President Harding’s Family Battles Over Exhuming His Body – New York Times September 18, 2020

I was checking for updates on this story – How Will The President Harding DNA Court Case Turn Out? – September 14, 2020 and noticed an update.

By Heather Murphy

Sept. 18, 2020

DNA evidence is persuasive that James Blaesing, 70, is the grandson of the 29th president and his mistress. But his cousins are upset by his plan to exhume Harding’s remains with a reality TV crew.


There is no real dispute that James Blaesing is the grandson of Warren G. Harding and his mistress. But the wounds of that revelation have resurfaced in court, as relatives of the 29th president, many now in their 70s, argue over a proposal to exhume President Harding’s body as the 100th anniversary of his election approaches.

On one side is Mr. Blaesing, who says the exhumation is necessary to prove with “scientific certainty” that Harding was his grandfather, even though the DNA evidence is already persuasive, and to confirm his and his mother’s “membership in a historic American family.” He also wants to bring along a television production crew to document the opening of the tomb.

On the other side are several Harding relatives who say the disinterment would create an unnecessary spectacle. One has questioned the motives of the television production company, believing it is fixated on the unfounded theory that Harding, who died in office in 1923, was poisoned — perhaps by his wife, Florence Harding.

The matter is now before a family court judge in Ohio. The arguments have raised a question with implications beyond this particular feud: Are exhumations still necessary to prove if someone is related to a dead person, now that genetic testing and genealogical analysis techniques are so advanced?


My response is you can’t get absolute certainty with DNA. You can get a very high probability, something along the lines of 99.999% or higher. The fact officials have agreed to add the information to an exhibit should be enough. In addition, he’s been dead long enough, getting enough viable DNA could be difficult.

It will be interesting to see how addresses this issue as it pertains to its updated terms –

You will not use the information obtained from the DNA Services (including any downloaded DNA Data (defined in the Privacy Statement)) in whole, in part and/or in combination with any other database, for any medical, diagnostic, or paternity testing purpose, in any judicial proceeding, or for any discriminatory purpose or illegal activity.

That seems like a clear violation of “any judicial proceeding” in my book. I think Ancestry made a compelling argument back in 2015, which was before the above change was made last month. I am curious as to how Ancestry will side with its new terms in place. Especially since the filming company has made it clear they want to order toxicology reports if the exhumation happens.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's
This entry was posted in Bloggers, Cemetery, DNA, Genealogy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.