Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland’s Jewish Ancestry

The following teaser is from an interesting article by David Margolick about Merrick Garland’s Jewish ancestry. Please check out the full article at tabletmag.com.

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Within minutes of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland’s to the Supreme Court, the Jewish guessing game started.

Was Garland Jewish? Was a fourth Jewish justice about to join the High Court? (In Louis Brandeis’s day, even a single Jew on the Supreme Court was, for some, one too many.) And, mostly, how could there be a Jew named Merrick Garland?

For me, though, Garland’s religious background wasn’t a question. Forty years ago, my law school classmate Alvin Katz (Garland’s best friend in third grade, Katz insists) had touted the guy to me, and I’ve been following him ever since. I’d seen that long before his name perennially appeared with every Supreme Court vacancy, Garland had vindicated Alvin’s praise and predictions of success. I thought I knew a certain amount about him, and always assumed, with the usual ethnic pride, that he was Jewish…

Read the full article.

Dr. Ben Carson’s Ancestry Reveal’s an Even More Interesting Backstory Than Carson Seems to Know

Family: Pictured in 2008, Carson poses in his home with his wife, Lacena 'Candy' Rustin, his two sons and his mother, Sonya Carson (seated at right) – who is actually legally named Johnnie.
Family: Pictured in 2008, Carson poses in his home with his wife, Lacena ‘Candy’ Rustin, his two sons and his mother, Sonya Carson (seated at right) – who is actually legally named Johnnie.

If you want to get your family history done, just become a front-runner for the Presidential nomination. Okay – that may not be easy to do, and it’s simpler to do it yourself. DailyMail.com (who hasn’t been supportive of Carson) has posted an extensive article about his family. I’m sure that their research wasn’t exhaustive or perfect, but it does reveal that while Carson may know a lot about brain surgery, he does not know a lot of the exacting details about his family. As all genealogists get to know rather quickly, the stories told around the dinner table are often found to contain a grain of truth – but that’s about it.

The following is a teaser from the article at the DailyMail website:

Ben Carson has made his mother’s extraordinary life story a central part of his campaign.

In his books, speeches and interviews, he has told how Sonya was one of a family of 24, married when she was just 13 and divorced his father after discovering he was a bigamist who had a second family.

But Daily Mail Online can reveal that little of that story is exactly as he has relayed it – although the truth appears to be just as inspirational as the version the Republican candidate has offered.

The differences between Carson’s version and what official documents and interviews with family members revealed suggest that the surgeon himself may not know the full story of his background.

Read the full article.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Revealed to be Distant Cousins

Trump-and-Clinton

This story probably shouldn’t even have made the papers, as most all of us are as related these these two guys. But – it is interested. Click on the illustration or the links for the full article that shows the relationship – ancestor by ancestor.

  • Trump, through his mother, and Clinton, through her father are related
  • Pair of presidential front-runners share 18th great-grandparents
  • Ancestor John of Gaunt was son of King Edward III at beginning of what became War of Roses secession debacle

Presidential candidate Donald Trump may criticize rival Hillary Clinton regularly, but the Republican and Democratic front-runners are actually distant relatives. Both the real estate tycoon and former Secretary of State are the direct descendants of 14th century 1st Duke of Lancaster John of Gaunt and his third wife Katherine Swynford, according to the ancestry site MyHeritage.com.

The above excerpt is from the August 25, 2015 edition of DailyMail.co.uk.

President James Monroe Was Descended from a Scottish Highland Clan Chief

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The following excerpt is from an article posted at deadlinenews.co.uk:

DNA research has proved that one of the Founding Fathers of the United States was descended from a Highland clan chief.

Scholars have long disputed the origins of James Monroe, the fifth President of the US, who was in office from 1817 to 1825.

Now a project has found a direct link between Monroe and 16th Century Scottish clan chief, Robert Munro of Foulis.

Researchers tracked down a second cousin five times removed of the President and found they shared the same “uncommon Y chromosome DNA signature”.

Read the full article.

Megan Smolenyak Uproots 1/4 of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Online Family Tree

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The following teaser is from an article posted by my friend, Megan Smolenyak, at the Huffington Post website. With a little digging, she proved that 1/4 of Hillary Clinton’s posted online family trees are wrong… Again, showing that just because it’s on the Internet does not make it true. Very good, Megan!

