If you want to discover your genetic history and where you came from... you’ve found the right place!


review of scientific and news articles on dna testing and popular genetics

Autosomal DNA Video Interview

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Check Out DNA Fingerprint Plus $300 

Donald Yates is principal investigator and founder of DNA Consultants. In this video interview, he talks about the origin and potential of autosomal ancestry tests like the DNA Fingeprint Plus. It all began with the Melungeon mystery over 10 years ago. . . .


Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Melungeons: Seeing Red, Seeing Black

Saturday, May 26, 2012
Check Out DNA Fingerprint Plus $300 

Sorry, Jack, no cigar. Your Grandpa's Indians are not what you think. And it is not true "most free African American families that originated in colonial Virginia and Maryland descended from white servant women who had children by slaves or free Africans" (source). Negro males did not go around selectively "fathering" little man-children on "white servant women" in early America.

It is ironic that these fantasies should even emerge in the recently publicized report, "Melungeon DNA Study Reveals Ancestry, Upsets a 'Whole Lot of People.'" The authors of the report, Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson and Janet Lewis Crain, have spent the better part of ten years trying to prove they and others with Melungeon ancestry are just plain folks, that is, white folks.

Maybe they are just that, though. Among the conclusions of the report are that Melungeons aren't Portuguese, aren't Native American, aren't Jewish, aren't Romani/Gypsy, aren't . . . . On and on. They just have a teeny-tiny bit of Sub-Saharan African in some lines. Not to worry, though, it is just a little soupçon of non-white. And it goes back to a few heroic "negroes" (the report's language) who left a trace their Sub-Saharan African Y chromosomes in the fathers and sons and grandpas of three Melungeon families.

From an article published, lo! way back in 2002 in the Appalachian Quarterly, now sadly defunct,

Shalom and Hey, Y'all Shalom and Hey, Y'all (243 KB)

comes the true story of these "negroes" (the report's language) fathering "multiethnic" babies on innocent white indentured servant women.

In discussing the will of Indian trader James Adair, the author of the study remarks on the fact that Adair did not apparently approve of his daughter Agnes marrying John Gibson (from the selfsame Melungeon Gibson family that is creating all the brouhaha today). (Agnes, by the way, was not an indentured servant; her father had a considerable fortune.)

           "Notice the harsh treatment Adair accords his daughter Agnes, leaving her and her husband John Gibson the nominal sum of only one shilling (if he had left her nothing, she could have protested to the probate court that he simply forgot her). John was one of the “mulatto” Gibsons of the Great Pee Dee river valley region. Gideon Gibson stands large on the pages of history for his role in the so-called Regulators Revolt. The Gideon Glass Antiques Store today pays testimony to the “richest man in South Carolina” of his time. When members of the Gibson family first moved to the state in 1731, representatives in the House of Assembly complained “several free colored men with their white wives had immigrated from Virginia.” Governor Robert Johnson summoned Gibson and his family and reported:

            I have had them before me in Council and upon Examination find that they are not Negroes nor Slaves but Free people, That the Father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his Father was also free, I have been informed by a person who has lived in Virginia that this Gibson has lived there Several Years in good Repute and by his papers that he has produced before me that his transactions there have been very regular. That he has for several years paid Taxes for two tracts of Land and had several Negroes of his own, That he is a Carpenter by Trade and is come hither for the support of his Family [Box 2, bundle:  S.C. Minutes of House of Burgesses (1730-35), 9, Parish Transcripts, N.Y. Hist. Soc. By Jordan, White over Black, 172.]


"The Gibsons are discussed as Melungeons in Brent Kennedy and as true-to-form Sephardic Jews in Hirschman. Melungeon Gibsons derive their origins from the Chavis family, one of the oldest Portuguese-Jewish names in America. If they are Jewish, it is ironic—and probably funnier than any Fanny Brice skit—that historians trot them forth as shining examples of non-slave African American colonials owning land and marrying white women."

The moral of the story? Melungeons have often been hauled into court to prove they are not black. Now they are being dragged through the court of Internet opinion. The outcome is doubtful.

Now about those Indians . . . That will have to wait until another blog post.

Photo: Black Revolutionary soldier. Blackpast.org.

Article cited:  Donald N. Panther-Yates, “Shalom and Hey, Y’all:  Jewish-American Indian Chiefs in the Old South,” Appalachian Quarterly 7/2 (June 2002) 80-89.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match
Melungeon DNA Fingerprint Plus
The War on Melungeons

Shalom and Hey, Y'all Shalom and Hey, Y'all (243 KB)

Brent Kennedy's book on Melungeons
Elizabeth Hirschman's book on Melungeons
Lisa Alther's new novel on Melungeons


Gale Torregrossa commented on 30-May-2012 08:01 PM

"Just not possible to to make an R1a or R1b baby out of an E-3 man and a white woman". This statement is bias, because if the daughter of the white woman marries a white man that is R1b, then her son will be the same as his father and will continue to
pass it along to his grandsons and so on. And the daughter will continue to pass along her white females mtdna to her daughters and grandaughters. I am a good example, my grandmother of the past was a white women and to this day my daughters and grand-daughters
carry European mtdna, because we are the offsprings of a white female. You do not have a lawsuit just hurt feelings and you should be ashamed at the way you describes black physical traits, because I have seen the same traits in white people and admixtures.
You are venting as a racist. . Even better take the Native American test. If you were a Native American Male you would be in Haplogroup "Q". R1b is European! Native females are haplogroups A, B, C, D or X, chill and be real!

