Sunday, December 28, 2008

GENEALOGIES OF THE U.S. PRESIDENTS - Above is a photograph of incoming President Barack Obama with out-going U.S. President George W. Bush. One of the miracles of the U.S. system of government is the peaceful transfer of power from one President to another. The purpose of this blog is to share interesting facts about the genealogies of the U.S. Presidents, including of President-Elect Barack Obama. Please be sure to visit my companion blog site . PLEASE CLICK ON "OLDER POSTS" AT BOTTOM OF PAGE TO SEE PREVIOUS PAGES.

GENEALOGY AND ANCESTRY OF BARACK OBAMA's FATHER - Above are photographs of Barack Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., and Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Durham (holding the young Barack Obama). Barack Obama's father was born in in 1936 in Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya and was killed in 1982 in car crash in Nairobi, Kenya. He met Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Durham, when he was attending the East-West Center at the Manoa Campus of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii. They were subsequently divorced when he moved back to Kenya. He had four different wives, so that Barack Obama has a number of half-siblings and other relatives living in the United States, England and Kenya. Barack Obama's father was descended from a line of tribal chiefs from Kenya who can be traced back for several generations. Barack Obama is the first U.S. President to be descended from a father born in Africa, while Barack Obama himself is the first U.S. President to be born in Hawaii.

BARACK OBAMA'S ANCESTRY ON HIS MOTHER'S SIDE - Above is a photograph of Barack Obama with his grandparents on his mother's side, Stanley Armour Durham and Madelyn Lee Payne Durham. His grandmother's side of the family can be traced back to my common ancestor, Robert Hudson, who arrived in Jamestown on the ship James in 1622. His grandfather's side of the family came to America some time before 1639 since his ancestor, Jonathan Singletary, was born in Newbury, Massachusetts January 17, 1639. On his grandfather's side, Barack Obama shares a common descent from Samuel Hinckley, who lived in Cape Cod in the 1600's, with President George W. Bush. Obama also shares a common ancestor with Vice President Dick Cheney.

PARENTS OF PRESIDENT ULYSSES S. GRANT - Above are photographs of Grant's father, Jessie Root Grant, and Grant's mother, Hannah Simpson. The Grant genealogy is an example of how we define a President as being from one state or another, but often their family genealogies show a continuing westward migration that parallels the growth and expansion of the United States. The story of the Grant family genealogy also demonstrates how compressed history actually is (i.e. the periods of our history only vary from one or two generations) and often our Presidents share a common ancestry. In Grant's case, his father was born on January 23, 1794 (during the presidency of George Washington) in Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. His father migrated to Ohio where outside of Cincinnati he operating a tannery that, for a time, employed John Brown (of John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry). Ironically, John Brown was to be captured by U.S. army troops led by future Confederate General Robert E. Lee (whose wife was a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington) after John Brown had taken Augustine Washington, another relative of George Washington's, captive. As further irony, it was then Ulysses S. Grant that led the Union Army that defeated the Confederate Army led by Robert E. Lee during the Civil War. After the Civil War, the Grant family continued its westward migration with one of Grant's son, Jesse Root Grant Jr., migrating and dying is Los Altos, California while a granddaughter of Grant married became a princess when she married a Russian nobleman (see below). To demonstrate how often the U.S. Presidents have shared a common ancestry, Ulysses S. Grant shares a common descent from Jonathan Delano and Mercy Warren with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Like many other Presidents, Grant is also descended from Charlemagne and William "the Conqueror." He is also a Mayflower descendant, being descended from Mayflower passengers Francis Cooke and Richard Warren. When we think of Mayflower descendants, I think we often think of fairly well-to-do and/or prominent families from New England. But many of these families moved to Ohio and other parts of the Midwest to seek other opportunities and land. There, they often encountered hardship in settling this new wilderness. This is the story of Grant's father, Abraham Lincoln's ancestors, and ancestors of many of our Presidents, including the ancestors of Barack Obama on his mother's side, who migrated from both New England and Virginia to the Midwest.

PRINCESS JULIA GRANT CANTACUZENE - A further example of how families migrate is the story of Julia Grant, granddaughter of President Ulysses S. Grant. She married Prince Michael Cantacuzene, who was descended from the rulers of the Byzantine Empire during the later centuries of its existence. Afterwards, the Cantacuzene's moved north and became noblemen of Russia under the Tsar. In 1899 shortly before she married, she met William Lyon Mackenzie King, the future Prime Minister of Canada, and carried on a correspondence with him until his death, sharing a common interest in spiritualism and efforts to contact the dead. She died in 1975.
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT'S FATHER - was Alphono Taft, who served as both Attorney General and Secretary of War under President Ulysses S. Grant. It was this alliance between Grant and Taft that created the strong Republican party in the State of Ohio and the Taft political dynasty based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Alphonso Taft was born on November 5, 1810 in Townshend, Vermont and died on May 21, 1891 in San Diego, California. He graduated from Yale College in 1833 where he had co-founded the secret Skull and Bones Society that the Bush family along joined. Not only did the Taft family become dominant in Cincinnati and Ohio Republican politics, but they also went on to found the Taft broadcasting and publishing business empire. The Cincinnati Art Museum, one of the pre-eminent art museums in the United States, is named after the Taft family, from which it has received a significant endowment. The art museum was once the home of Nicholas Longworth, the first millionaire in Cincinnati and father of the American wine industry. His granddaughter, Maria Rives Longworth, was the founder of Rookwood Pottery, while his great-grandson, Nicholas Longworth, became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and married Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. It is because of the influence of the Taft and Longworth/Roosevelt families that Cincinnati remains today a strong Republican voting area.

