Bug was 7, and they understood that Burton was their younger uncle, but he would virtually grow up as their little brother. He wasn't formally adopted or fostered, but was simply raised, in the Hardman family, and so he remained a Hunter.

There are many pictures of Babe, Bug, and Burton together over the years they were growing up, and some of Bug and Burton when they are in their 20s. Bug and Burton were especially close, and my mother was shocked by the news in 1973 of his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. She expressed her shock on a tape letter she recorded just two weeks after his death, and sent to her first cousin, Maxine (Keene) Jones, the daughter of Ullie's and Burton's sister Eva Keene, who at the time was dying from a stroke she had suffered shortly before Burton's death.

Burton was, as Orene wrote to Ullie on the back of a photograph taken during the early 1930s, "my favorite uncle" -- but emotionally he was her little brother. I seem to have met him once when I was tiny, but I knew him only as "Uncle Burton". And I regarded his son, Burton Douglas Hunter or "Little Burt", who was born half a year after me, as simply a "cousin" in the same sense that I regarded my maternal aunt's children as my cousins.

I didn't learn until much later that "Uncle Burton" was actually my mother's uncle, hence my great uncle, and that "Little Burt" -- though a bit younger than me -- was my mother's 1st cousin, hence my 1st cousin once removed. At first it struck me as odd. But after hearing my mother's story of why Burton, and his slightly older sister Almeda, came to be literally "farmed out" to relatives when their mother died in 1930, my mother and Babe's closeness to both Burton and Almeda made much more sense.

Burton's first two children have crossed paths or had contact with the Wetherall-Hardman family, though only briefly and remotely -- Burton Douglas Hunter (7.91) and Mary Judith (Hunter) Sherrill (7.92). As Burton's children, they are my grandmother Ullie's nephew and niece, my mother's 1st cousins, and my 1st cousins once removed.

Judith's third child, Gulliver Jimson Sherrill (7.923), is my second cousin, and just as his mother is my 1st cousin once removed, my mother is his 1st cousin once removed. Since Ullie is Judith's aunt. In relationship to Ullie's parents, Gulliver is the 3rd child (great grandchild) of the 2nd child (grandchild) of the 9th child of the Hunter-Thomas family (Family 7) in which Ullie (7.1) was the first born. His mother, Mary Judith Sherrill nee Hunter (7.92), was the daughter of Burton Lyle Hunter (7.9), the last born. This made Ullie Gulliver's great aunt.

When Gulliver first corresponded with me (WOW), he referred to his mother as my cousin, and described his mother's father as "Burt Hunter, brother of Almeda Oglesby, and also youngest brother of Grandma Ully [sic]" (21 November 1997).

Gulliver's description was not correct, but neither was it wrong. Burton Hunter was raised mostly by his oldest sister Ullie, and grew up thinking of her more as his mother than as a sister. And Burton and my mother, Orene, grew up essentially as brother and sister, though in fact he was her younger uncle and she his older neice.

Since Ullie and Burton were siblings, Judith was Ullie's niece and Orene's first cousin, and as children of first cousins, Gulliver and I (and he and my brother and sister) are 2nd cousins.

Gulliver came to Japan for a year of study as a college exchange student, during which time he met my children and I met his parents. Since he and I are 2nd cousins, and he and my children are one generation apart, they are 2nd cousins once removed.

FAMILIES AND MEMBERS                               RELATIONSHIP
7. Hunter-Thomas
7.1 Ullie              7.9 Burton                  Siblings
3. Hardman-Hunter      Hunter-Foley
7.11 Ullie A. (Babe)   7.91 Burton Douglas Hunter  1st cousins
7.12 L. Orene (Bug)    7.92 Mary Judith Hunter
1. Wetherall-Hardman   Hunter-Foley
7.121 Billy            7.91 Burton Douglas Hunter  1st cousins once removed
7.122 Jerry            7.92 Mary Judith Hunter
7.123 Mary Ellen
1. Wetherall-Hardman   Sherrill-Hunter (Mary Judith Hunter)
7.121 Billy            7.923 Gulliver              2nd cousins
7.122 Jerry            7.923x Gulliver's children  2nd cousin once removed
7.123 Mary Ellen
1.1 Wetherall-Sugiyama Sherrill-Hunter (Mary Judith Hunter)
7.1211 Saori           7.923 Gulliver              2nd cousins once removed
7.1212 Tsuyoshi        7.923x Gulliver's children  3nd cousins


Wetherall-Hardman families in censuses

The principle members of the Wetherall-Hardman family and related ancestral families are found in national censuses from 1790 to 1940. The range of censuses in which a specific family can be traced with a high degree of certainty varies according to the time-line of the union.

Most lines are clearly traced between 1860 and 1940, but some individuals, and entire households, are missing in some censuses. The 1890 census is not shown because it was destroyed in a fire. Most families living in Iowa appear in intermediate Iowa state censuses, which are not shown in table (but see Note 3).

Only the paternal "Wetherall" line is shown in the following table, and it is shown for only four generations. The particulars for these four generations, and for the multiple lines that converge into the Wetherall-Hardman family, are shown in tables on family-related pages.

The censuses for all lines related to the Wetherall-Hardman family show that its ancestors crossed the United States from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri to Ohio, Iowa, and Nebraska, then Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California, not necessarily in this order. Descendant lines show that migration continued to define the increasing diversity of the extended family.

Wetherall-Hardman line of Wetherall families in 1850-1940 censuses
1850 1860 1870 1880 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940
Note 1 Wm. E.
Mary A.
Wm. E.
Mary A.
Wm. E.
Mary A.
Wm. E.
Mary A.
Wm. E.  ← 1834-1914
Mary A.  ← 1841-1907
b1858 → Wm. F. Wm. F. Wm. F. Wm. F.
Laura B.
Note 2 Wm. F.
Laura B.
← d1929 ↓ d1943
b1866 → Laura B. Laura B. Laura B. Laura B.
b1890 → Wm. R. Wm. R. Wm. R. Wm. R. ← d1936
b1890 → Ida M. Note 3 Ida M. ← d1923
1911-2013 →  Wm. B. Note 4 Wm. B.
L. Orene
1913-2003 →  L. Orene L. Orene


  1. William E. Wetherall had not yet been found in a census for 1850, when he seems to have been recovering somewhere west of the New England states from a shoulder wound suffered in a shooting accident while en route to California. An 1840 Baltimore, Maryland census may that of his father's family (see "Chronology of Wetherall-Hall family through censuses" on the "Wetherall-Beaman" page for details). According to his obituary, he and Mary Hall married in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on 8 November 1855. The 1856 Iowa state census shows "William Wetherall" (22) and "Mary" (15) settled on 120 acres of unimproved land he had bought in the township of Washington in Marion county, Iowa.
  2. William E. and Laura B. Wetherall, though presumably living in Knoxville, have not yet been found in a 1910 census.
  3. William R. Wetherall and Ida Mae Baldwin married on 1 June 1910 in Seward Nebraska. The 1910 census, enumerated before they were married, shows William R. living in Ames, Iowa, where William B. Wetherall was born in 1911. Ida has been residing in Seward when they were married, but she has not yet been found in a 1910 census record. He is "single" in the 1920 census for Des Moines, Iowa, while she is "married" in the 1920 census for the state asylum in Orofino, Idaho. They would never be enumerated together.
  4. William W. Wetherall enumerated as living with his paternal grandparents, Wm. F. and Laura B. Wetherall, in Knoxville, Iowa, in 1920, and with his father Wm. R. Wetherall and step-mother Nellie M. Wetherall in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1925. He was living in St. Maries, Idaho, in 1930 but has not yet been found in a 1930 census.


Standing on shoulders

The trail you are about to enter is a labyrinth of branching trails with loops and spurs that sometimes cross or simply dead-end as they cut, turn, wind, and twist through the genealogical terrain of families whose members, if separated by more than two or three generations, are most likely strangers to each other -- mere names and cyphers on lists like those shown here. Anyone attempting to pursue every branching root of their family would immediately confront the reality of the exponential rate at which one's lineal biological ancestors multiply with each generation. It's a bit mind-boggling.

The history of every family on earth goes back to the beginning of life whenever that was and however it took place. If you believe in Adam and Eve, then we all go back to the Garden of Eden. If you think we descended from tiny mammalian creatures that in turn descended from earlier forms of life, and gave rise to monkeys that in turn evolved into homo sapiens, then we all begin then.

Fortunately, the known family history of the Wetherall-Hardman family that found its way to Grass Valley in 1955 is not that extensive -- never mind that the Wetherall family crest is a bunch of bananas and the family animal is an ape. Still, it's a bit of a maze, which requires some navigation aids.

This is what
all of us do
as people

The theme of this journey along the trails of the "Wetherall-Hardman" family of San Francisco and Grass Valley, California -- those that came together to form the family, and those that then branched away to places near and far -- is "standing on shoulders". This is what all of us do as people. We are born and raised on the shoulders of others, and in time we die under the feet of those who stand on our shoulders.

For a fleeting moment, when we are born, we lay, sit, and crawl, and eventually stand, walk, and run on the pinnacle of a pyramid of families beneath us. In time we become part of a larger pyramid that includes above us our children, grandchildren, and possibly great grandchildren. And in time they, too, are displaced by newer families above them.

The older families die off and eventually living memories of dead families also die. Faces may survive in photographs and thoughts may survive in letters and diaries. Family historians find boxes of such mementos and detritus in closets, attics, or storage sheds.

Making sense of material evidence is no easy matter, even when one has access to witnesses who can confirm the identity the people and events in the photographs, or otherwise testify about the past. Memories fail or become confused.

Names may survive in public records. But finding the records, determining their reliability, and interpreting them -- imputing meaning to a census enumeration or draft registration card -- requires hard work and critical analysis.

The lure of the past
is irresistible

Most ancestral trails become obscure and disappear in the underbrush of time. A few have been well posted and traveled, and for this reason they are easier to find. The more familiar and better defined trails seem more meaningful, but only because we know them. The less accessible, lost, and unknown trails are inevitably more exciting. And nothing holds out more hope for thrills of new discovery than an unblazed trail. For me, the lure of the past is irresistible.

None of this exploration leads anywhere -- other than to the obvious conclusion, known from the start of the journey, that every person who has ever been born has countless ancestors -- and that all so-called "family trees" ultimately belong to the larger forest of humanity.

Genealogy is not family history. Knowing the names and birth and death particulars of your ancestors is not the same as knowing who they were, individually or collectively. A biological tree at best confirms the sexual imperative of mammalian human existence.

"Family history" begins and ends with stories about people in the context of their lives as members of families, however large or small, or conventional or unorthodox in their composition. My pursuit of my own family history had deepened my realization of how much the lightness of my being weighs on all the shoulders I stand on, including but not limited to my most recent biological ancestors.



A family's history cannot be written without information about its past. What I think I know about the Wetherall-Hardman family is partly based on censuses, public records, photographs, audio tapes, publications, and graveyards, but also on correspondence, including letters from my family members, but also email exchanges.

Among these sources, the most precious have been past and present members of the family who have shared their experiences and knowledge with me. Thanks to the Internet, which facilitates crossing paths and getting in touch with people, my informants include a few distant cousins and cousin-in-laws I will never meet.

Most of what I think I know about the history of the Wetherall-Hardman family I owe to the following people, on both sides of the Wetherall-Hardman family, in the order of their year of birth

Maternal side -- Hardman, Hunter, Gallaher, Thomas, et cetera
Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman (1891-1980) -- Grandmother
Grace Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby (1910-1999) -- Great aunt
Ullie Adeline "Babe" (Hardman) (Dammarell) Emerson (1911-1983) -- Aunt
Louida Orene "Bug" (Hardman) Wetherall (1913-2003) -- Mother
Eleanor Theodosia "Theo" (Thomas) Vincent (1916-2007) -- 1st cousin twice removed
Mary Caroline (Thomas) Lee (b1924) -- 2nd cousin once removed
Niki (Townsley/Davis) Lee (b1951) -- 3rd cousin-in-law
Karen (Hunter) Johnson (b1964) -- 3rd cousin
William B. Hunter -- 5th cousin

Paternal side -- Wetherall, Baldwin, Beaman, Steele, et cetera
Faye M. (Williams) (Mathews) Rebenstorf (1906-1995) -- 1st cousin once removed
William Bascom "Bill" Wetherall (1911-2013) -- Father
Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells (b1922) -- Aunt
Harlan Eugene "Gene" (b1933) and Patricia M. Lemmer -- 2nd cousin and 2nd cousin-in-law
Lois (Lemmer) (Santa Rosa) (Friedlander) Slater (b1939) -- 2nd cousin
Patricia (Santa Rosa) Flint (b1939) -- 2nd cousin once removed
Thayne (Dainty) Ireland (b1940) -- 1st cousin once removed
Kathy A. Wetherall -- 1st cousin
C.W. Baldwin -- 3rd cousin
Mary Sue (Enderson) Van Ryswyk (b1951) -- 1st cousin-in-law
Darci Severns (b1968) -- 2nd cousin once removed
Faye Konan -- 3rd cousin
Tricia Van Ryswyk Stamper -- 3rd cousin
Betty J. Baldwin Rudder -- 2nd cousin once removed
Ross Murray -- 3rd cousin
Lois McWhorter -- 3rd cousin
Gen Highland -- 3rd cousin
Lisa Monet -- 3rd cousin once removed
Judith Baldwin Cambell -- 3rd cousin

Hunter sisters and Hardman girls

I can't remember when I first realized I was interested in my family's past, but the seeds were undoubtedly planted by my maternal grandmother, Ullie May (Hunter) Hardman (1891-1980). After my grandfather Owen Monroe Hardman (1890-1949) died in San Francisco, where they were living with us, Ullie returned to Idaho and settled in Lewiston, where they had been living before coming to the city. Lewiston was close to Central Ridge, where the Hunters and Hardmans had homesteaded, and to the village of Peck, where she and Owen had lived after selling their Central Ridge farm.

In Lewiston, Ullie became active in the Luna House Historical Society (1960), now the Nez Perce County Historical Society, which centered on the Luna House Museum, now the Nez Perce County Museum. From about that time, my grandmother began compiling notes on what she knew and could find out from other relatives about the people on her side of the family, and now and then she conveyed her findings to me.

Before she died, Ullie gave me copies of several lists of members of a number of related families with birth and death dates and comments in the margins. These lists served as springboards for later conversations with my mother about her life growing up both on Central Ridge and in Peck. Ullie also shared her list with a few other relatives in her extended Hunter-Thomas family.

The "Golden Age" of
picture postcards

Years before she died, Grandma Hardman gave me a lot of picture postcards addressed to her and/or to Grandpa Hardman, dating from the mid 1900s to the mid 1910s, spanning the years shortly before to shortly after they were married -- and, as it turns out, the peak of the "Golden Age" of popularity of picture postcards as means of communication.

After Ullie's death, her youngest sister, Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby, and her oldest daughter, Babe (Hardman) Emerson, would continue to feed my desire to know more about the family -- as would my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall or "Bug" to her relatives and older friends.

While my grandmother Ullie was the primary source of information on my mother's Hunter and Hardman families, she also contributed to the start of Theo (Thomas) Vincent's gathering of information on the Thomas family. Ullie and Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby were sisters. Bug (my mother) and Babe (my aunt) were Ullie and Owen Hardman's daughters. Theo was Ullie's and Almeda's first cousin as Theo's father and Ullie's and Almeda's mother were Thomas siblings. Theo was therefore Babe's and Bug's 1st cousin once removed, and this writer's 1st cousin twice removed.