Anonymous commented on 07-Jun-2012 02:20 PM

Seems like people of mixed Melungeon and American Indian descent have declared a war of their own . . . against Jack Goins and the authors of the study claiming Melungeons are black. http://freeamericanindiangenocidewatch.blogspot.com/2012/05/jack-goins-declares-war-on-indain.html

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Melungeons: Much Ado

Thursday, May 24, 2012
Check Out DNA Fingerprint Plus $300 

Mountains will be in labor, and an absurd mouse will be born, meaning all that work and nothing to show for it.

In a previous post we drew attention to an online article "Melungeons, A multiethnic Population,"published by the International Society for Genetic Genealogy in Journal of Genetic Genetic Genealogy, its authors Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson and Janet Lewis Crain.

The article is a bit forbidding at some 100 pages and it fairly bristles with self-importance and DNA, so we will attempt to summarize it.

Here are some highlights from the summary in the article itself, with our comments in italics:


Many sources exist where the Melungeons identify themselves variously as Indians and Portuguese.  Only one family, the Goins, are identified orally as having negro heritage.  Given the physically dark appearance of the Melungeons, they have unquestionable heritage other than European.

This seems to be an unsurprising conclusion, until you realize that after limiting their sights to Melungeons who called themselves Portuguese, preferably only those in the 37869 zip code, and Goins who already identified themselves as having Sub-Saharan African (please, not the n-word in 2012, or at least capitalize it), the authors are going to draw a further veil on proceedings and deepen the mystery. Read on.

Every Melungeon core family is indentified in multiple records as being "of color".

We won't comment on the equivocation going on here. Please read on.

DNA evidence identifies several lines conclusively as having African roots, specifically, Bunch, Collins, Goins (3 separate lines), Minor and possibly Nichols.  Gibson has one line who has tested and shows haplogroup E1b1a, but they also match another Louisa County affiliated family, Donathan.


Of these families, the Collins family has four different haplogroups within the same family group, a situation not unexpected based on the commentary by Will Allen Dromgoole wherein she states that of the Collins that while "they all were not blood descendants of Old Vardy they had all fallen under his banner and appropriated his name."

The Collins and Gibson founding lines, meaning Vardy Collins and Shephard "Buck" Gibson were said to be Cherokee and stole the names of white men in Virginia.  Their DNA indicates that if they were Native, it was not via their paternal line. 

Comma splice. Hate to be petty. How do you steal a white man's name? I certainly hope no Melungeons are going to steal mine. This is one of the funniest conclusions I have read so far. But do continue, Gentle Reader.

Dromgoole reportedly stayed with Calloway Collins who stated that his grand-father was a Cherokee Chief.  His Collins grandfather was Benjamin Collins who lived on Newman's Ridge and did not remove in 1835.  There are no known Cherokee who lived on Newman's Ridge.  The Cherokee Nation was significantly further south prior to removal in 1835, as shown in Figure 12.

After making fun of other people who claim Cherokee chiefs and princesses in their family tree, the authors seem willing to entertain an exception with their own relatives, or friends. We will not quibble with their Cherokee history but would have said "farther" rather than "further." Maybe that is a regionalism, however. Don't give up yet.

The Mullins line was reputed to be Irish and is confirmed genetically to be European.  However, "Irish Jim", the progenitor is listed as a "free person of color", a very unusual classification for an immigrant from the British Isles.  Droomgoole states that the Mullins will "fight for their Indian blood."  No Indian heritage is evident in historical records or DNA.

We would like to remark that Irish, like other undesirables in early America, were often considered non-white and persons of color. Please purchase the book by Nell Irvin Painter for your local library, The History of White People

The Denham line was said to be Portuguese and oral history indicates that the line originated "further south" or possibly from a shipwreck, yet the Revolutionary War pension application of David Denham says he was born in Louisa County, Virginia.  The Denham line may connect with the Gibsons as early as 1627 in Charles City County.  The Denham DNA is European and the Denham descendant who DNA tested has no Spanish or Portuguese matches.  Denham is not Portuguese on the paternal Y-line.

Watch that distinction between "further" and "farther." The latter is to be used of distance; the former of degree or depth. I was born pretty far south but not fur.

A significant amount of oral history regarding Portuguese heritage exists, but no historical, genealogical or genetic evidence has been discovered to corroborate the oral history.  Some historical information refutes the oral history. 

Really? Who have you been talking to?

Claims of Portuguese ancestry are a pattern that stretches beyond the Melungeon families and is found explaining a "dark countenance" across the eastern half of the US, providing a European answer to the question of why. 

Oh, no. Now we have "dark countenances." Please buy that book I mentioned.

One possible source of the pervasive Portuguese oral history is that the Portuguese were heavily involved prior to 1642 in the early importation of African indentured servants, some of whom would eventually become free and some of whom would become slaves.

So that's it!

On the 1880 census, several Melungeon families claimed Portuguese as their race.  An analysis of the families so claiming reveals that none of them were descended from the Denham line.  Some, but not all were descended from the Sizemore and Riddle Native families.  Of the 22 adults listed initially as Portuguese, more than half, 12 are descended from either the Goins or Minor families with African haplogroups, 11 are descended from the Sizemore family, 4 from the Riddle family, 4 are not descended from any of the above and 3 are unknown. 

Tsk, tsk. The word "none" requires a singular verb. You should write, "None of them is..." I am not even going to attempt to straighten out your punctuation or sentence predication. Gentle reader, please persist. The best is yet to come.

Ironically, the Sizemore family is not identified as Melungeon in Hancock/Hawkins Counties, but is ancestral to many Melungeon families and settled there are well.  The Sizemore family is proven genetically to be Native, haplogroup Q1a3a.  Furthermore, there are two Native Sizemore lines, although only one is known to be ancestral to the Melungeon families.  A European Sizemore line also exists, and the Bolins match the European Sizemore lines, suggesting that these families may have had a common genesis or that these Sizemores may in fact be Bolins.  Both families are found in early Virginia along the North Carolina border.

