Tag Archives: U.S. Presidents

fka Ulysses Simpson Grant

To keep the momentum going on middle names amongst presidential families, I’ll discuss one of the more confusing cases, regarding President Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885). The contemporary reporting on his actual name varied considerably and gets repeated even amongst organizations that should have had a more direct relationship with Grant or his descendants.

The most authentic source on the matter was the president’s father, Jesse Root Grant (1794-1873), who wrote a serial column in the New York Ledger on “Early Life of Gen. Grant.” Continue reading fka Ulysses Simpson Grant

‘National Treasure’ time

One of the greatest, worst movies of all time is National Treasure. The plot is insane, the historical accuracy is mezza mezza, and it stars Nicolas Cage, so it’s not winning any Oscars. That said, it is one of my guilty pleasures – just the thought that some of the “treasure” at the end of the movie contained scrolls from the Library at Alexandria is the stuff of dreams. Continue reading ‘National Treasure’ time

An update on Elliott Roosevelt

Elliott Roosevelt with his daughter Eleanor in 1889. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Soon after my recent post on the fictional middle name of Theodore Roosevelt’s brother Elliott was published, I was pleasantly surprised to see his fake middle name starting to go away, and I learned of a few other places where that the error had been repeated, most of which were also being corrected.

Elliott’s findagrave entry was fixed right away and now notes “He had no middle name, so any requests to add such will be declined.” One Wikipedia editor attempted to correct the error, although there was some initial pushback, citing that the middle name was included in the Encyclopedia of the Theodore Roosevelt Center, which I had not noted in my previous post. Continue reading An update on Elliott Roosevelt

Presidents in the 1950 census

Okay, so despite my earlier claims, I did end up looking at the 1950 census on day one. Of my twelve living ancestors, I found seven immediately upon searching, and another two after browsing their specific town of residence; I was unsuccessful in locating the remaining three (one couple, one widow) after browsing their towns, both of which had several addresses listed “not at home.” All in all, I spent about twenty minutes looking for ancestors. Overall, I am impressed with the advances of OCR technology giving genealogists a much better start this time around than ten years earlier. Continue reading Presidents in the 1950 census

Searching the 1950 census

The Truman family fills out the 1950 census.

The 1950 Census was released right on time, exactly 72 years after 142,000 enumerators set out to record the booming post-war population of the United States. Today, in 2022, we will be able to search for the names of our family members among more than 150 million other Americans.

At midnight on April 1, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) made available the 6.4 million digitized pages of the 1950 Census. Continue reading Searching the 1950 census

The closest presidential kinships

President James Madison (1751-1836). Courtesy of Wikipedia

Following up on my earlier post on the Roosevelt family, I noted that Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt’s kinship by marriage was the closer way they connected, as their closest kinship by blood was that of fifth cousins. (Their last common Roosevelt ancestors in New York City were in the early eighteenth century.) Continue reading The closest presidential kinships

Roosevelts without middle names

Okay, so this post will be a bit of rant mixed with some fun genealogy. Last year, a great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt asked for my assistance in making a chart to demonstrate the mildly complicated nature of the presidents’ maternal grandparents and their previous spouses. More on that in a moment. I also mentioned to the great-grandson that years ago, thanks to late William Addams Reitwiesner, I learned of one of the more surprising close kinships of the 26th President, to presidential assassin Lee Harvey Oswald! Mr. Roosevelt said he would be interested in that chart as well, so I made the chart below that demonstrates the kinship. Similar in pattern to the kinship I had described in a previous post regarding the kinship of Mark Wahlberg and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Roosevelt’s matrilineal ancestors are the patrilineal ancestors of Lee Harvey Oswald, making them third cousins once removed, with their common ancestors being Joseph and Anne (Carter) Oswald of Liberty County, Georgia. Continue reading Roosevelts without middle names

Patriotic presidential ancestors

I recently gave a talk to the Colorado Sons of the American Revolution (my first in-person lecture in over two years, and first time in Colorado!). My talk was on the ancestors of American presidents, 1789-2022, and specifically spoke to which presidents have joined, or could have joined, the S.A.R., while also noting that several presidents lived before the organization was founded in 1889. A Pittsburgh chapter of the S.A.R. had a page showing the sixteen presidents who were members of S.A.R. themselves, from Rutherford B. Hayes through George W. Bush. (The page also shows Grant, who died before the S.A.R. was founded but was a member of a parent organization, the Sons of Revolutionary War Sires.) Continue reading Patriotic presidential ancestors

Sailors will be sailors?

Portrait of Minoru Yasui (1916-1986), displayed in the National Portrait Gallery in 2018.

As I was driving to the grocery store recently, I saw an electronic billboard featuring a design of colored barbed wire with the date February 19, 1942. I realized instantly that this is a second “date which will live in infamy,”[1] and one that quickly followed the first. On that date President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066, authorizing the internment of Japanese Americans living along the West Coast … two-thirds of whom were American citizens.

As a young girl, I had heard a bit about what happened from my grandparents. Many neighbors of Japanese descent had been required to assemble at Portland’s Pacific International Livestock Exposition Center, where they lived in repurposed animal buildings until rudimentary camps were constructed throughout the West and Midwest. Continue reading Sailors will be sailors?

2021: the year in review

“May you live in interesting times” is supposed to be a curse – it’s certainly an exhausting way to go through life. As 2021 rolls over to 2022, here is a look back at 2021 in Vita Brevis:

In January, Ann Lawthers urged genealogists visiting cemeteries to apply some of the insights garnered from their research, in this case about how the changing cultural norms around death translated into stone: Continue reading 2021: the year in review