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What do George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney have in common?  A lot of things, certainly.  But what does that group also have in common with FDR, Ulysses S. Grant, J.P. Morgan (the man, not the bank), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Wild Bill Hickock, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Shirley Temple, and Brooke Shields?

Amazingly, an ancestor.  Meet John Lothropp.

An ordained minister of the Church of England, Lothropp quickly found himself in the Crown’s disfavor. In 1623, at age 39, he renounced his affiliation with the Church and instead affiliated with the Independents, a group which advocated for separation between church and state and for religious freedom for non-Catholics.  For this, Lothropp and his followers were jailed, when in 1632, local authorities became aware of their secret meetings.  Lothropp was released just over two years later, on the condition that he’d leave England and emigrate to the New World.  He agreed and arrived in Boston that fall.  He’d later found the Cape Cod town of Barnstable, Massachusetts.  One of his original homes in Barnstable (also a house of meeting) there is now Sturgis Library.  The house, pictured above right, is the oldest building in the U.S. which houses a public library.

While the details of his life are slim, the impact of his direct descendants is immeasurable.   Outside the above-mentioned household names, his progeny includes six Presidents of the United States (the three mentioned plus Millard Fillmore, James A. Garfield, and of course, George H.W. Bush), Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, and famous traitor Benedict Arnold.

Bonus fact: After the Mexican-American War, Mexico ceded and sold nearly 900,000 square miles to the United States.  Much of that land was inhabited only by Native Americans; the total Mexican population of the area was roughly 8,000 families.  Current Secretary of the Interior (and former Senator from Colorado) Ken Salazar and his brother John, himself a Congressman from Colorado, are descendants from one of those 8,000 families.

From the Archives: Grandpa President: The amazing lineage of John Tyler.

Related: A book on the history of Barnstable, Massachusetts.

Originally published

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