52 Ancestors Week 11: Large Family

+20 votes

imageReady for Week 11 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

Please share with us a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches the week's theme. This week's sharing prompt:


From Amy Johnson Crow:

Any large families in the family tree? Any stories of the challenges or benefits of being in a large family? Or perhaps "Large" is an ancestral surname? 

Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. If this is your first time participating, or you don't have the participation badge, please post hereClick here for more about the challenge.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
I come from large family of 14 kids 7 girls and 7 boys my mom lost 2 sets of twins so there would of 18 kids. My mom who will be 89 this year is still living my dad passed away. I myself have 9 kids 7 boys and 2 girls. So i guess the worden/Smith family is large
We"ve got big families and some one-child families.  But they're all part of our past.  I'm curious, Pamela, did any of the Wordens in your family live in Kentucky?
I'm not sure but I know i have worden family all over check our connection we could possibly be family
I had 11 brothers and 5 sisters. My first brother and my moms first child died when he was only ten months old and I had a brother who died in 1984  and just had a sister who died a month ago. So I have 9 brothers and 4 sisters who are still living. There were a lot of big families here in Newfoundland in the last century.
Wow Pamela, that's a lot of nappies (diapers) changed over the years!
Yes it was very expensive but worth it I love my big family

89 Answers

+22 votes

This ought to do it. Came from a family of 11 children, had 12 himself.

John William Wood

by Rob Judd G2G6 Mach 9 (93.0k points)
+22 votes
When I was a kid, a cousin of my grandma organised a family reunion. There were more than 60 people, my mum knew only a handful of them. Seemingly everybody told her: "I am a cousin of your mother-in-law". (My great-grandfather had 9 siblings.) To get all those people organised, mum took some papers put them together and drew an ancestry tree. Later that day an old aunt came to her and gave her an old family book which had infos about that family back to 1784. I still have that tree.
by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (615k points)
That's how I got started in genealogy Jelena, trying to sort out the folks at the family reunion. Your old family book sounds like a real treasure!
The problem is I don't know what happened to that book after this greatgrandaunt of mine died. She didn't have offspring so this treasure might have landed in the garbage ultimately when her house or flat was cleaned out.
+22 votes

My gg-grandfather, Jacob Underwood, and his wife, Elizabeth Moore, has twelve children. Four of their sons would go on to serve in the Confederate Army and survive, including my g-grandfather.

Here’s Jacob’s proifle (bio pending):


by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
I could write it for you...using Morgan Freeman style narration. =)
You crack me up!!!
I try! Side note: Any relation to Carrie Underwood? =P
My wife's grandmother was an Underwood and also came from a large family.
Not that I know of, even though she was from right down the road!
@Eric: Anybody ever tell you your profile photo looks like Prince Harry?
+21 votes
Lots of big families due to the RC priests who came informing when the next child was due if it took a couple too long to cconceive again.

One of the biggest families was the one of my greatgrandfather  on my fathers side. His wife had 17 pregnancies. Eight kids reached adulthood. The ones who didn't make it often died before the age of two years.

Van_Hout-31 and Arts-48
by Eef van Hout G2G6 Mach 8 (85.5k points)
+26 votes

Pull up a couch. This is gonna take a while. To make things simple, I'll drill it down for everyone. Pay attention. There'll be a quiz later. Maybe. =)

My father is an only child. However, he grew up with his first cousins in Haverhill and they were pretty much his siblings.  My grandma Ollie  was one of five. Seeing all the sisters around the dining room table growing up was awesome. Little old Italian ladies are great. Except when they take turns pinching your cheeks. They did that. A lot.

Grandpa Marco only has one full sister. However, like my dad he had a TON of cousins from the Tedesco family in Woburn, Mass to the Coppolas who, like my grandfather lived in Haverhill. 

Back to my grandma Ollie. Her uncle, Rocco  had about a dozen kids. Many my dad knew about. He knew of the Coppolas and some of the Tedescos, too. There were Ferraiolo cousins but they moved further away than Essex and Middlesex counties. They mostly settled in the Philly area as I found out recently.

