Written records agree with Core Melungeon DNA Results. The Core Melungeon DNA Project was formed with Family Tree DNA on July 25, 2005. The goal of the project was to determine the origin of the Melungeons and to find matches in the data base. Our project results were submitted to a peer review board and published April 24, 2012 in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy and published by Associated Press reporter Travis Lollar in May 2012, the results of the first generation are offspring of Sub-Saharan African men and white women of Northern and central European origin. http://www.jogg.info/72/files/Estes.pdf
The majority of the male core groups were haplogroup E1b1a Sub-Saharan African and the maternal mtDNA group was European. The first mixed generation was the children from Sub-Saharan African men and white women of Northern and central European origin, the exact date of this mixing is unknown. Some from this first mixed generation eventually intermarried with white settlers in colonial Virginia and took their names. Part of this tri-racial clan may have remained in Colonial Virginia and others migrated to North Carolina who would eventually become known as Melungeons (Calloway Collins told Will Allen Dromgoole the Collins and Gibsons, had stolen those names from white settlers in Virginia where they were living as Indians, before migrating to North Carolina”). Calloway Collins was a great grandson of Benjamin whose origin was African and we also know all Africans took English surnames, even the ones who became slaves.
From Virginia they migrated to Granville County, NC. which became Orange in 1753 and were listed mulatto on tax and land records. Then to the New River Area of Fincastle/ Montgomery County in Virginia about 1767, some were on the waters of the New River in Wilkes County, NC about the same time. Those results should not have surprised any descendant, or anyone who has followed them on tax, land and census records, as I will show in this article. I want to thank all the people and organizations who complimented us on our DNA project through emails, letters and private conversations. On 20 October 2012 the North Carolina Society of Historians, INC. presented each of us with the prestigious Paul Greene Multimedia Award for the Melungeon DNA Project. I make no apology and am very proud of this DNA project and all the ones who joined, both the Core and Melungeon Families project. FTDNA has now added the Family Finder Test, which was the major reason I wanted to continue the project after the results were peer-reviewed and published.
Everyone who has read our peer reviewed article should know all tests that go to the same common ancestor only counts as one in the total for that ancestor (Example from review- Benjamin Collins Group-E1b1a7a. He is first found in Wilkes County, NC in 1787 along with the other Collins males. He is then found in the same counties as the other Melungeon families culminating with Hawkins County where in the 1830 census he is listed as a free person of color. There are 5 individuals in this group, plus a match to a Cook, (whose name was changed from Collins after the Civil War. He is a documented grandson of Benjamin Collins from Hancock County Group). A- An additional 4 have been added to the Benjamin group since the review.
Fighting against the Shawnee Indians, owning land and paying taxes suggest the future Melungeons were not Indians. Soldiers in Lord Dunsmore’s War in 1774 included Micajer Bunch, who served 29 days, John Collins (served 35 days), and others who were in the Montgomery County militia, including Benjamin Sexton, Charles Saxton, David Collins, George Collins, Meriday (Meredith) Collins, Lewis Collens, Elisha Collins (who refused to take Oath of Allegiance 1777.) John Sexton, William Bowlin, William Riddle, John Riddle, Samuel Collins, John Collins.
Some from this group moved from the New River and Stony Creek to the back woods section of Hawkins County, Tennessee. “Littell’s Living Age” which was reprinted from the Knoxville Register September 6, 1848 quoting from the Louisville Examiner. The following mixture may be in agreement with the DNA!! “The Melungeons were Portuguese adventures, men and women who mixed with the Indians, white and Negro settlers. Was these Portuguese adventures both men and women descendants of the first African/European group and claimed to be Portuguese?
