When the Country’s Founding Father Is Your Founding Father

The descendants of American presidents are the athletic trainers, lawyers, salesmen and executives of everyday life

President William Howard Taft and his sons, Robert, right, and Charles Phelps. (Bettmann / Corbis)

Descendants of American Presidents

President John Tyler
(Library of Congress)

Earlier this year, Mental Floss published a brief article explaining how it is possible that the tenth president of the United States, born in 1790, has two grandsons who are still alive. President John Tyler (above) fathered a total of 15 children—more than any other president—with two wives, the second of whom was 30 years his junior. Lyon Gardiner Tyler, born in 1853 when the president was 63 years old, also married twice and had children late in life. Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., of Franklin, Tennessee, was born in 1924 and Harrison Ruffin Tyler, of Charles City, Virginia, in 1928.

After the addictive bit of trivia popped up on Yahoo, the Huffington Post and Politico, a blogger at New York magazine got Harrison Tyler to comment on the news that he was, well, alive. “Thank goodness,” said the 83-year-old, who lives at Sherwood Forest, President Tyler’s former home. The retired chemical engineer plays tennis regularly to stay fit.

Like Tyler, there are many direct descendants of presidents going about their lives as usual. The extent to which they publicize or actively preserve their family’s legacy varies. The following 11 descendants, however, all have one thing in common: They are honored to have a famous forefather.


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