Illinois Couple Just Welcomed Their Record-Breaking Grandchildren Into The World

As fun as family gatherings are, they can get a bit hectic when you’re dealing with a lot of relatives. However, no potluck has bustling action that comes even close to the Zangers’. Leo and Ruth Zanger, a couple who’ve held strong for over 60 years, have one of the largest immediate families in the United States. Keeping everyone together — and sane — takes a world-record breaking effort!

Ruth and Leo Zanger are far from your ordinary grandparents. Sure, they shower everyone in the family with love, but the little guy they’re holding in this photo, Jaxton, is a milestone grandchild. Few families can boast numbers like the Zangers.

The Quincy Herald-Whig

Their incredible story started in the 50s, when they met on a blind date, with no clue as to the immense family they’d eventually produce. They married just a couple years later and settled down to have children.

Facebook / Donna Lane

They chose the quaint city of Quincy, Illinois, to begin what would turn out to be one of the most epic families of all time. They gave birth to their first daughter, Linda, the same year they were married. Many more children were to come.

Enjoy IIllinois

After about 30 years, they had their last child in 1984. By then, they had a total of 12 kids — nine sons and three daughters — running around their home. This made for some wild age gaps between everyone.

Facebook / Donna Lane

The age gap between Leo and Ruth’s youngest son, Joe, and Linda was so big that, when the family baby was born, he already had 10 nieces and nephews older than him!

Facebook / Donna Lane

As the couple’s 12 children grew, several of them went into the family business, a realty company called Zanger & Associates, Inc., to earn a living and alleviate the cost of their parents supporting 12 kids.

Facebook / Donna Lane

The whopping load of grandchildren started in 1975, with the arrival of a granddaughter. More grandkids came soon after, and they, too, had families once they were of age. The number of Zanger relatives began skyrocketing.

Facebook / Donna Lane

It was in 2015 that the Zanger grandchildren finally hit an incredible milestone: number 100. Boy, what a shock it was to everyone. No one was even aware of the grandchild totals until Ruth and Leo’s daughter Donna stepped in.

Facebook / Donna Lane

Donna had nominated herself to keep the family documents in order, including births, deaths, and marriages. It was while combing through the forms that Donna realized little Jaxton Leo Zanger was number 100! He also marked another achievement.

Facebook / Donna Lane

Once Jaxton arrived, Leo and Ruth had grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren — something most people never get to experience. In total, the lucky couple had 53 grandchildren, 46 great-children, and one great-grand-child. Whew!

Facebook / Zanger Family of Quincy, Illinois

You can imagine the shock on the faces of parents Austin (Ruth and Leo’s grandchild) and his wife, Ashleigh, when they found out their son was baby number 100. Incredibly, he was almost baby 101.

Facebook / Zanger Family of Quincy, Illinois

See, there was another child who was expected around the same time as Jaxton, which led to an incredible baby race between the families. Jaxton, however, proudly nabbed the title. Thankfully, the family could celebrate the occasion… with some help.

Facebook / Zanger Family of Quincy, Illinois

To throw a party, they turn to record keeper Donna, who has another vital job within the family: She’s responsible for gathering phone numbers, emails, and addresses for everyone. For the rest of us, keeping this info is easy, but for 100 people, it’s nearly impossible.

Facebook / Donna Lane

Even though Donna might hold the key to much of the important Zanger information, Leo and Ruth frequently share their own special stories about early life in the household, like when Donna was born amidst a brutal 1962 blizzard!

Facebook / Donna Lane

For the Zanger’s epic family gatherings, Donna, naturally, is the go-to person whenever they occur. She blasts off the mass texts to everyone giving them the vital “where?” and “when?”

Facebook / Zanger Family of Quincy, Illinois

Most of the Zangers still live in Quincy, which means much the family is able to attend all the family events. Because of their size, they rent out catering halls to fit everyone comfortably.

Facebook / Donna Lane

And, the Zangers have a rotating schedule on who brings what to the events. When you’re dealing with 100 people, you need a strict regimen or things can go haywire really fast. Don’t even get ’em started on the family holiday card!

Facebook / Donna Lane

Here’s the massive greeting card all the friends of the family receive every year! It’s constantly updated so each new member of the family is able to give a warm Zanger “Hello!” every time arrive.

Facebook / Zanger Family of Quincy, Illinois

The Zangers enjoyed some time in the spotlight after the milestone, but they were glad to see TV cameras going. With some notoriety, they were constantly compared to another nearby family. Ruth and Leo didn’t like the side-by-side.