“Readers need to be aware of the fact that throughout much of the 19th century and well into the early 20th. “Portuguese like the frequently heard “Cherokee Indian Princess,” was nothing other than a euphemism for African-American heritage. In fact that is precisely the way “Portuguese” has been understood by generations of black Americans 53. “Portuguese and “Indian” were contrived defensive mechanisms employed by both light-and dark –pigmented individuals of partial African Heritage to hide or disguise racial identity in an oppressive social climate where skin color essentially determined one’s legal status.” 54 ( C. S. Everette Melungeon History and Myth p 369.Appalachain Journal volume 26, number 4 1999)
The written land, tax, census and court records agrees with the DNA results. As a descendant from two great grandfathers who were Sub-Saharan African. I know my fore-parents denied their African ancestors, and created a mystical heritage of Portuguese, so they could traffic and trade with the white settlers. When some of their white neighbors began to recognize their black heritage they began to tax and label them and in some cases their wives were also taxed. (Moses Riddle and wife Mary) as listed on the 1755 Orange County, North Carolina list were taxed as “mulattoes". Also, on Orange County, North Carolina land grants “1761-to Thomas Collins on Dials Creek of the Flat River Chain bearers: George Gibson and Paul Collins (mulattoes).
We know by the DNA test when it comes to our people “mulatto” to those tax collectors meant half black and half white, not Portuguese, or Indian, to claim it meant something else ignores the DNA and protects the old racist reporters and tax collectors who labeled them. They were enumerated free persons of color on the 1800 census of Ashe County, North Carolina; Heads of household were enumerated free colored with number of free colored in household; Ambrose Collins- 4 free colored; Thomas Collins 7 free colored; Vardy Collins 4 free colored; Valentine Collins 6 free colored; Andrew Gibson 7 free colored; Archibald Gibson 7 free colored; Ezekiel Gibson 3 free colored; Joel Gibson 2 free colored and were listed black on the schedules.
Then again on the1830 census of Hawkins County, Tennessee. The label FPC was an attempt by their white neighbors to make them sojourners in the land, to prevent them from owning property, vote and to sit on a jury against a white man. The true story shows the white racist like Walter Plecker (1861-1947) existed in early 1700, but more than anything it shows how strong our people were, how they escaped slavery. Why should the descendants of our people white wash the racist derogatory labels of the white racist census enumerators, tax collectors, state Attorney Generals who were prosecutors of our people? At this time most of the African features were gone accept for the dark skin, but that was enough to refuse them the right to vote. The TRUTH as proved by DNA shows how they survived against all odds.
Melungeon Illegal voting trials held in Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tennessee resulting from an election in 1845, ended in a Jury trial Dec 1848- Y-DNA test from descendants of all but one family of those tried in the illegal voting trials was African. Also, Y-DNA from descendants of various other Melungeon trials was African. The illegal voting trials beginning in 1846 in Hawkins County, Tennessee show that the Melungeons were most likely 3rd generation descendants of the first core group. Marriages within the group would cause them to be very dark complected. Several men on the Jury were slave owners, so they knew what an African looked like. The Jury found them not guilty. One was Zachariah Minor my 5th generation grandfather. This trial shows the vast discrimination against them. They reveal how the Melungeons were viewed in their neighborhood, the County, and the State of Tennessee.
Vardy Collins Illegal voting case was settled, or dropped by the state. Vardy’s son-in-law Timothy Williams may have paid a fine, amount not specified. Vardy Collins was 83 years old in 1847. The 1850 U.S. Census of Hancock County enumerates Vardy Collins in household #364- "Vardy Collins 86, Margaret 77, Branum Williams 17." Branum was probably the son of Timothy and Letitia Collins Williams. Timothy Williams was living next door to Vardy on 1830 census, and was Vardy Collins son in-law, married to Vardy’s daughter Letitia. The Court called him an acquaintance, and both were enumerated as "free persons of color" on the 1830 Federal Census.
Almost all the popular Melungeon books do not mention these trials, even though they are recorded in the Circuit Court Minute Books and Loose Court Records in Hawkins County, Tennessee. Most authors wrote an exotic undocumented romantic story of the Melungeons because this is what sells books, which in my opinion has caused a vast number of people to claim Melungeon with no history of their descendants being discriminated against, labeled mulatto, or free colored. What could be more exotic than a family living on Newman Ridge in 1800, whose paternal ancestor (African haplogroup A) was referred to as “Bushmen”. Genetic evidence suggests the San Bushmen are one of the oldest peoples in the world. www.bradshawfoundation.com/bushman/
In private conversations and emails, I have always responded to all questions concerning the results of our peer reviewed DNA project. I have decided to respond to some questions posted on the internet concerning our DNA project.