I always wondered about that. Now I know less than I thought I did before.

A link has been found through the Goins family to the Lumbee.  The "Smiling" Goins family was not thought to be an original Lumbee family, but subsequent research has shown that even though the group in 1915 was thought to be an "outside" group, the ancestors of this group were found in 1770 with other founding Lumbee families.  The Moore and Cumberland County Pocket Creek Goins groups have always claimed kinship with the Lumbee.  Other links to the Lumbee have not yet been found.  The Lumbee Tribe has been reticent to support DNA testing and common surnames between the Lumbee and the Melungeon Core group have not all been tested.

I don't blame the Lumbee tribe for being reticent to support DNA testing. Most folks I know are pretty reticent about DNA. A better word would have been "reluctant."

The Riddle family who is also ancestral to the Melungeon families is genetically European, haplogroup R1b1b2, but is documented historically to be Indian from a 1767 tax list where they are noted as such.  Furthermore, they are found in other "Indian Communities" such as Pocket Creek in Moore County, NC, tied to the Goins family.  In 1820 several Riddle families are found beside a Goins family whose first name is illegible.  In 1830 in Moore County, William Riddle is found beside both Levy and Edward Goins, believed to be the Goins family of the Lumbee. 

That Riddle family! And now we find out they are living next to "Smiling" Goins.

Edward Goins is later found in Sumter County, SC, a progenitor of one the Smiling Indian families in Sumter County, SC, also known as Red Bones.  This Goins family moved from Sumter County and settled in Robeson County, NC in 1907.  The progenitor of this line, Frederick Goen, is found with the Lumbee much earlier, on the 1770 Bladen County tax list. Testimony regarding this family in 1915 states that the father's line is Melungeon.

Are you sure this is the summary?!

The Goins family is found in multiple locations in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, several of which are involved with legal proceedings relative to their race.  There are three genetic Melungeon Goins family lines, two E1b1a and one haplogroup A, all three being of sub-Saharan African origin. 

Wait a minute. Aren't we just talking about male lines, and only one family at that, and only three cases at that. That doesn't seem like a fair summary.

In Hawkins/Hancock County, Tennessee, Sumter County, SC, and Spartanburg District (Georgetown County), SC these Goins families are referred to as Melungeon.  Genetically, they share a common ancestor, probably John Goins found in Hanover County in 1735.

Indeed! So to carry this to its logical conclusion, Jack Goins is descended from John Goins. John Goins was a white man. So is Jack Goins. Did I miss anything?

The Sumter County, SC Goins family is found in Bladen in 1770 . . . where Louisa County families later settled. [several paragraphs omitted for brevity's sake]

Turning to autosomal genetic testing, no Native heritage was found using marker D9S919, although this finding does not disprove Native heritage.

Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence. That's what my father always told me.

It is possible in some cases that haplogroup E1b1ba could be found in rare instances in Europe through historical invasions such as the Roman Legions. However, given the Louisa County cluster, it's unlikely that a large cluster of haplogroup E1b1a of European origin would be coincidentally found together in the colonies.  It's much more likely that this cluster is a result of people with a common bond living in close proximity and intermarrying.  Furthermore, if haplogroup E were to be found in Europe, it's much more likely to be E1b1b, the Berber haplogroup, not E1b1a.  No Melungeon families are found with haplogroup E1b1b or subclades.

Thank goodness those Roman legions didn't make it to Tennessee. But it seems like no North Africans did either, which is strange. See our post Right Church, Wrong Pew.

Marriage partners in colonial Virginia were legally restricted beginning in 1691 with the passage of a law that forbid the English intermarriage with Indians, mulattoes and negroes.  Prior to that, interracial marriages and encounters outside of marriage occurred regularly.  This restriction, along with increasingly severe penalties in the event that the intermarriage did occur was repeated in various laws in 1705, 1753 and 1792 in Virginia and in 1715 and 1741 in North Carolina, in essence requiring anyone who was other than white to intermarry within their own group or groups of racially similar individuals, meaning others "of color."  Legal marriages between whites and other races would have had to predate 1691, although illegitimacy certainly knew no boundaries.  In marriages occurring after 1691 in Virginia, in couples where one individual was "other than white," both partners could be presumed to have at least some recognizable non-European heritage.

This is one of the most hilarious and bigoted parts of this article, so be sure you read it several times to absorb it in all its unintended humor.

Given the proven Native ancestral families to the Melungeons combined with cultural styles that are perhaps suggestive of a maternal culture, Native or African, via illegitimacy, one would expect to find Native or African mitochondrial DNA.  However, all mitochondrial DNA to date has been European.  This was not expected given the very high levels of consanguity and intermarriage within this group from at least the mid 1700s through the mid-1900s.  However, Heinegg's analysis of mixed race families in early Virginia and his discovery that the predominant pattern of African or mixed men fathering children with white indentured female partners may explain these findings.

Typo:  consanguinity. And sorry, but we don't buy your and Heinegg's theory about African men "fathering children with white indentured female partners." Those weren't African men, for one thing. But that is a whole other story, and it happened in Spain, and besides the wench is dead.

No evidence, historical, oral, genealogical or genetic has been found to support a Turkish, Middle Eastern, Jewish or Gypsy heritage.

Paydirt! The end! So what are they? You're not going to cop out and tell me they are just plain old folks. Or are you? Shucks, I guess that would make sense, though. Start out with a bunch of plain old folks, test them, and you can prove they are plain old folks. Your conclusions come from your premises. And your premises come from your conclusions.

