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William Millikan of Pennsylvania and North Carolina

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Background on information used for this Web Page

This page was created fairly early in our work on the Woodward Families. At the time, we relied heavily on research already done on the Millikan family, but gradually with time and experience, some of it did not quite ring true. We already knew that primary records for ancestor William Millikan were few and far between. So we proceeded to do an exhaustive review of Millikan pages on various Web Sites, and have concluded that most researchers have relied heavily on the "History of the Millingas and Millanges of Saxony and Normandy," G. T. Ridlon (Journal Press, 1907). An entire chapter in the book is devoted to Millikans in Randolph County. There were one or two sites that used information from another source "Saco Valley Settlements and Families" (author and publication not listed) which also includes information on the Millikans of Randolph County, North Carolina. Someone has a copy of Rev. Ridlon's book "Saco Valley Settlement (1895)" and says that it does not list a birth date and place for William Millikan so the web sites may be off in implying that information comes from the book.

Being more historians than genealogists, we began to notice some discrepancies in the above accounts with what was likely to actually take place in the time periods discussed. For example: William Millikan's birth date is given as about 1720 and his marriage date as about 1740 in the reference to Saco Valley Settlements. It then gives a primary record of William Millikan on the 1739 Tax List in Chester County, Pennsylvania. We know from a study of history that a young man had to be 21 years old to be listed on the tax rolls in this time period, hence William's birthdate is more likely 1718 or before (and we do know from history he had to be 21 to be on the tax list even if he didn't own land!). Someone has brought up the fact he might have inherited land as a juvenile but that would not change the fact that he would be listed on the tax list. If he was a juvenile owning land the name of his guardian would be on the tax list instead. Of course as many Millikans as were about it might be another William altogether on the tax list. In that time period it would also be unheard of for a man of 20 years to marry, they simply were not well enough established to marry at that age; hence his marriage in 1740/41 indicates he was born well before 1720. Twenty-two to twenty-six would be a more likely age, which would place his birthdate as early as 1714-1718. We know from primary records (his estate sale) that he died by 1793, but 90 years was not at all an unreasonable span of life in those days. (The much touted "40 year lifespan," so often quoted, was developed from averages that included the many, many deaths of children from disease!)

References to The Saco Valley Settlement... narrative purportedly give William Millikan as born April 6, 1724 in Dromore, County Down, Ireland. Since the date and place are very specific we might assume they are from birth or baptismal records in Ireland, but we can also quickly deduce that this is then not the correct William Millikan, as a lad of 17, married, and with a child, would have been absolutely unheard of in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in the 1740's. The fact that his birth date and place are not given in the actual Ridlon book of Saco Valley Settlement also makes the information suspect.

M. D. Monk was able to do some hands-on research at both High Point and Greensboro, North Carolina. He found there handwritten records developed by Millikan descendants which would appear to be the records quoted in the Ridlon book. How the decision was made as to which records to accept is quite unclear. One record gives William's birthplace as Scotland and states he came to Pennsylvania about 1720, remained there about 19 years and then moved to Rowan County, North Carolina, purchasing 640 acres of land 2 miles south of Johnsonville, now Brown Crossroads. (See bottom of page for interesting Scottish History of the Millikans.) It also gives his wife as Jane Rowan. There are some interesting tidbits in this history: that he left son Samuel in Pennsylvania until a house could be built. That he was first Register of Deeds in Randolph County and that his house was burned March 10, 1782 by David Fanning. William Millikan first appears on tax lists in Rowan County in 1755 and 1739 would have simply been way too early for him to have been in Rowan County (Rowan County wasn't even created until 1753!.) In fact William is documented in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1741. The part about being register of deeds and his house being burned appear to coincide with historical facts. A fellow researcher pointed out to us that Jane Millikan may have been referred to as Jane of Rowan [County], just as William was referred to as William of Rowan. Her maiden name was thus not likely Rowan.

Another curious find in North Carolina was a photograph purporting to be the Bible of William Millikan from the 1740's and in possession of John Younger of Edgar Road in Glenola, North Carolina. We do not doubt that this might be William's Bible but perhaps it contained no family records as we have not seen Bible records given as a source for family information anywhere. (the clock in the photo was made in England by a Davis family whose descendants married into the Millikan family and the glasses belonged to a Rachel Davis.)

