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Did you know? Ben Affleck’s ancestors were slave owners



Ben Affleck recently admitted he was embarrassed by his ancestral ties to a slave owner, but the Oscar winner is hardly alone when it comes to having a controversial family history.
Unearthing sordid details about relatives is not uncommon, according to genealogists. Yet in the case of Affleck and others, the sting of shame about the unsavoury characters and actions in their ancestral past can linger for decades and even centuries later.
“You might find somebody with a criminal record and things like that, but it’s personal because it’s family — it’s your family,” said professional geneaologist Ruth Blair of Blair Archival Research based in Oakville, Ont.
“There’s just great sensitivity to some of these topics.”
Affleck expressed regret in a Facebook post for seeking to have the information about his ancestor omitted from the episode of “Finding Your Roots” which featured the actor and aired last October.
Barry Sheldon, vice-president and lead researcher of, said no one should reflect poorly upon Affleck because of his ancestral ties, adding that individuals “can’t be held guilty by association.”
“We all have something,” Sheldon said from Berrien Springs, Mich.
“Slavery was a way of life and it was an unfortunate way of life, at least here in the United States.”
In researching his own collateral line, Ontario Genealogical Society president Alan Campbell discovered a man who had enlisted to serve in the First World War but was dishonourably discharged because of frequent drunkenness.
Meanwhile, two of the discharged serviceman’s grandchildren went on to serve proudly in the military.
“For them, that was a major impact, a disappointment.”
– CTV News, April 26, 2015

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