I am normally all in favor of any DNA test or genealogy subscription or genealogical resource that can help the family researcher discover their ancestors. But "Melungeons, A multiethnic Population,"published by the International Society for Genetic Genealogy in Journal of Genetic Genetic Genealogy, by Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson and Janet Lewis Crain is without doubt one of the most pretentious, portentous and poorly conceived articles I have ever read in just about any field, and I will read almost anything. If you want a bitter laugh, though, check it out. You may find out why "Smilin' Goins" is smiling.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Melungeons Forever

Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Check Out DNA Fingerprint Plus $300 

As the sponsor of the only published study to date on the genes of Melungeons, "Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia," by Donald N. Yates and Elizabeth C. Hirschman, the owners of this blog naturally have an interest in Melungeons, a controversial American ethnic type.

Imagine our surprise at coming upon "Melungeons, A multiethnic Population," put online by the International Society for Genetic Genealogy in their Journal of Genetic Genetic Genealogy. The authors are Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson and Janet Lewis Crain. It appeared sometime this year.

Roberta J. Estes, the lead author of the new article about Melungeons, was honored with the Prestigious Paul Jehu Barringer, Jr. and Sr. Award of Excellence in grateful recognition of her Dedication and Devotion to Preserving and Perpetuating North Carolina’s Rich History. This award was conferred for her academic research paper,  Where Have All the Indians Gone?  Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony of Roanoke, published by the Journal of Genetic Genealogy.  It can be read here: http://www.jogg.info/52/index.html

We are glad to see Melungeons receiving long-overdue attention on the Internet but cannot recommend the new "review."

"Where have all the Indians gone"?! We're all still here, thank you very much.

But consider this excerpt from the "review":

Furthermore, as having Melungeon heritage became desirable and exotic, the range of where these people were reportedly found has expanded to include nearly every state south of New England and east of the Mississippi, and in the words of Dr. Virginia DeMarce,Melungeon history has been erroneously expanded to provide "an exotic ancestry...that sweeps in virtually every olive, ruddy and brown-tinged ethnicity known or alleged to have appeared anywhere in the pre-Civil War Southeastern United States."

Concerning Melungeon heritage becoming "desirable and exotic," Estes et al., and our readers, may wish to consult the more recent study by Elizabeth Hirschman and Donald N. Yates,

Suddenly Melungeon! Reconstructing Consumer Identity across the Color Line," Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 11), ed. Russell W. Belk and John F. Sherry, Jr. Amsterdam:  Elsevier, 2007.  Pp. 241-59.

This study is exclusively concerned with this very point and appeared many years after Estes et al's online article citing Virginia DeMarce in their review.

More fundamentally, the co-authors and Virginia DeMarce are seriously in error if they think disadvantaged people go around trying to prove themselves to be of any given ethnicity. They've got the shoe on the other foot. Their language with its condescending mention of color tones is offensive. I, for one, am offended, and any sponsoring or supporting organization, ought to be. In fact, they ought not to allow such views to be published.

And that's my two cents' worth on Melungeons writing about Melungeons who don't believe they or anybody else is Melungeon.

Melungeons -- real people in history -- suffered enough to have their memory dishonored by a coverup and misunderstandings hundreds of years later. I believe the same about Native American peoples and the descendants of slaves. No one should be able to write the history of disadvantaged and disenfranchised people for them.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Anonymous commented on 26-May-2012 07:44 PM

I don't know about the researchers' methodology, but I do not agree with the conclusion. Or I think they have it backwards: The Melungeons are Iberian/North African with possibly sub-Saharan as well. For example, one of my 5cM segments at 23andme is Melungeon
(Collins identified as a name). On this same segment is a distant cousin with four Greek grandparents. This is clearly a Sephardic segment. My question for the researchers is: why are so many Melungeon descendants testing positive with obvious ties to the
Iberian Peninsula and Hispanic territories? Please tell me if I can help your studies further. Ellin

Joseph commented on 16-Jul-2012 07:21 PM

If you compare the melungeon dna projects to the portugesse dna protects..you shall see a nearly 75 percent match to then projects...compare this with the portugesse ancestery the melungeosn stated..you have a match. http://www.ourfamilyorigins.com/portugal/dna.htm

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Melungeons Beginning to Emerge from Mists

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Describing himself as "a cultural geographer by training," Peter McCormick contributed an interesting chapter mentioning Melungeons to a recent volume of political science and anthropological essays. Titled Border Crossings:  Transnational Americanist Anthropology, the collection is edited by Kathleen Sue Fine-Dare and Steven Rubinson and published by the University of Nebraska Press (2009). It may be the first time a practicing academic historian has committed to a considered opinion on the subject since Melungeons first appeared on the radar of Americanists with Price's "tri-racial isolate" definition in the 1950s.

McCormick has a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma and is an associate professor of Southwest studies and Native American and indigenous studies at Fort Lewis College in Colorado. His most recent work has been on the autogeography and autohistory of his extended family in the plains, the Southwest, Appalachia, Iberia, South America and the Mediterranean.

Here's how he describes Melungeons (p. 286):

The Melungeon population of Appalachia has been the subject of a tremendous amount of interest and controversy lately. A consensus appears to be building that this population, once thought to be small, is rather large and is a result of the mixing of Iberian and Middle Eastern settlers who had been part of Spanish and English trading parties with the indigenous population of the American Southeast. Later migrations into the Piedmont and upper South by refugees of the Inquisition (Sephardic Jews and Moors) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries supplemented this population (see Hirschman 2005; Kennedy and Kennedy 1997). Our families were of this mixture.

