the cartwright clan
and their family bonanza

by Dennis E. Power

Benjamin Cartwright, the patriarch of the Ponderosa Ranch, was descended from Lemuel Gulliver, through Gulliver’s daughter, which makes him a member in good standing of the Wold Newton family Lemuel Gulliver was a great uncle to George Gordon, Lord Byron. Richard Byron before he was second Lord Byron, had an affair with a serving girl that resulted in a pregnancy. She was married off to an older man of means, Samuel Gulliver who raised the child, Richard Gulliver as his own. Richard Gulliver was Lemuel Gulliver’s father. On Sarah’s side he was descended from Will Stutley, one of Robin Hood’s men. Lemuel Gulliver is a shielded immortal who had the ability to travel to parallel dimensions. This ability apparently manifested whenever his life was in danger. After his wife died, he went traveling again and was apparently lost at sea. It is thought that he returned to the land of Hoyhoynims. His daughter married a Donald Swift, a cousin of Jonathan Swift who became Lemuel Gulliver's chronicler.
    Among his descendants are David Innes, First Emperor of Pellucidar, Barton Swift and Gulliver Jones

Benjamin Cartwright was born 1804 New York or Boston. Ran away to become sailor at age of 1812. On his first voyage Ben was among those American sailors impressed into the British Navy. He spent 3 years in the British Navy, befriending many sailors, including officers and their families. When his ship sailed to America to take part in an attack on New Orleans, Ben jumped ship and deserted. He was fished out the water by none other than Jean Laffitte and became a lifelong friend. After the Battle of New Orleans, Laffitte arranged for Ben to sign on with Captain Abel Morgan Stoddard. He eventually became his First Mate and son in law. After Captain Stoddard was forced into retirement. He embarked on a career as a merchant, opening a store in Boston. His first wife Elizabeth Stoddard died in 1829 giving birth to their son Adam. Captain Stoddard later found a position as Captain of a ship owned by the Collins of Collinsport Maine, one which his son carried on, but Ben had had enough of the sea life.

After his first wife died, Ben Cartwright decided to travel west. In 1834, In St. Louis, he met Gunnar and Inger Borgstrom. He took a job as a saloon keep and wooed Inger Borgstrom. They married and had a child Eric "Hoss" Cartwright born 1836. With the two boys, they decided to start a ranch out west. On the way west their Wagon Train is attacked by Indians, despite the valiant efforts of the Wagon’s guards, including a youthful Seth Adams (the Wagonmaster on Wagon Train series) there are casualties, including Inger.

Losing all desire for ranching, Ben decides to take his boys to civilization, as typified by New Orleans.

In New Orleans he discovers Marie de Marginy, daughter of one of Jean Laffitte’s Captains. They married in 1840 and Ben Cartwright immediately found himself part of a very large extended family. His brother in law by marriage was Argus Silver and he became uncle by marriage to his friend and former shipmate, Britton Reid. Ben and Marie had a son, Joseph, born in 1840. Later that year a jealous ex-lover of Marie hired a man to kill Ben. Ben killed the man was forced to flee west to Nevada. Marie and he established a ranch he called the Ponderosa. Five years later, Marie had been killed by the ex-boyfriend and Ben had in turn killed him.

Although the television series Bonanza is based on the life of Ben Cartwright and his sons, it cannot be totally truthful for historical personages and historical events do not always coincide.

Adam Cartwright grew tired of the ranch life and in his early twenties went to sea for a few years, before finally attending the University at Stockton, California. There he met and wooed, Audra Barkley. Adam Cartwright became an architect and in concert with his brother in law, Heath, an engineer, designed many Southern California communities.

Eric "Hoss" Cartwright was very unlucky in love, like his father and his younger brother. Most of the women that he was involved with were gold diggers, prostitutes or accident-prone. However, he once accidentally ordered a Chinese bride from the Yipee Trading company, and despite her refusals he succeeding in returning her. Or so he thought, upon a visit to San Francisco, he discovered Tai Lee being forced to work as a prostitute. In his efforts to save her, Hoss killed her pimp and her abusive customer.

Rather than expose his family to the danger of Tong retribution, Hoss fled with her to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). One of their grandchildren married Susan Chan, daughter of Charlie Chan; another grand child was Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-O

Joseph Cartwright had even worse luck with woman than his Father; they usually died before they made it to the altar. However he did have quite a number of love affairs with women whose parent objected to him. He married in late 1863 but men who were owed money by her brother killed his wife. Like his Father he fled to New Orleans but found the war time atmosphere less than congenial. When Hoss disappeared, Joe had to shoulder the awesome task of helping his father run the Ponderosa ranch, while on a trip to Sante Fe, Joe met and was taken with Molly Buckhart, a schoolteacher. She was an educated and refined young lady who also happened to be Apache. Her younger brother was Sam Buckhart, later to become an U.S. Marshal, as seen in the series Law of the Plainsmen.

After a two year courtship, they married. About this time, the family cook Hop Sing became quite ill. A person out of Joe’s past showed up to take up the position of cook. Joe had accidentally won a Chinese girl, named Su Ling in a poker game. Although they had had a brief affair, he realized that they could never marry and so had sent her away. As it turns out her name was not Su Ling but Lu Sing. She was the granddaughter of Hop Sing but because she had been sold to various men to pay to pay for her passage to America, Hop Sing had felt disgraced by her and wanted nothing to do with her. With her was a young Chinese boy with curly brown hair.

