A Genealogist Looks at Religions of the American Presidents and Their Wives–Part 2

Presidents and their Spouses may put forth a unified front, but when it comes to praying, they often
are in a divided house, in different denominations. Our RecordClick genealogist Joan Shurtliff has compiled a fascinating list.

In February, this RecordClick genealogist tied together two seemingly unrelated holidays –Valentine’s Day on February 14 and Presidents Day on February 16–with a bit of trivia.

Three U.S. Presidents have married while in office:

  • John Tyler, 1841-1845, married for the second time, Julia Gardiner in 1844.
  • Grover Cleveland, 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, Frances Folsom in 1886.
  • Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921, married for the second time, Edith Bolling Galt in 1915.

By following the religious beliefs of the Presidents of the United States and their wives, a genealogist can get a glimpse of how this country is evolving. In the early days, Anglican/Episcopal was a major denomination. During the 1800s, Presbyterian and Methodist became more popular. What, this genealogist asks, has happened?

The genealogist needs to look at various aspects – such as religion – of each generation when doing genealogy research. The family history researcher will often note that the location and availability of a church and denomination may play a role in the history of a family. The Episcopal Church has its roots in the Anglican Church and Church of England. The Presbyterians trace their beginnings back to Scotsman John Knox.  For the Methodist Church, John Wesley and, to a degree, his brother Charles charted the course.

This genealogist began my list of the religions of the Presidents and the First Ladies last week. Now, to conclude:

  • Andrew Johnson: 1865-1869; b. 1808; d. 1875; No specific religious affiliations although he received Masonic honors at his funeral.; Elizabeth McCardle: 1810; d. 1876; Methodist.
  • Ulysses S. Grant: 1869-1877; b. 1822; d. 1885; Presbyterian/Methodist; Julia Dent: 1826; d. 1902; Methodist.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes: 1877-1881; b. 1822; d. 1893; Methodist; Lucy Ware Webb: 1831; d. 1889; Her funeral was held at a Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • James Garfield: 1881-1881; b. 1831; d. 1881; Disciples of Christ; Lucretia Rudolph: 1859; d. 1918; She had an Episcopalian funeral.
  • Chester A. Arthur: 1881-1885; b. 1829; d. 1886; Episcopalian; Ellen Lewis Herndon: 1837; d. 1880; She died before her husband took office. Her funeral was at Church of the Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church in New York City.
  • Grover Cleveland: 1885-1889 and 1893-1897; b. 1837; d. 1908; Presbyterian; Frances Folsom: 1864; d. 1947; married, 1886; Presbyterian.
  • Benjamin Harrison: 1889-1893; b. 1833; d. 1901; Presbyterian; Caroline Lavinia Scott: 1832; d. 1892; Presbyterian. President Harrison married a second time in 1896 at Christ Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick; b. 1858; d. 1948.
  • William McKinley: 1897-1901; b. 1843; d. 1901; Methodist; Ida Saxton: 1847; d. 1907; Methodist.
  • Theodore Roosevelt: 1901-1909; b. 1858; d. 1919; Dutch Reformed / Episcopalian; Alice Hathaway Lee: 1861; d. 1884; m1. 1880; Presbyterian; Edith Kermit Carow: b. 1861; d. 1948; m2. 1886. The couple was married at St. George’s Church in London.
  • William Howard Taft: 1909-1913; b. 1857; d. 1930; Unitarian; Helen Herron: 1861; d. 1943; Episcopal.
  • Woodrow Wilson: 1913-1921; b. 1856; d. 1924; Presbyterian; Ellen Louise Axon: 1860; d. 1914; m1. 1885; Presbyterian; Edith Bolling Galt: b. 1872; d. 1961; m2. 1915; Episcopal.
  • Warren G. Harding: 1921-1923; b. 1865; d. 1923; Baptist; Florence Kling DeWolfe: 1860; d. 1924; Methodist Episcopal and Baptist.
  • Calvin Coolidge: 1923-1929; b. 1872; d. 1933; Congregational; Grace Anna Goodhue: 1879; d. 1957; Congregational.
  • Herbert Hoover: 1929-1933; b. 1874; d. 1964; Quaker; Lou Henry: 1875; d. 1944. Her funeral was from St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City. As a sidelight, even though a Quaker, Herbert Hoover’s favorite hymn, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”, was played at his funeral.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt: 1933-1945; b. 1882; d. 1945; Episcopalian; Eleanor Roosevelt: 1884; d. 1962; Episcopal.
  • Harry S. Truman: 1945-1953; b. 1884; d. 1972; Baptist; Bess Wallace: 1885; d. 1982; Episcopal.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower: 1953-1961; b. 1890; d. 1969; In his youth he had ties to Mennonites, later Presbyterian; Mamie Geneva Doud: 1896; d. 1979; Presbyterian.
  • John F. Kennedy: 1961-1963; b. 1917; d. 1963; Catholic; Jacqueline Lee Bouvier: 1929; d. 1994; Catholic.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: 1963-1969; b. 1908; d. 1973; Disciples of Christ; Claudia Alta Taylor: 1912; d. 2007; Baptized Methodist, later attended Episcopal and Disciple of Christ services.
  • Richard M. Nixon: 1969-1974; b. 1913; d. 1994; Quaker; Thelma Catherine “Pat” Ryan: 1912; d. 1993; No affiliation. Her father was Catholic and her mother Christian Scientist. Evangelist Billy Graham, a friend of the Nixon’s, spoke at both funerals.
  • Gerald R. Ford: 1974-1977; b. 1913; d. 2006; Episcopalian; Elizabeth “Betty” Bloomer Warren: 1918; d. 2011; Episcopalian.
  • Jimmy Carter: 1977-1981; b. 1924; Baptist; Rosalynn Smith: 1928; Raised Methodist, became Baptist.
  • Ronald Regan: 1981-1989; b. 1911; d. 2004; Presbyterian; Nancy Davis: 1921; Presbyterian.
  • George H.W. Bush: 1989-1993; b. 1924; Episcopalian; Barbara Pierce: 1925; Episcopalian.
  • Bill Clinton: 1993-2001; b. 1946; Baptist/Methodist; Hillary Rodham: 1947; Methodist.
  • George W. Bush: 2001-2009; b. 1946; Episcopalian/Methodist; Laura Welch: 1946; Methodist.
  • Barack Obama: 2009-; b. 1961; Protestant; Michelle LaVaughn Robinson: 1964; Protestant.

A genealogist knows that families are like puzzles with many different pieces and parts. Religion is one of those parts in the work mix of the family history researcher.

When you hire a professional genealogist from RecordClick, you get a clear picture of your family. Our family history researchers access many records that are not available online and we use a data bases that capture more genealogical information than can be found by just anyone.

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