York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Obama, McKinley, Nixon, Johnson family trees have York County roots

Candidate Barack Obama took a tour of the Voith Siemens Hydro Power Plant in York in September 2008. In visiting York County, Obama stepped on soil familiar to his family. Background posts: Exhibit features artifacts detailing presidential visits to York County and In 2008, 8 top candidates or their families campaigned in York County and When York County rolled up its red carpet to people of color.

President William McKinley and Richard Nixon have family links to York County. That information has been out there for years.
But “Trust Talk,” newsletter of the York County Heritage Trust, broke new ground in exploring local links to the family of Barack Obama – and former president Lyndon Johnson.
According to the newsletter, Both Obama and Johnson descend from Philip Ament, a York County native… .

Ament joined the Continental Army in 1775, and he and his wife, Maria Elisabeth Schmidt, daughter of Jacob Schmidt, later moved to Albemarle County, Va.
Obama was a 6th great grandson and Johnson a third great grandson.
The newsletter said Obama is a descendant of 14 people who completed service in the American Revolution and, thus, is eligible for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.
Here are the better-known McKinley and Nixon links, according to the newsletter:
– Ancestor David McKinley settled in Chanceford Township in 1743. Grandson David moved to Westmoreland County, Pa., and the family kept moving farther west. William, the future president, was born in Trumbull County, Ohio, in 1843. Many McKinley residing in York County today are related to the president.
– Nixon’s mother, Hannah Milhous Nixon, descended from William Griffith, who settled in Warrington Township in 1735. Jacob, William’s son, moved to Washington County, Pa. Their daughter married Joshua Milhous in Ohio. She and her son Franklin Milhous, the president’s grandfather, moved to California. Another Nixon ancestor, American Revolution Andrew Trimmer is buried in Washington Township. Trimmer served under another York County Ament, Captain Jacob Ament.
All this demonstrates usual settlement patterns of the day. Many settlers called York County home for months or years and then moved farther west.
Back to Obama. Here is the relevant family tree:

– Philip Ament, born 1755, and Maria Elisabeth Schmidt, both of York County, had a daughter, Catherine Ament.
– Catherine Ament was the mother or grandmother of Nancy Ann Childress, born in 1848.
– Childress and George W. Amour had a son, Harry Ellington Armour, born in 1874.
– Harry Ellington Armour and Gabriella Clark had a daughter, Ruth Lucille Armour, in 1900.
– Ruth Lucille Armour had a son, Stanley Armour Dunham, in 1918.
– Stanley Armour Dunham had a daughter, Stanley Ann Dunham, in 1942.
– Stanley Ann Dunham is Barack Obama’s mother.
Sources: New England Historic Genealogical Society and William Addams Reitwiesner Genealogical Services

York County Heritage Trust Archivist Lila Fourhman-Shaull, who dug up this presidential information, is looking for other local links to American presidents. Contact her at lfourhman-shaull@yorkheritage.org.
And for a working list of presidential visits to York County, click here.