Ten, fifteen years ago, I was immersed in the fascinating family tree of one of my best friends, who has roots in New Orleans and the River Parishes. One of her lines is Darensbourg, and I sought collaboration from several researchers who were also trying to tease out clues that linked the famille de couleur libre with the German-Swedish Karl Friedrich D’Arensbourg, leader of Louisiana’s early 18th century German settlements upriver from New Orleans. In particular, I corresponded heavily with M. Darensbourg, translating from the French several documents that she unearthed in her persistent sleuthing. After a couple of years, the trail went cold, and we gradually lost contact.
Not long after my 23andme results posted, I received an excited message from M., who believed that we’d found confirmation of our mutual descent from D’arensbourg. I was even more stunned though, because I’m not a descendant at all. I reminded her that I’d been researching for someone else, and: “This is a just a little too unreal, M.!! I’m guessing that we are linked on your mother’s side? I see you have VA and NC lines, which is where my family largely is from. I have NO Louisiana ancestry at all, though have found two RF matches to Creoles. Undoubtedly the link is someone “sold down river” in the terrible slave trade.”
M., my mother and I share a smallish stretch of chromosome 8. Neither my maternal uncle nor his first son inherited. As of right now, we don’t have the first clue to our connection.