We’re Related – Churchill, Gates, Disney

We’re Related – Second Look for my Wife

Famous Friday
by Don Taylor

There are new people every week using “We’re Related” so I thought I’d take another look at the three of my wife’s new matches.  My wife’s two closest matches were Winston Churchill and Bill Gates, both supposed 8th cousins. At 9th cousins, there were several matches that I had seen before when was looking at my famous cousins. It was exciting to see my wife had similar relatives to me. If my wife and I share the same cousin then she and I must also be related. I had looked at my relationship with Stephen King before and determined my relationship to him was unlikely, so I decided to look at my wife’s relationship with Walt Disney, whom I had determined was at least possible before.


Winston Churchill

Photo of Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill is certainly one of the best-known politicians of the last century. He was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1940 to 1945 and again Prime Minister from 1951 until 1955. He is also, potentially my wife’s 7th cousin, once removed.

The relationship follows her Darling line:

I have confirmed Sally Ann Munsell as an ancestor, and I concur that Timothy and John are likely Sally Ann’s father and grandfather respectively.  I haven’t found any information about John Munsell’s parents yet. However, I suspect that the relationship is likely.

Bill Gates

Photo of Bill Gates
Bill Gates

William Henry Gates III, is, according to Wikipedia, the richest man in the world, worth about $87 Billion. “We’re Related” suggests that he is my wife’s 7th cousin, once removed. Again, this relationship follows the Darling line.

I have confirmed Abner Darling (Sr.) as an ancestor, and I concur that his mother was Mary Hakes and his grandmother was Anna Billings. I haven’t found information about Anna Billings’ parents yet. However, I suspect that the relationship is very likely.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney - 8th CousinWalter Elias Disney is a great film producer and fun maker. His creations of Disneyland and Disney World are the template for theme parks.

According to “We’re Related,” the relationship of my wife to Walt Disney is an 8th cousin, once removed. The relationship follows her Darling line:

I have confirmed Sally Ann Munsell as an ancestor, and I concur that her mother was Elisheba Smith. However, I haven’t found information about a Chadwick line for Elisheba. I judge that the relationship to be Possible.

Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.According to “We’re Related,” my lineage to (8th cousin, twice removed) Walt Disney follows a Roberts/Blackwell/Harris/Brown line to the supposed common ancestor of Benjamin Brown. I’d be a lot more comfortable that my wife and I are related if we ended up at the same supposed common ancestor, or at least see a common surname. With us coming from two entirely different directions I suspect that one (or both) of the supposed lines to Walt Disney is incorrect. As such, I judge the relationship of my connection to my wife through a common ancestor of Walt Disney to be possible but improbable.

“We’re Related” is fun and I enjoy looking at possibilities. It makes me think about key relationships in my tree and provides clues for further research.  Ancestry appears to have improved its algorithms as none of the matches this time were unlikely or impossible. I enjoy the application.

Franklin Elementary, Anoka, MN – 1958

My Life
Those Places Thursday

By Don Taylor

Sylvia and Donald Larson
Mom and I on the roof of the bakery; the Rum River is in background

There was probably no place we ever lived that was a cool as our place in Anoka.  First of all, it was upstairs of a bakery, so we woke up most mornings (6 days a week) to the smell of freshly baking bread. Our apartment was smaller than the bakery downstairs so we a large flat roof area we could go out on and be outside when we wanted to. Also, out back was parking. Today, the building is gone and is a parking area for “Walker on the River” apartments.

Next door to our apartment was a vacant lot and next to it was a bar. (Today, it is Atlas Staffing.) We didn’t have a television, but my grandmother used to bring me along to the bar which did have one.  I remember the awe of seeing the Tournament of Roses Parade in color at the bar.  My recollection is that it was the first nationally televised, live, color television program. The bar was packed in anticipation of the Rose Bowl also being telecast.

Next door to us on the other side was a small, neighborhood drug store.  I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life, but probably my biggest regret did start in Anoka at that drug store. In those days, both my mother and grandmother smoked (though my mom didn’t inhale).  It was common for an adult to write a note allowing a kid to purchase cigarettes for them.  Mom and Grandma wrote notes so often that the Drugstore didn’t question me if I asked to buy cigarettes without a note and just said it was for my mom or my grandma. As long as I bought Winston, they didn’t think anything of it.  Sadly, that is when I began smoking. I then smoked most of the time for the next forty years. (Although as Mark Twain said, “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.”) I quit for about ten years then started up again and smoked for another eight years.  I quit smoking again last August (2016) but I still really miss it.