When Irish America requested that I research and write a piece on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s heritage (pages 50-52), I was concerned. Why? Because delving into the ancestral past of celebrities has become something of a sub-hobby in the world of genealogy, so I knew that countless others would have climbed the branches of her family tree. What would I possibly be able to add that wasn’t already known?

Fortunately for me, but regrettably for genealogy in general, there was plenty of fresh terrain because I soon realized that everyone had a quarter of her family tree wrong. And when I say “everyone,” I mean dozens of people on at least eight family history websites.

One of Rodham Clinton’s grandmothers was a woman named Hannah Jones who was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania around 1882…

Read the full article.

President Obama & Conservative Kansas Senatorial Hopeful Are 2nd Cousins

The following teaser is from an article by Philip Bump, published in the August 4, 2014 edition of the online WashingtonPost.com:

Stories about Milton Wolf, the conservative physician aiming to unseat Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) on Tuesday, always include one particularly interesting detail: The guy running to the right of the incumbent Republican senator is also a second cousin to the president of the United States.

What’s not usually articulated is precisely how the two are related. In short, Wolf’s mother was cousins with Obama’s grandmother. But the story is a bit more interesting than that.

Read the full article.

Ex-British PM Clement Attlee’s Roots Traced to Shimla in Northern India

The following teaser is from an article published March 9, 2014 at the gulfnews.com website.

British PM Clement Attlee

Shimla [Himachal Pradesh, India]: Clement Attlee’s grandson John was born in Shimla nearly nine decades ago. His great-granddaughter has just fished out her father’s birth certificate from the cavernous civic office of the “queen of the hills”.

Sally Camps, great-granddaughter of Clement Attlee, who served as Britain’s prime minister from 1945 to 1951, screamed excitedly as she traced her roots in this hill station. It was during Attlee’s tenure that India got its independence in 1947.

Simla, as it was then called, served as the summer capital of British India between 1864 and 1939.
Camps along with her husband Michael Camps was in this Himachal Pradesh capital last week to locate the birth records of her father John Keith Harwood, who was born here in 1926.

Read the full article.

Jackie Kennedy Hospital Birth Records Donated to the Kennedy Presidential Library

The following excerpt is from an article which was published in the December 10, 2013 edition of Newsday.com:

On July 28, 1929, a healthy baby girl was born in Southampton Hospital.

The girl, Jacqueline Bouvier, grew up to marry John F. Kennedy, and the former first lady later became Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.

Her birth records were found in an envelope in a safe at the hospital by Robert Ross — vice president of community and government relations — when he was looking for historic records in 2009 for the hospital’s 100th anniversary.

She died in 1994, so donating the records to the Kennedy presidential library in Boston seemed logical, but the hospital’s attorney said nothing should be done without the permission of her next of kin.

Daughter Caroline approved, and last week Ross drove the records to Boston.

Read the full article.

Lost Branch of the Kerry Family Tree Comes to Light

The following teaser is from the October 13 edition of the Boston Globe. This is a tragic and fascinating story.
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CAMBRIDGE — Over the years, Dr. Joan Wheelis has bumped into John F. Kerry a couple of times at a Cambridge tailor shop they both happen to like. The psychiatrist and the then-US senator from Massachusetts said their pleasantries and went on their way, serendipitous moments that seemed to have little lasting meaning.

Then, one day a few weeks ago, Wheelis was contacted by a stranger in Britain. The stranger e-mailed to say he was Wheelis’s cousin. Then he revealed that their mutual relative was none other than Kerry.

So began a journey of discovery that veered from the magical to the tragic. The connection to Kerry, it turned out, was a set of long-lost mutual cousins: a band of four brothers, three of whom were killed at Nazi concentration camps, and a fourth who survived imprisonment at Dachau.

Read the full article.

The First Family Voted Favorite Family; Kardashians, Not So Much

The following is from Astrid Galván for findmypast.com:
Obama-Family-250pw

Survey also finds which families in history people most want to be related to

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 9, 2013) – Whether it was the Brady Bunch or the Adams Family, we’ve all wondered what it would be like to join another clan. Findmypast.com was curious too, so it launched a survey to find which famous families Americans most want to be related to – and which ones they’d run away from.

