Born to Be Wild(er)

Posted by Mike Merritt in Personal Life on

I’ve always had an active, hobby-like interest in genealogy.  I enjoy finding out where I’m from, and who my family members were.  So, it surprised me a year ago from last month, when I was at a family function, to see the name of former United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in a family tree made by my uncle.  Given that he’s pretty distant from me (7th cousin 7 times removed on my mom’s side), but I enjoyed knowing that somebody who had so vastly changed this country and led it through a war was in my family.

Because I like to re-invent the wheel, I’ve been trying to retrace that line myself.  Alright…wanting practice is the real reason!  I’ll never get good in this myself if I can’t even recreate what someone else has done.  I’ve also been trying to look back in time for the other surnames in my family.  While on this quest the other day, I came across a name that intrigued me: Laura Ingalls Wilder.  You know, the author of Little House on the Prairie?  Somebody with my last name mentioned being descended from her on their website.  So, I started my search.

I was intending to find a connection to Wilder through my last name, and didn’t expect something else to come up.  However, while I was searching, I noticed another last name to which one of her ancestors was connected: Delano.  Well, you can see how quickly this would pique my interest.  I immediately abandoned my attempt to find some connection through my name, and started trying to find the dotted line connecting FDR and LIW.

I’m happy to say I did it!  Here’s the connection:

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s father was Charles Ingalls, who’s father was Lansford Ingalls, who’s father was Samuel Ingalls.  Samuel was married to Margaret Delano, who’s father was Jonathan Delano, who’s father was Jabez Delano, who’s father was also named Jonathan Delano.  Jonathan had another son named Thomas.  His son was Ephraim Delano, who’s son was Warren Delano, who’s son was Warren Delano, Jr., who’s daughter was Sarah Delano, the wife of James Roosevelt.  The two had a son named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who would go on to be the 32nd President of the United States.  By a quick calculation, they are fifth cousins once removed.

But that’s not all!  Ingalls Wilder is also related to yet another President.  Good old Jonathan Delano (the brother of Roosevelt’s ancestor Thomas) also had a daughter named Susanna.  She married one Noah Grant (can you see where this is going?).  They had a son named Noah Grant, Jr., who had a son named Jesse Root Grant.  He had a wife named Hanna Simpson, and together they had a son named Ulysses Simpson Grant, the Civil War general, and the 18th President of the United States.  To Wilder, Grant is a fourth cousin twice removed, and to Roosevelt, he is a fourth cousin once removed.

On a sidenote, after wandering aimlessly around rootsweb up through the Delano line, though many marriages, and back to like 1650, and forward through the name that showed me, I found another President: Richard M. Nixon.  He’d be so far away though, I’m not even going to try and look up the generations and times removed.

In all, it’s not so surprising.  The Delanos and the Ingalls are both apparently very wealthy families, and wealthy usually marries wealthy.  Anyway, back to my search!

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