Thanks to everyone who has been following along on this journey. Moving onto Week 18 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, the writing prompt this week is "Pets." This one is another head scratcher for me because I have yet to encounter a pet in any genealogical record, except for that one newspaper article where my mom won "nicest cat" in a pet show hosted by a local recreation department. However, in honor of the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby later this weekend, and the remarkable genealogical discovery of a Derby winning horse trainer in my direct lineage, let's twist this topic just a little bit, and talk about horses!
Although I had been vaguely told about the second great grandfather who was a horse trainer, the significance of his career, including that infamous Derby win, was just discovered a little over a decade ago. My second great grandfather, Francis "Frank" Marion Taylor, has a Wikipedia page which focuses on his career as a horse trainer. I've thought about updating the article to share more about his personal life, but that's a project for another day. The article lists many highlights including a mention of "significant horses," namely, Charles Edward, McChesney, Nealson, and Worth. The latter won the 1912 Kentucky Derby.
A genealogical pedigree chart tracks a person's direct lineage back multiple generations. It usually starts with yourself, then your parents, your grandparents, great grandparents, and so on. Can you imagine my delight when I realized pedigree charts were also used in animal breeding, and specifically to track the lineage of horses?! I'm a genealogist. Despite my many wishes for a pony as a young girl, I am simply not a horse person. But, this was something I could definitely relate to!
There is a horse genealogy website. No, I'm not kidding! You can find it here. With a database of 2.9 million thoroughbred horses, you can just type in the name of a horse and explore its pedigree. There are other remarkable animal genealogy websites including one for dogs, but I digress.
Worth, our 1912 Kentucky Derby winner, was bred in Kentucky in 1909. He was sired (fathered) by Knight of the Thistle and his dam (mother) was Miss Hanover. Worth's damshire (maternal grandfather) was also the damshire of Sir Barton, the first winner of the American Triple Crown. I guess that makes Worth and Sir Barton first cousins, or at least half first cousins.
Worth was a direct descendant of Eclipse, who was considered the greatest racehorse of the 18th century, and was undefeated in his eighteen career starts. Eclipse is an ancestor on both Worth's maternal and paternal lineages which makes for a fine example of pedigree collapse. In genealogy, pedigree collapse occurs when two individuals (or horses!) knowingly or unknowingly share an ancestor. This causes the family tree of their descendants to be smaller than it should be.
On 6 November 1912, Worth was severely injured when his jockey tried to take the lead in a race. The jockey rode too closely to another horse, causing a three-horse collision that severely injured two other jockeys. Worth suffered two severed tendons in his leg and was euthanized shortly after due to his extensive injuries. He was just three years old.
As I have done similarly for over the past decade, this Saturday, I will be honoring my second great grandfather and the amazing horse named Worth, while donning a fascinator and sipping on a mint julep, for "the most exciting two minutes in sports." This year I will give extra thought not just to my own ancestors but a horse's, as well.
Disclaimer: Each blog post is created and presented for marketing and entertainment purposes only but are based on larger research which adheres to the standards of The Board of Certification of Genealogists® as set forth in Genealogical Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry Imprint, Turner Publishing, 2014).