In 2013, the remains for 36 likely African and African-descendant individuals were found during renovations at the Gaillard Center. These burials date to the 1760s-1800. Dr. Ade Ofunniyin (African American Studies) and Joanna Gilmore (Sociology and Anthropology), adjuncts at the College of Charleston and Gullah Society staff, are now working with Prof. Theodore Schurr and Raquel Fleskes, molecular anthropologists at the University of Pennsylvania, to explore the ancestry of the Anson Street individuals, prior to their reburial and the construction of a monument.
The Gullah Society is supported by the City of Charleston in this project and, with our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, has applied for a grant from the National Geographic Society, to conduct ancient DNA research to learn more about the individuals buried at Anson Street and to take DNA samples from 36 living individuals to try to find any ancestral ties between those buried at the site and those living in Charleston today. The Gullah Society is currently researching 18th century property owners for the land at George and Anson Street to try to identify and offer DNA tests to living descendants of the deceased.
This summer, a student from the College of Charleston, Adeyemi Oduwole, will complete a four-week internship with Dr. Theodore Schurr & Raquel Fleskes at the Laboratory of Molecular Anthropology, at the University of Pennsylvania. Adeyemi is a junior, majoring in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry – Pre-medicine. During his time in Pennsylvania, Adeyemi will learn how to characterize the mitochondrial DNA diversity of 36 contemporary individuals from Charleston.