We’re Related – Dick Clark, Meghan Trainor, & Marilyn Monroe

We’re Related – Fourth Look

Famous Friday

Brown Line & Roberts Line
by Don Taylor

My fourth look at possible relatives using the “We’re Related” app showed fewer new cousins than ever before. The famous people I had determined could not be related have fallen off the possible list. The three I’m looking at this time are Dick Clark, Meghan Trainor, and Marilyn Monroe.

Dick Clark (1929-2012)

Photo of Dick Clark
Dick Clark – 1961 – Photo by ABC Television via Wikimedia Commons

Richard Wagstaff Clark was a radio and television personality. He is best known for hosting “American Bandstand” from 1957 until 1987. I remember Dick Clark and his show very well and watched it throughout the 1960s. I also remember him bringing in the new century in a 2000 New Year’s program.

According to “We’re Related,” our relationship follows up the Montran, Barber line through Frank Barber to his mother Orissa A. Champlain. From there it goes back five more generations to Noah Wells being a common ancestor. I have not determined Frank Barbers parents so I was excited to pursue this potential line.

Then I noticed the first discrepancy, “We’re Related” was indicating that Ida Mae Barber’s father was Frank W. Barber and my records indicate Ida’ father was Frank (short for Franklin) A. Barber.

Then I searched Ancestry.Com’s family trees for Orissa A. Champlain and found her. According to a family tree posted on Ancestry, her son, Frank Barber was born in 1841 in New York. My 2nd great-grandfather, Franklin E. Barber, was born in 1836 in Ohio. I’m confident that I am not related to Dick Clark through that path.

Meghan Trainor (1993-)

Meghan Trainor – 2014 – Photo by Ronald Woan CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Meghan Elizabeth Trainor is a Grammy Awarding winning singer and songwriter.

This relationship is said to follow my Brown/Sanford/Parsons/Mabon/Rowley line back to Weeks Rowley. It then suggests that his mother Hannah Phelps, and his grandfather was Nathaniel Phelps, our common ancestor.

I searched Ancestry and found several trees that indicated that Hannah Phelps married Nathaniel Rowley and although I didn’t have Weeks Rowley’s mother, I did have Nathaniel Rowley as Weeks’ father. Assuming the downward tree from Nathaniel Phelps to Meghan Trainor is correct, I think it is very likely that she and I are related as 8th cousins, once removed.

Marilyn Monroe (1926-1962)

Norma Jeane Mortenson (aka Marilyn Monroe) was an actress and model famous for being a popular sex symbol of the 1950s and known for her movies which included “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds,” and “Some Like It Hot.”

Marilyn Monroe – 1952 – Photo by New York Sunday News

“We’re Related” suggests Marilyn and I are related through the Roberts line back through John Calvin Roberts and his mother. My records indicate that John Calvin Roberts’ mother was Rebecca Brashears but “We’re Related” is indicating John Calvin Roberts’ mother is “Private.”  Likewise, “We’re Related” shows John Calvin Roberts’ mother’s father is “Private,” also. My research found that John Calvin Roberts’ mother’s father was Robert Cager Brashears. If I am right and they are right then Robert Brashear’s mother is Charity Dowell.

I find that Marilyn Monroe might by my 9th cousin, but additional research is needed. So, I need to research Robert Brashear’s ancestors and determine if Charity Dowell is his mother.

Chart of Relationships to Famous People

Famous Person Relationship* To CA Comments
Luke Bryan Possible 2 Research Ancestors of Elizabeth Blackwell
Blaine Bettinger Possible 2 Research Ancestors of John Parsons
Meghan Trainor Possible* 2 Research Ancestors of Wicks Weeks Rowley
Blake Lively Possible 3 Research Ancestors of Elizabeth Blackwell
Marilyn Monroe  Possible* 3-5 Research Ancestors of Robert Cager Brashears
John Kerry Possible 4 Research Ancestors of Wicks Weeks Rowley
Johnny Cash

Carrie Fisher

Jimi Hendrix

Possible 4 Research Ancestors of Elizabeth Blackwell
Carl Ross Possible 5 Research Ancestors of Mercy Eliza Taft
Walt Disney Possible 7 Research Ancestors of Mercy Eliza Taft
Dick Clark Unlikely*   Not through Frank W. Barber
Stephen King Unlikely Not through Max Fisher
Randy Seaver Unlikely Not through Henry Mack Brown
Britney Spears Unlikely Not through Sarah J. Gavin


I definitely need to listen to some of Meghan Trainor’s music.  Although the music gene seems to have passed me by, my sister Glennis and my brother Mark appear to have inherited it.

