Please Help Me Find My Hidden Black Ancestor!!

+7 votes
I had no knowledge of black ancestry before taking a DNA test - I guess that's sometimes a common thing. But anyway, ever since finding that out, I was curious to see if I could find that hidden ancestor although, I'm just a smidge under 1% African. So when I stumbled across the heritage of my great-great-great grandfather, Domingo Flores, it had me intrigued.

I was always told by my grandpa that his mother's father was of Spanish/Mexican heritage and I never heard anything else about him really. Recently, I was able to piece together that he was a man named Domingo Flores (1843-1908). His mother was Mary Hill Flores and he had an older sister named Carmalita (b. 1832), I've figured out from censuses. I believe Mary was from the Natchitoches Flores family based on her middle name but that's another story. Anyhow, they both went by their mother's maiden name - meaning their parents weren't married. I have a lot of other ancestors - including Domingo's daughter - who were born out of wedlock so it came as no surprise. But what got me wondering was the stamp of "Mulatto" on their race box.

Now most of my ancestors have been listed this way BUT I could never find any black ancestry. Domingo's daughter was listed as a Mulatto once before along with her mother and siblings plus half-siblings. I didn't think anything of it really till I started doing more research.

Domingo and his family were listed in the 1860 census as Mulatto.

In the 1870 census, he is listed living with his wife (possibly not married though since I have no knowledge of him being married prior to 1899) as White with his mother and sister living in the house right beside him, also listed as White.

In the 1880 census, he is listed living with his wife (who has another name so I'm guessing a different woman he is now living with), as Mulatto and also living with him is his mother, Mary Hill, also listed as Mulatto. Living only a few houses away from him is his daughter, my great-great-great grandma, her mother and the other children she had by him. They are also listed as Mulattoes.

Again, I really thought nothing of it because I've had other ancestors listed this same way when in reality, they were only of Hispanic background. BUT this did catch my eye: one of Domingo's children by his wife, Sylvian,'s WWI Draft Regristration Card. And on it, he lists himself as "African" yet one of Domingo's other sons, Gregory, is listed as "White" on his Draft Card.

Apart from my great-great-great grandma and her three sisters as well as Sylvian, I have no knowledge of who the mother could be for his other children. And he had quite a few according to my research.

It's possible that they all had different mothers but I have no way of knowing. He was married to an Olivia/Sylvia Harrison in 1899 in which they were listed among the "White Couples" in the newspaper. But prior to that, according to censuses, a "Basilisque" in 1870 and a "Harriet" in 1880. Obviously they weren't his wives - not all of them at least - but it's always possible that one of them could have been black. I'm not certain, though.

Basically, my question if an ancestor is listed as "black" or "African" on an old document they filled out theirselves, does that for certain mean they were?

Another clue is that Domingo's daughter (sister to my own 3x great-grandma) was married to black man, Victor Beaudoin, and was listed as black herself on a census.

Any help with this conundrum would be such a huge help to me! I've never known who my African ancestor is and I'm starting to believe it was Domingo's unknown father. He may even have been a slave since there's no listing of him anywhere but again, I can't figure it out.
WikiTree profile: Domingo Flores
asked in Genealogy Help by S G G2G6 (7.3k points)
Interesting! I had about 2% African ancestry, I'm pretty sure I know where it comes from, though -- my ancestor Gilbert Cox and his family were "mulatto" and "other free" on the censuses.
Oh really? How far back was yours? My percentage is about 0.6% on 23andMe although I've gotten a little closer to 1% on GEDmatch. It must be closer than I think but for the most part, I had just believed it was passed down in small chunks from my Hispanic ancestors based on African ancestry that other cousins descended from them shared. That is, until I found this. Now I'm not certain what to believe lol.
Running Eurogenes K13, I get 1.04% Sub-Saharan African and 0.18% Northeast African. Running MDLP K23b, I get 0.67% Archaic African and 0.88% Subsaharian African. If I do a chromosome painting, I can see which chromosomes are actually carrying this "African" DNA. Chromosomes 4, 5, and 19 have some North African. Chromosome 6 has a smidge of Northeast African. There's the tiniest bit of Pygmy on Chromosome 4. Chromosomes 9, 11, and 14 all have a bit of West African.

