Friday, August 04, 2006

Venture Smith update Archaeologists find no DNA in search for slave 'Paul Bunyan'
Archaeologists excavating the 200-year-old graves of a slave family said Tuesday that they recovered no genetic material from the man dubbed "the black Paul Bunyan."

Scientists had hoped to find DNA that would trace Venture Smith's life back to Africa, filling in the gaps of one of the earliest and most important slave biographies. Descendants had hoped genetic evidence would support the tales of a 6-foot-1 lumberjack slave whose fabulous feats of strength helped win his freedom.

"We didn't get much," Nicholas F. Bellantoni, Connecticut's state archaeologist, said about Venture Smith's grave. "Everything had been decomposed."