Monday, August 24, 2009


I'm not really one for genealogy, but sometimes a simple family tree is all you need to be able to make sense of a biography. Whenever Ray Bradbury is biographised [find out if that is a real word - Ed.], his biographers have a tendency to trace his family history back to two solid points:
  • the first Bradbury to arrive in the Americas (Thomas Bradbury in 1634)
  • Mary Bradbury, accused of witchcraft in Salem (in 1692)
Unfortunately, there are a good ten generations between Thomas, Mary and Ray; ten generations in which certain names get re-used: there are a lot of Hinkstons, Spauldings and Samuels in the family. I find it difficult to keep my head straight when a biographer is talking about "Samuel Bradbury" - do they mean Samuel IRVING Bradbury, Samuel HINKSTON Bradbury, Samuel Hinkston Bradbury JUNIOR, or one of several plain old Samuel Bradburys (no suffix, no middle name)?

Oddly, none of the biographers has thought to provide a family tree. Maybe they are as confused about all this as I am...

To resolve the problem, I had to draw up a family tree myself, based on information gleaned from various sources. Most helpful were The Bradbury Chronicles by Sam Weller and Red Planet, Flaming Phoenix, Green Town by Marvin E. Mengeling. I had to cross-check some information on full names and dates using, an excellent genealogy resource, although one which is prone to occasional error since, like Wikipedia, anyone can contribute to it.

No doubt there will be some real genealogists who will be unhappy that I haven't filled in every branch of the Bradbury family tree. My excuse is that I created this to help me make sense of the biographies I was reading. Uncles Bion, Inar and Lester seem to have been influential on Bradbury's life and art - so they are shown. Their spouses and offspring don't seem to have been so influential - so they are left out.

See for yourself: click the image below to reveal my attempt at the Bradbury family tree:


Anonymous said...

Sorry 2 have heard of his passing my mother always told me her father was decent from the bradnury familia and ray was a cousin i've tried to connect by writting him on different sites. wish we could have. R.I.P. cousin

Phil said...

Dear Anonymous,

thanks for your comment. I have some very good news for you, however: Ray Bradbury is alive and well! He is 90 years old (turns 91 in a couple of months) and plans to live forever.

- Phil

Roxi said...

Dewitt and Sarah Spaulding, who are shown on the gravestones in Union Cemetery; are my great great great grandparents. I heard stories of them often from my grandparents, who I was raised by, while growing up in Waukegan IL (or Green Town).

I am a big fan of Ray Bradbury, as you might imagine (after all, am related to this man). We are working on restoring the Carnegie Library in Waukegan IL and dedicating it to Ray Bradbury. We are working in collaboration with Jon Eller of IUPUI.

Roxi said...

The gravestones pictured in your images are my great great great grandparents, DeWitt and Sarah Spaulding. They are the people who donated the money for this family cemetery in Waukegan. I am related, in a shirt tail relative manner to Ray Bradbury. I am also working with the non-profit group to restore the Carnegie Library and dedicate it to Ray Bradbury. We are working in collaboration with Jon Eller of IUPUI, and hope, Phil, you will accept our invitation to be a part of our Advisory Council.

Thank you,
Roxanne Cary Cheney
VP and Sec of The Ray Bradbury Waukegan Carnegie Library Inc.

Phil said...

Thanks, Roxanne. I'd be delighted to join the advisory team.

VoyagerG said...

That is some great work. You have the basic tree down pat. I love looking up family history. I was able to find so many interesting things through I'm sure a lot of blanks would be filled in there. But it really takes you down the rabbit hole of family connections. I'm sure other Bradbury historians may have done that already.