Now we come to my mother's side. My mom is one of six. I am the second oldest of ten grandchildren with my brother being the oldest. Grandpa Hamel was one of five. Grandma Felker was one of five as well. As a result, my mom has I want to say 50 cousins. I remember working on the tree with her and having her help me list everyone. That took a while. I also talk to a few of her cousins on Facebook. So, that was helpful.

Her grandparents also came from incredibly large families. Henrietta was one of twelve. Her parents, Antoine and Lucy, were living in a small house with their in-laws and their kids in the 1880 census. I checked it out on Google Earth. Can't believe it's still there! I don't know how twelve people fit in that house! Basically two families were living there as one.

The same thing happened with my 2x great-grandmother Caterina's sister, Concetta and her brother, Paolo in the 1920 census! Huge families living together.

Great-grandpa Felker had many siblings and half-siblings as his parents got divorced. Gertrude married a Senter and had many children with him. Wilfred unfortunately left the picture so his grandfather, Jeremiah raised Austin. Wilfred ended up having many kids with a woman named Anne Pierce. My mom ended up knowing more of the Senters growing up than the kids from the Wilfred/Anne Pierce marriage.

My mom knew her great-grandparents, Joseph Laplante and Georgianna Ross. The families were large. REALLY large. So many kids I haven't finished adding all the Ross ones. I have a third cousin who has been helping me with that.

A challenge from being in a large family is trying to get everyone's name right. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to a family event and someone runs up to me, gives me a hug and said how much I've grown. I turn to my parents and they tell me who the person is. When you put them all down in your favorite family tree making software, it can be a bit scary. You don't want to forget anyone. You need scorecards. 

One of the benefits of course is that you get a lot of people sharing similar stories. Since my grandpa Marco died when I was four, my great-aunt was the one who ended up telling me everything about the Ferraiolos, Tedescos and Coppolas. Her daughter helped, too. With a lot of people giving you information, it gives you solid groundwork for your research.

Another benefit is that you get to know a lot of your cousins before you take a DNA test. I knew of a few potential third and fourth cousins growing up. Grandma Ollie kept in touch with the Carrabs cousins as Rocco, Pasquale and Rosina were nearby. Sadly after my grandpa Marco passed away we lost touch with the Tedescos. At least we're back in touch thanks to the advent of the Internet. 

Having a large family also means that you get a lot of insight into what life was like. Even seeing large families as far back as my 2x great-grandparents gives me an idea. Some kids died young. Some lived to adulthood and had large families of their own. In the end you get to figure out how they lived and managed their large families. It was probably not easy for two large French-Canadian families living in a small house in Haverhill. I can tell you that much. The same could be said for Italians, too!

Large families give you stories. Some good. Some bad. Some sad. In the end, they are there to give you information even years after their deaths. And when you find that DNA match to a member of that family long since forgotten you can reconnect as if no time has passed.

To sum up. The movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was a like a documentary. =)

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (401k points)
You really oughta look into writing a book; you’ve already got a ton of information.
LOL. I should. I have the perfect title. =)
Oh, so you want me to spoil it? Okay. How does "All Roads Lead to Haverhill" sound? In my case it's very true.
I can't wait for the Ferraiolo movie
Hahaha. It'd be a less exciting version of the Godfather. I can tell you that much. I already have a basic plot.

Two families from Italy arrive in America on a ship. They settle in Massachusetts. We follow my grandfather growing up, meeting my grandmother (who is the daughter of an Italian immigrant herself) and so on.

No Mob wars. Marco didn't die in a plaza in Sicily. =)
Chris if the connection finder is correct we are 18th cousins once removed
Awesome! I'll have to check that out, Pamela!

Thanks for the best answer nod!
+20 votes

Two direct maternal ancestor marriages, Joseph and Mary (Mary was one of nine), and Samuel and Minnie, had 12 and 10 children respectively.  Samuel's sister, Margaret, had 11 (from two of her three marriages), and her youngest daughter from the first marriage had "only" seven, but one of those lived to 105 years of age!  (105 is "large", yes?)

