Thursday, December 30, 2010

How Do You Serve Your Black Eyed Peas?

 If you're from the South, chances are your New Year Dinner will include Black Eyed Peas, long held to bring good luck and prosperity.

Black-Eyed Peas
Start the New Year with a dish of good luck!

A staple in the Southern diet for over 300 years, black-eyed peas have long been associated with good luck. A dish of peas is a New Year's tradition in most areas of the South, thought to bring luck and prosperity for the new year. According to Jessica Harris, author of "Welcome Table," some add a dime to the peas for an extra "boost" of luck to the recipient. Greens, thought to symbolize folding money, are often eaten eaten with the peas. Hoppin' John, a dish made with black-eyed peas and rice, is one of the more popular ways of serving them, but many serve them in salads or simply cooked as a side dish.

Whether you're serving a full meal, appetizers, or gathering around the football game, one of these recipes is sure to fit into your New Year's menu plan.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Family Tree DNA Holiday Sale Prices Ending December 31st

DNA Test Sale Prices at Family Tree DNA to end Dec. 31st.

Family Tree DNA, the company with the world's largest DNA database, has announced a sale on DNA tests.


Click for more info

If you have never tested, go to Family Tree DNA and search for your surname or a geographical group and choose a group. There are several sales here. Of special mention; the 37 marker Y chromosome test for $119.and the 67 marker test for $199.


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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jean Ritchie sings WINTERGRACE

Jean Ritchie's song for the winter solistice with a setting in her Kentucky Mountain home. Cornshuck dolls made by the Ritchie sisters, carved animals from her cabin, and real snow from Heaven. Video montage by George Pickow.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage by DNA Testing and Traditional Genealogy

 It is an honor to announce the publication at JOGG by Roberta Estes, co-admininstrator on the Melungeon DNA Project. This is a peer reviewed article which has passed scrutiny by a panel of highly respected DNA experts. This paper is a must read by genealogists who are using any of the various types of DNA testing available.  -  History Chasers

Roberta Estes's new academic paper has been published as of Sunday. It's free in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy sponsored by ISOGG.

The paper, titled "Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis" is at the link below: 

The index of the entire journal is available at this link:

It is a long process to publish a paper at JOGG. Roberta was invited to write this article in March of 2009 and it was submitted a year ago with final revisions in July.

It will also be on her website shortly as well at under the Publications tab. Lots of free goodies there too.


As a project administrator of several historically based genetic genealogy projects, such as the Lost Colony, Cumberland Gap, Melungeon, Carolina Native Heritage and Hatteras Island projects which involve thousands of participants, I routinely receive questions from individuals who have an oral history of Native American heritage and would like to use genetic genealogical tools to prove, or disprove, their oral history.  This paper documents the various discovery steps and processes using different types of DNA testing for a typical individual participant and appropriate family members whocarry an oral Native history combined with genealogical evidence that has been forthcoming during the elapsed years since genetic testing for genealogy first because available.  Each test along with associated benefits and detriments are discussed in relation to the analysis of minority ancestry.  The conclusion combines the information from all the various tests, pedigree analysis and genealogical evidence, discussing which tests are beneficial and most accurate, and which ones are not useful, and why.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Very Important New Native American Haplogroups Identified

Roberta Estes is a co-administrator of the Melungeon DNA Project and the Hatteras Island DNA Project and the Administrator of the Lost Colony DNA Project, among others. These are projects in which identification of Native American DNA is extremely important. This is a major break through! - History Chasers

Roberta Estes,,
December 20, 2010

Sometimes scientific breakthroughs result from a combination of newly developed scientific techniques, synchronicity and opportunity.  In other words, being at the right place at the right time, sprinkled with a little bit of luck.

For the tens of thousands of Americans today who seek their Native American ancestors via Y chromosomal DNA testing, that search just got a little bit easier, thanks to Leonard Trujillo, Thomas Krahn at Family Tree DNA and Rebekah Canada, the haplogroup Q project administrator.

For the past decade, since the advent of genetic genealogy, it has been accepted that subgroups of haplogroup C and Q were indicative of Native American ancestry.  Specifically, subgroups C3b and Q1a3a, alone, are found among the Native peoples of North and South America.  Other subgroups of haplogroup C and Q are found elsewhere in the world, not in North or South American, and conversely, C3b and Q1a3a are not found in other locations in the world.  This makes it very easy to determine if your direct paternal ancestor was, or was not, Native American.  Or so it seemed.

And then, of course, there were the baffling and tantalizing exceptions that caused me to suspect that there was yet at least one more Native American Y haplogroup.  A few years ago, in the course of my business, I ran into a gentleman whose paternal line did not have an oral history of Native heritage, but his family was associated with a specific isolate group who did indeed have both a strong native oral heritage combined with documented (paper) Native ancestry.  This grouping of individuals was found in colonial Virginia and may have been Saponi descendants.  His haplogroup proved to be Q1.  Q1 was not thought to be Native American at that time, but I was very suspicious, especially since his haplotype, meaning his actual marker values, matched no European people.  Neither did he match any Native people.  However, at that time, we had no further tools to address this mystery.

A few years later, another gentleman tested to be Q1a3, and his ancestor hailed from the PeeDee River region of South Carolina, an area known to be heavily populated with Native people historically, many of which became the Pee Dee and Lumbee today.  However, haplogroup Q1a3 is also known to exist in people of European ancestry who have never lived stateside and who have absolutely no ancestry from the Americas.  However, the haplotypes of these two Q1 and Q1a3 gentlemen were very different, suggesting no recent genealogical link, perhaps not within thousands of years.

I desperately wanted to know if perhaps the subgroup Q1a3 held different SNP markers for a European and a Native American subgroup within Q1a3, but again, the technology did not yet exist at that time to answer the question.