Theo, inspired by Ullie's work on their common Thomas line, worked with other Thomases interested in family history. She and her husband, Wilton Vincent, always lived fairly close to us in California, and being slightly younger than my mother, Theo was more like a close 1st cousin or even a sister to her, and more like an aunt than a 1st cousin twice removed to me and my brother and sister.

On-line cousins

I am also in debt to two in-law cousins, Mary Sue Van Ryswyk of Iowa and Niki Lee of Idaho, neither of whom I have met, for information on the Wetheralls and Thomases and related families, and to Darci Severns, a 2nd cousin on my father's side who helped contribute photographs and information concerning Anstine and other cousins he had known and lived with during his childhood and school years.

Mary Sue facilitated my communication with her mother-in-law, Mary (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells, a paternal aunt I met only once in Iowa in 1958 and wrote after my father's death in 2013. I also wrote Thayne (Dainty) Ireland, my father's and Mary's 1st cousin and my 1st cousin once removed, who I also met only once in Iowa in 1958. Thayne shared her family albums with Mary and Mary Sue, which expanded our understanding of the family, and we directly corresponded by email.

Niki facilitated communication with her mother-in-law, Mary (Thomas) Lee, a younger second cousin of my mother, and she shared many photographs of Thomas related families. Mary had been a student of my mother in a one-room school.

Darci and I crossed paths when I responded to her cry for help in understanding the lines of our common Baldwin-Steele ancestors. She reciprocated by helping me understand some of the missing parts of my father's stories about his relatives. And each of us in turn went on to discover new information about our shared lines.

Such collaborations make family history both more fun and rewarding.


Last but not least among my most valuable informants are my brother, Jerry Alan Wetherall, and sister, Mary Ellen "Mellon" (Wetherall) Zweig, who patiently tolerated my constant questions about events and happenings in the course of our shared lives under the same roof while growing up. Our adopted sister, Clara (Cheung) Yang, shared the final 10 years of life with our mother and 20 years of life with our father.


Family histories, though about the past, and for the future. And hence this history of the Wetherall-Hardman family is dedicated to the extended families of its children, throughout the world.


Wetherall family visits and trips

One or more members of the Wetherall family made a number of trips to visit relatives or simply to travel. These included mainly trips to Idaho, but also a trip to Iowa, to visit relatives, summer camping vacations in California, and an occasionally step outside the United States. Relatives and friends visited the Wetherall family in San Francisco and Grass Valley, and relatives in California regularly visited one another. Here I will list all visits and trips in chronological order under 3 categories -- Visits between relatives and friends, Travels with relatives or friends, Family camping trips.

Visits between relatives and friends

I made 1 virtual and 7 actual trips to Idaho -- 1940 (in my mother's womb), 1941, 1944, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1973, and 1977. The first 3 of these I know only through photographs and what I recall my mother telling me about them. The last 4 I myself recall. I also clearly recall the single trip my family made to Iowa in 1958. I was unable to join the family trip to Idaho in 1959. My mother alone, or my parents together, also made a number of trips to Idaho and Washington. I will title such visits to relatives in purple.

Many of my mother's relatives, but also a few of my father's relatives, visisted us in San Francisco and later Grass Valley. I will title visits from relatives in green.

Peck 1940 Idaho trip

My father, while serving as clerk for Judge William Healy at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, was sent to the Boise office of the Idaho district of the Ninth Circuit Court for a few months. During this period, My mother who was expecting me, stayed with her parents in Peck. 17 of the letters she posted in Peck to Bill in Boise have survived.

See Letters from Peck to Boise (1940) on the "Orene family letters" page for transcriptions.

Ullie Hardman's 1941 (1st) San Francisco trip

Orene visited

I was born in March 1941. Ullie Hardman, my maternal grandmother, came to San Francisco shortly after I was born and stayed with my parents for a few weeks.

1941 Idaho trip

My parents brought me to Peck a few months after my birth in March 1941 to show me to my mother's family. We stayed with her parents, Owen and Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, at their home in Peck, where her maternal grandfather, Albert Douglas Hunter, also lived. Some pictures include Burton Hunter, the youngest of Ullie's 7 surviving siblings. Burton was a year younger than my mother, but he was raised by Ullie since he was 5, so he was more like a younger brother than an uncle to my mother.

I was Owen's and Ullie's first grandchild, and Granpda Doug's (Albert Douglas Hunter's) first great-grandchild, so there was a lot of picture taking. I seem to have been passed around so everyone could have their picture taken with me. I got held in arms, bounced on knees, and ridden on ankles. I seem to have been a major attraction. The first born are fated to be slobbered over.

Ullie's 1942 (2nd) San Francisco trip

Ullie visted Kirkham St. home of Wetherall family in San Francisco for 3 months after Jerry's birth in September 1942.

Ullie and Owen Hardman's 1943 San Francisco trip

My brother Jerry was born in September 1942. Our maternal grandparents, Ullie and Owen Hardman, visited us in San Francisco for a few days. During their stay, Burton Hunter, Ullie's youngest brother and sibling, who she rasied from age 5, also visited, in a U.S. Army uniform, as he had been called to service during World War II.

1944 Idaho trip

Several photographs show us at the Hardman home in Peck during what I am guessing was the summer of 1944. At the time of this 2nd trip, my mother was expecting her 3rd child, who was born in January 1945, my sister, Mary Ellen.

Among the several prints from this trip, one I marked "Peck c1946" on the back when going through the family pictures with my mother in the late 1990s. In looking at them now, two decades later, and comparing them with photographs with later dates, I am concluding they were taken in 1944.

Ullie Hardman's 1945 (3rd) San Francisco trip

My sister, Mary Ellen, was born in January 1945. According to the 28 February 1963 entry in her diary, Ullie "Arrived in S.F. 18 yrs ago today to stay with Bug. [Bug} Had been ill since M.E. born in Jan."

June 1946 Idaho trip

I have no unequivocal photographic evidence of this trip. A single snapshot my mother tentatively thought was waken in 1946 -- according the note I penciled on the back of the printing when going through the photographs with her -- appears to be part of a set of prints taken in 1944. However, in a letter she posted from Peck in 30 June 1947 she clearly alludes to being in Peck "last summer".

June 1947 Idaho trip

My mother took me, Jerry, and Mary Ellen to Peck in June 1947, according to the date on the back of one of the several pictures from this trip. The date appears on the back of a picture of ME with our 1st cousin I'man Emerson, who was born in February 1945.

My father's collection of letters from my mother include 17 letters from her during this trip, postmarked in Peck, from late (before 30) June to 4 August. One letter refers to 17 August train reservations from Portland. The trip involved family complications -- Ullie Hardman's health (pending hysterectomy), her desire to leave Peck, my father's talk about leaving San Francisco to work in Idaho, my mother's desire to stay in San Francisco, my father's start of a new job with Malone & Sullivan in San Francisco, Babe's marital problems, and other matters that kept my mother writing and calling my father from Peck.

Apparently my father accompanied us to Peck and stayed a few days then returned to San Francisco. Whether he drove up, or they went by train, is not clear. He left his medicine and fountain pen at the Hardman home in Peck, and my mother mailed them back to him. He appears to have been in contact with lawyer friends in Idaho, hence his thinking about relocation to the northwest, closer to his and Orene's families.

During this trip, Faye and her family visited my father, her 1st cousin, in San Francisco, as they were vacationing there in early August. My mother had visited Faye and her family in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Faye later wrote my mother, in Peck, in a letter dated 22 July 1947, about her own vacations plans, beginning from 1 August, during which they would visit Bill in San Francisco. Faye regretted that they wouldn't be able to see my mother again there. She remarked that Lennie [Anstine] [her and Bill's 1st cousin] and Archie [Severns] and their two children were visiting her at the time. She remarked that they [the Severns] had recently sold the store they were running [in Centralia, Washington] and were taking life easy for a while. She also wrote that her mother, Sadie, was hoping to go to Kentucky before September. She asked my mother to forward her letter to Bill, which my mother did, with her own letter dated Wednesday (23rd), postmarked Peck, July 23, 2 PM, 1947.

My mother wrote my father, in a letter to my father postmarked Peck, [? Ju?] 1947, "You have some awfully brown kids up here. Mennen has the best tan she's ever had & Billy is black. Jerry is a shade lounger so he isn't quite so dark; but even his back will be the envy of the block."

In a "Monday" letter postmarked Peck, 4 August 1947 [Monday], 2 PM, Bug wrote that "The kids are getting excited about the train trip now. They have the days down pat -- that is, our departure & arrival dates. Even M.E. keeps talking about sleeping on the train & playing with her tricycle [in San Francisco] again."

In several of the letters, my mother speaks of me as the mail carrier, chasing down hill to the postoffice to check for mail, and waiting impatiently for her to finish a letter that I could run down the hill to mail. All but a couple of the letters are postmarked 2 PM, the others 10 AM.

See Letters from Peck to San Francisco (1947) on the "Orene family letters" page for transcriptions.

1948 Idaho trip

The first Idaho trip that I can claim to actually recall in some detail took place during the summer of 1948. My mother took only me on this trip to Peck in 1948. She left my brother Jerry and sister Mary Ellen in San Francisco with the Crows, who were friends of my parents (according to a family conversation taped in a Lewiston motel on 23 December 1973). No correspondence from my mother to my father survive.

During this visit, I spent a couple of days in Peck, then a week or two at the home of my mother's older sister, Ullie Adaline (Hardman) Emerson, in Headquarters, on the other side of the Clearwater, up stream and higher in the mountains. The town was the home of the main railroad yards of the Potlatch Lumber Company and the terminus of the 4th Subdivision (Orofino-Headquarters branch) of the Campus Prairie Railroad.

Aunt Babe, as we called her our mother's sister, was living with her 2nd husband, Ralph Emerson, a logger, who we called Uncle Ralph, and their 1st child, our first cousin, I'man, who was then only 3.

The 1948 summer is very deeply imprinted in my memory, as I developed what seems to have been my first crush on a girl from nearby Pierce named Noralee Brady. I was 7 and she was 7. She was from Pierce, but her family was living in Headquarters at the time. She had a unicycle, and I spent a lot of time trying to ride it, but despite Noralee's best efforts to teach me, I never able to stay up very long. She, though, could stop on a point and stay up.

Even more memorable was a ride on one of the Potlatch Lumber Company's new diesel engines, pulling a logging train under the control of its engineer, George Thomas Chrystal (1910-1978). It turns out that George was born on 23 March 1910, 31 years to the day and month of my birth in 1941. That Christmas, George sent me a two page story on the battle between steam and diesel that was dividing Potlach railway engineers, featuring a photo of George in the cab of the same engine I had ridden with him.

The summer of 1948 was start of my "railroad fever" from which I have never completely recovered. The trip to Idaho and back was by train, and I studied everything and even drew pictures of different kinds of engines and rolling stock I saw. Playing around the tracks at the yards in Headquarters, and going out on the diesel locomotive, were mesmerizing experiences for a city boy who liked riding the streetcars in San Francisco. I began building models, and for Christmas in 1949, my parents gave me and my brother a Lionel train set consisting of a steam locomotive, a few freight cars, and enough track for a figure 8.

Only when I was older did I understand the purpose of our 1948 visit. One afternoon, several weeks or a few months before the trip, my mother got a letter from her mother, and while reading it she started to cry. I asked asked what was wrong, and she said something like "Papa is dying." My comprehension of what dying meant was limited, but I realized that Grandpa was sick and wouldn't live very long. I did not, however, connect the news that he was dying with the trip to Idaho.

After we returned to San Francisco from Idaho, sometime during the fall of 1948, we moved from our home on 24th Avenue to a larger home on 33rd Avenue. In the March 1963 memoranda of her diary, after summarizing the contemporary statuses of her children and grandchildren, Ullie wrote this about herself, Owen, and two of her brothers.

I'm a widow. Owen died in 1949 -- Aug 2. Had gone to Calif in February [1949] for cancer operation. Buried in Lewiston. Albert shot himself accidently on 5-23-60 -- died instantly. Louie drowned in Seattle in Jan 48.

I clearly recall coming back to San Francisco and finding that my brother, Jerry, had traded one of my favorite toys, a wooden wagon that I had assembled from a kit, to one of his friends, if not to one of the Crow children.

1952 Idaho trip

I also generally our 1952 trip to Idaho. By then I had begun to take an interest in the past -- especially "Indian lore" and warfare - though I disliked history as a subject in school.

My mother took her three children to Idaho late in the summer of 1952 on the train from Oakland via Portland. We lived for a couple of weeks with Aunt Babe and her family in Lewiston. Babe had remarried Howard Dammarell, and her children with her 1st husband Ralph Emerson, our 1st cousins I'man and Waki, who were about our age.

We also visited several of my mother's relatives in Peck and in the Lewiston-Clarkston area. We may also have been visited by a couple of my father's relatives in Coeur d'Alene, north of Lewiston. But I remember only our stay at Babe's home, which involved lots of activities. This was the first and last time that all three of the Wetherall-Hardman children were in Idaho together. Our father, busy with his work in San Francisco, was unable to come.

1958 Iowa trip (summer reunion)

I made only one trip to Iowa, during the summer of 1958, and my trips to Idaho were in December 1973 and September 1977. I documented parts of the Iowa trip and the last two Idaho trips with a camera, and both of the last two Idaho trips with a tape recorder (see below).

In the summer of 1958, my father took his family back east to visit his paternal relatives in Iowa. We stayed in Knoxville at the home of Aunt Alice, his father's youngest sibling, and her husband Wilbert Dainty and their children, Willard, Thayne, and David Dainty. My father was closest to Alice, as he lived with his paternal grandparents while going to grade school in Knoxville. Alice, herself still living at home and going to school, was like a big sister to my father.

We also visited several other Iowa relatives, including 2 of my father's 4 half-siblings, Mary (Wetherall) Van Ryswyk and Helen (Wetherall) Morrison, and their families, who lived in nearby Iowa towns.

This would be the only time that any of us -- my father, mother, or any of the three of us children -- would ever meet my father's family in Iowa.

My father's step-mother, Nellie (Van Houton) (Wetherall) Sailors visited Grass Valley once, in 1959. His half-brother Warren Wetherall, who by then had settled in Banning, California, also seems to have visited Grass Valley, possibly with his mother in 1959. And Mary (Van Ryswyk) Wells visited Grass Valley in the 1990s. Otherwise my father had practically no direct contact with his Iowa side. He (and we) were closest to his mother's side, which had migrated from Kentucky to Washington and then Idaho, by way of Nebraska and, before that, possibly Iowa.

1959 Idaho (summer reunion

All members of the Wetherall-Hardman family -- except me -- drove to Lewiston during the summer of 1959 for a grand reunion with relatives in the region. Unfortunately, I was unable to join them. I had just graduated from high school and was working full-time in San Francisco. Three of four surviving Hunter sisters -- Ullie Hardman, Almeda Oglesby, and Eva Keene -- organized a family reunion in Lewiston that drew about 70 relatives from nearby areas.

This trip followed the summer 1958 Iowa reunion (see below). Like the Iowa trip, it was conceived as both a summer vacation and reunion. It would be the last such summer vacation the Wetherall-Hardman family would take.

1973 Idaho trip (Christmas reunion)

The entire Wetherall-Hardman family visited Idaho together only once -- in December 1973, centering on Christmas. At the time I was going to graduate school in Berkeley and living there with my then wife, Etsuko Sugiyama. My brother had married, worked for the Peace Corps in Africa, divorced without children, and had just begun working in Honolulu. My sister had married and had a son, but had recently divorced, without custody, and was working in Santa Rosa.

