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News Release, St. Mary’s County Historical Society

Leonardtown: On Saturday, February 29, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania Department of Anthropology will give a presentation entitled, “Chesapeake DNA Study: Project Update and DNA Testing Results”.

The presentation, which will begin at 2:00 pm at the College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown Campus, is part of a research project undertaken in collaboration with the St. Mary’s County Historical Society involving one hundred and twenty-four current and past County residents.

Professor Theodore Schurr

In June 2019, Professor Theodore Schurr and Ph.D. Candidate Raquel Fleskes partnered with the St Mary’s County Historical Society to collect DNA samples from Southern Maryland residents who were able to trace their ancestry back to the 17th century colonial Chesapeake period. Through this study, the researchers seek a better understanding of the ancestry and kinship of contemporary African and European individuals, and their relationships with living and colonial populations.

During the February 29 presentation, Dr. Schurr and Ms. Fleskes will discuss the details of the project including the methods used in DNA analysis, the project timeline, the current state of their research, and the anticipated results. They will explain how the genetic ancestry tests work, and discuss their use in genealogical research. They will also discuss the results for study participants, including the mitochondrial DNA, Y-chromosomal and autosomal DNA data.

PhD Candidate Raquel Fleskes

Once reviewing this information, Dr. Schurr and Ms. Fleskes will describe the second phase of the study, which begins this year, which provides new insights into the kinship and ancestry of 17th century European and African descendant populations, including populations known through archeological investigations.

The presentation will conclude with a question and answer session about the study and DNA testing outcomes.

This event is free and open to the public. Persons who did not participate in the DNA study are welcome to attend.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...