On the direct paternal side the "best" was my great-great-great-grandfather and his wife (parents of "the Judge") with nine.



11 weeks in and I'm still here!

(edited to correct link)

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (268k points)
edited by Melanie Paul
105 is a large age indeed!
+20 votes

My Mercer side of the family were certainly prolific breeders (probably not politically correct!) but with I think 16 children in one generation and 18 in another I think they can be classed as a LARGE family, Thomas Mercer

and his wife Grace Thompson are actually two ancestors I am glad I descend from. They actually documented through papers collected at the time (baptisms. places of birth etc).

The Story goes Charles Frederick Mercer was in America when someone suggested they might be entitled to a claim on Manhattan (ancestral rights) fortune - basically it was some some kind of scam, con or misinterpreted by the press ( I have no idea which) but thankful they collected all the data to put in a claim and the data is available to view at a Local History Society (Chipping, Lancashire) which was donated by the family. 

At least two of this family I believe settled in America , not sure if Charles Frederick was one of them (There's two within my knowledge) but I am still adding the family, like I mentioned above there's rather a lot of them 

by Heather Jenkinson G2G6 Mach 2 (28.2k points)
+23 votes
My Father Joe a. Brown 1st wife; Elizabeth 4 Children together, She had 3 before their marriage.

2nd Marriage Fannie 7 Children 4 still alive

Her great grandfather Robert Jeter/Geeter had 9

his brother James Jeter 17 children. back then,there was no radio, tv ,cell phones,or telephones just work come home eat etc...
by Susie Brown G2G6 (7.7k points)

This is a picture of my great grandfather Alvin Porter Long with all twelve of his children. It was taken Dec 1934. He made the 1893 Oklahoma Land Run and raised them in a sod house. He had nicknames for them, and they claim he never once called any one of them by their given name. They all lived to be elderly.https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Long-12113#

Haha Suzie, James Jeter would get along with my Grandfather.  Someone asked him why he had so many kids, he said, "Well, the train comes through town at 5am and I don't rise til 6"
Lots of children in his family. Great picture. Love the share.
+20 votes
The above is my answer. After cutting off two of my ancestors; it tried to edit and I turned it to a comment. Eowyn, I am still a learner.
by Alexis Nelson G2G6 Pilot (322k points)

Looks as though they're all dressed up in "Sunday go to Meeting" clothes .. with one girl as the rebel (the one second from the right, in the patterned frock, rather than all dark colours).  smiley

Melanie, you are extremely observant. They are dressed for their mother’s funeral, and that is why I know the date. I have another picture of them going to their father’s funeral, and once again she did not dress all In black like the rest. She also was way before her time in pet rescue.

Well, good for her!  You should post more about her in the "Question of the Week: Who was a groundbreaking woman in your family? " thread.


I don't know where the thing of (all) black came from (I could look it up, but I can't be bothered right now), but it should be given the old heave-ho.  There are many and many and many ways to show respect for the one just left us, but black doesn't have to be it.  (My children know I don't want black anywhere to be seen when it's my turn.  In fact, I have suggested clown outfits.)  It used to be white for funerals (still may be in some cultures), just as it used to be colours for weddings .. white is reasonably "recent".

Thank you Melanie. I just looked at the question, and I will write about her and all the dogs and cats she cared for— long before anyone used term rescue.
Black was ‘Best Clothes’ to be worn at all special occasions. Women married in black, people attended funerals in black, and it was also Sunday Best. There was probably only 2 sets of clothes work and best!
Thanks Marion for your comment. I actually have a large percentage of black in my closet, but I have three cats and have to be careful about fabrics and pet hair.
+17 votes
My grandfather, Victor, was the youngest of twelve children.  His wife was the sixth of eight.  Families were smaller on my mom's side: her mother was the third of six, and her father was his parents' only child, but had seven half-siblings.  I had to go back a few generations to beat my grandpa's family's record: my 4th great-grandparents, Hugh and Jane (Beckham) Fleming, had thirteen children.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (125k points)
+19 votes