1-The very first one was skewing the results, I was accused of stacking the results with my Goins. Response-Everyone who has read our Peer Review article should know all tests that go to the same common ancestor only counts as one in the total. Example from the review- In the Melungeon project there are three primary Goins groups, two of which are haplogroup E1b1a, but don't match each other. The third is haplogroup A. All three haplogroups are of sub-Saharan African origin. There is one participant with no additional Goins matches, but who matches the Collins E1b1a7 group. Which is why this complaint of skewing the results are from those who don’t understand, or from those who want to distort the project because the largest groups we have that goes to a common ancestor are R1b1a2 Gibson’s, and R1a1a Collins and with no complaints of skewing those results, all the complaints concern only the E1b1a Sub-Saharan African groups.
2-Complaint about the JOGG Review Board. Response; this was the lowest of the low, those test results would have been approved by any professional review board. Our project was professionally run, academically published and those DNA results will stand the test of time, as Yogi would say, they are what they are.
3-Accused of hiding or canceling Native Americans. Response: The bottom line is no core Melungeon haplogroup was Native American and thus they could not be used as origin, this does not mean there was no mixing with the Indians I have proven NA grandparents Haplogroup Q. We have adversaries on the internet spreading lies and distortions about this issue. Some of those who claim to be Melungeons Indians should give a paternal of maternal DNA test and prove it.
4-Complaint Valentine Collins was not a core Melungeon. Response; The Stony Creek church minutes list Valentine Collins joining in 1801, later moving his membership. Valentine and Charles Gibson may have come to Blackwater in Hawkins County together, because both moved their membership from Stony Creek Church the same day. Vallington Collings 100 ac 1810 Tax list of Hawkins County. (Captain Looney’s Company.) The Family Finder test answered this complaint. A great, great, grandson of Valentine Collins Haplogroup E1b1a sent me his direct cousins from his Family Finder test which show him as a close cousin to descendants of Shepherd Gibson and the Newman Ridge Collins, most of these cousins remained in the Hancock County area. Valentine Collins moved to Kentucky, he may have lived in Hawkins County for about 10 years. If the entire core group would take the Family Finder test they would no doubt be cousins to most of the ones who lived in the area 1800-1830.
5-Some use the Core Melungeon DNA public site to distort the results.
Response-No one can run the DNA project from the public site. Only the Administrators and the person who gave the sample know the details. FTDNA ask those who give a sample to please list their most distant known ancestor this is how their kit is identified on the public site. Those who do not list their common ancestor will only show up as a kit number on the public site. The names of the people tested are private to the public. The most distant ancestor listed by the person before their DNA tests results were known may have changed to another surname, but not corrected by that person. Most of these already knew this before they were tested. We had some who discovered the were not who they thought they were and left the group. Some were direct descendants of a core Melungeon, but from a daughter, so their Y-DNA test does not reflect that core surname, this is sometimes referred to as adoptions. Before you take a DNA test be aware that you may not be who you think you are.
Lewis Jarvis gave some very good history on the Melungeon, but it’s obvious he did not know about the African blood, or was he concealing it? He wrote that Michael Bolen was near full blooded Indian who was in the War of 1812.
A documented grandson of Michael Bolen Kit # 215288 DNA was E1b1a Sub-Saharan African.
The 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 & wife Mary ( mulattoes),Thomas Collins 3 tithes (mulatto), Samuel Collins 3 tithes (mulatto), Thomas Gibson 3 tithes (Mulatto), George Gibson 1 tithe (mulatto), Mager Gibson 1 tithe (mulatto) Some from this tax list migrated to Tennessee.
