Reveals Who Would be King of America and Candidate Roots as Presidential Election Approaches

Ancestry____logo.bmpToday, Ancestry issued the following press release. Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak did the research for who would have been king. (With all that our friend Megan accomplishes, I think she must never sleep!) ;-)  Ancestry Magazine subscribers got to read about her research in the latest issue, and the article is now available online here.

What If America Had King Paul Instead Of President McCain or Obama?

What Family Ties Do Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin Have
in Key Election Battleground States and to Royalty?

PROVO, UTAH – Oct. 8, 2008 – If George Washington had been America’s king instead of its first president, an 82-year-old retired regional manager from San Antonio, Texas would be King of America today. As red and blue battleground states emerge in the upcoming presidential election, Americans may be interested to know that Senator Barack Obama has deep roots in Ohio or that Senator John McCain has family members from North Carolina on both sides of his family tree. And research into Governor Sarah Palin’s family history revealed she is the 10th cousin to Lady Diana Spencer, Britain’s beloved Princess Di, as well as a distant cousin to Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the country’s most popular presidents.

As the country prepares to elect the 44th U.S. president, genealogy experts at, the world’s largest online family history resource, researched answers to some interesting questions surrounding this year’s landmark presidential election. From the lineage of the first president, to the family roots of today’s presidential and vice presidential candidates, the findings may evoke an interesting debate.

King of America
Many Americans are fascinated by the British royal family – but what if America had its own Royal family? The experts at asked, “Who would be sitting on America’s throne today if George Washington had become the king instead of the first U.S. president?” After countless hours of research to trace Washington’s family lineage, the following facts emerged to determine which of his descendents would likely be King of America today had the U.S. become a monarchy rather than a democracy in 1789: 

  • King George? – According to sources, Washington’s leadership during and after the Revolutionary War was held in such high esteem, there were those who suggested he become America’s first king.
  • Wading Through the Washingtons – George Washington had no children, so researching the descendants through all of his half- and full-siblings meant approximately 8,000 people could factor into the succession equation, with less than 200 of them bearing the Washington surname.
  • Would-be Royal – Since George Washington had an older half brother and a younger full brother, ultimately there were four possible succession paths. Two of the four paths, with male-only heirs, converge into one heir – Paul Emery Washington, 82, of San Antonio, Texas – making him the strongest candidate for king today. Paul Emery Washington also has a son, Bill, who he affectionately calls “Prince William.”
  • Valley Forge Connection – Paul Emery Washington was a regional manager at Certain-Teed Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of wholesale building materials for 40 years. The company was headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa., where coincidentally General Washington and his army camped during the difficult winter of 1778-79.

Battleground States
In every presidential election, certain U.S. states emerge as critical battleground states key to winning the White House. The experts at researched the family history of the presidential and vice presidential candidates to learn which of the often referred to battleground states could claim the candidates as their own, with some surprising discoveries.

  • Senator John McCain – McCain has North Carolina roots on both sides of his family tree, extending to the mid 1700s. He is also connected to the state of Arkansas through his paternal grandmother, Katherine Vaulx, a teacher who was born in Arkansas. Katherine’s parents, James Vaulx and Margaret Garside, were long-time residents of Arkansas where James was a minister. Family members in his tree served in both the military and the financial sector: his father and grandfather both had careers in the U.S. Navy and great grandfather John S. McCain is documented in the 1900 U.S. Census as the treasurer of Carroll County, Mississippi.
  • Senator Barack Obama – Obama has deep roots in the state of Ohio that go back to 1850. Obama’s heritage can be traced back to Ireland, to the small towns of Moneygall and Shinrone in County Offaly, Ireland. Obama’s third great-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, immigrated to the U.S. at age 19, landing in New York harbor on March 20, 1850 and then settling in Fayette County, Ohio among Irish relatives. In addition, Obama has roots extending into the swing states of Virginia, Indiana and Missouri.
  • Senator Joe Biden – Biden also has a strong Irish heritage; his ancestors arrived in the U.S. within six months of Obama’s Irish family. Both Obama’s and Biden’s Irish relatives were shoemakers by trade. Biden has deep Pennsylvania ties: Patrick and Catherine Blewett, Biden’s 2nd great-grandparents, settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, around 1860, where Patrick worked as a surveyor and a civil engineer.
  • Governor Sarah Palin – Palin has roots in several battleground states, including Ohio, Minnesota and Virginia, however, most of her roots are planted in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Palin descends from three consecutive generations of Michael Sheerans, who originate in Ireland; her great-great-grandfather Sheeran ran a firm called Sheeran & Filler Bottling Company, which shipped products across the Northwest. According to published family and local histories – through a common ancestor, Rev. John Lothrop who arrived in Massachusetts colony in 1634 – Palin is a distant cousin to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is touted in history as one of the country’s most popular presidents.  Gov. Palin is also a 10th cousin to Lady Diana Spencer, Britain’s beloved Princess Di, through common ancestors John Strong and Abigail Ford.

