Woman seeks to establish Madison kinship

Aug. 24, 2008 at 3:58 PM
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LOWELL, Mass., Aug. 24 (UPI) -- A black woman who says she's heard she is a direct descendant of U.S. founding father James Madison says the Madison family is blocking her from the truth.

Dr. Bettye Kearse, a Massachusetts pediatrician who is trying to publish a book on her family history, said she is not angry with the Madisons, just disappointed with their decision not to arrange DNA testing, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

"I can understand why his recognized descendants, i.e. white descendants, could have ... resistance to becoming involved in a kind of contentious debate," Kearse said. "And, I also understand they would want to protect his legacy, his image, throughout history."

Kearse's family stories say Madison fathered a child named Jim with her great-great-great-great-grandmother, a slave cook named Coreen.

With no documentation, Kearse sought the help of geneticist Bruce Jackson, co-director of the Roots Project at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, which helps African Americans trace their genetic histories.

The Madisons "were neither sincere nor forthcoming in this effort, so we're not going to bother with them anymore," Jackson said. "If Bettye Kearse were white and wealthy, they would have no problem with this. But

she's not ... . She's a prominent physician ... but she happens to be the wrong hue."

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