Question of the Week: Do you have African roots?

+17 votes

Do you have ancestors from Africa? What do you know about them? Please tell us with an answer below. You can also post the question image on social media to share your answer with friends and family.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
I "feel" I do, but could be wrong. My paternal Great Grandfather was born in MA, to parents from NC. DNA has found the father. A man from NC. who enlisted in the Confederate army almost exactly 9 months prior to my Great Grandfathers birth in 1863 in MA. The man never left NC, and died in battle in 1865 in NC. His wife, at home running the farm, with small children, so it wasn't the mans wife. Thought's among family it was possibly an escaped Afro American (slave) from 2nd Great Grandfather's farm, or that of his wife's family. My 2nd Great Grandmother, shared the same maiden surname as my 2nd Great Grandfather's wife. Part of a dowry, that came into the marriage with the man's wife? We can find no records of my 2nd Great Grandmother before in NC, or after in MA, after the birth of my Great Grandfather. Name change once she arrived in MA? Marriage? died in child birth? Many questions and few answers. DNA proved connection to 2nd Great Grandfather, prior to DNA, connection was made to the man, but without proof, and major doubt.
My daughter is 50% african roots. Her grandmother's grandparents went back to Liberia from the US in the 1700s, her grandfather's family was from Sierra Leone, but moved to Liberia. I have had a terrible time finding records, and building out her tree. Her great great grandmother Rebecca Allen, was married to Pohlman Bracewell who was once president of Liberia.
Of course.   We ALL have African roots if we could trace our trees back far enough.  Mankind developed in Africa and spread out from there.  Science and history and The Bible all agree on that.

23 Answers

+10 votes
Best answer
The IBM Geneographic project showed that everyone originated in Africa near present day Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Kenya. So we all are brothers and sisters together.
by Peter Loux G2G Crew (800 points)
selected by Amber Tovar
Nat Geo's earliest estimate of my maternal line starts with L3 about 67,000 ya in the same region.
More recent genealogical research, in general, is less definitive about East African origins, suggesting that earlier L0 and L1 originated with Bushmen (Bantu) migrations from South Central West Africa across most of Sub-Saharan Africa (which includes this East Africa region).  There is also speculation about earlier South African origins, also.  Sorry to say I can't provide a source.  It is simply something I read within the past few years.
Addendum:  A link I just now found, which is totally unrelated.  It is from much more recent times (2nd milennum B.C.)  Perhaps, it suggests  traditional nomadic routes from far more ancient times? (or not, lol)  All the sources listed are from before more recent research about much earlier migrations.

Yes, we all originate from Africa, but for some of us, our heritage is WAY out of the genealogical timeframe! 

It's true, Jessica.  Some of us do have very diluted African ancestry. <smile>
+6 votes

I don't, but 23andme informs my son that he is .2 per cent (2 one-thousandths) Senegambian and Gambian. 23andme went on to tell him about his heritage. Did you know that the word "hippie" comes from the word "xipi", meaning "to be aware"?

by Joyce Vander Bogart G2G6 Mach 5 (54.6k points)
My great great grandfather was born in Kingston Jamaica in 1837, He joined the Royal Navy in 1857 and ended up in Harwich Essex England in 1877 where he married my English great great grandmother. From DNA I have discovered that his ancestors where from Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan, South Africa, and various countries in the West of Africa.He was born a free man as slavery was  t abolished before he was born. His name was Alexander William Francis and I would love to know when  his ancestors where transported to Jamaica. I  think it was probably sometime in the 18th century, Through DNA matches I have discovered that there is a Scottish connected and probably a French one too, One of the DNA matches goes back to the Sinclairs of Shetland and Orkney in Scotland and they were protectors of The Holy Grail until it was robbed from their castle, Some ended up in other Carabiean islands such as Cuba, Haiti, The Cayman Islands and other areas near Jamaica, Due to mixed marriages during the next 100+ years almost all traces of my pyhisical African ancestry have dissapeared as I have no Afican features at all. I do have a photo of my great grandfather whose mother was English but he looks a bit like a Victorian Eddie Murphy and he married my great grandmother who was Irish. His daughter (my grandmother) married my grandfather who was from Cashmir India and was a CPO in The Indian Royal Navy.  My mother married an Irishman thus wiping out all pyhisical traces of my African past.
+8 votes
My direct maternal great grandmother was a Ugandan royal, married to my great-grandfather, a German aristocrat, who left Germany during the war and became a crocodile farmer in Africa. My grandmother was born there, as were all her siblings, but they were sent to private school in England.
by T. Dowding G2G6 Mach 2 (26.0k points)
I am trying to picture a German aristocrat running a crocodile farm! In fact, I can't even picture a crocodile farm. Tell me more.
Crocodile farmer?  Sounds like an interesting story to be told!
One day you should start a Uganda project here on Wikitree!
Sorry it took me a while to respond.

Here is a snippet from his memoirs about crocodile farming:

"In order to become a consistently successful trapper of wild animals, four qualities are essential. These are imagination or the ability to identify with the prey; a knowledge of its habits and behaviour by day and by night; the patience to stalk, crouch and pounce; and finally the stamina to endure the conditions."