Professor McCormick goes on to write about his personal Melungeon genealogy:

Sephardic names include Cuba, Pillo Monnis Callahin, Jorgas, Nassi, Khanadi, Rosa, David, Baez, Santos and Gascon. The families that were at one point crypto Jews include Kieffer, Mayabb, Dula D'Aultun, Baigne and Ball.  Our Melungeon families are Sizemore, Yates, Brashears, Collins, Lucas, Noel, Bass, Kennedy, Davis, Nash, Mullins, Center and Carrico. The family names on the Miller-Guion and Dawes rolls include Tunnell, Mabe, Waller, Yates and Doolin.

McCormick's testimony and evaluation of the evidence, together with his willingness to name names and self-identify as a Melungeon in academia, are important signs that the Melungeon thesis advanced by Kennedy and further documented by Hirschman and others is winning the day.

We thank McCormick for his part in bringing the true story of Jewish and Middle Eastern ancestry in Appalachia to a wider attention.

Review of Border Crossings
For anthropologists and social scientists working in North and South America, the past few decades have brought considerable change as issues such as repatriation, cultural jurisdiction, and revitalization movements have swept across the hemisphere. Today scholars are rethinking both how and why they study culture as they gain a new appreciation for the impact they have on the people they study. Key to this reassessment of the social sciences is a rethinking of the concept of borders: not only between cultures and nations but between disciplines such as archaeology and cultural anthropology, between past and present, and between anthropologists and indigenous peoples.

Border Crossings is a collection of fourteen essays about the evolving focus and perspective of anthropologists and the anthropology of North and South America over the past two decades. For a growing number of researchers, the realities of working in the Americas have changed the distinctions between being a “Latin,” “North,” or “Native” Americanist as these researchers turn their interests and expertise simultaneously homeward and out across the globe.

Melungeon DNA Studies

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Lynda Davis-Logan commented on 19-Feb-2012 12:10 PM

I was very interested to see some of my family names listed this article. I had already learned that Brassieur or Brashears, Tonnelier or Tunnell were Jewish names as they were Huguenot families who entered the US back in the 1600s in MD and they intermarried
with my Ball family - BUT I had never seen anyone say that BALL was also "crypto Jews" !!! Most interesting... to me!!! Another comment that caught my eye was "The family names on the Miller-Guion and Dawes rolls include Tunnell" I don't know that any of my
Tunnell ancestors were on the lists but we have all been searching diligently for my 5th great-grandmother - Sarah Mounts wife of James Wilson who finally settled in the Wayne Co. are of VA/WV...and both the Tunnell & Brashears lines come in - along with the
BALL line to one of Sarah's daughters - Sarah Wilson who m. Robert 'Robin' Ball.

Tiggy commented on 10-Mar-2012 05:47 PM

Why do so many of the Melungeon families you list above have Irish surnames? I.E. Yates, Collins, Noel, Bass, Kennedy, Mullins, Yates, Doolin.

Martha Taylor commented on 25-Mar-2012 02:03 PM

Hello, My name is Martha Taylor, I was adopted and found some of my birth family in recent years. Although I know some things about my family, I don't have any information on my fathers side. I did meet him as an adult, he always referred to us a Black
Dutch- which means Melungeon Indians. I would like to know about the Cline family in Grayson County Kentucky. Any information would be appreciated.

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Gene Surfing and the French-Canadian Frontier

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gene surfing is a process in population expansion whereby certain variations become prominent and dominant in a short time, appearing to skip the slow, steady, uniform accumulation of variegation and diversification. According to a study of the population structure and genealogies of Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean in Quebec, this type of drastic change accompanied the immigrant wave front that spread over the area in the 17th century. "Deep Human Genealogies Reveal a Selective Advantage to Be on an Expanding Wave Front" in Science magazine describes the resulting demographics.

Since their origin, human populations have colonized the whole planet, but the demographic processes governing range expansions are mostly unknown. We analyzed the genealogy of more than one million individuals resulting from a range expansion in Quebec between 1686 and 1960 and reconstructed the spatial dynamics of the expansion. We find that a majority of the present Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean population can be traced back to ancestors having lived directly on or close to the wave front. Ancestors located on the front contributed significantly more to the current gene pool than those from the range core, likely due to a 20% larger effective fertility of women on the wave front. This fitness component is heritable on the wave front and not in the core, implying that this life-history trait evolves during range expansions.

So gene surfing in an expanding colonization phase can produce a genetic revolution whose effects will be felt for hundreds or thousands of years downstream in history.

We wonder if the same wave front demographics might explain some of the following population phenomena:

  • Large scale triumph of Norman male lineages following the conquest of England in 1066.
  • Selective expansion of Middle Eastern genes in Tennessee (including Cherokee families, Jewish male and female lines and Melungeons)
  • Relatedness among Jews and "Jewish diseases"
  • Diversity-within-uniformity of Polynesians
  • Population replacement of Old European (U, N) by Middle Eastern genes (T, J)  in Europe as a result of the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution

Many students of history are puzzled why old populations have the allele frequencies and heterozygosity clines they have. Genetic drift is only part of the answer. Gene surfing and selection in deep history are the rest of it.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Do You Have a Mental Foramen? You Might be Part Neanderthal

Thursday, November 10, 2011
A mental foramen is a small hole in the mandible whose purpose is to allow passage of nerves and vessels to the brain and probably also to relieve tension during chewing and gnawing. It has been identified as a sign of archaic humans, including Neanderthals. Do you have one?

I asked my dentist to look at my X rays on file and he confirmed I have a mental foramen. He has often told me I have "powerful" jaws. It is unclear whether there are normally two of them and what their typical positions are.

In a previous blog post, "Neanderthals in America," we discussed mental foramina (the plural of foramen), occipital bulges or bumps and other archaic skeletal traits. Melungeons seem to have many of these ancestral marks.

Do you? You might want to check with your dentist.

