Judge Reportedly Denies Request To Dig Up President Harding’s Body

(REUTERS/Library of Congress/Handout)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Ohio Marion County Family Court Judge Robert Fragale reportedly denied President Warren G. Harding’s grandson James Blaesing’s request to exhume the late president’s remains in order to confirm his ancestry.

Fragale denied Blaesing’s request in November, saying that exhuming the late president’s body would “create an unnecessary destruction of the memorial and grounds established to preserve the late President and his historical recognition,” according to the Associated Press (AP)

Blaesing went to court in May in an attempt to get the body exhumed “to establish with scientific certainty” that he is Harding’s biological grandson, according to the AP. Harding, who is buried in Marion near where he was born in 1865, had an affair with Nan Britton that resulted in the birth of a daughter, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, according to The New York Times (NYT). Harding had no other children.

In 2015 AncestryDNA linked Blaesing’s DNA to that of two Harding descendants, according to the AP. While Blaesing was reportedly happy about the official connection, he told the AP that his mother’s legacy as the daughter of a president is nothing more than a footnote in a new museum. (RELATED: Some Presidential Transitions In American History Have Gone Smoothly, But Others Weren’t So Civil)

One part of the Harding family was initially reluctant to accept the results, prompting Blaesing to seek the exhumation to establish once and for all the lineage, according to the NYT.

However, the family pushed back against the suit and argued that Harding’s body need not be dug up since they had changed their mind and no longer disputed Blaesing’s lineage, according to the AP. Fragale cited the letters as evidence that Blaesing is “the grandson of Warren G. Harding and thereby their relative,” according to the NYT.

The body of the 12th President Zachary Taylor was exhumed in 1991 to resolve a theory that speculated Taylor had died from poisoning. However, Kentucky’s chief medical examiner George Nichols found Taylor died of “natural diseases,” according to POLITICO.