I found a number of ancestors with a lot of children on both my father's and mother's side, but my 4 x g-grandparents on my mother's paternal side had the most.  Ephraim and Betsey Witcher had 14 children! And it appears that all of these children lived to adulthood. 

by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (890k points)
Wow.  Large families were common, but there was also a high infant mortality rate.  My great-grandfather had ten children, and only four made it to adulthood. The Witchers are very lucky!
+17 votes

14 kids.

I have two and can barely manage!

Samuel H. Baty

by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
I can relate -- but mine are grown and now have their own to teach them...
haha isn't it true!
My Wife is constantly asking me how you could cope with 8 kids.  If you figure they're born 2 years apart, by the time the 8th comes along, you have a 16, 14, & 12 year old.  Two babysitters and a dishwasher ;-)
My Mother-in-Law had 6 children. She said 3 was the worst possible number as it is always 2 against 1. After 3, she said have as many as you like, it is no extra work. Her eldest was changing nappies by 6 years old. She also worked so all the kids did their own washing and cooked dinner one night a week by age 12. The rule was you eat what was put in front of you and made NO comments if it tasted odd. Her youngest thought the soup he made was too pale so added tea leaves for colour!
My husband comes from a family of nine children, the first seven in eight years! Mom also worked and I've heard similar stories to yours, Lynlee. Three of the four girls became nuns. Wonder why?!
O.M.G. That was funny, S.J. !!!

How would you cope with three children under four years of age?
I'll let you know in April when #3 arrives.
+18 votes

Eleven seems to be the maximum number of children in my ancestors who had larger families. The only one of them I ever met who mothered eleven children was my great-grandmother,Lula Lee Cotter Hildreth.  My maternal granddaddy was her youngest son; he had a younger sister. I remember she always had such a serene expression on her face. She lived to be 95, which I find remarkable.

Marvin Bascom and Lula Lee Cotter Hildreth

by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (285k points)
I see that look -- looks very contented.
+17 votes

I've got a large number (pun was not intended!) of large families, but the first that jumps to mind are my fraternal grandparents. My grandpa, Robert Tuma, was the youngest of 10. His wife, my grandma Ethel Collen, was from a family of 12. Both families, all of the children lived to adulthood, except one was killed at age 12. He was hit by a car. The funny thing is that my grandparents only had three children...all boys. Family reunions were fun with either side, because there was SO much family!

by Anonymous Tuma G2G6 Mach 1 (14.3k points)
+19 votes

I don't have any overly large families in my own ancestry, a few with 10, 11 or 12 children but nothing bigger. I have researched some bigger families that I am not directly related to with 16 or more children but one particular case comes to mind.

Caroline Porter was born in 1823 in Sandon, Staffordshire, England and married three times. She had six children with her first husband Henry Holford (one died in infancy) and after he died she had another four children with her second husband John Rotchell who had had eight children (four surviving) with his first wife. After John died Caroline married William White who had had five children (four surviving) with his first wife.

So Caroline had ten of her own children, of which nine survived and was step-mother to another eight surviving children from her second and third husbands. Family gatherings must have been fun.

The 1871 census was particularly helpful in piecing her family together because it lists Caroline, her third husband, a step-son, a step-daughter, two of her sons with her first husband, four of her sons with her second husband, a daughter with her first husband plus son-in-law and grandson.

by Ray Hawkes G2G6 Mach 5 (50.3k points)
someone could easily get tangled up in her part of the tree!
+18 votes
My paternal grandmother Minnie Ellen Wine Short had 13 children (including my Dad) and she came from a family of 9. She had her first child at the age of sixteen and her last one at the age of forty-eight.  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Wine-262
by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (190k points)
+16 votes
52 Ancestors Week 11 - Large Family

No wonder everyone in our hometown is related to everyone.

