A Kirkby politics graduate has found the branches of her family tree reach all the way to the Wild West and the White House.
Donna Gilbert 38 has discovered she is a direct descendent of a U.S vice president with the colourful name ‘Cactus Jack’.
Donna told how she was researching her family tree when she confirmed rumours that her great-great-uncle was John Nance Garner, who served as vice-President to Franklin D Roosevelt until 1941.
She said: “My grandma talked about him but I thought they were just family stories . “When someone says to you that you have links to a Vice President of America you are very sceptical - but it was true.”
She said the story was finally confirmed after her sister Debbie Menevse, a teacher at Hucknall’s Beardall Fields Primary School, searched online through a specialist website of historical births deaths and marriages.
Their research showed their great uncle came from a long line of Methodist preachers who originally lived in Sugar Lane, Brinsley,
He became a successful politician in Texas and served as Vice-President to Franklin D Roosevelt until 1941.
Donna, who is studying for a masters in politics said: “There were lots of Methodist preachers who went over there at the time.
“I think it was his parents who went over to America from Brinsley. John garner was used to public speaking as a preacher so his skills were not so different from a politician.”
He wrote to my great grandfather William Garner asking the family to join them in America during the war but the journey was considered too dangerous and they never went.” I was pleased to find out he was a Democrat as I am a member of the Labour Party.”
Through online research Donna discovered the The Briscoe-Garner museum in Ulvade Texas which is situated in the house where her great great uncle lived.
She is hoping to visit the museum soon and meet surviving relatives of the man affectionately called ‘Cactus Jack’.
John Nance “Cactus Jack” Garner (1868–1967) Garner was a dominant national political figure who played a critical role in the passage of much of the New Deal legislation aimed at alleviating or ending the most severe economic crisis in U.S. history. During his service, the legislature selected a state flower for Texas.
Garner fervently supported the prickly pear cactus for the honour and thus earned the nickname “Cactus Jack.
Donna is still researching her family history in Brinsley.