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.