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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: To: Paul Heinegg
In Response To: Re: To: Paul Heinegg ()

I am not sure about Senator Obama's connection to these families. The internet site does not give sources. I am just pointing out the fact that it is quite possible that some of his white ancestors were mixed-race. There was definitely a mixed-race Bunch family that lived in an area of Louisa County with many mixed-race, landowning families--referred to as Gibson's Mill.

We know that the John Bunch who applied to marry a white woman in 1705 had African ancestry from the record. A Paul Bunch died in North Carolina before his race could be determined, but he left most of his estate to a "Mulatto woman" in 1727. The Bunch family (Gideon, Henry and Micajah) were counted as "Mulatto" in the early colonial tax lists of Bertie, Granville and Orange counties, North Carolina. They lived near the Gibson family in South Carolina. A Gibeon/ Gideon Bunch was a "free negro" taxable in the 1784 tax list for South Carolina.

Also in South Carolina, the Collins and Gibson families signed the "Petition of the people of Colour of the state aforesaid who are under the act entitled an Act for imposing a poll tax on all free Negroes Mustees and Mulatoes" to have the act repealed because of the burden it placed on them.

The Gibson Mill area of Louisa contained other light-skinned people of African ancestry who were indicted with Samuel Bunch: William Hall, Thomas Collins, Samuel Collins, William Collins, George Gibson, Thomas Gibson, William Donathan, and Benjamin Branham. William Donathan was the son of a white woman who had a "bastard Child born of her body by a negroe man" in Lancaster County, Va. [Lancaster County Court Orders 1702-13, 23]. William Hall was likely the William Hall or a son by the same name who was a "negro" indicted in Lancaster County, Va., for "keeping a white woman and having children by her" in 1728 [Court Orders 1721-29, 270, 278]. (He fled the county before trial).

There is no evidence of Indian ancestry in these families. But it is typical that white descendants claim that the mixed-race comes from whites and Indians. In fact, claims like the one that Senator Obama's white ancestors had Indian ancestry are often a good clue that they were descended from a family like Bunch. And I recall Ralph Bunche was supposed to have had Indian ancestry as well.

This whole concept of nearly-white communities descending from whites and Indians was invented after the Civil War. There is no evidence of it prior to that period.
Paul


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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