We have modified our page to more closely fit the known facts from the few primary records, but in so doing have explained our reasoning when we deviate from other Web Sites. We included some stories from the Millingas History simply because they are colorful, but they are labeled as stories. There are letters quoted in the History that we assume are real and are probably the letters found currently in North Carolina.

Records of William and Jane White Millikan

William Millikan is often referred to as a Quaker, but actual Quaker records are sparse concerning he and Jane. We have no doubt that he probably was Quaker, as Quaker Meeting records of his children in North Carolina indicate they were birthright Quakers. We found an interesting tidbit in a book called "Carolina Cradle" which says that many Quakers gave up their faith in order to run for county offices (as William did) so this may account for some of the discrepancies as to whether he was Quaker or not.

At present we have no disagreement with researchers who believe that he married Jane White and that she was mother of at least most of his children. William Millikan and William White attended a wedding at Bradford Monthly Meeting in Chester County, Pennsylvania, 24th day, 7th month, 1741, and signed next to each other on the wedding certificate, indicating there was probably some Millikan/White connection. Neither one signed as a relative of the couple (Joel Cloud and Esther Stubbs), and Jane Millikan did not attend the wedding. However, as noted in children's records below she may have been lying-in with child, or at least attending a new baby.

The 1907 History of the Families Millingas... mentions that Jane White Millikan was probably the daughter of Alexander White of Chester County, Pennsylvania. We have pursued the Alexander White clue, and have the following will abstract from Chester County: "White, Alexander. Farmer (London Britain) May 10, 1741 [will date] May 17, 1743 [will proven]. Mentions wife Jane, daughter Susana, daughter Agnes Cross, son Alexander, daughter Ilender Gutey, son John, daughter Mary Ranken, daughter Elizabeth Jamson, daughter Martha Steel, son David." Since William and Jane White Millikan named sons Alexander and David, it seems there is a connection. This Alexander White is perhaps Jane's grandfather, and she is possibly daughter of one of the sons: Alexander, John, or David. Jane, herself, is perhaps named for her possible grandmother, Jane, wife of Alexander. One of the Millikan Web Sites gives Jane as the daughter of Alexander Samuel and Hannah Piggott White but does not give a source. It also gives the 1724 birth date for William Millikan which we know cannot be correct.

Nothing is found for William and Jane Millikan in North Carolina Quaker meeting records (except for mention in connection with children's marriages), although William Millikan is found in the Colonial America census records in 1755 in Rowan County, North Carolina, as is William White. As was often the case in moving to unexplored territory, William may not have immediately brought his family to North Carolina. A will of William's brother, Joseph Millikan, is abstracted in the later part of this page, written in 1757, wherein he implies his (Joseph's) daughters were in North Carolina at that date, so probably both families were moved to North Carolina by 1757. The French and Indian War in 1756 would have made travel extremely dangerous, so the families probably actually came in 1757. William Millikan's name is crossed off the 1758 tax list in Chester County, Pennsylvania, supporting this theory. There are two possibilities here about the death of Jane White Millikan; sometimes the death of an important family member triggered a move away from a place of memories of the loved one, and Jane's death in Chester County may have been a trigger. Since William was already exploring in North Carolina in 1755 it seems more likely that he later took his entire family, including Jane, to North Carolina. That Jane was perhaps deceased at least by 1761 can be deduced from the marriage record of daughter Sarah at New Garden Monthly Meeting, where she is named as daughter of "William Millikan" only. Or Jane's name may have simply been omitted as records were not always kept in a consistent format.

  William Millikan
born before 1718
Northern Ireland(?)
died before 12/1793
Randolph Co NC
Jane White
born unknown date
Chester Co, Pa
died unknown
possibly Rowan Co, NC
  Married: about 1740/41, Chester County, Pennsylvania (William Millikan is listed as unmarried on the 1740 tax list - the 1741 list is missing)

Abigail Millikan born about 1741 Chester County, Pa; married John Frazier
Samuel Millikan born 12/11/1742 Chester County, Pa; married Ann Baldwin
Sarah Millikan born about 1743 Chester County, Pa; married John Mills
David Millikan born about 1745 Chester County, Pa
Mary Millikan born 6/24/1747 Chester County, Pa; married Robert Brattain
Martha Millikan born about 1748 Chester County, Pa; married James Frazier
William Millikan, Jr. born 1/7/1753 Chester County, Pa; married Eleanor Smith
Hannah Millikan born about 1755 (more likely about 1751 unless she was twin of Benjamin) Chester County, Pa; married Enos Blair
Benjamin Millikan born 1/21/1755 probably Chester County, Pa; married Rebecca Rush
Alexander Millikan born about 1757 probably Rowan County, North Carolina; married Georgia Tennessee (?)