The party of 6 -- 5 Wetherall-Hardmans plus 1 daughter-in-law -- trekked from Grass Valley to Lewiston in 2 automobiles, east over the Sierras and north through Nevada and southern Idaho, through considerable snow and with few gas stations and motels along the way, at the height of the oil crisis. We left Grass Valley on 22 December, spent one night at a motel in southern Idaho, and the following morning pushed through to Lewiston, where we stayed the nights of the 23rd, 24th, and 25th of December in two units of a motel with kitchen-equipped units. We left Lewiston early in the morning of the 26th but I can't remember our route back to Grass Valley, or whether we stayed a night somewhere.

The visit centered on Lewiston but we also went to Peck. I set out to record on audio cassette tapes as much as possible of conversations, especially between the Hunter sisters (my maternal grandmother and great aunts) and the Hardman girls (my mother and aunt). My father's 1st cousin, who lived in the area and knew both my grandmother and aunt, also joined us, and we met a number of familiar friends of the Hunter-Hardman families.

1975 Idaho trip

Orene Hardman attended a Peck High School Class of 1931 reunion.

1977 Idaho trip

My last trip to Idaho was from 18-24 September 1977 with just my mother. We drove up in her car, over the Sierras and north through Nevada and southern Idaho, but returned through the Cascades of Oregon and northern California. Thus on our way home to Grass Valley, California, we passed through Grass Valley, Oregon. We spent the nights of 19-23 September in Lewiston.

During this trip I made the following recordings of conversations with "Grandma" as I called my mother's mother, Ullie (Hunter) Hardman. All the conversations included my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall, and some included her sister Ullie Adeline "Babe" (Hardman) (Dammarell) Emerson, who lived in Connell, Washington, Ullie's 1st daughter and my aunt, and her aunt Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby, Ullie's 4th and youngest sister and my great aunt, who lived in Clarkston, Washington.

This would be my last visit to Idaho or anywhere for the purpose of meeting my mother's or father's relatives.

1978 Idaho trip

My mother went to Idaho alone in 1978. She made a number of visits to Idaho by herself, and she and my father made at least one trip together without us children. My mother went to Idaho about once a year after Ullie entered the Orchards Nursing Home in Lewiston in 1974. When going alone, she flew to Lewiston out of Sacramento on flights that involved stops and transfers.

1979 Idaho trip

This year my parents visited Lewiston, to see Ullie, together. They also visited Almeda in Clarkston.

1980 Idaho trip

Orene, my mother went to Idaho to be with Ullie, her mother, my grandmother, when Ullie fell and broke her arm (I recall hearing "shoulder" but letters from my mother and father say "arm"). Two weeks later Ullie died. Babe was also present with Ullie when she stopped breathing.

Peck High School Class of 1931 reunion

My other corresponded with Peck High School classmates who organized the 50th reunion of the Class of 1931 and received the album and other bybroducts, but it appears that she did not attend. I believe she attended a later, smaller scale reunion but cannot find photographs.

Other family related travels

The Wetherall family often visited Theo (Thomas) and Wilton Vincent at residences in various towns in California, and in Reno, Nevada, and Orval and Ella (Coon) Hunter in Almeda. Occasionally Orene travelled with the Vincents to visit common Thomas and/or Hunter relatives.


Orene Hardman travels with the family of her college friend Marguerite Ellen Manion (later Anderson) through Oregon, California, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. 13 postcards and letters from Orene to Bill are postmarked as follows.

 9 June 1936, Walla Walla, Washington
 9 June 1936, Madras, Oregon
11 June 1936, Sacramento, California
11 June 1936, Sacramento, California
15 June 1936, Los Angeles, California
16 June 1936, Los Angeles, California
19 June 1936, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
23 June 1936, Firth, Idaho (Manion home)
26 June 1936, Firth, Idaho (Manion home)
30 June 1936, Firth, Idaho (Manion home)
 5 July 1936, Yellowstone, Wyoming
 7 July 1936, Firth (Manion home)
12 July 1936, Firth (Manion home)


Bill and Orene Wetherall travel to Japan in mid March to participate in marriage of their son, this writer, to Etsuko Sugiyama. Earlier in the year, the Sugiyamas traveled to the United States to visit my parents.


Orene Wetherall comes to Japan in April and May 1980 to spend a couple of weeks with her 16-month old grand daughter, Saori Orene Sugiyama Wetherall, in Nagareyama.


Bill and Orene Wetherall traveled through Germany and Austria from 28 September to 12 October 1989. Their 1st destination was Salzburg, which they reached via an international LTU (Lufttransport-Unternehmen) flight from San Francisco to Düsseldorf, where they arive on the 29th, then a domestic LTU flight to Mü, a bus to Haupauptbahnhof Central Station in the city, and a train to Salzburg. Diary entry related to arrival at Salzburg observes that the "Only black person we've seen was in S. Station. Also a drunk, flat out, either being helped -- or rolled! -- by a young man."


Orene traveled with Theo (Thomas) and Wilton Vincent to Westwood Hills Memorial Park in Placerville, El Dorado County, California, in 1991, to attend the memorial service for Cornelius Fernando "Nando" Thomas. Nando was Theo's 1st cousin. And both Nando and Theo were 1st cousins of Orene's mother Ullie. So Nando and Theo were Orene's 1st cousins once removed. Nando died in Oregon, but had been living in Placerville when Amanda, his wife, died in 1981. Amanda was buried with a headstone that included Nando's name and "1895-19" -- which now reads "895-1991". At the time Nando died, the Vincents were living in Auburn, north of Placerville on Highway 49, and the Wetheralls were in Grass Vally, further north on 49. The Vincents later moved into a retirement home in Placerville.

Camping trips



Visits to the Wetheralls

Babe was at our home in San Francisco when Owen died in August 1949. She and Ullie, and my mother, took his body to Lewiston for burial in Normal Hill Cemetery, where Owen and Ullie had bought two side-by-side plots. Ullie then lived in Lewiston, where she worked as a bookkeeper at the city's state liquor store. Idaho, though not a dry state, permits the sale of packaged alcohol only through state dispensaries. Local communities can enact laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol by the drink, as at bars, but they cannot prohibit packaged sales for private consumption elsewhere.


Audio / video

Most of what I heard from my deceased ancestors when then were alive remains forever lost. Only a fraction of what they told me remains in my memory, and memories are notoriously unreliable.

Cassette tapes

While the dead can't speak, I can still hear the voices of some on the dozen or so audio tapes that survive from the 1970s. I have, in Japan, a total of 14 audio cassettes, including 1 tape letter and 13 tapes of conversations. All of the tapes were recorded between 1973 and 1978 -- 2 in California and 12 in Idaho -- and they total 18-1/2 hours mostly of conversations between three or more people.

Video recordings

Part of William B. Wetherall's story, told in his own voice, survives in an interview Gregg Schiffner recorded in 2011 when collecting information for the program he was preparing for my father's 100th birthday party. His voices and movements also survive in a number of video recordings Gregg made on various occasions between 2010 and 2013. Gregg integrated some of the footage into a DVD he study he made of Bill's life titled "William Bascom Wetherall -- 102 Years of Living the Miracle" (2013).

Acetate records

There are also seven home-recorded acetate-on-aluminum discs of Wetherall children talking or playing a piano or cello.

  1. Dated 1948
    From The Wetheralls to Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Babe, Uncle Ralph and I'man
    Recording artists Mennen (aged 4-), Jerry(6+), and Billy (8-)
  2. Family singing Christmas songs
  3. Children telling stories
  4. Billy at the Piano
  5. "This side first" (no other notation on label)
  6. No notation
  7. No notation

The discs have National Hollywood Disc, Wilcox-Gay Recordio Disc, and RecorDisc labels.

On a number of occasions during the late 1940s and early 1950s, while living in San Francisco, our father would bring home a rented recorder, a disc or two, a cutting stylus, and probably some pre-recording fluid, hoping to capture his children's budding oratory and musical talents.

My earliest memories of "records" and "music" and "music lessons" date from our years at 1558 33rd Avenue in San Francisco. I recall my father bringing home records he couldn't wait to play -- 78s and LPs of classical music and occasionally jazz. And at Christmas he would fuss over making home recordings.

The 1948 record was probably cut for Christmas shortly after we moved into the 33rd Avenue home. Mary Ellen would turn 4 in January 1949, Jerry had turned 6 in September 1948, and I would turn 8 in March 1949. By mid 1949, Grandpa and Grandma were living with us in the 33rd Avenue home, and Grandpa died there that August. The record was apparently sent to Idaho, and later brought or sent back to us, either when we were still in San Francisco, or after our move to Grass Valley in 1955.

The disc titled "Billy at the Piano" is an undated 10-inch National Hollywood Disc. It contains about 3-1/2 minutes of piano noise per side at 78 (or 45) rpm -- "Golden Moments Forever Recorded" according to the blurbs on the label and protective sleeve. The sleeve also claims that National Hollywood needles "Cut for Keeps".


In the early 1940s, Billy and possibly Jerry were infant actors in an elusive, probably lost, 8mm home movie made by Faye and Howard Rebenstorf, either in California or in Idaho.

Digitization of cassette tapes

In 2013, I began digitizing all of the tapes using Audacity, an audio editor, with a plug-in called Lame. Both applications are freeware, easily and safely downloaded, installed, and operated. All one needs is an audio cable with standard mini stereo plugs at either end, to connect the headphone output of a tape recorder to the line input (or, alternatively, microphone input) of a computer.

Audacity creates proprietary data files for archival and editing purposes. One can export native Audacity data as "wav" among other (but not "mp3") formatted audio files. Lame permits Audacity to export its data as "mg3" files, which are of a lower audio quality but are more than adequate for voice, and are relatively light on memory.

Most of the cassette tapes played with no difficulty. A few required repair or replacement of a loose or lost pressure pad. Only two tapes broke and needed splicing. One broke several times, due to repeated binding in the case, until I mounted it in a new case that permitted freer winding.


1973 tape letter from Orene Wetherall to Maxine Jones

In March 1973, my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall, recorded a tape letter for her 1st cousin, Maxine (Keene) Jones, the daughter of Eva (Hunter) Keene, the 2nd younger sister of Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, Orene's mother.

Most of the letter consists of Orene's monologue to Maxine. Theo (Thomas) Vincent, Orene's and Maxine's younger 1st cousin once removed, makes the second most significant appearance on the tape. But Orene's daughter Mary Ellen, grandson Gabriel, and daughter-in-law Etsuko, and Theo's husband Wilton, also say a few words to Maxine or can be heard in the background.

The letter covers many subjects, most urgently the death of Burton Lyle Hunter, Ullie's and Eva's youngest brother, who had shot himself in February, Eva's condition after a severe heart attack and stroke, and Ullie's need for assistance in living.

The tape was returned to Orene by Maxine's daughter, George-Anne (Jones) Kintzley (1941-2017) after Maxine's death in 2001. Orene gave the tape to this writer, her son William O. Wetherall, George-Anne's 2nd cousin, during his spring visit to Grass Valley in 2002, to add to his collection of family history tapes.

1973-03 Tape letter to Maxine
A. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   a. 2 March (Friday) -- Grass Valley (Orene)
   b. 3 March (Saturday) -- Grass Valley (Orene)
   c. 3 March (Saturday) -- Sebastapol (ME and Gabriel)
B. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   c. 3 March (Saturday) -- Sebastapol (ME and Gabriel)
   d. 4 March (Sunday) -- Berkeley

1973 Chinatown dinner tape

In September 1973, Faye M. (Williams) (Mathews) Rebenstorf (1906-1995), my father's closest maternal 1st cousin, visited my parents, Bill and Orene Wetherall, in Grass Valley, California after flying down from Idaho to attend a large convention of some sort in San Francisco. I was then going to graduate school in Berkeley, and managing the apartment building where I lived with my then wife Etsuko. My brother, Jerry Wetherall, who was then also in Grass Valley about to leave for a new job in Honolulu, came down to the city with our parents to see Faye. He and our parents visited my sister and a couple of my mother's relatives in the Bay Area area before taking Faye up to Grass Valley, after the conference, for a couple of days visit before she flew home.

On the evening of Wednesday, 5 September 1973, we took Faye to Chinatown in San Francisco, and we had family feast in a booth at a Cantonese restaurant where the Wetherall family had eaten before. Chinatown and Chinese food was new to Faye, but not to us.

My mother, in particular, had a long and continuing history of friendships with a number of Chinese American families. Her own parents were friends with an Idaho Chinese American family that had once ran a restaurant in Lewiston. My mother also had a Chinese American friend in San Francisco, and my parents had sometimes dined with her family in Chinatown. Ullie Hardman, my maternal grandmother, then living in Lewiston, also loved going to Chinatown when visiting us in San Francisco. And by then my mother had become friends with a Chinese American woman in Grass Valley. She and her husband, a real estate broker, were from local families whose roots went back to the Goldrush period.

In any event, Faye had packed a tape recorder to tape events at the convention, and she brought the recorder to the restaurant and taped an hour of family conversation over dinner. Most of the conversation is audible despite the the din and cacophony of a restaurant packed with diners all trying be a heard above the background noise.

Faye's daughter, Marilyn (Rebenstorf) Disrud (1934-2013), sent the tape to my parents after Faye died in 1995, and my mother added it to our collection of recordings.

The label (in "quotation marks") is in Faye's hand.

1973-09-05 Chinatown restaurant
Conversations with Faye
A. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   "Side # 1 / Wetherall Family / China town 9-3-73"
B. 30 minutes (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   "Side # 2 / Wetherall Family / China town 9-3-73
                 / Bill, Orene, Jerry, Billie, Itsuko"
                                 [sic = Billy, Etsuko]

1973 Idaho tapes

I recorded 10 cassette tapes of family conversation during our 23-25 December 1973 Christmas reunion in Idaho. The most of the tapes were recorded at our motel in Lewiston, but some were made at homes of relatives in Peck, Lewiston, and Clarkston.

1973-12-23 Lewiston motel
Conversations at motel
1. 1. 2000-2030 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   2. 2030-2100 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape)
2. 3. 2100-2130 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   4. 2130-2200 Grandma, Almeda (30 min side of 60 min tape)

1973-12-24 Lewiston motel
Conversations at motel
3. 5. 1100-1130 Grandma (30 min side of 60 min tape)
   6. 1130-1200 Grandma (30 min side of 60 min tape)
4. 7. 1200-1300 Grandma (60 min side of 120 min tape)
   8. 000 (1300) Grandma (60 min side of 120 min tape)
      1973-12-24 Peck
      (Continuation from Tape 10)
      178 (1530) Viola
      298 (1545) Ruth Maynard
      1973-12-25 Clarkston
      (Continuation from Tape 20)
      576 Dinner at Almeda's
      (Last recorded conversations)

1973-12-24 Peck
Conversations at Peck
5.  9. 1500-1515 Viola Wells (15 min side of 30-min tape)
   10. 1515-1530 Viola Wells (15 min side of 30-min tape)
       (Continued on Tape 8) 
1973-12-24 Lewiston Christmas Eve
Christmas dinner at Ella's
6. 11. 1730-1830 (60 min side of 120 min tape)
   12. 1830-1930 (60 min side of 120 min tape)
7. 13. 1930-2030 (60 min side of 120 min tape)
   14. 2030-2130 (60 min side of 120 min tape)

1973-12-25 Lewiston Christmas
Breakfast conversations at motel
8. 15. 1000-1100 Grandma (60 min side of 120 min tape)
   16. 1100-1200 Grandma, Faye (60 min side of 120 min tape)
9. 17. 1200-1300 Grandma, Faye, Babe (60 min side of 120 min tape)
   18. 1300-1400 Grandma, Faye, Babe (60 min side of 120 min tape)

1973-12-25 Clarkston Christmas
Christmas dinner at Almeda's
10. 19. 1700 Dinner at Almeda's (60 min side of 120 min tape)
    20. 1800 Dinner at Almeda's (60 min side of 120 min tape)
        38 Break Presentation of record is missing (60 min side of 120 min tape)
        90 Break Grandma's KANPAI is missing (60 min side of 120 min tape)
        (Continued on Tape 8)

Grandma refers to Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, maternal grandmother of Wetherall-Hardman children. Ullie, who was living in Lewiston at the time, was the oldest of the 9 Hunter siblings, of whom only two others then survived, her 3rd younger sister, Viola (Hunter) (McGee) Wells, and her youngest sister, Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby.

