Presidential Children – Tippecanoe’s Ten


William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) is remembered for a number of reasons. He was the first Whig President, and the first half of a famous slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too,” named after his famous victory over the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe. He is the only President to be grandfather of another President. He is also remembered for being the oldest President ever elected (up until Reagan took that honor from him) and for making the longest inaugural address (approximately 45 minutes in a blizzard). Because of a combination of the previous honors, he is mainly remembered for serving the shortest term in history. He served exactly one month before the cold he caught on inauguration day, which turned into pneumonia, resulted in his death. But he should also be remembered for having ten children with his wife, Anna Tuthill Symmes. (Tyler holds the record with fifteen, but he needed two wives to accomplish the feat. For one wife, Harrison has the record.) Harrison outlived six of his children, and of the other four only one survived him by more than a few years.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Bassett Harrison, 1796-1846. Betsy was born at Fort Washington, Ohio, which is now the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. She married her cousin, John Cleves Short, in 1814 and they settled together on a farm in North Bend, Ohio. The farm was a gift to them from her father.

John Cleves Symmes Harrison, 1798-1830. John was also born at Fort Washington, Ohio (now Cincinnati, Ohio). He married Clarissa Pike, the daughter of the famous explorer Zebulon Pike, in 1819. He was appointed the receiver of the Vincennes Land Office, but was accused of embezzling $12,000.00. President Andrew Jackson fired him from this office. Shortly thereafter, he developed typhoid fever and died. John’s father assumed his debts and took responsibility for the care of John’s widow and six children.

Lucy Singleton Harrison, 1800-1826. Lucy was born in Richmond, Virginia. In 1819, she married David K. Este, a Cincinnati lawyer who later became a judge.

William Henry Harrison, Jr., 1802-1838. Born in Vincennes, Indiana, he became a lawyer, but was not successful due to alcoholism. He gave up his law practice to try farming. He died from alcoholism at the age of 35. His father assumed responsibility for his wife and children. His widow, Jane Irwin Harrison, served as the official White House hostess during William Henry Harrison’s brief tenure as President.

John Scott Harrison, 1804-1878. John Scott Harrison was the only man to be both the father and son of a President. Also born in Vincennes, Indiana, he married Lucretia K. Johnson in 1824. After she died, he married Elizabeth Ramsey in 1831. He had 13 children, including Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States (1889-1893). A successful farmer, he served two terms in Congress, where he was known for his anti-slavery views. He disliked politics, and returned home to his farm. Shortly after his death at 73, his body was stolen by grave robbers and sold to the Ohio Medical College in Cincinnati. Buying bodies from questionable sources was a common practice for medical schools that needed cadavers for their students to practice upon. The body was discovered by his son, John Harrison, (some stories say that another of his sons, Benjamin Harrison, was with him) who came to the medical school on business and was horrified when he accidentally discovered the body of his father hanging by his neck at the end of a rope.

Benjamin Harrison, 1806-1840. Born in Vincennes, he served in the Texas War of Independence. He was wounded and taken prisoner by the Mexicans in 1836. After the war, he practiced medicine until his death at the age of 34.

Mary Symmes Harrison, 1809-1842. Born in Vincennes, Indiana, she married Dr. John H. Fitzhugh Thorton in 1829. They lived in Cleves, Ohio.

Carter Bassett Harrison, 1811-1839. He was born in Vincennes, Indiana. At the age of 17, he served as attaché at the U.S. legation in Colombia while his father was U.S. minister there. He married Mary A. Sutherland in 1836, and practiced law until his death at the age of 27.

Anna Tuthill Harrison, 1813-1845. She was born in North Bend, Ohio and married a cousin, William Henry Harrison Taylor in 1836.

James Findlay Harrison, 1814-1817. James was born in North Bend, Ohio.

President William Henry Harrison had two descendants of note. Benjamin Harrison, his grandson, was elected President in 1888, defeating President Grover Cleveland and becoming the 23rd President. Lytle Harrison (1876-1956) was William Henry Harrison’s great-grandson who served as the Paymaster of the U.S. Navy during the Spanish-American War.