Friday, October 19, 2007

VP Dick Cheney is my Cousin Too!

Newspaper articles and TV "news" reported that Vice President Dick Cheney and Barack Obama are distant cousins with Mareen Duvall of Maryland the Most Recent common ancestor - see the article here. The article said that Mareen Duvall's (a male) son Samuel Duvall married Ann, a daughter of Richard Cheney, a 17th century immigrant to Maryland. Of course, CNN news got it almost right - they called Mareen Duvall a female, initially.

When I read this article, it struck me as strange that they would latch onto the Veep's 9th great-grandfather Richard Cheney whose daughter supposedly married a Duvall. An unsuspecting reader would think that immigrant Richard Cheney was in the patrilineal line that brought the Cheney name down to the Vice President. He isn't - he's in the ancestry, but not in the patrilineal line that carried the Cheney surname.

A look at Dick Cheney's ancestry at created by Richard Addams Reitweisner shows that VP Cheney's patrilineal line is (with ahnentafel numbers):

1024. William Cheney (1604-1667) of Roxbury MA, married Margaret
512. Thomas Cheney (????-1693) of Cambridge MA, married Jane Atkinson.
256. Benjamin Cheney (1675-1718) of Cambridge MA, married Mary Harbert
128. Joseph Cheney (1709-1776) of Cambridge MA, married Elizabeth Tucker.
64. William Cheney (1741-1803) of Newbury MA, married Elizabeth Swett
32. Ebenezer Cheney (1764-1832) of Campton NH, married Hannah Eaton.
16. Elias Eaton Cheney (1793-1859) of Thetford VT, married Lucy Fletcher.
8. Samuel Fletcher Cheney (1829->1900) of Buffalo NE, married Ella Phillips.
4. Thomas Herbert Cheney (1869->1900) of Dawson NE, married Margaret Ellen Tyler.
2. Richard Herbert Cheney (1915-1999) of Casper WY, married Marjorie Lorraine Dickey.
1. Richard Bruce Cheney (1941-living), the Vice President 2001-present.

The tie to Barack Obama comes into this line through Margaret Ellen Tyler, Dick Cheney's paternal grandmother.

The common ancestors that I share with my cousin Richard Bruce Cheney include (ahnentafel numbers from the Reitweisner data):

536. John Colby (1633-1674) of Amesbury MA, married Frances Hoyt.
544. Joshua Fletcher (1648-1713) of Chelmsford MA, married Sarah Willey.
1024. William Cheney (1604-1667) of Roxbury MA, married Margaret.
1074. John Hoyt (1613-1688) of Amesbury MA, married Frances Tuxberry
1090. John Willey (1610-1662) of Reading MA, married Elizabeth Clough.
1134. Crispus Brewer (????-1706) of Lynn MA, married Mary --?--
2184. Henry Adams (1583-1646) of Braintree MA, married Edith Squire.

There may be more - I see Parkhurst, Martin, Bacon, Merriam and several others in the Dick Cheney ahnentafel, but the line is not extended back to my ancestor of the surname. My own ahnentafel is in reports at

Barack Obama is also my cousin - I documented my cousinship to him in my post here.

In looking through the Dick Cheney ahnentafel, I see where the newspapers also got the connection to Mareen Duvall wrong. The article says that Samuel Duvall married Ann Cheney. The Reitweisner data shows that Samuel Duvall married Elizabeth Ijams, whose mother was Ann Cheney. Also, Mareen Duvall's daughter Elizabeth Duvall married Robert Tyler.

The Family Forest blog has a post "Another Barack Obama Cousins Story" that lists other cousins of Dick Cheney - including Harriet Miers, Wallis Warfield, Paris Hilton, Harry Truman and Robert Duvall.

My cousin, Richard Eastman, has some interesting thoughts about this issue on his Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter blog here. As Dick says, "Let's face it, everyone is related to everyone." True. I still find it interesting and challenging, and it is an entree to talking to potential genealogists.

The point of this post is that genealogists should treat newspaper articles and TV news reports concerning genealogy with a grain of salt - if they don't quote a recognized expert in the field, my observation is that they almost always get it factually wrong. Does it matter? Probably not!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another article from "The Australian" on the Barack Obama Cousins Story,25197,22603319-26397,00.html

Another story on the Family Forest Blog site: