From birth, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was part of a very wealthy family. By the time he arrived, Theodore Roosevelt’s family had been in the New York area for a couple of centuries. As Dutch colonists, they had arrived in America in the mid-1600s, before the country was settled and organized. Having brought their knowledge of hardware and plate glass with them, his family found great success in providing these services to the new world.
Being an obedient son, Theodore Roosevelt’s father – Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. (also known as “Thee”) – carried on the family tradition of selling hardware and importing plate glass, along with numerous other successful enterprises. Born to Cornelius Van Schaak Roosevelt and Margaret Barnhill, he was the partner ‘son’ of the business Roosevelt and Son, which was a prosperous plate-glass importing business in New York, which he operated with his father. Also famous for his philanthropy, Thee was a co-founder of numerous organizations still functioning in New York to this day, such as: the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York City Children’s Aid Society, and the New York Children’s Orthopedic Hospital. At one point, he was even nominated as Collector of the Port of New York, but his nomination was rejected by the Senate in December 1877.
As a former Southern belle, Theodore Roosevelt’s mother was born to Major James Stephens Bulloch and Martha Stewart Elliott Bulloch. Their family home in what would later be named Roswell, Georgia was a mansion completed in 1839, called Bulloch Hall. As a cotton plantation family with a huge home, the Bullochs required numerous slaves for constant upkeep. Later, this fact became a very sore point of disagreement in Theodore’s family, leading to arguments or outright refusals to acknowledge and discuss the issue.
Theodore Roosevelt’s siblings were Anna, Elliott, and Corrine. Anna Roosevelt was affectionately called “Bamie” (short for bambina), which was later changed to “Bye” because she was always full of energy and raring to go. As Theodore’s older sister, she frequently played the role of confidante and caretaker, even taking custody of his first child Alice, after the unexpected death of her mother (Theodore’s wife, Alice). Elliott, Theodore’s younger brother (nicknamed “Ellie” or “Nell”) was very competitive with the older Teddy. At first, he was more successful in academics than Teddy, but later, the roles were reversed. Elliott was very charming but suffered from severe alcoholism, from an early age. He had three children, the oldest of which – Anna Eleanor – later became wife to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president. Corrine (or “Conie”) was Theodore’s youngest sibling, who began writing when she was very young, and continued due to the encouragement of Edith Wharton and other famous writers of the time. Corrine became a lecturer, orator, and published poet. She also gave birth to four children, one of which (Corinne Douglas Robinson) later mothered New York Herald Tribune columnists Joseph and Stewart Alsop.