Cousins? thru slavery

+5 votes
109 views
I was just approached by a woman who wondered why I had a woman on my Ancestry tree when we appeared not to have a DNA match. I explained that her great great grandmother was on the tree my great great grandmothers created that was just them collecting information from family members. I had never found a connection either - and as she and her family is Black and mine White I always wondered if the connection could be slavery. So her lineage is pretty sparsely documented, but what she does know matches what my great grandmothers documented. Her great great great grandfather never wanted to talk about his family history. My great great great grandfather owned a lot of slaves. (Lenoir, NC).

So I am very intrigued, but have no idea how to proceed. Is it a fair assumption that a slave might adopt the last name of his master? Is it possible that once freed the former slaves maintained close ties for two generations? Are there any recommended sources to try to identify slaves by name?  If my DNA has no commonality with with a women a generation younger than me, does that eliminate any possibility that her mulatto great great great grandfather is related to me?

I feel this might be a unique opportunity to help a women discover her past and also learn some uncomfortable truths are mine.
in The Tree House by Susan Fitzmaurice G2G6 Mach 4 (42.8k points)

2 Answers

+4 votes
So - just addressing the DNA part of your question - if I am reading what you wrote correctly, you would be trying to use DNA testing to show that your great-great-great-grandfather is the father of the woman's great-great-great-grandfather.

If you use an autosomal DNA test (like Ancestry DNA), your match is distant (4th cousins - 1X removed - your gr-gr-gr-gf is her gr-gr-gr-gr-gf), so you would (at best) be dealing with one or two DNA segments that you share.  Just having a matching segment or two with her is not going to be enough to prove that the DNA came from this specific ancestor.  

Also - the odds of two 4th cousins matching is less than 50% and the odds of 5th cousins matching is just around 12%, so the lack of a match between you and her does not rule out a possible relationship.

Honestly  - in terms of DNA, your best bet would be to try and find a male descendant of your gr-gr-gr-gf and a male relative of the woman's family and do Y-DNA tests (FTDNA has a 37 marker Y-DNA test for $169).  If the male on your line matched at 37 markers with the male on her line, this would be solid evidence of the family relationship, since a 37 marker Y-DNA match (37/37, 36/37, 35/37 even 34/37 would catch my eye) between two men is strong evidence of a shared paternal ancestor within the past several generations.
by Ray Jones G2G6 Pilot (154k points)
My brother has done his DNA and would do another (if I paid for it) - Ill see if there are any promising males in her family.  Its very exciting to me to think it is possible we might be actually blood related.
Interesting - well, it might be worth a shot if she has a male in her line who is willing to test.  One problem with Y-DNA though is that just having a match would not prove who exactly in your line was the male ancestor.  So - for example, if her family were slaves of your family for 3 or 4 generations, a Y-DNA match would only be evidence that the you share a paternal ancestor (meaning that it could be from any of those 3 to 4 generations).
The Y-DNA testing will only be relevant if you are looking at direct male lines on both sides. The question did not specify whether this is the case.
+1 vote

Like anything else, I don't know if there is a perfect answer. 

With respect to name carry forwards, yes slaves did take on the names of their masters, sometimes because they were genetic kin and other times because it was the line of least resistance. 

There are some surprising stories. 

In 1802, my Uncle a Captain in St Kitts was assassinated and it came to light that he had a mullato son.  He was fully and legally recognized in a family will which left him the princely sum of 1000 lbs.  This document is freely available on the internet today. 

Some time after discovering this, I had a match with black woman from the US on an Irish matchmaker.  Unlike any other matches we had, this one was in a specific location where neither of us had any other matches. Sometimes that is precisely what you want.

Anyway, something clicked when I mentioned a specific little town on an island where part of her family was from.  Chances are so slight of any other person having such a specific connection.

In the end, I am not sure yet if the connection is this boy or another such situation.  But it is true as far as we know of it.  For that brings us both great contentment.  So at bare minimum, we have that - knowing that we are family and perhaps some day enough samples will point us in the right direction.   I know we are getting close now though

However, I did sort of wander into a stereotype when I noted that she was mourning for her Uncle Joe o facebook - uncle Joe Jackson to be specific.  Why not lol

********
Here is a story I plan to read about a proven cousin to understand the situation better and will then contact the author. 

https://www.amazon.com/Mulatto-Slave-Events-Peter-1844-1915/dp/0615476139

 

by Lloyd de Vere Hunt G2G6 Mach 2 (26.9k points)

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