Almeda (Hunter) Oglesby of Clarkston, Washington, was Ullie's youngest sister.

Viola (Hunter) (McGee) Wells of Peck, Idaho, was Ullie's 3rd younger sister.

Ella (Coon) Hunter of Lewiston was Orval Hunter's widow. Orval, Ullie's 3rd younger brother, had died in 1970.

Ruth (Shortlidge) Maynard, who was born in Peck, married Louie Hunter, Ullie's 2nd younger brother, then married Gwen Maynard of Peck after Louie died in 1943. The Shortlidges, who had lived on Central Ridge, were also close to the Hardmans.

Faye M. (Williams) (Matthews) Rebenstorf, my father's 1st cousin, drove down to Lewiston from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, with her daughter Marilyn Disrud and Marilyn's husband Norman and their son Todd.

Babe refers to Ullie Adeline (Hardman) (Dammarell) Emerson, Ullie's older daughter, my mother's older sister, hence "Aunt Babe" to me and my siblings.

1977 Idaho tapes

I recorded two more tapes during my last visit to Idaho, with just my mother, in September 1977.

1977 Lewiston Orchards Nursing Home
Conversations with Grandma
11. 21. 1977-09-20 1200-1230 (30 min side of 60-min tape)
    22. 1977-09-20 1230-1300 (30 min side of 60-min tape)
12. 23. 1977-09-21 1730-1750 (30 min side of 60-min tape)
    24. 1977-09-23 0840-0920 (30 min side of 60-min tape)
1978 Idaho visit

The following year, my mother went to Idaho by herself, and during her stay she recorded the following tape, which she labeled simply "Mama" as she called her mother, Ullie (Hunter) Hardman.

Tape recorded Orene Wetherall in 1978
1978 Lewiston Orchards Nursing Home
Conversations with Mama
13. 25. June 1978 (30 min side of 60 min tape)
    26. June 1978 (30 min side of 60 min tape)


William B. Wetherall Photographs William B. Wetherall examining family photographs
Grass Valley home, living room, 22 March 2011
(Photo by Gregg Schiffner)


I am not the only descendant of my recent ancestral families. But not all descendants are interested in family history. And not all interested descendants are equally blessed with credible sources of information about their common ancestors.

In my own family as in most others it seems, photos get closeted boxes without a lot of organization. Few photos are identified. Most are separated from their negatives, which are likely to be thrown away when someone dies and survivors do a triage on the person's belongings.

Family records and photographs get split up between heirs or discarded. Fewer stories survive, and those that survive change with each telling.

I organized our family photographs in two stages. My mother was my primary informant in both sorting projects.

In the 1970s, I roughly sorted prints and negatives by person, group, theme, and date into numerous Berliner & Wetherall, Law Offices manila envelopes. I salvaged the envelopes, which were slightly larger than ordinary business envelopes, from the stationery left over when Harold became a full-time DA and my father bought out his interest in their law firm.

In the late 1990s, I resorted everything I had earlier sorted, and most of what I had left unsorted, into a couple of dozen loose-leaf file folders, which were divided between two large plastic boxes with coasters, one for my father and mother and their ancestors, and the other for the Wetherall-Hardman family. Numerous unsorted negatives, some in their original developing envelopes, and stacks of partly sorted and unsorted color photographs, mostly of recent vintage, were consolidated in a corrugated paper box.

I worked even more closely with my mother in the second sorting project, during which I queried her about most of the pictures from her side of the family, which constitute the bulk of the ancestral photographs in the Wetherall-Hardman Family Collection. I compiled notes, some written in pencil on the backs of photographs, others typed directly into the text file I created in preparation for scanning the photographs.

In 2010, when visiting Grass Valley, I scanned selected photographs from my mother's side. In 2011, when again in Grass Valley, for my father's 100th birthday, I scanned a few photographs from his side of the family, while picking his brain to identify the photographs and reveal what he remembered about the people in them.

My mother was a much more sympathetic informant. For years, my father showed no interest in family history and frowned on the enormous amount of time I was spending on the sorting and note taking. After my mother died, however, he deeply appreciated how I had organized the photographs of her and his family, and of their courtship and our family, chronologically and thematically.

My father migrated from a standard Kodak 120 box camera to a 35mm Pentax, which I bought him in the late 1960s. The Pentax required manual adjustments he never practiced enough to master. We learned to be patient while he played with the focus, speed, and aperture settings. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he went through a mercifully brief phase of taking transparencies, as I did. But he outdid me with the purchase of a slide projector, screen, and cassettes for organizing slide shows. Most of the few slides he took remain in the cassettes.

Unfortunately, by 2011, my father's health was such that it was difficult to grill him in the way I had grilled my mother about the photographs related to him and other details about his family history. And he himself was having trouble recalling the sort of details that, a decade earlier, he would have more easily remembered.



Wetherall family keepsakes, mementos, and heirlooms are pictured and described on the Wetherall keepsakes page.



A person's history is somehow incomplete without knowing at least where and to whom the person was born, and how and where the person died and is buried. However, burial conditions vary considerably with place, time and family. Not a few graves are lost because their markers vanish, or the grave sites are abandoned, forgotten, and overwhelmed by the elements. And for a variety of reasons, some people are buried in an unmarked grave, or in a grave marked as that of simply an "Infant".

The ashes of people who are cremated are generally stored in an urn, which is then interred or placed in a crypt in a cemetery, or be enshrined in a columbarium. Some urns are placed in closets and forgotten.

Today, more families are choosing to scatter ashes rather than inter or otherwise preserve the relics of their deceased members. The disposal of all human remains, including ashes, is generally regulated by laws and ordinances. When it comes to scattering, though, many people ignore the legal formalities, with the result that there may be no record of when or where someone's ashes were scattered.

Cemetery records

Cemeteries maintain records which document who and where someone is buried in the graveyard. Their records usually contain more information than is shown on tombstones. Rural areas are full of small burial sites that are no longer being used or routinely cared for, if cared for at all. Their registers, if they had any, may or may not survive in the home of a former caretaker, or in local historical society archives or private collections.

Thousands of genealogy enthusiasts are photographing headstones and other monuments and documenting their inscriptions. And there is considerable interest today in restoring abandoned cemeteries and publishing inventories of their known interments.

WPA Graves Survey data

Today, practically all work to create and publicize lists of who is buried where is being done by volunteers without the support of public funds. During the 1930s, however, the United States Government subsidized surveys of some local cemeteries under the auspices of the Works Progress Administration. WPA was established on 6 May 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Executive Order No. 7034) to help relieve unemployment during the depression years.

Many states took advantage of the availability of federal funds to organize projects that put people to work conducting research and compiling data of historical interest, including studies of graveyards. States differed in how they availed themselves of WPA funding, and not all counties within states that conducted graves surveys participated, and so the completeness and quality of WPA graves survey data considerably varies with the locality.

In Iowa, WPA workers are said to have used court records and newspaper obituaries, in addition to or in lieu of on-site inspection of cemetery records and burials. There is some indication that an emphasis was placed on documenting the tombs of war veterans, with the result that many known burials were simply ignored.

Searchable on-line databases containing information from WPA records consist of transcriptions of typed data that may be difficult to read. And transcribers are as apt as the original WPA workers to compound errors in the spellings of names and representations of other particulars found in the original records.

The important thing to remember when examining official death certificates -- or county death rolls, obituaries, war veteran headstone applications, and other such records -- is that a person is not necessarily buried in the counties where they died, or their deaths were recorded, or where an obituary states that a funeral was held.



Publications old and new, whether printed as bound books or produced only in electronic forms, by commercial or vanity publishers, are important sources of information of the kind that is essentially to the writing of family histories. The most important such publications are families histories and local histories with biographical articles.

Empire of Cousins Phelan family history
Lee and Thomas Family History Thomas Family History

Family histories

Empire of Cousins

I have liberally cited the following book, which includes a number of stories about the Hardman family. Babe (Hardman) Emerson, but also her sister Bug (Hardman) Wetherall (my mother), contributed stories and a few photographs, as their father Owen Hardman's mother, Lucy , was a daughter of the progenitor of the empire of Gallaher cousins.

Empire of Cousins, or The Gallaher Trail
Joyce (Buttner) Golding and George E. Golding
Compiled 1990-1995
Inscribed copy received from George Golding March 1998

No history, though, writes itself. Research and writing require motivation, motivation needs inspiration, and inspiration -- while personally nurtured -- often originates interpersonally.

Two people in particular fired my interest in family history -- first and foremost my maternal grandmother, Ullie Hardman. She was the original historian of the Hunter-Thomas and related families, and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when she began sharing some of her handwritten notes on family history with my mother and a few other relatives.


The other person who most nurtured my efforts was John A. Phelan, whose path I first crossed in 1955, shortly after the Wetherall-Hardman family moved from San Francisco to Grass Valley in the foothills of California's Mother Lode. John and I shared a number of interests in high school, including the building of oscilloscopes, which fueled our dreams of becoming electrical engineers. John became one, I didn't.

John, who was born into an older local family, began to reflect on his family's Goldrush history when in his teens. During his 20s, out of college and with a little more time to invest in hobbies, which included rebuilding a Model A, he started photographing some of his older family pictures with a copy stand. By the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, he was pursuing his family's lines of descent across the United States, and across the Atlantic, and three decades later he published the following book about its saga.

John A. Phelan
Phelan : County Laois, Ireland; Kent County, Michigan; Nevada County, California
25 December 2003, copy No. 26, inscribed.
131 pages, including fold-out maps and charts and black-and-white and color photographs, plus front matter and several appendixes.
Privately published but publicly listed and viewable through LDS Family History Library at Family Search, which includes tens of thousands of digitized genealogy and family history publications from around the world (Author: Phelan, Title Number: 1176759).

John's book is a model of organization, writing, and presentation. Its uncluttered layout, its balance of description, stories and photographs, and its variety of supporting materials, including hand-colored pull-out maps and a glossary, make for fascinating reading. The Golding book on the Gallaher clan, though crammed with genealogical information and stories, is not nearly as comprehensive, or as accessible and entertaining.

Lee and Thomas Family History Album

Yet another book of interest is a photographic history of the Lee and Thomas families in Idaho by a 3rd cousin on my mother's side.

Tom and Niki Lee
Lee and Thomas Family History Album
Second Edition
[San Francisco]: Blurb, 2013
155 pages

This book consists mainly of images with captions and an occasional sidebar. Most of the images are black-and-white photographs. Some of the earlier pictures were taken by Anton Lee, who was Anton Lien when he left Norway in 1898 at age 22. There are also a few scans of public records and other documents, including Anton's ticket for passage from Norway, Europa to Moscow, Idaho, and the Dominion Line manifest of immigrant aliens on which Anton is listed as a passenger.

Anton arrived in Idaho by way of England and Canada, and by 1909 he had set up a studio as a photographer and optician on the second floor of the home he had built on the main street of Deary, a logging town in Latah County between Moscow and Lewiston. A playful composite photographic he himself made shows him standing beside a beside a camera while pointing to a man -- himself -- who is posing in front of the camera. The caption explains that "Anton changed his last name by telling the postmaster that he henceforth would be Lee instead of Lien. He did this shortly after arriving in Idaho as there were many Liens in the area and he didn't like his mail getting mixed up" (page 9).

Tom Lee and I share a pair of great great grandparents, which makes us 3rd cousins. My mother and his mother were second cousins, but his mother was young enough to be a student of my mother in a one-room, one-teacher elementary school. There's a picture of my mother in their family collection, and that is how I, in Japan, crossed paths with Tom's wife, who wears the family's history pants in cyberspace. My grandmother -- even my mother -- would shake their head in wonderment.

The Thomas Family

A folder-bound history of the extended Thomas family has also been a source of information as well as an example of organization.

Robert C. and Ruth Thomas
The Thomas Family: North Carolina to the West Coast
Undated 38-page report published in 1983 or later
bound in three-hole heavy paper folder
2 (blank fly leaves), 5 (introduction), 16 (genealogical data),
11 (Theo Vincent, "Thomas Lore", July 1983)

The most important part of this collection of materials on the Thomas family is the typescript article appended at the end by my 1st cousin twice removed -- Elanor Theodosia Thomas Vincent (Theo) -- who was very close my family, a first cousin of my maternal grandmother, a first cousin once removed of my mother, but more like a sister to my mother and an aunt to the Wetherall children. This is the only signed and dated item in the folder, copies of which were circulated within the extended Thomas Family, include Tom and Niki Lee (see above publication).

Theo and her husband, Wilton Vincent, did a lot of traveling around the United States. Both, as dedicated family history researchers, made it a point to scout out and visit as many relatives as they could en route, to pull together vital genealogical data as well as stories. And both were super cautious in what they were accepted as "truth" in story telling.

Moreover, both Theo and Wilton were excellent writers, which makes their accounts on otherwise droll subjects come alive. See Theo's "Thomas Lore" on "Hunter-Thomas" family page for a complete transcription of Theo's article.

My own approach

I have adopted a somewhat different and less orthodox manner to present the history of the Wetherall-Hardman family -- partly to accommodate web presentation -- and partly to compensate for my inability, this late in my life, to do the sort of legwork both writers of the above histories have done to gather material from their relatives and other sources.

Unlike the Goldings and John, I waited too long. All my ancestors are gone, my own health is ebbing, and access to family photographs and other detritus, much of it in storage at my sister's home in Grass Valley, has become difficult.


Local histories

Family histories are not truly "histories" until the lives of family members are reconstructed in their places and times. Local and regional histories are invaluable as sources of information about the the places and times, and many such histories are also full biographical information about contemporary individuals and families.

Local histories in the United States came into their own at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when people were celebrating the end of a century of American expansion and the admission to the Union of all but the eastern states. Numerous regional histories were compiled and published by energetic researchers and writers who wished to capture the spirit of the century in stories about local settlement and development.

Two of the many large, thick, heavy celebrations of
19th-century American expansion and development
Illustrated History of North Idaho An Illustrated History of North Idaho (1903)
( Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers photo)
Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette County Pennsylvania Genealogical and Personal History of
Fayette County, Pennsylvania
(AbeBooks.com RT Books image)

Many of these local histories include -- and some consist mainly of -- biographical sketches of people the compilers wished to credit for having contributed to the growth and prosperity of the region. I suspect many people were included because they contributed to the book by submitting to interviews.

The following publication contains valuable biographical profiles of two Wetherall-Hardman ancestral family members -- Albert Christopher Hardman, a maternal great grandfather, the father of my maternal grandfather and namesake, Owen (Monroe) Hardman -- and John Wesley Thomas, my maternal great grandmother's brother, who was "Uncle Wes" to both his niece, Ullie (Hunter) Hardman, and his grand niece, my mother, Orene (Hardman) Wetherall.

