Pearl Duncan is the first person in the world to use DNA to trace her ancestors’ journey from one continent to two others. By taking a DNA test in 1999 and using the family nicknames that survived in her African American family, she traced her ancestors to a family named Opare, of the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa. She then traced the Opares to specific farmers in African villages in the 1660s and, using genealogy, traced them to Colonial Jamaica in the 1960s and Scotland in the 1720s. Duncan discovered she has a male Scottish ancestor and a numerous African ancestors, whose modern-day African descendants she has met and compared DNA with. Read More >
Genealogy is an exciting glimpse into history, and that’s no different for Duncan, who presents a riveting talk on African American genealogy and the Scottish connection. Records show that 300 years ago, her noble Scottish ancestors loaned money to the Campbell Clan nobles, who built and repaired Inveraray, the other impressive castle in popular Downton Abbey.
In 2005, Queen Elizabeth II and Scotland’s Court of the Lord Lyon granted a Scottish coat of arms to Duncan, based on records dated in the 1600s and 1700s from the British colony of Jamaica. She found ties to abolitionist and nobleman John Smellie fled Britain in 1715 when King George I slated his rebellious family for beheading. Shortly thereafter, a “lord,” one of her noble cousins, telephoned her to discuss their mutual noble ancestors. This led to a castle visit, and as it turns out, the possibility of owning another unclaimed castle! This would require finding certain lost marriage records, but Duncan is hard at work. She has already uncovered several birth and baptism records dating from 1726, and used DNA to confirm both Scottish and Maroon rebel African ancestors.
Attendees will not only learn about Duncan’s journey, but will also discover how they can find their own family ancestry in this fascinating program.