Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Cousin Connection to the Artist on the Wall

In the late 1960s I was photographed on my parents' sofa with a little friend I'd been babysitting. On the wall of our living hung this painting by James Guilford Swinnerton. A decade earlier my parents had re-decorated our living room and purchased that painting along with the two shown in this photograph below of me, my twin brother Dennis and our cousins as we entertained our grandparents one Christmas Day.
Here are representations from the internet of two of those prints.

On Wikipedia we find this information about James Swinnerton: "James Guilford Swinnerton (Nov 13, 1875-Sep 8, 1974) was an American cartoonist and a landscape painter of the Southwest deserts. He was known as 'Jimmy' to some and 'Swinny' to others. He signed some of his early cartoons 'Swin', and on one ephemeral comic strip he used 'Guilford' as his signature. Experimenting with narrative continuity, he played a key role in the development of the comic strip at the end of the 19th century."
As I was researching some of my ancestral lines a few years ago, I noticed James Swinnerton's name in my database! I was quite surprised. From that research, I was able to develop this chart, showing my connection to him. 
Starting at the left, you can see that James G. Swinnerton was married to Gretchen Staples, daughter of William and Maud (Parshall) Staples. William and Maud's great-granddaughter Gretchen Lillich (through their daughter Lourena Staples Evans) is my 2nd cousin through my Becker ancestry, as shown at the right of the chart. My maternal grandmother is Nannie (Becker) Flanders. Her sister Mabel (Becker) Lillich is the grandmother of Gretchen (Lillich) O'Hagan. 
Gretchen (Lillich) and John O'Hagan 
Mabel Mary (Becker) Lillich
 While I may not technically be related to the artist James G. Swinnerton, he was my 2nd cousin's granduncle, and that's close enough for me. I had no idea, nor did my parents, that the artist whose work hung on our living room walls for two decades was ancestrally connected to me and my brother. As someone who was interested in our family history, my dad would have loved to have known that. 

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