by Natalie Finn | Fri., Sep. 1, 2017 5:00 AM
The Duggars aren't going anywhere. In fact, there's more of them than ever before.
Two years after TLC canceled the very popular 19 Kids and Counting in the wake of the kind of scandal that seemingly would have spelled the collapse of the family's burgeoning reality TV empire, the circle of life continues to win the day. Every new pregnancy, birth, engagement and wedding announcement ensures another round of headlines for the indomitable Duggars—some of whom continue to star on TLC's Counting On.
And to be sure, the entire clan has stuck together through thick and thin, the good, the bad and the downright ugly—and they've remained fiercely devoted to each other.
And since at this point we're talking about more than two dozen people, ranging in age from 1 to 52, we've gone ahead and spelled out who everyone is, starting with the family's tireless (you kinda have to be, right?) patriarch and matriarch.
The parents of 19 and grandparents of nine, with one on the way (at press time), met as teenagers when Jim Bob was making home visits to people who had attended his Baptist church and he ended up knocking on Michelle Ruark's family's door. Michelle told Love to Know that she had recently been "saved" at 15 and had gone to church with her friend—but didn't remember meeting Jim Bob there. After making all of the visits they were assigned, JB's friend told him he knew of "this girl from school that just got saved and is a cheerleader." They invited Michelle to Sunday school at the church and later Jim Bob said he prayed to god that they would end up together. A year later, Michelle happened to apply for a job at Jim Bob's parents' frozen yogurt shop.
He later invited Michelle to the junior/senior dance at his high school, Shiloh Christian, but it was when they hung out discussing the Bible for four hours that they knew.
"From there, we believe our hearts were knit together," Michelle said. "We graduated high school in May of 1984 and were married in July. I was 17 and Jim Bob was 19."
The couple dedicated themselves to God and each other—and became licensed realtors as well.
Jim Bob is a former state legislator, having served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for the sixth district from 1999 until 2002, during which he was vice chair of the House of Corrections and Criminal Law Subcommittee. He launched a U.S. Senate bid but lost in the 2002 primary and lost again in 2006 when he tried to become the Republican nominee for Arkansas State Senate District 35.
Both he and Michelle have been active in conservative causes—an aspect of their lifestyle that simultaneously won them fierce supporters and fierce critics. Michelle spoke out against a proposed state anti-discrimination law in 2014. The robocall she recorded to encourage people to vote against the ballot measure—in which she "informed them" of the dangers of letting transgender people use the facilities they most feel comfortable in—inspired a Change.org petition demanding TLC cancel their show (which the network did not do at the time).
TLC did cancel 19 Kids and Counting, however, after In Touch Weekly dug up records in May 2015 revealing Josh Duggar, Jim Bob and Michelle's eldest child, had molested five girls, including his sisters Jessa and Jill, when he was a teenager. When their parents found out, they opted to discipline him at home and eventually had him go to a youth camp founded by a family friend to sort himself out.
"I do want to speak up in his defense against people who are calling him a child molester or a pedophile or a rapist, some people are saying," Jessa told Fox News in June 2015. "I'm like that is so overboard and a lie, really. I mean people get mad at me for saying that, but I can say this because I was one of the victims."
Josh was born on March 3, 1988, and after being home-schooled (as the Duggars would do with all of their kids) he too became a conservative activist, stumping for the Family Council until he stepped down in the wake of his scandal.
And it would only get worse for the family before it would get better. The infamous Ashley Madison hack—which exposed the names of thousands of people who had set up accounts on the cheating site—revealed that Josh had been on the site. He insisted he never actually arranged to meet up with anybody that way, but he would eventually admit to being unfaithful to his wife of seven years, Anna (née Keller), calling himself "the biggest hypocrite."
"The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country, I was hiding my own personal failings," he said in a statement. Josh later checked into a residential treatment center, completing a program in March 2016 that his parents called "a crucial first step in recovering and healing" for their son.
Josh and Anna were parents of three children—daughter Mackynzie (Oct. 8, 2009) and sons Michael (June 15, 2011) and Marcus (June 2, 2013)—when the molestation scandal broke, and Anna gave birth to their fourth child, Meredith, on July 16, 2015, the same day TLC officially canceled the show.
In March 2017, the couple announced they were expecting their fifth child together and Mason Garett Duggar was born Sept. 12, 2017.
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Shortly after Josh was born, Michelle got pregnant again but suffered a miscarriage. While she and Jim Bob were still grieving that loss, she found out she was pregnant with twins.
"We felt it was a double blessing," she told Love to Know. "God was encouraging our hearts. We're still learning. It's really so unusual, because I breastfeed my babies, but my children are so close together. I have a baby and then eight months later I'm expecting. Just another unusual thing the Lord has seen fit to do with our situation."
Jana and John-David were born on Jan. 12, 1990, and though both have been the subject of recent "courting" rumors (in fact, Jana was rumored to be more than friends with Bringing Up Bates star Lawson Bates, who also has 18 brothers and sisters), each remains unattached.
"There have been different guys who have come along and asked, but they haven't been, I don't know, the right one," Jana said on Counting On. "It's like this weird in-between stage. I'm not a younger one, but I'm not an older, married one with kids."
Jill was born on May 17, 1991. In a love story reminiscent of her parents', Jill first met Derick (who grew up about 45 minutes away) on Christmas 2011 when he stopped by the Duggar family abode while out caroling with his church group.