The Move to North Carolina

Since William Millikan is found in Rowan County, North Carolina in the 1755 Colonial America census, we do not know for sure the birthplaces of Benjamin & Alexander Millikan. Although Hannah's birthdate has been given as about 1755, it does not fit into the normal spacing of children in that time and also conflicts with Benjamin's birth. Hannah's birthdate is more likely about 1751, and she was probably born in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She could of course have been a twin of Benjamin, but we have not particularly noticed twins running in the Millikan family.

William Millikan may have taken his family with him to North Carolina in 1755, but he might also have traveled back and forth to Pennsylvania. William's brother Joseph Millikan wrote his will in 1757 in Rowan County, naming daughters, so the entire families were probably moved at least by that date. Joseph Milakin (sic), weaver, wrote his will 2 May 1757, and it was probated in 1757. He signed with an "x" as did the William Miliken who witnessed the will. We know that our William Millikan was writing many letters to Pennsylvania over the years, so it was not likely him who was the witness. As a matter of law, a witness could not be the same as the executor anyway! Abstract of will: Daughters Mary Milakin and Cathrean Milakin to have land on south fork of Catawba River. Brother William is to have land on Fishing Creek. Friend Exabel Hunter to have crops, horse, her side saddle, all the household goods & the working horse 'as long as she keeps the place.' Executors: brother William Milakin, friend William Mills. Witnesses: William (X) Milaken(sic), Thomas Potts, William Walsh. We would guess that "Friend" Exabel Hunter is referenced by the Quaker term "Friend" and was probably caring for Joseph's children. This also brings up the possibility that Jane White Millikan might have died in Chester County, Pennsylvania, as some researchers suspect, and that someone else might have cared for William's children.

Additional Possible Marriages of William Millikan

Almost all of the Millikan researchers carry Hannah Rowan as a wife of William Millikan. As nearly as we can tell this is based on an entry in the History of the Millingas Family... where Ridlon mentions Orphans' Court records in Chester County, Pennsylvania for one William Rowan, dated June 19, 1759. The records include a notation "...Intestate's daughter Hannah the wife of William Mullican..." Researchers have overlooked the fact that there were several other Millikan families in Chester County, Pennsylvania (prominently mentioned in the Ridlon Book), and that this William could have belonged to any of the families. Hannah, wife of William Millikan, died 12/1759 in Pennsylvania, according to Philadelphia Monthly Meeting records. If William Millikan went to North Carolina in 1755 which is well proven, why would he have had a wife that he married and left behind in Pennsylvania? Especially as we know his children were with him by 1759, as daughter Abigail's marriage is recorded at New Garden Monthly Meeting 11/24/1759.

Ridlon goes on to mention, just after the above record, that our William's wife's name in 1782 was Mrs. Jane Millikan. His wife is also listed as Jane Millikan in 1782 land records in North Carolina (see the land page). The records of the children's marriages in New Garden Monthly Meeting in North Carolina from 1761 through 1768, name only the father, William Millikan, however Center Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, on 5/10/1775 records the marriage of Hannah Millikan, daughter of William and Jane, to Enos Blair, of Guilford County, son of Colbert and Sarah Blair. In addition to the 1782 land records, this seems to indicate that William was still married to Jane by at least 1775. Some researchers have put forth a possible name of Jane Rowan for this wife but we find no actual marriage record in either Quaker or civil records in the area, so have no proof (also as a fellow researcher pointed out she was probably known as Jane of Rowan [County] just as William is sometimes referred to as William of Rowan.) William died intestate in 1793 (more below) so there is no will to name a wife at that time. One has to consider that Jane White Millikan might not have died early and the Quaker records of some of the earlier children may simply not mention the wife.

