Leading family members in the USA

In the article, The UK-USA Tree, we learned that Willoughby Micklethwait (1786–1856) and 13 members of his family emigrated from Yorkshire, England to the United States in 1831. He and his wife, Susannah, settled near Hillsboro, Henry County, Iowa with their six boys and two girls.

Since then, their descendants have continued to produce heirs and have fully established themselves as US citizens. Many of them had very successful careers and the following are worth a special mention:

  • Joseph Micklethwait (1808–1850), Willoughby’s nephew, was born in Gowdall, Snaiths Parish, Yorkshire. He emigrated with Willoughby and settled in Portsmouth, Ohio, USA. The following year, he married Barbara in Scioto, Ohio, and they moved into the Red Brick house built by his wife on her land. Joseph farmed the land, and the house became known as the ‘Micklethwait Homestead’.

Willoughby’s sons

In 1849, three of Willoughby’s sons, George, James and Richard travelled to California, where they remained for 14 months. They made it rich in the goldfield mines, and together with their brother Wheatley, they purchased a large quantity of government land.

  • His eldest son George Mickelwait (1819–1908) was not only a great farmer, but his interests in finance led him to become the first President of the State Bank in Macedonia, Iowa in 1880. And then from 1894–1898, he was President of the Mills County National Bank in Glenwood, Iowa.
  • James Mickelwait (1827–1892) became a farmer and created an elevator company at Hillsdale, Iowa with his son-in-law W.M. Coats. It handled large amounts of grain loaded on rail that headed across the border to Omaha, Nebraska for processing. The Hon. James Mickelwait represented Mills County, Iowa in the 15th General Assembly. He was elected on the anti-monopoly ticket and served with credit to himself and constituency. James was also the Secretary of State for Iowa – a government position that still exists in the US today. 
  • Richard Mickelwait (1830–1899), Willoughby’s fifth son, born in Thorne, Yorkshire, arrived in the USA at the age of one. He became a prominent farmer in Mills County, Iowa, owning a fine farm of 500 acres, a large house and a commodious barn. Richard’s grave is at Glenwood Cemetery, Mills County, Iowa.
Gravestone in Glenwood Cemetery Mills County, Iowa
Richard was buried with his wife Mary and daughter Emma

The Iowa Gravestone Photo Project has photos of gravestones like this one and information about many of family members.

Other descendants

  • Claude Bayles Mickelwait (1894–1981) was born in Glenwood, Iowa. He served in the US Army both world wars. He was educated at The Infantry School 1927/8 and at the University of California 1930–5 (Law). After a distinguished military career, he retired in 1956 as The Assistant Judge Advocate General in Washington, DC. Major General Mickelwait was entitled to numerous listed decorations and awards including foreign decorations from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland and Great Britain. He is next to the groom in the photo at the top of this page.
  • Lowell Pitzer Mickelwait (1906–1996) was born in Glenwood, Iowa and settled in Seattle, Washington. He obtained a Law degree at the University of Washington and became Vice President of Industrial Public Relations at the Boeing Company. The photo at the top of the page shows Lowell at his wedding.
  • Aubrey Butler Mickelwait (1925–2005) was born in Hawaii. Dr Mickelwait was Pioneer Program Director at TRW Systems and was responsible for the development of the interplanetary Pioneer Spacecraft 1957 and the Apollo series manned spacecraft – including the one that went to the moon in July 1969.
  • Donald Richard Mickelwait (born 1933) founded Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) and was its CEO for 30 years. He holds advanced degrees in economics from the University of Oregon, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, the George Washington University and is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School. Don is a rural sector economist with extensive experience designing projects for USAID and has lived in Bangkok for 20 years.

Micklethwait history in the USA prior to 1831

If we look further back at US records, we find that there were also members of the family in the USA long before Willoughby’s arrival.

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School contains a 1702 document named Surrender from the Proprietors of East and West New Jersey, of Their Pretended Right of Government to Her Majesty. Joseph Micklethwait was on the list of those who surrendered their pretended right.

Even earlier, there are records of members of the family in US affairs. For example in 1661, Dr John Micklethwait was involved with framing letters, proclamations or orders for the King’s signature relating to the Propagation of the Gospel in New England.

Even today we have a family connection between the UK and the US in that one of the UK family has been Editor-in-Chief at Bloomberg News in New York since February 2015. For more information, see his Wikipedia profile.

See also our leading family members in the UK who have achieved considerable prominence in UK society.