She didn't think much about it at the time, but Derick asked Jim Bob if he would be his prayer counselor when he went to Nepal for two years for his mission. In March 2013, Jill remembered in a story posted to their wedding website, "Derick called my dad to give him an update and pray together and I happened to walk in the room. Unlike the other times when I had just listened in, this time my dad told Derick I had just come in the room and asked him to tell me a little bit about himself. We talked briefly that evening, however in the months following I didn't think much about him."
So Jim Bob played matchmaker, and Jill and Derick hit it off, growing closer over email and Skype. Father and daughter went to visit Derick in Nepal that November and Jill and Derick continued to fall for each other. In February 2014, Derick asked Jim Bob for his daughter's hand in marriage, and they tied the knot on June 21, 2014. They welcomed their first son, Israel, on April 6, 2015, and son Samuel on July 8, 2017.
Jim Bob and Michelle's fifth child was born Nov. 4, 1992.
Jessa met Ben through church and he began courting her in 2013—which, at the time, was a newfangled (albeit super-old-fashioned) notion to a lot of people. The kids never talked about their romances pre-engagement, so Jim Bob explained to People, "Courting is getting to know each other in a group setting, both families spending time together and the couple setting goals together to determine if they are meant to marry. With dating, a couple will often pair off alone and that sometimes leads to a more physical relationship."
Ben asked for Jessa's hand and then proposed in August 2014—sealing the deal by holding her hand for the first time. They married on Nov. 1, 2014. Jessa was pregnant with their first child when 19 Kids and Counting was canceled and TLC subsequently aired a special about sexual abuse, featuring Jill and Jessa, to further educate viewers on the subject. The sisters would end up the stars of their own show, Jill and Jessa: Counting On, that winter; the show has since evolved to become Counting On, featuring other Duggar siblings as well.
Meanwhile, Jessa and Ben welcomed son Spurgeon on Nov. 5, 2015, and son Henry on Feb. 6, 2017.
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The sixth Duggar child was born Dec. 21, 1993.
Jinger and Jeremy met doing ministry work in Laredo, Texas, and started courting in 2016. They married on Nov. 5, 2016 (nephew Spurgeon's birthday—but you just try not overlapping milestones when you're one of 19), and were promptly the subject of pregnancy rumors.
"Where we see ourselves in a year is probably just settled down, still doing ministry here in Laredo, and just seeking to serve the Lord, however, we can," Jinger said on a June 2017 episode of Counting On.
The couple announced in January 2018 that their first child was on the way.
No. 7 was born on Jan. 20, 1995. Taking advantage of the romantic setting, he proposed to Kendra (whom he met through church) at his sister Joy-Anna's wedding in May 2017 after just a few months of courting.
"I was definitely nervous going into it, but I wasn't afraid that she was going to say no, because she has said, 'I'm just waiting on you!'" Joseph told People after popping the question. Added Kendra, "I'm so happy and so shocked. There's so many words I want to say, but just shocked."
The couple revealed in December 2017 that Kendra was pregnant.
Eighth in line, Josiah was born on Aug. 28, 1996.
Just a few months after his courtship with Lauren went public, the couple announced their engagement in March 2018. "The place where I proposed to Lauren is the exact spot where her parents were engaged," he said in a statement. "There's a lot of family history on this property making it a special place for Lauren."
"We love Lauren, she is such a precious girl," her future mother-in-law, Michelle, said in a video posted on the family's blog. Jessa and Ben also offered congratulations, and chocolate shaped like x's and o's. "Pretty sure that y'all want to save your first kiss for your wedding day, but if you come over here we'll give you..." She held up the sweet consolation prize.
A previous courtship with Marjorie Jackson didn't work out and they went their separate ways in the summer of 2015. "Marjorie and I had a good time together," Josiah recalled to People in March 2016. "We were just trying to follow God's lead on everything. She didn't feel that it was the right timing then, so we called it quits for a bit."
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The ninth Duggar sibling was born Oct. 28, 1997.
She knew Austin for 15 years as a friend before he started courting her—after which they didn't waste any time. He proposed in February 2017 and they married on May 26, 2017, at Cross Church in Rogers, Ark. (the wedding where Joseph proposed to Kendra!). They welcomed son Gideon Martin Forsyth on Feb. 23, 2018.
Jim Bob and Michelle's second set of twins were born on Dec. 30, 1998.
It was reported in February 2017 that Jed and Joy-Anna were interning at their dad's old stomping grounds, the state capitol working for the Arkansas House of Representatives.
Duggar child No. 12 (here with niece Meredith) was born on April 21, 2000.
In January 2017, the Daily Mail reported that Jim Bob helped Jason buy a $33,000 fixer-upper in Prairie Grove, Ark., about 30 minutes away from the Duggar family homestead.
They grow up so fast!
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Charmed No. 13, James arrived on July 7, 2001.
No. 14 arrived on Nov. 15, 2002.
Here with his big sister Jill, Jim Bob and Michelle's 15th child was born May 23, 2004.
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Duggar baby No. 16, born Oct. 11, 2005, wishes dad a happy Father's Day in 2017.
No. 17 arrived on Aug. 2, 2007. Back when it was just 17 Kids and Counting, Jenni was the baby of the family!
Here on the right, the penultimate Duggar child was born Dec. 18, 2008.
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Lucky No. 19, here holding niece Meredith, was born on Dec. 10, 2009—three months premature and weighing only 1 pound, 6 ounces. Josie spent six months in the neonatal intensive care unit but is happily doing great now.
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