Birth Name: James Scott Bumgarner
Date of Birth: April 7, 1928
Place of Birth: Denver, Oklahoma, U.S. (now Lake Thunderbird, near Norman, Oklahoma)
Date of Death: July 19, 2014
Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Ethnicity: English, Irish, German, remote Welsh and Swiss-German
James Garner was an American actor and producer. His roles include the Maverick franchise, the films Sayonara, Darby’s Rangers, Up Periscope, Cash McCall, The Children’s Hour, The Great Escape, The Wheeler Dealers, The Americanization of Emily, Duel at Diablo, Grand Prix, Hour of the Gun, The Pink Jungle, Support Your Local Sheriff!, Marlowe, Support Your Local Gunfighter, They Only Kill Their Masters, Victor/Victoria, Murphy’s Romance, The Distinguished Gentleman, Fire in the Sky, My Fellow Americans, Space Cowboys, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, and The Notebook, and the series The Rockford Files.
James was the son of Mildred Scott (Meek) and Weldon Warren Bumgarner. He was the brother of actor Jack Garner. James was married to Lois Josephine (Fleischman) Clarke, until his death, with whom he had two children.
He had English, Irish, German, and remote Welsh and Swiss-German, ancestry. The surname Bumgarner traces back to Germany. James often stated that he had some degree of Cherokee Native American ancestry on his mother’s side. No Native American ancestry appears in family trees of James Garner. In their 2014 obituary of the actor, The New York Times stated that James’s maternal grandfather, Charles Bailey Meek, was a “full-blooded Cherokee.” This statement is false. James’s maternal grandfather, and his own parents, Thomas Jefferson Meek and Delilah Frances Bailey, were listed as “White” on United States Censuses, and James’s grandfather’s ancestry, which is fairly well documented, contains no evident Cherokee antecedents.
James’s paternal grandfather was William Wilson Bumgarner (the son of John H. Bumgarner and Catherine Landers). William was born in Arkansas. John was the son of Woodford Bumgarner and Rebecca C. Heffner/Hefner. Catherine was born in Arkansas, to an Irish father, David R. Landers, and an English mother, Mary Jane Howard.
James’s paternal grandmother was Louella/Lula/Luella E. Briggs (the daughter of Levi Leander Briggs and Narcisus/Narcissus/Nora Bough/Baugh). Louella was born in Arkansas. Levi was the son of James C./Jefferson Briggs and Rebecca George.
James’s maternal grandfather was Charles Bailey “Charley” Meek (the son of Thomas Jefferson Meek and Delilah/Delila Frances “Fannie” Bailey). Charles was born in Arkansas. Thomas was the son of Franklin M. Meek and Martha Ann Harwell/Hartwell. Delilah was the daughter of Cincinnatus Ney Brooks and Mary Jane Bailey.
James’s maternal grandmother was Abbie Lillian Womack (the daughter of John David Womack and Minnie Glorietta/Gorietta Neher). Abbie was born in Texas. John was the son of The Rev. Dr. John Crossley/Crosley Womack and Sarah Jane Williamson. Minnie was the daughter of John George Neher, who was German, from Württemberg, and of Mary Mazie Riggs.
James was a fourth cousin of actress Vivian Vance, through their shared ancestors John Thomas Bumgarner and Nancy Rockett. Professional baseball player Madison Bumgarner is also descended from John, and his wife Nancy Schaefer.
Sources: Genealogies of James Garner – http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com
James’s paternal grandfather, William Wilson Bumgarner, on the 1870 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
William Wilson Bumgarner on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://www.familysearch.org
Genealogy of James Garner (focusing on his mother’s side) – http://www.womacknet.net
James’s mother on the 1910 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
James’s mother on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
James’s maternal grandfather, Charles Bailey “Charley” Meek, on the 1880 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
Information on James’s maternal grandfather’s Meek family – http://meekgenealogy.com
James’s maternal grandmother, Abbie Lillian Womack, on the 1900 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
As a point of interest, James Garner is a third cousin once removed of Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy) through their common ancestors John Thomas Bumgarner and Nancy Rockett (https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/KC3S-W5J).
Make that a fourth cousin once removed.
Madison Bumgarner is also descended (twice) from John Thomas Bumgarner, but not Nancy Rockett, but his first wife Nancy Schaefer. Anders Holm is also descended from John Thomas and Nancy Schaefer.
Actually, 4 times. I forgot his mother’s side.