John M. Henderson, William S. Shiach, and Barry F. Averill
An Illustrated History of North Idaho
(Embracing Nezperces [sic], Idaho, Latah, Kootenai, and Shoshone Counties, State of Idaho)
[Seattle]: Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903
xxvii, 1238 pages, plus numerous full-page portraits

The particularly nice copy shown to the right is available from Wessel & Lieberman Booksellers, an ABAA-affiliated antiquarian book dealer in Seattle, Washington. A copy from the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley can be read on-line at Archive.org.

The book measures over 9-1/2 wide by 12 inches tall, which is characteristic of the quarto (4to) format. It was manufactured by printing 8 pages of text on a single sheet of paper, 4 pages to a side, then folding the paper twice to produce 4 leaves or 8 book pages.

Its elaborate binding was typical of contemporary publications of its size and type. Wessel & Lieberman describes its copy as having the "Original full morocco binding, covers stamped with decorative borders in blind, title in gilt on upper cover, spine gilt, and all edges gilt" and "marbled endsheets". Another bookstore describes its copy as having a "Full-leather binding with tooled designs on covers, gilt text and intricate gilt botanical motif along interior edges of boards. All edges gilt."

The following publication includes a biographical profile of a Captain William Hall, which links his daughter Mary Hall with a William Wetherell in Iowa. Mary Hall, born in Fayette County, and William Edwin Wetherall, born in Maryland, educated in Pennsylvania, and married in Fayette County, were my paternal great great grandparents.

John W. Jordan and James Hadden
Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania
New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1912
922 pages in 3 volumes, illustrated, with portraits of selected personalities

Genealogical and Personal History of Fayette County Pennsylvania Genealogical and Personal History of
Fayette County, Pennsylvania
Facsimile and title pages of Volume II
(Screen capture of Archive.org scan)

This Pennsylvania history, though every bit as massive as the Idaho history, was bound in three thinner volumes with continuing page numbers. They, too, are quarto printings, are of the shorter 10-3/4-inch size.

RT Books, an antiquarian book dealer in Pennsylvania, which offers the 3-volume set shown to the right through AbeBooks.com, describes the volumes as "hardbound in 3/4 black leather and black cloth covered boards with raised hubs and gold lettering on spines, top end pages gilt and other end pages and end papers marbled."

There are a number of facsimile editions, and the book is now widely available in POD editions, as well as in digital scans of library holdings of the original edition.

"Who's who" in history

Local histories like these are valuable sources of information, such as it was then gathered, collated, and published with considerable labor, presumably care -- and, I would imagine, also cost. The economics of their production defies an attempt to regard them as commodities in the same category as, say, popular novels and belles-lettres.

They were, however, commodities. Who, though, would have bought them?

Mainly libraries -- including smaller local and regional libraries, but also larger libraries in other parts of the country -- which customarily pride themselves in their reference and bibliography collections. Reference books are generally more expensive than general publications. Today, many academic books are also published in limited quantities aimed at specialists and research libraries willing to pay higher per/copy prices.

Religious families might invest in a sturdy high-quality quarto-size Bible, which were more affordable because Bibles were perennial bestsellers, meaning that publishers could print more copies at lower per/copy costs. But given the general apathy toward history, and the general avoidance of the written word, why would a family, or an individual, buy a book crammed with 1,000 pages of dry description of by-gone days? The only reason I can think of -- other than out of pure interest in local history -- would have been because someone in the family, if not the purchaser, was a subject of one of the biographical profiles.

Did the publishers of the above local histories hope to regain part of their investment by selling copies to the individuals, or to the families of the individuals, whose stories were included in the books? Probably not.

In this sense, the "business model" of the massive turn-of-the-century histories differed from that of many "who's who" publications today -- which bank on the vanity of people who will buy copies of a book which includes them, or a family member, among the dignitaries of a certain place or field. Some present-day "who's who" publishers require that "selected" candidates pay a processing fee or buy a copy in advance if they wish their biography to be included.

Central Ridge pioneers

The Idaho and Pennsylvania volumes were akin to "who's who" compendia in the guise of local histories. Local histories they were -- but of the self-congratulatory kind that celebrated the achievements of the people who had settled in the territories and carved their towns and industries out of the "wild land" that, for the most part, had been taken from Indians in the course of displacing them from their tribal lands.

I imagine the compilers of the North Idaho volume, for example, were assisted by field workers who traveled around the concerned counties and interviewed officials, educators, churchmen, businessmen, manufacturers, merchants, farmers, and other locals who were ready, willing, and able to testify as witnesses of recent history. And the sort of history that most concerned the compilers was truly recent.

Unlike Pennsylvania -- which had a 250-year history as one of the original colonies, forged from Dutch, Swedish, and English settlements, was one of the original Union States and in many ways had been the womb of the Union -- Idaho had been a territory for barely 40 years (1860) and a state for only 13 (1890). The Nez Perce War of 1877 was still fresh in the memories of older people, on and off the Nez Perce reservation at Fort Lapwai. And my ancestors didn't arrive until the mid and late 1890s, when Nez Perce reservation lands on Central Ridge in Nez Perce County were opened for homesteading.

For this reason -- and for this reason alone -- my ancestral great grandfather Albert C. Hardman, and my great grand uncle John W. Thomas, were included as representative Central Ridge pioneers -- as were other members who figured in the lives of my Idaho relatives, including the Shortlidge, McGee, and Rogers families of Central Ridge and Peck.

Did Albert Hardman or John Thomas, or their families, buy a copy? Not to my knowledge. They probably never saw a copy. Presumably there was a copy in the Lewiston Public Library that my grandmother used when researching the history of her Hunter and Thomas lines in the 1960s. But there is no evidence in her notes that she saw or consulted it, and she never referred to it in any of her conversations with me. I discovered it through The Empire of Cousins (see above), in which the Goldings cite its remarks about Albert C. Hardman.


Public records

In compiling this history of the Wetherall-Hardman family and related unions, lines, and individuals, I have made abundant use of the usual variety of "public records" in the broadest sense of this term. As I define it here, "public records' refers to all documents and publications that, in principle, are available to the public -- whether or not they are official, and whether or not they are easily or unconditionally available to the general public.

Information about individuals and families can be found in all manner of records -- including birth, death, marriage, and divorce records -- but also city directories and school yearbooks, passenger manifests, military draft and enlistment records, tax rolls, grave registers, and publications such as newspapers and biographies -- to name just a few of the more obvious sources.

Vital records

The availability of official records concerning vital matters such as birth and death, and marriage and divorce, varies considerably from one government jurisdiction to another. The quality of such records -- the kind, amount, and accuracy of the recorded information -- also varies with place and time.

Simply because a record is "official" or "certified" does not mean that spellings, dates, and other particulars are correct. A number of records obtained for members of the extended Wetherall-Hardman family have spelling and other errors, some more than one.

City directories

City directories, when available, make excellent places to discover where someone lived at a certain time, especially between census years. Some early directories were rich in detail other than just street addresses. Occupations, places of work, names of schools, whether the residence is owned or rented, and even its value, and the name of a man's wife, can sometimes be found.

The availability of annual or semi-annual city directories in the case of the Balwin-Steele and Wetherall-Van Houton families, for example, show multiple changes of residence and jobs in the span of just a few years between, or before and after, national censuses in the early 20th century.

School yearbooks

School yearbooks can also be useful in confirming where someone might have attended school at a certain time. Yearbooks can also serve to verify the extent or quality of a person's completed education.

College yearbooks from the early 1850s qualify the nature William Edwin Wetherall's formal education somewhat differently than his obituaries in the early 1910s.


Most newspapers publish obituaries and other death notifications. Obituaries are known to misrepresent the deceased's life and family. Hastily prepared and edited obituaries are susceptible to the usual variety of careless errors. Examples abound in the obituaries of some members and relatives of the Wetherall-Hardman family.

The social pages of some local papers carry marriage and birth announcements, and some run legal notices related to litigation, including divorce. One such notice turned the received story about a certain Wetherall-Hardman aunt's divorce 180 degrees.

On-line sources

Numerous genealogy websites offer genealogy and family history services and aids, including access to large databases of images or digests of all manner of public and private records and materials that have been made available for scanning and/or transcription. I have made liberal use of Ancestry.com and affiliated websites, for a monthly fee that is worthwhile given the intensity of my research.

Having so much material so easily available creates the problem of what to make of and do with it all. Evaluation comes before utilization. Scans need to be read -- writing, typing, printing deciphered, sense made of abbreviations -- everything faithfully transcribed as received. A transcription accompanying a scan needs to be vetted and corrected against the scan. On-line transcriptions abound in errors created through misreading or editing, and one must guard against making similar errors in one's own transcriptions of original or scanned documents.

Information is useful only if a place can be found in a list, chart, narrative, or other kind of story. Some stories will inevitably include conflicts in information. While conflicts need to be resolved, possible resolutions include the acceptance of different forms or spellings of a person's names, or of variations of dates or places of birth or death, et cetera, as plausible. Not everything can be known with equal certainty.

The most important attitude toward any information -- whether discovered on-line or in an original document that has been handed down in one's family for generations, or heard from a personal informant -- is skepticism. All information -- true or false, accurate (which may be false) or erroneous (which may be true) -- is factual. In other words, all variations, all conflicts, are facts. What you think about a fact is your opinion. Skepticism is less about doubting than about being careful, watchful, alert. The Internet is a veritable jungle of misinformation resulting from lack of due vigilance.

Consuming on-line genealogical information requires the same caution as when buying any commodity -- Caveat emptor.



National censuses are also enumerated by state, but some states have conducted their own full or partial censuses.

National censuses

National censuses have been taken in the United States every 10 years since 1790. By law they are open to public examination after 70 years, hence 1940 is the latest available census. Enumeration standards have changed over the decades, and earlier censuses were not complete.

Enumeration dates

The "as of dates" of "datums" of censuses have varied as follows.

Datum dates of US decennial censuses, 1790 to present
  1st-4th  1790-1820  1st Monday in August
 5th-10th  1830-1880  1 June (Datum 31 May)
     11th  1890       2 June
     12th  1900       1 June
     13th  1910      15 April
     14th  1920       1 January 
From 15th  1930-      1 April

The datum date in principle determined a person's qualification for inclusion in the census as well as the person's age. Say that, in 1920, the population of a certain locality was enumerated on 12 January. Since the datum of the census was 1 January, someone born on 2 January, or who was living somewhere else on 1 January, should not have been counted. And a person born on 7 January 1910 would have been considered 9 rather 10 years old, based on their last birthday before the datum.


State censuses

In addition to national censuses every 10 years, a few states have carried out full or partial censuses between the national censuses. Iowa, for example, conducted its own censuses in the following years.

Datum dates of Iowa state censuses, 1856-1925
1856  80 of 81 organized counties (community sheets)
1885  All 99 counties (community sheets)
1905  All 99 counties (individual cards)
1915  All 99 counties (individual cards)
1925  All 99 counties (community sheets)

Iowa stands out as a very pro-census state. The nativity data on its 1925 census includes not only the places of birth but the names of a person's parents and where they were married.


Personal information and other census data

Enumeration standards evolved as quickly as the growing and spreading nation, and each census has been from slightly to radically different that earlier censuses. There are, however, some notable trends in the kinds of personal information and other data collected by census takers.

1790-1840 censuses

The censuses from 1790 to 1840 are valuable for many purposes, but they centered on information about households rather than about their individuals. They enumerated the name of the head of each household, but little personal information about the head. Other household members are reflected only as tallies broken down by sex and age-group within status categories like free whites, slaves, free colored people, and non-taxed Indians.

The status and age-group breakdowns become increasingly detailed. To the extent they characterize each household, they sometimes allow one to speculate as to whether the household in one census is the same as the household in a later household.

1850-1860 censuses

From 1850, censuses began list individuals within households, and provide information about each individual. From this point, censuses become valuable as sources of information on individuals. It also becomes easier to differentiate households with heads having similar names.

The 1850 and 1860 censuses show the name of the head of each household, followed by the name of each member of the household, and the sex, age, and color (white, black, mulatto), of each free inhabitant, plus columns for other information about each member, including whether the person was deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, a pauper, or a convict. These two censuses had separate slave schedules, which had columns for writing the name of the slave owner, and the age, sex, and color (but not the name) of each slave, and whether the slave had become a fugitive from the state, or had been manumitted, or was deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic.

1870-1890 censuses

Since 1870, following the emancipation of slaves after the Civil War of the 1860s, censuses have included all people by name, showing their sex, age, and color (white, black, mulatto, Chinese, Indian). The color classification on the 1890 census included white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian. However, practically all of the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, hence its data is unavailable.

Knowing a person's "nativity" -- where the person was born -- is a very valuable piece of information. But knowing also the nativity of a person's parents can help differentiate people with similar names and otherwise similar identities. The 1880 census began showing nativity breakdowns by the places of birth of the person, and of the person's mother and father.

1900-1940 censuses

Censuses from 1900 had a column for "Color or race". While earlier "color" categories are also clearly racial, the "racialization" of people began to embrace also "national origin" within broader skin-color classifications -- such as "Chinese" in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, and "Japanese" in the 1890 census.

The 1930 and 1940 censuses, following several earlier censuses, had supplementary schedules for the American Indian population, defined as Indians enrolled as members of federally recognized tribes. Indians on these separate schedules were classified by sex, age, and whether they were "full blood or mixed blood". This is partly due to the declaration by the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act that all therebefore non-citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States were thereafter citizens of the United States.

Non-citizen Indians, who were not taxed, usually lived on reservations, where they were formally affiliated with a tribe and were subject to its jurisdiction. Citizen Indians lived in, and were regarded as part of, the general population, and were subject to the same treatment as other citizens, including taxation. However, an increasing number of non-citizen Indians had moved off their reservation and were living in the general population.


Reliability of census data

Census data is subject to all manner errors, especially spelling errors. Census enumerators often spelled names the way they sounded to their ear, without confirming their spellings with the family informant -- assuming informant knew the spellings.

Place of birth, and places of birth of parents, are subject to misreporting and misrecording. Informants relied on memory, including memory of hearsay information, and there are cases when memory and hearsay information changes from census to census.

Sex, age, marital status, and race are also subject to erroneous reporting or recording. Reliability is limited by the nature of the classification.

Sex, age, and marital status

Sex, allowing for the lack of categories for rare cases of people who weren't unequivocally either male or female, was perhaps the easiest trait to accurately classify. Age was subject to errors of memory and calculation, but the effects of such errors on age-group breakdowns is negligible. Marital status was accurate to the extent that people didn't lie about their status -- such as by claiming they were married, single, or widowed, rather than admit they were divorced. All census reports I have seen on my own ancestral relatives, however, suggests that people frankly disclosed their actual status.

Race -- despite attempts by race scientists to objectively define racial classifications -- was subject to extremely impressionistic judgments, especially for persons whose features allowed them, or the enumerator, a degree of freedom in choice of classification. This was especially the case for putatively "mixed" persons, but some people who did not think of themselves as "mixed" -- such as an "Chinese" or "White" -- might also be misclassified.


Racial classifications

Changes in racial classifications on United States censuses tell the history of the official racialization of the country, from its establishment on the foundations of slavery, to the shackles of federal race boxes today.

The information in the following table is based mainly on direct examination of censuses from 1810-1940 (except 1890, which was destroyed in a fire), and the following publication, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Census Bureau (1902-2002), formerly the Census Office.