In 2009, 23andMe introduced wide spectrum testing, and both the Q1 and Q1a3 American gentlemen underwent testing at 23andMe with the hopes of isolating new SNPs that would shed light on their ancestry, but that was not to be.  However, the SNPs we could confirm indeed did match each other, proving that both men were actually Q1a3.  Their SNP values were  P36.2+, MEH2+, M346+, L53+, L54+, L55+, L56+, L57+, L213+ and M3- which confirms haplogroup Q1a3 by virtue of M346+.  The negative M3 indeed reaffirms that they are not Q1a3a.   However, at that time, the SNPS designated by L were not yet available, and they turn out to be quite important in this story.  All SNPs designated by L were discovered or confirmed by Thomas Krahn at Family Tree DNA and have been discovered in the past two years since the advent of the Walk Through the Y project.

In early 2009, two things happened at Family Tree DNA that would ultimately provide the building blocks to solve this mystery.  Thomas Krahn began to offer the "Walk Through the Y" specialized test designed to be taken by only select individuals within haplogroups in order to discover additional SNP markers that will further define the haplogroup subgroups.  To date, over 400 markers have been found in various haplogroups using this methodology.  These new markers provide tools to further understand both recent and ancient genealogy and the movement and settlement of the Earth's peoples.

The second thing that happened in early 2009 is that Family Tree DNA began offering the Personalized DNA Reports for Y-line (and mitochondrial DNA) results through their website for clients who have tested at 37 markers or more.

Recently, Leonard Trujillo purchased the Y-line Personalized DNA Report.  Leonard had tested at 67 markers and had also purchased the Deep Clade test, which reported his haplogroup results as Q1a3, but not Q1a3a (M3-).  Leonard's question to me that he wanted to be answered in the Personalized DNA Report was whether or not his paternal line was indeed genetically Native.  Unfortunately, I could not, at that time, give him a definitive answer.  However, that was all about to change.

Leonard's situation is a little different from the earlier two.  Leonard has a compelling family history that includes not just an oral history of Native ancestry on his paternal side, but the actual marriage record of his ancestor, Juan Estevan Trujillo (1739-1816) found in the Mission books of the Church of Santo Thomas de Abuquiu, NM (Marriages 1756-1826), that states: "Juan Estevan Trujillo, Indian of this pueblo, marriage to Juliana Martin, coyota and resident".  The term coyota (the feminine form) is a term specific to New Mexico and indicated a person of mixed ancestry.  The term is no longer in use.  Juan Trujillo was called an Indian, not coyote (the masculine form), so he was not admixed.

Further investigation shows that Juan Estevan Trujillo was probably a Genizaros, a detribalized Plains Indian who was likely captured as a child by the Pueblo tribes and sold into slavery to either the Spanish or at the Pueblos.  These Indian children were given Spanish names, taught to speak Spanish and were raised as Catholics.  They often thought of themselves as Spanish, but they were indeed Indians, but without a tribe which equates in Native society to a cultureless soul.  Many of these displaced individuals joined together and formed the Pueblo de Abiquiu in the 1750s, which is indeed where Juan Estevan Trujillo was married.
Leonard Trujillo's story was indeed compelling.  Of the three individuals who were not Q1a3a (M3-), but looked to potentially be Native American, his genealogical history clearly stated that his ancestor was Native.  But how do we scientifically prove this?

Leonard agreed to order the Walk Through the Y test with the hopes of discovering new SNPs that would identify him as an individual of Native ancestry within haplogroup Q1a3.  At about the same time, and unbeknownst to us, a French haplogroup Q1a3 gentleman from Rebekah Canada's haplogroup Q project also ordered the Walk Through the Y test.

Testing only Leonard wasn't enough.  His results, if any new SNPs were found, would need to be compared to a Q1a3 individual from Europe.  Our firm hope was that there would be at least one differentiating SNP between the European sample and Leonard's sample which could then be used to separate European Q1a3 from Native Q1a3, assuming they were indeed separate haplogroup subgroups.

Indeed, Leonard's investment in science paid off, and he is the first person in the world to be proven as a member of the new haplogroup Q1a3a4 with two new SNPs discovered, L400 and L401.  Furthermore, the European gentleman hit the bonanza as well, with 6 new SNPs discovered, L329-L334.  Only one of these was also carried by Leonard, L331, meaning that between them, there are now 7 SNPs that differentiate European from Native Q1a3.  Their common SNP lowest on the tree is L213, which both of them carry and is now a designator of the new subgroup Q1a3a.

If you're following closely at this point, you'll be wondering how Leonard and the French gentleman suddenly came to be included in haplogroup Q1a3a, when it was previously a Native American ONLY subgroup.
Well, our haplotree sprouted a new branch and the existing haplogroup branches are in the process of being shifted on the tree and renamed.  So the branch previously known as Q1a3 is now Q1a3a.  Confusing, yes, but also very necessary as science pushes forward with new discoveries.

Below is a chart with the new SNP discoveries and how those discoveries have shifted the haplotree relative to Native American ancestry.  You can see that an entirely new group of SNPs has been discovered, and they now indicate haplogroup Q1a3a.  This group includes the SNP, L213, common to both European and Native American groups.  However, the next group, which includes M3 and three new "pages" SNPs now is the designation for subgroup Q1a3a1 which used to be Q1a3a.  Q1a3a1 is now a Native American only haplogroup and Q1a3a now includes both Native and European members.  The newly discovered haplogroup, Q1a3a4, designated by L400 and L401 is shown last on the list and is the new Native American haplogroup discovered thanks to Leonard Trujillo.

Table omitted here due to limitations of blog software. To view the article in its entirety click here:

Testing of the old SNPs above was accomplished at various times and utilizing differing tests including the Backbone test, Deep Clade, individual SNPs, 23andMe and the Walk Through the Y.  The new SNPs have been recently discovered and not everyone has been tested for these SNPS.  Many are not yet commercially available and are used only in a research setting.

Below is a chart with the known haplogroups, individuals involved in this testing, their old and their new haplogroup designations.

Table omitted here due to limitations of blog software. To view the article in its entirety click here:

 Of course, this begs the question of whether Gentlemen 1 and 2 also carry SNPs L400 and L401.  Yes, we are in the process of testing them as well as others who fall in the Traditional Native American haplogroup, formerly Q1a3a, now Q1a3a1.

