Descendants Of Famous Historical Figures

What’s it like to be related to someone
who altered history? Let’s find out as we do a bit of genealogy
and look at the descendants of some famous historical figures and discover how they feel
about their renowned relatives. Davy Crockett was much more than some guy
who died at the Alamo. He was also a scout and soldier who fought
in the War of 1812, and he was once a congressman from Tennessee in the House of Representatives. After he lost his seat in the House, he joined
the Texas Revolution, but he was famously killed at the Alamo when the fort was besieged
by Mexican soldiers in 1836, although some accounts say that he was taken prisoner and
executed. Either way, Crockett has been revered by Americans
as a great frontiersman, though his descendants hate it when you call him “Davy.” The modern-day Crocketts blame the 1950s Disney
movies and TV show for popularizing that nickname, as they claim that he never actually called
himself that in real life. They also blame the shows and movies for plopping
a coonskin cap on his head, although eyewitness accounts say the man actually did wear one. Either way, at family reunions, Crockett’s
descendants, including his great-great-great-great-granddaughter Joy Bland, respectfully ask attendees to leave
the caps at home and refer to their ancestor as “David,” Other descendants have followed
in Crockett’s military footsteps, including Master Sergeant David Crockett, who serves
in the U.S. Air National Guard. In 1859, British naturalist Charles Darwin
surprised the world when he announced his theory of evolution and that humans and animals
had ancestral connections. Victorians were shocked as they avidly read
his On the Origin of Species, while scientists pondered over his ideas. The Father of Evolution fathered ten children
by his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood. Their oldest child, William Erasmus Darwin,
was studied extensively by his father, who eventually published his findings in the journal
Mind. But even Charles Darwin surely realized that
impregnating his cousin wasn’t necessarily good for the gene pool, as three of his children
died before the age of 11. One wonders what Darwin would think if he
knew that today, his great-great-great granddaughter, Laura Keynes, is a Catholic apologist. Keynes told the National Catholic Register
in 2013 that like her grandfather, she was agnostic for a while, though she eventually
returned to her roots in the Catholic faith. As she worked on her doctorate in philosophy,
she realized that she couldn’t dismiss a compelling intellectual case for faith. Meanwhile, Darwin’s great-great grandson,
Chris Darwin, spends his days working as a tour guide in the Blue Mountains of Australia,
and ironically enough, he supports teaching creationism to children. “After I failed a biology exam, oops, my friends
told me I must be devolving back into the primordial swamp.” Albert Einstein was only five years old when
he was awestruck by a compass and what made the needle move. And when he was 11, he became infatuated with
a book of geometry. These two common household items eventually
inspired him to ultimately develop the theory of relativity, and he won the Nobel Prize
for Physics in 1921. But what about Albert Einstein as a family
man? He married several times, and his first child
was a girl who was born out of wedlock and quietly given up for adoption. He later had two other children. There was his son Eduard, who eventually developed
schizophrenia. Then there was Hans Albert, who became a renowned
scientist. Of Hans’ children, only one, Bernhard Caesar,
lived to adulthood, and he ended up having five kids of his own. The lives of Einstein’s great-grandchildren
are quite diverse. One of them, Dr. Thomas Einstein, attended
medical school and now specializes in anesthesiology in Los Angeles. Paul Einstein is a classical violinist who
lives in southern France. Ted Einstein runs a furniture store in Los
Angeles, while Mira Einstein Yehieli lives in Israel with her family. Charles Einstein lives in Switzerland where
he operated his own computer game store before working as a spokesman for a hospital. Ernest Hemingway published his first article
for a Kansas City newspaper when he was just 17 years old. Ten years later, after being wounded during
World War I, he published his first of many novels, The Sun Also Rises. And 28 years after that, he won the Nobel
Prize in Literature. In between, he married four times, had a few
mistresses, and fathered three sons. But the prolific writer was deeply troubled,
battling depression and eventually ending his own life in 1961. Sadly, he wasn’t the only one. A total of seven Hemingway family members
have ended their own lives, and each tragedy has led some to talk about the so-called “Hemingway
Curse.” For example, Hemingway’s granddaughter Margaux
battled substance abuse and took her own life in 1996. Fortunately, the same fate didn’t befall her
sisters. Actress Joan Hemingway also battled addiction
and depression and became an artist after retiring from film. Then there’s Mariel Hemingway, also an actress,
who even co-starred with Margaux in the 1976 film Lipstick. According to Mariel, the Hemingway Curse is
really mental illness, and she’s doing her best to shine a light on the family’s struggles. In 2013, she was the center of a documentary
called Running from Crazy, which tackled some not-so-secret issues of the Hemingway clan,
such as alcoholism and abuse. “I think with darkness there is light. And so, that darkness is that mental illness,
that mental instability, that insecurity.” Can an outlaw really be a family man? Apparently, he can. As it turns out, Jesse James was happy to
marry his first cousin, Zerelda Mimms, who was named after his own mother. From this union came two children, Jesse Jr.