Woodward/Millikan connections

William Millikan and our ancestor Abraham Woodward no doubt knew each other in Pennsylvania as they both lived in West Bradford Township. There were certainly close ties between the two families after Abraham Woodward moved to North Carolina in about 1762, witness the following document.

"North Carolina Rowan County
These here do Certifie to you that since Abraham Woodward hath come to live in our parts that he hath behaved himself orderly and we think more and more so. He perceiving more of the nobility and substance of his education and profession [as a Quaker] and as such we recommend him.
Sept. the 24th 1764
/s/ William Millikan John Mills William Thornbrough John Frazier James Davis" (See the copy of the original note which we obtained from the Bradford Monthly Meeting archives. The note is also quoted in the Millingas History.) Among the signers of the note: John Mills was married to Sarah Millikan, John Frazier was married to Abigail Millikan and William Thornbrough was cousin of Abraham's wife, Hannah Thornbrough Woodward. James Davis was a neighbor (His history can be seen on the Davis page at our Life on the Mississippi Web Site ). This note was hand carried by William's son, Samuel Millikan, from North Carolina to Bradford Monthly Meeting in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1764. It was common for parents to send their sons from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to learn a trade and this was the purpose of Samuel's trip, but William Millikan took the opportunity to help his friend and neighbor, Abraham Woodward, by sending along the note to the Quaker meeting in Pennsylvania. This is another indication that William Millikan was a Quaker in good standing. For the reason behind the note on Abraham's behalf, see Abraham Woodward's Biography.

A hint as to the purpose of Samuel's trip to Pennsylvania can be found in another letter of William Millikan's quoted in the Millingas History: "New Marlborough June the 10th 1765. ffrd Humphry Marshall these With my kind Love to thee and they spouse and to Let thee know We are all well, times and Circomstances Much as Usual. As to the pine Cones if any Comes to Perfection I shall I believe take Care to send some Or buy Other Seed or plant that I Can procure. As to the Carolina pines I remain at a Loss about it yet, there is a flower that Resembles the Garding pink but I am Doubtfull Whether it is the Right. There is nothing meterial to Transmit to thee at this time Only we had the Smarter Winter By far than any I have seen tho' Very Little Snow or Rain But Cold tho any Willing person might Work Out Any fair Day Moderately but on the 23rd of March in the Morning it began to snow and snowed all Day but the 24th it Was all gone, it Was Very Cold Some Days before and after the snow. It is a fine Country for poor people that Are Industrious Except the New Florada Provinces Draws people that Way this will be a popular province [I] Believe. Pray Remember My Love to thy father and mother-I think Abraham Woodward seems to move along Very Orderly and Industriously So Shall Conclude Desireing they Welfare in Sincerity. /s/William Millikan. I hope anything that Comes to hand that is Meterial you will be So good as to Inform me Especially Respecting a Change in the Goverment or anything that may occur. My Son [Samuel] Came Home the 22d of May he Desires to be Remembered to you as also to your father and mother. I am highly pleased With your kind and friendly Reception of the Boy Whilst Among you all and shall be glad to have it in my power to Make a Greatfull Return According to my Station. (Addressed) To Humphry Marshall in Kennet Chester County, Pensylvania I Meant Bradford These /s/Wm. Millikan." This letter has two interesting aspects: (1)William Millikan was apparently collecting specimens for botanist Humphry Marshall, and (2) son Samuel Millikan had apparently stayed with the Marshalls on his visit to Pennsylvania and was perhaps even apprenticed to Humphry Marshall as William seems to be referring to his specimen collection as a payment to Humphry Marshall.

There are also a number of letters from William Millikan to James Marshall, brother of Humphry, (and cousin of Abraham Woodward). The letters extend from 1767 through 1768 and appear to refer to financial transactions that ultimately resulted in a law suit filed by William Millikan against a party in North Carolina on behalf of James Marshall. We are not quite clear on this point and will not add the letters until the actual subject can be deduced. We find in the Millingas History that a lease and release had passed from John Buffington of Chester County to William Millikan in March 6, 1749 (not currently found in Chester County land records). William Millikan had then seized some goods from one Roderick Lewis in 1755 in Chester County as security for rent on this land. The transactions with James Marshall in Rowan County appear to be against Peter Buffington, brother of John Buffington, but beyond this we cannot tell quite what the situation was. Probably an examination of court records in Chester County and in Rowan County would explain.

