McGraw’s Ancestors Migrated With Presley Family

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February 13, 2011 | 9:05pm EST

Country star Tim Mcgraw was left speechless as he delved deep into his ancestral past after discovering his relatives migrated from Germany to the U.S. with Elvis Presley’s family.
McGraw researched his family history as part of genealogy TV show Who Do You Think You Are? and learned his eighth great grandfather, Johan Jost Hayd, hailed from a small village in south-west Germany.

Ancestry experts found a 24-year-old Hayd had been forced into a life of servitude after being lured to the U.S. by false promises of jobs and land from the British monarchy.

The refugees were shipped off to Governor’s Island in New York and put to work for the British Navy, although Hayd managed to find a way out by escaping to work for a local farmer.

It was a story of determination that deeply moved McGraw because he could see similarities in his own struggle to succeed: “It tells you that he was very entrepreneurial and very spirited to be able to find a way to better himself.

“It’s a story that I guess, generations later, I grew up in Louisiana sort of a poor kid, didn’t have a lot. I sold everything that I had, ended up getting on a Greyhound bus and moved to Nashville, so there are some similarities, and those things pay off, if you work hard. It’s pretty incredible. Thank goodness for Jost Hayd or I wouldn’t be here!”

But researchers had an even bigger surprise in store for the singer/actor – Hayd left Germany on the same boat as the ancestors of rock legend Presley, whose family name was originally Prestlar.

A stunned McGraw marvelled at the news, before admitting, “It’s pretty amazing.”

Later in the program, which aired on Friday, McGraw visited his uncle in Louisiana to tell him about their link to The King.

He said, “One interesting side note, the boat trip that Jost took with those immigrants from Germany, there was another family that was pretty interesting on that same trip – the Presley family. The origins of his family came over on the same boat as Jost’s family. It’s the King of Rock and Roll, man!”

And that isn’t McGraw’s only claim to fame – after settling in one of the southern states, Hayd also came into contact with a young George Washington and allowed the man who would become the first president to spend the night at his family home.