Archive for August, 2008

DearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour Genealogy Podcast Features

Friday, August 29th, 2008

DearMYRTLEDearMYRTLE’s Family History Hour genealogy podcast for August 19, 2008, is available online and includes Whitney Ransom McGowan, corporate communications director for talking about the upcoming innovations to and Whitney’s portion of the podcast starts about 47 minutes into the program.

DearMYRTLE’S other guests include Dusty Rhodes from, the free website that helps users coordinate communication with family and other researchers with common paternal DNA (Y-DNA); and Elizabeth Powell Crowe, author of Genealogy Online 8th edition.

New Research Takes Barack Obama’s Irish Family–The Kearneys–Back To The Late 17th Century

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Recently, Eneclann made the following announcement. Eneclann has been a partner since the beginning of 2008. Eneclann databases available on are the 1851 Dublin City Census and the Index to Irish Wills (1484-1858).

New Research Takes Barack Obama’s Irish Family–The Kearneys–Back To The Late 17th Century
Finds a family of wig-makers with an early involvement in local city politics

6 August 2008– Up to now, what was in the public domain, brought us back to Falmouth Kearney, Obama’s second great-grandfather, from Moneygall Co. Offally. Through extensive research genealogists at Eneclann ( have taken the Kearney family tree back to Obama’s sixth great-grandfather, Joseph Kearney born ca. 1698.

The Kearneys were skilled artisans, who prospered in the Eighteenth Century. One branch of the family did extremely well; Michael Kearney, (Obama’s sixth great-granduncle), a peruke (wig)-maker, becomes embroiled in the Dublin city politics of the day and John Kearney, who would be a distant cousin of Obama’s, went on to become the Provost of Trinity College Dublin, and later Bishop of Ossory. As the Nineteenth Century progresses the family line from which Obama descends fails to prosper and they emigrate to the US.

The Kearney family, were probably Gaelic Irish in origin, based on the family name, and the research has also discovered that the probable place of origin is Co. Tipperary.

Our starting point was the records at where we found Falmouth’s mother, Phoebe Kearney, in Griffith’s Valuation. If we look at the Kearney family that settled in Shinrone, Co. Offaly from the 1740s onwards – Obama’s direct line. Joseph Kearney from whom Obama is directly descended, was born ca. 1698, and had four known sons: Thomas born ca. 1725; Joseph born ca. 1730 [this is Obama's direct line]; John born ca. 1735; and Patrick bap. 9 Oct. 1741. Of these sons, Thomas followed in the profitable line of business established by the senior branch of the family, and he became a peruke-maker [from the 1768 Lease]; Joseph became a comber i.e. textiles/ weaving [1761 Marriage License Bond, Diocese of Killaloe]; The Kearneys were involved in the trade of peruke or periwig making. People wore wigs because they didn’t wash their hair – water was thought to spread disease. Wigs were not just a luxury item, they were worn by professionals, the gentry and the aristocracy, but also by many of the staff in big houses.

Early Political Involvement
Within the extended Kearney family, research revealed an early involvement in politics. Michael Kearney kinsman, (probably older brother) of Joseph Kearney, entered the Guild of Barber Surgeons & Periwigmakers in 1717, and was entered as a ‘Capillamentarius’ i.e. a hair dresser in the Freemens Rolls in 1718.

As a Freeman of Dublin City, he had the right to practice his trade and conduct business in Dublin City, and he had a vote in elections for the city council. Michael Kearney was very active within the politics of his trade guild. In 1720 within three years of joining he was elected house warden. In 1724, he was openly critical of the master and warden of his guild, and led a petition against them. Although he was suspended at that time, clearly he had the support of his fellow guild members, and within two years in 1726, Michael Kearney was elected master of the Guild of Barber Surgeons.

Research located a political pamphlet against Michael Kearney printed in 1726 called Hue and Cry. This pamphlet is written in fairly typical Eighteenth Century political invective, it is scurrilous, scabrous and slanderous, great fun to read but to be taken with a large pinch of salt. The following is an extract:

‘His head is still running
on tricking and cunning
But he mayn’t escape let me tell you
For the Fox has been caught
And pay’d dear at last
For the Geese he had put in his Belly’

Hue And Cry, After M-K, late Master to a Corporation in the City of Dublin.
By the Author of Namby Pamby.
( A copy of this pamphlet can be found at

In the 1750s, when the aristocracy tried to gerrymander elections to Dublin City Council to put in their own candidates, Michael Kearney was prominent among the Dublin Guildsmen in opposing them.

The Kearneys of Shinrone and Moneygall
Barack Obama is directly descended from the Kearneys of Shinrone & Moneygall Co. Offaly. The height of this family’s prosperity was between the 1760s and 1780s, when the nephews from Offaly stepped into their Dublin uncle’s business of wig-making. After the 1780s the fortunes of this line of the Kearney family went into fairly rapid decline due to a combination of the economic changes brought about after the Act of Union in 1801 and the decline in the fashion of wig wearing. Tracing the history of the Moneygall/Shinrone Kearneys, in the following generations William (1762-1828) and his son Joseph (ca. 1794-1861) both became shoe-makers, and there’s no evidence to suggest that they continued to transport their goods to Dublin for sale. In other words they were shoe-makers for a rural district, where the nearest market town was Roscrea. They did however retain some property rights in Moneygall and Shinrone, and it seems the family sold/ released their rights these properties in order to finance the family’s emigration to the United States.