A lot of the others, absolutely nothing appears for. No Indo-Chinese, no Malayan, no Omotic, no East Asian. None of these are anything I really expected to find, mind you!

As for my ancestor, Gilbert Cox and his wife were my 6x great-grandparents.
So take those chromosomes and run the Matching Segment Search in GEDMatch, and start talking to the folks who match you on those specific chromosomes. Those folks may have a better understanding of their tree and potentially where you connect.

I will add that lots of Mexicans do in fact have african ancestry so the possibility may be that you have a variety of ancestors who complete the composite of that 1%. I also wouldn't just assume that this share of your DNA came only from people who look brown (or otherwise appear to be "of color") on the outside. As you mentioned, plenty of whites have this african smidge.

My husband's family is french Canadian and they certainly have long known they were french, but apparently they picked up a few italians along the way and have a significant percentage of that ancestry even though no one ever talked about it or seems to know. They likely came from areas in France where french and italians mix and have done so for so long that any distinctions were long ago lost. The same happens over and over again for a wide variety of people.

Either way. I wish you luck. These kinds of ancestry puzzles are always the best.

Slaves were brought to Mexico to work in the fields., but when it was determined that raising cattle was more lucrative many slaves were freed.  Slavery in Mexico was very different than in the south.  Many slaves lived in their own houses with their families in the local villages.  Slaves were also noted in the various censuses conducted by the Catholic Church.  If you know what town he was born or raised in you can look thru the Padrinos list and they will be named there.  Yes in Mexico slaved were named in documents.  I am attaching a link to a book so you can see what documentation is out there for slaves of Mexico.  Remember Mexico included may stated from the Pacific to the midwest before the treaty of guadalupe hildago. You may also look to see if he was a buffalo soldier--my ggg aunt married one-she was New Mexican.

Thank you so much for this! I'll have to do research on that then - see if I can try and search through the records. Since I already know the name of his mother, it may be easier than I'm anticipating on finding it. I had no idea about that though - the slavery in Mexico. I mean, I've heard of it, of course but I didn't know the details on it. Hm, okay! Thank you! I'll make sure to keep an eye out for that!


how do you do a chromosone painting>>
I love reading genealogical case studies like this one. It's fascinating. I hope you found that ancestor.

3 Answers

+7 votes
I'd suppose that it was Domingo's mother who was black, the father could have been a slave-owner, as that is more common.  Sometimes people listed themselves as "black" or "African" no matter how they looked or how "black" they were.  In mulatto families there can be varying shades of brown skin and it could be the census taker decided their race based on one family member that they were getting the information from.  There are numerous variables.  Sorry I am no help.
answered by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (270k points)
+4 votes
If you have a Mexican ancestor, it would not be surprising to find a person who is had mixed black ancestry. Africans were brought to Mexico as slaves. They inter-married with the indigenous population, as well as with the Spaniards producing a variety of mixed-race people known generically as “castas.” The Spanish had sixteen terms for the castas denoting their racial mixture. One of the simplest was “mulatto” which was the child of a Spaniard and a negro. Do a google search for the Wikipedia article on castas for more details.

The Mexican church records before about 1820 gave the person’s ethnicity such as Espanol(a), indio(a), mestizo(a), and so on. Rarely you will find a record that shows a Spaniard and a negro getting married; it is more common to find a Spaniard and a mulatto getting married. You will also find the indigenous people and mulattos getting married.

In your case, with the small percentage of Africa DNA you may need to go back several generations before you discover the source.

In general, you cannot determine a person’s ethnicity by their name, as all the names in the church records look “Spanish”.

All of this is manifested in the term “mestizo” which means of mixed ancestry.
answered by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (154k points)
+1 vote
Hi. We have some similar ancestors as I have De la Cerda (Padilla, and a Flores but not the one you mention - can't think of her name off top of head- amongst other families around there)

 My relatives mainly were listed as mestizo/a or coyote/a but once or twice mulatto or as Indio. I think they are families of what would really now be classed tejano type of mestizo and isleños.

My DNA gave 3% African and 6% Native American. I have a relative Josefa Torres who in 1793 census is listed as mulatto but there are surely others. The families from Los Adaes were very mixed Spanish, African and Native (Caddo and others no doubt).

If I find the name and ethnicity listed for my female Flores I will let you know in case related to Domingo!
answered by

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