Donald Trump Family History
Donald John Trump was born on June 14th, 1946 to Fred and Mary Anne Trump in Queens, New York. He was their fourth child and second son and therefore not destined to take over his father’s real estate business.
His father Fred was an authoritarian parent. He would receive a report each day from his wife on the children’s actions and, if necessary, decide upon disciplinary action. As time went by, it became clear that Freddy, his eldest son, was failing in Fred’s estimation. So he looked upon Donald as his potential heir. Around 1968, when Donald was twenty-two, he joined his father’s real estate business.
His career since that time has taken in:
- a turbulent real estate career, with his fortunes yo-yoing as his investments succeeded or failed.
- a media career on TV with The Apprentice.
- and a political career, culminating with his election as US President in 2016.
His journey took him from Queens to Manhattan, to Washington DC and the White House, and to a post-Presidential life at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Love him or hate him, he has been a dominating force in American political life in recent times.
Two insightful although critical accounts of Donald Trump have been:
- Mary L. Trump’s 2020 book Too Much and Never Enough. Mary, a psychologist by profession, is Donald Trump’s niece, the daughter of his elder brother Freddy Trump
- and Maggie Haberman’s 2022 book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump. Maggie Haberman is a reporter with the New York Times.
The Trump Name
Trump as a surname has German and English origins, with the German Trump – including the variations Trumpf and Drumpf – being the more numerous (some 1,500 in Germany today).
When Donald Trump’s forebear Friedrich arrived in America in 1885, he was said to have spelt his surname Drumpf, but anglicized it to Trump. The shifting of “d” to “t” had been quite common in German. Drumpf itself was a corruption of Trumpf, which was derived from the German word trumme meaning “drummer.”
Friedrich’s first known ancestor, noted by Gwenda Blair in her 2000 book The Trumps, was Hans Drumpf. He settled in Kallstadt in 1608. His descendants, according to Blair, changed their name from Drumpf to Trump during the 1640’s. However, the local pronounciation of the name continued to come out something like “Droomp.”
This Trump surname originated in the southwest of Germany. It is possible that one of Donald Trump’s paternal ancestors was a military drummer.
Trump (or Drumpf) in Germany
Kallstadt. Today this is a small village of some 1,200 inhabitants along the Rhine Valley in Rhineland-Palatinate. It used to be an impoverished part of the Kingdom of Bavaria that got by as a wine-making area.
In those days, there were two families there, the Heinzes and the Trumps, who were each to make their name in America. Filmmaker Simone Wendel produced a documentary in 2014 called Kings of Kallstadt which explored the relationship between these two families and the local people. The Heinzes in America kept in touch to some extent, the Trumps not so.
Their paths had intertwined in Kallstadt when Johann Georg Heinz married Charlotta Trump in 1804. Johann Heinrich Heinz departed for Pennsylvania in 1840. His son Henry J. Heinz was to found the famous Heinz food company there. And, two generations later in 1885, Friedrich Trump set off for New York where his son Fred Trump was to build a real estate business.
Trumps in Kallstadt. The recorded Trump line of descent went as follows:
- Johann Jacob Trump (1623-1697) m. Anna Butz
- Johann Philip Trump (1667-1707) m. Maria Rodenroth
- Johannes Sebastian Trump (1699-1756) m. Susanna Kohl
- Johann Paul Trump (1727-1792) m. Maria Setzer
- Johannes Trump (1789-1835) m. Maria Humann
- and Christian Johannes Trump (1829-1877) m. Katharina Kober
Some reports have these Trumps living nearby in Bobenheim am Berg before moving to Kallstadt when Johannes Trump married Maria Humann in the early 1800’s.
It was with Christian and Katharina’s offspring that there was a spreading of the wings. Three of their children migrated to New York.
In 1885, so the story has it, the 16 year-old Friedrich Trump left a note for his mother on the kitchen table saying that he had gone to America. He had not wanted to work in the family vineyard. nor take up his job as a barber. Instead he decided to follow his elder sisters who had already left for New York two years earlier.
Friedrich did return to Kallstadt in 1902 as a successful American, but only to marry a local girl – Elisabeth Christ – and take her back with him to New York. He could not stay as the German authorities considered him a draft dodger.
Trump in New York
As Gwenda Blair has described it in her book, the Trumps in New York is a tale of three Trumps:
- the immigrant Friedrich/Frederick Trump
- the son Fred Trump
- and the grandson Donald Trump.
Friedrich Trump. When he arrived in 1885, Friedrich – or Frederick as he became known in America – initially moved in with his sister Katharina and her husband Gottfried Schuster in New York. His time in America was to prove eventful, but cut short by the Spanish flu.
In 1891 Frederick headed West and began speculating in real estate in Seattle. During the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898 he moved to the Yukon and made his fortune by operating a restaurant and a brothel for miners in Whitehorse.
Afterwards he returned East, got married to a girl from Kallstadt, and began acquiring property in New York. He died in 1918, aged forty-nine, an early victim of the Spanish flu epidemic.
