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Video celebrates oral history of Obama’s Kansas family roots

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, August 25, 2013, at 8:31 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, August 26, 2013, at 7:32 a.m.

Kansas connections

Here is what the committee uncovered about his Kansas connections:


Madelyn Payne's childhood home -- 135 E. 12th Ave., Augusta.

Stanley Dunham's childhood home -- 321 N Emporia Street, El Dorado.

Stanley Ann Dunham Obama-Obama’s mother Born-Wichita, KS Died-Hawaii-cremated-ashes in ocean

Madelyn Payne Dunham-Stanley Ann’s mother ​Born-Peru, KS Died-Hawaii-cremated-ashes in ocean

Stanley Dunham-Stanley Ann’s father Born-Wichita, KS Buried-Hawaii-Punchbowl Cemetery

Ruth Armour Dunham-great grandmother Buried-Sunset Cemetery 705 E. 6th Ave. El Dorado, KS

Ralph W. E. Dunham-great grandfather ​​Born-Argonia, KS Buried-ResthavenCemetery

11800 W. Kellogg Wichita, KS Garden of Good Shepherd 2nd section 3-C-2

Leona McCurry Payne-great grandmother Born-Peru, KS Buried in Highland Cemetery, Winfield, KS

Rolla Charles Payne-great grandfather – Born Olathe, KS

Mary Ann Kearney Dunham​ Both buried in Wichita Park Cemetery, 3434 E. 21st N. Wichita, KS

Jacob William Dunham ​​​Acacia C Section #188- No Marker- Next to son, Frank V.

Gabriella Clark Armour​ ​ Both buried in Wichita Park Cemetery, 3424 E. 21st N.Wichita, KS

Harry Ellington Armour ​​​Lakeview Section # 289

Della Wolfley Payne​​​ Both buried in Lenexa Cemetery, Johnson County, KS

Charles Thomas Payne

Margaret Belle Wright McCurry ​​Both buried in Peru, KS

Thomas Creekmore McCurry

​​​​​1880 Census-Mount Pleasant, Labette County, KS

Louise Eliza Stroup Dunham ​​Buried in Wellston Cemetery, OK

Jacob Mackey Dunham ​​​Buried in Okmulgee Cemetery, OK​

Charlotte Holloway Kearney​​

Falmouth/Fulmoth Kearney​​ Buried in Fairview Cemetery, Labette Co., KS

Nancy Ann Childress Armour​​ Buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery Hancock, Illinois

George W. Armour​​​ Buried in Wyaconda Cemetery, Canton, Mo

Susan Catherine Overall Clark​​ Buried in Forest Grove Cemetery, Canton, Mo

Christopher Columbus Clark​​ Died in El Dorado, KS but buried in Canton, Mo.

Eliza Black Payne​​​ Both buried in Baker Cemetery, Kansas City, MO

Benjamin F. Payne​​​

Rachel Abbott Wolfley​​​ Died Everett, WA (1900 Census-Hof H in Olathe, KS)

Robert Wolfley ​​​​Died 1895-Buried in Olathe Memorial Cemetery, KS)

​​​​​1860 census in Granby, MO, moved to Longton, KS, then OK

Elizabeth EdnaCreekmore McCurry​ Buried in Rosedale Cemetery, Ada, OK

Harbin Wilburn McCurry​​ Buried in Center Cemetery, Pontotoc County, OK

Frances Allred Wright​​​ Both buried in Hardrock Cemetery, Hale, KS

Joseph Samuel Wright

Ada Wright Abbott-Rachel’s mother​ Buried in Olathe Memorial Cemetery, Johnson Co., KS

Jonathan Abbott-Rachel’s father​​ Died in Licking Co. Ohio

Samuel Thompson & Anna Bunch Allred-Frances Wright’s parents, in Liberty Cemetery, Dinsmore, AR

John & Phoebe Allred​​​ Samuel Thompson Allred’s parents Buried in Dinsmore, AR

Obadiah Wright-Joseph Samuel’s father ​Buried in Cookeville, TN

— More than seven decades have passed since Stanley Dunham and Madelyn Payne signed their Augusta classmates’ yearbooks. Nearly eight decades have passed since Madelyn attended Garfield Elementary School.

Many of their classmates have since died – as have Stanley and Madelyn.

Yet the handful that do still survive remembered them Sunday in a video presentation as good people.

That’s one reason more than 250 people came together Sunday to listen to “From the Flint Hills of Kansas to the White House,” a celebration of memories by friends of Stanley and Madelyn Dundham, grandparents of President Obama, and to hear other stories of Butler County’s 1930s-40s history. The celebration was sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council, Central Kansas Community Foundation, the Augusta Historical Society, Butler County History Center, Butler Community College, Wichita State University Department of History, the Augusta Public Schools and El Dorado Public Schools.

Since January 2009, a nonpartisan committee has been working to record the oral history of President Obama’s Kansas roots.

When Jackie Vietti, president emeritus at Butler Community College, welcomed guests at Garfield Elementary School on Sunday, she told them this was a project that mattered.

“Individually and collectively, if we do not capture, honor and celebrate our roots, we will never be as good as we can be in the future,” Vietti said. “We did not intend to write the history, but we did intend to capture it, to honor and remember to celebrate a Kansas president’s heritage that ties directly to Butler County. We want to educate and inspire our children so they can learn from a president’s heritage as well as their own that they can do and be anything when they grow up. It is important for us to tell the world our Kansas roots matter and we are very proud of them.”

Many of the stories from people featured in the video Sunday are on the website created by the project, www.obamakansasheritage.org, such as Anna Margaret (McCurry) Wolf, a third cousin of Obama’s.

Wolf, who died earlier this year, described how one family ancestor shook President Abraham Lincoln’s hand and how her grandfather’s family was attacked by Missouri bushwhackers during the Civil War. Her grandfather’s 10-year-old brother was shot and killed. Bushwhackers also placed hot coals in his infant sister Mary’s eyes, causing her to go blind, then burned the family’s house.

Although Obama never lived in Kansas, his grandfather did – Stanley Dunham grew up in El Dorado, working hard as a child and doing odd jobs to help bring in extra income. His mother, Ruth, is buried in El Dorado’s Sunset Lawn Cemetery.

Obama’s grandmother Madelyn Payne grew up in Augusta. In the video, her friends remembered her as smart and sincere.

Stanley and Madelyn married on the night of her senior class prom, not long before the United States entered World War II. Stanley joined the Army after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and Madelyn began working at Boeing.

Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann, was born in Wichita on Nov. 29, 1942.

As the video ended Sunday, Jay Price, history department chairman at Wichita State University, said it was important that events like Sunday’s were the beginnings of conversations, not endings.

“This is a good reminder for all of you students right now at Garfield Elementary to pay attention,” Price said. “You never know if your friend who is standing next to you in the lunch line, if that person who sings with you in choir or sits in the desk next to you, might end up being president of the United States – or the grandparents of a president of the United States.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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