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT'S MOTHER - Above is a photograph of President William Howard Taft as a baby with his mother, Louis Marie Torrey. She was born on September 11, 1827 in Boston, Massachusetts and died on December 7, 1907 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
WOODROW WILSON'S FATHER - was a Presbyterian minister named Joseph Ruggles Wilson. He was born on February 28, 1822 in Steubenville, Ohio. He moved with his family to Staunton, Virginia to assume a ministry there shortly before Woodrow Wilson's birth. On his father's side, Woodrow Wilson was descended from John Stewart, founder of Rosslyn Chapel (of the movie "The Da Vinci Code" and Knights of the Templar fame). John Stewart was the son of James Stewart I, King of Scotland. This is an ancestry that Woodrow Wilson shares with Presidents James Monroe and Teddy Roosevelt. Wilson's second wife, Edith Bolling, was descended from Pocahontas of Jamestown fame.

WOODROW WILSON'S MOTHER - was Janet (or Jessie or Jeannie) E. Woodrow. She was born on December 20, 1826 in Carlisle, England and died on April 15, 1888 in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An exploration of the genealogy of George Washington illustrates the key to studying genealogy. If one traces his Washington ancestry in a straight line back from his Washington ancestors from Northumbia and even further, one can determine that Washington was descended from Malcolm III, King of Scotland. But if one traces the ancestry of Washington's maternal side at each generation, one discovers that the Washington males married well and repeatedly established relationships with the English royalty. Hence, George Washington is also descended from Charlemagne, William "the Conqueror", Henry I "Beauclerc", and is even descended from the French, Spanish, and Russian royal families. For this reason, at the end of the American Revolutionary war, a delegation went to Washington and asked that he become king of the new nation. Washington, however, refused and walked away from power. Later, he helped lead the effort for the drafting and adoption of the U.S. Constitution which established the position of President instead of a monarch, with Washington then being elected as our nation's first president. After two terms, Washington resigned and again walked away from power, breaking with the European tradition for centuries that power was hereditary and passed down through the next in line of the ruling family. But there is another lesson from studying the genealogy of George Washington. It turns out that, mathematically, every individual of European ancestry has to be descended from Charlemagne and probably other European royalty. The difficulty is establishing one's ancestry far enough back to discover such links. But all of us, whether of European origin or not, can probably claim some royal ancestors. So I think the ultimate lesson is not that one person has a better pedigree and thus is better than anyone else, but that instead we are all related! This is what I find fascinating about genealogy - as another way of studying history and all its interconnections.

Friday, November 14, 2008

According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times on October 21, 2007, Barack Obama from his mother's side shares a common ancestry (11th cousin) with George W. Bush from Samuel Hinckley who lived in Cape Cod in the 1600's. They also stated that Barack Obama is related to presidents George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Harry Truman, and James Madison and is related to such other notables as Sir Winston Churchill, Robert E. Lee, and Vice President Dick Cheney (9th cousin once removed).

Eight of the U.S. Presidents are descendants of passengers on the Mayflower. These are: John Adams and John Quincy Adams (descendants of John Alden, William Mullins, Alice Mullins, and Priscilla Mullins), Zachary Taylor (descendant of Isaac Allerton and William and Mary Brewster), Ulysses S. Grant (descendant of Richard Warren), James Garfield (descendant of John and Francis Billington), Franklin Roosevelt (desendant of John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, Elizabeth Tilley, John Howland, Isaac Allerton, Mary Norris Allterton, Mary Allterton, Degory Priest, John Cooke and Francis Cooke), George Herbert Walker Bush (descendant of Francis Cooke, John Howland, John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, and Elizabeth Tilley), and George W. Bush (descendant of Francis Cooke, John Howland, John Tilley, Joan Hurst Tilley, Elizabeth Tilley, and Henry Samson).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain has dined with 10 different U.S. Presidents, the most recent being with President and Mrs. Bush. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth is a direct descendant of George Washington's great-grandfather, Colonel Augustine Warner, Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses? Typically, whenever Queen Elizabeth travels to America, she puts a wreath of his grave in the Washington family cemetery in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did you know that Barack Obama shares a common ancestors with several of the previous U.S. Presidents? Also, did you know that 14 of the past U.S. Presidents share a common ancestry? This site is designed to share interesting facts and stories posted by myself and others about the genealogy of the U.S. Presidents. What is your story or interesting tidbit?