Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Joseph James Kinyoun- Founder of National Institutes of Health


Every family needs a genealogist. For the good of the family and for the good of the public it is critical to keep careful family records of all birth/death dates as well as complete family names of parents and children in each generation. Here is why:

Especially since the advent of the Internet my father has received numerous inquiries about his family connection to Joseph James Kinyoun, the man often credited for founding the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  It is an easy association to assume my father is related to him- his name is James Kinyoun (spelled the same way) and he is also a doctor. People type in "Joseph James Kinyoun"and come up with my father's profile as their top google hit, "James Kinyoun."

For this reason I had been looking for a number of years for a family connection between Joseph James Kinyoun and our family. It took me nearly ten years to find the connection. It is so distant that one mistake on a document or misinformation entered on a web site could have deterred me forever from knowing the real truth.

In my possession I have a recount of the family history of my father's family. It came from dear Aunt Dorothy Kinyoun, late aunt of my grandfather. She used to show up at family events when I was a kid. I could never figure out exactly who she was and why she always sent me homemade scarves and hats for Christmas. She and Claude (Mike) Kinyoun had never had any children and she had apparently adopted her nephew's (my grandfather Robert Kinyoun) children as her own. I always thought it was a bit strange she had no other family other than her in-laws children and grandchildren but I never said anything about it. We had no idea how blessed we were.

Dorothy took meticulous records of her knowledge of the Kinyouns. It is because of her that I have birth/death dates for James Edward Kinyoun and a bit of information about his children. Here is what I know:

James Edward Kinyoun came to Nebraska to raise his family. He had a daughter Jessie and a son Lem who both died. He had two sons who both lived to have children: Robert Edward Kinyoun I and John Wesley Kinyoun. (The Wesley Kinyoun family lives in Superior Nebraska today.)

This information (along with some other narrative about his life) matches the information about James Edward Kinyoun that I found on ancestry.com during a family Christmas celebration in Nebraska in 2007. My husband was playing pool with my uncle and cousins and it gave me a good excuse to duck into the study for some research.

James Edward Kinyoun (born and died on ancestry.com the same years as my Aunt Dorothy's records indicate) is the son of James Lemuel Kinyoun. James Lemuel Kinyoun was the son of Joel Kinyoun, assistant paymaster in George Washington's colonial army. Joel Kinyoun came from England to settle in America, according to text in a book written by Joseph Kinyoun Houts about John Hendricks Kinyoun (father of Joseph James).

Here is the complicated part of the story that is confusing because the records are not clear: Joel Kinyoun must have had two wives that both had a son named "James Kinyoun" within about two years of each other. So "James Kinyoun"and "James Lemuel Kinyoun" were half brothers, I think. James Lemuel (known as Lemuel) was the father of James Edward Kinyoun (my relative) while James Kinyoun (his half brother) was the father of John Hendricks Kinyoun, surgeon in the civil war for the south. John Hendricks Kinyoun is the father of Joseph James Kinyoun, founder of NIH.

Whewwww..... you say. Yes, that is complicated. So- to summarize: Joseph James Kinyoun is the second cousin of my great-great grandfather Robert Edward Kinyoun I. Their fathers (John Hendricks and James Edward) were first cousins. And their fathers were brothers. Except- it is not a full brotherhood- they were half brothers (I think). So- we are only half related to that side of the family.

Always, always, always keep meticulous records. You never know when you might want to trace the history of your family.