Monday, July 17, 2017

DNA Links Adopted Child to Jesuit Slave

DNA kits were one of the Christmas gifts I gave to my husband, Jerry, and my daughter Dana. I was in Cuba when an email was sent on April 12, 2017 to me by Judy Riffel, the lead genealogist for the Georgetown Memory Project. I arrived home on April 16th  which was Easter Sunday, so needless to say, I didn't check my email until the next day.

Judy stated a DNA kit I administered to D.J. was a match for Frank Campbell, a man who had been enslaved by the Jesuits of Georgetown and sold down river to a plantation owner in Louisiana. She also asked me if D. J. was a GU 272 descendant which refers to the 272 slaves sold and the name of the association that was formed by the descendants. To say I was stunned by this news would be an under-statement. 

I immediately sent Judy an email. I told her that D.J. was my daughter Dana Johnson and I gave her the kit for Christmas. Then I dropped the bomb: Dana is adopted!  Ordinarily, one would expect my child to be a GU 272 descendant because I am descendant. What are the odds that an adopted child who was born in California in 1971 would be a descendant of a GU 272 slave??? We are both GU 272 descendants but descend from different ancestors! My ancestors are Butlers and Dana's are Campbells. I learned of Dana's connection to Frank Campbell on April 17th, the same day an article by Rachel Swarms, published in the New York Times on April 17, 2016 which drew world-wide attention to Jesuit slave holdings in the USA.

Who is Frank Campbell? On March 12, 2017, Swarms wrote an article, "A Glimpse Into the Life of a Slave Sold to Save Georgetown," in the NYT. The article was about Frank Campbell who  was a part of the 1838 sale of  slaves to Jesse Batey. Frank's photo was discovered in a scrapbook that belonged to the Barrow family, a big-time slave-owning family. What is the significance of this photo? It is the only photo that exists of a Jesuit slave who was sold in 1838.

As soon as I learned of my daughter's connection to Frank Campbell, I asked Janette Birch, a member of the Butler Team, to assist me in researching the Campbells in California. I finally had a name to research! Janette sought assistance from Barbara Brazington, another Butler Team member, and a Campbell descendant was located in California.This Campbell is too old to be Dana's father but he has three sons. The father does not bear the Campbell name but his mother's maiden name is Campbell. Now all I need to do is to determine which of these sons was 20 years old in 1971. 

Another article was published about Frank Campbell on May 24, 2017, "Echoes of Injustices: The image of a slave brings closure to a Terrebonne parish family." This article provided me with the names of the descendants of Frank Campbell. My first reaction was to call, but I decided  a letter would be less intrusive. I picked one descendant to write who was featured in the article and on the TV news and sent a letter about my daughter and  her connection to their grandfather. I was a little anxious while I awaited a response. Finally, after an agonizing week, I received a response. The descendant agreed to make attempts to assist me in the search for Dana's father, but needed more information. I looked for my copies of the adoption documents and couldn't find them. They are around here somewhere, probably in one of the boxes in the garage where it  has been since my move to Spokane 12 years ago. I asked my daughter to send her copies and they are on their way. By the time this article is printed in the Digital Digest, I will have an answer. 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Finding Nace Butler, Jr., the runaway slave

In November 1838, the Jesuits of Georgetown, sold 272 slaves to two plantation owners in Louisiana.  Fifteen of my family members, were sold and were shipped down river on the Katharine Jackson of Georgetown. My great-great-great- grandparents, Nace and Biby Butler, and their 13 children were on that ship  except one, Nace Butler, Jr.who ran away.

Our connection to the Jesuit slaves has been known for more than 12 years. It was first discovered in the spring of 2004 as the family was making plans for a reunion in New Orleans. I continued to look for Nace, Jr.,  having found a person I suspected was my ancestor buried in the St. Ignatius Church Cemetery, St. Mary's County, Maryland online on the church's website in 2007.  The website included photos of the church, St. Ignatius, and a list of the people buried in the cemetery.  An Ignatius Butler was listed on parchment in the church as well as Gladys Butler, Lucinda Butler and Johnston Butler.

The search for Nace, Jr. took on a new life after the Georgetown Memory Project(GMP) was formed. In November 2015, Richard Cellini, an alumnus of Georgetown University,  founded the GMP to identify the the slaves sold in 1838 and to located their living descendants. As a member of that organization a new search was launched, first by me and then by a member of the Butler Research Team. We came to the same conclusion: Ignatius Butler who is buried at  St. Ignatius is our Nace Butler, Jr., the runaway.

I thought that we were on the right track when an Ignatius "Nace" Butle along with a wife and children  was located on the 1870 census  in the St. Inigoes, St. Mary's County, Maryland.  His birth date was estimated to be 1818.  In the Jesuit Plantation Project records which include the profiles of the slaves, Nace Butler birth date is 1818.  

In December 2016, I was contacted by Glendon Stubbs, the great-great-great grandson of  Ignatius Butler.  He provided me with a descendant chart for Ignatius Butler constructed by Malissa Ruffner, a professional genealogist hired by the GMP. Her research confirmed what we found: Ignatius Butler is the runaway who was born in 1818 and died  

  to be continued