and Mary. Sadly, both kids were at home when their father
was shot to death by Robert Ford in April 1882. Jesse Jr. remembered that the family had just
finished breakfast when he heard a shot fire in the front room. The seven-year-old ran in to see his father
dead on the floor. In 1899, Jesse Jr. wrote Jesse James, My Father
in defense of his dad while trying to make a little money to support his mother. However, not everyone in this family is happy
to be descended from the famous outlaw. Mary James’ husband, Henry Barr, always resented
his wife’s legacy. It’s an attitude that trickled down through
subsequent generations. Genealogist Joan Malley-Beamis was stonewalled
when she wrote to Mary and Henry’s son Lawrence Barr about the family. Lawrence’s wife, Thelma, was kind enough to
write Beamis and explain that Lawrence didn’t know much about his ancestor because Mary
forbade discussions on the matter. And when publisher Eric F. James wrote to
Jesse James’ great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Barr, for more information, he received a
terse response through Barr’s friend that said, “Tell Eric James to mind his own business.” The official White House website pays tribute
to past presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, who served as the nation’s third president
from 1801 to 1809. But the website fails to mention the secret
Jefferson took to his grave when he died in 1826. He not only had six children by his wife Martha,
but also six other children by Sally Hemings, a black woman he enslaved. As early as 1802, Richmond journalist James
T. Callender, whose story was told in an episode of Drunk History, accused Jefferson of fathering
children by Hemings. Jefferson’s affair with Hemings began years
after his wife died. Interestingly enough, Hemings first worked
as a free woman at Jefferson’s Paris home. When she became pregnant by him, she made
a most extraordinary request. She asked to return to enslavement at Monticello,
his Virginia plantation, in exchange for, quote “extraordinary privileges,” as well
as freedom for her future children. Jefferson agreed and eventually released Hemings’
four surviving children. For generations, Hemings’ descendants fought
to be recognized as Jefferson’s relatives, and they were finally heard. At an exhibit on Hemings that opened in 2018,
a number of descendants attended. The family remains a bit divided about the
matter of black versus white, but one grandson, David Works, offered some wise words, “There’s a whole lot of good that happens
when people talk to each other and get beyond their assumptions.” “Monticello is a microcosm of the American
story, right? How willing have the American people been
to acknowledge slavery as their history, and not someone else’s history?” The story goes that Vincent Van Gogh, a brilliant
but troubled artist, cut off his own ear to impress a woman at a local brothel in 1888. But there’s more to this story. He offered her his ear supposedly in an attempt
to help heal her. Granted, that’s just one of many theories
as to why he cut off a piece of himself, but what we do know for sure is that Van Gogh
never married, and he died in the arms of his younger brother, Theo. But just because Van Gogh never married, that
doesn’t mean he was celibate by any means. In 2010, The Georgia Straight reported on
Van Willem Romeijn, an artist who believes Van Gogh is his great-grandfather. Back in 1882, Van Gogh was thought to have
fathered a son, Willem. The child’s mother, Clasina Maria Hoornik,
was a prostitute who lived with the artist for a time. The book The Van Gogh Assignment states that
Van Gogh visited Hoornik shortly after the baby was born. Whether this story is true or not remains
unknown, and as for Romeijn’s claims, there aren’t any definitive answers. However, it is known that Vincent Van Gogh
does have a descendant, also named Willem, who works an ambassador at the Van Gogh Museum. There are lots of myths out there about Pocahontas. For one thing, the name “Pocahontas” was actually
the Algonquian maiden’s nickname. Her real name was Amonute. She earned her more well-known moniker because
she was so spunky and playful as a child, as “Pocahontas” means either “playful one”
or “ill-behaved child.” And she wasn’t madly in love with John Smith. Instead, she married another settler named
John Rolfe and had a son named Thomas. Thomas Rolfe carried on the lineage, and as
of the 1980s, according to Genealogy Bank, there were estimated to be as many as 250,000
descendants of Pocahontas. Even more interesting is the fact that Pocahontas’
line spawned a number of presidential notables. The most famous of these just might be First
Lady Edith Wilson. Not only was she married to President Woodrow
Wilson, but thanks to a history-altering illness, she may have even been the de facto president
for a while. Either way, she was related to the famous
Native American on her father’s side, as her great-great-great-great-great-grandmother
was Thomas Rolfe’s daughter, Jane. The Pocahontas Memorial Association even presented
Mrs. Wilson with a bronze statuette of her ancestor, which today is on display at the
President Woodrow Wilson House. Henry Ford built his first one-cylinder gasoline
engine in 1893. Three years later, he built the “Quadricycle,”
a prototype of sorts for what would become one of the most iconic cars ever. The Henry Ford Company was officially formed
in 1901, followed in 1903 by the Ford Motor Company. Ford’s first big-seller was the Model T. It
was a working man’s car, made so that it was easy to operate, maintain, and handle. Ford’s invention changed the world and created
an automotive empire that’s still churning out cars today. Today, Ford’s descendants continue to own
stock in, work for, and manage the Ford Empire. Notably, several power players are direct
descendants of the man himself. His great-grandson, Edsel Ford II, is on the
board of directors, and another great-grandson, William Clay Ford Jr., reigns as chairman
of the board. “By birth and by choice, I’ve been involved
with the auto industry my entire life.” Despite his life of crime, Al Capone grew
up in a steady household. His immigrant father made a good living as
a barber, while his mother raised three children. However, their neighborhood was rough. By the age of 14, Capone had been expelled
from school for striking a teacher, and he fell into the gangster life with mobster Johnny
Torrio. Two years later, Capone insulted a woman at
the Harvard Inn. The girl’s brother slashed his face, earning
him the nickname “Scarface.” In 1925, Capone took over the gangster syndicate
and built up his empire to make as much as $60 million annually from all that booze. But Scarface had a soft side. Soon after marrying Mae Coughlin in 1918,
the couple had one son, Albert Francis “Sonny” Capone. Although he was born with congenital syphilis,
Sonny recovered and received a good education. One of his childhood friends was Desi Arnaz
Jr., the son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. But when Ball and Arnaz’s production company
produced a TV show called The Untouchables, which featured Al Capone as one of its characters,
Sonny sued the company. Today, Sonny’s daughter, Diane Patricia Capone,
is all for keeping it in the family with her book, Al Capone: Stories My Grandmother Told
Me. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
historical figures are coming soon. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the
bell so you don’t miss a single one.

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