Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Gullah Society hosts DNA workshop this Saturday as part of Anson Street Burials project

If your surname matches, you could be tested

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Wed, May 16, 2018 at 11:28 AM

click to enlarge The 2013 Gaillard Center renovations uncovered a burial ground of 36 individuals of African descent. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • The 2013 Gaillard Center renovations uncovered a burial ground of 36 individuals of African descent.
In 2013 the remains of 36 African and African-descended individuals were found during renovations at the Gaillard Center. Since then the City of Charleston, along with the Gullah Society, have worked to prepare for the reburial of these bodies near Anson Street, as well as the construction of a monument in their honor. In addition to this reinterment, the Gullah Society wants to explore the ancestry of the Anson Street individuals.

Prof. Theodore Schurr and Raquel Fleskes of the University of Pennsylvania are visiting Charleston between May 18-23 to collect the DNA samples from the 36 buried individuals. They will also offer a community workshop this Sat. May 19 from 2-5 p.m., where 36 people of African descent will have their DNA tested. Those selected to have their DNA tested have surnames that match the last names of property owners who lived near George and Anson Streets in the mid-late 18th century. If you think you qualify to be tested, head to the workshop this Saturday.

THose names include Yeomans, Hoyland, Gordon, Crawford, Padget, Mungin (Mongin), Gorsser, Mexie, Dart, Clarke, Cartwright, Harris, Shubrick, Watsone, Legare, Moultrie, Manigault, King, Brisbane, Kain, Ball, Dutarque, Gaillard, Gadsden, Ellis, Lynch, Hopton, Stoutenburgh, Hutchins, Vanderdussen, Wragg, Hunter.

According to Joanna Gilmore, a CofC professor and the head of research and interpretation for the Gullah Society, "At this point we do not know whether these individuals enslaved Africans that lived on their property or whether Africans or their descendants living in the neighborhood would have been buried at this location adjacent to Anson Street."

This Saturday's workshop is "intended to create meaningful connections between those brought to Charleston via the trans-Atlantic slave trade during the 18th century and their descendants living in Charleston today," says Gilmore.

So about that DNA — this summer CofC student Adeyemi Oduwole will partake in a four-week internship with Schurr and Fleskes at UPenn's Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology where he'll learn how to characterize the mitochondrial DNA diversity of the 36 contemporary Charleston individuals.

Next fall Dr. Nathaniel R. Walker, professor of CofC's architectural history, will offer students the opportunity to design the monument for the Anson Street burials, with proposals based on community feedback provided at the Gullah Society's conversation events throughout the year.

Stay up to date with the Anson Street Burial Project online. If you have more questions about this Saturday's workshop, email Gilmore, gilmorejk@cofc.edu or Dr. Ade Ofunniyin, ofunniyina@cofc.edu.

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