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DNA: Historical and Messy

Updated: Feb 19, 2022

Lately, I've been working on marriages and piecing together relationships. There are a lot of repeat names. But as you look through the slave owning history. You see that a slave owner owned several farms. And every enslaved laborer was likely to have the name of the plantation or its owner as their documented surname.

It gets messy that is for sure. Especially if you don't understand the history. It's not that 10 sibling pairs have married. It's that 10 pairs of people who were the descendants of captives have married.

In today's world, it's like you picking 10 of your closest coupled-off friends and giving them all your last name. Then giving their partners all your neighbor's last name. All of a sudden there are 10 pairs of Smith Jones' on paper. None of them blood relations. What a mess to sort out.

And now, you understand the difficulties that institutionalized human trafficking and the legalized ownership of people creates from family tree point of view.

The DNA IS helping. In our family, we can begin to parse out one of those 10 couples that is a connected to all of us. But finding the one couple is like a needle in a haystack. It is a lot of collaborative work.

Right now, many of us are working together tirelessly on breaking a knot. I don't know all my DNA cousins directly but our desire to understand who we are bonds us.

My older relatives stories are helping. We believe we have a split generation playing mayhem in our sorting by names. One in which parents were still having children as their older sons started their families. All, giving family names like James, John, to the elder boys.

It's intriguing, historical, messy and poignant.

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