Family Tree Afternoon Special: Ludwig von Drake

M.J. Prior M.J.Prior at
Sat Jul 5 11:11:02 CEST 2008


In early 2002, Rich Bellacera drew our attention to a Duck 
Family Tree in a publication named "The Little Big Book of 
Disney" by Monique Peterson (2001):

This Tree elicited the following comment from Don Rosa:

> What a mess!!! This author has taken the characters off my
> Duck Family Tree [...] and tossed in elements from a few 
> other sources, and jumbled it all up into a mess. Then 
> pulling one bit of idiocy out of thin air and 
> having "Mother Goose" (who I think is a human, anyway) 
> being an ancestor of one character, which is stupid 
> enough, but the ancestor of a Duck rather than Gus or 
> Gladstone!??? What on earth caused this? I bet most of it
> is a result of the author swiping info off of a fansite 
> like Gilles'.

Gilles Maurice confirmed that this was indeed the case and 
expressed his indignation:
Still, he added the Tree to his Duck Family Trees page, 
where it's still visible:

The Tree poses several problems to Duck genealogists, 
among which is the following question: Why is Mother Goose 
included in this Tree?


In the Tree, Mother Goose is mentioned as an ancestor of 
Professor Ludwig von Drake. One wonders (with Don Rosa) 
why they chose to include her at all, or why they didn't 
choose her as a relative of a Goose character instead. 
This question was fairly simply solved, when yesterday I 
suddenly stumbled across the answer.

There are lots of animated Disney shorts available on 
YouTube, including several videos starring Ludwig von 
One of these is "The Truth about Mother Goose" (1963), in 
which Ludwig von Drake claims that Mother Goose was 
actually *his* grandmother. Ludwig then proceeds to 
introduce the actual feature, which is an older segment 
from 1957. You can see it for yourselves at:

It's questionable if Ludwig's words should be taken 
seriously. He refers to Herman the Bootle Beetle as 'my 
childhood companion', yet the present-day Herman looks 
just as young as the one in the picture. The picture could 
be a fake. Furthermore, Ludwig has shown a tendency to 
claim he had a large influence on popular culture. For 
example, in "A Symposium on Popular Songs" (1962) he 
claims to have been the instigator of different types of 
music (ragtime, charleston, crooning, boogie-woogie). To 
claim a similar role for his forebears (e.g. his 
grandmother) in the field of nursery rhymes ties in with 
this tendency.

Whatever the truth of Ludwig's claim his grandmother was 
THE Mother Goose, maybe we can at least accept her *name* 
as a given fact. Ludwig von Drake having a grandmother 
with the name Goose doesn't require a big stretch of the 
imagination, as Goose seems to be a fairly common name in 
the family. Moreover, it can help us to pinpoint Ludwig's 
relation to Donald pretty acurately.


3.1 The facts

The exact nature of Ludwig's relation to Donald is one of 
the big questions among Duck genealogists. We know he's 
Donald's uncle, but on which side of the family? Is he an 
uncle or a great uncle? Is he a married man? Is he a 
literal uncle or is he further removed? Thus far, only a 
few facts have been established:

1) Ludwig is Donald's uncle
2) Ludwig is a bachelor
3) Ludwig and Donald have common ancestors named Duck
4) Ludwig's grandmother is Mother Goose

* 2) From the cartoon "Kids is kids" (1961)
* 3) From the story "The Family Tree Spree" (1962)
* 4) From the cartoon "The Truth about Mother Goose" 

* 2)
* 3)
For a synopsis by Gilles Maurice, see:

3.2 Ludwig's marital status

Ludwig is NOT married to Matilda McDuck, because a) he is 
a bachelor and b) he doesn't *need* to be married to be 
Donald's uncle, for he and Donald have common ancestors. 
Moreover, this supposed marriage has never been shown in 
canon and has therefore no official status.

3.3 Ludwig's relation to Donald

i) Ludwig can't be a brother of Donald's father, whose 
last name is Duck and not Von Drake
ii) Ludwig can't be a brother of Donald's mother, whose 
last name is McDuck, according to Carl Barks

iii) Ludwig can't be a brother of Donald's paternal 
grandfather, whose last name is Duck
iv) Ludwig can't be a brother of Grandma Duck, Donald's 
paternal grandmother, because there's nothing in the 
comics to suggest that they're siblings

v) Ludwig can't be a brother of Donald's maternal 
grandfather, whose last name is McDuck
vi) Ludwig can't be a brother of Donald's maternal 
grandmother, because this is contradicted by the fact that 
Donald and Ludwig have common ancestors on the Duck side 
of the family, i.e. Donald's father's side.

 From this, it follows that Ludwig is neither Donald's 
uncle, nor his great uncle, but only an uncle in the loose 
sense of "senior male relative". Still, I will try to find 
out the closest way for him to be related to Donald.

3.4 Ludwig's family

This is where Ludwig's grandmother Mother Goose enters the 
argument. As she was Ludwig's grandmother, we can assume 
that Mother Goose was a married woman. Goose is most 
likely the name of her husband, just like Grandma Duck 
isn't known by her maiden name. We can now establish the 
names of three of Ludwig's grandparents.

1) One grandfather must be named Von Drake
2) The other grandfather is clearly named Goose
3) One of the grandmothers is likely named Duck

Ludwig has ancestors with the name Duck and I try to have 
him as closely related to Donald as possible. So one of 
the grandmothers must be a Duck, as his grandfathers are 
already a Von Drake and a Goose.

My *personal inclination* would be to have the Duck 
grandmother marry the Von Drake grandfather. This way, the 
bond between the Duck and Von Drake families precedes the 
bond between the Von Drake and Goose families, making the 
Duck-Von Drake connection the older (and thus closer?) 
Certainly, Ludwig is known as *Donald's* family, while his 
relation to Gus remains unspecified. (But maybe he belongs 
to a whole different branch of the Goose family?)

As Ludwig clearly belongs to Scrooge's generation instead 
of Donald's, Ludwig's grandmother Duck would belong to the 
generation of Donald's great grandfather. They should be 
siblings, to have Ludwig as closely related to Donald as 
possible. This is what their Family Tree would look like:

                                                / \
Goose(m)x(f)"Mother.Goose"  Von.Drake(m)x(f)Duck 
          \                 /                          /
               /                              \


By now I have said nearly everything I had to say about 
the subject. I must make mention of the fact that I 
participated recently with Rob Klein in a discussion on 
Ludwig, on the Disney Comics Forum:

However, I chose to write a mail to dcml instead of 
disclosing my new information to the forum, partly because 
this format is better suited and partly because this is 
where the discussion really started, a long while ago.

I want to conclude with the last subject I have left 


In "A Symposium on Popular Music" (1962), mentioned above, 
we get to read part of a love letter that was sent to 
Ludwig. Apparently, Ludwig seems to have enjoyed a 
relationship of a certain length with someone. He must 
have a soft spot for her(?) or he wouldn't have kept the 
letter, yet he has no qualms about tearing the letter up. 
He seems to be embarrassed by it.

Ludwig produces the letter when comes to speak about a 
song he wrote, called "Louisville Ludwig". The caption of 
the letter, "Dear Lovey Ludwig", is a pun on the 
pronunciation of Louisville. See also:

To see Ludwig's love letter, flash forward to 4'57" of the 

Very best wishes to all of you,

Michiel Prior

Groningen, the Netherlands

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