First Lady Tied to Southside

First Lady Michelle Obama may have a home in Chicago," but she has deep roots in Henry and Pittsylvania Counties.

It's a new discovery for officials at the Bassett Historical Center.

After genealogist and family history expert{}Megan Smolenyak made the connection (read more on her blog)", a local man has now made it his mission to continue the genealogy project.

Beverley Millner even found out he was related to the First Lady, and he's found several other distant relatives with whom he's sharing the good news.

"She's the most famous person that I think we have researched here and that we have had people come in to research," Pat Ross with the Bassett Historical Center said.

In fact, all of Michelle Obama's mother's maternal side can be traced back to Henry and Pittsylvania County.

"To have such connection to such an honored person, popular person, first lady of the United States," Millner said.

One of the keys to the research is the co-habitation list for Henry County, a rudimentary version of documenting black people after the civil war, before they were officially counted in the census.

"That co-habitation list is the most important document I've found relative to African-American genealogy," Millner said.

Without it, Millner suspects the First Lady's connection to the Southside wouldn't have been made. Everyone on this board is a distant relative of Mrs. Obama's- including Beverly Millner's step-mother.

"To know that they're related to the First Lady of the United States would be an honor to anyone I think!" Millner said.

He's contacted many of her relatives, in his search for pictures.

"All of them were excited, some of them didn't want to believe it!" he said.

Millner says he would love to show the First Lady his research someday. He heard she has family in North Carolina, so he's headed there next to continue his work.

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