Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birth Certificate: Barack Obama's 17th Century Roots in Flushing, Queens Provide a Clue

As I recently blogged, § 338-18 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes permits someone to obtain someone else's birth certificate if they are:

(5) A person having a common ancestor with the registrant.

Someone just e-mailed with a brilliant suggestion:

"Since anyone with a common ancestor can request a certificate, why not find someone with an ancestor in common with Obama and ask that person to request his birth certificate? Dick Cheney, for example. (Just kidding, but supposedly they do share an ancestor.)"

I obtained the Baltimore Sun article to which my correspondent referred in her e-mail. The article concerns genealogist, William Adams Reitweisner, who has compiled Senator Obama's genealogy. The article mentions George Washington Overall, Mary Duvall and Christopher Columbus Clark. Mr. Reitweisner's analysis is here. Senator Obama's family goes back 11 generations in America and includes quite a few ancestors from 17th century New York and New Jersey, including a Simon de Ruyne, who was born in Flushing in 1645.

The following is a list of Mr. Obama's ancestors from Mr. Reitweisner's analysis. Mr. Reitweisner cautions that the list is a "first draft". The most recent Obama ancestors are listed first.


State of Hawaii Department of Health
Honolulu, Hawaii 98601-3378

and inform them that under § 338-18 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes you are entitled to obtain a copy of Mr. Barack Obama's birth certificate because you share an ancestor in common. Please forward the copy to me, other bloggers and the newspapers. The list includes:

Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham
Ruth Lucille Armour
Rolla Charles Payne
Leona McCurry
Jacob William Dunham
Mary Ann Kearney
Harry Ellington Armour
Gabriella Clark
Charles T Payne
Della Wolfley
Thomas Creekmore McCurry
Margaret Belle Wright
Jacob Mackey Dunham
Louise Eliza Stroup
Falmouth Kearney
Charlotte Holloway
George W Armour
Nancy Ann Childress
Christopher Columbus Clark
Susan C Overall
Benjamin F Payne
Eliza Black
Robert Wolfley
Rachel Abbott
Harbin Wilburn McCurry
Elizabeth Edna Creekmore
Joseph Samuel Wright
Frances A Allred
Jacob Dunham
Catherine Goodnight
John Stroup
Eliza Jane Clemmons
Joseph Kearney
Josiah Holloway
Martha Mallow
William Armour
Sarah Poland
John Milton Childress
Nancy Conyers
Thomas Clark
Elizabeth Davis
George Washington Overall
Louisiana Duvall
Francis Thomas Payne
Harriet Bowles
John S Black
Sarah Taylor
George Wolfley
Nancy Perry
Jonathan Abbott
Adah Wright
Edward McCurry
Christine Wilson
Thomas Creekmore
Mary Edna Ellis
Obediah C Wright
Malinda Jones
Samuel Thompson Allred
Anna Bunch
Samuel Dunham
Samuel Goodnight
Magdalena Berkheimer
William Stroup
Ann Thomas
Armel Showell Holloway
Anna Maria Godfrey
John P Childress
Catherine Ament
Robert OVerall
Annie Browning
Gabriel Duvall
Mary Grable
Jesse Payne
Rebecca Crenshaw
David Jesse Bowles
Elizabeth Thomas Martin
John Block
George Taylor
Mary Thomas
Ludwig/Lewis Wolfley
Anna Maria Toot
Robert Perry
Sarah Ellen Hoskins
Abraham Wright
John McCurry
Lydia Williams
John Wilson
Ruth Wilburn
John Allred
Phoebe Thompson
Nathaniel Bunch
Johathan Dunham
Mary Smith
Christian Gutknecht/Goodnight
Maria Magdelana Grunholtz
Leonhard Berkheimer
John Stroup
Mary Stehle
Elijah Holloway
Elizabeth Showell
Robert Childers
Nancy Pryor
Phillip Ament
Maria Elisabeth Schmidt
John Overall
Frances Whitledge
James Browning
John Miles Duvall
Anne Roselle Philomena Tarleton
Jesse Bowles
Hannah Perkins
Thomas Martin
Susannah Walker
Johann Conrad Wolfley
Anna Catherine Shockey
George Toot
Henry Perry
Richard Hoskins
James Wilborn
Mary Isabel Teague
Solomon Allred
Charles Bunch
Mary Bellamy
Benjamin Dunham
Mary Rolph
Shubael Smith
Prudence FitzRandolph
Hanss Gutknecht
Anna Barabara Kieffer
Johann Michael Grunholtz
Magdalena Mitscher
Johann Philipp Straub
Ulrich Stehle
John Hollowy
Frances (Woodford or Bradford)
Henry Childers
Susannah Goolsby
Philip Ament
Susannah Margaret Forrisen
Jacob Schmidt
Anna Maria Lambert
John Overall
Mary Elliott
William Whitledge
Frances Overall
John Browning
Elizabeth Demarest
James Hickman
Hannah Lewis
Jacob Duvall
Mary Miles
James Tarleton
Ann Henning
David Bowles
Sarah Hughes
Stephen Perkins
Mary Hughes
David Toot
William Hoskins
Samuel BUnch
Mary Hudson
John Bellamy
Susan Roe
Joanathan SIngletary alias Dunham
Mary Bloomfield
John Rolph
Mary Sculliard
Smauel Smith
Elizabeth Peirce
Samuel FitzRandolph
Mary Jones
Bartholomew Grunholz
Daniel Mitscher
John Holloway
Mary Gordy
Jacob Matthias Lambert
Anna Rosina Rees
William OVerall
Mary Jones
Thomas Whitledge
Sybil Harrison
Francis Browning
Elizabeth Lloyd
Jan Demarest
Alice Earle
Edwin Hickman
Eleanor Elliott
David Lewis
Anne Terrell
Mareen Duvall
Elizabeth Jacob
James Tarleton
Constantine Perkins
Anne Pollard
John Bunch
Rebecca Harrison
John Hudson
Elizabeth Harris
John Bellamy
WIlliam Roe
Richard Singletary
John Smith
Susannah Hinckley
Nathaniel FitzRandolph
Mary Holley
Jeffrey Jones
John Holloway
Adrian Gordy
Mary Disharoone
William Overall
Jane Baldridge
John Jones
Burr Harrison
Sarah Burdette
Jan Demarest
Dobora Heyet
Edward Earle
Elsie Vreeland
Thomas Hickman
Martha Thacker
William Terrell
Susan Waters
Mareen Duvall
John Jacob
Ann Cheney
John Bunch
Temperance Bates
William Hudson
Elizabeth Jennings
William Harris
Samuel Hinckley
Sarah Soole
Edward FitzRandolph
Elizabeth Blossom
Joseph Holly
Rose Allen
James Baldridge
Jean Demarest
Jacomina de Ruyne
Edward Earle
Hannah Baylis
Enoch Vreeland
Dirckhe Meyer
Thomas Hickman
Mary Pascal
Henry Thacker
Eltonhead Conway
Richard Cheney
John Bunch
George Allen
David Demarest
Marie Sohier
Simon de Ruyne
Magdalena van der Straaten
John Baylis
Michael Vreeland
Fytje Hermans
Jan Meyer
Tryntje Grevenraedt
Edwin Conway
Martha Eltonhead

