“This Article is about The Connection of Clayton & Henry Counties to
First Lady Michelle Robinson Obama”
The announcement that Mrs. Obama had roots here in our local area
was a shock not only to the people involved here, but to her as well.
She and her mother would make no comments about the findings.
Here is the story and it is an interesting one at that. This is being
prepared by the Cemetery Research Group of Henry County for
DNA testing has been carried out on local people and Mrs. Obama’s
family. It is known that her lineage took her back to the slave days. In
1852, Mr. Henry Wells Shields inherited a slave girl Melvinia and her
age was eight from his wife’s father in northeastern South Carolina.
The Shields family had settled into what was then Henry County from
South Carolina. Mr. Shields brother moved on into the region of
Alabama. After Clayton County was formed in 1858, his farm on what
is Fielder Road today became part of that county. Mr. Henry Shields
had a son named Charles Marion Shields who was a farmer and a
school teacher in the area. DNA testing has shown that he is the
father of Melvinia’s son, Dolphus Shields. That would make Charles,
Mrs. Obama’s great-great-great maternal grandfather. The situation is
that Mr. Charles Shields was a white man. This would make Dolphus
Shields what was known as a “mulatto” being half white and half black.
Back at that time in history, in was a law that gave the death penalty to a black man who raped a white
woman in Georgia. But white men who raped black women were not considered criminals. (For
example: President Thomas Jefferson of Virginia had a child by a slave woman.) There is the possibility
that there was some affection between Melvinia and Charles since she had more children by him and she
lived in the area close by after slavery ended to be helped financially, even though he was married and
had other children at the time.
Charles Shields wife Zipporah was born in 1839 and passed away in 1872. Charles then married her
sister S. Emma Robinson and when she passed away he had her buried next to her sister in the
Adamson Family Cemetery on Fielder Road behind a private residence in a fenced in cemetery. Then
Charles married a third time to Nancy Porter. He is buried next to Nancy in the McDonough Memorial
Cemetery. Melvinia had taken the Shields name and she married a Mr. McGruder. She was born in
1844 and passed away in 1938 and is buried at the Kingston City Cemetery in Kingston, Georgia which
is in Bartow County.
Charles and Melvinia’s son Adolphus D.T. Shields was born in 1859 and is buried in Birmingham,
Alabama in Jefferson County. He passed away in 1950 and is buried at Shadowlawn Memorial Park
near his great uncle Thomas M. Shields the brother of his great-great-great-great grandfather Henry W.
Shields who is buried at the Adamson Family Cemetery on Fielder Road in Clayton County. Aldophus
married Alice Easley of South Carolina. He worked as a carpenter filing saws and was the founder of
The Shields family immigrated to South Carolina in the middle 1750’s. The first to come was Andrew
Shields from Ulster, Ireland. This is in Northern Ireland today. His grandson Henry Shields came to
Georgia. The part of the story that gets to Mrs. Obama is the fact that Charles Marion Shields was a
Private Co. D 8th Georgia Regt. CSA. He entered the service as a volunteer in the 62nd Regt GA Cavalry
which was composed of 7 Georgia companies and 3 North Carolina Companies. The North Carolina
Companies pulled out and this left the Georgia Companies to form the 8th Regt. GA Vol. Cavalry by State
Order #254. He went in the service in 1862 and mustered out on April 26, 1865. The 8th Regt. Provided
patrols of the Georgia Railway from Augusta to Atlanta and then the West Point Railway from Atlanta to
West Point, Georgia. They would engage the incoming Union forces at the Battle of Atlanta and again
ahead of the Union forces under General Logan with General Sherman along the railway to Covington
during the March to the Sea. After the Civil War he returned to his farming and teaching in the Clayton and
Henry County area around Stockbridge. His Obituary read as follows after his death on January 24, 1916:
“Mr. Charles M. Shields—The remains of Mr. C. M. Shields were brought down from Atlanta at 1 o’clock
Wednesday afternoon and laid to rest in McDonough Cemetery, he having breathed his last in that city on
Monday. Mr. Shields was for a long while a resident of Stockbridge District where he was well known as a
useful and honorable citizen, having spent a large part of life teaching. Later he moved to McDonough and
lived here some time before going to Atlanta several years ago where he had since resided. Besides a
large number of family connections he leaves a host of friends to honor his memory.” This was posted in the
paper on January 28, 1916.
Then Ms. Obama found out about her Paternal side of the family. Her great-grandmother was Rosella
Cohen of Georgetown, South Carolina. Her parents were Caesar and Tira Cohen who were born into
slavery in Georgetown. They have a link to the white family of Cohen’s who were a very prominent Jewish
family in Georgetown in the early 1800’s. Moises Cohen, who emigrated from London to South Carolina
around 1750 was the first chief rabbi of Charleston’s Congregation of Beth Elohim, the birthplace of Reform
Judaism in the United States. His two sons, Abraham and Solomon, moved to Georgetown and became
deeply involved in its civic and political life. Abraham, who fought in the Revolutionary War and served as
the town’s postmaster, met with George Washington when the American President visited Georgetown in
1791. Solomon was a director of the Bank of South Carolina and his son, Solomon Jr., was elected to the
South Carolina State Senate in 1831. Several Cohens were also slave owners. Most of the Cohens
eventually left Georgetown for Charleston, but before they did, it is very likely that a member of this
prominent Jewish family was the parent to Caesar. Miss Moten a daughter-n-law of Caesar and Tira
Cohen was also half Cherokee Indian. She migrated to Illinois where she met Mrs. Obama’s Grandfather
Mr. Robinson whose son married Mariane Shields the great-great granddaughter of Adolphus Shields.
Then Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born January 17, 1964 in Chicago, Illinois. And of course we know
she is married to the President Mr. Barrack Obama who has muslim ties in his family. No wonder Mrs.
Obama didn’t want to comment on this subject since she has white-Irish blood, African American blood,
Jewish blood, and Cherokee Indian blood in her background. What a tangled mess.
The truth in history often brings out things that we just do not wan to hear about. If you are a black person
and you found out that your direct descendant was white and was in the Confederate States Army, it wouldn’
t be heart warming to say the least. But on the other hand, think about those white family members she has
across the south today who really don’t like the idea of being directly related to her. History is often a two
edged sword. But this is America and anything can happen in these United States.
Photo: New York Times Courtesy of Jarrod Shields, 2012.
“American Tapestry,” Rachel L. Swarns, Harper Collins Publishers.
DNA Testing through Family Tree Foundation.
The Telegraph, London England, June 17, 2012.
The Boston Globe, June 2012.
U.S. Census 1860 and 1870.
The War of the Rebellion, 1898.
The Henry County Weekly, Jan. 1916.
Gen.Web Grave Project.com
Find a Grave.com
American Civil War Rosters Confederacy
Jewish Family Study of South Carolina
The Photo’s Attached are courtesy of Ancestry.com