Casefile Clues

04 April 2011

Let's Get It Right--Chris Rodda on Michele Bachmann

I'm no fan of Michele Bachman and I'm apparently no fan of Chris Rodda's mathematics either.

Rodda in an op-ed piece from 3 April discusses Bachman's claims about her Bachman's Iowa connections. Now, it does appear that Bachman got some details about where her ancestors settled incorrect and Rodda is right to nail her on that. However, Rodda claims that Bachman simply can't have great-great-great-grandparents who settled in Iowa in the 1850s.

Rodda states: " simply because it would be mathematically impossible for a woman in her mid-fifties to be the 7th generation descended from people who immigrated in the 1850s unless each of their direct ancestors from every generation had had a child when they were still a child themselves. "

The article later states that the immigrants in question were Bachman's great-great-great-grandparents. Counting the immigrants as generation 1, Bachman would be the 6th generation. Counting the children of the immigrants as 1, Bachman would be the 5th generation. So something is not right--Bachman is either the great-great-great-granddaughter of the immigrants mentioned in the article or she is the 7th generation, but not both.

Despite the error in how many generations there are from Bachman, the claim is still very possible given Bachman's age. Bachman is only twelve years older than me--she was born in 1956. I have several great-great-great-grandparents who settled in Illinois in the 1850s and there were no successive generations of children begetting children either.

Here's one set of great-great-great-grandparents who came to Illinois in 1850:

1) Peter Bieger, born about 1825 in Germany-immigrated to Illinois in 1850
2) Franciska Bieger Trautvetter, born 1851 in Hancock County, Illinois
3) George Trautvetter, born 1869 in Hancock County, Illinois
4) Ida Trautvetter Neill, born 1910 in Hancock County, Illinois
5) My father, most certainly born well after my grandmother reached the age of majority
6) Yours truly, born in 1968, well after my mother reached the age of majority.

Several births in this lineage took place after the parent reached twenty-five years of age. I also descend from a set of great-great-great-great-great-grandparents who came to Illinois in the 1850s. That's EIGHT generations of children from them to me.

And the great-great-great-great-great-grandparents who came to Illinois in the 1850s:

1) Gerd Behrends, born in Germany in 1789, immigrated to Illinois in the 1850s
2) Ulfert Behrends, born in Germany in 1823, immigrated to Illinois in the 1850s
3) Trientje Behrends Sartorius, born Germany in 1843, immigrated to Illinois in the 1850s
4) Fredericka Sartorius Janssen, born in Adams County, Illinois in 1865
5) Tena Janssen Ufkes, born in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1895
6) John H. Ufkes, born in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1917
7) My mother, born well after my grandfather reached the age of majority
8) Yours truly, born in 1968, well after mother reached the age of majority

My mother would be the 7th generation from the 1850 era immigrants--their great-great-great-great-granddaughter. And no offense to my mother, but she was born a little before 1956.

I'll agree that it appears Bachmann has her geography off, but Rodda's genealogy math is off too.