The Hawaiian-born, half-Kenyan president-elect is a direct, 13th-generation descendant of Thomas Blossom, one of the Plymouth colony’s earliest settlers.
Barack Obama, the Pilgrim? Improbable as it sounds, it’s true. The Hawaiian-born, half-Kenyan president-elect is a direct, 13th-generation descendant of one of the Plymouth colony’s earliest settlers, Thomas Blossom.
And so is Obama’s very distant cousin, George W. Bush.
Blossom didn’t arrive in New England in 1620 – though he’d wanted to. That year, he boarded the Mayflower’s sister ship, the Speedwell, but it had to return to Europe after springing a leak off England’s coast. He and his wife, Anne, came to the New World nine years later from the Dutch city of Leiden on another ship, also named the Mayflower.
Researchers at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston and Pilgrim Hall director Peg Baker in Plymouth say Obama’s Pilgrim ties have been known for some time. Genealogist Christopher Child discovered the Blossom connection a couple of years ago, before the then-Illinois senator launched his presidential bid.
Now Obama’s landmark election has put the spotlight on his ancestry – which has roots that even Obama apparently hadn’t suspected.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama joked about his distant links to Vice President Dick Cheney. He also mentioned his ancestry with 19th century cowboy celebrity Wild Bill Hickok, and his mother’s slave-owning ancestors.
As it turns out, he is also related to seven presidents – among them, President George W. Bush and his father, former president George H.W. Bush.
Obama’s Bush kinship comes from Blossom and Samuel Hinckley, who settled in Scituate and then Barnstable in the 1630s. Through direct and indirect family lines, Obama is also related to presidents James Madison, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.
None of this surprises Child or Peg Baker. Given the combination of a small colonial population and so many subsequent generations, “I’m too used to having Mayflower descendants pop up everywhere,” Baker said.
Even so, she said she is pleased there is a clear link between “the man who so definitively represents America’s future with the group who so well represents America’s founding.”
Lane Lambert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FROM THE MAYFLOWER TO THE WHITE HOUSE
What do Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Bush family and President Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common? They are all descendants of Mayflower passenger – and Kingston resident – John Howland.
Eight American presidents have descendants who came to America in 1620, on the historic voyage.
President-elect Barack Obama will be the eleventh president with known Pilgrim roots – even though it wasn’t until 1629 that his ancestor, Thomas Blossom, arrived in the New World.
Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford have similar Plymouth colony ties, as descendants of Henry Howland, a brother of John, who came to New England on a later ship.
The U.S. presidents that can trace their roots to passengers on the Mayflower’s historic voyage – and their first New World relatives – are:President John Adams, descendant of John Alden President John Quincy Adams, descendant of John Alden President Zachary Taylor, descendant of William Brewster President Ulysses S. Grant, descendant of Richard Warren President James A. Garfield, descendant of Francis and John Billington President Franklin D. Roosevelt, descendant of John Howland President George H. W. Bush, descendant of John Howland President George W. Bush, descendant of John Howland
OBAMA AND BUSH'S LONG-LOST COUSINS
Thomas and Anne Blossom had six children. Their offspring – relatives of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, the 43rd and 44th U.S. presidents – are:
1: A child died and was buried in the Dutch city of Leiden on Feb. 15, 1617.
2: Another child was buried in Leiden on April 12, 1617.
3: Anne gave birth to a son in 1620, but he died five years later on Dec. 15 in Leiden.
4: Daughter Elizabeth was born in 1620, moving to Plymouth in 1629 with the family. On May 10, 1637, she married Edward FitzRandolph of Scituate, and they had nine children before he died around 1675 in Piscataway, N.J. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, is a descendant of Elizabeth.
5: Son Thomas was born in 1623. On June 18, 1645, he was wed to Sarah Ewer in Barnstable. The couple had one daughter before Thomas drowned off Nauset Beach on April 22, 1650.
6: Peter was born in 1627, two years before his family ventured to America. He and Sarah Bodfish married on June 21, 1663, in Barnstable, and together they had seven children. George W. Bush can trace his ancestry to Peter, who died in 1706.
WHO WAS THOMAS BLOSSOM?Born around 1580, one of at least seven children of Peter and Annabel Blossom Grew up the Cambridgeshire section of England, as his family moved from Great Shelford to Stapleford two years after Thomas was born Eventually moved to Cambridge after his father died, and his mother married Richard Racher Married Anne Elsdon on Nov. 10, 1605, at St. Clement, Cambridge, in Cambridgeshire Moved sometime before October 1609 to the Dutch city of Leiden with other members of a group known as “Pilgrims,” who went there to escape religious persecution Attempted to sail to the New World in 1620 aboard the Speedwell, the Mayflower’s companion ship, but the voyage was thwarted after the boat leaked In 1629, traveled with his family from England aboard the Mayflower – arriving in Salem on March 15, then moving soon thereafter to Plymouth Upon arriving in Plymouth, soon established himself as a deacon of the community’s church Died of an “infectious fever” on March 25, 1633; on Oct. 17 of that year, his wife Anne remarried to Henry Rowley
Source: New England Historic Genealogical Society