The other day, I blogged about the recent flurry of articles about Barack Obama's Irish roots. Now that I've had a chance to take a closer look at what the skilled researchers at Eneclann have uncovered, I see that there's still a little piece of the puzzle missing -- and that's what prompted Senator Obama's Kearney ancestors to leave Moneygall and emigrate to Ohio. There will be an article coming out on this shortly, but I thought I'd share a bit more of what I learned while conducting research in my capacity as Chief Family Historian of Ancestry.com.
Barack Obama's great-great-great-grandfather, Fulmoth Kearney, came to New York in 1850. At first I assumed that this was a typical famine-driven emigration, but it turns out that's not the case (although the famine could obviously have been a contributing factor). What caused Fulmoth's family to come to America was the offer of land.
In a nutshell, here's what happened. Fulmoth's uncle Francis died in Ohio in 1848 and left land to his brother Joseph (Fulmoth's father), but only if he came to the U.S. to claim it:
Pockets of the Kearney family had been chain-migrating to the U.S. since the late 1700s, but this will is what triggered the emigration of Fulmoth's immediate family. His father Joseph arrived here in 1849:
Fulmoth and his sister Margaret came in 1850:
And Fulmoth's mother Phebe, as well as sister Mary and brother William, came in 1851:
I was actually surprised when I did this research as it's rare to have such a clear picture of motives emerge, but in this case, I'd have to say it's quite clear!