Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Was President Barack Obama's Bunch Ancestor A Stow Away?



Graphic: Chickahominy River upstream from James Towne on this 1667 map by John Ferrar
Source: Library of Congress, John Ferrar map of 1667 -
Philip Freeman transferred 450 acres to John Bunch I in 1662. The red line above indicates the location of the Chickahominy river.

470. Phillip Freeman. May 2, 1661. 1000 acres. Upon the No Side of Chickahominy main swamp, Beg'g at a corner beech (by the swamp) of Thos Meredith's land.


‎519. Philip Freeman. Mar. 10, 1673/4. 650 acres. Upon the Main swamp of Chickahominy river, above Westham path, and adjoining to the Land of Thomas Meredith.

Ancestry.com recently published:  President Obama descends from the first African enslaved for life in America. 


I must admit, I appreciate the symmetry. To wit, the first bi racial President of the United States, who's father was born in Kenya, and white mother was born in Kansas, descended from the first documented slave in America. The same documented slave who is conjectured to have begotten at least one child by a mysterious white indentured woman. I mean what are the odds of this occurring? Go ahead take your time, think about....think about the long odds :)  There are 3 conjectures that jump right out at the reader. 1. That the YDNA test results proves that John Punch was the father of John Bunch, styled John Bunch I born before 1637. 2. That later generations of John Bunch I's descendants were referred to as mulatto proves their father was of mixed ethnicity.  3. That the nearest person in colonial Virginia with a similar surname during the period of John Bunch I's birth prior to 1637, was a John Punch.

Let's start with the YDNA, the halo type E1b1a8a, Sub Saharan African, YDNA cannot determine a person's ancestor's race or ethnicity.  There is no way for us to determine when E1b1a8a, entered the Bunch family ancestry.  It could have happened centuries earlier, and in Europe or it could have happened later in Colonial Virginia. There is no way to be able to determine when from  YDNA test results.


The report of the  DNA is significant, because it's conjecture through preponderance of evidence that states, the DNA matches. The DNA matches descendant's of males who have proven themselves back through records, and documents to John Bunch I, *through preponderance of evidence. No one to date has proven themselves through records or documents to the man identified as John Punch, the first documented slave in America (there is only conjecture). In an event like this, the only other way to obtain John Punch's DNA, would be to locate his resting place, get permission to dig him up, and test his DNA. I think that would be extremely disrespectful, and in poor taste.  I would be among those that would insist his remains be shown respect, and left to rest in peace. Human decency trumps human curiosity. I don't need to know anything badly enough to dig someone up.  I would just as soon agree that John Punch was John Bunch I's father if that were the only option. 


The later generations of John Bunch I descendant's were sometimes referred to as mulattoes, but John Bunch I was not referred to as a negro or mulatto in any records.


*Page 20 of the report, John Bunch I, who patented land near Richard Barnhouse, New Kent County, Virginia, in 1662/3, is an ideal (and the only available) candidate to be their father. However, John Bunch I is not specifically stated to be “Negro” or mulatto in the patent.
55

My question for ancestry.com knowing they can't fix the time period that E1b1a8a entered the Bunch family line, or have a sample of John Punch's DNA, how do they know that John Bunch I was mixed, when he was never referred to as a negro or of mixed origin? Isn't it more likely that John Bunch I married a mixed woman in Virginia, and produced mixed offspring, that were later referred to as mulatto? There is evidence that this halo type was present in Europe - E1b1a8a.


Lastly ancestry.com states, after ignoring the above, and dismissing alternate possibilities, through process of elimination, that John Bunch I had to be a mixed child of an African man, and a white indentured woman. They looked around to find the most closely spelled  surname to the surname Bunch. They found John Punch, in the same geographical area during the same time period. Virginia wasn't over populated in 1635/7 many people lived in vicinity of each other for survival, there was safety in numbers, especially after the Isle of Wight massacre. (The houses of Captain Basse's plantation were building when a great calamity happened to the infant colony. At midday on Good Friday, March 22, 1622, there were twelve hundred and forty inhabitants in the Colony* of Virginia. Of these three hundred and forty-seven were killed by the Indians in the eighty settlements on the north and south side of the James river, of which fifty- three were residents of this county.) 993* survived. 


