Who peed in the gene pool?Mar 19th, 2009 | By Leonard Legends & Legacies | Category: History's Mysteries
I was watching a History Channel special on Egyptian pharaohs when I should’ve been working on the book I’ll never finish. The subject was pharaoh so-and-so, who was murdered by his half-brother, who wanted the throne and his half-brother’s wife, who happened to be the murderer’s sister. And you wondered why the pharaohs are extinct?
While I haven’t come across anything quite so dramatic in our family tree, I have come across a few instances of cousins marrying cousins… and doing it twice. Take, for example, the strange case of Nancy Leonard-Leonard-Leonard.
First, let me say that I have checked my sources, alive or dead, and it’s entirely possible we’re all dead wrong about these relationships. (But I don’t think so.) –End of disclaimer
Nancy (1786-1847) was the daughter of Lot and Elizabeth (Hoge) Leonard, named in his will. Her first husband, Joseph Leonard, son of Caleb and Sarah (Burt) Leonard, was her cousin (according to “A Pioneer History of Greene County, PA., “Ten Mile Country and Its Pioneer Families,” and Jennie Leonard Hutchinson, among others). Nancy and Joseph were second cousins, but who’s counting. Nancy Leonard became Nancy Leonard, nee Leonard.
Can’t find a date of death for Joe, so we’re not sure if he died or they divorced, but sometime before 1826, Nancy Leonard-Leonard apparently married her brother-in-law Zenas Leonard… becoming Nancy Leonard-Leonard-Leonard.
In all honesty, all we know for sure is that A Nancy Leonard presided over Zenas’ estate in 1826, the father of four kids is anybody’s guess, and w-a-a-y too many Leonards named their kids Zenas and Nancy.
The point of this whole disclaimer-riddled diatribe is to say that cousins marrying cousins and widows marrying brothers was incredibly common back in the day and none of us should feel icky about it. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) There’s plenty of good reading on the subject here, here, and here.
Now, everybody outta the pool while I change the filter.