Father's Day Quiz: What do Lucille Ball, Donny Osmond, Steve Young, Emily Dickinson and Wilbur and Orville Wright have in common?

They all have the same dad.

Well, great dad.

His name is Robert White. He was born in 1558 in England, married Bridget Allgar, and together they had eight children ... who had more children ... who had more children ... and you know how it goes. Five hundred years later, Robert and Bridget's descendents easily number in the millions.

Among them are the above-mentioned household names. Others you might have heard of include Ulysses S. Grant, the U.S. president and Civil War general; Shirley Temple Black, the child star, political diplomat and non-alcoholic beverage namesake; William Williams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and member of the Continental Congress; Philo T. Farnsworth, the Utah-born inventor of television; and LDS Church Presidents Joseph Smith and Gordon B. Hinckley.

If Robert White were still alive, it's inconceivable what he could haul in for Father's Day.


Lest you dispute any of the above information, consider the source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Family History Library.

The newest wall mural at the world's largest genealogical library shows exactly how Robert and Bridget managed to produce poets, inventors, generals, presidents, film stars, sports heroes, religious leaders, patriots and the man who sang "Puppy Love."

Looking back on it, it wasn't that hard. One generation line begat another begat another, until, boom, the Whites' great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson was winning the Super Bowl.

Before that, another multiple great-grandson was inventing television so a multiple great-granddaughter could star in "I Love Lucy."

And prior to that, cousin Ulysses was winning the Civil War while cousin Emily was in her bedroom writing these terrific poems.

Laurie Hillier of Library Public Affairs said they call the giant genealogy chart, researched by Craig Foster, the "Cousin Wall," and it shows how you never know who you might be related to.

Robert and Bridget certainly had no idea that one day they would be able to look up in the sky, see a jetliner, and constantly annoy their neighbors by proudly shouting out, "Our grandkids did that."

If only they could have lived so long.

Robert White passed away at 59 in 1617, his wife six years later at 61 in 1623. They died within a stone's throw of where they were born in southern England, long before the invention of the airplane, let alone the flatscreen.

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"They weren't famous; they weren't notable for anything, other than they have notable descendents," pointed out Tab Thompson of Library Public Affairs.

But look what they wrought.

On Father's Day, it's a particularly timely reminder that without our fathers, and mothers, we'd be nothing. And with them, we're one big productive family.

Maybe that's why we eventually call them great.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.