‘It’s a treasure that’s out there and if you find it, you’ve got to feel very proud’

“Expected DNA breakthrough leads to discovery of senior’s descendent”

With the mysterious disappearance of Buck Owens and Bill Monroe, Elvis Presley’s musical career blossomed, and his life became one filled with partying, girls and music legends like Dean Martin and Red Buttons.

The poor image of Buck Owens, still in public consciousness as an outlaw gunslinger, was something that remained from his fellow country music pioneers, particularly the late Bill Monroe, whose death in 1961 was shrouded in mystery. Monroe died of a heart attack after crashing his 1959 Cadillac Eldorado on a Texas road. According to legend, a cowpoke punched the windows and climbed in, and Hamilton made off with Monroe’s valuables.

Using new DNA sequencing technology, researchers from the University of Texas and the University of Michigan found Monroe’s daughter and Owens’ great-grandson, Jessie Owens Broussard, to be a match for a match. They also determined that one of the hunters who stitched the singer’s skull together for burial in 2004 was someone else.

“We suspect that the skull may have been in the dumpster for years, but the fact that it was somehow still worn was a beautiful coincidence,” Tom Melsheimer of University of Texas, lead author of the new study said in a statement. “There’s no way these hunters would have a memento from Monroe if he had just died in a car crash on the side of the road.”

A forensic anthropologist verified that the skull belonged to Owens, who died in 1962. Owen’s wife died in 1974, so his family will now get a proper burial, but on Monroe’s orders.

The use of DNA sequencing has led to an amazing number of human and animal ancestry discoveries, ranging from a Brown bear with an identical genetic profile to a Syrian family’s connection to a Syrian family in Cincinnati.

More recently, researchers were able to trace a Chinese family back to the Hi-Yi, who left him as a baby in the North China mountains in the 1600s and died in 1622. DNA evidence also led researchers to found the 19th century Scottish hunter Cheever Duncan, who led the raid that opened the Battle of Saratoga.

Owens died in 1962 of the degenerative eye disease, glaucoma. The researchers said that Owens likely had cataracts from his drinking and a poor diet that didn’t include enough of the nutrient vitamins A and D. More and more often, researchers are finding that older people have dark ancestry in blood and family members.

“A lot of people, when they hear it, they think I can be dismissed, but I don’t buy it,” Owens’ daughter Mary Anne Hall said. “It’s a treasure that’s out there and if you find it, you’ve got to feel very proud.”

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