Friday, September 30, 2011

DNA Test Spurs Surprising Discovery: Follow-Up

In answer to your inquiries:

After the discovery John's mother agreed to be tested by 23andMe, which confirmed that John's African ancestry comes exclusively from his maternal side. His mother's Ancestry Painting shows ten percent African, which means that John must have African ancestry from maternal lines other than the Hemings line. Since it is believed that the Hemings/Jefferson children were only 1/8 African, John's (and his mother's) African percentage would be far lower if that were the only line contributing to it. Since Madison Hemings chose to live as a black man in black society, unlike his siblings, it makes sense that his descendants' DNA shows evidence of contributions from additional African ancestors. This is evidenced by John's maternal DNA haplogroup L3e4, which would have been inherited not from Sally, but from Madison's wife Mary Hughes McCoy "a free woman of color" who, like Madison, was of mixed race. Mary had at least one white grandfather, the planter Samuel Hughes who had children with her grandmother Chana and freed her from slavery. John's colorful Ancestry Painting illustrates this tradition of slave owners having domestic relationships and bearing children with their slaves.

I am receiving a lot of responses to the original post and will continue to follow-up when appropriate.


  1. What a great story and wonderful find! I will definitely be watching for updates.

    The links to the Ancestry Painting are not working. I'd love to see John's painting.

  2. Thanks for letting me know, Lisa. It worked for me so I didn"t realize that the settings were incorrect. Please let me know if you can see it now.

  3. Hi. I've tested my mtDNA on both 23andMe and FamilyGTreeDNA, both confirming L3e4 as my maternal line which traces back to Anna Maria Hughes [b VA ca 1823], likely daughter of Henny [b VA ca 1800], both of whom were owned by second cousins of George Washington. Several months ago, I was matched with the cousins of my genealogy buddy's daughter-in-law, who happen to descend from Madison Hemings and Mary McCoy. When I read this blog, I thought perhaps John would show up as a match in 23andMe but no such luck. Is John's profile still active? If so, I was hoping to confirm that I am researching the right Hughes family. Before my FTD match, I was exploring slave families from Washington's mother, Mary Ball who inherited from her stepfather Richard Hewes.