There's a lot here, but he talks about using shark hooks with bait to trap the crocodiles; I remember reading a bit about drowning crocodiles by keeping their noses underwater (I think it was), but can't seem to find it (it's a massive document). Initially the business was about crocodile skins (which I imagine would've been used as material in Africa) before expanding to crocodile meat, as he felt the rest of the crocodile should be put to good use too.

Some really interesting stuff.
Interesting family, T. Dowling.  And thank your for telling us more about your intriguing comment!
+9 votes
I do, I'm Afro-Caribbean so a big majority of my ancestry is African, on my father's side we know that mostly people from Ghana were brought to the Danish West Indies. On my mother's side is mostly Nigerian from Dominica. I have a few other smaller percentages but I don't know where exactly they come from.
by Lynnette Dovy G2G6 Mach 1 (18.1k points)
+8 votes
Yes I do. One of my ancestors was George Robert Mandeville one of a group called the “Sons of Africa”  a late 18th century group of educated Africans in London who worked with the Quakers and William Wilberforce to abolish slavery. I believe he was a slave in London and his daughter Elizabeth, fell on hard times resulting in her transportation as a convict to Australia. My daughters and I still have African DNA showing in most tests even though it is 5 and 6 generations back on my mothers side. 23andMe suggest it is Angolan or Congolese in origin ... I may never know.

 Then I was very happy to find Quakers on my fathers side back in England during this period.
by Una Greco G2G Crew (850 points)

That is a fascinating  story. It's obviously far from certain but I  think that you have good grounds to link with George Arthur Mandeville. 

Edit George Robert.

Hello Helen,

George Robert Mandeville is also my ancestor. Thank you for your suggestion, however, I cannot find an individual called George Arthur Mandeville. Would you please supply more details.


whoops sorry, George Robert Mandeville! Just an error, I wasn't suggesting another person.  Still think it's a fascinating story. (I'm not related but am relatively closely connected at 12 degrees).
+7 votes
I do, mostly Scottish, Irish and Welch however my ancestry also shows my fathers side is from Mali
by Amanda Carter G2G1 (1.3k points)
+9 votes
I didn’t realize I did but 23andMe shows .4% Ghanaian,Liberian & Sierra Leonean. I started tracing back and found my 10th GGF was John Punch/Bunch who was claimed to be the “first slave in the colonies”.
by Charla Caudill G2G Crew (470 points)
+8 votes
My African roots come from Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Senegal, and Ivory Coast. My West African ancestors on my father's side lived in Jamaica and the Bahamas. For example, my great great grandmother, Mary Sawyer, who we believe was of African extraction married Alexander Wark from Scotland. They were wealthy land owners who we think (from circumstantial evidence) farmed sugar cane.

Here's wishing all Wikitreers a Happy Black History Month!
by Marion Ceruti G2G6 Mach 8 (89.1k points)
+10 votes
My 3xgreat-grandmother was a slave and received Emancaption in 1837 when my 3xgreat-grandfather died and freed her and her Children.
by Cindy Juleson G2G Crew (560 points)
+6 votes
My DNA shows that I have about 3% African ancestry and probably from the general Senegal area.  It changes as they add more people to the database.  I naturally suspect that my ancestor was an enslaved African woman, impregnated by a either a plantation owner or overseer.  As my paternal line goes back to the early South, I am not surprised.  I would like to figure out who she was and not have to find out in Heaven.
by Laurene Shewan G2G2 (2.7k points)
+7 votes
Yes, 3rd great grandparents Bishop John Mifflin and Mary Louise Brown.
by Tim Kneeland G2G Crew (410 points)
+8 votes
My 7th G-Grandfather is named Edward Mozingo.  He is identified as a freed Negro indentured slave in 1644.  There is a book about our ancestry written by Joe Mozingo titled The Fiddler on Pantico Run.  It is suggested that Edward may have been a descendant of a queen from Angola.  Being I am the 10th generation I do not show any African DNA present but my brother’s Y chromosome shows kinship to the African slave trade.
by L Monzingo G2G Crew (440 points)
+6 votes
I know from documentary research that my 5th great grandmother had two daughters by a man who was said to be half Black (back around 1790 in Halifax County, Virginia). My 4th great grandmother and her sons were all classified as "mulatto" in the census until 1850. In 1851, my 3rd great grandfather and his brothers went to court to be declared "white" and that's how they were listed going forward.

DNA testing has confirmed this as both my grandfather's and aunt's DNA shows about 2-3% West African heritage. My DNA does not, but since I am 6 generations removed, it doesn't surprise me that it wouldn't show in my DNA.
by Katie Aune G2G Crew (680 points)
That's intriguing. They went to court to determine their race? i wonder how that played out.

There are quite a few court cases regarding establishing someone's race in early American courts. The one for Roba Coffee Vickers in 1810 concerned whether Roba, the daughter of a mulatto (half black, half white) father and a white mother, was herself mulatto. She had married a white man and the court case was to determine if her marriage was valid (it was ruled it was).

