The full text of this article is available to Plus members only.
For full access to all of our articles, please Join or Log In.
Not a Plus Member?
Early Adopters
If an adopted or orphaned ancestor is impeding your research progress, use these 11 strategies to foster new family tree finds.

It's 1744, and a 7-year-old boy's life is about to change course. His father, a minister, has just passed away. Now he's leaving his home in Quincy, Mass., for Boston, where his uncle Thomas — one of the city's wealthiest merchants — will raise him. As Thomas' adopted son, he'll graduate from Harvard at age 17, then inherit his uncle's business after Thomas' death in 1764. Five years later, the young man will win a seat in the Massachusetts legislature, and ultimately become one of the most recognizable names in US history as a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

That boy's identity? John Hancock. And he's just one of many well-known American adoptees or orphans: Naturalist John James Audubon, author Edgar Allan Poe, singer Ella Fitzgerald and burger baron Dave Thomas are all in Hancock's company. Even two US Presidents — Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton — were adopted by their stepfathers.

To continue reading this article
Share |
Did you enjoy this article?
Please share it!
Recent Blog Posts »
Recent Articles »

Free Genealogy Downloads

Historical Maps of Europe Premium Collection
When you buy the Historical Maps of Europe Premium Collection, you'll get the brand new Family Tree Historical Maps Book: Europe, as well as an assortment of other incredible tools to trace you ancestors back to the home country and visualize the world in which they lived--in full color.
Only available in March, this collection has a retail value of $197.95, but is yours this month only for $59.99!

They're going fast - get yours today!

©  F+W All rights reserved.