Uncovers Irish Roots Of Barack “O’Bama”

1860 Census, Barack Obama ancestor, Falmouth KearneySenator’s 3rd Great-Grandfather Born in Ireland, Immigrated to U.S. in 1850; Historical Documents on Reveal Light-Hearted Side of America’s Irish Heritage

PROVO, Utah, March 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —, the world’s largest online resource for family history which recently discovered Al Sharpton’s shocking connection to Strom Thurmond, revealed today that presidential hopeful Barack Obama has Irish branches in his family tree. More than a century and a half ago, 19-year-old Falmouth Kearney, Obama’s third great-grandfather, sailed from Ireland, landing in New York harbor on March 20, 1850. 

Settling initially in Ohio among Irish relatives [click on the image to enlarge his 1860 census enumeration], Falmouth married, had eight children, and eventually moved to Indiana. Three of Falmouth’s daughters married three brothers with the last name Dunham. Obama’s mother is descended from one of these couples — her birth name was Dunham. 

Falmouth was among the thousands of Irish immigrating to America to escape the late 1840s potato famine in Ireland. By 1860, New York City had the largest Irish population in the world — a quarter of its residents had been born in Ireland.

“If Barack Obama and Al Sharpton’s family histories have taught us anything, it’s shown that our roots illustrate the diverse fabric of America’s history,” says Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for “Our family heritage is often a tangle of roots that defines our existence within the events that shaped this country. There’s no such thing as a boring family tree and as you discover your own history, the journey reveals the real stories of America.” Continue reading

Changes in the Trees

Family Tree Site 3-7-07.bmpThose of you who have been to Ancestry in the past day or so may be wondering what happened to the Trees tab. Well, there have been some enhancements to the trees and they are now more than just a tree–they are Family History Sites and they’ve moved to the My Ancestry tab.

In addition, when you enter your family history site, you leave the standard Ancestry navigation tool bar. This is nice since it opens the space up for more of your family history, and there are still smaller links at the very top of the page so that you can easily bounce back to other sections of

Another recent upgrade makes it easier to merge records from to your family tree. It’s now easier to replace old information with the new information from the record, and to give better options for how the information is sourced and how it creates (or doesn’t create) alternate facts within your family tree.

It’s also easier to navigate through photos you’ve added. If you have more than four photos for a person or a tree, the new photo display wraps them into a tool that allows for fast scrolling and a nice description when your mouse hovers over the image.

For more information on these changes, see the Member Trees Tutorial.

Weekly Planner: Catalog Your Library

Juliana's cat, Pearl JamTired of searching for that book you need? Kick off your spring cleaning with an overhaul of those overflowing bookshelves. While you’re at it, why not catalog them? Create your own spreadsheet or try one of the new software programs that will do most of the work for you. Check out the selection at by searching for “personal library catalog.” If you’ve tried any of these products, please share your experience in the comments section of this post!

Finding Your Ethnic Origins: An Irish Example, by Juliana Smith

Killybegs. Co. Donegal, Ireland.jpgOne of the most thrilling aspects of family history is the ability to trace your ancestor’s steps back to the very place where she or he lived in the old country. While it can be challenging, the rewards are great. When you discover that patch of earth they called home, you suddenly have a better understanding of who they really were and why their move to this country has made a difference in your life. With the discovery of foreign origins, doors open to brand new research possibilities. You may even find that you have relatives living in the old country who are ready and waiting to meet you and tell you more!
When taking any family history quest overseas, it’s best to exhaust sources on this side of the ocean first. Records that are right here in the United States can be rich in information about your family. Many nearby sources can get you closer to learning where you inherited your twinkling eyes, your wonderful smile, your sense of humor, and your all-round great disposition. While some of the resources mentioned here are Irish specific, many of the techniques can also apply to other ethnicities. Here are some things to consider closer to home: Continue reading

Alternate Records Can Open Doors, by George G. Morgan

Placing your ancestors in a specific location at a specific point in time is essential to ensure that you are searching in the right place for other records about them. Regular national census enumerations have been created every ten years in the United States since 1790; in the United Kingdom, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Wight since 1801; and in most areas of Canada since 1871. Other colonial, state, provincial, and local censuses also have been taken at other times. However, as you already know, genealogists use census records more often than any others to establish ancestors’ locations. But what about those intermediate years between enumerations, those enumeration periods for which census records have been lost, and the census records that have been destroyed?

It is essential that you recognize that there are many types of alternative records that may be used to establish an ancestor’s location at a specific given point in time. For Americans, this is especially important because, with the loss of 99.99 percent of the 1890 U.S. federal population census records, other substitutes must be used to locate ancestors during that twenty-year gap between the 1880 and 1900 censuses. The types of alternate records most frequently used in these cases include city directories, telephone directories, professional and trade directories, alumni directories and yearbooks, tax lists, religious membership rolls, and numerous other types of annually created records. Using a sequence of local directories and other materials that are published annually may help you learn when your ancestor arrived in an area and when he or she moved away or died. Directories often include addresses, and even occupations, that can point your research in new directions to other evidence sources. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: Directory of Irish Genealogy, from George G. Morgan

Persons with Irish ancestors will appreciate the Directory of Irish Genealogy website. First published in 1990 and online since 1998, the directory contains an excellent collection of materials to further your research. The Beginner’s Guide is an introduction to Irish genealogy research with guidance to reference and general sources of all types. The Register of Irish Emigrants helps fill some gaps in records, and there are several informative articles, book reviews, and a collection of other helpful Web links.

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The Year Was 1848

The Cove of Cork (Currier and Ives, 1856)The year was 1848 and for much of Europe it was a period of unrest as the Revolutions of 1848 swept the continent. During a period of economic depression, the revolutions are sparked in France with a revolt against the king, Louis Philippe, which led to the short-lived Second Republic of France. 

The revolution in France moved to Vienna and put the Austrian Habsburg Empire on the defensive as democratic reformers took over.

Germany and Italy at the time were made up of loosely connected states. With unrest in the air, a strong nationalist state was seen as security and there were movements toward unification in both cases. These movements failed for the time being, and unification would not transpire until 1861 in Italy and 1871 in Germany.

The revolutionary trend spread to the Kingdom of Hungary, then part of the Austrian Empire, where the spirit of nationalism continued under leaders like Istvan (Stephen) Szechenyi and Lajos (Louis) Kossuth. They saw the troubles in Vienna as an opportunity to create a new relationship between Austria and the Diet of Hungary through the “April Laws.” However, the new legislation left out the rights of non-Magyar ethnic minorities that were encompassed by the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1849, Austria, with help from the Russians, put an end to the Revolution of 1848. Continue reading

Photo Corner

O'Callaghan family of Kanturk, Co. Cork, Ireland, taken in 1941, NYCContributed by Mary W. McGrath from New Jersey
This photo is of my mother’s family. Standing is my grandfather, Michael O’Callaghan, Lt. NYPD, from Kanturk Co. Cork, Ireland; my grandmother, Anna Mae Cassidy, of New Milford, Connecticut; my mother, Joan O’Callaghan, age fourteen. Seated is her brother Fr. Donal (Daniel) O’Callaghan O’Carm age twenty-three and James O’Callaghan age twenty-one. Taken ca. 1941 in New York City.
Jane and Bridget RourkeContributed by Regina Marie Henderson, Jasper, Florida
Jane Veronica Rourke and her mother Bridget Ellwood Rourke taken before they sailed to the United States from Ireland in 1882.