Wilma Maxine Sharp & Her Double Presidential Connection
(4th-8th cousin, paternal side)
Well here is a Presidential connection in our extended family tree! My "new cousin", Gwen Sharp, has a family history as intriguing as any I have come across. Gwen and I have been in touch with one another for a little over a month after we matched genetically through DNA testing. While we have not yet found our common shared ancestor, we share enough genetic material to confirm we are related as distant cousins (4th to 8th cousins).
Gwen and I have been sharing information while we search for our elusive relative and recently Gwen told me about her mother, Wilma Maxine Sharp, born on January 30th, 1932, in Morley Michigan, USA. She was the third of nine children born to Earl Richard Sharp and Marvis Hollenbeck. The Sharp's owned and worked a dairy farm in Mecosta County, Michigan and at the age of only 3, Wilma was stricken with polio.
Polio was a horrific, mostly childhood disease that luckily has now been pretty much eradicated. Wilma ended up spending the next 7 years at a polio treatment facility in Grand Rapids, MI. Imagine spending your childhood away from your family and fighting to be able to walk!
The polio care facility was run by the March Of Dimes and was called the Mary Free Bed.Luckily little Wilma beat the odds and went on to become a successful typesetter and, more importantly, a great mother to Gwen, raising Gwen on her own.
Wilma had many newspaper articles written about her while she was recovering in the Mary Free Bed, one of which is posted above.
At one point, FDR was in Grand Rapids, and when people found out that Wilma shared not only polio - a disease which struck FDR in adulthood - but the same birthday of January 30th as the President, Wilma was invited to a party held at the Pantland Hotel in Grand Rapids where she met the President.
Neither knew at the time that they were 6th cousins, but now we do! Since FDR was related to Teddy Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt was also a cousin of FDR's and his wife (lot's of that happened - check MY family tree!) - and we are related to Gwen and Wilma on my paternal side, we now have a terrific Presidential connection to go along with all our Royal connections!
Who said history was boring?