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July 31st, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Obama's family tree connection to first American slave

By Lesa Jansen, CNN

(CNN) - His family tree has been linked to Brad Pitt, Sarah Palin and both Presidents Bush but now President Barack Obama may be related to the first documented African slave in pre-revolutionary America.

Ancestry.com, which bills itself as the world's largest online family history resource, on Monday released research and documents which it says shows the first indentured African American servant is an ancestor of President Obama's mother.

"We have two of the most significant Africans in our country's history being directly related to each other," Joseph Shumway, an Ancestry.com genealogist, told CNN.

Shumway was part of a team of four genealogists who say they worked more than 500 hours to establish the connection between Obama's family and that of John Punch, an indentured servant who was sentenced to a life of slavery after an unsuccessful escape attempt in pre-revolutionary Virginia.

The Ancestry.com researchers found the new connection to the president's African roots through an unlikely link, that of Obama's Caucasian mother.  President Obama's African American roots had previously been tied to his father's Kenyan birth. But as genealogists were pouring through documents tracing Stanley Ann Dunham’s ancestors, they found a connection to the Bunch family which had recently published DNA evidence that they had roots in sub-Saharan Africa. (see documents here)

Read the full post on CNN's The 1600 Report

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Filed under: Black in America • Family • History • Relationships • Who we are
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