On Thursday, as a part of the annual Arts Council fundraising drive, we in the NC Room were handed a small white rubber duck and invited to do something creative with it to help the cause. Since we are about history, and especially family history, we thought we would do the duck’s genealogy. Here’s what happened:
Our patron, Ms. Small White Duck
A small white duck waddled into the NC Room on Thursday and asked if we could help her trace her family lineage. Just a few years ago, that would have involved a complicated confluence of ancient books, microfilm, rare documents and incredibly expensive worldwide correspondence and travel requiring years, if not decades, of dedicated study.
But since the NC Room is now the most high tech outfit in the genealogy world, we are able, within minutes, to trace the ancestry of almost anyone without ducking the question. Our new secret weapon is Google.
So Melodie typed our new patron’s name, “Ms. Small White Duck” into the Google search box, and up popped this:
Not bad. But Melodie immediately realized that this particular item had some problems. It was a bit nebulous, with a number of unclear connections. This is commonplace nowadays, as people strain to qualify for DAR membership or to cash in on the billions of casino dollars available if they can prove that they have Cherokee ancestors.
So Melodie consulted our erstwhile genealogical genius Janice, who, as always, had all the answers. Within moments, utilizing her vast knowledge of genealogical databases and sheer magic, she brought up the following points.
One of the first things that she found was this rare document, apparently the notes of a duck historian called Carl Barks, who in ancient times worked as a genealogist for a guy named Walt Disney and created illustrated documents anent the duck family history.
Well, that clears up a lot of questions, doesn’t it.
But perhaps Janice’s greatest contribution is the connections back beyond duckness in the US to Europa and beyond. Here is what she came up with.
The first known duck was Scrooge-Shah I of Fatcatstan, who ruled, with his queen Nefer Duck, in the ancient Middle East around 2050 BC. As soon as she gave me the name, I queried Molly, who came up with this photograph taken by F. Jones Duck in April, 2048 BC.
There were a total of 97 Scrooge-Shahs. Scrooge-Shah XCVII was killed by Genghis Duck in around 1217 AD. But by then, the Scrooge-Shah empire was a mere shadow of its former self. The Scrooge-Shah clan had scattered to the four winds. For instance, both Rome and Egypt were heavily influenced by cousins of the original Scrooge-Shah. Who can forget the monumental struggle for control of the Roman Empire between J.C. Duck and Mark A. Duck? Or the brilliant femme fatal who manipulated them both, Queen Cleoduckra?
But our concern is with the ancestry of our patron, Ms. Small White Duck, so we will focus on that line. One of Scrooge-Shah’s grandsons migrated to what is now Lebanon, built a small empire and called himself Pasha Duck the First. That empire lasted only a couple of centuries before crumbling in the face of the mighty Assyrians.
By then though, Itchy Foot Duck had already left the area. He spent his junior year abroad in Europe and wound up settling in what is now the Basque country in Spain and France. Eventually, his descendants made their way to Ireland. One of them, Dagda Duck, became the first ruler of Ireland. His daughter, Brigid Duck, married Bodb Derg Duck, known simply as B2D. After their honeymoon at Myrtle Beach, B2D became king, while Brigid occupied herself by becoming the patron of healing, fertility, craft and poetry. Many years later, one of her cousins, Bobby Burns, would rework one of her poems into the legendary “Auld Lang Syne”.
The arrival of the Celts meant yet another exodus for the Duck family. This time they crossed the Irish Sea to Scotland. Since the area that they settled in was very rocky, they went into the stone business, achieving monumental success in 122 AD by selling stone to the builders of Hadrian’s Wall.
Hadrian’s Wall was built with stone from the Scottish Duck family.
This led to the founding of Clan McDuich by Sir Eider McDuich the same year. By 400 AD, the clan had constructed McDuich Castle near the village of McDuich on the Dismal Downs. In 1071, they abandoned the Gaelic spelling and became the Clan McDuck. And in 1675, they abandoned McDuck Castle, moving first to the village of McDuich, thence to Glasgow. The reason for leaving is explained in the epic tale about their predatory neighbors, “The Hound of the Whiskervilles”.
Sir Eider McDuich and McDuich (later McDuck) Castle.