Commenting on the research into Obama’s Irish links Fiona Fitzsimons, Director of Research at Eneclann Ltd. says ‘Apart from the obvious interest of a link to a US presidential candidate, the story of the Kearney family of Moneygall is a fascinating story in itself. The Kearney family history, illustrates over five generations, a family history that was not untypical in Ireland, but which we don’t often consider as a typical Irish emigrant story. However, we were taken by complete surprise to discover an early connection local politics and a distant cousin who becomes Provost of Trinity College Dublin and Bishop of Ossory.’

For further information:

Brian Donovan : +353 086 6486262 or
Cathy McCartney : +353 1 671 0338
(email) –, Major New Family History Database is Live and Growing

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 provides a free place online for families to store, share, and print heirloom-quality family history charts and graphs. (owned by, Inc.) began six weeks ago with the launch of a beta site.

During the six-week beta period (that ended in the beginning of August), more than ten million names and almost seven hundred GEDCOMs were uploaded to the site. This averages to approximately 250,000 names added per day.

Upcoming site features include the ability to edit information and change the display and output settings of each tree, photo links, research connection links between different trees based on ancestral relationships, printing features for family trees with pictures, the ability to embed family trees into blogs, and other features requested by users. Suggestions for the site can be sent to

An index of the GEDCOMs stored on will be available as part of free search results on, Inc. CEO Presents Keynote at Brigham Young University Family History and Genealogy Conference

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Shifting from the old to the new in family history research through technology 

Last week, family history enthusiasts participated in more than 100 classes, attended three keynote presentations, and browsed exhibits at Brigham Young University’s 40th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Paul Allen, CEO of, Inc., opened the Thursday sessions with a keynote address centered on innovative technology tools that help accelerate the efforts of genealogists and family historians.

Allen started his remarks by talking and signing “I love family history.” He explained that he recently spoke at a deaf genealogy conference and that there was “100 percent eye contact” immediately to the left of where he was speaking.

Allen then held up the book Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, and told the story of how the collection came about. He said the original organizers of the data had a difficult time gathering the information. The labor was so intense at times for them and so overwhelming, that it is written in the book: “… the vastness of the undertaking dawned upon its promoters and depressed them to almost stupidness.”

According to Allen, through technology, family historians are transitioning from an “old” way to a “new” way to do genealogy. In many cases, the “old” way was through individual effort. “We have built on the shoulders of dedicated individuals,” said Allen. “The shift now is from the dedicated sacrifice of individuals to open source or crowd sourcing where groups collaborate-where individual users contribute and work together.”

After Allen mentioned some of the projects that his company was undertaking to help connect families and bring them closer together, he said he hoped he and others wouldn’t experience a similar “vastness of the undertaking” and a depression “almost to stupidness.”

“Now the efforts are coming to a head, and the work will move forward in unprecedented ways,” predicted Allen. “This is a global work. Where we haven’t started scratching the surface is Asia. The population of North America in 1750 was 2 million. Asia had 500 million in 1750. Last week, the Chinese government announced more Internet users in China than in United States. Many of them are accessing the Internet via a cell phone. There are now about 4 billion cell phones. Think about that in terms of technology and family history. You are going to see some of the most remarkable things you have ever imagined.”

Allen announced the collaboration between FamilySearch and to publish the Family History Library Catalog-the largest single database of genealogy sources in the world-using a Web 2.0 approach. With the application of the Web 2.0 technology, individual genealogists, librarians, archivists, and others from around the world will be able, when the catalog comes online in the coming months, to enhance and extend the value of the catalog that currently has more than four million entries.

Users will be able to add new sources that are currently in the library catalog, and extend its scope of coverage. They will be able to improve the source descriptions, and even rate and review sources as to their usefulness. The user feedback combined with the intelligent search algorithm being developed by FamilyLink “will make the catalog better and better that it will become so easy that your children and grand children want to do it,” Allen said. “And our recommendation engine will get smarter and smarter as end users collaborate.”

World history has always been a passion for Allen, and he disclosed’s plans to unveil a new history site to encourage individuals to find out more about the historical context in which their ancestors lived. “We are more of an aggregator of content,” commented Allen. “Our primary goal is to broaden the interest in family history to millions of people of all ages. We want people to want to learn about their ancestors.”

Allen concluded the address by talking about the social networking sites being developed and enhanced by FamilyLink’s team. He said that his goal with the social networking sites is to “make sure your relatives are interested in what you are doing.”

Away Down South in Dixie Meets Scotland the Brave

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Genealogical Publishing Company installments at increase depth and complexity of collections

The Major Collection for this week consists of a hundred databases brought about through the partnership between the Genealogical Publishing Company and, Inc.

Many of the records deal with areas in the southern United States such as Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Others concern German and Scottish emigrants to New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania from the seventeenth century through to the early twentieth. Further records come from New Jersey, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc., and concern Native Americans, Mulattos, church records, and heraldry.

A notable collection within the databases to be posted this week includes an installment to the Barbour Collection, a set of vital records from Connecticut documenting families from the 1630’s (varies by location) to the 1850’s. (Click on Browse Recent Databases.)

A database important to those with relatives who lived outside of New York City would be The Early Records of the First Presbyterian Church at Goshen, New York, 1767 – 1885, which would help anyone with Scottish ancestors from Orange County, New York.

An unusual reference book within this collection is Myra Vanderpool Gormley’s Family Diseases: Are You At Risk? For anyone tracing health history, this is an invaluable introduction to the topic.

Look for these and other useful titles as the Genealogical Publishing Company collection grows on Any US titles are offered free for the first ten days.