The story is not yet over for haplogroup Q.  Additional branches may be found on the Q haplotree, both for Native Americans and Europeans.  This means that the haplogroups listed today may indeed change in the future as a result of new discoveries.

The current draft tree for haplogroup Q, compliments of Thomas Krahn and Rebekah Canada, is shown below, with the two Native American haplogroups, Q1a3a1 and Q1a3a4 and their associated SNPs underscored and shown in red.  Reordering of the haplogroup Q tree also provides us with 3 additional Native subgroups, Q1a3a1a, Q1a3a1b and Q1a3a1c, shown in their new location on the haplogroup Q tree.  Q1a3a2 is red, but not underscored as it is suspected but not yet confirmed as Native.

Table omitted here due to limitations of blog software. To view the article in its entirety click here:

These discoveries to date, especially the discovery of the new Native American haplogroup, long suspected but never before proven, are thanks to pioneers Leonard Trujillo and Thomas Krahn, both of who were willing to tread ground previously unbroken.  Without the unfailing support of Bennett Greenspan at Family Tree DNA, none of these discoveries would have been made.  Family Tree DNA has subsidized the Walk Through the Y Project heavily by supporting this non-profit-making testing in the name of research.  Funding for various tests has come from the various participants, but also from Rebekah Canada, myself and other donors.

To keep up with this project, watch Rebekah Canada's haplogroup Q project, Dr. Ana Oquendo Pabon's Q-AmerIndian project, Randy Garcia's Southwest US and Mexico Native project, the draft Y tree at Family Tree DNA and the Y haplotree at ISOGG.  Links for references are provided below.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Appalachian Mountain Christmas Traditions of Old

Modern celebrations of the Christmas holiday were late in making their way to those living in the Appalachian Mountains. Many ancient observances from “the old country” were still practiced here in these mountains as late as World War I, and in some pockets probably later. For instance, have you and your friends gone out “serenadin’”? Contrary to what you might think, it has very little to do with carolling. What about building a huge bonfire on a hill? Again, the practice’s primary reason was not to keep warm. Maybe you’ve stayed awake on Christmas Eve to hear, no, not sleigh bells and reindeer hooves, but sheep and horses bowing to pray.

Many of the first settlers in the Appalachian Mountains were of Scots-Irish and English descent, so many of their customs were practiced, combined, and adapted to their new surroundings. One custom that made its way to the shores of America was a large bonfire on hilltops. The bonfires have their beginnings in the beliefs of the Druids. They thought that building a bonfire on mountaintops would hurry along the return of the sun and longer days.Often times bonfires were combined with the practice of “serenadin’”. The youngsters in the community - keep in mind, now that houses were much farther apart then - would get together on Christmas Eve to visit with the neighbors. They’d take along cow bells, buckets, shotguns loaded with blanks, and just about anything else that would make a bunch of noise. Taking care to be quiet upon approach to the house, they’d let loose with as much racket and noise as they could muster up. The neighbors then would light a lamp or two and invite the group in for treats and cider. If by chance the group wasn’t quiet enough and those trying to enjoy their slumber heard them, the home owner fired off a round from his shotgun to signal them they had been caught. More often than not, they were still invited in for hospitality.The serenadin’ tradition is most likely based on the English tradition of “The Day of Misrule” where servants, the poor, and children could visit the homes of their well-off neighbors and merchants to ask for food.
Another loud tradition is anvil shooting. Yes, that’s right, anvil shooting. What would happen is the square and round holes on one anvil would be packed with black powder and another anvil would be placed on top of it. The powder is then ignited and the top anvil is shot into the air - sometimes as high as a hundred or more feet. The boom is deafening and the ground shakes. Some say this tradition goes back as far as Biblical times, and it was customary way to celebrate Independence Day, Christmas, and, according to Tennessee history, Davy Crockett’s election to Congress. Perhaps anvil shooting and the noise making of serenadin’ also ties into the belief that loud noises drive bad spirits away. Shooting fireworks at Christmas also falls into the same category of driving away evil spirits and awakening sleeping vegetation for spring and are from the German and Scottish tradition. It was usually done on Christmas Eve around three in the afternoon. Think about how many Christmas festivals now incorporate fireworks in their menu of activities.

Visiting played an important role in the celebration of the holidays. It was expected that you would get out and see your neighbors in the surrounding area within a reasonable distance. In some areas of the Appalachians, visitors would pack their pockets with candy and trinkets and when meeting other fellow visitors try to be the first to say “Christmas Gift,” a common greeting for the season. If they were, they received a small gift from the other person.Those being visited would have treats, small mincemeat pies, and cider ready. Visitors would not stay long, but had to partake of the hospitality offered or there was a risk of taking the Christmas Spirit away from the home.

Christmas trees were introduced in the United States in 1842 in Williamsburg, Virginia. They made their way to the Appalachian Mountains around 1900 when teachers in settlement schools shared the idea. It wasn’t until the 1930s that they were decorated in homes in the mountains. At that time most of the decorations were homemade - strings of popcorn and berries, popcorn balls, paper chains, foil - saved from candy wrappers - around sweet gum balls, gingerbread cookies, etc.Children were visited by Santa Claus, but may have had different ways in which gifts were left. There was the traditional manner where stockings were hung on the mantle to be filled with candy, a pencil, a tablet, and an orange (which was a valued gift for a child - Christmas was the only time they were available here in the mountains). Sometimes Santa would leave gifts in shoes placed beside the front door. And sometimes a table was set for Santa. Everyone’s plate was placed upside down in their usual places and the table was moved to between the Christmas tree and a window. The next morning the plates were rightside up and filled with candy, sweets, and a small gift. Hanging stockings is an English tradition, setting the table for Santa is German, and filling shoes is Dutch.

