David Ditta, who just retired as a commercial photographer…, was a genealogist by avocation who could trace his American ancestors, the Davenports, back to relatives who arrived in 1637.
What Mr. Ditta, who is 67 and lives near San Francisco, didn’t know until recently was that he is also descended from the Fitch family of Norwalk, Conn. Thomas Fitch IV was a governor of Connecticut in the 18th century, but his son, Col. Thomas Fitch V, became even more famous as the person believed to be the inspiration for the tune “Yankee Doodle.”
“When they first sent me a message, I figured there’s not a chance,” Mr. Ditta said. “I had a pretty good idea of our genealogy. But when I saw the connection with the Davenports, it all clicked.”
Why is it I never get email full of impeccable research linking me to someone noteworthy? What’s that? Hasn’t happened to you, either, eh?
The music has been traced back centuries to England; the lyrics, in their many incarnations, are attributed to multiple sources.
Etymologists differ on the origin of the lyrics, but Yankee typically referred to New Englanders, doodle was a term of derision and dandy was someone who affected sophistication (fashionable macaroni wigs also became a metaphor for foppishness).
The American irregulars won the respect of the Redcoats after their successes in 1759 at Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and by the American Revolution the song had evolved from an aspersion to a patriotic march of pride.
Above you can see Norman Rockwell’s 1938 mural for the Nassau Inn restaurant, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room, depicting Yankee Doodle.
Congratulations to Mr. Ditta and his newly discovered Yankee Doodle Dandy Genealogy.