She would never reveal who the father was but Joe suspected that it was he.

After working for the Cartwrights and taking care of her grandfather, Lu Sing disappeared the day after Hop Sing died. She traveled to the Philippines, which had a large Chinese community. Her son later adopted the name Joe Gar, and he became a private detective as depicted in the stories of Raoul Whitfield.

Joe and Molly had three daughters, Josephine 1870,  Erica 1872  and Samantha 1880. Erica married a man named John Caine, who was the nephew of a half-Chinese Buddhist Monk wandering throughout the West, as depicted in Kung Fu. As eldest daughter she inherited the ranch. Incidentally, John Caine’s great Uncle was Will Caine, sometimes spelled Kane, who was the Sheriff depicted in the film High Noon. Will Caine’s grandson was Martin Kane, a private eye. His great grandson through his daughter was Deputy Marshal Sam McCloud, as whose New York adventures are related in the television series, McCloud.

Josephine went east for education and never returned to Nevada. She met and married Alexander North and gave birth to twins, Hugh and Gerald in I888. Alexander North may have been related to the Claytons but I have not yet researched that area. Alexander North was quite a bit older than Josephine, Colonel North's chronicler claimed that he was a former Attorney General of the United States but the records do not bear this out. However, it is certain that he did have some sort of high government post. His main occupation was in trouble shooting problems for the United States Consulate service, (read Spy) During one mission, he met with accident while investigating the high death rate of workers on the Panama Canal which caused him to become lame in one leg.  Josephine requested that he give up the work. When he refused they divorced, and North powerful man that he was retained custody of his boys.

Hugh North joined the Army and had a distinguished career as a Military Intelligence officer with a an aptitude for deductive reasoning and espionage as demonstrated in Frederick Van Wyck Mason’s series of mysteries and suspense novels, starting with Seeds of Murder (1930). Hugh North was described as having almost Indian like features with black hair and grey eyes. It is interesting to note that Colonel North's adventures were first recorded in 1930 and his last recorded adventure took place in 1968, yet except for a some graying of his hair, he changed but little in 38 years.

Gerald North went to New York for his education and became a book publisher marrying Pamela_________. The couple had the uncanny ability to find themselves involved in murders. Frances and Richard Lockridge chronicled their adventure.

Josephine married secondly a doctor named Curtis Bannion. They moved to California. They had two boys, Miles Cartwright Bannion 1905 and Curtis Bannion, 1910

Miles Bannion, spelling his name Banyon, became a private detective working out of Los Angeles, a television movie and a short lived television series both named Banyon chronicled a portion of his cases in 1930's Los Angeles. He married Shelia Scott, the twin sister of Shell Scott, a fellow private investigator. Their son, Roger "Race" Bannion inherited the Scott's distinguished platinum blonde hair.

    Roger "Race" Bannion also served a stint in the Marines as a guerilla operative. He was trained as an all around handyman, pilot and bodyguard and it was in this capacity that he was employed by Dr. Benton Quest, to guard and sometimes test Dr. Quest's many inventions and to ride herd over Quest’s impetuous and precocious son, Jonny. As seen in the animated television series, Jonny Quest

Curtis Bannion, nicknamed Burns also became a private detective after service in the U.S. Navy. However he preferred to stay in Japan. His adventures took place the 1950s and early 60's, chronicled by Earl Norman in such books as Kill Me on the Ginza, Kill me In Shimbasa, and Kill me in Tokyo

Samantha married Jerome MacDuff, son of Andrew MacDuff and Wichita Billings. Jerome MacDuff was the main character of two biographies as written by E.R. Burroughs, Apache Devil and War Chief. MacDuff was the adopted son of Geronimo and had been raised an Apache. A tragic fire destroyed much of the Ponderosa ranch circa 1898, killing Jerome MacDuff. Samantha MacDuff sold the ranch to the grandson of Mr. Canaday, the Ponderosa ranch foreman and moved to Arizona. (I am aware that this information does not jibe with the last few years of the television show and the subsequent television movies but I regard most of everything that happened on Bonanza after Hoss disappeared as entirely fiction

Samantha Cartwright MacDuff met and married a man named Rex King, he adopted Samantha's son, Jeff and they had one of their own named Schuyler.

Jeff eventually joined the Army and then worked for the Government as either a FBI agent or some other intelligence agency. He married and had two children Clipper and Penny. When enemy agents killed his wife, he sent his son and daughter to live with his brother.

Jeff’s eventually became involved with an elite crime fighting force known as the Rocketmen, who used jetpacks to fly, based on Howard Hughes copy of the Savage jetpack. How he joined the unit is recounted in King of the Rocketmen, a 1949 Republic serial. The adventures of Jeff King’s brother, Sky and those of his two kids Clipper and Penny. are recounted in the radio and television series, Sky King. Penny King later married David Nelson, the former WWII pilot and ace known as Airboy. Their son David Nelson II carried on the family flying tradition.

    A cousin of Jeff and Sky King was Preston King, a member of the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, whose adventures were recorded in the serials King of the Mounties and King of the Royal Mounties.



© 2000 Dennis Power