Photo of Stone structure in Rum River in Anoka, MN
Stone “fort” in Rum River

It was only a few hundred feet to the Rum River. The river was a great place for a 7-year old to play (albeit dangerous). There were these old stone buildings that acted as forts. I wasn’t allowed to play amongst them by myself, and I was supposed to always have a buddy with me, but…  They were so much fun to play in and around. I stayed away from the river side and didn’t hang out there when the river was up. It appears that only one of them remains today. The internet suggests that the stone buildings were part of a house, but I always thought they were footings for the first bridge across the Rum River. In either event, they were a lot of fun.

One of the worst experiences in my life also occurred in Anoka. Things were always financially tight in our house. But my mother somehow found the where-with-all to buy me a brand-new bicycle for my 8th birthday. Of course, I rode it all over – around town and down to the Mississippi River, about a half a mile away. Then, after having the bike for only ten days, I failed to follow my mother’s directions; I didn’t lock it up.  Sure enough, it was stolen. I was devastated; my mom was so disappointed in me. The bike theft was reported to the police, and we went to the police station a couple times to see if it was in their recovered items, but it was never seen. I don’t believe I have ever had another brand-new bicycle.

Franklin Elementary c. 1958

Another great feature of living in Anoka was school. Franklin Elementary School was about two blocks along Main Street from where we lived. Although Franklin Elementary was an old school, it had a modern addition that was only five years old, or so, when I attended. So, it seemed like a new school to me. My classroom and the gym were in the new section.

I’m not sure why we moved from Anoka to Fridley.  I know that my mother worked as a “nurse’s aide” at the Anoka State Hospital both when we lived in Anoka and after we moved to Fridley in August 1958. The Anoka State Hospital was a huge facility and deeply disturbing. My mother never talked with me about her time working at the hospital. Years later, she did speak with my wife somewhat about her experiences. Apparently, there were several babies with extreme brain abnormalities. My mother used to hold them and cuddle them to give them peace during her off time. My mom told my wife that sometimes she felt guilty that she didn’t come home right away to take care of me, but she knew that these babies needed her so much more than I did.  This story reminds me of what a wonderful, caring person my mother is and that she never spoke of it speaks volumes about her humility.

Biography: Frank Xaver Drexl (1856-1929)

By Don Taylor

Absent other sources, I usually trust the 1900 Census as being the most accurate for the date because it provides both a month/year and age for the individual. In the case of Frank Xaver Drexl the 1900 Census record shows his birth as Dec 1857 and his age as 42.

screen shot of Frank Drexl's Birth information i- 1900 Census
Frank Drexl’s Birth information i- 1900 Census

A very close look at his age suggests that it once said his age was 43 and was “corrected” to read 42. I set his birth year as 1857 based upon this record. However, all the other census records I found were inconsistent with that date. In the 1910 Census he was 53; in the 1920 Census, he was reported as 63. Even the 1885 Census suggested the birth year of 1856. After finding every other record I could find for him indicated his birth in 1856, I decided to change my records to indicate an 1856 birth.

Reminder to self: Don’t become so attached to a bit of information and be unwilling to change something when presented with alternate evidence.

Darling/Drexl Project  2017 – Ancestor #12

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather: Nicholas Edward Drexl
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Frank Xaver Drexl
  • 2nd Great-grandfather: Matthias Drexl[i]

Frank Xaver Drexl (1856-1929)


Frank Xaver Drexl was probably born on 3 December 1856 in Dünzelbach, a municipality in the district of Moorenweis in the Bavarian county of Fürstenfeldbruck.[ii] The 1910 and 1920 Census records both confirm his birth in Bavaria in 1856.


Some researchers indicate that Frank Xaver Drexl married Ursula Eggert on 25 Oct 1881 in Petzenhausen, Bavaria. I think an 1879 or 1880 marriage is just as likely. Their eldest known son, Nicholas Edward Drexl was born in November 1881 only a month after the other researcher’s suggested date.  Also, the 1900 and 1910 Census records indicate the couple had been married for 20 and 30 years respectively suggesting an 1879 or 1880 marriage date.


The 1900 Census shows the heartbreak the family had to have experienced. According to the Census, Ursula had had 12 children, only 8 of whom were still living and the 1910 Census indicated 13 children with nine still living.

We know of the following children:

Children: Sex Birth Age Gap
Nicholas Edward Drexl M Nov 1881 Germany Eldest
Christina Drexl F Apr 1882 – Germany 5 Months – Impossible **
Francis T Drexl F Aug 1886 – Illinois 4 years, 4 months *
Katherine Drexl F Oct 1888 – Kansas 2 years, 2 months
Marie Drexl F Nov 1890 – Kansas 2 years, 1 month
Joseph Peter Drexl M 22 Jan 1893 – Minnesota 2 years, 2 months
Charles Mathias Drexl M 30 Nov 1894 – Minnesota 1 year, 7 months
Frank J Drexl M 16 Sep 1899 – Minnesota 4 years, 10 months *
Anthony John Drexl M 18 Apr 1902 – Minnesota 2 years, 7 months
1st Unknown Drexl ? (Probably about 1884) Bef. 01 Jun 1900
2nd Unknown Drexl ? (Probably about 1896) MN Bef. 01 Jun 1900
3rd Unknown Drexl ? Bef. 1900
4th unknown Drexl ? Bef. 1900

* The age gap between Christina and Francis suggests that one of the missing children was probably born about 1884 about the time of their immigration to the United States. Another gap between Charles and Anthony suggests that another of the missing children was probably born about 1896. The other two would be pure speculation as to possible birth dates.