Again, if you have an ancestor on the above list, you can obtain Barack Obama's birth certificate and provide bloggers and newspapers with a copy from:

Chiyome L. Fukino, MD
Director of Public Health
State of Hawaii Department of Health
Honolulu, Hawaii 98601-3378

Here is the article from the Baltimore Sun:

IT IS A question that few thought a man aiming to be America's first black President would ever have to answer: did your family once own slaves?

But that question is now likely to be asked of Senator Barack Obama, who is bidding for the 2008 presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, in part on the appeal of his bi-racial background.

As the son of a black Kenyan father and a white Kansan mother, Obama has seemed to embody a harmonious vision of America's multiracial society. However, recent revelations have thrown up an unexpected twist in the tale.

Obama's ancestors on his white mother's side appear to have been slave owners.

William Reitwiesner, an amateur genealogical researcher, has published a history of Obama's mother's family and discovered that her ancestors have a distinctly shadowy past.

Reitwiesner traced Obama's great-great-great-great-grandfather, George Washington Overall, and found that he owned two slaves in Kentucky: a 15-year-old girl and a 25-year-old man.

He also found out that Obama's great-great-great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Duvall, also owned a pair of slaves listed in an 1850 census record. They were a 60-year-old man and a 58-year-old woman. In fact, the Duvalls were a wealthy family whose members were descended from a major landowner, Maureen Duvall, whose estate owned at least 18 slaves in the 17th century.

The news comes at a time when Obama is engaged in a fierce battle with Senator Hillary Clinton to woo black voters in their bids to get the Democratic presidential nomination. It also comes ahead of appearances by both Clinton and Obama today in Selma, Alabama, to mark the anniversary of a famous 1965 civil rights march. This is hardly the best time to be exposed as the descendant of slave owners.

Reitwiesner has posted his research, which he warns is a efirst draft', on his website,

However, the news is unlikely to be a serious political problem for Obama,
despite the fact that some black commentators have accused him of not being a real black American. Nor is he likely to be alone in finding out that his white ancestors once owned the ancestors of his fellow black Americans.

America, like Britain, is caught in the grip of a frenzy of genealogical research. Dozens of websites have sprung up, allowing fast and easy access to all sorts of historical records and prompting many Americans to research their family trees.

That can throw up some very surprising results. In fact, last week Obama
was not even the only black politician to find out some unusual personal history. The civil rights campaigner, the Reverend Al Sharpton was stunned to discover his slave ancestors were owned by the late politician Strom Thurmond, who once ran for President on a staunchly racist segregationist platform. The pair might even be related. The news prompted Sharpton to issue a statement about his private agony at the revelation. eWords cannot fully describe the feelings I had when I learned the awful truth. Not only I am the descendant of slaves, but my family had to endure the particular agony of being slaves to the Thurmonds.'

Obama's campaign team have handled the news of his family's slaving past a bit more casually and a lot less emotionally, issuing a statement saying such a family background was erepresentative of America'. That is certainly true. Slavery was the economic bedrock of the American economy in the South before the Civil War. It would come as no surprise that anyone tracing their family roots back to the pre-war South would find that his descendants had owned slaves.

But more edifying discoveries can come from looking at the past too. Another of Obama's ancestors, his great-great-great-grandfather, Christopher Columbus Clark, fought for the Union army in the Civil War. As a result Obama can also lay claim to relatives who risked their lives to end slavery. eWhile a relative owned slaves, another fought for the Union,' said Obama Enhanced Coverage LinkingObama spokesman Bill Burton in a statement. Perhaps it is just another case of ObamaEnhanced Coverage Linking Obama's complex past showing that he can have it both ways.

1 comment:

Miss said...

I don't think this idea will work, because again, the way in which OHSM has operationalized this provision of the statute seems far more restrictive than the statute itself:

Who is Eligible to Apply for Certified Copies of Vital Records?
"a person having a common ancestor with the registrant (e.g., a sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle, or cousin);"
So I don't think having a common ancestor dating back 100+ years will really be viewed as a compelling interest.

The OHSM does allow genealogy requests; however, only if they are for events that occurred 75 or more years ago: "For vital records of events that occurred seventy-five years or less prior to the current year, the applicant must establish a direct and tangible interest in the records."