Ellen's beloved Grandpa, James Harrison QUINN, Sr., was actually her mother's stepfather. Long after his death in 1977 -- he was a paleontologist, and fell into a canyon while fossil-hunting -- Ellen became intrigued by the family story that Jim Quinn's family was kin to the U.S. presidents William Henry and Benjamin HARRISON. After the death of her grandmother (who disapproved of tracing lines allied by marriage) in 1993, she tackled the question.
Jim Quinn was born in Ainsworth, Brown County, Nebraska, in 1906, but his birth was not recorded at the time; a delayed-birth affidavit was filed in 1943, probably so he could serve in the Navy (he spent time on a battleship during the war). The informant for that registration was his father (Alva) Clayton Quinn, who was born in 1872 in Winterset, Madison County, Iowa. (Yes, the town of Bridges fame.)
Jim Quinn's mother, listed as Marie THOMPSON on the certificate, appears in census records as the child of parents both born in Germany. Marie's surname, so non-German in appearance, is a puzzle -- especially as Ellen's grandmother was fiercely proud of her German ancestry and would likely have mentioned it if her second husband, like her first, was half-German.
Ellen has traced the Madison County QUINNs, Clayton's parents James H. and Eliza, back another generation, to their birth state of Indiana. James H. QUINN's father was born in Kentucky and his mother in Ohio, and Eliza ELDRIDGE's father was from Ohio, her mother from Indiana. Ellen's working theory is that this James H. Quinn, too, bore the middle name "Harrison", and that his mother was born to an Ohio HARRISON family which ties into the presidential one; if so, we hope to trace them back to Virginia eventually. If not, well... Ellen's other family lines usually immigrated to one city and promptly stayed put, so following this family's western migration was rather a nice change of pace.