Muhlenberg Hospital and the Obama Connection An Untold American Story

There is a little red, one and a half story, 18th century farmhouse extant in Plainfield, New Jersey, that has more history than most people know. It is located on Randolph Road, and down the street from Muhlenberg 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) was built on in the early twentieth century. When Elkanah Fitz Randolph died on February 26, 1877, he died intestate. His estate went through the probate process in Union County, NJ, and eventually, his property was distributed to his remaining children 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 did save the family home, and did not sell that portion of the property. Remarkably, the Fitz Randolph home still stands in Plainfield, NJ, across the street from the Van Blake tennis courts and Plainfield High School Athletic Field Facilities. The Obama connection? Both the 4th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, and Elkanah Fitz Randolph can trace their roots back to Edward Fitz Randolph, who emigrated to Scituate, Massachusetts, in 1630, from England. Edward Fitz Randolph and his wife, Elizabeth (Blossom) Fitz Randolph moved a couple of times in 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 is now 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 10th 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 s line comes through Edward Fitz Randolph s son, Nathaniel. Elkanah Fitz Randolph s line comes through Edward 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 Randolph married 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 traced back to many famous, religious, political families throughout New Jersey. The Dunham line can be traced to the first grist mill in New Jersey, and President Obama's 8th great-grandfather's house built in 1671 still stands in Woodbridge, NJ. Both the Fitz Randolph and the Dunham families married into some of the most notable names in early New 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 a connection? The land that Muhlenberg Hospital was built on was once owned by President Barack Obama s ancestors. 2012 copyright: NAP Photographs and additional information available Sources and Special Thanks: Historical Society of Plainfield, Drake House Museum, Plainfield, NJ Cemeteries located in Plainfield, South Plainfield, Edison, and Woodbridge, NJ Muhlenberg Independents and Muhlenberg Research Group Family from South Plainfield, NJ, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and California Friends from Plainfield, North Plainfield, Piscataway, and Berkeley Heights, NJ Preservation New Jersey Local History Departments in Public Libraries in Plainfield, Piscataway, and Warren, NJ "The Descendants of Edward Fitz Randolph and Elizabeth Blossom, 1630-1950" by Louise Aymar Christian and Howard Stelle Fitz Randolph, 1950. "Richard Singletary and Some of his Descendants by Harman R. Clark, Jr., Dunellen, NJ, 1995 Various bloggers

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