All in the Family
According to a recent independent survey from, Americans would choose to be a member of the Obama family more than any of four other prominent political families.   When asked which family they would like to join most, 21 percent chose the Obamas, followed by 15 percent for the Palins and 15 percent for the Clintons, 14 percent for the McCains and 3 percent for the Biden family. Nearly one-third of Americans surveyed (30 percent), however, said they wouldn’t want to become a member of any of these political families.

“Most presidential elections bring up issues about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed as a nation, and this election year is no different,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for “This is an ideal time for our family history experts to play historical what-ifs and conduct research to answer intriguing questions, as well as look into the family trees of our candidates to learn about where they come from and the ties they have in our great country.”

To learn more about how to start researching your family history, log on to and sign up for a free two-week trial. It’s possible that a famous ancestor or past presidential or vice presidential candidate is in your family tree and waiting to be discovered.

Editor/Producer Note: Additional family tree details and facts, as well as b-roll of Paul Emery Washington, available upon request and in the recent issue of Ancestry Magazine.
About the Ancestry Global Network
The Ancestry global network of family history Web sites is wholly owned by The Generations Network, Inc. It consists of nine Web sites – in the U.S., in the UK, in Canada, in Australia, in Germany, in Italy, in France, in Sweden and in China. Ancestry members have access to 7 billion names contained in 26,000 historical record collections. Tree-building and photo upload are free on all Ancestry websites. To date, users have created more than 7 million family trees containing 700 million profiles and 11 million photographs. Nearly 5.8 million unique visitors logged onto in August 2008 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide).

17 thoughts on “ Reveals Who Would be King of America and Candidate Roots as Presidential Election Approaches

  1. Wonder what having a king,where would USA been like 1863,1869,1881,1893,would have my any of my ancestor’s would have came,America could well had been a differnt place on the whims of a king-yikes the thought of it-I may very well never had been born,WWII may have killed my branches or be living in Brazil.Who knows even Brazil may be then under a king.

  2. I get frustrated when I see how quickly family histories can be produced for almost any famous person, but I can’t get any help in trying to locate my African American great grandparents past 1870. I’m told to locate the slave owner and look for wills or tax inventories, etc., but how to determine who the slave owners were is the drawback. Is it just that subjects have to have clout or wealth to get this type of research done?

  3. I really wish Ancestry would spend more time working on cleaning up databases and adding new data instead of rehashing family trees of the rich and famous and playing historical “what ifs.” If the Washingtons had been King, the man they are talking about would not even exist as the marriage partners of the line of descent would very likely have been different. They would not have married commoners.

  4. Yes! I agree with the person that said, “if you can find out so much about famous people, why can’t you help us find out about our ancestry?”

  5. The truth is that the vast majority of people come from undistinguished families who did not own land or do much of anything that required recording. Records were sparsely kept even for well-known, wealthy people much less average, everyday people. Unless someone did something that required taxing, a deed, or an official court record, there was little reason to record them or their activities. Many marriages were unofficial, especially in the American West, and therefore, unrecorded. Even two generations ago, most children were born at home attended by a midwife, and unless the parents went to the trouble and expense of recording the birth at the county courthouse, there is no birth certificate. The most likely place to find family information is military service records, land deeds, tax roles, census roles and marriage and death certificates. The farther back you go, the sparser the information.
    My family has several large rolls of butcher paper that are brought to family reunions every few years. Each roll has the family tree of one branch of the family. As children are born, their names are added to the tree, deaths are recorded, marriages, divorces, etc. I think that this sort of thing will be very helpful to future generations.

  6. “I get frustrated when I see how quickly family histories can be produced for almost any famous person, but I can’t get any help in trying to locate my African American great grandparents past 1870. I’m told to locate the slave owner and look for wills or tax inventories, etc., but how to determine who the slave owners were is the drawback. Is it just that subjects have to have clout or wealth to get this type of research done? ”

    Theodosia- there is fascination among many about the rich and famous, so you just have to overlook and ignore their egotistical need to gain status by being related to a “name”.

