Posted by: Kath Usitalo | February 15, 2010

Happy Presidents Day

Leslie Lynch King, Jr., future President of the United States, in 1914

What’s in the water in Ohio that it is the home of eight U.S. Presidents? Michigan claims just one Commander in Chief: Gerald R. Ford, The Accidental President. And no, I am not referring to his well-documented stumbles and bumbles, including at least one errant golf shot.

The 38th President of the United States started life as Leslie Lynch King, Jr. in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1913. Within weeks of his birth his mother fled her abusive husband and landed in Grand Rapids, where she met, and in 1916 married, a paint salesman named Gerald R. Ford. They renamed her son after the stepdad.

Ford, a 13-term U.S. Congressman from Michigan, was named Vice President under Richard Nixon when Veep Spiro Agnew resigned the office in 1973. Less than a year later Richard Nixon resigned and Ford assumed the office of President. Two years later Ford lost his election bid to Jimmy Carter.

Visit the Ford Pesidential Museum in Grand Rapids to learn about his life and the professional and personal challenges he and his wife Betty Ford faced.

In the Detroit area, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn displays several artifacts with Presidential connections, including the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was shot and a camp bed and chest used by George Washington.

See the horsedrawn carriage used by Theodore Roosevelt and limos that carried Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. You can download a self-guided Presidential Honors tour brochure at the museum Web site.

Presidential Places in Michigan

The following Michigan locations share names with U.S. Presidents.  Those marked with * were named for that U.S. President, although some were military heroes or U.S. legislators and had yet to attain the highest office when they were honored with the namesake place. Which Presidential names are missing? (Answer below):

Cleveland Mine
*Van Buren

According to the book Michigan Place Names, Michigan has no place for Carter, Coolidge, Eisenhower, Harding, Hoover, Obama, Pierce, Polk, Reagan, or Truman

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