SCDNR archaeologists inch closer to identifying 19th-century remains found in Georgetown County

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 9:11 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – Just over a month ago, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Archaeologists made a plea to the community in hopes to identify the remains of a man found in Georgetown County and today they are one step closer.

The remains may date back to the 1890s. They were discovered near the Fishing Village after Hurricane Irma in 2017. The Fishing Village is a site of ongoing archaeological research on the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center Heritage Preserve, which is between Winyah Bay and Mosquito Creek.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE | SCDNR archaeologists seek relatives of 19th-century remains found in Georgetown County

After asking the public for DNA samples, SCDNR with the assistance of FHD Forensics and Genealogy for Justice™ was able to identify a few very distant matches.

“This collaborative archaeological research involves oral history, archival research, and DNA analysis to identify descendants,” said Dr. Jodi Barnes, a historical archaeologist.

SCDNR said the DNA analysis suggests that John Doe may have a connection to the Bahamas and researchers have isolated a few common families among the matches. Those family surnames include Washington, Deas, and Geddes/Gethers.

“The matches also suggest he might be related to Georgetown and Charleston families with ties to Florida and Virginia, or other coastal South Carolina locations like Black River and Johns Island,” the statement read.

To continue to narrow down who he may be, researchers are now asking for older relatives of the matches they already have to get closer to giving John Doe his name back.

“Our team is grateful for the opportunity to help return this young man to his relatives,” said Allison Peacock, president of FHD Forensics.

CLICK HERE if you’re interested in participating in DNA testing to learn whether you’re related to the young man.