Exciting week for the Zimmer family. My son Carl Zimmer’s book, She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, has just been published. It’s terrific, especially for genealogists. He even takes a look at his own heredity (which includes mine) and what can and cannot be learned from it. (Great review in the NYTimes this weekend: What Does Heredity Mean?)
One chapter in the book deals with the birth of eugenics, and concerns a family with Hunterdon County roots—the Wolvertons. As you might imagine, my curiosity was aroused, and I had to look more closely at who those people were.
Researching this story has taken me somewhat out of my comfort zone, being focused more on families in Mercer and Somerset Counties, rather than present-day Hunterdon. How I wish David Blackwell was still with us. I would have enjoyed so much sharing the information I found with him. He would certainly have given me useful insights into the residents of Hopewell who were connected with this story. However, I was given some important help by Larry Kidder and Jack Davis of the Hopewell Valley Historical Society. Many thanks to them.
One of the sources for the story was an article in the American Genealogist by Shirley G. Straney. She wrote something very interesting about the early families of Hunterdon County:
“Hunterdon County, New Jersey, showed prolonged occupation by early colonial families, who appeared decade after decade with comparatively little immigration until the end of the nineteenth century. As a result, most families were substantially interrelated. It was not necessary to marry known relations to create this pattern. When families remain in the same area for generations, common ancestry is inevitable.”
Those of us who discover we have ancestors in Hunterdon County can therefore assume we are all cousins. Hence my fascination with these early families and their interconnections.
Hope you enjoy the article. I sure had fun working on it.