“We’re Related” is fun to look at and see the possibilities. It makes me think about key relationships in my tree and provides clues into further research. Ancestry algorithms may have slipped back as one of the matches is unlikely through the suggested line. However, two of the famous people are possible and require additional research.


Research the mother of Weeks Rowley. She might be Hannah Phelps.

Research Robert Brashear’s ancestors and determine if Charity Dowell is his mother.

*Relationship Table


Ancestor Biography – Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts (1796-1867)

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.During my recent “We’re Relate” Famous Friday investigation, I noted that my relationships to Luke Bryan and to Carrie Fisher were both based upon David Blackwell, supposedly the father of my 3rd great-grandmother Elizabeth Blackwell. I had originally intended for her to be #6 in my continuing Roberts, but determining if I might be related to Carrie Fisher enticed me to jump Elizabeth ahead to next to research.

Roberts/Barnes Research – Generation 6: Ancestor #33

List of Grandparents

  • Grandfather:                          Bert Allen Roberts
  • 1st Great-grandfather:          Hugh Ellis Roberts
  • 2nd Great-grandfather:         Asa Ellis Roberts
  • 3rd Great-grandmother:Elizabeth Blackwell
  • 4th Great-grandfather:          David Blackwell

Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts (1796-1867)


Elizabeth Blackwell was born on 10 September 1796[i] in Surry County, North Carolina[ii]. She was possibly the 11th of 17 children of David Blackwell. An incredible amount of work is still needed to confirm and validate all her siblings.


Elizabeth’s father was a revolutionary war veteran. Her mother died while Elizabeth was still young, probably before she was 10-years-old.


Elizabeth married John Calvin Roberts on 3 March 1816 in Roane county, Tennessee.[iii]

1820 Census

Family Search Wiki indicates that the 1820 Census for Roane County, TN has been lost.[iv]  The Wiki suggests an alternate source in Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists…. I have requested a copy through Interlibrary Loan.

1830 Census

The 1830 Census finds the John Roberts household of Roane County, Tennessee with the following household:[v]

1 Male 30 to 39:              [John Calvin Roberts – Age 35]

1 Female 30 thru 39:     [Elizabeth (Blackwell) Roberts – Age 33]

3 Males 10 thru 14:        [Calvin, Elias, & David – Ages 10, 11, & 13 respectively]

2 Males 5 thru 9:            [Elijah & George – Ages 8 & 6 respectively]

1 Female 5 thru 9:          [Elizabeth – Age 6]

2 Males under 5:                        [Frances, Phillip, & John – Ages 4, 2, & 1 respectively]

Only two children were reported as being under 5. Francis married and was living during the war. Both Phillip and John are believed to have died before 1848. One of them must have died before the 1830 Census.

1940 Census

The 1840 Census finds the John Roberts Family in Roane County, Tennessee with the following: [vi]

1 Males – 40 thru 49:     [John Calvin Roberts – Age 45]

2 Males – 20 thru 29:     [David, Elias, & Calvin – Ages 20, 21, & 23 respectively.]*

2 Males – 15 thru 19:     [George and Elijah – Ages 16 & 18]

1 Male   – 10 thru 14:     [Phillip, John & Francis, Ages 11, 12, & 14 respectively]**

1 Male  – 5 thru 9:       [Asa & Hugh – Ages 5 & 6 respectively]***
3 Males – Under 5:     [Robert and Brazzel – Ages 1 & 3 respectively]***

*Both Calvin and David are believed to have died before 1848. One of them, may have died before 1840. Alternately, one of them may have established their own home by 1840. Further research is needed to determine which two remained in this household.

** This time only one male is reported as age 10 thru 14. Francis married and was living during the war (1860s). Both Phillip and John are believed to have died before 1848. For this census record to be accurate, both of them must have died before the 1840 Census.

*** Two males between 5 and 9 were reported and one male child under 5 was missing.  I believe that five-year-old Asa was reported in error.