We don’t know if Sasha and Malia want more cousins, but that’s irrelevant to 41 percent of responders, who picked the Obamas as the celebrity family they would most like to be related to. The Bush family came in second place with 23 percent of the vote, which was not enough to win this election. Interestingly enough, both the Obama and Bush family are related to one another, President Barack Obama and George W. Bush share a common ancestor from Massachusetts in the 1600s, Samuel Hinckley. Though distantly related, both families likely have many thousands of cousins across the United States (which could make for a family reunion the size of Texas).

Other famous families that people want to share ancestors with:
• The royal Windsors, with 21 percent of the vote (also ancient cousins of Bush and Obama)
• The Jolie-Pitts, with 8 percent of the vote (also ancient cousins of Bush and Obama).
• The Affleck-Garners/The Coppolas, both coming in with 3 percent of the vote. Affleck is also a distant cousin of Bush and Obama

But who do Americans least want to know closely? That would be Kim, Khloé and Kourtney, also known as the Kardashian clan. Sixty-one percent of voters picked the E! reality stars as the family they’d least like to be related to.

Asked which famous family in history they’d most like to be related to, voters forwent the wealthy Rockefellers and Astors and chose the Kennedys. Apparently all those untimely deaths and extra-marital controversies kept this line of American royalty in good standing.

The other choices were:
• The Astors, with 22 percent of the vote
• The Plantagenets, with 22 percent of the vote
• The Rockefellers, with 19 percent of the vote
• The Medicis, with 11 percent of the vote
• The Rothschilds, with 5 percent of vote.

Those who are curious if they have connections to any of these families can visit the Get Started section on findmypast.com.
Findmypast.com’s expertise at digitizing historical records and uniting communities provides the tools to help people connect with their past, present and future.

To learn more about findmypast.com or to get started on your own family history search:
• Like findmypast on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/findmypastus
• Follow findmypast on Twitter at https://twitter.com/findmypastus
• Follow findmypast on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/findmypastus/

About findmypast.com
Findmypast.com, owned by brightsolid, provides the most complete and relevant records in online family history and genealogy research. Findmypast members worldwide share our passion, and rely on our expertise to help them discover the roots to their family tree. Our accurate search tools and data featuring unique and core U.S., English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Australian and New Zealand records dating back as far as the 7th century, help both professional and budding genealogists find their past. Findmypast.com works closely with the genealogy community, including local libraries, archives, societies, and other organizations from around the world, to preserve, digitize and provide access to historical records and genealogical publications. To learn more, visit www.findmypast.com, the findmypast.com blog, Facebook or Twitter.

About brightsolid
Findmypast.com is owned by brightsolid online publishing, a British-owned world leader in online genealogy, with over 45 years’ experience in family history and a record of online innovation in the field of family history nearly two decades long. With nearly 18 million registered users across its family of online genealogy brands, brightsolid hosts over a billion genealogical records from across the globe. The company reported a 75 percent growth in turnover and a 47 percent growth in gross profits in its most recent published accounts and was voted Best Genealogy Organization in the Online Gene Awards.

Methodology
The celebrity family history survey was conducted by findmpast.com with submissions from 441 findmypast.com users aged 18-65 from 39 states. The average age was 29.

Jackie O may have been a “wee bit Irish”… and then some

Jackie O
A couple days ago, we posted a blog based on an article found at IrishCentral.com. The article was prompted by research done by Clare genealogist, Jim O’Callaghan. After posting the blog, Jim’s son, Simon, posted a comment and then emailed me about the accuracy of the original article, basically stating that the editors of the article were a bit overzealous and their finished article came to conclusions that Jim O’Callaghan himself never came to.

There’s another article by David Monagan, published at the June 23, 2013 Forbes website that deals with the same story, but tells it much more like it really is. Following is an excerpt:

This weekend Ireland is abuzz with remembrances of John F. Kennedy as thousands gather around his ancestral village of New Ross, County Wexford to mark the 50th anniversary of the late American president’s triumphal visit to Ireland just five months before his death in Dallas in November, 1963. Daughter Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg has arrived with numerous others of the clan, including former ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith. So too has flitted forth a druidical offshoot of the “eternal flame” harvested from the one on JFK’s Arlington, Virginia grave , confirming once again that the first Catholic Irish American to become president of the United States is as sanctified in the country’s imagination of itself as, oh, St. Patrick.

