Baltimore City

Who knew Joe Biden had ancestral ties to Baltimore?

It was news to me that President Joe Biden’s father and grandparents lived in Charles Village. Right on Charles Street near 28th Street. They later lived for years in West Baltimore.

The Biden/Baltimore roots idea came from Mark Adams, a former newspaper reporter. It also was researched by the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Julie Sailor, that institution’s Baltimore history specialist. The Baltimore Sun’s Paul McCardell contributed to the research.


The president’s paternal great-grandfather was a stonemason whose grave is in Loudon Park Cemetery. Other genealogical sources indicate the Biden family line stretches back to William H. Biden, born in the late 1780s in West Sussex in Westbourne, England.

William Biden came to the United States and married Mary Elkins on Feb. 13, 1822.


The president’s paternal grandfather was Joseph Harry Biden and his grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Robinette. They were both Baltimoreans through and through. The president, though known as Joe Biden, was born Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. His name honors both his paternal grandparents.

His grandparents were married Nov. 27, 1914, at Saint Edward’s Roman Catholic Church on Poplar Grove Street in West Baltimore.

The president’s grandmother was baptized at St. Mary, Star of the Sea on Riverside Avenue in Federal Hill-South Baltimore. Her father was a railroad engineer.

They set up housekeeping at the Dresden Apartments, a building that no longer stands at 2730 N. Charles St. The president’s father, another Joseph Biden, lived there as a baby.

The Dresden Apartments were demolished when the old North Charles General Hospital expanded in the 1960s. The site is now FutureCare-Homewood, a rehabilitation center.

The Biden family then moved to a new home at 2732 Mosher St. near Dukeland Street in West Baltimore in the neighborhood we now call Winchester. They remained in West Baltimore but were assigned to posts by the American Oil Co., where the president’s grandfather worked. American Oil is another Baltimore firm, founded by Jacob Blaustein in 1910. Biden was among the firm’s early employees.

Parish records indicate that Joseph H. Biden (the president’s grandfather) officially converted to Catholicism on Feb. 18, 1917, at St. Martin’s Church on Fulton Avenue.

The president’s grandfather was a manager for the American Oil’s Frederick plant at the time of his death Sept. 26, 1941. He had served earlier in a similar capacity in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


His requiem Mass was held several days later at St. William of York Church on Cook’s Lane in Ten Hills. The Sun’s death notice says he was to be buried in Loudon Park Cemetery. There was an at-home funeral as well, at the home of his sister-in-law, Alice Sheene, 811 Woodington Road in Edmondson Village.

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“Biden’s uncle by marriage, George Sheene, had a patent for an asphalt grave vault. There might be some type of connection to Loudon Park Cemetery,” Adams said.

The president’s grandmother died April 23, 1943, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, where she had been visiting her son for Easter. She also was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery.

The future president, born Nov. 20, 1942, would have been an infant when his grandmother died.

The president’s father was a resident of Scranton when he married there and established his family.

Among the many visits the president made to Baltimore was for the memorial of Christine Sarbanes, the wife of state Sen. Paul Sarbanes. The event was held at the Central Enoch Pratt Free Library.


The president also was a frequent AMTRAK commuter between Washington, D.C., and his Delaware home.

His rides, through Southwest Baltimore and the lengthy Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel, recently renamed for Frederick Douglass, took alongside the Loudon Park Cemetery and the graves of his paternal ancestors.