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September 17, 2010

Dropping Names on my Foote

Dropping Names on My Foote by Earl Martin Pedersen, Dec. 2005

John Foote, an Englishman from Royston, Hertfordshire, England, and my oldest documented ancestor, was born in 1530. He married Helen Warren and had a son named Robert Foote (1552-1607), who married Joane Brooke, and they had a son named Nathaniel Foote (1593-1644). After his apprenticeship in the grocery business, Nathaniel married Elizabeth Deming in 1615. Her brother was John Deming, a magistrate of the Colony of Connecticut and signer of the Charter. Nathaniel and Elizabeth, probably with John Deming, sailed from London to Boston sometime between 1630 and 1633 to start a new life in Wethersfield, Conn. There Nathaniel farmed and was appointed a delegate to the Court. He was the first cousin of Sir Thomas Foote, Sheriff of London in 1649 and Lord Mayor of London in 1650. Nathaniel Foote is nicknamed “The Settler” because he is our first US ancestor. This is where the story really begins to get interesting.

Nathaniel and Elizabeth had two sons and five daughters. Their first son was also named Nathaniel (1619-1655) and his kid sister was named Rebecca Foote (1634-1701). Remember her. Nathaniel Foote jr. married Elizabeth Smith, and they had a son named Daniel Foote (1652-?). Daniel married Sarah, and they had a boy named Jehiel Foote (1687-1740). Jehiel married Susannah, and one of their nine children was George Foote (1721-1755). George Foote married Hannah Hurd, and they had John Foote (1754-1826), who witnessed the Revolution. John Foote married Ruth Searl in 1775, and they had a son named Adoniram Foote, born in Arlington, Vermont in 1780, who died in Turin, New York in 1866.

Adoniram Foote’s second wife was Emily Brainerd, whose brother Lawrence was an ardent abolitionist. His house in Vermont was the last stop on the Underground Railroad to Canada. Hon. Lawrence Brainerd presided over the first convention of the Republican Party in 1854 nominating John C. Frèmont, who won only 16 states. (Abraham Lincoln was the second Republican candidate for the Presidency. He won.) Adoniram and Emily had a son named Norman Brainerd Foote (1820-1900). Norman married Maria Mills in 1848, and their first son was Frederick Norman Foote (1852-1941). Frederick Foote married Nora French Thompson, and they moved from New York to Texas to Minnesota and then to Seattle, Washington. They had ten children, among them Gertrude May Foote (1891-1977), my grandmother. By the way, Frederick Foote’s brother John was the first graduate of Boston (University) School of Theology, which later graduated Dr. Ralph Martin Pedersen jr. (Dad) and his classmate Dr. Martin Luther King jr.

In the meantime, Nathaniel Foote junior’s sister Rebecca Foote, daughter of “The Settler,” married Lt. Philip Smith and they had a daughter also named Rebecca, who married George Stillmen. George and Rebecca had a daughter named Anna Stillmen who married a man named Hezekiah May. They had a daughter named Elizabeth May, and she married David Newcomb. Their daughter, Lydia Newcomb, married Timothy Bush. Lydia and Timothy Bush had a son, Obadiah Bush (1797-1851), who married Harriet Smith. Their son, the Reverend James Bush (1825-1889), married Harriet Fay, and they had a son named Samuel Prescott Bush (1863-1948). Sam married Flora Sheldon, and they named their son Prescott Sheldon Bush (1895-1972), who married Dorothy Walker. Now, Prescott Sheldon Bush and Dorothy Walker had a son too, and his name is George Herbert Walker Bush (b. 1924), 41st President of the United States. George married Barbara Pierce, and they had a son named George Walker Bush (b. 1946), who later married Laura Lane Welch and became the 43rd President of the United States. That makes “Dubya” and myself cousins ten generations removed.

Other branches of the Foote family tree lead to Roxanna Foote (1775-1816), wife of Lyman Beecher and mother of Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (Stowe) and Henry Ward Beecher, three of the most famous Americans of their time. William Howard Taft, the 27th President, is a descendant of Nathaniel Foote senior’s sister Mary, as is Richard Milhouse Nixon, the 37th US President. Coincidentally, Nixon’s boyhood barber in Whittier, CA was Jesse Elvin Strahl (my maternal grandfather). Finally, Mary Foote’s daughter Elizabeth Hewes married Ralph Hemenway, a direct ancestor of Nobel Prize-winning novelist, Ernest Hemingway.

My main sources for these incomplete notes were: Don Pedersen’s High School Genealogy Project, the Foote Family Association of America website:, Paul Foote’s site at, and Ernest Hemingway’s genealogy at

Now you know everything.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt: Do you believe any of that?
Jeff: That Pedersen’s related to the four worst presidents in American history?
Mutt: Wasn’t he supposed to be Norwegian?
Jeff: Definitely all a pack of lies. We teached him good.
Mutt: You mean, ‘we teached him well’.
Jeff: Oh sorry.
Mutt: Now that I think about it, there’s a joke about four presidents.
Jeff: Be my guest.
Mutt: Four United States Presidents got caught up in a tornado and off they whirled to the land of Oz. They finally made it to the Emerald City and went to find the Great Wizard, who asked: "What brings the four of you before the great Wizard of Oz?"
Jimmy Carter stepped forward timidly: "I've come for some courage."
"No Problem," said the Wizard. "Who's next?"
Richard Nixon stepped forward, and said: "Well, I think I need a heart."
"Done," says the Wizard. "Who comes next before the Great and Powerful Oz?"
Up stepped Bush and said: "The American people say that I need a brain."
"No problem," said the Wizard. "Consider it done."
Then there is a great silence in the hall.
Jeff: Yeah, and?
Mutt: Bill Clinton is just standing there, looking around, but he doesn't say a word. Irritated, the Wizard finally asks, "Well, what do you want?"
Clinton answers, "Is Dorothy here?"
Jeff: Not bad, not bad ... um, not good either.
Mutt: Wit happens.


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