The genealogies of American Presidents are fascinating as much of America's social history is reflected in the ancestry of our Presidents. While many of them have extensive pedigrees, others such as Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson have as elusive ancestors as many of us.
"I think it is likely that as many as 100 million living Americans may well have considerable New England ancestry, and 100 million or more may have Colonial Mid-Atlantic or Southern ancestry," says Gary Boyd Roberts, author of "Ancestors of American Presidents." And if you do, the possibility that you are related to one or more Presidents is quite probable, he says.
George Bush is the first President whose traceable ancestry is almost evenly divided between New England Yankees, Mid-Atlantic residents (including New York Dutch, Quakers and Germans) and widely dispersed, but probably mostly Virginia-derived Southerners (via Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia), according to Roberts.
The ethnic, national origin or regional affiliation of eight Presidents--Jackson, Polk, Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, McKinley, Wilson, Kennedy and Reagan--was almost certainly Scottish, Scotch-Irish, Irish, or post-1840 English artisan. Eight other Presidents--the two Adamses from Massachusetts; Fillmore from Upstate New York; Pierce from New Hampshire; Hayes, Garfield and Taft, all natives of Ohio; and Coolidge, from Vermont--were almost exclusively of New England (and usually Great Migration) English-derived Yankee descent.
Several Presidents may be considered Southern: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, William Henry Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Monroe, Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Carter. The first six were largely of Tidewater English-derived planter ancestry, while Monroe was of Scots and Welsh-derived Tidewater planter background. Truman, Lyndon Johnson and Carter are of modern Southern pioneer background, with multi-ethnic Colonial origins (including lesser English-derived planters, Scotch-Irish, German, French Huguenot), and for Carter, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island ancestors.
Van Buren's ancestry was exclusively New York Dutch; Eisenhower's, except for his likely Boone descent, was exclusively Pennsylvania German or Swiss; and Nixon's is largely Quaker--California, Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic and Yankee.
Presidents Bush, Ford, Nixon, Franklin Roosevelt, Garfield, Grant, Taylor and two Adamses all have Mayflower ancestors. The Adamses were descendants of Priscilla Mullins and John Alden; Zachary Taylor from William Brewster; Ulysses Simpson Grant from Richard Warren; James Abram Garfield from John Billington; Franklin Delano Roosevelt from John Tilley, Isaac Allerton and Degory Priest, Francis Cooke and Richard Warren; Richard Milhous Nixon and Gerald R. Ford Jr. from Henry Howland (brother of Mayflower passenger John Howland); and George Herbert Walker Bush from Francis Cooke and John Tilley.
Several Presidents were related to British royalty: George Washington, the Adamses, Calvin Coolidge, Millard Fillmore, Rutherford Hayes, Grover Cleveland, Franklin D. Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, George Bush, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Harry S. Truman.
In Roberts' new book, he compiled Ahnentafels (ancestor tables) for all the Presidents. He also includes an outstanding bibliography on each President with valuable sources to consult for additional information. The book also contains "Presidential Royal Descents," with several lines traced to Edward I, King of England, who died in 1307. Additionally there are 78 charts outlining kinships among American Presidents.
If you have ever wondered if you are related to an American President, you will want to check this outstanding new publication. It is available in hardback from Carl Boyer III, P.O. Box 333, Santa Clarita, Calif. 91322-0333 for $30 postpaid. (California residents must add sales tax.)