When it was announced that Hillary Rodham Clinton would be inducted into the Irish America Hall of Fame for her work on the Irish peace process, it was inevitable that I would explore the branches of her family tree, but it wasn’t the first time. Having delved into her roots in years past, I was familiar with the basics:
- Compared to other American politicians, especially Presidential candidates, her ancestry is more recently “off the boat” than most. Though some harbor a misperception of blue blood heritage, seven of her eight great-grandparents were immigrants, and none of them arrived wealthy. Some, for instance, labored in coal mines both before and after settling in the United States.
- Illinois and Pennsylvania claim most of her American family history, with other states such as Michigan, New York, and California playing supporting roles. Among her ancestral countries of origin, England and Wales are the most pronounced, followed by Scotland, France, and the Netherlands, with several branches weaving in and out of Canada over the generations.
- The deepest branches of her North American ancestry are mostly French-Canadian, so with French-Canadian family trees being among the most intensively intertwined in the world, it’s not surprising that she is distant cousins with other formidable women known primarily by their first names – Madonna, Celine, Angelina, and Alanis among them.
I took another look wondering if it might be possible to ferret out a previously undetected bit of Irish, and came up empty, so given that her three-eighths Welsh heritage makes her a Celtic cousin of sorts, I decided to take a deeper dive into this portion of her heritage and discovered that it’s rather surprising that Hillary Rodham Clinton exists at all.
Father Hugh E. Rodham