1 Female – 40 thru 49:   [Elizabeth – Age 44]

1 Female – 15 thru 19:   [Elizabeth – Age 17

1 Female – 5 thru 9:        [Amanda – Age 9]

1850 Census

The 1850 Census names the individuals within the household but does not provide relationships. It indicates that the first ten children had either died or left home. The remaining six children are identified in the census. The John Roberts Household consisted of:[vii]

  • John Roberts                           M         55        Tennessee
  • Elizabeth Roberts                   F          53        North Carolina
  • Hughy Roberts                        M         17        Tennessee
  • Acy Roberts                             M         15        Tennessee
  • Robert S Roberts                    M         13        Tennessee
  • Bazel Roberts                          M         11        Tennessee
  • Rebecca Roberts                     F          10        Tennessee
  • William Roberts                      M         9          Tennessee

Also in the household was an Elizabeth Nelson, age 23.  Her relationship is unknown at this time. John and Elizabeth’s daughter named Elizabeth (born 1823) would have been 26 years old. I do not believe that Elizabeth Nelson is their daughter returned home with a new surname, rather, I believe they were two separate individuals.

1860 Census

The 1860 Census finds the Roberts family still in Roane County, Tennessee. The receive their mail through the Kingston post office.

The only one of the children of John and Elizabeth is their 18-year-old daughter Rebecca.[viii]


Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts died on 5 July 1867 in Roane County, Tennessee. [ix], [x]  It does not appear that she has a marker.


The good news is that, at least in my mind, Elizabeth Blackwell’s parents were David and Sarah (Harris) Blackwell provided one more step along the way towards seeing those “We’re Related” relationships are possibly real. The bad news is that several researchers that I trust indicate that David Blackwell’s father was William Blackwell, Not Samuel Blackwell as the Luke Bryan “We’re Related” lineage suggests. Likewise, “We’re Related” suggests that David Blackwell’s mother was Elizabeth Steptoe; however, most other researchers suggest that David Blackwell’s mother was Mary Marshall.  So, at this point I don’t believe either Luke Bryan or Carrie Fisher are related through the line that “We’re Related” suggests.  I still need to confirm the parents of David Blackwell myself, but the priority of that research has dropped back to normal.   

Further Actions / Follow-up

  1. Review: Mary Barnett Curtis, Early East Tennessee Tax Lists: a compiled list of residents of the area covered in 22 east Tennessee counties for which there is (sic) no census records prior to 1830 (Fort Worth, Texas: Arrow Printing, 1964) [FHL 976.8 R4c] for Roberts.  (I have requested this book through the Inter-Library Loan system.)
  2. Review: Snyder E. Roberts; Roberts families of Roane County, Tennessee, 1794-1969, 1968 for Roberts Family. WorldCat: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/114828. (I have requested this book through the Inter-Library Loan system.)
  3. Review: Chris H. Bailey, “Descendants of David Blackwell of Surry County, North Carolina and Roane County, Tennessee,” particularly his footnotes which contain many of his sources.

————- Disclaimer ————-


[i] Find a Grave, Find a Grave, No Marker – Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts – Memorial #147852443. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=147852443.

[ii] Gregory Vaut, Ancestors of Alexandra Catlin Vaut, Files (Personal), Elizabeth Blackwell #78189. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. http://www.acvancestors.com/g2/p2607.htm#i78189.

[iii] Tennessee, Compiled Marriages, 1784-1825, Ancestry.Com, No Image – John Roberts & Elizabeth Blackwell – Marriage Date: 3 March 1816. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. http://search.ancestry.com/search/collections/eamtn/14655/printer-friendly?ssrc=pt&tid=28584065&pid=12093609656&usePUB=true.

[iv] Family Search Wiki – Roane County, Tennessee Genealogy https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Roane_County,_Tennessee_Genealogy

[v] 1830 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1830 Census – John Roberts – Roane, Tennesee (A). 1830; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Series: M19; Roll: 180; Page: 55; Family History Library Film: 0024538.

[vi] 1840 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1840 Census – John Roberts – Roane, Tennessee (A). 1840; Census Place: Roane, Tennessee; Roll: 535; Page: 70; Image: 1022; Family History Library Film: 0024549.

[vii] 1850 Census (FS), Family Search, John Roberts – Roane, Tennessee – House Number 1415. Accessed:  6 August 2016.

[viii] 1860 Census (A) (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1860 Census – John Roberts – 14th District, Roane, TN – Post Office Kingston.

[ix] Find a Grave, Find a Grave, (No Marker) – Elizabeth Blackwell Roberts – Memorial #147852443. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=147852443.

[x] Gregory Vaut, Ancestors of Alexandra Catlin Vaut, Files (Personal), Elizabeth Blackwell #78189. Accessed 13 Feb 2017. http://www.acvancestors.com/g2/p2607.htm#i78189.