But now a report surfaces in the Sunday (U.K.) Times that Jacqueline Bouvier, ala Jackie O for Onassis, was far more Irish herself – “Jackie O’?” — than her family ever let on, preferring claims to descendancy from French aristocrats. A Clare genealogist named Jim O’Callaghan has unearthed a trove of evidence indicating that Jackie was in fact only en peu and perhaps en peasant French as opposed to being at least half Irish – and maybe enough to beat the Kennedy band at its own game – because her entire maternal side came from the Ould Sod.

Read the full article.

By the way, I pulled the original article down… No need to continue to spread bad info…

Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama Receive the Obama Family Genealogy in Ireland

The following teaser is from the June 17, 2013 edition of the StatesmanJurnal.com.

What did Malia and Sasha Obama do on their summer vacation? They went to the library. In Ireland.

The little-seen, little-discussed Obama girls, now 14 and 11 respectively, are along for the ride with first lady Michelle Obama while the president is in Northern Ireland today and Tuesday meeting with other leaders of the G-8 industrial nations.

Soon after arriving in Belfast today, Michelle Obama introduced her husband before his speech to hundreds of students at the waterfront. Then she and her daughters left for Dublin, where they paid a visit to the Old Library at Trinity College for a presentation on the Obama family genealogy and the girls’ connection to Ireland.

The advance press releases issued last week by FLOTUS’ office only talks about what Mrs. O would be doing on the trip, and never mentioned her daughters. But they were front and center in the pictures, and in any case, they are the ones who are descended from Irish immigrants through the president’s maternal relatives in Kansas. (His great-great-great grandfather was a shoemaker in the tiny village of Moneygall, according to British and Irish media reports.)…

Read the full article.

National Archives Demands Stolen Document Back

The following excerpt is from an article posted in the April 4, 2013 edition of IllinoisTimes.com:

The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency has balked at a demand from the National Archives to return a page torn from a ship’s log so that the damaged document can be restored to its original condition.

The page in question memorializes a trip by Abraham Lincoln on the U.S.S. Malvern shortly before he was assassinated. The president used the ship to travel to conferences with his generals, according to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. A page recording the presence of Lincoln on the boat in March 1865 was torn from the log long ago and ended up at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Now, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., wants it back.

The Illinois State Historical Society purchased the page in 1937 from someone named Thomas Madigan, purportedly for $25. Whether the state has a receipt doesn’t matter, according to the federal government. In the politest possible terms, Gary M. Stern, general counsel for the National Archives, informed library officials last summer that they are, essentially, in possession of stolen property.

Read the full article.

The Gravesite of Dr. Isachar Zacharie, President Lincoln’s Foot Doctor

The following excerpt is from an AP article about the gravesite of the little-known doctor who cared for President Lincoln’s feet.

LONDON — He may just be a footnote to history, but Dr. Isachar Zacharie is having a posthumous mini-moment, thanks to the Hollywood-sparked surge of interest in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

Zacharie was buried in London’s famed Highgate Cemetery in 1900, but he is only being added to the cemetery guide Friday, joining such notables as communist philosopher Karl Marx, novelist George Eliot and punk pioneer Malcolm McLaren as a likely draw for visitors to the north London landmark.

Zacharie’s claim to fame? He was Lincoln’s foot doctor. And a good one at that, if the president’s signed endorsement can be taken at face value.

“Dr. Zacharie has operated on my feet with great success, and considerable addition to my comfort,” the 16th president of the United States wrote in 1862, when the United States was gripped by civil war.

Read the full article in the February 28, 2013 edition of The Register Citizen.

Click here to see another good AP article at the Feb. 28, 2013 CBS News website.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Family HIstory in Pictures


A group of folks from NPR went over to the Supreme Court to retrieve a suitcase a while back. The suitcase belonged to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and in it was her family history in photographs. They spent time in the kitchen in Justice Sotomayor’s chambers during her lunch break. The Justice ate a bowl of soup while she told them stories about the photos.

These photos were worked up into a terrific slideshow. The presentation is really interesting and includes not only Justice Sotomayor’s family photos, but stories that went with them, told in her own words.

Check it out.