Genealogy can be a tricky business.  It's so easy to be seduced by seemingly facile links, carrying one's lineage farther and farther back in time.  At some point, it might as well be treated as a romantic fantasy.

Some portions of my family's genealogy are grounded on solid fact and sound research.  Some depends on accuracy of links made by those not known to us, based on unavailable research and records.  So some of what this family genealogy purports to depict should be taken with a grain of salt. 

Moreover, I suppose there's something ultimately, boringly, uninteresting about a family that, along most lines of forebears, stretches back (from me) six generations or more in the United States and in many cases the Colonies, sometimes into the 1600s, arriving here shortly following (and in several cases part of) the Mayflower colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Until the most recent three generations, these were largely simply-schooled people, many of them pioneers on the American frontier as it moved west, at least as far as Racine, Wisconsin.  In some cases the path led from New England (often Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts), to western New York, to Ohio and Michigan.  The families mingle largely in New York and Michigan, and that's where my own roots lie, at least on Emily Josephine Bates's (my mother's) side, in the small town of Ovid, Michigan.  On my father's side, the roots are in Ohio (with forebears again from the East Coast). 

So far as I know, none of my ancestors escaped persecution in England or Eastern Europe, no one was brought to this country against his or her will, no one made very large waves (although we have a few prominent preachers, a few Revolutionary Warriors, and a few war-dead Union Army members back there), and no one rose to great financial heights.

My ethnicity is hugely English Protestant, with a smattering of Irish Protestant and a wee bit of Scots.  Go back far enough, and we find Norman English, landed gentry and royalty, but that's another story.  Go back really far, and you'll find I'm descended from the Holy Roman Emperor -- that's what I mean by romantic fantasy.  Perhaps to our disadvantage, there's nothing of Jewish, Hispanic, African, Asian, Eastern, Central or Southern European roots.  (Maybe DNA testing would prove me wrong.)  Like I said, horridly boring.

If you are interested in my relatives who have modest-to-extraordinary claims to fame, look at this gallery of portraits and accompanying notations.

The current best-efforts version of the family genealogy may be seen at

You may access the tree directly if you are a paying subscriber to Ancestry.com.  Here are the condensed Emily Bates and Ellsworth Haynes family trees going back four generations.

Until August 2012 I had done very little direct research, and very little of the family genealogy was due to new material I had uncovered.  In August, however, I embarked on a new project:  to write accounts of all the original immigrant ancestors I had uncovered, mostly through Ancestry.com.  The result will be a series of 2-4 volumes, devoted to 1) the Bates-Sickels ancestors, 2) the Jackson-Keys, and then possibly 3) the Haynes-Langtree and 4) the Kennard-Jeffers.  (The last two volumes might be combined.)

For other material shown here and in the Ancestry.com database, I am indebted to five sources:  first and foremost, Richard Bates (my Uncle Dick), who provided the core Family Tree Maker database used as my foundation.  Second was work done by my Grandfather Bates, who provided a good genealogical "wheel" extending my mother's family names back at least four generations for most branches.  Third was a database of the Keys family created and maintained by my third cousin, Diana Carmack, which provided important lines of descent within that family (my Great Grandmother Eliza (Keys) Jackson's family).  Fourth was a combination of genealogical investigations dating more than forty years ago by my paternal grandmother, Maria Louise Kennard, coupled with current work by another distant cousin, Glenna Geiger.  Fifth was extensive work by my great grandfather Chester Jackson, obtaining wide-ranging Jackson family information from cousins spread far and wide.  Sixth and finally were the investigations enabled by Ancestry.com, the massive genealogical service created and maintained by the Mormon Church.  For example, Ancestry.com permitted a speculative extension of family ancestors all the way back to Charlemagne in the 9th Century C.E. or King Henry I of England in the 12th Century.

A note sent my family on March 25, 2012, about Chester Jackson's work:

Between 1916-1923 Chester Jackson assembled a vast trove of genealogical information.  He somehow tracked down distant cousins and asked them to send family records, which he saved.  So far as I can tell, he did rather little with the results, and neither did the Great Aunts [Myra and Beulah Jackson], their next custodians.  They passed to Mother [Emily (Bates) Haynes], who contrary to my earlier belief, did try to bring together this and other research (with considerable help and additional information from 2d cousin Adele (Livingston) Jones). 

