Sunday, June 29, 2014

Twin Cousins

No, this is not a post about The Patty Duke Show, though the thought did prompt my mind to wander back to that sitcom relic of the 1960s.

In this case, I’m thinking of a pair of reports found in the Lafayette, Indiana, Sunday Record on April 25, 1915. There, to start it all off, on page eight in the sixth column, was a typical birth announcement:
A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Fulk, of Bloomington, Ind.  Mr. Fulk is a former resident of Lafayette, and is the son of the late Homer Fulk.

While the birth announcement was for a child born to a Bloomington couple living nearly one hundred miles away from Lafayette, as we’ve already discovered, proud papa Lyman Fulk had several ties to Lafayette—among them being, in addition to his former residency, his relationship to the Michael and Bridget Kelly Creahan family, of whom his aunt Anna Quinlisk and uncle John Creahan still lived in the area.

There are a couple interesting details about this announcement.

The first detail, if you were reading the newspaper column yourself, would likely jump off the page and grab you—if you knew anything about this extended family tree. That detail also happened to be a birth announcement, but it was the particulars that caught my eye—again, it was one that was filed about proud parents living far from Lafayette. And its placement happened to be the very next entry in the same column as the previous birth announcement.
Born, to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Creahan, of Chicago, a son. The father is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John E. Creahan.

Within a matter of days—possibly even on the same day—the wives of cousins Lyman Fulk and Charles Creahan bore sons who would carry on their respective fathers’ surnames as part of the next generation of Creahan and Kelly descendants.

The second detail about these twin news reports is not so readily observable. While Lyman and his wife, Phyllis Hostetter Fulk, would name their April 15, 1915, arrival Richard L. Fulk—Richard, likely after Lyman’s paternal grandfather, the Indiana state senator from Bloomington—there is no other record I can find of the son of Charles and Mabel Eckstrom Creahan. By the time of the next census in 1920, the only children listed in the Creahan household were daughters Helen and Joan. No son. No child whatsoever born in 1915.

However, given the many newspaper stories I’ve already found offering untraceable reports, I’m not prepared to bring on that melancholy mood just yet. Perhaps these boys were twin cousins separated shortly—and tragically—after birth. Or maybe one was just a figment of an overworked newspaperman’s imagination.

It won’t be the first time someone has gotten the story all wrong.


  1. I saw a couple episodes of the "Patty Duke Show" just a couple weeks ago (METV over the air) - and was thinking what the heck are twin cousins!??? Are there actually cases where cousins look so alike they might be thought to be cousins?

    1. When it comes to fiction, I just take it all with a huge grain of it's easier to swallow concepts like the "twin cousins" idea in that TV show--or, hey, alternate universes, for that matter ;)

      Not that I know much about it, but I've always thought the idea of twin cousins was just a nod at cousins born about the same time, raised as if siblings because of family closeness. However, since you mentioned it, Iggy, I took a look around, thanks to Google, and found some articles on such tangential topics as identical twin siblings marrying identical twin siblings, and what that meant, genetically, for the relationships between their relative offspring.

      All I can say is: it's more detail than my head can handle right now. But the Google Images hits for the term "twin cousins" sure included some cuties!

    2. Yes, that Google image search sure does turn up some cute looking "twins"!!

  2. Replies
    1. Who knows. I suppose the only way to confirm this would be to find the family's burial plot and see who was listed as buried in the same plot.

      On the other hand, it could just be a reporting error...


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