Back in November of 2007, Megan Smolenyak wrote an article for the newsletter after Chris Haley, the nephew of Alex Haley of Roots fame, and Director of the Study of the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland at the Maryland State Archives took a DNA test through Ancestry.comÂ at the 2007 FGS Conference in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In his book, Queen, Chris explored the Haley line, which he shares with his famous uncle. He and Alex Haley both descend from Alec Haley about whom he wrote,
â€œFollowing the common custom among slaves, Alec had taken the name Haley from his true Massa, although his real fatherâ€™s name was Baugh. William Baugh was an overseer . . .â€
Science is now adding weight to this story that had been passed on through oral history.Â Last week, Chris was contacted by a Scottish woman who found through the Ancestry.comÂ DNA database thatÂ a Y-DNA test her father took for her,Â is a very close match to Chris’ test results. The results indicate that they likely share an ancestor who likely lived in Scotland in the 1600s or 1700s.
Y-DNA tests follow the male line and are passed from son to son, so looking on a pedigree chart they would follow the top line of the chart, just as traditional surnames do for many of us. The Scottish woman’s paternal surname is Baff, a variation of Baugh.
Chris’ new cousin, June Baff Black, became interested in family history watching the show Who Do You Think You Are? – a popular family history program in the UK that reveals the family history of celebrities. An episode that included DNA testing caught her interest and for Christmas her father took the test for her. She also recently began researching her family history.
It’s fitting that June and Chris will meet for the first time in London tomorrow at the Who Do You Think You Are?-Live 2009 conferenceÂ on the last day of Black History Month, and on “Scots Saturday” at the conference, when they’ll be celebrating all things Scottish. Talk about your genealogical serendipity!
Megan has promised me more info and some pictures, so stay tuned until next week when we’ll bring you more information here on the blog. Click here to learn more about DNA testing through Ancestry.com.