John Updike

Birth Name: John Hoyer Updike

Date of Birth: March 18, 1932

Place of Birth: Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Date of Death: January 27, 2009

Place of Death: Danvers, Massachusetts, U.S.

*father – Dutch, English, some Scots-Irish/Northern Irish
*mother – German

John Updike was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic. He is known for his novels, about Rabbit Angstrom, Henry Bech, and The Witches of Eastwick.

John was the son of Linda Grace (Hoyer) and Wesley Russell Updike. He was raised in the small town, Shillington, and later the unincorporated village, Plowville, both in Berks County, Pennsylvania.

John was married to Martha Ruggles Bernhard, until his death. He had four children, including art teacher Elizabeth Updike Cobblah, with his former wife Mary E. Pennington.

The surname Updike originates with a Dutch ancestor, likely named Opdyck/Opdycke/Opdijk.

John’s paternal grandfather was The Rev. Hartley Titus Updike (the son of Archibald Updike and Mary Elizabeth/Elisabeth Titus). The Rev. Hartley was born in New Jersey, and was a Presbyterian minister. Archibald was the son of Peter Updike and Louisa Terhune. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Nathaniel H. Titus and Emeline Johnson. Through this line, John was a third cousin, once removed, of vocalist, harpist, keyboardist, and songwriter Joanna Newsom. John’s great-great-grandparents Peter and Louisa, were also Joanna’s paternal great-great-great-grandparents.

John’s paternal grandmother was Virginia Emily Blackwood (the daughter of John Franklin Blackwood and Mary Connell). Virginia was born in Missouri. John was the son of Joseph Blackwood and Sarah “Sally” Neeld.

John’s maternal grandfather was John Franklin Hoyer (the son of Isaac S. Hoyer and Mary Fry). John was born in Pennsylvania, and was of entirely or mostly German descent. Isaac was the son of Samuel Hoyer and Susanna Seifrit. Mary was the daughter of John Fry and Hannah Fries/Frees.

John’s maternal grandmother was Katherine/Katharine/Kattie/Katie Ziemer Kramer (the daughter of Samuel Kramer and Juliana Ziemer). Katie was born in Pennsylvania. Samuel was the son of Henry Kramer and Elizabeth Fitterling Fritz. Juliana was the daughter of Peter Schweitzer Ziemer and Justina Hertz.

Sources: Genealogies of John Updike –

John Updike on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of John Updike (focusing on his father’s side) –

2 Responses

  1. bablah says:

    >was Virginia
    >John Franklin Blackwood
    >and Mary Connell).

    >was Katherine
    >(the daughter of Samuel Kramer and Juliana Ziemer)
    >Samuel was the son of Henry Kramer and Elizabeth Fitterling Fritz. Juliana was the daughter of Peter Schweitzer Ziemer and Justina Hertz.

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