Facebook / Donna Lane

That family was the Duggars. When Jim Bob Duggar met Michelle Ruark following her conversion to the Independent Baptist Church in the early 1980s, their connection was immediate. After a brief courtship, the couple wed in 1984, when Jim Bob was 19 and Michelle was just 17 years old.

The Duggars initially wanted to wait to have children, and in the early years of their marriage, Michelle used oral contraceptives to prevent pregnancy. Following the birth of son Joshua in 1988, Michelle resumed her birth control regimen.


Despite these preventative measures, Michelle got pregnant with their second child, Caleb, sometime in 1988. Sadly, Michelle miscarried shortly after the couple got the news.

Pittsburgh Orbit

Following this devastating experience, Michelle stopped taking birth control, believing it to have been the cause of her miscarriage. The Duggars then vowed to “let God decide” how many children they should have, and Michelle later gave birth to twins Jana Marie and John-David.

Over the years, they welcomed eleven more children: Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy-Anna, twins Jedidiah and Jeremiah, Jason, James, and Justin. The unorthodox family gained national attention, and in 2004, Michelle’s fifteenth pregnancy with son Jackson prompted the TV special 14 Children And Pregnant Again!

The nation quickly fell in love with the wholesome Arkansans, prompting Discovery to continue chronicling the family’s story. Following the birth of their sixteenth child, Johannah, the Duggars appeared in the Discovery specials 16 Children and Moving In, Raising 16 Children, and On the Road With 16 Children.

TV Guide

In 2007, the Duggars introduced child number seventeen, Jennifer, to the world, leading Discovery to consider making them a regular addition to their full-time slate. The project was greenlit in no time, and on September 29, 2008, the first episode of 17 Kids And Counting aired.

The show was an immediate success, though the name would only stick for its first season. After the birth of Jordyn-Grace Duggar on December 8, 2008, the series was aptly renamed 18 Kids And Counting.

Time Magazine

The show became 19 Kids And Counting with the birth of Josie Duggar, though her premature birth — she was born three months early — shifted the focus of the show from a family dealing with everyday life to one struggling to help their youngest survive.

Los Angeles Times

Josie eventually pulled through, inspiring Jim Bob and Michelle to try for a twentieth child. In 2011, the couple announced Michelle was pregnant with daughter Jubilee, though just a month later, they revealed the child had been stillborn.

Find A Grave

Backlash ensued, with many calling the Duggars out for their “irresponsible” desire to procreate in light of Josie’s recent health struggles. But this would only be the tip of the iceberg, as four years later, a dark secret emerged that the family would never recover from.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, In Touch Weekly obtained a 2006 police report detailing sexual abuse allegations against eldest Duggar son Josh. The report alleged that Josh had molested five girls between 2002 and 2003, four of whom were his own sisters.

Rather than find help for their son, Jim Bob and Michelle sent Josh for a “stern talking to” by an Arkansas state trooper. Yet the molestations continued, forcing the Duggars to report the incidents a full sixteen months after they first began.


TLC responded to the allegations by pulling all reruns of the show from its airing schedule, and advertisers immediately withdrew their support for the program. As the public outcry continued to build, Discovery officially cancelled 19 Kids And Counting on July 16, 2015.

Entertainment Weekly

The Duggars issued public apologies addressing the scandal, including one from Josh, who called his actions “inexcusable.” Unfortunately, Josh’s demons had only just begun to come to light.

Following a data breach of the adult-affair website Ashley Madison, Josh’s name was released among the millions of site users. Records showed that Josh had paid just shy of $1,000 for two subscriptions to the site and had been cheating on his wife, Anna Keller, since 2013.


In response to this revelation, Josh issued a statement confirming his infidelity and admitted to having an addiction to pornography. Shortly after, Josh checked himself into Reformers Unanimous to begin “long-term treatment.”


But while Josh’s mistakes had tainted the Duggar name, America wasn’t ready to give up on the family they had grown so close to over the last seven years. Discovery knew this, too, and on December 15, 2015, Counting On premiered on TLC.

The Repository

The show focused on Jill and Jessa — who were two of Josh’s victims — and the aftermath of the scandal. Counting On eventually included the rest of the family, chronicling their lives as the adult Duggars began marrying and having kids of their own.


As of May 2019, the Duggar family has grown to include thirteen grandchildren with several more currently on the way. Even in the face of struggle and heartbreak, the strength of a family can trump even life’s greatest challenges.

19 Kids And Counting Wiki

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