Do you know the immigration story of one or more female ancestors? Do you have any passenger lists, passports, or other documentation? Interesting family stories?
I don’t have any immigration stories, passenger lists, passports or even the names of the women who came to the United States, probably in the 18th century, against their will from Africa. Until I took an mtdna test several years ago and persuaded my father’s sister to do the same I didn’t know what part of Africa they were from. We have no oral history of the Middle Passage.
In 2008 my sister received a free mtdna testing kit from African Ancestry. Since she wasn’t interested, she passed it on to me. The results came back L3e for the haplogroup and they said I shared dna with the Mende people of Sierra Leone.
Later I decided to test again with Family Tree and my father’s sister also tested. My results came back L3e3*. My aunts came back L3e2*. They said her results were the same as a broad area of Sub-Sarahan Bantu speaking groups.
In 2011 23andMe had a free offer to entice more African Americans to test and I took it. The results came back L3e3b. Neither of these testers were so specific with a group as African Ancestry was. They were more general, saying that L3e3b is one of the Sub-Saharan groups. One said they had matches from both Sierra Leone and Ethiopia. One map I found shows the group originating around Ethiopia and migrating out towards West Africa.
Reading online I found that most African Americans in the United States left from a fort on Bunce Island in Sierra Leone. The photos on the left of the the montage show the fort back when it was being used and then the overgrown, green island and fort as they are today.I also found that most slave ships coming into the United States docked on Sullivan’s Island outside of Charleston, South Carolina. The people were sold at auction on the north side of the Exchange building in Charleston, shown on the far left side of the photo. Other photos include maps of Sierra Leone and Charleston/Sullivan’s Island, an actual photograph taken in the 1800’s aboard a slave ship, and an old drawing of the auctioning off of slaves.
In 1974-1975 my family and I lived in Mt. Pleasant, right outside of Charleston. My husband was working for the Emergency Land Fund trying to help black farmers save their land. We often went swimming at the beach on Sullivan’s Island, without knowing that our African ancestors probably landed near there after crossing the Atlantic ocean during the 1700s.
When my oldest daughter was born in 1970 we decided to give her a family name and an African name. I picked a name out of a children’s story we had in the Black Conscience Library. The name was Jilo. We could never find out what kind of name Jilo was or what it meant. After I received the information that Eliza’s line went back to the Mende people of Sierra Leone, I found a list of names and found that the name Jilo comes from Sierra Leone.
In the spring of 2013 my daughter Ife, her two children and I went to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, to see the place where the slave ships landed.
To see photos of my mtdna line click My Matrilineal Line and More.