Emily Deschanel and Her Perquimans County, NC Ancestry

by Michael T. Slaughter

My interest in the Deschanel family started in 2013, when I was watching an episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” featuring Emily’s sister, Zooey, which originally aired on August 13, 2013 on TLC.

Here is the episode description from imdb.com:  “Actress Zooey Deschanel seeks to learn the truth about her Quaker ancestors and their involvement in the anti-slavery movement.”

At the beginning of the episode, Zooey says of her grandmother, Ann Ward Orr, that “She comes from a Quaker family.” Then she is shown her family tree. Here is an edited screen capture of that family tree chart.

As usual, when a tree is shown on that show, I always pause the video so I can see if I recognize any names or places. When I saw this chart, I immediately noticed Ann Ward Orr’s mother, Mary Beulah Lamb, and her birth place of Perquimans County, NC. I had already worked on this family in the past, because my wife is descended from Lambs, and Wolfman Jack had married a Lamb from Perquimans County.

I saw that Beulah (as she is referred to in most records) was born on December 21, 1889 in Perquimans County, NC and died March 18, 1970 in Delaware County, PA. I was curious about why she left NC and went to PA. After I had finished watching the show, I went to my computer and started Family Tree Maker. I entered Beulah’s name and information and found her parents and grandparents. Beulah’s grandparents had all died by 1905, when she was only 15 years old. Her parents died soon after that. Her mother, Anna L. Ward, died in 1908, and her father, Caleb White Lamb, died in 1910, on Beulah’s 21st birthday.

Beulah Lamb was in Pennsylvania about two years later, as she was married to Adrian Van Bracklin Orr and had her first child, Ann Ward Orr, on November 19, 1913. I checked the 1920 U.S. Census for Delaware County, PA and found the Orr family living at 28 Huron Avenue, Norwood, PA. The census showed Adrian and Beulah, along with two daughters, Anna and Martha. Also in the household was Beulah’s youngest brother, Thomas B. Lamb. His occupation was listed as “pipe-fitting” and the industry as “shipbuilding.” Adrian Orr’s occupation was listed as “physician” and the industry as “syard” meaning shipyard.

I think what happened is that Thomas Lamb went north to look for work, since there was no big industry in northeastern North Carolina, mostly farming and fishing. Beulah probably went with him to look for work also. Thomas got a job at a shipyard and perhaps introduced his sister to the company doctor, Adrian Orr.

After answering that question to my satisfaction, I proceeded to trace Beulah’s ancestry.

First, I added Emily and Zooey Deschanel’s other ancestors to Family Tree Maker. Here is a chart showing Emily and her ancestry back to her great-grandparents.

After I did the above data entry, I started researching on Ancestry.com. After checking other trees and original records, I found enough information on Beulah Lamb to create a chart showing her ancestry back to most of her great-grandparents.

The next thing I did was tracing the connection between Erin Deschanel and my wife’s great-great-grandfather, Alfred Lamb. Here is a chart outlining that connection.

This shows that Emily Deschanel is my wife’s 9th cousin, twice removed.

I also knew that Wolfman Jack’s wife was a Lamb, and they lived at Belvidere in Perquimans County. Her ancestry was already in my Family Tree Maker file, so I traced that connection and created the following chart.

This shows that Emily Deschanel is Wolfman Jack’s wife’s 6th cousin, once removed.

As I traced Beulah Lamb’s ancestry further back in Perquimans County, I found that she was related to many of the oldest families in the area. She has thousands of cousins in northeastern North Carolina. Here are some of the family names: Lamb, White, Ward, Simpson, Saunders, Barrow, Bundy, Elliott, Winslow, and Rogerson.

When I got back to Lydia Elliott and her parents, Solomon Elliott and Miriam Winslow, I found that Solomon and Miriam were already in my genealogy file. The Elliotts turned out to be connected to Elliotts in my own ancestry. Here is a chart showing how I am related to Emily Deschanel.

This shows that Emily Deschanel and I are 13th cousins.

Also shown in the above chart is Emily’s 10th great-grandfather, Rev. John Elliott. He was a famous missionary to the Indians in Massachusetts. He was known as the “apostle to the Indians.” There is an article about him on Wikipedia.

I was reading on the internet the day I started writing this article and came across article about the JonBenet Ramsey case. She was the child beauty queen who was murdered in her house in 1996. On a whim, I decided to trace her ancestry. It was difficult at first, because her father was a preacher and moved around a lot. Her parents were born too recently for there to be any good records online. I finally found a family tree on Ancestry.com that showed her grandfather, James Dudley Ramsey. Once I had that information, I was able to trace the family many generations back. I noticed that one of the lines went to Mary Claiborne, daughter of William Claiborne and Elizabeth Boteler. I remembered that my ancestry went back to those same two people. So I made a chart showing how I was related to JonBenet Ramsey. Then I remembered that it was through William Claiborne that I was descended from the Elliotts and related to Emily Deschanel. Therefore Emily Deschanel and JonBenet Ramsey are 13th cousins. Here is a chart showing that relationship.

This is another example of how everyone seems to be related.

© Copyright 2016 Michael T. Slaughter