    Researching African-American ancestry is difficult before 1870. Not only were non-free blacks (there were free blacks as far back as the 1790 census) not listed by name in the 1860 and 1870 census, their marriages were not recorded (often not allowed to marry), and they often changed their surnames, with siblings choosing different names. Often the slave took the surname of the former owner, so that is a starting point.

    You don’t mention the state you are searching in. In KY there was an effort after 1852 to record slave births and deaths, and in many counties there are apprententiceship records after the War (Civil not WW) for children often giving names of siblings, parents or other records.

    One of my ancestors owned a little boy called Scott. After 1870 I couldn’t find what happened to him from searching census records. One day I was looking at deeds for another family and found Scott, mother and siblings in the deed book – by shear accident. After the death of the mother, they sold the land (undoubtedly the owner had given them a couple of acres after they were granted freedom), and I loose them again. They could have changed their names, died during a flux epidemic after 1880, or many other reasons.

    Before 1850, the commmon white person also has trouble tracing ancestry. It is the rich and famous that left wills and deeds that make it easier to trace the upper echilon of American society.

  7. I have tried to trial period of and was not able to locate any information on my ancestors. After finding no results, I considered joining but felt the cost is too high for a year and monthly dues were too high as I have limited time to do research. Subscription rates need to me more affordable for those of us with limited income and time. Senior citizens, as a whole, can not work as fast as the younger generation and are not as familiar with the computer as the youth. Can someone make more affordable for us senior citizens on fixed income (Social Security)? I am sure there would be many more subscribers thus making up the profit for Ancestry with more memberships! I have also found that much of the information provided has gross errors, especially information at the Mormon center.

  8. What a wonderful idea from “Patrocl” to have a senior citizen rate!! I agree that membership in that group would likely rise dramatically — and they’re the group whose family documents & memories we need to discover before they’re lost forever.

    “Senior Citizen” status would be hard to determine without invasion of privacy issues. But, how about membership in a senior organization, such as AARP, being used as qualification?

  9. Last week the New England Historic Genealogical Society published in its online newsletter the fact that BOTh Sarah Palin and Barack Obama have Rev. John Lothrop as a common ancestor – they are cousins! (and so am I as John Lothrop is in my pedigree.)

  10. I would not want to belong to any organization in order to receive a “senior citizen rate” at I’m OK with being a senior and I don’t think my privacy would be invaded. I have great rates with auto and medical insurance without paying dues to one more group.

  11. Agreement with #7 When my subscription is up, I will not be able to renew. I have been with Ancestry since 03 and am a senior. Genealogy is never ending,I just found a Step brother of my ancestors that I would never had known existed and he had more information as did I. I don’t subscribe to AARP, can’t afford to. I’m sure that Ancestry can figure something out to make it afforable for us seniors. I will be very disappoined if they don’t.

  12. Check out your public library-frequently, thye have a geneaolgy section and have on their computers that can can be used.

  13. Regarding Slave ancestry, don’t give up. It is a long search. Some states have databases on birth and marriage’s of slaves at their library’s, I had a micro film set sent to my closest library that had a reader. I had an ancestor born in AL, taken to Texas. Found his daughter after looking @ every Elizabeth, Lizzy, Liz, Eliza in Texas guessing @ her age and found her. Her father born in AL told the census his father was born in Africa, Thrilling, I cried and it gave me a timeframe. Don’t have the money to fly to AL like they did in “Searching for your African roots” PBS series, to look @ documents in someone’s office. I always go w/ the slave holders name 1st. For females, chances are they married someone that kept their slave name. Same for spelling, had to look again @ all Eliza”s now married, found her under Curben not Cullen, that was his slave name also. Keep searching

  14. Regarding Barack Obama’s heritage, what about his father’s line–that can’t be Irish??

  15. President Bush and his father ex-President Bush are also direct descendants of the Reverend Lothrop. So am I through the Mayflower Samuel Fuller who married Jane Lothrop, the Reverend’s daughter.

  16. 1. I like the idea of a senior citizen discount. That would be a big help to me. Thank you in advance.

    2. My ancestors are Indian and I have reached an impasse on my great-grandmother who was said to be full blooded Indian – probably Cherokee. Do you have a suggestion on researching her?

    3. I would like to see more information being added on Florida, IE: School yearbooks, IRS, etc. That would be great. Sometime it seems as if Florida is a lost country.

    4. Also, did France keep records of births or did they keep a census as in England? I am trying to find information on my ancestors from there. Thanks again for all your help.

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