OPELOUSAS, La. — "So, what you have now is the 'lost child' Bobby Dunbar, and the child who grew up as Bobby Dunbar," begins Gerald Dunbar.
71-year Gerald Dunbar of Lafayette has heard the story for most his life:
How an Opelousas boy named Bobby Dunbar disappeared in 1912. How a boy who looked like him was found in Mississippi months later living with a traveling handyman named William Walters. How a mother from North Carolina appeared to contest his identity, saying the boy was her son, Bruce Anderson. And how a St. Landry Parish court awarded custody to the Dunbar family.
"End of story," offers Gerald, although strictly from the Dunbar side. "But from the Anderson side, they believe that Bobby was kidnapped by the courts and awarded to the Dunbars."
For the next 85 years or so, life goes on. The boy deemed Bobby Dunbar grows up a Dunbar, runs a gas station and has a family, including his son Gerald. "He (Gerald's dad) ended up being a man of faith, a loving father, a man of his community and proud to be of his community."
In 1999 Gerald's niece Margaret begins to go through family albums, and then begins conducting extensive research into the story of her grandfather Bobby Dunbar. She meets with the Walters and Anderson families; and then arranges for a DNA test, with one sample coming from her father, Robert Dunbar, Jr., son of the man believed to be Bobby Dunbar, and another sample coming from David Dunbar, son of a definitive Dunbar, Alonzo, brother of the boy who in 1912, disappeared near a St. Landry Parish swamp.
"So we have a DNA sample from Alonzo's heirs, and from Bobby's heirs, and it came back not a match," says Gerald Dunbar. "So we now know that my dad was not the missing child, Bobby Dunbar."
"But we don't know who he was."
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