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Ancestry.com Discovers President Obama Related to First Documented Slave in …


PROVO, UT, Jul 30, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) —
A research team from Ancestry.com


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, the world’s
largest online family history resource, has concluded that President
Barack Obama is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch, the first
documented African enslaved for life in American history. Remarkably,
the connection was made through President Obama’s Caucasian mother’s
side of the family.

The discovery is the result of years of research by Ancestry.com
genealogists who, through early Virginia records and DNA analysis,
linked Obama to John Punch. An indentured servant in Colonial
Virginia, Punch was punished for trying to escape his servitude in
1640 by being enslaved for life. This marked the first actual
documented case of slavery for life in the colonies, occurring
decades before initial slavery laws were enacted in Virginia.

In the 372 years since, many significant records have been lost — a
common problem for early Virginia (and the South in general) —
destroyed over time by floods, fires and war. While this reality
greatly challenged the research project, Ancestry.com genealogists
were able to make the connection, starting with Obama’s family tree.

President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African-American
because of his father’s heritage in Kenya. However, while researching
his Caucasian mother, Stanley Ann Dunham’s lineage, Ancestry.com
genealogists found her to have African heritage as well, which piqued
the researchers’ interest and inspired further digging into Obama’s
African-American roots. In tracing the family back from Obama’s
mother, Ancestry.com used DNA analysis to learn that her ancestors,
known as white landowners in Colonial Virginia, actually descended
from an African man. Existing records suggest that this man, John
Punch, had children with a white woman who then passed her free
status on to their offspring. Punch’s descendants went on to be free,
successful land owners in a Virginia entrenched in slavery.

An expert in Southern research and past president of the Board for
Certification of Genealogists, Elizabeth Shown Mills, performed a
third-party review of the research and documentation to verify the
findings.

“In reviewing Ancestry.com’s conclusions, I weighed not only the
actual findings but also Virginia’s laws and social attitudes when
John Punch was living,” said Mills. “A careful consideration of the
evidence convinces me that the Y-DNA evidence of African origin is
indisputable, and the surviving paper trail points solely to John
Punch as the logical candidate. Genealogical research on individuals
who lived hundreds of years ago can never definitively prove that one
man fathered another, but this research meets the highest standards
and can be offered with confidence.”

“Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the
history of our country are amazingly directly related,” said
Ancestry.com genealogist Joseph Shumway. “John Punch was more than
likely the genesis of legalized slavery in America. But after
centuries of suffering, the Civil War, and decades of civil rights
efforts, his 11th great-grandson became the leader of the free world
and the ultimate realization of the American Dream.”

More details and supporting information on this discovery and
additional research on President Obama’s family lineage can be found
at
www.ancestry.com/obama .

About Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com Inc.


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is the world’s largest online family
history resource, with approximately 2 million paying subscribers.
More than 10 billion records have been added to the site in the past
15 years. Ancestry users have created more than 38 million family
trees containing approximately 4 billion profiles. In addition to its
flagship site, Ancestry.com offers several localized Web sites
designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their
family history.

Forward Looking Statements
This press release contains
forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties that
could cause actual results to differ materially from those
anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and
uncertainties include our ability to acquire subscribers and digitize
content to provide desired content to our subscribers, to make our
services convenient to use and to otherwise satisfy customer
expectations. Information concerning additional factors that could
cause events or results to differ materially from those projected in
the forward-looking statements is contained under the caption “Risk
Factors” in our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended
March 31, 2012, and in discussions in other of our Securities and
Exchange Commission filings. These forward-looking statements should
not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent
date and we assume no obligation to publicly update or revise these
forward-looking statements.



        
        Contact:
        Susan Roth
        Roth PR
        301-530-3539
        
        
        


SOURCE: Ancestry.com

Copyright 2012 Marketwire, Inc., All rights reserved.

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