Measuring America 2002

Measuring America: The Decennial Censuses From 1790 to 2000
U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, D.C.: April 2002
140, 6 pages, PDF file

Also of interest are the following publications.

Indian Affairs Report 1876

Commissioner for Indian Affairs, Office of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior
The Annual Report of the Commissioner for Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior for the Year 1876
Washington: Government Printing Office, 1876
XXV, 357 pages (archive.org)

Hochschild and Powell 2008

Jennifer L. Hochschild and Brenna M. Powell
Racial Reorganization and the United States Census 1850-1930: Mulattoes, Half-Breeds, Mixed Parentage, Hindoos, and the Mexican Race
Studies in American Political Development
Volume 22, Number 1 (Spring 2008)
Pages 59-96 (Jennifer L. Hochschild, Harvard College

The following website has images of census forms and scans of enumerator instructions for all United States censuses from 1850 to 2010.


Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS)
Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota

United States census categories related to status, color, or race, 1790-1950
The evolution of America's obsession with skin color and ethnonational ancestry

See Race boxes in US censuses, 1790-2020 for a more comprehensive table which covers all United States censuses to date, and includes commentary on changes in racial and other classifications of interest for each census year.

1790-1840 Free white, 1850-1880 Color, 1890-1940 Color or race, 1950 Race, 1960-1970 Color or race, 1980 Is this person, 1990-2020 Race
1790 Free white males (≥16, <16), Free white females, All other free persons (sex, color), Slaves
1800 Free white males (age), Free white females (age), All other free persons (except Indians not taxed), Slaves
1810 Free white males (age), Free white females (age), All other free persons (except Indians not taxed), Slaves
1820 Free white males (age), Free white females (age), Slaves (sex, age), Free colored persons (sex, age), All others except Indians not taxed
Foreigners not naturalized (White persons)
1830 Free white persons, Slaves, Free colored persons, Slaves (all by sex and age)
Deaf and dumb, blind (White persons, Slaves and colored persons)
Aliens -- Foreigners not naturalized (White persons)
1840 Free white persons, Free colored persons, Slaves (all by sex and age)
1850 6. Color -- (White, black, or mulatto)
13. Deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict
1860 6. Color -- (White, Black, or Mulatto)
13. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict.
1870 6. Color -- White (W.), Black (B.), Mulatto (M.), Chinese (C.), Indian (I.)
18. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic.
1880 4. Color -- White, W.; Black, B.; Mulatto, Mu.; Chinese, C.; Indian, I.
16. Blind, 17. Deaf and Dumb, 18. Idiotic, 19. Insane, 20. Maimed, Crippled, Bedridden, or otherwise disabled
1890 5. Color or race -- Whether white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian
1900 5. Color or Race -- Whether white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian
1910 6. Color or Race -- White, Black, Mulatto, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Other
31. Whether blind (both eyes), 32. Whether deaf and dumb
1920 10. Color or Race -- White, Black, Mulatto, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu, Korean, Other
1930 12. Color or Race -- White, Black, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hindu, Korean, Other
1940 10. Color or Race -- White (W), Negro (Neg), Indian (In), Chinese (Ch), Japanese (Jp), Filipino (Fil), Hindu (Hin), Korean (Kor), Other races, spell out in full
16. Citizenship of the foreign born -- Naturalized (Na), Having first papers (Pa), Alien (Al), American citizen born abroad (Am Cit)
1950 9. Race -- White (W), Negro (Neg), American Indian (Ind), Japanese (Jap), Chinese (Chi), Filipino (Fil), Hindu (Hin), Korean (Kor), Other race -- spell out
Censuses from 1960s Since 1960, censuses have utilized machine-readable survey sheets.
"Race or color" is used again on the 1960 and 1970 censuses, after which only "Race" is used.
From 1960, the number of "Race" categories began to proliferate.
From 1970, censuses began to specifically identify people of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin or descent.
From 2000, it became possible to check more than one race.



General abbreviations


cem   cemetery
cen   census
co   county
head   head of household

Events and dates

b   born
d   died
m   married
div   divorced
c   circa (date)
abt   years (age)
bef   before (date)
aft   after (date)
nlt   no later than (date)
net   no earlier than (date)
n   near (place)


M   male
F   female

Race or color

W   white
CA   Caucasian
C   Colored
N   Negro
In   Indian

Marital status

M   married
S   single
W   widowed
Wd   widowed
D   divorced


h/o   husband of
w/o   wife of
s/o   son of
d/o   daughter of

Wars and conflicts

CW   Civil War
WW1   Great War, World War, World War I
WW2   World War II
KW   Korean War
VW   Vietnam War

U.S. states, commonwealths, and territories (Post Office abbreviations)
AK AlaskaHI HawaiiME MaineNJ New JerseySD South Dakota
AL AlabamaIA IowaMI MichiganNM New MexicoTN Tennessee
AR ArkansasID IdahoMN MinnesotaNV NevadaTX Texas
AZ ArizonaIL IllinoisMO MissouriNV NevadaUT Utah
CA CaliforniaIN IndianaMS MississippiOH OhioVA Virginia
CO ColoradoKS KansasMT MontanaOK OklahomaVT Vermont
CT ConnecticutKY KentuckyNE NebraskaOR OregonWA Washington
DE DelawareLA LouisianaNC North CarolinaPA PennsylvaniaWI Wisconsin
FL FloridaMA MassachusettsND North DakotaRI Rhode IslandWV West Virginia
GA GeorgiaMD MarylandNH New HampshireSC South CarolinaWY Wyoming
DC District of ColumbiaAS American SamoaGU GuamMP Northern Mariana IslandsVI Virgin Islands
PR Puerto Rico


History as evaluation

Investigating a family's past is to enter a labyrinth of branching trails with loops and spurs that sometimes cross or simply dead-end as they cut, turn, wind, and twist through the terrain of fact and opinion. Both facts and opinions are subject to tests of proof of correctness, but correctness may prove to be an illusion.

A name on a census report is a fact. How it is spelled is a fact. The qualities of sex, race, age, and marital status and so forth are also facts. But they are not necessarily factual. They are simply facts on record -- true only to the extent that the records haven't been cooked or doctored -- and meaningful only in the their social contexts.

Two different spellings of the name of presumably the same person on different census reports or other documents are both facts. If only one of the spellings can be right, then the other is wrong. Or so one might think. But both spellings might be correct in their own time -- one at the time of birth, say, and the other at the time of death. Or both might prove to be incorrect if a third variation is found on both the birth and death certificates and on other significant legal records.


"History" is generally regarded as an examination and analysis of the past based on written records. "Pre-history" deals with periods of time before written records are available.

Though history is essentially what is written, what is written is usually based on what someone somewhere, sometime long ago or recently, spoke or thought in words. Writing is, after all, merely a graphic representation of language, which is essentially a medium for expressing thought.

Before the development of graphic means of recording information in material form, the past was transmitted into the future orally, relying entirely on personal and collective human memory. Systems of writing slowly evolved for some languages and spread to others, but not everything that happened was chronicled, and the forms and standards of documentation varied with the event.

A few events in a person's life are formally documented in official records but rarely in great detail, and a few events are documented in casual news reports or correspondence, but most events are deemed too trivial to write about. Moreover, official records and personal letters, like everything else, are subject to decay, destruction, and loss. And materials that survive may be inaccessible.

Oral history

"Oral history" is both an oxymoron and a conundrum. How can "history" -- if written -- be "oral"? Come to think of it, though, whatever is written -- simply because it represents language -- must originally have been "oral" -- if only in the writer's thoughts.

And "oral history" is usually based on a recording, in any material medium, of someone's personal account of themselves or of something they witnessed as bystanders or participants. A tape recording, or a transcription of a recording of grandma's tale of growing up on the farm, would an example of oral history.

My own paraphrasing of what I just heard my grandmother say ten minutes ago about her life is also oral history but would constitute a "secondary" or "reported" or "hearsay" re-telling of her story in my words. My own account of what I remember hearing her tell me half a century ago is subject to the effects of time on my memory.

Whatever I write about whatever my grandmother supposedly said to me becomes "material evidence" in the sense that it is preserved in material form. But it is not evidence of what she said. It is evidence only of what I recalled that she said at the time I wrote my recollections. As "evidence" it substantially differs in quality from, say, a tape recording of my grandmother telling her own story, or notes or letters she wrote. It also differs in quality from my mother's or an aunt's recollections of the same event or matter.

All evidence, though, requires evaluation with respect to its reliability. Competing versions of a story require vetting against, where possible, independent information. If there are no external measures of accuracy, then competing versions need to be vetted against each other in terms of plausibility. And without grounds for ranking versions, all versions may have to be accepted as equally plausible -- pending the discovery of new evidence.

Materials, memory, and hearsay

Family stories about the past are a mixture of material evidence, personal memory, and hearsay. All such sources of information constitute facts. Facts, however, are not necessarily "factual" in the sense of being "accurate" or "truthful" reflections of what "really" happened in the past.

Material evidence and things like a photograph, a census record, or a postcard with a postmark and message. The are facts because they exist.

Whether a photograph is an original, or retouched, damaged, or otherwise altered, will affect its reliability as a representation of its subject. It is possible that a doctored photograph is more representative of the subject because the original may have been distorted in some way, and the doctoring corrected the distortion.

Early census records were created by enumerators who generally went house to house and recorded information about occupants. The recorded information may be an accurate record of what an informant reported to the enumerator. Or the enumerator may have recorded something incorrectly. Even when accurately recorded, the informant's information may have been incorrect. But right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate, whatever is written on a census record is a material fact.

While written symbols constitute "facts" in and of themselves, they become meaningful only when deciphered. Do the scribbled letters represent the family name "Wetherall" or "Witherall" or "Wetherell"? Or "Witcheall" or "Mitcherall" or "Mitchell"? Is the personal name "Wm" or "Jim" or "Tom"? If both "Witherall" and "Wetherall" under the same roof of a household, which is the "correct" name? Or are both, or is neither, correct?

Memory twenty, forty, eighty years after an event is not necessarily less accurate than a contemporary diary entry -- which could well be faulty in ways improved by time. The diary entry might reflect an unwillingness or inability at the time to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Age is known to increase the willingness of people to be ruthlessly honest in matters they were more reluctant to disclose then younger.

Yet age is also known to play tricks on memory, resulting in loss and confusion of detail, as well as in inflation of detail through enlargement or imagination. A date or name might be wrong. Or such details could prove to be right but other details are missing, perhaps forgotten, perhaps never known. And some missing details will be more important than others.

Hearsay is transmission by a third party of information from another party or source. An accurate transmission of information is accurate if the original information is transmitted without distortion. The accuracy of the original information is another matter. Words or other details might change in ways that distort the quality of the original information. Yet a third-party account of a story may turn out to be more accurate than the original story.

A lot of material evidence results from the recording of memory and hearsay. Information recorded on a birth certificate, say, may represent personal memory of hearsay. The memory, and/or the hearsay, may be incorrect. The person filling out the birth report -- whether a member of the family or a physician or nurse or county clerk -- may miswrite information on account of having mislearned or misheard something, or ignorance of a spelling.


Family history -- like political and social history -- may be motivated by a desire to see the past through a particular set of lenses. The lenses through which "national" and "critical" histories are seen are very likely to be ideological. Family historians are prone to romanticize their family's roots along the lines of its most prominent surnames.

Family history is usually motivated by pride in ancestry -- pride in heritage -- pride in representing a continuing succession of human reproduction through unions of unknown and unknown ancestors going back to the beginning of humanity. Family histories often stress "ethnic" roots and ties with famous (or notorious) ancestors. No history is complete without a few colorful adventure stories, the older the better, about life in times past -- years, decades, and centuries ago, when the world was different.


The problem of determining which of two contradictory "facts" is correct is really no different from that of determining whether even a single "fact" is correct. The object of evaluation is not to compare one "fact" with a competing "fact" -- but to subject every "fact" to an independent test of correctness.

How do you resolve which of two possible birth dates is correct if all you have is an date of death and age at time of death? One has to assume that the date of death and age are accurate -- but the age could have been computed only by assuming a date of birth. The age therefore biases the choice of which, if either, of the two birth dates is correct. The problem will remains unsolved without independent evidence in the form of a birth certificate or equivalent document.

"Facts" in stories also need to be checked. A degree of "healthy skepticism" is essential. The most "obvious" facts can prove to be less than factual.

An attempt to corroborate even the most believable story will generally reveal discrepancies. Answers to questions are likely to raise new questions. In the end you have a different story -- if not several plausible different stories -- and lots of unanswered and probably unanswerable questions. In your disillusionment, you may wonder if it wouldn't have easier to simply have accepted Grandpa's tale and let it be.

How, though, does one go about vetting or "fact checking" a story? In other words, how does one know a story is "accurate" or "true"? The two words are not -- to repeat -- equivalent. An "accurate" story is a faithful account of the "facts" of a story. But the "facts" may not be "factual" or "truthful". The story may be partly "true" and partly" false" -- partly based on "actual" happenings and partly based on "imagined" or "fantasized" occurences.

Three birth dates

If your grandmother tells you that your grandfather was born on 1 January 1899, and you later remember that she said 1 January 1899, then your account of her story will be "accurate". If you relate that she said "1 January 1898" then your account will be inaccurate.

But what if you find a birth certificate that says he was born on 1 January 1898? And what if you also find an army enlistment record dated 21 December 1914, that states he was born on 1 January 1887?

All three dates are "facts" in that they represent information apart from the veracity of the information. Presumably, though, only one date is "factual" in the sense of being the "true" or "real" or "actual" date of birth.

Whoever dated the birth certificate might have written "1898" out of habit, as it often takes a few days for the new year to register reflexively. Doubts about the year could be resolved by examining birth ledgers or rolls, which would show a progression of December 1898 to January 1899 entries. Birth notifications may also have a serial number assigned them in the order in which are accepted for processing and filing. A birth certificate issued directly by a hospital at time of birth is not necessarily more reliable than a certificate issued by a county recorder's office based on its records, which may or may not be based on the hospital-issued certificate.

What about the date of birth on the enlistment record? It, too, is a fact, in that the record exists and it clearly and unambiguously states 1 January 1897. It could well be true. The birth may actually have taken place then but not been registered until 1899, and then been registered as having taken place that year.

A more likely possibility, though, is that your grandfather lied about his age when enlisting shortly after the start of the Great War. One could then enlist at 18 without parental consent, and at 16 or 17 with consent. And in all wars, underage applicants determined to serve are known to lie about their age and get away with it. You might even find evidence that the recruiter was known to aid and abet underage enlistees in order to inflate his performance record.

Misinformation at home

Family members unwittingly misrepresent names and dates on official records or other material. Several examples exist in materials related to my own family.

My maternal grandmother's name is spelled "Ullie Mae" rather than "Ullie May" on my mother's death certificate. My father provided the information on the certificate. He either wrote it that because that's how he remembered it at the moment, or he dictated the name to someone who wrote it "Mae" and he simply failed to notice it. Or possibly he wrote "May" and someone typed it "Mae". Ullie herself spelled it "May" in her own notes about family history, and that is the way it is spelled in newspaper articles about her, including her obituary.

My mother died on 9 August but one of the cards distributed at her memorial service, held on 21 August, states that he died on 14 August 2003. Several family members, including yours truly, were involved in the design and editing of the cards. No one noticed it. We were all thinking about other things.

The attending physician signed her death certificate on 11 August, and the earliest certified copies of the death certificate were issued on 12 August. I arrived at the family home in Grass Valley from my home in Japan on 14 August. A couple of days after my arrival, the Neptune Society, which had removed her body from the house shortly after she passed away, delivered her ashes to the house. By that time we were dealing with a very inaccurate obituary in the local paper. It was written by a staff member on the basis of information provided partly by telephone. We went directly to the editor's office and wrote and proofed an entirely new obituary.

