It’s the DNA, Stupid!

(in memory of my father who died May 13, 1981)

I never knew my paternal grandfather.  Sure, he died before I was born, but my father never knew him either, as least not in any meaningful way, after infancy, when my grandparents separated.

Ultimately, their ugly divorce left my siblings and I knowing nothing about the McCullough family, whose name and DNA we share.

For years I searched for information about my grandfather, as I’d been told he was a sports’ columnist for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, perhaps the person from whom I’d inherited the urge to write.

Never finding anything meaningful, I searched, as well, for my great-grandfather, William Tice McCullough—for whom both my father and brother were named.

my father, who died in 1981

my brother

I found nothing.

Until Monday—

When I received an email response to an inquiry I made in 2005:

William Tice McCullough was born in California, Ohio in 1873 and married a woman named Minnie from Pittsburgh born in 1875.  He is the grandfather of David McCullough, the historian, by one son and Nancy McCullough Griggs, who is being buried today in the North Cornwall cemetary, Cornwall CT, a grandchild by another son.

It turns out that William Tice McCullough had several sons, three of whom were Mark McCullough, father of Nancy McCullough Griggs, buried this week in Connecticut, Christian Hax McCullough, father of historian David McCullough, and Horace George McCullough, my father’s father.

As a writer, what interests me the most, assuming I received accurate information, is that my father was the first cousin of David McCullough, a two time Pulitzer Prize winner.

David McCullough

So, maybe there are some writerly genes in McCullough DNA.

Maybe there’s hope for my memoir after all.

39 thoughts on “It’s the DNA, Stupid!

  1. There is writing in your DNA, but that’s not why there is hope for your memoir: you have shown us snippets of it and it is riveting. There is hope for it because you are a fantastic writer with a fascinating story to tell.
    Keep the snippets coming, take it day by day, and eventually, my friend, you will have your memoir to share with the world.


  2. I second Deanna’s comment. Before you had the proof, I knew you had to had to have the love for writing all the way down to your bones. This is interesting confirmation though! Can’t wait to hear where your story goes!


  3. DNA may have given you the gift. After all, we are all a product of our DNA, and DNA is the raw material we have to work with. But it’s your own vision and commitment to your craft that makes it manifest. That’s where the magic occurs.


  4. That is so cool! I am afraid to do one of those ancestry traces on my roots. I am afraid it will uncover evidence clear back to our family village in the Ukraine that we are descended from the Village Idiot….. 🙂 Have a great Weekend of unpacking Kathy!


  5. This is cool, Kathy…I’m really into genealogy…I am distantly related to both Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charles Kingsley on my mom’s side of the family.

    We already knew you were a good writer though!



  6. I’ve always wondered about… we lost a lot of our family history during the war when my Dido came over from Ukraine and started his life anew. (He refused to talk about most of his past and passed away still holding onto his secrets.) It’s interesting to hear that you got a response after posting your question so long ago! Who knew?

    PS: I didn’t need no stinkin’ DNA test to confirm your worthiness as a writer! It was obvious from the start. 🙂


  7. WAY cool! I know writing’s in my genes: my mother’s father wrote and had some articles published in magazines such as Field and Stream, although it was never a career for him. My mother wrote, also never as a career, but also with some things published. And my brother and I both write. Maybe someday someone in the family will be able to make a living at it!


  8. It is so amazing how things can happen when you least expect it… I know very little about my grandfathers brother and any children he may have had due to a falling out they had years and years ago… I always wonder though…


  9. vow i wish there was a way to find out stuff like this in India. But there was too much illitaracy back then and now there are too many people!
    who will go sifting through data that perhaps was never put together.
    However its great you found out where you’ve got the urge to be heard from.


    • I hadn’t thought about the fact that this kind of information wouldn’t be available in some cultures–but so true. I was in India exactly a year ago, and I love your country! I hope you will visit my blog again, as much as I’d like to visit India once more!


  10. I came across your interesting blog while researching a branch of the McCullough family living in Pittsburgh PA. I think the info you received from a source at, confused two different, but easily mistaken, McCullough families. William Tice McCullough, father of Horace George, and William Thomas McCullough father of Christian Hax McCullough. Both Williams were married to women named Minnie. Minnie C. born in New York married William Tice Mc. William Thomas Mc. married Minnie Hax born in Pittsburgh. William Tice was a clerk of the county court in Pittsburgh. There is a 1918 passport application for him during WWI stating he is going “over there” to entertain the troops. Sounds like an interesting guy! Sorry re. the David McCullough connection, perhaps there is one further back.

    Horace are registered in draftboard # 4. While the other line is listed in draftboard # 8. Wm. Thomas own McCullough Electric Company.


    • Fascinating! Thanks for the clarification. That does sound confusing.

      My question then is, what peaked your interest in William Tice McCullough and Horace George McCullough? Are you somehow related? Do you know anything else about the William Tice/Horace George branch that might help me locate members of my grandfather’s family?

      Thanks again, Amanda! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this correction. It doesn’t matter whether we’re related to David McCullough, really, only that we find out who we are connected to.


  11. Pingback: Room with a View: Pony-Tailed among the Mafia | reinventing the event horizon

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