Did Mickey Mouse descend from a Huron County mouse?
Did you know that Walt Disney was a descendant of Huron County pioneers? This came to light a few weeks ago after a lady called me and asked for help researching her family history.
When I visited this lady she surprised me when she asked if I could help her confirm an old family story that she was related to Walt Disney.
I smiled to myself. In my line of work, lots of people tell me they are related to someone special. But really, could she have just said the name Walt Disney, the creator of my childhood hero Mickey Mouse? After our initial telephone conversation, she had listed all the information she had about her Huron County family. The most interesting exhibit was a family photograph of a long ago family gathering in a time period of the pioneers. A sheet of barely transparent paper accompanying the photograph and once overlaid it revealed a number placed on the centre of each individual's head. At the bottom of the sheet was a legend explaining their names and relationship to the descendants. In total there were about a dozen people including one she suspected of marrying into the Disney family.
Never one to resist a challenge I gathered her names and dates and got started with my work. I left this lady's house with the task of tracing her relative's descendants as well as copying her photograph into a digital format and adding the names at the bottom. I was certain I could do the second task but would I be able to track the progression of her family from Huron County to Hollywood?
Starting by developing her family tree I moved back through the generations and came to a Richardson who married a Disney. How would I research the connection with the creator of Mickey Mouse? Through research, I discovered a Richardson who owned property in Bluevale, in Huron County during the 1870s. I also found a certificate of the marriage of a Mary Richardson to a Kepple Disney that became an important part of solving the puzzle.
Talking with a friend and fellow genealogist about this assignment, I heard her chuckle as we were both at our computers, I sent her the information I had about Mary Disney, who's maiden name was Richardson, and held on. Within a moment my ears were burning with the sound of my friend's voice saying "Oh My, Oh My, Yes, Wow, I can't believe it!" She sent me the link and I was able to see instantly a biography of Walt Disney's life and a perfect match of names. Walt's great-great grandparents were Ruth Lark and Robert Richardson, names supplied by my client.
There it was, this lady did have an ancestor in common with the late great Walt Disney, the father of Mickey Mouse himself and I had the confirmation she was seeking.
Walt Disney's father Elias had traveled to the United States with his father Kepple and brother. Kepple was on his way to California like thousands of others who heard of the easy gold pickings to be had. On their way they met a man who talked Kepple into accompanying him to Kansas. This is the place he decided to stay. I did find records of Mary and Kepple with Walter and his sibblings in Ellis, Kansas, in the early 1900s. I found documentation that showed the family left Huron County, Canada, in 1878.
If any of your readers have any interesting stories of their experiences looking into their own history give me a call, I would love to talk with you. You can visit my family history website at http://www.ancestree.ca and make a comment on my blog.