** The 1900 Census indicates that Nicholas was born in 1881, however, the 1895 Minnesota Census indicates that Nicholas was likely born in 1880. If so that would put the cap between him and Christina 1 year 5 months.


The family came to the United States from Germany in 1884 and located in Illinois where Francis was born.[iii]

Move to Kansas

By 1888, they had relocated to Kansas where Kate and Mary were born.[iv]

Another Move – This time to Minnesota

By 1892 the family located to Minnesota.[v] Where they lived until his death in 1929.[vi]

Wright DeCoster Ad

The 1895 Census indicates Frank with Ursula and five children living at 258 Custer Street in Saint Paul’s 6th District, Ramsey County, Minnesota.[vii] This location appears to have been renamed because there is no longer a Custer Street in Saint Paul. However, Frank was working as a Cabinetmaker at De Coster & Clark which was at 375-379 Jackson Street, Saint Paul. Frank worked for them, and Wright De Coster until at least 1926 and probably until his death.

The 1900 Census and 1900 city directory show the family still on Custer Street.[viii]

By 1910 the family had located to 46 East Robie.[ix] Again, that location appears to be gone. It is probably now a baseball field that is part of El Rio Vista Recreational Center.


35 Isabel, Saint Paul, MN

By 1920, Frank had purchased a house at 35 West Isabel, Saint Paul.[x] Both Realtor and Zillow dot com indicate the house at 35 West Isabel was built in 2001. However, it appears to be a house much earlier than that.  The 1910s seems quite possible based on the architecture.

Frank Xaver Drexl died on 04 Nov 1929 in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota.  I have not been successful in finding a burial location for him.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Find Frank Xaver Drexl’s immigration record.
  • Find Frank Xaver Drexl’s Naturalization record.
  • Research Frank Xaver Drexl’s death records.


[i] Based entirely upon other individual’s public trees. See: Ancestry Family Trees, Ancestry.com, M A Heintz Family Tree – Owner: mavendegna. https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/30918613/person/430043963958/facts.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] 1900 Census (FS), Family Search, Frank Drexl – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota – Sheet 8. Accessed: 26 July 2016. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M93F-NM2.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Minnesota State Census, 1895, Family Search, Drexl, Frank – St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota. Accessed: 27 July 2016.

[vi] Minnesota Death Index, 1908­-2002, Family Search, Frank K. Drexl – 4 Nov 1929. Accessed 18 May 2017. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V4H-V­45.

[vii] Minnesota State Census, 1895, Family Search, Drexl, Frank – St. Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota. Accessed: 27 July 2016.

[viii] 1900 Census (FS), Family Search, Frank Drexl – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota – Sheet 8. Accessed: 26 July 2016. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M93F-NM2.

[ix] 1910 Census (FS) (NARA), Family Search, Frank Drexl – St Paul Ward 6, Ramsey, Minnesota, ED 84, Sheet 2B, Line 70. Accessed 18 May 2017. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M2PC-18Z.

[x] 1920 Census (FS), Frank Drexel (Drexl) – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota. Accessed 18 May 2017. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW19-J77.

Ancestor Biography – Mercy Eliza Taft  (1822-1884)

Roberts/Barnes/Taft Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.When I reviewed my possible connections through “We’re Related” to Walt Disney and to my Scarborough Historical friend, Carl, both were stopped by my research blockage at Mercy Eliza Taft.  After Mercy, both lines went through her father, Joel Cruff Taft. My research on Mercy convinced me that her father was indeed Joel and her grandmother was Sarah Whitney, which brings me two generations closer to proving a relationships with both Walt Disney and Carl.

Minuteman – Lexington

While doing this research I also encountered many new and exciting things. Fifth great-grandfather, Silas Taft is a Revolutionary War veteran and was part of the “Lexington Alarm” which was the first real battle of the Revolution in 1775. More about him in a later post. Also, I learned that William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is my 5th cousin, 4 times removed. Taft is the only person to ever be both POTUS and the Chief Justice.

