Kinsearching September 24, 2006




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Since information about the ancestry of U. S. presidents is usually available, many genealogists hope to find a connection. Depending on how far the lineages have been traced, family researchers may be able to go back several generations. One of the more recent books about presidential pedigrees is THE FAMILY OF RONALD W. REAGAN by Curt J. Gronner.

     This detailed genealogy of 40th U. S. President Ronald Reagan is divided into thirteen sections, one for each ancestral line explored. The first section pertains to the President's paternal line, which begins with Michael REAGAN, born in 1822 in Tipperary, Ireland, and died in 1864 in Illinois. Four segments concern Reagan's maternal ancestors: John BAKER, born about 1797 in England and died in 1858 in England; William MCFARLANE, born in Paisley, Scotland, and married Elizabeth ALLISON; Andrew WILSON, who married Amelia GLASGOW, and lived in Paisley, Scotland, in 1812; and Johnnie BLUE, perhaps the most interesting of Reagan's known forebears.

     Johnnie BLUE was born between 1750 and 1775 and died in Argyll, Scotland. Called a "notorious bootlegger," he was "the last moonshine distiller on the Scottish peninsula of Kintyre." Reagan was unaware of that fact until his visit to Scotland in 1981 when he became an "Honorary Keeper of the Keepers of the Quaich, a society of connoisseurs of Scotch whiskey."

     First Lady Nancy (DAVIS) REAGAN's maternal ancestry is the focus of the section on Samuel LUCKETT. Since that pedigree starts with Samuel marrying Elizabeth HUSSEY in 1684 in England, the LUCKETT lineage is the earliest one in the book.

     Remaining segments provide data on the ancestry of Reagan's cousins. Lines followed are those of Benjamin R. BECHTEL, who married Rebecca MYERS; George BRISTLE, born in 1829 in Germany; Henry E. GERDES, born about 1840 in Germany and died in 1908 in Illinois; Eilt HABBEN, who married Marie HOLMRICK and resided in Germany; Nathaniel PIERCE, born in 1840 in Illinois and died in 1905 in Iowa; Jacob SMITH, who married Martha SIMONDS; and Claudio WILSON, born in 1787 in Scotland and died in 1870 in Illinois, whose relationship as Reagan's great great uncle is still unproven.

     Gronner presents each line in Register style, followed by a kinship report that furnishes the relationship of every person in the allied family to the head. He incorporates his findings and documentation from primary and secondary sources into "notes" for each generation. When details conflict, the author explains which sources do not agree and plainly states "assumptions" or "estimations" as such. He also credits family members who provided material. Anyone interested in the 40th president's forebears will enjoy looking through THE FAMILY OF RONALD W. REAGAN.

     Originally published in 2004, the new second edition has soft covers, 282 pages, and a full name index. To the book's price of $31.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $4 for one book and $2.00 for each additional copy; for UPS, the cost is $6 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #9755) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211 (for phone orders, call toll free
1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

     If you need help with the meaning of old German professions, occupations, or illnesses, you may want to check out the website at It offers a long list of German terms translated into English.