I Am Not a Crook, But I Am Your Cousin

An essential skill in genealogical and family history work is an appreciation for detail and a passion for investigation. Even when it’s the president of the United States …

While doing routine ancestry research one day I discovered a rather significant connection with the Quaker tradition. More on this later, but in doing so I also came across the name Milhous, which I knew to be the middle name of the only Quaker American president, and began to put two and two together.

My suspicions were correct, and Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th president of the United States, was my 6th cousin, twice-removed. The linkage from my standpoint is admittedly convoluted but stems from the Penrose side of the family and is shaped like a horseshoe to get to Nixon. My great-grandmother Mary Alma Carothers’ father was John William Carothers and his mother was Elizabeth Helen Christian (1825-1889). Elizabeth’s mother was a Wylie and going back a couple more generations we come to Samuel Wylie, who married Dinah Mickle Milhous in 1744 in Ireland and began the descent back down to the present day through Dinah’s brother and his descendants until we get to Hannah Milhous, who married Francis Anthony Nixon in 1908 and the rest, so to speak, is history.

This trail would be significant even without the Nixon connection for it highlights another aspect of the story of us, namely the strong family connection to the Quaker tradition. Both the Penrose and Bousman families can trace their roots to the early Quaker settlements in Pennsylvania. More on these developments will come in subsequent installments.

There is also another aspect to the Nixon connection that needs to be highlighted, and that is, especially when it comes to well-known or controversial historical figures, true genealogy and family history strives to be value-free. By this we mean that in the context of genealogy and family history (and solely in that context) we don’t care whether Richard Nixon actually was a crook or not. What we do with that information down the road, of course, is another matter altogether.

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