One of the most solemn and reverent celebrations in the season is Old Christmas. The change over from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar caused a difference of eleven days. In those eleven days Christmas was moved to December 25 from January 6. Some Protestants refused to honor the new calendar because it was decreed by the Pope, so the celebration of Christmas remained on January 6.In the Appalachian Mountains, the celebration of Old Christmas remained until about World War I. Though they might also observe “new” Christmas on December 25th, the festivities were very different. December 25th was marked with revelry and parties and visiting, but January 6th was primarily a family observance

more here:

Merry Christmas !!!!! 

History Chasers


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Friday, December 17, 2010

Melungeon Frequently Asked Questions

Melungeon Frequently Asked Questions

And Factual Resources


Melungeon Historical Society, $12.50 yearly membership, lifetime $125, Becky Nelson, Treasurer, 2200 Hawkins St., Knoxville, TN 37921, or

The Melungeon Historical Society was formed in 2008 in order to facilitate factual documented research and to dispel the many myths and inaccuracies surrounding the heritage of the Melungeons.

Melungeon DNA Project

Core Melungeon Surnames: Bolin, Bolling, Bunch, Collins, Denham, Gibson, Goins, Goodman, Minor, Moore, Mullins, Sullivan, Williams

Other names may be added as our research continues. If you have research to contribute or knowledge of additional names along with documentation, please contact us at

Melungeon Websites



  • Melungeons and Other Pioneer Families by Jack H. Goins
  • Melungeons: Footprints from the Past by Jack H. Goins
  • Melungeons: Examining An Appalachian Legend (second edition) by Pat Spurlock Elder
  • Lest We Forget by Jim Callahan
  • Melungeons: The Vanishing Colony of Newman Ridge by Henry Price.
  • Walking Toward the Sunset, A Comprehensive Portrait of the Melungeons by Wayne Winkler
  • Pocahontas’s People, The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries by Helen C. Rountree
  • Trace Your Roots with DNA by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner
While the MHS does not endorse the viewpoints of various authors, these books have been well researched and provide valuable information for the Melungeon historian.

Online Resources
Definition of the Melungeons by Jack Goins

Dr. Virginia Easley DeMarce articles:

What is a Melungeon?
Melungeons are a group of people referenced by that particular name, although at the time it was often in a disparaging or pejorative manner. They are found in Hawkins County, the portion now Hancock County, in Tennessee and into Lee County in Virginia
When did the Melungeons arrive in Hawkins County?
The first record of Melungeons is found in the Stony Creek church minutes in 1813 when a reference was made to “harboring them Melungins”. References were made in later unrelated records to several specific families. To date, only those families noted in the Melungeon surnames are found with specific references that indicate they are Melungeon.
Who were the Melungeons?
Lewis Jarvis[1] writes the following:
"Much has been said and written about the inhabitants of Newman Ridge and Blackwater in Hancock County, Tennessee. They have been derisively dubbed, with the name "Melungeon" by the local white people who lived here with them. It’s not a traditional name or a tribe of Indians. Some have said these people were here when this country was first explored by the white people and others that they are a lost tribe of Indians and have no date of their existence here. All of this is erroneous and cannot be sustained. They had land grants in places where they formerly lived. These people not any of them were here when the first white hunting party came from Virginia and North Carolina in the year 1761. They came here simultaneously with the whites between the years 1795 and 1812.
Jarvis goes on to describe them as the friendly Indians who came with the white immigrants who came to the New River and Fort Blackmore[2].
This definition combined with historical research gives us a clean list of surnames to work with. 
Where are the Melungeons today?
Melungeons no longer exist. Today there are descendants of Melungeons, but Melungeons were a particular clan of intermarried people who were known to have lived in a particular time and place. 
Where were the Melungeons before they came to Hawkins County?
Research is ongoing, but many of the families were found progressively migrating in family groups, first in Louisa County, Virginia, then in the Flat River area of NC, then into Wilkes Co., NC, in the New River area and then in the Fort Blackmore area of what are now Russell and Scott Counties in Virginia. Eventually they migrated across the border into what is now Hancock County, Tn., then part of Hawkins County, settled in the area of Vardy and are found on Newman’s Ridge and surrounding area and into Lee County on Blackwater Creek. However, before the 1813 church record referencing Melungeons, no records of these families ever having been called Melungeon has been found, so we refer to their ancestors as “ancestors of Melungeons”, not Melungeons. 
Are families who moved away still called Melungeons?
We have never found primary records that refer to anyone in families who moved away as Melungeon in any location other than in the Hawkins/Hancock County, areas. Families who moved away would be considered descendants of Melungeons.
What records are you referencing?
With the growing popular interest in the Melungeons and Melungeon heritage over the past several years, the topic has become rife with speculation and unfounded claims. Every place you look on the internet is another ever-growing list of Melungeon surnames and increasingly outrageous claims. Some misinformation has been as a result of drawing faulty conclusions, some as a result of poor or nonexistent research and some as a result of early, inappropriate, faulty and/or misinterpreted DNA testing. A great deal of information, both historical and genetic, have become available within the past few years. In the genetic genealogy community, many of the early theories and conclusions, especially surrounding autosomal testing for minority admixture have been discredited or called into question now that we better understand autosomal testing and what information it can and cannot reliably provide to researchers.
The Melungeon Historical Society is using only documented evidence based on primary[3] or secondary sources. We have also aligned ourselves with the largest DNA testing company in the world, Family Tree DNA, and are very careful not to over-speculate or overextend our conclusions beyond what proven scientific evidence and geneticists can support[4].