Early ducks of note in Scotland include Sir Quackly, Sir Roast and Sir Stuft McDuck, who was at one time the leader of the clan. His great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson was Sir Donald Duck, nicknamed, for his bad temper, “Black Donald”, born in the 15th century. He is said to have invented golf, the hammer throw and the caber toss, the three most popular pastimes of the day. Apparently he was not a very good golfer, because every time he hit a duck hook into the woods, he erupted into an unprintable tantrum. King James II got so sick of hearing such fowl language that he outlawed golf.
Sir Stuft McDuck
One of “Black Donald’s” descendants had a son named Daffy McDuck. He had an illegitimate son named Ishmael McDuck, but his wife was so outraged at his infidelity that she began referring to Ishmael as “the ugly duckling” and eventually succeeded in having him banned from Scotland. Ishmael ended up in America and took a new name, Washington von Steuben Lafayette McDuck, a name that may sound familiar to American history buffs.
Daffy Duck. Washington von Steuben Lafayette Duck adresses the troops at Valley Forge.
Meanwhile, back in Scotland, another of “Black Donald’s” descendants, Dingus McDuck married Molly Mallard, from England. They had three sons: Angus (known as “Pothole”), Jake and Fergus, who was born in 1830. He and his second wife, Downy O’Drake, from Ireland, had two daughters, Matilda and Hortense, and one son, Scrooge McDuck, named for his ancient ancestor Scrooge-Shah I, born in 1867.
Fergus McDuck, Scrooge McDuck’s father and Donald’s grandfather.
By this time the McDuck fortunes were at a low ebb, so Scrooge left Scotland for America, where he began building his fortune working as a cabin boy, then a cowboy. He soon established Duckburg, in the state of Calisota and brought his sister Hortense to the US, where she met and married Quackmore Duck in 1920.
That same year they had twins, a daughter, Thelma, aka Della, and a son Donald. Donald has never had children with his consort Daisy, possibly due to the awful temper he inherited from his ancestor “Black Donald”. Their relationship may well be merely platonic.
Hortense, Scrooge’s sister, and her husband Quackmore, parents of twins Donald and Thelma (Della) Duck
Della had three children by an unknown father: Hubert, Deuteronomy and Louis, better known as Huey, Dewey and Louie, born around 1938. Apparently, while their father was in the hospital, they were sent to live temporarily with their uncle Donald. For reasons unknown, that arrangement became permanent. The whereabouts of Della is unknown; it is possible that she is no longer living.
The 1940 US census, just released last year, reveals the duck details.
Deuteronomy “Dewey” Duck inherited his uncle’s bad temper and has been married several times. His last wife was the illegitimate daughter of a famous movie star, Marilyn Duck. They had a son, Little Yellow Duck, and a daughter, our patron, Ms. Small White Duck.
Deuteronomy Duck, left, and Marilyn Duck in a famous pose, circa 1954.
Needless to say, Ms. Small White Duck left the NC Room quite pleased, her head swimming with new knowledge.
I mentioned this story to someone at Camino Bakery on Friday morning. They asked if there was any possibility that their favorite historical character, Foghorn Leghorn, was related to the Ducks. Since Foghorn is of a different species, the easy answer would be no. But I happened to know that he was originally born Foghorn Duck, to members of the Louisiana branch of the Duck family, the Longs, from which Huey Duck got his namesake.
Unfortunately for him, he happened to defeat his cousin, Magica de Spell, in the class spelling bee in fifth grade. She was so angry that she turned him into a chicken.
Magica de Spell turned poor Foghorn Duck into a chicken
I might add that there is, as always, a local connection. At the turn of the 20th century, R.J. Reynolds found himself locked in a life or death struggle with the American Tobacco Company, which was trying to corner the world tobacco market.
Fortunately, R.J, with the help of his friend Theodore R. “Teddy” Duck, was able to bust the trust and defeat his bitter enemy, James Buchanan “Buck” Duck of Durham. But James B’s legacy lives on in the name of the former Trinity College as Duck University.
All photographs in this post were taken by the legendary photographer F. Jones Duck, whose career spanned over 4,500 years, and whose age made Methuselah look like a spring chicken.