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Exhume President Warren G. Harding? Family Feuds in Court

  • September 21, 2020

For a while it seemed as if the Harding family might be able to work through the 29th president’s messy past without lawyers.

Dr. Peter Martin Harding, a son of one of the former president’s nephews, grew up hearing that Mr. Blaesing’s grandmother, Nan Britton — who wrote a 1928 tell-all, “The President’s Daughter,” claiming that she had a daughter with Harding — was a “confused young woman.” Harding had been rendered infertile by a mumps infection when he was young, Dr. Harding’s father told him, so he could not possibly have fathered a child.

But when Dr. Harding read Ms. Britton’s book, he was struck by how plausible her story sounded. Additional research convinced him further. Ms. Britton died in 1991 and her daughter, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing — Mr. Blaesing’s mother — died in 2005 without anyone in the Harding family having ever formally acknowledging them.

“My family has caused this whole wound,” Dr. Harding, 77, a former Navy psychiatrist who lives in Big Sur, Calif., said, adding that he had thought to himself, “I’m going to heal this.”

He reached out to Mr. Blaesing, who had tried communicating with the Harding family only to be ignored. By involving’s DNA testing division and another cooperative Harding cousin, they were able to show that Ms. Britton’s claim was true. “This is the definitive answer,” an executive at Ancestry declared in 2015.

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