Studies show that Europeans have, on average, between 1 and 4 percent Neanderthal genes from an early out-of-Africa interbreeding period in the Middle East. Science has not decided to consider Neanderthals a separate species or sub-species in relation to H. sapiens sapiens (humans).

DNA Consultants offers an estimate of Neanderthal ancestry based on matches with other archaic humans called Neanderthal Index.

Line drawing of Neanderthal male ©DNA Consultants.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Anonymous commented on 27-Dec-2011 06:06 PM

Apparently everybody has two mental foramina, one on each jaw, but the position and size are different for different people.

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Obama Shares Melungeon Ancestry with California Professor

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

San Diego State University professor D. Emily Hicks has traced some common ancestry with President Barack Obama. According to the professor of Chicana/o Studies, she and the President share Melungeon roots. Obama is a descendant of Mary Collins of Orange County, Virginia as well as of Nathaniel Bunch of Louisa County and John Bunch of New Kent--well known "feeder" counties for what became the Melungeon settlement described in Brent Kennedy's book, The Melungeons, The Resurrection of a Proud People.

Obama's Bunch line was found to carry E1b1a haplogroup, a sub-Saharan African male lineage. He is also supposed to have Cherokee ancestry in his mother's colonial genealogies.

Read the whole story at PRLOG.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


pamela commented on 07-Apr-2012 07:21 PM

hello i have been tracing my hertiage i am back 10 1595 and i am dirrectly linked to nathaniel bunch and john bunch my mothes maiden name is bunch john bunch was her great great grandfather and i am blonde hair blue eyed my mother looked native i am proud
to be a melundgeon and this is cool that i am related to obama

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Elvis DNA

Monday, September 12, 2011

For Bobbi Bacha of Blue Moon Investigations it was the chance of a lifetime. Attending a celebrity auction more than a decade ago, she put in the winning bid for some blood and semen stained sheets. Nearly 20 years old, but carefully preserved, they were reputed to come from the hotel room where Elvis Presley stayed on his Farewell Tour in 1977. She won't tell us how much she paid but says, "I could have bought a comfortable medium-sized home."

Bacha is no stranger to high-profile mysteries, crimes and misdemeanors. Part Cherokee, she is also of verifiable Melungeon descent. "As you know," she told us from her swanky glass headquarters building in Houston, "Nevil Wayland is my grandfather, and it was he who first coined the term Melungeon." We didn't know, but we soon got an earful. "We believe his wife was the daughter of Chief Red Bird as his son was the Scribe to Chief Red Bird.  Nevil built the first church in Arkansas after the family told of a great war against the Indians and he took them to Arkansas and built Stoney Creek Church. That's the name of it."

Bacha has also been in the movies, or at least her character has. The plucky Texas private eye is played by actress Sela Ward in “Suburban Madness.” This film is based on the real-life story of Clara Harris, convicted February 2003 of killing her cheating orthodontist husband by repeatedly running him over with the family Mercedes. Bacha was an eyewitness.

So what of Bacha's expensive sheet set? She tried for years to extract DNA, to no avail. The discipline had some growing up to do. Finally, she contacted DNA Consultants. Through the efforts of laboratory director Lars Mouritsen in Salt Lake City, we were able to succeed where others had failed. We obtained the first DNA profile, Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA results for what everyone believed was a thirty-year-old sample of the King.

The alleged Elvis sample turned out to have a Cherokee-specific form of mitochondrial haplogroup B on the mother's side and a Scottish Y chromosome on the father's. The autosomal profile confirmed these results with high matches for American Indian populations, Scotland and Spain.

There was not a high match for Melungeon, however, or Jewish . . . but wait! You'll have to read the whole story in Donald Yates' new book, where it is included in the DNA chapter, along with the results of our Cherokee DNA Studies.

The title of the book is The Cherokee Anomaly:  How DNA, Ancient Alphabets and Religion Explain America's Largest Indian Nation. It will be published by McFarland & Co. next year, with an introductory note by Cyclone Covey, foreword by Richard Mack Bettis, maps, figures and illustrations covering the entire history of the Cherokee from the third century BCE to the nineteenth century.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Bobbi Bacha commented on 12-Sep-2011 05:19 PM

My grandfather Nevil will be very proud !!!!! The Waylands meet every year at Stoney Brook its a pilgrimage for my family and also at Wayland Arbor. Stoney Brook was the first church of mixed race and Nevil and his wife and their son built it along with
Nevil's Indian friend and families ! There is a story in my family that Nevil was a great Indian Fighter turned Indian Lover after seeing a great massacre in Virgina. We believe it was Chief Redbird's tribe. Tale is a woman a female daughter saved the rest
of the tribe. Nevil's wife ? Zekiah was her name I believe.

Jay in Phoenix commented on 07-Oct-2011 11:57 PM

I read with some interest the article on Elvis's DNA in the recent newsletter. It made me think of the fact that there are several people claiming to be his biological children, conceived in various alleged liaisons of Presley. If he was as promiscuous
as the article indicates, then some if not all of these claims could be valid. I wonder if these claimants are aware of your research. It could settle the question once and for all. Here's an article about one of them, who apparently tried to get DNA off that
sheet previously, before your more advanced approach was used: http://blog.mlive.com/bradosphere/2008/09/man_still_hunting_to_see_if_el.html Here is his blog: http://www.iselvismydad.blogspot.com/ His posts there show that for years he has been trying to use
DNA to settle the question of his parentage, but he hasn't been able to get an adequate sample.