We get a hint of the exact location of William Millikan in North Carolina from the preface to a copy of a Guilford County, NC, Petition, 1788, stating "Many of the names of this 1788 petition appear on the 1768 tax lists of Rowan County in the Tax/Militia Districts of William Spurgeon and William Millikan in the area of southern Guilford and northern Randolph Counties on Polecat Creek, Russell's Creek and Caraway Creek." We have found both Polecat Creek and Caraway Creek on the topographical survey maps. Links to these maps as well as links to maps of the Caraway area can be found on our North Carolina map page. William's son Samuel Millikan signed the petition, which requested the assignment of a portion of Guilford County to Randolph County. The fact that William Millikan was in charge of a tax district indicates he was also a militia leader, according to North Carolina tax records. One has to remember that the militia did not necessarily wage war, but their duties before the Revolution involved protection of the colonists from marauding humans and beasts and also acting as guides to new settlers moving into the back country.

Being a Quaker, William Millikan was a non-combatant during the American Revolution, but his sympathies were pro-patriot which placed him on a death list. In 1782, William was living on Back Creek in Randolph County, near the Guilford County line. On March 10, a band of Tories came to his farm. Finding William absent, they burned his house to the ground. Still he, himself, was never caught. The story is given in the Millingas History as follows: "On Sunday, March 10, 1782, Fanning went to the house of William Millikan Esq. who lived on Back Creek, about two miles from Johnsonville, on the old cross road. As Millikan was away (it is said that he was driving his cows home and discovered Fanning in time to hide) from home they burned his buildings and destroyed everything they could. While the house was on fire, Mrs. Jane Millikan carried out a favorite feather bed, but they carried it back and threw it on the fire. When the bed began to burn, they twisted a stick into the feathers and scattered them over the house. When the blazing feathers, as they flew in every direction through the room, caught in a bundle of yarn which was hanging on the wall, they taunted Mrs. Millikan and said: 'Look at your yarn old woman.' When leaving Millikan's they compelled his son, Benjamin, to go along and pilot them to the house of Col. John Collier... . Fanning came up after night. Collier was asleep, but before he lay down he put a young man out as sentinel on a pile of rails a few rods from the door. Fanning made (Ben) Millikan answer that they were friends. There is a tradition that Col. Fanning took Benjamin Millikan and another young man out to hang them, and that while they were stringing the other up to the branch of a tree, Benjamin managed to escape. There are men now living (1903) who remember having seen the stump of the tree on which the young man was hung."

William Millikan served Randolph County, North Carolina (formed from Rowan in 1779), as a Justice, a Register of Deeds, and Clerk of Courts. Based on his status as a Justice of the Peace and a Registrar William Millikan, Sr. and his descendants have been granted membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution. William Sr. is Ancestor #A079802 and there is a long list of descendants with corresponding membership numbers. It is interesting to note that the DAR has accepted the 1720 birth date in Ireland, and the 1804 death date but they do modify both with Circa (i.e. About).

William Millikan died intestate, and an inventory of his estate was reported in the December term 1793 of the Randolph County Court as follows:
Samuel Millikan, administrator of the estate of William Millikan deceased
Returns the Inventory Joined with the account of sales of said estate
39.10.7 (pounds) Amount of the Sales of personal Estate
60....5 Account of sundry notes on hand
106.11.8 Cash on hand
14...10 Book debts
220.7.3 (pounds total)
5 Notes on James Robbins for Indian Corn
amounting in the whole to two hundred bushels.
The fact that Samuel was termed "administrator" rather than "executor" tells us that William Millikan had no will.

More on the Children of William and Jane White Millikan

William and Eleanor Smith Millikan, Jr.