I’ve seen lists of Melungeons with a lot more surnames than is on your list? Why are there so few on your list as compared with others?
The list of Core Melungeon families is always open to revision with any documentation that any other family was referenced in any primary record as Melungeon. We took our list from the 1830 census[5], Lewis Jarvis’ records[6], court records[7], tax lists[8], Plecker’s lists[9], Droomgoole’s articles[10], the Shepherd Case[11], the 1890 census report[12], the 1880 census[13], voting records[14] and Eastern Cherokee Applications[14a] as well as other resources. Families who intermarried are not considered Melungeon, although their children would be considered descendants of Melungeons. Other researchers have included collateral lines with the list of Melungeons, and although they may marry into the Melungeon families, they are not referenced in primary or secondary sources as Melungeon.
My ancestor was the daughter of a family definitely referenced as Melungeon. She married a Campbell. Wouldn’t the Campbell family be considered Melungeon too?
No, her Campbell husband has no genetic or genealogical connection to the Melungeon families, and marrying the daughter of a Melungeon family does not make the resulting Campbell family Melungeon. The children of this family would be Melungeon descendants. If the Campbell family is found in primary or secondary historical sources referenced specifically as Melungeon, then they would be added to the Melungeon surname list, but only THIS Campbell family, not all Campbell families in the area. The reason some of the other Melungeon surname lists are so extensive is that they include all allied and intermarried families, and often extend the Melungeon designation to all families of the allied or intermarried surname, such as Campbell. In this example, the Campbell family would have Melungeon ancestors, they would be Melungeon descendants, but they would not be Melungeons unless source records show us otherwise.
What does DNA testing say about the Melungeons?
The Melungeon paternal families were both of European and African origin. To date, only one of the Melungeon related families, Sizemore, has been found with a Native American haplogroup[15]. However, at least one other ancestral family is documented in original records to have been Indian, but that family’s Y-line DNA is European in nature. Of course, the Native ancestry in that family may have been on the maternal side.
All families on the Melungeon surname list with proven genealogy on to the Hancock/Hawkins families are not yet represented in the DNA study.
In addition, we are actively seeking the DNA of the wives of these core families. The maternal mitochondrial DNA is every bit as important as the paternal lines, and many times the Native American ancestry is found in maternal lines.
For more information about DNA testing and the Melungeon DNA project, go to:
Article about DNA testing and Melungeons
Melungeon DNA Project
A forthcoming article, “Melungeons and DNA – 2009” reports on the most current findings. After publication in the MHS newsletter, the article will be available online at http://
What about autosomal testing that tells us what ethnic groups we fall into?
There are two types of autosomal DNA tests. The first test was by DNAPrint although was marketed by several other companies under different names. It was the only test to provide percentages of ethnicity for European, African, Asian and Native American. This company has gone out of business and this test is no longer available. While initially the genetic genealogy community was very hopeful that these tests were reliable and accurate, with time and several years of experience, the results unfortunately have come to be viewed increasingly as inaccurate and unreliable for the detection of minority ancestry admixture[16]. The only people who seemed to be happy were those who received results they were seeking. Others, such as an individual from Germany whose entire family had lived there for hundreds of years, received a report that said he was 35% combined Asian and Native American. He was understandably unhappy and exceedingly skeptical[17]. While these tests are interesting and perhaps hold promise for the distant future, the technology and underlying population data bases are problematic and the tests have difficulty in detecting minority admixture accurately, tending to report higher percentages than actually exist.
The second kind of autosomal testing provides you with a list of populations or geographic locations. Two companies provide this kind of reporting based on a standard Codis autosomal test[18]. The issues with this type of testing, or more specifically the interpretation of the tests, are that the population list relies on a number of factors which are problematic. 
1. The populations are taken from forensic and medical journals and are often small studies. The population from a small village in Northern Italy, with 20 people, may not be representative of all of Italy, for example. 
2. In other cases, the population identified may be ambiguous. For example, Lumbee is a designation. What does Lumbee mean? There is not a federally recognized Lumbee tribe with blood quantum membership criteria, so who is a Lumbee? The Lumbee group is known to have been extremely admixed as early as the 1880s[19], so today, what ethnicity is a Lumbee?
3. Who identified the individuals in the study as belonging to a specific ethnic or geographic group? The individual being arrested, the booking officer, the nurse in the doctor’s office? What criteria did they use to assign that person to that group?
4. How many people were involved in a reference study? One person or a thousand people?
5. We don’t know exactly how autosomal DNA is selected to be passed from parent to child, so what exactly are we measuring and what does it really mean?
6. Brian Burritt, the forensic police officer who created OmniPop, the tool upon which both companies analysis is based[20] has gone on record stating that he created Omnipop to differentiate between people, not to find their similarities, that genealogists are using his tool for something it was not designed for and they are overanalyzing the results[21].

7. OmniPop can legitimately be run with three different sets of marker criteria, all of which are “correct”, but the results of which will be significantly different[22]. Determining which one is “right” and presented to the customer may be a function of which one best reflects what the customer is looking for in their results.
Again, satisfaction with these tools seems to be a function of how closely the results reflect the desired finding of the individual being tested.
For additional information about autosomal DNA testing in general or in relation to Native Heritage, go to and scroll down to see the various articles.
I’ve been told my family is Black Dutch (or Black Irish or Black German). Is that the same as Melungeon?
Black Dutch is a common term in Appalachia for anyone who might be “too dark” to be all white, but needed some European (read non-African or non-Indian) affiliation that explained their dark features. Many people were referenced as Black Dutch, probably some of the Melungeon families as well as many others. Black Dutch does not equate to Melungeon, but it may well indicate some mixed heritage.[23] In the Melungeon areas, as well as other areas of Appalachia and among the Cherokee of Oklahoma, this label was prevalent and often used by families in order to hide mixed heritage for fear that their land would be taken from them.