Bobbi Bacha commented on 18-Jan-2012 12:44 PM

In response to Jay in Phoenix I agree that this DNA may help many that may be of blood relation to Elvis. I get calls all the time to compare or match to the Elvis DNA that we have uncovered. In teh 1950's birth control was not available. I was born in
1959 and it was as a result of no ready birth control Im told. The math implications could be endless but lelts just say Elvis slept with 1 different female each week for ten years prior to marriage and birth control. He possibly could have a child by each
woman every month which would mean 12 children a year times ten years leaving the possibility of over 120 children. Some could have been lost at birth or back room aborted and others born and adopted out. An adopted child would have no legal connection to
Elvis but would none the less be his blood. On a conservative note If Elvis slept with 1 woman a month the odds would go down but reports are as many as five women a week and therefore the number of possible children rise. People must remember that Elvis was
a modern day Pharoh, women were wanting to be with him and have his children. I dont think we have had that happen often in our modern times but Elvis was someone that definately had many women in his bed but I doubt only a handful ever held his heart. I get
many calls from people claiming to be a child of Elvis and this could definately be the best way to determine relations. Cross testing this DNA would be very interesting even in answer to the Melungeon question. This would be a very interesting project indeed
and it may actually help some lost souls searching for thier parentage.

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



More Light on the Melungeons

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Phyllis Starnes drew many threads of Melungeon research together when she delivered her presentation on autosomal DNA validation studies at the Fifteenth Melungeon Union, held atWarren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC July 15-16, 2011. Sponsored by the Melungeon Heritage Association of Kingsport, Tenn., the conference was appropriately titled, "Carolina Connections: Roots and Branches of Mixed Ancestry."

Starnes, who is administrator of DNA Consultants' Melungeon DNA Studies as well as an assistant investigator responsible for authoring reports, began her presentation by telling her own story. In 2002, she read an article about the occurrence of Familial Mediterranean Fever in Appalachia, where she grew up. "This article was the catalyst for me to address my own health and ancestry," she told participants.

She had met N. Brent Kennedy, author of the touchstone book The Melungeons:  The Resurrection of a Proud People, and soon became acquainted with both Elizabeth Hirschman (Melungeons:  The Last Lost Tribe in America) and Donald Panther-Yates, both speakers at Melungeon Fourth Union in Kingsport. The resources she needed for understanding her peculiar heritage were coming together.

Starnes summarized the Hirschman-Yates study of Melungeon DNA results published last December in Appalachian Journal and went on to reveal the results of a validation study of the Melungeon data in which the DNA profiles of the 40 participants were fed back into the database atDNA, expanded to reflect the world's only autosomal DNA Melungeon sample.

Astoundingly, many Melungeon DNA project participants had Melungeon as their No. 1 match, including Starnes.

In 1990, physical anthropologist and chemist James Guthrie analyzed blood sampled from 177 Southern Appalachian people identifying as Melungeon tested by Pollitzer and Brown in 1969. Guthrie's analysis was consistent to a remarkable degree with the Hirschman-Yates study.

All studies to date have verified and confirmed repeatedly that Melungeon descendants carry an unusual mix of Jewish, Mediterranean, Turkish, Iberian, Native American and African DNA. They also inherit genetic predispositions toward developing Familial Mediterranean Fever and other disorders.

This overarching thesis explaining what makes Melungeons different was advanced over twenty years ago by Brent Kennedy. It has now been re-examined, probed, tested and validated by unimpeachable followup studies, but little has turned up to change Kennedy's original thinking. It would be wrong to say that Melungeon origins today are controversial or mysterious. There is much we do not know about them, but their genetic and medical profiles are clear.

Starnes is enrolling people in Phase II of the Melungeon DNA Study. She has also inaugurated a password-secured blog where participants can freely share their experiences.

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Studies
Melungeon Match


Johnnie King commented on 10-Apr-2012 01:06 PM

My great-grandfather was a Goins through his mother - father unknown. He had two sons who have passed away; but, who have sons living. I am wondering if their DNA might assist in the research, or would they be excluded because the Melungeon tie is through
his mother? Thank you. Johnnie King