Roba (Coffee) Vickers - WikiTree Profile

+8 votes
I do.  I am Puerto Rican and have the typical DNA breakdown of roughly 60% European, 20% Native American and 20% African.  My African roots come by way of my dad and his paternal grandmother.  HER mother was a slave.
by Maureen Randall G2G1 (2.0k points)
Recent studies show that 1% of all Scots belong to Haplogroup E1b1b of North African origin. That includes me, born in Scotland but now living in Australia, yet I am white with blue eyes. I agree with Ethiopian roots of everyone, but my main African gene is Berber from Tunisia.
+5 votes

If one is to believe in DNA I am 3% African with roots in Nigeria and North Africa. However, I have not been able to prove it in my genealogy, which shows Scandinavian roots - viking. So I have to dig deeper

by Hans Henrik Gaardsøe G2G Crew (350 points)
Trust me when I say I know next to nothing about DNA genealogy, lol!  But I recall reading something about 4% being great grandparent distance.  I know there are folks here who know a lot about it, so please correct me if I'm wrong.
+5 votes
My African ancestry has puzzled me ever since it first showed up on my Ancestry DNA test. 1% Benin Togo. Without the DNA results I never would have guessed any African ancestors. Even through their tweaks and updates, it's stayed consistent. I know it's on my mom's side of the tree because it shows up on all my first cousins that have also taken DNA tests, as well as my sister and uncle - all come in at right about 1%. There is nothing on my dad's side (none of my cousins there have any African DNA), and yet I can find an African ancestor in his tree (My 8th great grandmother - ) Is she far enough back that the DNA doesn't show up? About how many generations back would the person have to be for 1% to show on your DNA test? I have a couple of suspects but they are also brick walls with no sources.
by Matt Melcher G2G6 Mach 1 (14.0k points)

At that low an amount, it's difficult to establish the exact generation, but it seems likely that one of your mom's great-grandparents was approximately a quarter African, assuming that all the African comes from a single ancestor and that you didn't have multiple ancestors who were part African.

Edit: I took a look at your Tree on your mom's side. You can probably rule out Cornelius McGee (1831-1893) and his wife as they were born in Ireland. 

Thanks - yes, the McGee’s are ruled out. I appreciate the perspective you provided. You pretty much point me to the blank spots in my tree. Maybe some day I can get them filled in.
+4 votes
Do I have African roots? I have DNA tested with 23andMe, FTDNA, My Heritage, and Ancestry. 23andMe and FTDNA are autosomal as well as Ancestry. Ancestry does not indicate any African ancestry, however, 23andMe indicates 0.1% western Asian and North African, estimated back 4 to 7 generations; FTDNA/ My Heritage indicates 6.2% North African (3-5 gens.) and 0.9% West African-Nigerian (4-7 gens.) The remainder of my DNA from the other tests indicate I am 94 to 99% northwestern and northern (Scandinavian) European. I am blond haired, blue eyed, have fair skin as do all the relatives whom I know. All I can say is that I do tan instead of sunburn, that may be because I worked outdoors doing field research in wildlife biology for 45 years.  I have done my genealogy charts back 8 to 15 generations in North America and found my first immigrants to North America in most cases, difficult, since, besides two Native American lineages in early 1700s, my earliest ancestors came to Virginia in 1611 and to Massachusetts in 1620, and cannot find any indication of African heritage.  Most of my family immigrated from England, some ggg grandparents came from the Palatinate states and Switzerland. That fairly significant 7.1% should show up somewhere.  I have looked at photographs of all my ancestors born since 1885 and many before that and see little indication of color except in a great uncle who is a little darker than his siblings. Is there African in the Native American lines? Maybe, they were in Virginia. Is there some black Irish? who knows, Oliver Cromwell pretty well made sure those were lost.

I've been doing genealogy for over 40 years and I'm at a loss.

Chet Ogan (yes, that's Irish)
by Chet Ogan G2G Crew (860 points)
I had my DNA checked by Ancestry about two years ago and they report no African heritage. Recently, I had my DNA examined by CRIGenetics and they report I have 1% African roots: from Kenya, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Nigeria. In my last five generations I am 100% European.  I am not at all surprised or puzzled about that (but I am with my Asiatic roots of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese). Maybe, one of these days, I will learn the stories of my darker skinned ancestors.
+3 votes

Yes, many of my ancestors were slave owners of people of African descent. A few names of slaves owned by my ancestors have come down from their wills including Adah, Phelis, Jack, David, Isaac, Cizzoe, Late, Seivcors, and Mary Ann. These people were passed from one generation to the next, contributing to the generational wealth and property ownership I've been lucky to have in my life.

by Kathryn Black G2G6 (8.6k points)
+2 votes
I have no African roots (except in an abstract way). What I am struggling with is the fact that so many of my ancestors owned men and women from African descent. It's a bit of a crisis for me as I evaluate my own family's participation in slave owning.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
+1 vote
I do; about 80% total.
by Cynthia Pickett G2G Rookie (230 points)

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