My mother's place of birth is spelled "Perk" on my birth certificate, though in fact it was "Peck". A clerk may have misheard it but more likely mistranscribed it.

My father's middle name is "Bascum" on his birth certificate and "Bascum" on his birth announcement cards. That was clearly the intended spelling, for his maternal grandfather's name was Newton Bascum Baldwin, who went by N.B. Or N. Bascum or just Bascum. My father said he himself had always spelled it "Bascom" -- but he had no idea why. The original spelling was never legally changed that he was aware of, but became his legal name as a matter of habitual usage.

His younger sister was supposed to be "Mary Arlene", but the name on her birth certificate was "Mary Arleen", and the family decided to leave it that way.

When in the Army, as a medic assigned to an ambulance company, I distinguished myself by being the top of the class in a two-week course on driving ambulances, and deuce-and-a-halfs with trailers, under field and combat conditions. The name on the fancy certificate said "Pvt. William D. Wetherall". After the ceremony, I told the company commander, a 1st lieutenant, that there had been a mistake -- I'd been given someone else's certificate -- that I was William O., not William D. He told me to keep it until William D. returned the certificate with William O. on it.

So when it comes to names, the "incorrect" spelling may in fact be the "correct" spelling -- or vice versa.

War stories

Less mechanical elements of stories are more difficult to confirm. Did your grandpa really distinguish himself in battle? Were his stories about the Eastern Front true?

Or are the stories as remembered by his great-great grandchildren true? Grandpa tells his story a bit differently each time he tells it. The versions passed down to you by your father also change a little with each telling. A few details are lost, some altered, others added. The version your grandchildren hear from you may be very different from the versions you heard from your father.

Family stories are heard, believed, and passed on as the story teller remembers them, in his or her own words, plus or minus a few. Hand-me-down "grandpa stories" are not about grandfathers. They are of, by, and for the family, which thrives on stories about its ancestors, the more interesting and exciting the better. Grandpa himself understood that to get his children and grandchildren to listen to his war stories, he had to make them entertaining. And descendants are motivated to make them increasingly entertaining.


Larger stories

Resolving conflicting reports is more than a matter of determining which of two different reports is the "true" or "truer" report. The "untrue" or "less true" report may be every bit as interesting and meaningful, and in some cases it may be even more significant as part of what I call the "larger" story.

Side harmonics

I like to think of "misinformation" -- whether a careless error or malicious lie -- as the "side harmonics" of the "information" that rings with truth. Take the case of my paternal grandfather's death.

William Riley Wetherall's oldest daughter, Mary Arleen (Wetherall) (Van Ryswyk) Wells, of Carlisle, Iowa, related to me, through her daughter-in-law, the circumstances of her father's death in 1936 when she was 14 years old. She said he died and was buried in Knoxville, Iowa, where she reported they were then living.

War Department records show that, in 1938, William R. Wetherall's wife, Nellie M. Wetherall, applied for an upright headstone under a government program that provided headstones for war veterans. The stone was to be delivered to Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville. And a WPA (Works Progress Administration Graves Registration Survey conducted in the late 1930s records that a William R. Wetherall (1890-1936) was buried at Graceland Cemetery in Knoxville, Marion County, Iowa, and that he had served in the World War. Mary Wells also reported that Nellie herself worked in the Iowa WPA grave registration program, though she did not say in which locality.

The Knoxville WPA graves survey lists a William R. Wetherall who was born on 2 May 1890 and died on 4 July 1936. But the WPA graves survey for Audubon, Iowa, lists a W.R. Wetherall who was born in 1886 and died on 4 July 1936. The Audubon record refers to a 5 July 1936 report in the Des Moines Register as the source of its information.

As early as 1932, William R. Riley was working as a compositor for the Register and Tribune Company, which published both the morning Register and evening Tribune. By no later than 1935, though, he was working as a compositor for the Advocate and Republican, a weekly paper in Audubon, Iowa. And by the time he died, the family had moved from Audubon to Knoxville, which was William R. Wetherall's home town.

Nellie, my father's step-mother, was born and raised in Des Moines, and all four of their children, my father's younger half-siblings, were also born in Des Moines. My father, who was 25 at the time his father died, was born in Ames, Iowa, spent his early childhood in St. Maries, Idaho, then went to grade school in Knoxville and high school in Des Moines. But he was working in Montana at time his father died, didn't go back to Iowa for his funeral, and didn't relate what he had heard of the circumstances of his father's death.

Pending the location and examination of William R. Wetherall's death certificate and his grave site, one has to assume that Mary's recollections are true. At the same time, the conflicting WPA reports in Internet databases created by family history organizations demand explanation. Or -- as I would prefer to say -- Mary's story needs to be enlarged to include the other stories as "side harmonics" -- stories which are also "facts" -- even if not as "true" as her story.

To put it somewhat differently -- just as a symphony orchestra creates beautiful music, not as a sum of discrete instrumental sounds, but as a dynamic interaction between the sounds -- the story of William R. Wetherall's death is larger than the sum of its parts. The minor instruments compliment the major instruments. The quieter sounds deepen the louder sounds.

Did the Audubon WPA graves survey reference to the Des Moines Register allude to an obituary for William R. Wetherall? Or did it allude to merely a report of his death on a simple list of names of Iowans who had recently died, with dates and places of death?

If to an actual obituary, how long was it, and where did it originate? Was it written by a Des Moines Register reporter based on a teletype or phone call from an informant in Audubon or even Knoxville? Who, in either town, would have informed the Des Moines paper in such a timely manner that it was able to report news of William R. Wetherall's death the following day?

Two photographs survive of William R. Riley's days in Audubon. One shows him composing type. Another shows him with other members of the Advocate staff. Did someone at the Advocate, hearing of his death, knowing of his past association with the Register and Tribune Company, inform someone at company?

Pending an examination of the 5 July 1936 issue of the Des Moines Register, all this is speculation. But that the Des Moines paper might have run an obituary for William R. Wetherall, in tribute to a former employee, would be a significant part of his story. It would imply that he hadn't been forgotten by friends and colleagues with whom he had enjoyed a measure of camaraderie.

Whatever the nature of the Register report, apparently it created the impression that -- true or not -- William R. Wetherall might have passed away in Audubon and be buried there.



Everyone is born to a woman who has been impregnated by a man. It doesn't matter if it happens in wedlock, or whether it's consensual, or out of love or for money or in the throes of unspeakable violence. A life comes into being, and with a modicum of care the baby will grow into a child that begins to ponder the conditions of its existence.

The facts of life

At some point in our childhood we hear about "the facts of life" or "the birds and the bees" from friends if not our parents or teachers, or from books or magazines we're not supposed to read. We learn that we came from mama's tummy, not a stork or a cabbage or a peach, or from Amazon.com.

Eventually we puzzle out the relationships between our parents and grandparents, and perhaps our 8 or so great grandparents, and aunts and great uncles and third cousins X times removed. Few of us ever meet (or remember meeting) any of our 16 (give or take a few) great-great grandmas or grandpas, though we may see them, and even more distant ancestors, in black-and-white or brown photographs that seem to come from another world. Those of us with truly old (and aristocratic) family histories may see the Progenitor himself -- possibly with the Progenitress -- in an oil portrait on a museum wall somewhere.

Whose nose, whose eyes, whose skin?

Families will debate which parent or other relative a child most resembles. You've got your father's nose, your mother's hair, your maternal grandfather's eyes. Some children discover later in life that their natural father was actually a grandfather, an uncle, or even an older brother. Or their natural mother was actually a grandmother, an aunt, or an older sister.

Or you discover that you were adopted from an unrelated family, or from an orphanage. Or you learn that you were found one morning in a basket beside the milk on the front porch. Or it turns out the rumors that began to spread at school one day -- that your dad was the milkman, or your mom was the family maid -- are true.

Or snooping in your parents closet one day, you find some photographs of your mother or father with another man or woman and a child that could be you. You keep it to yourself because, if you ask about it, your parents will know you were snooping. But the thought that you may not be what you thought you were, haunts you.

Blood types

Then one day in school, you learn about blood types. Your homework is to ask your parents what your and their blood types are. Everyone will report their findings to the class, and students will compute the percents of A, B, O, and AB types in the class.

Your parents look at each other but tell you.

You report to the class that you and your mom are Os, your older brother's an A. Your younger sister's a B, and your dad's an AB. The student at the board adds this data to the running tally.

The next student is about to report when the class brain raises her hand. The teacher, who's been peering at you, acknowledges the hand raiser.

"If Lucy's parents are O and AB, then she can't be an O," the class brain says.

The teacher's eyes close then open. "Let's talk about that after everyone reports," he says. But the bell rings before he can return to the question, and you slip out of the room while he and the class brain huddle at her desk.

After dinner that night, you tell your parents what happened, show them what the textbook says, and ask them why you look so different from your older and younger siblings. You parent's eyes meet, your father nods, and your mother says, "I was raped by enemy soldier's during the war. We decided it didn't matter. And we hope it doesn't matter to you, because we love you. That's all that matters."

All that matters

But it's not all that matters to you. You have trouble sleeping, thinking of the circumstances of your conception. You also wonder what the teacher and the class brain talked about after class.

What if they, or someone else, asks you? You decide you'll tell them you made a mistake. You're actually an A. You'll save the truth for another day.

In the meantime, you live with the realization that you are a product of nature, red in tooth and claw. The human condition, at its meanest, is no different than the condition of other animals, many of which are subject as human beings to courtship rituals that result in some degree of compliance with a mating call.

are political

Relationships are political. Courtships are political. Wars are political. Civilizations are political. And, ultimately, families are political. "Political" in that they are based on power relationships, whether involving the power of love, money, muscle, or blood.

In college, you decide to study your biological father's native language and study the history of his country. The chances of your finding him are slim, but you never know. You know the name of the enemy battalion that crossed your parent's farm that day. You're aware its veterans occasionally hold reunions.

You're prepared to understand the circumstances. The incident was what it was, an act of unforgivable brutality. Better, perhaps, to understand it as merely a crossing of paths, and not necessarily an unfortunate one. For here you are, healthy and loved, attending school, your future full of promise, thanks to your parents, who decided it was better to accept what couldn't be changed and go on with life.

What became of your father? Perhaps he migrated to this country and is living in the same town. What if, in the line of his work, he were to appear at the door? Would they recognize him? Would they want to kill him?

Perhaps you find a veteran who recalled the day his unit searched your home and found your mother in the cellar. And he told you what happened. The squad that raped your mother was entirely wiped out, half an hour later, during a counter offensive. Surviving members of the unit, including your informant, were taken prisoner. Would you feel happy? Would you feel vindicated by what you might see as an act of divine retribution?

Or perhaps the veteran said the man who might be your father was still alive. He agreed to pass a message to him. and a week later, he passed you a message from the man. He was in a hospital and wanted to see you. And at his bedside, you confront a man who looked like you would look if you were his age and about to die of cancer.

Thicker than blood

Some children discover early in life that they look entirely unlike either parent, and unlike any of their mother's or father's relatives. Their skin color and other such features may be totally different. Other adults and kids may point this out, sometimes cruelly. The children realize that they are of a different race, and that they have been adopted, possibly from another country. Or perhaps they are a child their mom or dad had with a someone of a different race before they married.

Blood ties often come down to ethnonational or racial ties. And here, too, the lies families contrive to establish and safeguard their honor run the spectrum. Lies told in the interest of instilling pride. Pride in blood purity -- "All our ancestors are Irish." Or pride in having no unwanted impurity -- "There's no Jewish blood in my veins."

Mixed-blood fantasies

Or pride in possession of a quantum of fashionable blood -- "I'm part Cherokee through my great-great-great grandmother, according to my mother."

You're blond, pink, and your eyes glow in the dark. But you love to read western fiction featuring Indian heroes -- half-blood, full-bloods, and even no-bloods.

Your favorite heroes when a boy were Chief Joseph and Straight Arrow. Or when a girl you imagined yourself a captive of a Comanche band that had killed your parents when raiding their home. You were raised in the band, married its future chief, and went on to lead your adoptive people in their continuing battles against the Federal Government, earning the nickname White Squaw.

Now you want to write your own western action or romance novels. If only you could claim to be at least part Sioux, Navajo, or even Modoc. Well, maybe you were. You'll never know until you know. And the only way you'll know is to find out. That may take some time, for it's not as easy to trace your ancestors as some Internet genealogical websites make it seem. It's even more difficult to prove that you've got a drop of Native American blood in your veins.

In the meantime, it won't do any harm to tell your friends that one of your distant ancestors is supposed to have been the son of an Iroquois Mohawk woman and a French beaver trapper who himself became a scout. You begin to imagine how all this will look on the author's biographical profile in the back of the book on supermarket fiction rack. Such ethnic creds might compensate for your shaky plot.

One-sixteenth Cherokee

Say, for example, your father relates the following account.

"My grandmother on my father's side -- your great paternal-paternal grandmother -- told me her father told her his mother was half Cherokee through her mother."

Let's assume that your father wasn't embellishing or lying. In other words, what he told you was an accurate and truthful recollection of what your great grandmother told him -- which does not mean that what he told you is true, but simply that it is a faithful replication of her original "half Cherokee" statement. We are talking about the following chain of transmission from the remark your "paternal-paternal-maternal-paternal great-great-great grandmother" of 5 generations ago reportedly made about her ancestry in relationship to her mother.

The survival of 64 bloodlines 6 generations back

1/64th of each 6th-generation bloodline survives

 n = Ancestral generation counting back from present generation
 0       1         2         3          4         5         6

An = Number of lineal ancestors in nth generation = 2^n
 1       2         4         8         16        32        64

Quantum of progenitor's blood remaining in each ancestral generation 
 1/64    1/32      1/16      1/8       1/4       1/2       1/1

 YOU  -- FATHER -- FATHER -- Father                      PROGENITOR
         Mother    Mother    MOTHER -- FATHER -- Father
                                       Mother    MOTHER -- Father
Relationship to you 
                                                 PATERNAL  PATERNAL
                                       PATERNAL  PATERNAL  MATERNAL
                             PATERNAL  PATERNAL  MATERNAL  PATERNAL
                   Grand     Great     Great     Great     Great 
                   FATHER    grand     great     great     great 
                             MOTHER    grand     great     great 
                                       FATHER    grand     great 
                                                 MOTHER    grand

But what were your half and full Cherokee ancestors' names? Names don't easily survive, and women's names don't survive as well as men's names in early records. Families favored keeping track of the main patrilineal line. Other male lines, unless particularly famous, tended to be underplayed or ignored. Women, as wives and mothers, were commonly referred to by their given names only. And again, unless a source of historical pride, little attention was given to maternal lines.

Even if you knew the natal (maiden) name of your half or full Cherokee ancestor, you would need to confirm the name's existence on a Cherokee census, typically one taken when the alleged progenitor's tribe or band was enrolled on a reservation somewhere in accordance with a treaty agreement. Whether the tribe, if it still exists, would recognize you as a member, even if only honorary, is another matter. A DNA test might show you to have a quantum of any "blood" you care to name, but does that make you "of" that blood?

The difference between
astronomy and astrology

In other words, "oral history" remains "hearsay" and does not cross the line into the realm of "history" until it is verified by independent evidence in the form of documentation. This is the difference between genealogy as a social "science" and genealogy as a casual family activity that relies mainly on oral history or its written equivalent in the form of letters and other such personal reports. It's sort of like the difference between astronomy and astrology.

