African American News and Genealogy

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Unearthing a mystery

Ecuadoran DNA connection helps Portsmouth trace its African roots By Kay Lazar, Globe Correspondent January 20, 2005

A chance e-mail from the South American coast may help identify African remains found half a world away, in Portsmouth, N.H. Hot on the trail is Bruce Jackson, a relentless Boston scientist who already has conducted preliminary DNA tests that show a connection between the Portsmouth remains and genetic patterns found in the Congo region of Africa. But civil unrest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has thwarted scientists' attempts to collect DNA samples to more precisely identify the ethnic or tribal origin of the 13 Portsmouth skeletons, which were unearthed in 2003 during routine sewer repairs. Crews found wooden coffins in an area marked as a ''Negro Burying Ground" on a 1705 map.

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