By Bill Miller

Here we are again, trying to get somebody’s cousin in the White House. One day as I was digging around our family roots I was surprised to discover that I had some cousins who lived there.

When I was growing up I only had five cousins, only one about my age. In my mature years I have found hundreds of them, most much older than me. I met one in Hendersonville, one in Mountains Branch Library and one on the Bald Mountain golf course, but most of them I have found on my computer. That is where I found three cousins living in the White House, but at different times. In fact, they were not even in the same party. Seventh cousin (4 times removed), Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President and a Democrat, was our first cousin to get there. He liked it so much he did not want to leave. He was elected in 1932, and re-elected in 1936, 1940 and 1944, the only president to serve four terms.

More recently, the White House was occupied by 11th cousin (once removed), George H. W. Bush. He was our 41st President and a Republican. He seemed to like the place okay, but he only lived there four years. Finally, his son and 11th cousin (twice removed), George W. Bush, moved in, rearranged the furniture and stayed for eight years. So much for public housing, they just keep moving in and out! Now somebody else’s cousin can try it for a while.

But how did I end up with such impressive cousins? The simple answer is that we all shared the same great-grandparents. We are all descendants of Mayflower passengers John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley, and there are thousands of more cousins just like them scattered across the country. In fact, the Howlands produced more offspring than any other Pilgrims. So, if all my Howland cousins would vote for me I could live in the White House!

How do you know what number cousin you are? And what is this thing about being “four times removed? Well, if you share the same grandparents with someone they are your 1st cousin. The child of your 1st cousin is ”your first cousin, once removed.” In other words, there is one generation difference between you and that child. If you are related to the same great-grandparents then they are your 2nd cousin, and on it goes. So the Howland Pilgrims are my 10th great-grandparents. George H. W. Bush and I are connected through their daughter, Desire, so we are 9th cousins, but we are one generation separated from each other (once removed). In any case, take time to discover your cousins.

If you really want to understand your cousins, you are invited to attend Lake Lure Genealogy Club meeting the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 3:00 in Mountains Branch Library.



32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933 – 1945


030114-O-0000D-001 President George W. Bush. Photo by Eric Draper, White House.

43rd President George W. Bush 2001 – 2009



41st President George H. W. Bush 1989 – 1993