President O’Bama? Irish-American relatives identified

The President's ancestry can be traced back to the Emerald Isle

Topics: Barack Obama, St. Patrick\'s Day,

President O'Bama? Irish-American relatives identified

President Barack Obama found out years ago he had an Irish ancestor who fled the potato famine in Ireland in 1850. He can now claim 28 living relatives who also descended from that Irishman, including a Vietnam veteran, a school nurse and a displeased Arizona Republican.

The president’s newly identified relatives are revealed in a study released to The Associated Press by Ancestry.com, a family history website whose genealogists also traced descendants of 23 other Irish passengers on the ship that brought Falmouth Kearney to the United States when he was 19.

The survey allowed genealogists to further trace branches in Obama’s family tree and others who arrived on the ship, known as the Marmion, on March 20, 1850.

According to the survey, the passengers’ descendants live in Canada, Syria and throughout the United States. Among Obama’s newly identified relatives is 83-year-old Dorma Lee Reese, of Tucson, Ariz.

“I’m not a Democrat, so I can’t say I clapped,” said Reese, a retired brain-imaging technologist. “I don’t appreciate what he’s done by any means, but I do appreciate that he holds that office.”

Kearney arrived with his brother-in-law William and his wife, Margaret Cleary. They were destined for Ohio, where Kearney’s relative had left property in his name. Kearney married, had 10 children and later settled in Indiana, where he worked as a farmer.

Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was a descendant of one of Kearney’s daughters, Mary Ann Kearney, and Jacob William Dunham. The White House didn’t immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment on the president’s Irish heritage.

When the 903-ton Marmion arrived after a 3,000-mile voyage to New York Harbor from Liverpool, England, carrying 289 passengers, it was following a well-worn route used by masses of Irish immigrants.

Among the carpenters, bricklayers and shoemakers arriving that day was Kearney, listed in records only as a laborer.

Like many of the passengers, he was fleeing a country ravaged by a potato blight that destroyed families and livelihoods and left the country starving. From the 1840s to the end of the 1850s, about 1.7 million Irish immigrants came to the United States.

On the day of the Marmion’s arrival, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that the St. Patrick’s Society in Brooklyn had held its first annual banquet; a toast was made to the passengers’ homeland, referring to it by its ages-old nickname: “Though gloomy shadows hang o’er thee now … as darkness is densest, even just before day, So thy gloom, truest Erin, may soon pass away.”



By 1860, the city had the largest Irish population in the world outside Ireland. Nearly 37 million Americans claimed Irish ancestry in 2009, according to census estimates.

Ancestry.com revealed Obama’s Irish roots and his connection to Kearney in 2007, but it is uncovering its new findings this week following months of work as part of a larger project on Irish heritage.

“We had this idea of trying to look at a micro-study of how Irish immigrants have impacted the United States,” said Anastasia Harman, the lead family historian for Ancestry.com.

Other distant Obama relatives include Roma Joy Palmer, 66, of Mulvane, Kan., who is retired from the insurance business, and Daniel Dillard, 63, a Vietnam War veteran and retired community college professor.

“I really don’t like to claim a relationship to Obama. He is not my favorite president,” said Palmer, a Republican. “I don’t have anything against him personally. But I don’t think we have the same agenda.”

Dillard, though, said he took pride in his family “being related to a president of the United States,” even though he is a registered Republican, did not vote for Obama and opposes his politics.

Sandra West, 65, of Hereford, Ariz., also was identified by Ancestry.com but had already discovered years ago that she was distantly related to Obama when she investigated the Dunhams of Kansas.

“I figured there had to be a connection somewhere,” she said.

West, who works as a nurse at Palominas Elementary School, said that it had become a running joke and that the principal had suggested requesting a tour of the White House. But West figured the president already had enough going on.

“I don’t think he would want to pay much attention to me,” she said. “I’m sort of a peon down the road. I’m nobody special.”

——

Online:

http://www.Ancestry.com/Irishrecords

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>