By Deborah Charles
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, who won political support and has sought advice from investment guru Warren Buffett, may now feel even closer to the world’s second richest man.
According to their family trees, the two men who at times shared the stage together during the 2008 presidential campaign are seventh cousins three times removed.
Genealogists at ancestry.com announced Tuesday that Obama and Buffett are related through a 17th century Frenchman named Mareen Duvall.
According to the online genealogists, Duvall — who immigrated to Maryland from France in the 1650s — is Obama’s 9th great grandfather and Buffett’s 6th great grandfather.
The discovery was made by accident when the same team of genealogists who had researched Obama’s family tree went on to investigate details about Buffett’s relatives.
“We recognized the name Duvall and it made us wonder if this was a connection,” said Anastasia Tyler, the lead researcher on the project. “So we started focusing on Duvall.”
“We’re always looking for a way to show how interesting family history is. Like this, when you start finding similarities in family trees,” Tyler said in an interview. “The tree leads you in directions you don’t expect.”
The family tree shows Obama related to Duvall through his mother Stanley Ann Dunham while Buffett is linked to Duvall through his father Howard Buffett.
Tyler called Duvall’s life a “rags-to-riches” story. He arrived in America as an indentured servant but by 1659 he had bought property in Maryland and became a planter and merchant and was considered a “country gentleman.”
“It’s quite an achievement,” Tyler said of Duvall’s rise in society. “You can see similarities to him in both (Obama’s and Buffett’s) lives.”
During the presidential campaign, Lynne Cheney said she found while tracing her family roots that her husband, then Vice President Dick Cheney, was a distant cousin of Obama’s.
Obama has also been found to have had German roots through his sixth great grandfather, and a connection to Ireland through his third great grandfather.
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)