Obama related to America's first slave
By David Jackson, USA TODAY
Updated 1d 3h ago
By Charles Dharapak, AP
The folks at Ancestry.com have an interesting new take on President Obama's family tree.
The nation's first African-American president may be descended from America's first documented slave.
After years of research, Ancestry.com has determined that Obama is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch, the first documented slave in American history.
"Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related," said Ancestry.com genealogist Joseph Shumway.
Ancestry.com also points out that "remarkably, the connection was made through President Obama's Caucasian mother's side of the family."
John Punch, an indentured servant in Colonial Virginia, was punished for trying to escape in 1640 by being declared a slave for life -- the first documented case of slavery.
More from Ancestry.com:
President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African-American because of his father's heritage in Kenya. However, while researching his Caucasian mother, Stanley Ann Dunham's lineage, Ancestry.com genealogists found her to have African heritage as well, which piqued the researchers' interest and inspired further digging into Obama's African-American roots.
In tracing the family back from Obama's mother, Ancestry.com used DNA analysis to learn that her ancestors, known as white landowners in Colonial Virginia, actually descended from an African man. Existing records suggest that this man, John Punch, had children with a white woman who then passed her free status on to their offspring. Punch's descendants went on to be free, successful land owners in a Virginia entrenched in slavery.
An expert in Southern research and past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, Elizabeth Shown Mills, performed a third-party review of the research and documentation to verify the findings.
"In reviewing Ancestry.com's conclusions, I weighed not only the actual findings but also Virginia's laws and social attitudes when John Punch was living," said Mills. "A careful consideration of the evidence convinces me that the Y-DNA evidence of African origin is indisputable, and the surviving paper trail points solely to John Punch as the logical candidate.
Genealogical research on individuals who lived hundreds of years ago can never definitively prove that one man fathered another, but this research meets the highest standards and can be offered with confidence."