The family apparently had strong anti-slavery leanings, as William Millikan, Jr. was one of the early members of the Tennessee Manumission Society in Greene County, Tennessee. The Society was formed in Jefferson County, Tennessee, (see Quakers & Slavery)in 1814, but quickly spread to other Tennessee counties. A son of William, Jr.'s, Elihu Millikan, was drafted in Jefferson County in 1814 and served in the War of 1812, fighting under Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. His mother was a Baptist and Elihu chose that faith and became a Baptist minister after the war. This information is from Jefferson County, Tennessee Families and History 1792-1996, and was submitted by a descendant of Elihu Millikan. The sketch tells us that William Millikan, Jr. was a 300-pound blacksmith, and a gunsmith. The submitter states this was an odd occupation for a Quaker, forgetting that people on the frontier had to rely on guns for hunting to put meat on the table and for skins for clothing. William Millikan, Jr. and his wife Eleanor Smith are buried in Economy Cemetery at Morristown, Tennessee. They had children: David, Eli, Solomon, Elihu, Alexander, William, Samuel, George, Hannah, and Eleanor.

Benjamin and Rebecca Rush Millikan

William's, Sr.'s son, Benjamin Millikan, and Benjamin's brother-in-law, Benjamin Rush, sold land to Abraham Woodward 1/16/1788 lying on Mountain Fork Carraway Waters (see land records). Benjamin Rush and Benjamin Millikan were administering the estate of father and father-in-law Crafford Rush when the land was sold. Both are named in the final settlement of the estate of Crafford Rush in 1799 in Randolph County.

Benjamin Millikan married Rebecca Rush May 4, 1776 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Benjamin Millikan died 1,/1/1842 in Randolph County, North Carolina. Children are named in his will:
"I Benjamin Millikan of the State of North Carolina, Randolph County, considering the uncertainty of this mortal life, and being of sound mind and memory, (blessed be Almighty God for the same) do make and publish this my last will and testament in the manner and form following, (that is to say) First I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Rebecca Millikan, one mare, a cow and calf and all the household furniture and the plantation where I now live, containing two hunred and eighty-three acres on Back Creek, three hogs, two ewes and lambs, the above mentioned tract of land to remain hers, her life time, and at her death to belong to my son, Benjamin Millikan. I also give my wife one pair of gears and the Bar shear plow, one ax, one hoe, also I give and bequeath to my youngest daughter Rebecca Winningham one red hided heifer. I also allow one table with the rest of my personal property to be sold, and one tract of land lying south of where I now live adjoining. Also I give and bequeath to my daughter Tamar Owen one dollar. Also I give and bequeath to m son Absalom Millikan one dollar. Also I give and Bequeath to my son Jonathan Millikan one dollar."

Robert and Mary Millikan Brattain/Bratton

Mary Millikan married Robert Bratton on 6 Jan 1768 at New Garden MM, Guilford Co, North Carolina. They had children: William, Rachel, John, Benjamin, Martha, Mary, Robert, Millikan and Paul (twins).

Enos and Hannah Millikan Blair

Hannah Millikan married Enos Blair 10 May 1775 at Centre Monthly Meeting in Randolph County, North Carolina. Their children were Jesse, Sarah, Jane, Enos, (b. and d. 1780), Hannah (b. and d. 1782), Abner, Solomon, Martha, Hannah (b. 1790 d. 1795), Josiah, Ruth, Nathan, and John.

More on Descendants

We have much more information on the descendants of William Millikan and as time permits will add pages for them.

Millikan Ancestry in Scotland

We have heard from Alan Millikan who lives in Scotland and is researching the Millikan family there. We have a question mark after Williamís birthplace of Ireland as some researchers carry him born Scotland. It certainly seems the ancestral Millikans came from Scotland, but as many Quakers did they may have spent a generation or two in Ireland. Some interesting items posted by Alan can be seen at Regarde Bien.

4/1/2010 Added a brief note under William Millikan that a book "Carolina Cradle" mentions that many Quakers gave up their faith so they could run for county offices.
10/29/2007 We have made some changes in language about Jane White Millikan, mostly changing "probably" for "possibly" to indicate we have no proof and what we write is only theory. If anyone can shed light on these theories we would love to hear from you (Email on the AboutUs page.)
2/28/2010 Added information about William, Sr.'s DAR membership acceptance and that of many of his descendants.
3/17/2010 Added some corrections based on information sent to us from the actual Saco Valley Settlement book by Ridlon. We appreciate being put in contact with information from people who have done a lot of research on the family.