I believe that ancestry.com scoured the early Virginia Colonial records, and looked for bastard bonds, head rights received for transporting people into the colony, and head rights collected upon release of indenture. The standard was 50 acres for someone who was transported into the Virginia colony after their indenture was served, and a 100 acres for a Virginia born indenture after their indenture was served.

Ancestry.com deduces that this means that John Bunch I was born to a white mother in Virginia in turn a free man. They can find no bastard bonds for a Bunch. They also don't find any headrights collected for a John Bunch or a John Bunch collecting head rights for an indenture. 


So where else could John Bunch have come from who else was living in Colonial Virginia prior to 1637?  The estimated birth of John Bunch I was prior to 1637. Was there a Bunch living in Colonial Virginia during this time period?


Passengers on Ship Alice from London England to Virginia 1635  


Theis under-written are to be transported to Virginea, imbarqued in the Alice, Richard Orchard Mr. the men have taken and oath of Allegeance & Suprem."


*Bunch Eliza  20

Eliza Bunch was transported by the crown into Colonial Virginia aboard the Alice in 1635 she was 20 years of age.  


Still if Eliza Bunch, had intermixed with a man in Virginia, and produced a bastard child in Virginia, there should be a bastard bond.


On my mother's maternal side of the family, there is this funny old family story (Shaw Family Oral History), that's been passed down through our family. Ambrose E McFarland, married Laura Alice Shaw. The Shaws had a tale about how their grandfather was a stowaway on a ship on the way to America.  After closer research, I found that it wasn't their father Joseph Newton Shaw's father Gabriel E Shaw, that was the stowaway, but his father George Shaw. The Irish have a fine sense of humor, when I was researching the Shaw family ancestry in multiple census, I found two of George Shaw's sons, who stated their father was, born at sea* you know a stowaway. 


If Eliza Bunch was transported into Virginia, and was carrying a child at the time, no one in the Virginia colony was going to be accused of being the father of her bastard child * no bastard bonds, and no one in Virginia would be made to pay for that child. There would be no bastard bonds.  For all we know she was married, and widowed before she embarked for America aboard the Alice in 1635. There would be no headrights paid to anyone, because the crown paid for Eliza Bunch's transportation into the Virginia colony.


Was President Barack H Obama's Bunch ancestor a stowaway? 


Of course this is all conjecture, exactly the same kind of conjectures, ancestry.com makes connecting the Bunch family to John Punch. It is interesting that Paul Bunch son of John Bunch I, named a daughter Elizabeth who married Russell, and mentions another Elizabeth Bunch in his documents ancestry.com's conjecture: This Elizabeth Bunch could have been a daughter in law. Page 9 of the report bottom paragraph: Paul Bunch also gave one shilling to an Elizabeth Bunch, but did not state a relationship. This Elizabeth Bunch might have represented the heir of one of Paul Bunch’s children or been his daughter-in-law. P


If John Punch was the father of John Bunch I born prior to 1637. It means that John Punch ran away to Maryland in 1640, leaving the mother of his child, and his child behind on Gwyn's property? If John Punch had a family wouldn't the magistrate have taken that into account before sentencing him to a lifetime of indenture? John Punch would have had a family to support. Mitigating circumstances? Finally if John Bunch were the son of a black slave, and indentured white woman, where did he get the money to purchase 450 acres of land in 1662? 


It's easier to figure out who the wife of John Bunch I, could have been, he was living in the middle of the Chickahominy Indian Tribe's territory. If John Bunch I did marry an Indian or mixed Indian woman, it would explain mixed children. Paul Bunch, and his descendants, John Bunch III, and his descendants, weren't ever referred to as negro only as mulatto. 


There is documentation of the English marrying American Indians as early as 1612.


The First African Slaves in America - arrived in what would become the United States in 1526. 

In the End it doesn't even matter.  

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