Genealogy News: President Obama’s Descent from John Punch

An interesting genealogy news story has become the topic of some discussion recently regarding the family history of President Obama. This time it is not regarding his place of birth; rather it is about his maternal descent from John Punch, the first (or one of the first) African slaves for life in America. Genealogists at have found evidence that they feel confident proves that John Punch is the 11th great-grandfather of the President.

The following is a chart that shows the relationship reported by

Although the genealogists are confident in their findings, it has been noted that the ancestral relationship between John Punch and the President involves assumptions. If true, this ancestral connection of President Obama certainly makes an interesting historic and symbolic statement: not only is Barack Obama the first African-American President, but a descendant of the (or one of the) first African slaves in America.

To read more about the relationship between President Obama and John Punch, view the following articles released by

3 thoughts on “Genealogy News: President Obama’s Descent from John Punch

    1. I suppose the release of this could be politically motivated, as well as the media coverage, but the genealogist, Joseph Shumway, that was on the news went to Brigham Young University. I’m not sure if that necessarily means he is a Mormon, but if so I’m uncertain this particular religious community would be doing Obama any favors. Is, like, owned by LDS? I actually thought they were not, but then I’ve read people suggesting that.

      The media on the left loves the story, and the media on the right seems to be pointing out the political angle of the story and that there isn’t much proof linking Obama to Punch.

      Personally, one’s ancestry doesn’t make me more inclined to vote for or against a particular person. I doubt anyone else in the U.S. is any different. For me, it was just an interesting genealogy news story (there aren’t many). Eventually, I will be posting my ancestral connection to the Bush family, so my post wasn’t politically motivated. 🙂

      In your other reply, you mentioned the new book about Michelle Obama’s ancestry; and no I haven’t read it. Have you? Anything interesting?

  1. Genealogy is so much fun because you discover so much.

    I learned that I am a direct descendant of two little Americans taken captives in the Deerfield Massacre in 1704.

    They were Josiah Rising and Abigail Nims.

    They were raised by Indians and later taken over by Sulpicians to become translators. They were then sent to Oka, Quebec, to found a mission there.

    Josiah Rising and Abigail Nims were the ancestors of the Raisenne (Raizenne) family. One of their daughter Catherine Raizenne married Jean-Baptiste Séguin. Their daughter Elizabeth Séguin married Antoine Quesnel.

    Antoine was my maternal grandmother’s great-great-great-grandfather.

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