Genealogy, local history and historical research in New England and other interesting places. Nutfield was the former land grant ................................. that is now the towns of Londonderry, Derry and Windham, New Hampshire.
wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers
on the red carpet in Hollywood
UP photo 2009
When I was just a teen aged kid, I started tracing our
genealogy. I had some help from a night
class I took, and then I was on my own in the genealogy stacks of the reading
room at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. I was lucky because it was the mid-1970s,
and I had interviewed my grandparents, who had been born in the 1890s. They knew all about their own parents and
grandparents, which took me right to the “Tan Books”. In those days (pre-internet), anyone doing
Massachusetts ancestry used the Tan books, which are the published vital
records for most of the towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Tan books cover from the beginning of
vital records in the early 1600s up to 1850.
I was also lucky because the AAS had, and still has, a great
collection of compiled genealogies. I
was able to find a book on my MUNROE ancestors, and my EMERSONs, and then the
CONVERSE family. I carefully compared
all the notes and dates to vital records.
I was sure that I was on the right track. However, the CONVERSE family
had information on the family going back into the eons of time in England. I took it all for granted and added it to my
family tree. There was no way of checking
information pre-1620 in the Massachusetts Vital Records.
Fast forward - in the year 2001 a book was published
called The Name’s Familiar II, a second volume of a book by Laura Lee
which gives biographies and family histories on the inventors or historical
figures who lent their names to brands, inventions, and other commonly used
words. This is the book for you if you
are curious about the people and names behind CliffsNotes, Bunker Hill, or Converse athletic shoes. You can read this book online at Google
The very first line of the sketch on Marquis Mills Converse,
founder of the Converse athletic shoe company, states “…was born October 25, 1861 into a
family that traces its lineage all the way back to Edward III of England…”. I wondered if they used his noble heritage
in any early advertising. And hey, that CONVERSE
name sounded familiar? Marquis Mills
Converse turned out to be a relative. To me.
Not to any noble King in England.
If a fifteen year old could figure out that family history, why couldn't
a book author? (Did his parents name him "Marquis" after a mythical royal lineage?)
Did you ever wear a pair of Chuck Taylor basketball shoes?
This is the same Converse shoe company, founded in 1908 in Malden, Massachusetts. Our common ancestor, the Puritan Deacon
Edward Converse first came to the New World and settled in Charlestown, and
then Woburn, Massachusetts. Malden was a
great place for this famous sneaker factory since it is right in between the
two towns where Deacon Converse lived in the 1600s. These shoes are probably now made in China, but I don't know for sure. Converse sneakers were wildly popular with both basketball players and teenagers in the 1950s and 1960s, until designer athletic shoes became the rage in the 1970s and 1980s. The company is still making athletic shoes,
and they are more popular today with skateboarders and red carpet actresses in
Hollywood than with NBA athletes.
Here’s the real story!
The Converse Family genealogy:
Convers d. 1542 in Navestock, Essex, England m. Margaret Unknown
Convers m. Joan Fuller
Anthony Convers m. Clemence Spady
Converse m. Sarah Parker
1590 Stanford Rivers, Essex, England
August 1663 Woburn, Massachusetts
James Converse m. Anna Long Samuel Converse
m. Judith Carter
James Converse m. Hannah Carter Samuel Converse
m. Dorcas Pain
Robert Converse m. Mary Sawyer Thomas Converse
m. Abigail Fay
Susanna Converse m. Caleb Simonds Joel Converse m.
Ruth Simonds m. Andrew Munroe Marquis Converse m. Electa
Luther Simonds Munroe m. Olive Flint Peter Mills Converse m.
Mary Spear Clement
Phebe Munroe m. Robert W. Wilkinson
Marquis Mills Converse m. Alice Houghton Sargent
I Founder of the Converse Shoe Company
Wilkinson m. Isabella L. Bill
Wilkinson m. Bertha L. Roberts
Slightly inaccurate source:
The Name’s Familiar II, by Laura Lee, Gretna, Louisiana:
Pelican Publishing Company, 2001. (See
pages 83-84 for the sketch on Marquis Mills Converse)