A Presidents’ Day surprise: new “cousin”

The late President Gerald Ford was my fifth cousin once removed!

“To make a short story long,” as a friend often says, I’ll tell you how I made this discovery – today, on Presidents’ Day, while spending part of the winter in Palm Desert, CA, at a resort less than 1/2 mile from Gerald Ford Drive, a main thoroughfare here.

The long version of my story starts with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Nearly a decade ago I learned about the possibility of a Revolutionary patriot in my family line. Leonard Stahl was my 4X great-grandfather, and ultimately I was able to prove his military service and each of the generations going back to him. My application to become a DAR member was approved.

What eluded me until this weekend was adequate proof of the links backward yet another generation. Leonard’s father-in-law, Michael King, is also considered a patriot because of the ‘supply tax’ he paid in support of the Revolutionary cause.

Leonard Stahl’s wife was a woman named Elizabeth. Unsubstantiated references indicate Elizabeth’s maiden name was “King,” that she was the daughter of Michael King and his wife Susannah Passmore. Unfortunately no official government birth records exist for the 1700s, and documentation about women is particularly difficult to locate.

This weekend I found a biographical sketch in an Ohio county history book (online), published in the 1800s, in which a grandson names the ten children of Michael and Susannah King, including Elizabeth. That cite is critical support for my supplemental NSDAR application re: Michael King (which qualifies me to purchase another “patriot bar” for my DAR ribbon).

What does all this have to do with Gerald Ford? Read on.

Hoping to find proof that Elizabeth was Michael King’s daughter led me to browse many Ancestry family trees including those of Elizabeth’s nine siblings. One of her brothers was named George, and that’s where the Ancestry trail leads to Gerald Ford.

The following comes from a family tree posted on Ancestry by Cynthia Lien. For purposes of this blog I’m accepting her research and sharing what she has written without further verification:

Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on July 14, 1913. His name at birth was Leslie Lynch King Jr., after his biological father.  His mother, Dorothy, divorced King when her son was a baby and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. She then married Gerald R. Ford, a successful paint salesman who adopted her young son. Ford recalled in his memoirs that he learned about his biological father at the age of 12 and only met the man a couple of times.

The family connections Cynthia posted indicate Gerald Ford is the 4X great-grandson of Michael King. Gerald Ford and I share Michael King as a common ancestor.

A couple years ago I posted a “cousin table” that helps define relationships. (You can re-read that posting here: blog.irishgenealogical.org/?p=5652).

Here is the table, adapted now using Lien’s family tree to show how Gerald Ford and I are fifth cousins once removed. Gerald Ford’s biological line is shown horizontally across the top, my direct line is shown vertically at left:


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