His widow Elizabeth, then aged thirty-seven, continued the real estate business that Frederick had begun. Initially she had been very homesick in New York and wished to return to Kallstadt. Now she became the matriarch and bedrock of her New York family.
She stayed involved in the family business throughout her life. In the 1950’s, when she was in her 70’s, her grand-daughter Mary Trump was quoted as saying: “She drove back and forth between her husband’s apartment projects in a Rolls-Royce, collecting coins from the washing machines in the laundry rooms.”
Fred Trump. Initially in partnership with his mother, her eldest son Fred began a career in home construction and sales in New York in the late 1920’s. His first success came in 1933 when he completed one of New York’s first modern supermarkets, called Trump Market, in Woodhaven, Queens.
Fred later took advantage of the New Deal, using the government loan subsidies available from the Federal Housing Association to build successful low-income housing developments, primarily in Brooklyn and Queens.
Following World War Two, he expanded into middle-income housing for the families of returning veterans. The construction of Trump Village, a large apartment complex in Coney Island completed in 1964. was one of his biggest and last major projects.
Fred may not have always been the best landlord, particularly for black folks. The folk singer Woody Guthrie, who was a Trump tenant in 1950-51, gave this view in a song Ain’t Got No Home which began with the following words:
- Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
- Where no Black folks come to roam.
- No, no, Old Man Trump!
- Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!
Yet Fred was a wily and successful New York real estate operator. In 1982 he appeared on the initial Forbes 400 list of richest Americans – with an estimated $200 million fortune split with his son Donald (this may, however, have been an over-estimate). He lived on until 1999.
And Donald Trump. According to Freddy’s daughter Mary, Fred Trump had wanted Freddy, his oldest son, to be “invulnerable” in personality so that he could take over the family business.
But Freddy wasn’t that kind of person. So Fred Sr. “devalued and degraded every aspect of his personality” and mocked him for his decision to become an airline pilot. In 1981 Freddy died at the age of forty-two from complications resulting from his alcoholism.
Fred Sr. instead elevated his second son Donald to become his business heir, teaching him to “be a killer” and telling him: “You are a king.” And it was Donald who went on to be the real estate mogul, a media king in New York, and the 45th President of the United States.
Postscript: Donald Trump and His Future Son-in-Law
In his 2022 memoir Breaking History, Jared Kushner wrote that his initial interaction with Donald Trump in 2007 had been rough. He was at that time publisher of the New York Observer, a weekly magazine.
Trump, a real-estate mogul, wrote him an angry letter expressing disappointment about his placement on the Observer’s annual Power List.
“Please stop sending me your paper, so I don’t have to read bullshit like this anymore!” Trump wrote.
Two years later, Ivanka Trump would introduce Jared as her boyfriend.
Donald Trump’s Family Tree
- Christian Trump (1829-1877) from Kallstad m. Katharina Kober (1836-1922) in Bavaria in 1859
- – Katherina Trump (1861-1949) m. Fred Schuster, died in New York
- – Jakob Trump (1863-1938) m. Elisabetha Bohlinger, died in Bavaria
- – Sybilla Trump (1865-1931) m. George Schuster, died in New York
- – Friedrich Trump (1869-1918), immigrated to New York in 1885
- – Elisabetha Trump (1873-1960) m. Karl Freund, died in Bavaria
- – Barbara Trump (1876-1913) m. Heinrich Weisenborn, died in Bavaria
- Frederick/Friedrich Trump m. Elisabeth Christ (1880-1966) in Kallstadt in 1902 and moved to New York
- – Elizabeth (Betty) Trump (1904-1961) m. William Walter
- – Fred Trump (1905-1999)
- – John Trump (1907-1985) m. Elora Sauerbrun
- Fred Trump m. Mary Anne MacLeod (1912-2000) from Scotland in New York in 1936
- – Maryanne Trump (b. 1937), a federal judge, m. John Barry
- – Fred (Freddy) Trump (1938-1981), an airline pilot, m. Linda Clapp (daughter is Mary Trump, b. 1965)
- – Elizabeth Trump (b. 1942), a bank executive, m. James Grau
- – Donald Trump (b. 1946)
- – Robert Trump (1948-2020) m. Blaine Beard, divorced
- Donald Trump m. Ivana Zelnickova (1949-2022) from Czech Rep. in 1977, divorced in 1990; rem. Maria Maples (b. 1963) in 1993, divorced in 1999; rem. Melania Knauss (b. 1970) from Slovenia in 2005
- – Donald Trump Jr (b. 1977) with Ivana, engaged with Kimberly Guilfoyle
- – Ivanka Trump (b. 1981) with Ivana, m. Jared Kushner
- – Eric Trump (b. 1984) with Ivana. m. Lara Yunaska
- – Tiffany Trump (b. 1993) with Maria. m. Michael Boulos
- – Barron Trump (b. 2006) with Melania
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