Obama's connection to Lewis

THE President-Elect of the United States of America may have cousins in Lewis!

Barack Obama, who won an historic victory in the US elections last week, is related to a family whose ancestors left South Dell and Lower Shader in 1851.

Local geneologists Bill and Chris Lawson discovered the link through their contact with British Columbia resident Mary Forsythe who is Mr Obama's 11th cousin.

Describing more about the link, Chris said: "Mary Forsythe lives in Kelowna, British Columbia and is descended from a family of Morrisons and Murrays who left from South Dell and Lower Shader and went to the Eastern Townships of Quebec in 1851 when there was a sponsored emigration to the area. Some of the later family settled in Minnesota and this is how the connection with Barack Obama's family comes about. Mary has corresponded with us through Co Leis Thu?, the Genealogy Research Service in Northton, and we met her in Kelowna in British Columbia, where she lives, when Bill was lecturing there at a genealogy seminar."

She added: "Her grandfather married a lady who was of the same family as Barack Obama and Mary is about his 11th cousin. It does not mean that he is Scottish in any way but there is a definite connection to Lewis through marriage."

Mr Obama's apparent links to Scotland have been all over the national press in the last week with First Minister Alex Salmond claiming that the President Elect was descended from the first Scottish King William the Lion who ruled from 1165 to 1214.

However, the Lawsons believe this is too far back to trace and that this Lewis link is much more solid.

Mr Obama has been invited to visit Scotland on his first visit to the UK as President and it is also hoped that he may even make an appearance at the Homecoming celebrations next year - maybe even in Stornoway!