This is not to say that facsimiles of official documents -- such as birth, death, and marriage records, and census reports, not to mention cemetery registers, property deeds, or military service records -- are more accurate than personal letters, jottings on the back of photographs, or tape recordings of testimonies by living witnesses. Oral transmissions of stories passed down through the generations are likely to be distorted every time they are told. Yet the people who fill out official forms, or copy information from one form to another, may also make errors because they mishear or misread something, or fail to confirm assumed spellings -- or because they are as illiterate as their informant. So seemingly "credible" sources can turn out to be unreliable.


Kinship and consanguinity

Most people are familiar with kinship terms for blood relatives like mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, great aunt, and cousin and the like. Qualifiers like "maternal" and "paternal" -- and "half" and "step" and "in-law" -- are also generally understood. Terms that make distinctions between relatives separated by more than a couple of generations laterally -- like "1st cousin" or "3rd cousin twice removed" -- can be very confusing.

Family relationships

The following table shows relationships spanning five generations, representing both lineal (first row horizontal and first column vertical) relationships, and collateral (diagonal) relationships. The table shows the names of relationships up to four generations from a given common ancestor.

Relationships between people with common ancestors
1Common AncestorSon DaughterGrandchildGreat grandchild2nd Great Grandchild
2Son DaughterBrother SisterNiece NephewGrand
Niece Nephew
Great Grand
Nice Nephew
3GrandchildNiece NephewFirst CousinFirst Cousin
Once Removed
First Cousin
Twice Removed
4Great grandchildGrand
Niece Nephew
First Cousin
Once Removed
Second CousinSecond Cousin
Once Removed
52nd Great grandchildGreat Grand
Niece Nephew
First Cousin
Twice Removed
Second Cousin
Once Removed
Third Cousin


Kinship relationships defined in civil law

The following table shows relatives spanning three generations of lineal ancestors backward (ancestral) and forward (descendant) from a given person, which could be you -- plus collateral relatives stemming from lineal ancestors. This scheme is widely used in identifying relatives for purposes of civil law, including but not limited to inheritance law.

Degrees of separation (s) between direct and collateral relatives
3rd collateral lines1st collateral linesDirect descent line2nd collateral lines4th collateral lines
3. Great grandparents1. Parents0. Person2. Grandparents4. Grt-grt grandparents
4. Great-great grandparent
3. Great grandparent5. Great-great aunt, uncle
4. Great aunt, uncle2. Grandparent6. 1st cousin 2x removed
5. 1st cousin 1x removed1. Parent3. Aunt, uncle7. 2nd cousin 1x removed
6. 2nd cousin2. Sibling0. Descendant4. 1st cousin8. 3rd cousin
7. 2nd cousin 1x removed3. Niece, nephew1. Child5. 1st cousin 1x removed9. 3rd cousin 1x removed
8. 2nd cousin 2x removed4. Great niece, nephew2. Grandchild6. 1st cousin 2x removed10. 3rd cousin 2x removed
9. 2nd cousin 3x removed5. Grt x2 niece, nephew3. Great grandchild7. 1st cousin 3x removed11. 3rd cousin 3x removed
10. 2nd cousin 4x removed6. Grt x3 niece, nephew4. Grt-grt grandchild8. 1st cousin 4x removed12. 3rd cousin 4x removed

The degree of separation (s) of a person's spouse will the same as the person -- as far as the spouse's in-law relationships are concerned. In other words, both you and your spouse are 1 degree (s = 1) separated from each other's parents -- as either a child or as a child-in-law. Ditto for all other relationships, whether consanguineous (blood) or legal (in-law).

Degrees of separation (s) on kinship charts like this are commonly used in laws to draw lines within which relatives -- by blood as well as in some by law (marriage or adoption) are subject to certain laws. Japanese law, for example, defines relatives of various kinds within 6 degrees of separation. In Japan, a judge is not allowed to preside over a case involving a litigant who is within 4 degrees of relationship. And people are not allowed to marry direct lineal relatives, or collateral relatives within 3 degrees of relationship. Thus in Japan, a judge could marry, but not hear the case of, a 1st cousin -- a 4th degree relative.

Degree of consanguinity (c) and probability of sharing genes (p)

Consanguinity from a purely genetic point of view is somewhat different. In genetics, the degree of blood relationship or consanguinity (c) can be expressed as the probability of sharing genes (p). The probability that you share the genes of your biological parents, full siblings, full children, and double-grandchildren is roughly 1/2. The actual percent of sharing will of course be case-by-case, but the odds are that you and such "immediate" relatives will share about half of your genes.

Your parents and their siblings, and your children and their children, are also "immediately" related hence share 1/2 of their genes, which means that you and your cousins, and you and your grandchildren, share 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/4 of your genes. And so forth. The same relationship holds for you and your half-siblings -- that is, your relationship with them is comparable to your relationship with your cousins and grandchildren, in that you most likely share only about 1/4 of your genes.

Mathematically, the degree of relationship (c) and the probability of sharing are related as follows.

1st degree (c = 1) p = 1/2 = 2^-1 = 2 to the -1 power
2nd degree (c = 2) p = 1/4 = 2^-2 = 2 to the -2 power
3rd degree (c = 3) p = 1/8 = 2^-3 = 2 to the -3 power
et cetera

Or you could say

p = 1 / 2^c = 2^-d
p = 2 to the -c power = the reciprocal of 2 to the c power

Or you could say

c = log(1/2) p = log2 1/p
c = logarithm (base 1/2) of p = log (base 2) of the reciprocal of p

Degree of separation (s) and degree of consanguinity (c)

Separation and consanguinity are also mathematically related like this.

You and your siblings are separated by 2 degrees (s = 2). But you and your brother, say, are separated by two paths, one through your common mother and the other through your common father.

You (s=0) mother (s=1) brother (s=2), i.e., p = 2^-2 = 1/4
You (s=0) father (s=1) brother (s=2), i.e., p = 2^-2 = 1/4

Each path involves the probability that you share p = 2^-2 = 1/4 of each parent's blood. Hence the probability that you and your brother share either your father's or your mother's blood is 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2 = 2^-1. The degree of consanguinity corresponding to a double s = 2 relationship is c = 1.

However, you and a half-brother -- through, say, your common mother -- share only p = 1/4 the genes through her, and none through your different (presumably unrelated) fathers. The degree of consanguinity between you and a half-sibling is therefore c = 2.

Next take your niece, say you sister's daughter. You and she separated by s = 3 degrees of relationship. You are linked through both your mother and your father, and of course your sister, like this.

You (s=0) mother (s=1) sister (s=2) niece (s=3), i.e., p = 2^-3 = 1/8
You (s=0) father (s=1) sister (s=2) niece (s=3), i.e., p = 2^-3 = 1/8

The amount of blood that you and your niece are likely to share is therefore the sum of these two probabilities, namely, 1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4 = 2^-2. In this case, the consanguinity for a double s = 3 relationship is c = 2.

As a final example, take a first cousin, say the daughter of a maternal aunt. In this case, you and your cousin are linked through your maternal grandparents -- i.e., through both your maternal grandmother and your maternal grandfather.

You (0) mother (1) grandmother (2) aunt (3) cousin (4), i.e., p = 2^-3
You (0) mother (1) grandfather (2) aunt (3) cousin (4), i.e., p = 2^-3

Here the sum is p = 2^-3 + 2^-3 = 1/16 + 1/16 = 1/8, hence where the s = 4 relationship is doubled, d = 3.


Degrees of consanguinity

The following table shows the degrees of consanguinity (c) and probability of genetic sharing (p) for a variety of relationships, not all of them described on the conventional kinship diagram showing degrees of separation (s) of direct and collateral relatives.

Degrees of consanguinity (c) and probability of sharing genes (p)
Consanguinity c 1 2 3 4 5
Probability p = 2^-c 1/2 1/4 1/8 1/16 1/32
Parents generation Mother, father Aunt, uncle Half-aunt, half-uncle 1st cousin 1x rmvd 1st half-csn 1x rmvd
Same generation Sibling Half-sib, double-csn 1st cousin 1st half-cousin 2nd cousin
Child's generation Son or daughter Niece or nephew Half-niece or nephew 1st cousin 1x rmvd 1st half-csn 1x rmvd
Grandchild's gen Double grandchild Grandchild Grnd niece/nephew Grnd half nc/nphw 1st cousin 2x rmvd

Some few unusual terms have appeared or re-appeared.

half-sibling   A brother or sister who shares only one parent.

half-niece, half-nephew   The child of a half-sibling, hence having only half the consanguinity of a child of a full-sibling.

double-grandchild   A child of full-siblings, who therefore have only one set of grandparents instead of two. The term is more likely used by animal breeders, but it also has application to the offspring of human siblings who marry whether or not aware of their relationship.

double-cousin   A cousin both of whose parents are siblings of one's own parents though not of each other. In other, words, your aunt is your mother's or father's sister, and your uncle is your mother's or father's brother. Double cousins result when siblings from one family marry siblings from another family. To such an aunt or uncle, you would be a double-niece or double-nephew.


Total ancestors

It all boils down to the fact that every individual stands on the shoulders of ∑2^n = 2^(n+1) -2 ancestors for any given number of ancestral generations (n) beginning with your parents' generation (n=1).

An = Ancestors in "nth" generation

The number of lineal ancestors (A) in the nth generation (An), counting back from your own generation (n=0), is equal to two (2) to the n-power (^n) hence 2^n.

An = 2^n

The first five generations have the following number of lineal ancestors.

A0 = 2^0 = 1 you (0th generation)
A1 = 2^1 = 2 parents (1st generation)
A2 = 2^2 = 4 grandparents (2nd generation)
A3 = 2^3 = 8 great grandparents (3rd generation)
A4 = 2^4 = 16 great-great grandparents (4th generation)
A5 = 2^5 = 32 great-great-great grandparents (5th generation)

These figures represent the expected number of different lineal ancestors under conditions in which there are no incestuous consangiunous marriages within the "n" generations. A child born between a parent and child, or between a grandparent and grandchild, or between siblings, would have fewer different ancestors than a child born between parents who were not offspring of common lines.

If each generation represents 20 years, then you have 5 generations per century. At this rate, going back 400 years from the early 2000s, to the early 1600s, would involve 20 generations.

The number of lineal ancestors per century increases at the same rate.

 A5 = 2^5  = 32 ancestors in 5th generation 1 century ago
A10 = 2^10 = 1,024 ancestors in 10th generation 2 centuries ago
A15 = 2^15 = 32,768 ancestors in 15th generation 3 centuries ago
A20 = 2^20 = 1,048,576 ancestors in 20th generation 4 centuries ago

TAn = Total ancestors in "n" generations

The above figures represent the numbers of ancestors within each "n" generation. The total number of lineal ancestors across all "n" generations (TAn) back from your generation (n=0), would be the sum of all the ancestors within each of the included generations.

TAn = ∑2^n

The values of TAn for n=0 to n=5 are as follows.

TA0 = A0 = 1
TA1 = A0+A1 = 1 + 2 = 3
TA2 = A0+A1+A2 = 1 + 2 + 4 = 7
TA3 = A0+A1+A2+A3 = +1 + 2 + 4 + 8 = 15
TA4 = A0+A1+A2+A3+A4 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 = 31
TA5 = A0+A1+A2+A3+A4+A5 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16 + 32 = 63

Since the value of TAn is equal to A(n+1) minus 1, you can directly compute that value of TAn like this.

 TAn = A(n+1) - 1
∑2^n = 2^(n+1) - 1

This formula directly yields the same results for the case in which you include yourself (n=0).

TA0 = 2^(0+1) - 1 = 2 - 1 = 1
TA1 = 2^(1+1) - 1 = 4 - 1 = 3
TA2 = 2^(2+1) - 1 = 8 - 1 = 6
TA3 = 2^(3+1) - 1 = 16 - 1 = 15
TA4 = 2^(4+1) - 1 = 32 - 1 = 31
TA5 = 2^(5+1) - 1 = 64 - 1 = 63

To calculate the total ancestors on whose shoulders you stand, beginning with your parents (n=1), excluding yourself from the pyramid, then subtract 1 from the above formulae.

 TAn - 1 = A(n+1) - 2
∑2^n - 1 = 2^(n+1) - 2

Using this equation, you get the following results.

TA0 = 2^(0+1) - 2 = 2 - 2 = 0
TA1 = 2^(1+1) - 2 = 4 - 2 = 2
TA2 = 2^(2+1) - 2 = 8 - 2 = 6
TA3 = 2^(3+1) - 2 = 16 - 2 = 14
TA4 = 2^(4+1) - 2 = 32 - 2 = 30
TA5 = 2^(5+1) - 2 = 64 - 2 = 62

However you calculate the total, it's a lot of ancestors to account for in just five generations. This is why many people who indulge in family history stay pretty close to the main patrilineal trail and don't stray too far off on matrilineal or collateral trails. This is also why efforts to describe an entire extended family for even a few generations read like randomized telephone books.

The number of possible ancestral lines becomes truly astronomical as you work your way back in time. Every individual today is an offspring of -- in theory, assuming that each ancestral line is unique -- an accumulation of about 2,000,000 ancestral lines over just the past 400 years.

Since each family represents the joining of two lines, how many families would this come to if you were to go back 2,000 years -- which is still a very short period of time?


The Emperor of Japan

Japan is not an empire, and the man who is called "the Emperor" in English is not really an emperor. In fact, the Japanese term "tennō" is also used for a woman who becomes the titular head of the heavenly family that, according to legend, stems from the Sun Goddess, who sent her descendants to earth to found and lead a terrestrial nation. But let's not get into the politics of translation here.

Consider here only the fact that Hirohito's son, Akihito, the present Emperor of Japan, is considered the 125th emperor beginning with Jinmu, the legendary 1st emperor. Whether the line is unbroken, as some people claim, is also of no concern here. Consider here only the following math, which regards the present emperor as the single individual (n=0) standing on the shoulders of 124th generations of ancestors back to Mr. Jinmu and one or another Mrs. Jinmu, who themselves are descendants of myriad ancestors.

Believe me when I say you won't learn this in school -- in any country.

TA124 = ∑2^124 = 2^(124+1)-2 = 4.25352959e+37 = 4.25352959 x 1037.

While the present emperor has only 124 direct lineal ascendants (plus, in theory, 124 spouses), he stands on the shoulders of 4.25 * 10^37 ancestors -- give or take a few.

That's 4.25 followed by 37 zeros.

Theory is easier
and a lot more fun,
but reality can be
more interesting

This is not only a staggering number of descent lines, but it's also an impossible number. For in the real world, the imperial descent lines considerably tangled within the caste-like classes of elite families that all but exclusively, and at times incestually, participated in the mating that kept the imperial line going over the centuries. Remember, though, that we are talking theory, not reality. Theory is easier, and in this case it is a lot more fun, although the complexities of reality are usually more interesting.

125 emperors can be listed on the front and back of a single leaf in a textbook to impress students with the continuity, mythical or not, of Japan's imperial family -- roughly 2,500 years if figured at 20 years per generation. In theory.

125, though, is just the main imperial line. Imagine how many terabyte capacity hard drives it would take to store the names of the 4.25 * 10^37 or 42.5 * 10^36 families that produced the 125 emperors (and a few empresses). In theory.

One terabyte is 10^12 bytes. So you'd need on the order of the cube of several (x) terabytes of memory -- (x * 10^12)^3 = x^3 * 10^36 bytes -- to begin to contain so much information. In theory.

In theory.