Matching DNA samples, scientists and historians have identified first lady Michelle Obama’s family history, which traces back to Northern Georgia. According to the New York Times, her ancestors were both slaves and the slave masters because of interracial couplings through the years. Now, Mrs. Obama’s distant white relatives, descendants of the slave masters, are grappling with these facts.
The bloodlines of Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Tribble extend back to a 200-acre farm that was not far from here. One of their common ancestors was Henry Wells Shields, Mrs. Tribble’s great-great-grandfather. He was a farmer and a family man who grew cotton, Indian corn and sweet potatoes. He owned Mrs. Obama’s maternal great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, who was about 8 years old when she arrived on his farm sometime around 1852.
The DNA tests and research indicate that one of his sons, Charles Marion Shields, is the likely father of Melvinia’s son Dolphus, who was born around 1860. Dolphus T. Shields was the first lady’s maternal great-great-grandfather. His identity and that of his mother, Melvinia, were first reported in an article in The New York Times in 2009, which also indicated that he must have had a white father.
Melvinia was a teenager, perhaps around 15, when she gave birth to her biracial son. Charles was about 20.
Read more at the New York Times.