The Mormon Church-affiliated genealogy site Ancestry.com today made the claim that they have traced President Obama’s ancestry back to the very first documented slave in what would become the United States. That’s fascinating on its face, but the more interesting wrinkle here is that the connection is made through Obama’s white mother.
Research derived by Ancestry.com from early Virginia records and DNA analysis shows Obama is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch, an indentured servant in Colonial Virginia who became enslaved for life after trying to escape in 1640, according to the website. [snip] Ancestry.com genealogists researched Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and discovered her land-owner ancestors descended from Punch. According to the site, Punch had children with a white woman who passed her free status to her children, who went on to become successful land owners in Colonial Virginia.
“Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related,” said Ancestry.com genealogist Joseph Shumway in a statement. “John Punch was more than likely the genesis of legalized slavery in America. But after centuries of suffering, the Civil War, and decades of civil rights efforts, his 11th great-grandson became the leader of the free world and the ultimate realization of the American Dream.”
The website has posted an illustrated family tree (PDF).