It’s easy for even rookie historians to spout off a few facts about Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.
He took office after the assassination of William McKinley in September 1901. He was a Republican. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations to end the Russo-Japanese war. He was the first sitting U.S. President to leave the country. He boxed at Harvard University, and one punch Roosevelt took nearly left him blind in his left eye.
But few know about his roots in north Fulton County, and his special connection with a house in Roswell.
According to expoloregeorgia.org, the Peach State's official tourism site, Roosevelt's great-grandfather on his mother's side had a son, James Stephens Bulloch, who was born in Savannah in 1793. Bulloch had a son, James Dunwoody Bulloch, who would go on to be the primary naval agent of the Confederacy in Europe, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.
James Stephens Bulloch’s second marriage was to Martha Elliott Stewart, and the couple had four children and moved to Cobb County in 1839, a time where it included modern parts of Fulton County. There, Bulloch’s business partner Roswell King was establishing a cotton mill.
The second of Bulloch and Elliott’s children was Martha “Mittie” Bulloch.
In 1840, the family built a mansion using slave labor, according to Explore Georgia. It would be named Bulloch Hall, and still stands today in Roswell, offering tours and other events.
In 1853, Mittie would be married in the dining room of Bulloch Hall, her childhood home, to a man from New York — Theodore “Thee” Roosevelt Sr. The couple then moved to New York and had a family of their own.
One of the children would carry his father’s namesake and eventually become President of the United States.
In 1905, during his second term as President, Roosevelt visited Roswell and his mother’s childhood home. According to Explore Georgia, he wrote to his son Kermit during his travels.
“It was really very touching coming to Roswell, my mother’s home. I had heard all about it when I was small from my mother and aunt, and I recognized a great many of the places and felt about them just as if I had seen them while a child.”
Roosevelt would visit what is now metro Atlanta three more times before his death in 1919 at the age of 60. During his first visit in 1905, he gave a speech at Piedmont Park.
Mittie died in 1884, on the same day Roosevelt’s first wife Alice Lee died.
Photos of Roosevelt visiting Bulloch Hall are in the Library of Congress.
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