If you thought your family had its odd members, consider the Roosevelt clan. Popular historian and author Nathan Miller did just that for a book due out next month, The Roosevelt Chronicles , that details the splendid, sprawling family that gave the nation two presidents.
Among the less famous Roosevelts:
Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, Teddy's uncle, was a congressman and founder of the conservation movement in America. He was also a Romeo in New York who gave each conquest a pair of green gloves. Miller says everyone in New York except the women involved seemed to know the gloves meant Robert had once dated the wearers.
Nicholas Roosevelt invented the paddlewheel steamboat but allegedly had his patent stolen by Robert Fulton.
Andre Roosevelt was a worldwide adventurer about whom a cousin once wrote: "His extramarital relations added to the populations of four continents, and his business ventures were largely at the expense of new acquaintances hypnotized by his name, his dreams and his promises."
Cornelius Roosevelt was kicked out of school and then moved to Paris to establish a branch of the family known as the "Paris penal colony." He amused friends by opening his mouth wide enough to hold a billiard ball; once, reports Miller, it got stuck.
James Bailey Roosevelt, the Catholic archbishop of Newark and later Baltimore, was disinherited for switching from the Episcopalian faith. FDR's great aunt, Elizabeth Seton, was declared a saint by the Vatican several years ago, and she and James Bailey are buried together in Emmitsburg, Md.
Clinton Roosevelt invented the armored battleship in 1835, hated bankers even though members of his family were in banking, and coined the term "rubber dollar" that FDR would use a century later.
James Roosevelt Roosevelt, Jr., the son of FDR'S halfbrother, inherited a fortune from the Astor family. But he chose to live in a garage in New York and willed his money to the Salvation Army. He was banished by his family for marrying a lady of questionable reputation.
Miller was granted access to the family papers kept in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, N.Y., where he discovered an unpublished magazine article by FDR'S daughter, Anna, describing her version of her father's friendship with Lucy Rutherfurd. "Never was there anything clandestine about the occasions," she wrote of her father's visits with the woman suspected to have been FDR'S mistress."I found Mrs. Rutherfurd to be a most attractive, stately, but warm and friendly person. She certainly had an innate dignity and poise which commanded respect." Anna had crossed out the last words which completed that sentence: " . . . which would have precluded any thought of a 'secret romance.'"
Footnote: Miller is working on a one-volume biography of FDR to be published in 1982 by Doubleday.