So it passed to me.

Now, for the first time, we have technological resources (and a vast extension of family data) available through software (Family Tree Maker) and the online databases of Ancestry.com (which makes FTM).  So I began entering, checking and extending Chester's and Mother's work, finding new little gems and tracking down links that were merely hinted at.  It's been a week-long project, but we now have a better picture of the far-flung reaches of the Jackson family than has ever before been possible.  (The link to Noah Webster -- of Webster's Dictionary fame -- is just the most notorious of the many odd results.)

Some might say, "Who cares?"  Some might think the only important challenge of genealogy is to track direct ancestry.  And perhaps you're right.  Part of this overall project of dealing with all these papers and photos, however, has been not only preserving them but making sense of them, so as a result all the disparate slivers of information are brought together in a cohesive database.  That I have attempted to do.  With considerable help, not only Chester's:

  • Uncle Dick [Richard Bates; "RCB"] got me started in FTM with the root of the Bates-Jackson-Keys-Sickels-Cobb tree (plus Aunt Signe's [Richard's late wife's] considerable lineage);

  • My grandmother (Kennard) Haynes researched the Kennard and Hugg lines fifty years ago, which I transcribed;

  • Cousin Diana Carmack in Seattle provided an invaluable and very extensive Keys FTM DB;

  • Another online genealogy DB provided extensions of the Beebe line;

  • Photos in the Bentley Album [an album of family photographs improperly donated to the Bentley Research Library at University of Michigan] provided hints of other Bates relatives, many of whom I've found;

  • Cousin Jackson provided me Aunt Janet's family tree; and

  • Cousin Randy provided what he knows of his Smith ancestry, which I was able to use to extend their line two additional generations (I've not yet filled in the collaterals).

Now its all here on my PC and all online -- over 4700 names.

Since writing that email I have discovered many, many more famous relatives, mostly cousins, some far removed.  You can check them out.  And the genealogy database?  It's grown to over 11,000 names.

I also expect to load the genealogy database to a location on this server, using different software, but I am deferring that project for now.

For those who have done genealogical work themselves, my great grandfather, Chester Jackson, summarized well the attitudes of many others toward such efforts:

Chester Jackson writing daughter Beulah Jackson, 2/5/1917:

"Having lots of fun & entertainment hunting out my progenitors.  Ma & Myra can't see anything in it, so I don't enlighten them much.  My old second cousin in Chicago is a gold mine, all right.  Mrs. Catherine G. Strong, 74 years of age, and the last of her numerous family of brothers and sisters.  Offspring of Abraham Jackson, of Eliphalet Steel Jackson of Abraham Jackson Jr. of Abraham Jackson Esquire of Joshua Jackson of Noah & the Ark, of Adam of Garden of Paradise fame.


"Cousin Kate sent a letter to me for a book written in 1826 by A.J. Jr. and I am having a photo taken of it.  Also a paper clipping showing the Jackson crest & coat of arms and a lot of very interesting matter about Jackson ancestry.  One old time bruiser was burned at the stake, another sassed the magistrate but just got off by a hair.  Then they lit out & went to Ulster, Ireland, and that is where our people came from last -- so father said [records say London].  I am having a photo taken of the clipping showing the words of C of Arms etc."

Finally, I was well into my researches when I discovered that Winston Churchill was my 16th cousin, two times removed.  To many people this would occasion a huge yawn, but for me there's a special poignancy.  Emily (Bates) Haynes, my mother, was a thoroughgoing Anglophile, having on her shelves several of Churchill's multi-volume histories, and dying with no fewer than four complete sets of Shakespeare's plays on shelves or in boxes in her basement.  She could not have known of this relationship to Churchill, involving as it does a couple of twists and turns before finding Spencer descendants who had emigrated to America.  Nevertheless, had she known, I think she would have been especially tickled, given that even before the United States entered World War II Mother began working for the Royal Air Force in Washington, DC.  In effect, she was working for her cousin!

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