Adventures in Haiti

A year ago I was experiencing Haiti for the first time. Here’s the blog post I wrote about my adventures.

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I’m on my last day of vacation in Haiti. It’s been an amazing trip.

My wife was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti. Her ancestors were from Les Cayes.

Our two sons, born in Washington, D.C. like me, got a chance to experience their mother’s homeland for the first time.

Their DNA connects Haiti and America. Through their mother, they descend from Haitians who’ve lived free since the Haitian revolution (1791–1804).

Through me, they descend from formerly enslaved persons as well as free people of color who lived free in the American south from the Colonial period through the Cvil War.

I just discovered a historical connection between these Haitian and American free colored communities as well. At least two families from the Northampton County free community of color from which my Cumbo ancestors lived, moved to Haiti in the early 19th century as part of a movement to repatriate free blacks from America to Africa and the Caribbean.

In 1824 the American Colonization Society reached out to Jean-Pierre Boyer, the free born, mixed race President of Haiti with a plan to repatriate free people of color in America to Haiti. That year nearly 6,000 free people of color migrated from The United States to Haiti departing from ports such as New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia in search of a new life. Their stay however would be short lived as most returned to the US within months due to the poor living conditions they encountered upon their arrival.

Now to the Northampton County connection to the American repatriation movement to Haiti. I have many DNA matches who descend from the Newsoms, a free family of color from Northampton, North Carolina. The Newsoms (also spelled Newsome) and Cumbos lived together in Northampton and intermarried which could explain my genetic connection to the Newsom family.

Before my trip to Haiti, my DNA cousin and Newsom descendant Nikki Bass pointed out to me that she’d uncovered a passenger record for ancestral relative Nathan Newsom of Northampton returning from Cap- Haitien, Haiti to Philadelphia in the 1820s.

Passenger record for Nathan Newsom from Haiti back to the U.S.

She also passed along that Paul Heinegg, author of Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina pointed out to her that the Morgans, another free African American family from Northampton County, N.C., went to live in Haiti for a while before returning to live in the U.S. and Canada.

So there were at least two Northampton families who repatriated from the US to Haiti and back.

There is nothing more exhilarating to me than when my life adventures and genealogical adventures intersect in unexpected ways.

Jean-Pierre Boyer, President of Haiti (1818–1843) who worked with the Americam Colonization Society to repatriate free colored people from the United States to Haiti in the 1820s.

Me, my wife and sons on our trip to Haiti. Here we are at The Citadelle, one of the largest fortresses in the Americas, which was built by Henri Christophe, founding father of Haiti and key leader in the Haitian Revolution. Christophe would be succeeded by his rival Jean-Pierre Boyer as President of Haiti. In 1982 The Citadelle would be designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site.


Originally published at www.cumbofamily.com on July 6, 2016.