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The short answer is: sort of.

President Barack Obama’s maternal  GGGG grandfather Thomas L. Clark settled in Canton, Missouri around 1835. All of Thomas’ 11 children were born there and they lived there at the same time our family (Surnames: Wagner, Eckert, Hetzler, Giegerich, Vesper). Obama’s ggg grandfather Christopher Columbus Clark is buried in the same cemetery (Forest Grove) in Canton as our ancestors.

By searching through the Canton newspaper, I found multiple connections that support my theory that the Clarks knew and married into our extended family in Canton. Not a surprise – Canton is a small town, and both families were prominent, active citizens.

Christopher Columbus Clark, who went by C.C., ran a grocery store for a few years downtown on Clark Street in 1897. My direct Giegerich ancestors also ran a very popular and well-known grocery store downtown for over 50 years, so there is no doubt the men knew each other. Their ads were sometimes on the same page in the paper. C.C. was also listed on the same committees or events with some of our ancestors, such as the Canton Commercial Club with Charles Eckert.

Barack Obama’s 4th great uncle Thomas A. Clark’s wife Bertha Kuhn was the sister of Grace Kuhn who married David T. Hetzler. Thomas A. was Christopher Columbus Clark’s brother. David Hetzler was my 2nd cousin 3x removed, descended from our Hetzler ancestors. Mrs. D.T. Hetzler and sister, Mrs. Thomas Clark, were shopping in Canton Friday. (Canton News, Feb. 14, 1913). There were quite a few Hetzlers in our family in Canton, and my 4th great grandmother was a Hetzler.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Clark and Miss Katherine Zosel called on Mr. and Mrs. John Reiter and son Sunday evening. (Canton Press-News, Jan 23, 1930).  Katherine Zosel can be traced back to Old Bill Wagner’s sister Caroline through blood and marriage (Old Bill Wagner’s sister Mary married a Hetzler, and their daughter married a Zosel).

William C. Wagner (my gg grandfather) and his cousin Annie Hetzler (Mary’s daughter):

William C. and his father William Sr. were well known builders in Canton, and built hundreds of houses, including George Hetzler’s:

William Zenge was a pall bearer at Barack Obama’s 4th great uncle Thomas funeral. The Zenges are connected to us by marriage via the Eckerts and Vespers. William C. Wagner built Andrew Zenge’s house in Canton:

Thomas A.’s daughters Helen and Clifton attended school with my grandfather Homer Wagner and great uncles. They were Obama’s 1st cousins 4x removed.

Homer is upper left (the little boy with light shirt and long tie).

Image 1 - Postcard Canton High School, Canton, Missouri - circa 1920s-1930s

My grandfather Homer Wagner and his brother Russell were in the high school orchestra with Thomas A.’s daughter Clifton. 

Clifton (front row, 2nd from left). Russell (2nd row, 3rd from L). Homer (far right, back row). Logan Zahn (2nd row, far right) – Clifton would later marry Logan, whose uncle Jacob Zahn was neighbors with and married Mary Vesper in 1880. Clifton went on to attend Culver-Stockton College in Canton at the same time as Homer and his brother Russell.

Homer played organ for the opening procession at Thomas A.’s other daughter Helen’s high school graduation commencement exercises in Canton. Homer was 16 and would graduate the next year, in the same class as Helen Zenge.

I’m sure if I keep digging, I’ll find many more connections between the families.

So it is safe to say we are distantly related by marriage to Barack Obama and that the families knew each other in Canton.

Barack Obama’s Ancestors who lived in Canton, Missouri

GGG grandparents

George W Armour, b. Duncan Falls, Muskingum Co., Ohio, … [ca. 1849], d. … 2 Sept. 1889, bur. Wyaconda Cemetery, Canton, Mo. m. Canton, Mo., 12 Nov. 1871


1870 Missouri, Lewis Co., Monticello PO

Armor William 53 M W Farmer —- 1000 PA Can’t read or write

Sarah 40 F W Keeps House OH Can’t read or write

George 20 M W Works on farm OH Can’t read or write

Charles 19 M W Works on farm OH Can’t read or write

Eliza 7 F W IL

Francis 4 F W IL

Laura 2 F W IL


Christopher Columbus Clark, b. Canton, Mo., 28 Dec. 1845, d. Eldorado, Kansas, 11 Jan. 1937 m. Nelson Co., Ky., 6 Jan. 1870. Buried Forest Grove Cemetery


1860 Missouri, Lewis Co., Canton Twp, Canton PO

Thomas Clark 49 M Farmer 6000 2000 KY

Elizabeth ” 36 F ”

George W ” 23 M 50 MO

Sarah A ” 21 F ”

Thadeus W ” 16 M ”

Columbus ” 14 M ”

Addison ” 13 M ”

Marion ” 10 M ”

Elizabeth ” 8 F ”

Saml V ” 7 M ”

Thomas ” 4 M ”

Alpheus Clark 3 M MO

Infant 1/2 M ”


1870 Missouri, Lewis Co., Canton PO

Clark Thomas 59 M W Farmer 3000 1500 KY Can’t read or write

Elizabeth 49 F W Keeps House KY Can’t read or write

Thadius 25 M W Works on farm MO Can’t read or write

Addison 23 M W Works on farm MO Can’t read or write

Francis 20 M W Works on farm MO Can’t read or write

Samuel 16 M W Works on farm MO Can’t read or write

Lizzy 18 F W At Home MO Can’t read or write

Thomas 14 M W At School MO Can’t read or write

Alpheus 13 M W do MO Can’t read or write

Jessy 10 M W do MO Can’t read or write

Columbus 24 M W Works on farm MO Can’t read or write

Susan 21 F W At home KY Can’t read or write

Graham 28 F W At home MO Can’t read or write


Susan Catherine Overall, b. Nelson Co., Ky., 8 June 1849, d. … 20 Feb. 1906, m. Christopher Columbus Clark above. bur. Forest Grove Cemetery, Canton, Mo.



John Milton Childress, b. Falmouth, Pendleton Co., Ky., 18 Jan. 1816, d. Canton, Mo., 15 March 1866

Thomas Clark, b. Bardstown, Ky., 28 Dec. 1812, d. Canton, Mo., 24 June 1892, bur. Mount Moriah Cemetery, Canton, Mo. m.

Elizabeth Davis, b. Bardstown, Ky., 23 Sept. 1822, d. Canton, Mo., 1 Aug. 1900, bur. Mount Moriah Cemetery, Canton, Mo.

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