Unmarked graves reveal George Washington family secrets

FILE- A portrait of George Washington by Constable-Hamilton, 1794. From the New York Public Library. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

An investigation at a cemetery uncovered skeletal remains belonging to some of George Washington’s relatives. 

The remains of Washington’s family members were located in unmarked graves. In 1999, an excavation occurred at the Harewood Cemetery in Charles Town, West Virginia, to identify the unmarked grave of Samuel Washington, the younger brother of George Washington. 

Descendants of Samuel Washington approved the excavation at the cemetery to identify the unmarked burials. 

The study notes that five unmarked graves were found, with skeletal remains collected and cataloged for testing.

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The identities of the remains belong to George Steptoe Washington Jr., Dr. Samuel Walter Washington, and Lucinda (Lucy) Payne. 

Bone samples were compared to data from Samuel Walter Washington to examine whether the remains were part of the Washington family tree. 

Based on the results, Lucy Payne is Samuel Walter Washington’s great-great-great-grandmother, George Steptoe Washington Jr. is his great-great-great-uncle, and Dr. Samuel Walter Washington is his great-great-grandfather, according to iScience.com.

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Samuel Walter Washington is also related to George Steptoe Washington Jr. and Dr. Samuel Walter Washington.

Approximately 24 DNA extracts were created from the skeletal elements recovered from the three burials. The study notes that two skeletal elements were removed through burial, with some extracted multiple times.

According to the study, researchers produced the first Y-chromosomal DNA profile for George Washington, which might shed light on ancestral relationships among people who inherited the Washington surname but are uncertain of their family connections "to determine who is paternally related to George Washington himself," the study authors explained.

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.