Are the Melungeons Portuguese?
At least some of the families indicated on the 1880 census that they were Portuguese. Some also have an oral history that they carry Portuguese heritage. We know that Juan Pardo’s men were abandoned at various forts in western North Carolina (Morgantown), one perhaps as far north and west as eastern Tennessee. Some of the men may have been Portuguese. These men, if they survived, would have had to have assimilated into the Native population and take Native wives, as there were no European women available in 1566. There is also other oral heritage that indicates that the Portuguese ancestry may have come from a shipwreck. To date, there has been nothing to confirm their Portuguese heritage or to eliminate it as a possibility.
Are the Melungeons Turkish or Middle Eastern?
Recent speculation, misinterpreted early DNA results and problems inherent in autosomal testing have led to a significant amount of misinformation about the Melungeons having a Turkish or other Middle Eastern heritage.
There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any Turkish or Middle Eastern heritage in the Melungeon community. If there was an early Turkish ancestor in one of the Melungeon families, their DNA would be diluted by 50% in each generation as children were born to parents. By the time the 6th generation was reached, that Turkish ancestor would only contribute 1.5% of the DNA of an individual living today. For us, 6 generations is our great-great-great-great-grandparents. Using a 25 year generation, which is typical and an accepted calculation in genealogical circles, that 4th great grandparent was born in 1834. In 1834, the Melungeons were already living as a clan in Hawkins County Tennessee. Where did a Turk come from and how did he (or she) appear unnoticed?
If a Turkish or Middle Eastern ancestor was further back in time, say another three generations, or 75 years, back to 1759, then they contribute less than one fourth of one percent of our DNA to the current generation. One fourth of one percent is not detectable genetically. Typically anything beyond the 4th or at most 5th generation in autosomal testing is not detectable with any level of certainty[24].

Do the Melungeons descend from Raleigh’s Lost Colony of 1587?
We don’t know. The search to determine whether the Lost Colonists survived is ongoing. Visit the Lost Colony website at
If the colonists survived, they would have assimilated with the local Indian Tribes.[25]

Did Sir Francis Drake deposit Turks on Roanoke Island in 1586?
There is documented evidence that Drake did indeed have Turks on board his ships that encountered a terrible hurricane along the Outer Banks in 1586. However, there is also documented evidence that the Turks were ransomed back to their home country by Queen Elizabeth upon their return to England in exchange for Englishmen languishing in foreign prisons. The Turks were valuable to England and would not have been set ashore in Roanoke.[26]

Drake also had Moors, blacks and Indians on board, and what became of those individuals is unknown. Many may have drowned as the hurricane sank several of Drake’s smaller ships. Some may have been released or escaped. If they did, they would either have been killed by Indians, perished on their own or assimilated into the local Indian population. If they assimilated into the local Indian population, this would have been 423 years or about 17 generations ago. One ancestor 17 generations ago would contribute about 1/1000th of the DNA of someone living today, so would be undetectable using current autosomal DNA technology. However, the Lost Colony DNA project is working with people who live in and descend from the area in question, especially individuals with Native heritage, testing their Y-line and mitochondrial DNA which would remain virtually unchanged in those 17 generations. Y-line and mitochondrial DNA testing is the only reliable way to positively identify Native, African, European or Asian ancestry, because it remains unchanged as it is passed from parent to child, and it confers the added benefit of identifying the exact line where that ancestry originated in your family tree.
I have the lump on the back of my head called the Anatolian Knot. I heard that is a Melungeon trait. Doesn’t that prove I’m a Melungeon descendant?
The Anatolian Knot is another myth. All individuals have a detectable bump on the back of their head just above where their spine connects with their skull. In Anatolia, modern day Turkey, there is a group of individuals whose skulls apparently have a larger than normal bump. While searching for evidence that Melungeons were from Turkey or the Middle East, researchers discovered and published this information as related to the Melungeons. Unfortunately, since everyone has some amount of elevation in this area, everyone feels their head and then believes they are a Melungeon descendant.
I have shovel teeth and somewhat slanted eyes. Are those Melungeon traits?
Some traits such as shovel teeth and the epicanthal eye fold that is identified with “Asian eyes” are found in Native American groups. Given that we know that some of the Melungeon families have Native heritage and others have the (as yet unproven) oral history of Native heritage, it’s not surprising to find these traits among the Melungeon descendants of today. However, many people who are clearly, unquestionably, not Melungeon descendants have these same traits. These traits are not unique to Melungeons and cannot be used to identify someone with Melungeon heritage. 
What about Sarcoidosis and Familial Mediterranean Fever? I heard they are Mediterranean diseases and are found in Melungeon families.
There is not one documented case of either of these diseases in any descendant of a genealogically or genetically proven Melungeon family.
In an effort to better understand the occurrence levels of diseases that have been associated on various internet sites with Melungeon heritage, Kathy James[27], called Dr. Dunn at the Department of Health and Environmental Control in Nashville, TN in June of 2009 and inquired about statistics on Sarcoidosis, a disease that some have suggested is a “Melungeon disease”. He advised that this was not a reportable or recordable disease in the state of Tennessee and they were not keeping records on it and had never kept records on it.
Kathy further searched and found one study on the internet in 10 centers in the United States known to have patients with Sarcoidosis and none were in the state of Tennessee.
She then called a long-time physician in Hancock County, now retired and inquired as to how many cases he had seen in his career and he said, "two or three".
If Hancock County’s own physician who is clearly able to diagnose the disease has only seen 2 or 3 cases in his entire career practicing in Hancock County, Sarcoidosis is clearly not of epidemic proportions in the Melungeon descendant population.
For more information and updates, visit
Did Melungeons have 6 fingers or toes and do their descendants have them today?
There is no genealogically or genetically proven Melungeon family or descendant who has reported any occurrence of 6 fingers or toes within their family.
My ancestor looks dark or Native. I’m sure they were but don’t know how to prove it. They were from Appalachia, which is why I thought they might be Melungeon. What do I do next?
Remember that the term Melungeon is only representative of a small clan of people who lived on or near an isolated ridge in Hancock County, Tn. in the period of time from about 1800 to about 1900 when the families both dispersed and intermarried outside the Melungeon community. Melungeon was a name for a group of people who had white, African and Indian ancestors during a specific time period in a particular location.
Your family may have white, Indian and African ancestors as well. You need to follow the same practices the Melungeon Historical Society is following to find your ancestors and their heritage. Be aware that any evident admixture “not white” is considered to be a “person of color”.
1. Check all relevant records including wills, tax records, deeds, court notes and the census for any county in which your ancestor lived. Tax records often identify “people of color” or mulattoes.
2. The census indicates at least the three primary racial categories of white, black and mulatto. If your ancestor was dark, they would probably not have been classified as white. In some census your ancestors may be designated as white and in others a different category. Also be aware of other families with the same surname as they are possibly related and their information pertains to your ancestor as well, assuming they are related.
3. Were your ancestors allowed to vote? If not, in some locations at certain times in history, this may have indicated that they were considered “not white”. Both laws and practices varied from state to state and over time. In Tennessee Free Persons of Color (FPCs) could legally vote prior to 1835. One of the things the Tennessee state constitution of 1834 (ratified in 1835) did was to legally disenfranchise FPCs. Even so, Melungeons won most court cases challenging their right to vote.
After the Civil War, people of color voted freely during Reconstruction, in Tennessee and throughout the South, at least as long as Federal troops were around to protect them. Even after Reconstruction, non-white voting couldn't be explicitly banned due to the 15th Amendment. Legal roadblocks, like literacy tests and poll taxes, were erected to discourage non-white voting, as well as extra-legal impediments involving intimidation and assault; but there was always at least a trickle of non-white voting throughout the South, and more than a trickle in some places, especially in big cities, where the “colored” vote could be significant - Memphis being one example. And of course non-whites could vote freely in the North after the Civil War, and before it, too, in many Northern states.
Nonetheless, voting records, or lack thereof, can give you important insight into the racial classification of your ancestor.
4. Were your ancestors allowed to attend white schools? If so, they were not considered people of color. In some cases, Indian schools were established as well.
5. Check death records for your ancestor and their siblings. Death records reach back in time sometimes nearly a century. Virginia and Kentucky death records originated in the 1850s and 1860s. Tennessee did not begin birth and death registration until in the 19-teens, and then not consistently.
6. World War I Draft Registration cards show race and these individuals, for the most part, were born in the late 1800s. These are online at
7. Test your Y-line (paternal) and mitochondrial (maternal) DNA
I’ve tested by Y-line and mitochondrial DNA, and I was sure my ancestor would be Native, but they aren’t. Now what do I do?
The Y-line and mitochondrial DNA are the only definitive tests for European, African, Asian and Native American ancestry. However, they only test two lines, the paternal (surname) for males, and the maternal for both males and females. However, you can create a DNA pedigree chart and find appropriate family members and cousins to test for your various lines, filling in the slots on your pedigree chart. Instructions for how to do this are found at
How do I join the Melungeon Core DNA Project?
If you haven’t DNA tested with Family Tree DNA, go to this link and “click to join project” on the left hand side.
If you have already tested with Family Tree DNA, log on to your personal page. On the left side, click on “join projects”. If your surname is in the core project, then the Melungeon Core Project will appear as one of your options.
If your surname does not appear, and it won’t if you’re a mitochondrial participant, then click on “join projects”. After the next page is returned, scroll down and under “Dual Geographical Projects” click on “M”, scroll down and you’ll see the Melungeon Core project. Click to join. You will be asked to provide your genealogy before joining so that the project can remain focused.
I just want to compare my results to the Melungeon project results. Can I do that without joining the DNA project?
Yes, indeed, you can see our results at these two links:

