North Wales Historic Commission

North Wales, Pennsylvania

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A Presidential Link to North Wales

We happened upon a Chicago news article about President Obama's genealogy. We were surprised to see mention of  St. Peter's Lutheran Church, North Wales Township, Montgomery County, PA, in connection with the President. The article (plus some other sites) asserts that the

President's great, great, great, great grandmother was a Catherine

Goodnight, who was baptized at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in North Wales  on November  18, 1792.


You can imagine our astonishment at discovering a connection of the President to North Wales.. Apparently the Goodnight name originally was the German Guteknecht, changed when the family emigrated to the Philadelphia area.  Catherine Goodnight was baptized in North Wales, eventually marrying and moving to Tipton County, Indiana, where she and her husband are buried.


We do not know how reliable the information is, but it is certainly a

fascinating discovery to contemplate. Republican or Democrat, it is an exciting thought to have a North Wales connection with a president of our great country. When I conveyed my findings to other North Wales Historic Commission members, everyone agreed you might be interested in this bit of local historical trivia. Several websites include information about Catherine Goodnight and the President Obama lineage. Intriguing, to say the least!.




The original St. Peter's Church at the time of Goodnight's baptism, would probably have been a small frame building on the site of the present cemetery at S. Main and E. Prospect.  Founded about 1776, St. Peter's originally combined Lutheran and Reformed congregations. In 1817, the "Old Yellow Church," with the high pulpit of the times, replaced the first church on the same site (where a grand old tree just fell to Hurricane Sandy's wrath). Around 1868, both the Reformed and Lutheran congregations built separate churches (St. Luke's and St. Peter's) on Main Street, within the newly incorporated  Borough. The cemetery remains, with the main portion by East Prospect,  and the smaller on West Prospect.


Phyllis Byrne

North Wales Historic Commission





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