William Riley Dunham

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William Riley Dunham (1856–1921), "the man known by name by more men, women and children than any other one man in Tipton County," according to a 1912 issue of the Kempton Courier, was a member of the Indiana General Assembly, representing Hamilton and Tipton counties from 1913-1915.[1] William Riley was born to Samuel Goodnight Dunham and Eliza Matilda Reese, President Barack Obama's great-great-great grandparents, making him President Barack Obama's great-great-great uncle.[2][3][4] William Riley died in 1921 of "traveling sickness."[5]


The 5,000 sq ft (460 m2) farm house that Dunham built in Tipton County, Indiana in the 1880s, The Dunham House, still stands today. The original 120 acres (0.49 km2) of land upon which the house was built was purchased by Jacob Dunham and Catherine Goodnight Dunham, President Barack Obama's great, great, great, great grandparents as a land grant in 1849 and remained in the Dunham family until 1969.[6][7] As local legend recalls, William Riley was an acquaintance of President Grover Cleveland, who may have spent the night in the home. He even named one of his sons Grover Cleveland Dunham, eventually a physician, who would later inherent the property from his father.[8] The Dunham file that the Heritage Society maintains mysteriously contains an obscure newspaper article giving details of a secret medical procedure that President Cleveland underwent while in office.[5] The Dunham family, and the Goodnight, Kearney, and Stroup families that they married into, served the public in the region in politics, medicine, education, and agriculture.[9]

Then candidate Barack Obama visited the house with his wife and daughters in May, 2008.[10] A historical marker now graces the property.[11]

Notable Family Members[edit]


  1. ^ Indiana State Legislator Manual 1913, Indiana General Assembly Biography
  2. ^ "Barack Obama's Family Tree: With roots in Kansas, Kenya and Beyond, the Candidate is a One-Man Melting Pot". Time. August 21, 2008. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  3. ^ William Addams Reitwiesner. "Ancestry of Barack Obama". Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  4. ^ "President Barack Obama's Ancestors and Kinships". Retrieved June 6, 2009.
  5. ^ a b [1]
  6. ^ Deed Land Grant; U.S. Department of the Interior; General Land Office, Record Number 108; Page 110
  7. ^ "Man Hopes to Preserve the Indiana Home of Obama's Family". Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  8. ^ Life Estate Affidavit ; Tipton County, Indiana Deed Record Book 30; Page: 233, Tipton County Recorders Office
  9. ^ "The Dunham House". Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  10. ^ "Obama's Family History Leads Back to Tipton County". Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  11. ^ "The Dunham House". Retrieved February 6, 2011.

External links[edit]