The Quick 10, Sort Of: 10ish Famous People Related to Ben Franklin

I was researching the homeschool article from yesterday when I came across some fascinating stuff about Ben Franklin "“ he's related to a lot of interesting people. Actually, most of that is because of his relation to the Folger family, but it's interesting nonetheless. I thought it was perfect fodder for a Quick 10 - hope you guys are as entertained by this as I was!

1. J.A. Folger, the founder of the Folger's Coffee empire. OK, follow along with me, here. Ben's uncle Eleazar Folger had a son, Nathan. Nathan had a son, Abishai. Abishai had a son, George. George had a son, George. That George had a son, Samuel, who was the dad of J.A. Folger. I think that makes coffee magnate Ben's cousin, fives times removed, the same as Ezra Cornell.

abby2. Abigail Folger, one of the Manson Family's victims "“ she was the one that escaped and ran outside, only to be stabbed on the Polanskis' front lawn. She was the great-great granddaughter of J.A. Folger.
3. Ezra Cornell, the co-founder of Cornell University, was Ben's first cousin, five times removed. OK, go back to Uncle Eleazar. His other kid, Sarah, is the great-great-great grandmother of Ezra. His cousin, Paul Cornell, was a famous land developer in Chicago. He's responsible for Hyde Park, Washington Park and Jackson Park, among others.

MITCHELL4. Maria Mitchell, Astronomer. She was a first cousin, four times removed (Ben's Aunt Joanna's great-great-great granddaughter), and quite an impressive woman in her own right. She discovered a comet in 1847 (only the second woman to ever do so), was the first professional female astronomer in the U.S., uncovered the true nature of sunspots, was the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences AND of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She traveled in Europe with Nathaniel Hawthorne, became the first person ever to be appointed to the faculty at Vassar College and was named the Director of the Vassar College Observatory. When she found out that she wasn't making as much money as males who didn't have her experience, she demanded a raise. And got it.

5. Mayhew Folger was the captain of the ship that found the Pitcairn Islands after the Bounty mutineers had decided to settle there. Only one of the original mutineers was still alive. Mayhew was Ben Franklin's first cousin, three times removed.

mott6. Lucretia Coffin Mott. That Eleazar Folger had some pretty potent genes. In addition to Ezra Cornell and J.A. Folger, he also begat one of the most important suffragists and abolitionists ever. Lucretia was a great inspiration for Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she was the first president of the American Rights Association, was an acclaimed author and helped to incorporate Swarthmore College (among many other accomplishments).
7. Henry Clay Folger was the nephew of J.A. Folger. He was the president and chairman of Standard Oil of New York, but is probably best known for founding the Folger Shakespeare Library.

And here are three questionable descendants: Actress Rachel Miner (also Macaulay Culkin's ex-wife). I can't seem to easily trace that. I don't doubt it, though "“ the Miners have a very long, documented history.

And I found one site that casually mentioned Samuel Clemens and Will Rogers as descendants, but couldn't find a single bit of information to prove either one. What do you think, _flossers? Probable? Ridiculous? Share in the comments!

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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