[1] Lewis Jarvis was a respected local attorney in Hancock County. He knew and lived among the Melungeon families. His mother was a Collins. Without his historical notes, much of the Melungeon history would have been lost.

[2] Located in Russell County, Virginia when built before 1774, now in Scott County, Va. One of the earliest Forts in the area.

[3] A primary record source is the original record, such as original church membership records or the original census records. A secondary record would be a transcription of those records. Both primary and secondary sources can include items such as old letters written by individuals who had first hand knowledge of events and people who are conveying their knowledge to another individual. Oral family history is neither a primary or secondary source. This does not mean that it should be ignored, just that it cannot be used as a primary or secondary source. It may constitute a genealogically important hint, but it isn’t considered to be documentation.

[4] Our DNA advisor and board member, Roberta Estes owns DNAexplain, founded in 2004. Her company has teamed with Family Tree DNA to provide the Personalized DNA Report product to Family Tree DNA customers.

[5] Families later identified as Melungeon are typically noted as “other than white”.

[6] Lewis Jarvis, local attorney, knew these families personally.

[7] Various records include but are not limited to a case about voting fraud (people of color not allowed to vote) and others questioning “mixed race” marriages.

[8] Various tax lists in different locations where ancestors of Melungeons and Melungeons were noted variously as Indian, mulatto, free people of color and sometimes white.

[9] Walter Plecker (1861–1947) was a physician and public health advocate who served as first registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics, from 1912 to 1946. In the 1940s Plecker created a list of surnames, by county, in Virginia of those who he considered “not white” who were attempting to intermarry with whites, attend white schools, record their race as white on birth, marriage and death certificates and other actions he considered inappropriate and were prohibited for nonwhites.

[10] Will Allen Dromgoole (female) (1860-1934) was a reporter who visited several Melungeon families and stayed for a few days. She later wrote a series of articles that portrayed the Melungeons in an unfavorable and derogatory light.

[11] The Shepherd Case was an 1874 court case where the inheritance of a young woman was dependent on a racial classification of her Melungeon family.

[12] The 1890 census, although lost, was transmitted with a series of letters from the census enumerators and contained reports about the Indians in every state. Carroll D. Wright included information about the Melungeons in the 1890 census in a letter to the Hon. Hoke Smith., Secretary of the Interior. More information can be found here

[13] The 1880 census lists many of these families as Portuguese. For example the Hancock County census, District 4, page 278, ED 90, page 8, page 278r, ED 90, page 10 show Goins and Minor families’ racial designation overwritten from Portuguese to “W”, indicating white.

[14] Various cases between 1840 and 1846 accused and convicted various individuals of illegal voting. Nonwhites were not allowed to vote. The most infamous case was a Supreme Court case in 1846. Several Melungeon families were involved.

[14a] 1906-1909 Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims ("Guion Miller applications") NARA M-1104 rolls 1-348.