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image



Recent Posts


ENFSI Henry VII Applied Epistemology climate change Rafael Falk Romania Marie Cheng microsatellites corn Secret History of the Cherokee Indians Moundbuilders Bulgaria andrew solomon Michael Schwartz Monica Sanowar archeology Hertfordshire haplogroup X David Cornish megapopulations Washington D.C. evolution FBI Rare Genes Mexico AP Colin Renfrew Pueblo Grande Museum Freemont Indians Turkic DNA DNA Fingerprint Test Roma People Bradshaw Foundation horizontal inheritance Egyptians consanguinity personal genomics Anglo-Saxons ethics Pueblo Indians Rush Limbaugh Marija Gimbutas Horatio Cushman Germany Anne Marie Fine Mark Thomas Ripan Malhi DNA magazine Bureau of Indian Affairs Jon Entine Jalisco family history Mary Settegast GlobalFiler Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America Ireland Luca Pagani Cajuns England Yates surname Scientific American Smithsonian Magazine Irish DNA Barack Obama genetic memory bloviators Walter Plecker Sam Kean DNA testing companies Harold Sterling Gladwin John Wilwol Ancient Giantns Who Ruled America Chauvet cave paintings Beringia Promega Altai Turks Bentley surname research hominids haplogroup U INORA rapid DNA testing Cleopatra BATWING Kennewick Man medicine First Peoples Current Anthropology Y chromosomal haplogroups Rich Crankshaw Keros Gypsies Amy Harmon Chromosomal Labs Bode Technology linguistics Stone Age Salt River Arabia Italy Clovis District of Columbia Tom Martin Scroft Johnny Depp Melba Ketchum Donald N. Yates Louis XVI Neolithic Revolution Philippa Langley Micmac Indians Cherokee DNA Arizona State University Lithuania Wales MHC Timothy Bestor Richard Lewontin powwows news Colima Phyllis Starnes FOX News Black Dutch genomics labs ancient DNA Plato Alec Jeffreys research Abenaki Indians Elizabeth C. Hirschman Anacostia Indians Kentucky Patagonia ethnicity National Geographic Daily News Arizona haplogroup Z DNA Fingerprint Test Ron Janke Britain N. Brent Kennedy Wikipedia Havasupai Indians Harry Ostrer Sonora Pima Indians Nature Genetics Phoenix Population genetics FDA Theodore Steinberg forensics Israel clan symbols Jewish novelists Sinti familial Mediterranean fever statistics single nucleotide polymorphism Nikola Tesla New York Review of Books French DNA Tennessee anthropology mummies Ashkenazi Jews Genome Sciences Building Virginia DeMarce Teresa Panther-Yates Richard Dewhurst aliyah education Mary Kugler Bill Tiffee Harold Goodwin Comanche Indians Fritz Zimmerman DNA security Patrick Henry Hopi Indians Middle Eastern DNA Nephilim, Fritz Zimmerman X chromosome Albert Einstein College of Medicine Barnard College African DNA Virginia genealogy pheromones Panther's Lodge Publishers Charles Darwin Science Daily, Genome Biol. Evol., Eran Elhaik, Khazarian Hypothesis, Rhineland Hypothesis Monya Baker Melanesians methylation Michoacan Discovery Channel Early Jews of England and Wales Algonquian Indians Olmec Acadians Europe B'nai Abraham Kari Carpenter Sarmatians haplogroup M crypto-Jews Michael Grant Cornwall oncology Smithsonian Institution Hohokam Indians palatal tori Middle Ages hoaxes Oxford Journal of Evolution Texas A&M University Khazars Ziesmer, Zizmor Nayarit London NPR Elvis Presley DNA Thuya Celts Bode Technology Riane Eisler human leukocyte testing university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill art history population isolates Austronesian, Filipinos, Australoid French Canadians Sizemore Indians mental foramen Richard III Joseph Jacobs rock art New York Times When Scotland Was Jewish Khoisan Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act M. J. Harper Carl Zimmer Grim Sleeper Leicester Majorca Chuetas Charlotte Harris Reese Douglas Owsley Nova Scotia health and medicine Hohokam China genetics Nature Communications Miguel Gonzalez Cooper surname Maya Science magazine North Carolina Henry IV Melungeons Bryony Jones Native American DNA Cancer Genome Atlas genealogy EURO DNA Fingerprint Test Lab Corp Sizemore surname DNA Forums Janet Lewis Crain Tifaneg Bryan Sykes Epigraphic Society Zizmer Daniel Defoe Jack Goins Eric Wayner El Castillo cave paintings Paleolithic Age India Stacy Schiff mutation rate seafaring Charles Perou haplogroup L Panther's Lodge Nadia Abu El-Haj Solutreans John Butler origins of art Etruscans DNA databases religion Kurgan Culture Erika Chek Hayden Bigfoot Gravettian culture Black Irish clinical chemistry admixture American Journal of Human Genetics Valparaiso University Constantine Rafinesque Les Miserables Discover magazine BBCNews Cave art ISOGG Belgium Akhenaten Holocaust Austro-Hungary haplogroup H Maronites human migrations Neanderthals Anasazi Daily News and Analysis National Health Laboratories Basques Cismar phenotype Chris Stringer Asiatic Fathers of America Zionism giants Dienekes Anthropology Blog Caucasian immunology The Nation magazine peopling of the Americas Sorbs Terry Gross haplogroup J North African DNA Y chromosome DNA population genetics Wendell Paulson human leukocyte antigens ethnic markers occipital bun Jewish genetics Alabama New Mexico Lebanon PNAS James Shoemaker Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales (book) Abraham Lincoln haplogroup E Jewish contribution to world literature Tintagel Old Souls in a New World 23andme cannibalism Gregory Mendel myths Normans Richard Buckley Bering Land Bridge Cohen Modal Haplotype Slovakia Stan Steiner Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Oxford Nanopore HapMap Cismaru prehistoric art Finnish people genetic determinism Victor Hugo breast cancer European DNA Helladic art King Arthur Sasquatch Russia Jews Ananya Mandal Rutgers University Penny Ferguson Robinson Crusoe IntegenX New York Academy of Sciences Douglas Preston Jim Bentley William Byrd Telltown Pomponia Graecina Holocaust Database race Russell Belk Muslims in American history Greeks Sinaloa Great Goddess Columbia University polydactylism Sea Peoples epigenetics Melungeon Heritage Association Zuni Indians Denisovans Waynesboro Pennsylvania Tucson Tutankamun Svante Paabo Isabel Allende Stony Creek Baptist Church Scotland American history Iran Israel, Shlomo Sand Choctaw Indians Gila River Ukraine prehistory University of Leicester Stephen Oppenheimer private allele Shlomo Sand Jewish GenWeb Arabic Peter Parham Kate Wong CODIS markers Gunnar Thompson haplogroup N Elzina Grimwood Wendy Roth Henriette Mertz Melungeon Union history of science Phoenicians Kari Schroeder Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies alleles Phillipe Charlier Melungeon Movement Roberta Estes Peter Martyr Navajo Indo-Europeans Ari Plost Irish history Irish Central cancer Life Technologies mitochondrial DNA Native American DNA Test Jone Entine King Arthur, Tintagel, The Earliest Jews and Muslims of England and Wales National Museum of Natural History Colin Pitchfork George van der Merwede haplogroup B George Starr-Bresette far from the tree haplogroup T autosomal DNA bar mitzvah surnames Asian DNA haplogroup R Magdalenian culture Chris Tyler-Smith