Walter Blakely Hess was born 18 Jun 1852 in Momence and died 5 Aug 1918. He was married 5 times, but only had children with his first two wives.  He had 11 children with Athelinda Pelton, and 1 child with Johanna Wells Richard (who was first married to his brother). He had a total of 12 children.

His daughter, Elmena Hess was born 30 Dec 1840 in Momence, Illinois and died 28 Nov 1913 in Momence, Illinois. She married Alanson West and had 7 children with him; and then married Caleb James West and had 5 children for a total of 12 children.

Merritt Marvin Wells, Elmena's son, was born 23 Oct 1881 in Momence, Illinois and died 19 Dec 1950. He married Laurena Jensen.  They had 14 children.

Wallace Glenn Hess (Walter Blakely Hess' g-grandson) was born 5 Oct 1909 in Momence, Illinois and died 7 Nov 1988.  He married Margaret Laking.  They had 12 children.

Wallace's son, Dale Wesley Hess is still living.  He married Sylvia Boomsma (deceased) and they had 5 children. He then married Laticia Avila and they had 3 children for a total of 8 children.

So 5 generations of the Hess family had 58 children. I would say that qualifies for a large family. We have not counted all of the grandchildren and great-grandchild.

I am proud to be a member of this family.
by Cheryl Hess G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)

Are you sure there are other families that live there?  surprise

Not really, Melanie.  Lol - the more research I do, I  find the more we are related. One of my husband's cousin is her own cousin because both sides of her family are related to Walter B. Hess.  Too funny.

That was a cute remark.  Thank you.  Have a great night.

God Bless!laugh

Then why hasn't it been renamed Hesstown?  (Or Hesston.)  cheeky

That is a good question.  There was a Hess School, a Hess cemetery, Hess Lumber Yard.  And Walter B Hess was the 9th settler in Momence.  It is a wonder that it is not named Hess Town.
+19 votes

The largest number of children in my tree is 16.  I found 4 families that had that many, but the one that really stood out was the family of Sylvanus Peck Richards & Christiana Hancock.

Not only was the family large, but their names were large too. Each of them had 3 given names, with almost no repeated names.  All of them lived to adulthood. All married except one who died in the war aged 27.

The kids were:

- Sarah Annie Williams
- William Charles Johnson
- Elizabeth Margaret Mary
- Mabel Jane Dickens
- Edwin John Bassett
- Julian Warne Irving
- Arthur James Albert
- Charles Johnson Trethewey
- Richard Sylvanus Hancock
- Beatrice Ada Truscott
- Percy Granville Fowler
- Stanley Wallace Hicks
- Thomas John Peck
- Ernest William Llewellyn
- Henry Horace Dyllwyn
- Alice Christiana May

by Susie O'Neil G2G6 (8.0k points)
Some creative naming!
+14 votes
My grandfather Robert and his wife had 13 children and his brother and  his wife  had 11.  The wives were sisters of each other as well.

My 3g grandfather (Mom's side) had 12 children.
by David Hughey G2G Astronaut (1.4m points)
+16 votes

Although there are a few large families in my tree, I would be remiss if I did not make a short entry about my grandmother's sister, Lolly Large. 

Born in 1904 as Mary Catherine Chisholm Fraser in Rossland, BC she had moved to China in 1934 along with her sister (my grandmother) where she wed George Clifford Large. They were living in Shanghai when the Japanese took over the city, and she spent several months in an internment camp in 1943 before returning to Canada with her only daughter - leaving her husband behind until the war ended.  After WWII, they lived in several different countries before eventually retiring to Victoria, BC.

I knew Auntie Lolly after she had become a widow. Growing up in Victoria, we occasionally had family dinners (often Chinese food) with my grandmother and her two sisters (along with various cousins). 

I can include a photo of the three sisters: Margie is standing, Fantan is on the left, while Lolly is sitting on the right.


For bonus points - that is in fact a 15 year old me lurking in the background...

by Geoffrey Crofton G2G6 (6.7k points)
She doesn't look very large in that picture.

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