[15] The Sizemore family is ancestral to some of the identified Melungeon lines. For example George Sizemore’s daughter Aggy married Zachariah Minor whose family was identified as Melungeon. The Sizemore family themselves were never identified as Melungeon, but their ancestry was a contributor to some of those families that were identified as such.

[16] Many postings on the Rootsweb Genealogy-DNA list chronicle the unfolding issues with the DNAPrint test. One thread can be seen here, and searching on DNAPrint will reveal others of interest. Further analysis is provided in the paper “Autosomal Testing and Analysis” by Roberta Estes at as well as the forthcoming article mentioned in footnote.

[17] For in-depth analysis and understanding of the results of autosomal testing, see the forth coming article Revealing American Indian Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data by Roberta Estes. This article is currently in the academic review process and awaiting publication. The article tracks a single individual’s DNA and genealogy through all of the autosomal tests available and uses the results of all of the companies results combined with genealogy to evaluate the results.

[18] The Codis test is typically used for siblingship testing and forensic applications. It is available independent of any interpretation at

[19] McMillan, Hamilton. Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony: An Historical Sketch of the Attempts of Sir Walter Raleigh to Establish a Colony in Virginia, with the Traditions of an Indian Tribe in North Carolina. Indicating the Fate of the Colony of Englishmen Left on Roanoke Island in 1587. Wilson, NC: Advance Press, 1888. Online here

[20] Both companies have enhanced Omnipop by adding more records from more articles. DNATribes may have replaced Omnipop with their own software that operates differently. However, regardless of the tool being utilized to “crunch the data”, the fundamental issues remain with the populations upon which these results are based. Adding more data does not alleviate or address the inherent issues.


[22] Revealing American Indian Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data by Roberta Estes

[23] In Search of the Black Dutch, James Pylant (1997), American Genealogy Magazine 12 (March 1997): 11-30. In his article, Pylant states that Anglo-Americans loosely applied the term Black Dutch to any dark-complexioned American of European descent. The term was adopted as an attempt to disguise Indian or infrequently, tri-racial descent. By the mid-1800s the term had become an American colloquialism; a derogative term for anything denoting one's small stature, dark coloring, working-class status, political sentiments, or anyone of foreign extract.

[24] Revealing American Indian Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data by Roberta Estes

[25] See Where Have All the Indians Gone? What We Know and What We Don’t about Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA by Roberta Estes, scheduled for fall 2009 publication of JOGG, the Journal of Genetic Genealogy, found at [26] David Beers Quinn addresses this eloquently in his article, “Turks, Moors, Blacks and Others in Drake’s West Indian Voyage”, which appeared in the “Terrae Incognitae Journal for History of Discoveries”, [Vol. XIV, 1982], Wayne State University Press, available at

[27] Kathy James is a MHS Board Member and Vice President of Heritage. She also co-administrator of the Melungeon Core DNA Project, along with Penny Ferguson, Janet Crain, Jack Goins and Roberta Estes.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

DNA Testing for Genealogy - What Can It Do For You??

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
DNA Testing for Genealogy - What Can It Do For You??

Paper courtesy of Roberta Estes,, e-mail Roberta at  

DNA testing for genealogy didn’t even exist a few years ago. In 1999, the first
tests were performed for genetic genealogy and this wonderful tool which would
change genealogy forever was born for the consumer marketplace from the halls
of academia.

Initially we had more questions than answers. If it’s true that we have some
amount of DNA from all of our ancestors, how can we tell which pieces are from
which ancestor? How much can we learn from our DNA? Where did we come
from both individually and as population subgroups? How can it help me knock
down those genealogy brick walls?

In just a few short years, we have answers for some of these questions.
However, in this still infant science we continue to learn every day. But before
we discuss the answers, let’s talk for just a minute about how DNA works.

DNA - the Basics

Every human has 23 pairs of chromosomes (think of them as recipe books),
which contain most of your DNA, functional units of which are known as genes
(think of them as chapters). One chromosome of each pair comes from a
person’s mother and the other from their father. Due to the mixing, called
recombination, of DNA that occurs during meiosis prior to sperm and egg
development, each chromosome in 22 of the 23 pairs, which are known as
autosomes, has DNA (think of it as ingredients) from both the corresponding
parent’s parents (and all of their ancestors before them).

Continued here:

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Looking at Legends: Lumbee and Melungeon

Looking at Legends-Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied Genealogy and the Origins of Tri-racial Isolate Settlements

National Genealogical Society Quarterly 81 (March 1993)

by Dr. Virginia Easley Demarce
published here by special permission

Click on the image to access all the pages.

Looking at Legends-Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied Genealogy and the Origins of Tri-racial Isolate

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Family Tree DNA Offering a Great Holiday Sale

Family Tree has a great offering of special prices this year.  This sale is for the month of Dec.

There are also goodies in store for those who "like" Family Tree DNA on Facebook. This one is just for a few days so check it out now.

Happy Holidays!!!!

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Partial 1755 Orange County North Carolina tax list

Flat River, Orange County NC

Partial 1755 Orange County North Carolina tax list from the Flat River area. John Collins 1 tithe (mulatto); Micajer Bunch 1 tithe (mulatto); Gedion Bunch 1 tithe (mulatto); Moses Ridley 1 tithe and wife Mary (mullattoes); Thomas Gibson 3 thithes (Mulatto); George Gibson 1 tithe (mulatto. These are the Melungeon families who came to Tennessee. According to North Carolina records the Saponi Indians had a settlement about 15 miles east of Hillsboro, county seat for Orange County, North Carolina, and some of them may have been the ones named in this court case in Orange County, Virginia: "Alexander Machartoon, John Bowling, Manicassa, Capt. Tom, Isaac, Harry, blind tom, Foolish Jack, Charles Griffin, John Collins, Little Jack, Indians being brought before the court for stealing Hogs, Ordered that their Guns be taken away from them till they are ready to depart of this county, they having declared their intentions to depart this colony within a week." (pp 309-312 Orange County, Virginia Order Book 3, 1741-43, Courtesy of Virginia DeMarce.)

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