Roberts-Barnes 2017 Research – Ancestor #21

List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: Elsie Pansy Barnes
  • 1st Great-grandfather: Joel Clinton Barnes
  • 2nd Great-grandmother: Mercy Eliza Taft
  • 3rd Great-grandfather: Joel Cruff Taft
  • 4th Great-grandfather: Asa Taft
  • 5th Great-grandfather: Silas Taft
  • 6th Great-grandfather: Stephen Taft
  • 7th Great-grandfather: Benjamin Taft
  • 8th Great-grandfather: Robert Taft

Mercy Eliza (Taft) Barnes (1822-1884)

There is confusion regarding Mercy’s first name. Some researchers believe her name was Mary. I think that it is even possible that her first name might have been Marcy or even Mancy. In reviewing the records, I am yet to find a source that I feel is compelling enough to prove her name. People who have seen her grave marker indicate that her name is Mercy. Certainly, her Christian name if Eliza is used in the majority of records regarding her. I’ve decided to use Mercy until I find a compelling source.

Map of Sullivan County showing Fairbanks Township.
Fairbanks Township in Sullivan County, Indiana

Mercy Eliza Taft was the second of ten children of Joel Cruff and Tamise/Fanny Sutherland/Southerland, born in New York on 27 March 1822.[i] It appears that all of her siblings live to adulthood. It does appear that the family moved several times in New York before part of the family split off and settled in Fairbanks Township, Sullivan County, Indiana.

Eliza married Nelson Barnes in New York on 31 October 1839.[ii] Their first daughter, who has one of the most unusual names I’ve ever encountered, Tryphenia Ann Barnes was born on 11 Oct 1841 in New York. The following year the young family moved west to Indiana (1842) by covered wagon and camped near Fairbanks. They started out renting farmland, then slowly purchased land until they had 80 acres.

Over the ensuing years, Nelson and Eliza would have nine children. They are:

Children of Nelson and Mercy Eliza Taft

Children: Sex Birth Death
Tryphenia Ann Barnes F 11 Oct 1841
New York
03 Nov 1915
Turman, Ind.
Ploutina Mariah Barnes F 09 May 1844
New York*
23 Mar 1918
Theodore E Barnes M 29 Mar 1847
Sullivan, Ind.
06 Aug 1919
Danville, Ill.
Susan Barnes F Bet. 1848-1849
Bef. 1909
Abraham Barnes M 04 Mar 1852
Cyrus John Barnes M 04 Apr 1855
Sullivan, Ind.
17 Feb 1879
Sullivan, Ind.
Joel Clinton Barnes M 23 Jun 1857
Graysville, Ind.
30 Jun 1921
Sullivan, Ind.
Lucy Minerus Barnes F 18 Apr 1860 05 Sep 1890
Martha Ellen Barnes F Sullivan, Ind. 16 Feb 1949

*I believe that Ploutina was born in Indiana and not New York.

  • Mercy on left base, Nelson on Right base

    1850 – Living with husband and four oldest children in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[iii]

  • 1860 – Living with husband and six of the children in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[iv]
  • 1870 – Living with husband and five of the children in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[v]
  • 1880 – Living with husband one of her children and one of her granddaughters in Turman, Sullivan County, Indiana.[vi]
  • 1884 – Her husband Nelson died in either January or February.[vii],[viii]
  • 1884 – Eliza died on 4 October 1884 in Turman, Sullivan County Indiana. She was buried at the Drake Cemetery in nearby Fairbanks, Sullivan County, Indiana.[ix]  I find the image available through Find-a-Grave isn’t clear enough to determine the name used on the marker.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Find the Taft Family in the 1840 Census.
  • Find the Taft Family in the 1830 Census.
  • Visit the Drake Cemetery and see if I can get a better image of her marker to confirm the name she was known by at the time of her death.


Donna Darling at B.F. Keith’s Greenpoint

Donna Darling Collection – Part 6

Treasure Chest Thursday
By Don Taylor

This photo of Donna Darling up in lights had no accompanying descriptions in the Donna Darling Collection. So, let the detective process begin.

Photo of B.F. Keith's Greenpoint - Donna Darling - May 1922
B.F. Keith’s Greenpoint – Donna Darling – May 1922













First, I determined that this was the B.F. Keith’s Greenpoint Theater located at 825 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn, NY. Cinema Treasures had several photos of this theater at various times. From the architecture, it is evident this is the same theater, also known as the RKO Greenpoint theater that was at 825 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn, NY.

Next, I was interested in when this photo was taken. According to Wikipedia, The silent film “For the Defense” was released in 1922. For more detail, I needed to zoom in. The play board in front of the theater indicates that the movie. In vaudeville, typically any live shows ended the same date that a silent movie ended. So, I’m pretty sure that Donna played B.F. Keiths the week preceding May 18th.

Donna Darling and Company played B.F. Keith’s Greenpoint Theater the week of 11-17 May 1922.

[I posted this a full-sized image of this photo of B. F. Keith’s Greenpoint to Cinema Treasures.]


I need to do more research for the specific dates Donna was at this theater. I also need to research what happened to the theater.