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Muhlenberg Hospital and the Obama Connection

Muhlenberg Hospital and the Obama Connection

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Published by Deborah Joyce Dowe

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Categories:Types, Research, Genealogy
Published by: Deborah Joyce Dowe on Jan 24, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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12/15/2014

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Muhlenberg Hospital and the Obama ConnectionAn Untold American Story
There is a little red, one and a half story, 18th century farmhouse extant in Plainfield, New Jersey, thathas more history than most people know. It is located on Randolph Road, and down the street fromMuhlenberg Hospital, and it has remained relatively unchanged for centuries.The house was once the home of Elkanah Fitz Randolph and his family. Elkanah was born in Mt. Bethel,NJ (now Warren, NJ) on October 9, 1797. He married Phebe Drake, daughter of Hugh and Hannah(Littell) Drake, in Plainfield, NJ, on January 1, 1823. They had eight children: Mary, Rachel, Eliza Ann,Elizabeth, Peter B., David, Samuel, and Alexander.Elkanah Fitz Randolph was a farmer and owned a good portion of the land in the south eastern part of Plainfield, including the property that Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center (Muhlenberg Hospital) wasbuilt on in the early twentieth century.When Elkanah Fitz Randolph died on February 26, 1877, he died intestate. His estate went through theprobate process in Union County, NJ, and eventually, his property was distributed to his remainingchildren since his wife Phebe had died on June 19, 1876.In 1901, Rachel Fitz Randolph, Eliza Ann Wooden, Samuel and Alexander Fitz Randolph offered some of the property for the new location of Muhlenberg Hospital at Park Avenue and Randolph Road. They didsave the family home, and did not sell that portion of the property. Remarkably, the Fitz Randolph homestill stands in Plainfield, NJ, across the street from the Van Blake tennis courts and Plainfield High SchoolAthletic Field Facilities.The Obama connection?Both the 4
th
President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and Elkanah Fitz Randolph cantrace their roots back to Edward Fitz Randolph, who emigrated to Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1630, fromEngland. Edward Fitz Randolph and his wife, Elizabeth (Blossom) Fitz Randolph moved a couple of timesin Massachusetts, and finally in 1669, he, his wife, and six of their children moved to Piscataway, NJ.Edward and Elizabeth Fitz Randolph were buried in a church yard in the section of Piscataway that isnow Edison, NJ. However, their tombstones cannot be found because during the American Revolution,the British troops marched across the area, and after the war the ground was leveled.Edward Fitz Randolph is President Barack Obamas 10
th
great grandfather.Edward Fitz Randolph is Elkanah Fitz Randolphs 4th great grandfather.That means that Elkanah Fitz Randolph is President Barack Obama's 5th cousin 6 times removed.
 
The cousins lineage crosses through President Barack Obamas mother, Ann Dunham. Ann Dunhamsline comes through Edward Fitz Randolphs son, Nathaniel. Elkanah Fitz Randolphs line comes throughEdward Fitz Randolphs son, Thomas. Nathaniel was Thomas older brother by seventeen years.Nathaniel Fitz Randolph had a son, Samuel. Samuel had a daughter, Prudence. Prudence Fitz Randolphmarried Shubal (Shubael) Smith, and their daughter, Mary married Jonathan Dunham (born 1716/17),and thus the Dunham line down to President Barack Obama.Both the Fitz Randolph and Dunham lines are strong in New Jersey. The Fitz Randolph line can be tracedback to many famous, religious, political families throughout New Jersey. The Dunham line can be tracedto the first grist mill in New Jersey, and President Obama's 8th great-grandfather's house built in 1671still stands in Woodbridge, NJ.Both the Fitz Randolph and the Dunham families married into some of the most notable names in earlyNew Jersey history, including: Drake, Manning, Coon, Stelle, Smalley, Wooden, Runyon, Bloomfield,Shotwell, Vail, Eaton, Singletary, Laing, to name a few.So who would have ever thought that Muhlenberg Hospital and President Barack Obama had aconnection? The land that Muhlenberg Hospital was built on was once owned by President BarackObamas ancestors.2012 copyright: NAPPhotographs and additional information availableSources and Special Thanks:Historical Society of Plainfield, Drake House Museum, Plainfield, NJCemeteries located in Plainfield, South Plainfield, Edison, and Woodbridge, NJMuhlenberg Independents and Muhlenberg Research GroupFamily from South Plainfield, NJ, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and CaliforniaFriends from Plainfield, North Plainfield, Piscataway, and Berkeley Heights, NJPreservation New JerseyLocal History Departments in Public Libraries in Plainfield, Piscataway, and Warren, NJ"The Descendants of Edward Fitz Randolph and Elizabeth Blossom, 1630-1950" by Louise AymarChristian and Howard Stelle Fitz Randolph, 1950."Richard Singletary and Some of his Descendants by Harman R. Clark, Jr., Dunellen, NJ, 1995google.com

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