IRHS grad’s family tree has famous ancestral roots

OCEAN VIEW – Danielle Moore thought about wearing a Stetson to her Indian River High School graduation.

“I thought about buying one,” says the Class of 2017 graduate.

Commencement dress code mandated mortarboard caps, not famous cowboy hats.

Danielle knows quite a bit about John B. Stetson, his hat factory, some of the workers, his legacy and the university in DeLand, Florida she’ll attend as a college freshman this August that bears his name.

She also knows a lot about Queen Mary of Scots.

Incredibly, it’s all about family ties.

Extensive ancestral research last summer uncovered some famous branches on Danielle’s family tree.

The seemingly unbelievable discoveries: Danielle is a distant relative of Queen Mary of Scots. She also has relatives who worked at Stetson’s Philadelphia hat factory.

Cara Beth Moore and daughter Danielle Moore hold a banner designating Danielle’s college destination: Stetson University in Florida. Ancestral research last summer revealed Danielle has family ties to Mary Queen of Scots and workers for famed hat-maker John B. Stetson.

“This all stems from my ex-husband’s family,” said Danielle’s mother, Cara Beth Moore.

The Stetson link is maternal. “Her biological father; his mother’s mother … her father, her grandfather and her great-grandfather and then an uncle as well all worked in the factory,” said Ms. Moore.

“The uncle died in the factory and I can’t access the records, because it is marked as  ‘classified.’ I have to go up there to the archives in Pennsylvania to open it and see what happened,” said Danielle.

They say their evidence includes online documentation. “And even pictures,” said Ms. Moore.

“I found out, at like 1 o’clock in the morning, my grandmother called me out, screaming. It was so weird. She had goosebumps and her hair was standing up, ‘You have family that worked for John B. Stetson,’” said Danielle.

Danielle Moore of Ocean View shows her message and college destination on her mortarboard prior to Indian River’s graduation in late May.

There is a French connection.

“The fourth great-grandfather that came over from France. He (Stetson) actually brought him over here. He was a hat designer in France,” said Ms. Moore. “So here the fourth great-grandfather is coming from Paris, France. He designed hats. Her thing was going to be art, like designing shoes. That’s where the creepiness comes in.”

“I always felt like I had to go to Paris, France, or visit there for some reason and I had to learn about the language and the culture,” said Danielle. “Everybody thought I was crazy because no one in family besides my aunt took French.”

And now, the Mary Queen of Scots connection. It’s on the paternal grandmother’s side. Queen Mary’s son, James I of England, is Danielle’s 15th great-grandfather, ancestry shows, Ms. Moore said.

So that would make Queen Elizabeth, Great Britain’s reigning monarch, a relative. “The queen over their now, they are distant cousins,” Ms. Moore explained.

“I had no clue,” said Danielle.

This story, mother and daughter say, gets much more bizarre.

While in Florida, Danielle experienced a phenomenon she calls “genetic memory.”

“We drove by Stetson University but we didn’t know what it was. It was just gorgeous,” said Ms. Moore.

“We didn’t even know it was a school,” said Danielle.

“She (Danielle) was at the window going, ‘I’ve been here before. I need to come back here,’” said Ms. Moore. “My mother is in the front seat going, ‘You’ve never been here before. You don’t know what you are talking about.’”

“I felt like I had been there before. And I know I was never there before,” said Danielle.

Danielle, now 18, plans to study molecular biology and genetics for a career in cancer research at Stetson University. She wants to be geneticist.

“I kind of have a crazy history,” said Danielle. “My mom was born without a thyroid. She also has multiple birth defects that were corrected. So that is kind of like what inspired me to do it.”

Danielle, who resides in Ocean View, spent three weeks in June in Stetson’s voluntary freshman program that included whitewater rafting and zip-lining in Chattanooga, NC; Disney World in Orlando, FL and snorkeling, kayaking and community service in the Florida Keys.

Danielle is already looking forward to graduating from Stetson in 2021 in hopes of wearing Stetson hat.

“What I am going to try to do for the Class of 2021 is get in contact with the CEO of the hat company and see if he’ll make hats for the graduating class,” she said.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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