President's Day Means More to Me This Year Since I Discovered I'm Related to a BUNCH of Presidents from Washington, Adams & Madison to Obama!
Growing up, I knew my great-grandparents and grandparents and we always heard family stories and legends about famous people in the bloodline but other than scraps of paper from the Family Bible there was no proof. Awhile back my good friend and TV star Alison Arngrim (Little House on the Prairie's Nellie) was visiting from Los Angeles and we were up late chatting about various things. She'd just had her Family Tree done by an "expert"...Mark Friedrich from Princeton, Illinois. Mark used www.ancestry.com and other sites to do Alison's Family Tree...she provided some names and birthdates and Mark began the research. He traced her family on both sides (her parents were Canadian) and found the family was mostly farmers who had immigrated to Canada from Europe, etc. Nothing too exciting came to light except it answered her questions about some of her Father's family and their roots (he had been adopted).
Alison asked me what I knew about my family and had I ever used ancestry.com and done any research. I said no but my family has interesting legends which had never been confirmed. I told her that I have a folder with family members birthdates, etc. going back several generations. She suggested at that moment we check www.ancestry.com and put the information in to see what comes up. As we floundered around on the site, Alison started getting excited...we were back into the 1800s, then the 1700s and then the 1600s.....
"Your family seems really old...if I'm doing this research correctly, I'm seeing Lords and Ladies and other interesting things. I think we should call Mark Friedrich and have him do an actual Family Tree for you.
So we called Mark and he agreed to take me on because of Alison's request. As the weeks went by and his research continued I would get daily emails from Mark with exciting revelations. A typical email: "I think you're related to King George's doctor! Dr. Anthony Addington! His son later became Prime Minister of England! Did you know that?"
Another email: "I think you're related to Ulysses S. Grant and you share great-great-grandparents with President James Madison! Did you know this?"
Another email: "Do you realize you're a cousin to George Washington? His Mother Mary Ball had a brother named William Ball who had many children. You are descended on your Dad's side from William Ball, George's Uncle." He discovered that James Madison (4th President) and I share great-great grandparents from Ireland...the Conways.
Another email: "OH my GOD you are connected to the MAYFLOWER on your Mom's side.....your 11th great-grandparents on your Mother's side are Pilgrims. You are a direct descendant to at least three families on the Mayflower!" Richard Warren, Isaac & Mary Allerton and possibly others. Apparently Mayflower descendants are all related to each other since their children married each other.
This went on for weeks and then one day a large parcel came in the mail with my entire family tree! A large, thick book and many additional inserts. He also had some CD's made so I could distribute them to other family members.Over and over Mark kept saying "Your Family Tree is absolutely the MOST AMERICAN Family Tree I've ever seen or researched. Unbelievable. Were you aware?"