Wednesday, January 30, 2019

US Presidents in the Family

So I treated myself just after Christmas to a great book published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society: Ancestors of American Presidents, by Gary Boyd Roberts.

I knew there were a few presidents who were cousins, but I wasn't sure of exactly how and I really wanted to look at trustworthy research that I could then of course verify myself!

I looked first on my mother's side because my Dad already knew on his side of the family that he was cousins with the two HARRISON presidents, William Henry and his grandson, Benjamin.

My maternal MIX ancestry has some very deep New England roots, even one Mayflower ancestor so I knew that's where I would look for any lines that lead to Presidents and sure enough, we've got a grand total of FOUR, which is really cool.

13th US President - Millard Fillmore

Yep, lucky number 13 is my 5th cousin 5x removed.  Our common ancestors were Oliver PURCHASE and Thomasine HARRIS.  Oliver and Thomasine lived in Dorset, England, and it was some of their children who decided to journey to America in the 1600s. 

Millard Fillmore became president in 1850 because the sitting President Zachary Taylor died from cholera, and Millard was the Vice-President at the time.

18th US President - Ulysses S. Grant

Grant was my 6th cousin 5x removed.  Our common ancestors were William ROCKWELL and Susan CAPEN.  William and Susan emigrated from Dorset, England to Connecticut in the 1600s. 

I learned an interesting thing while finding out exactly who Ulysses S. Grant was - his birth name was actually Hiram Ulysses Grant, but due to an error on his West Point admission form, he was kind of "re-christianed" Ulysses S. Grant and apparently he stuck with it :-D He was twice elected President.

23rd US President - Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin is my 6th cousin 5x removed and his grandfather is my 4th cousin 7x removed. We are related on my maternal side through Benjamin's grandmother, Anna Tuthill SYMMES.  Through her our common ancestors are Francis CHICKERING and Anne FISKE of Suffolk, England.  Francis and Anna emigrated in the 1600s to Massachusetts. 

I was specific about Benjamin's grandmother because on my paternal side, we are related through Benjamin's Grandfather, who also just so happened to be a President (the 9th one), but more on him in my future paternal post!

30th US President - Calvin Coolidge, Jr

Calvin Coolidge is my 9th cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors were Bernard CAPEN and Joan PURCHASE.  Notice the last name of Capen, yes, Grant and Coolidge are related as well, they were 7th cousins, 2x removed.  And notice the last name of Purchase, he was cousins with Millard Fillmore too, 7th cousins, 3x removed. Interestingly, he also became president because he was Vice-President and the President died!  Warren G. Harding died from a heart attack.  Calvin stepped up and was then also elected President after that.

And there you have it!  It's interesting that all our connections go back to England and immigrants who came to New England in the 1600s.  Next up will be a review of Presidents on my paternal side.