Affidavit by Joseph Collins in Salethial Martin’s Rev. War Pension Application by his widow, Mary W 1044, applied for in Granger County, Tennessee. “Was a small boy in 1780 when Capt. Martin came to the New River in Virginia and Captured a group of Tories camped at a Rock House on the river. Two of those captured escaped the next night. David Gibson and Lewis Collins. Affiant was intimately acquainted with both men and for many years heard them tell how they made their escape”. Lewis Collins (S2142) Applied in Hawkins Co., TN Aug. 16, 1834 Living in Grainger Co., TN aged 80 Drafted 1st of Aug. 1776 under Capt. James Stean in reg. of Col. Williamson. Was living "in the state of South Carolina the name of the County, I think as well as I now recollect was Montgomery, it was on the waters of broad river Capt. Steans Company met at his house and we marched on to the frontiers of said state and joined Williamson at a place where the Indians had killed two families by the name of White and Parris In the year 1778.”I had hired myself to make a crop in South Carolina, Montgomery County with one Charles Tompson.” "I returned home and finished my Crop and then left the state of South Carolina and went into the state of Virginia to my fathers house in Montgomery County and entered there in 1881.” He lived near the line of Hawkins County he belongs to a Baptist church in Hawkins County and has gone there was many years. He was born 1754 in VA,.They resided in what is today Grayson County, Virginia. Most of this family came to Hawkins County, but in early 1800. Lewis Collins moved to Granger County, Tennessee. Dowell and Edmund Collins applied 17 February 1853 as heirs of Lewis Collins.
1810 tax list Grainger County, TN., Lewis Collins 10 Free colored; Griffin Collins 11 Free colored; Joseph Collins 9 Free colored; Dowell Collins 5 Free colored. [Lewis Collins B. VA, was son of John]
1472-Portuguese negotiate the first slave trade agreement that also includes gold and ivory. By the end of the 19th Century, because of the slave trade, five times as many Africans (over 11 million) would arrive in the Americas than Europeans.
1619-A Dutch ship brings the first permanent African settlers to Jamestown,VA. .(US History.Org )
Core Melungeon Y-DNA test confirm that some of the Gibsons and Goins families living along the Pee Dee River were related to some in the core group, both groups fore-parents migrated from Virginia. The term Melungeons was not originally applied to them. The oldest written records found to date of the term Melungin, Melungeon applies to the East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia group. The Pee Dee River clan was called Brass Ankles according to Edward T. Price 1950 study of Free African Americans in the Eastern United States. And were most likely African/European heritage who identified themselves as Portuguese.
The following article was written in 1934. This was a Project by William E. Cole Associate Prof. of Sociology, and Joe Stevenson Looney University of Tennessee. This document states the Melungeon were well know after the War Between the States and most of the politicians in East Tennessee were referred to as Melungeons.
It seems that the history of Hancock County concerning the origin of the Melungeons have come up at regular intervals. About 30 years ago (1904?) some of the white people whose children attended the same school as the Melungeon children objected to a certain family of Melungeons sending their children to this school. This Melungeon family the Bells, claimed to be of Portuguese descent. They, with the aid of some lawyers who sponsored their cause, brought suit against the county to allow them to send their children to school along with all the other white and Melungeon children in the community. They lost the suit on the following evidence. There was at that time living in an adjacent county, Claiborne, an old woman about 90 years of age. The court took her deposition concerning the ancestors of the Bell family in question. The substance of her statement was as follows:
“The Bells lived on my father’s farm when I was a little girl. They were known at that time as free Negroes. These Bells that are now living on Newman Ridge are descendants of the Bell family that lived on my father’s farm. As they were accepted as free Negroes at that time they should still be classed as Negroes.”
On this deposition the court declared the Bells free Negroes and did not allow them to send their children to that school. The same court failed to state that the county should establish a school for these segregated people. Thus they were deprived of a chance to get even the rudiments of an education because of racial prejudices which were not based, in my opinion, on authentic facts. Other instances are cited by residents of Sneedville and `surrounding areas of cases which have come up in court from time regarding the racial origin of the Melungeons, partularly the Bell family and other related families which were as a rule, a darker skinned people with more Negroid characteristics than other Melungeon families.
When the men were conscripted during the World War the Melungeon soldiers of Newman Ridge were sent as Negroes They resented this so much that it was necessary to take legal action in order to make them obey orders and `stay where they were placed. This in the writer’s opinion was a mistake. One of the commissioners, who classified these troupes, told the writer at the time that seemed to be the only thing to do about it. The white companies refused to receive them and the Negroes, whose color nearly matched theirs, did not object to receiving them in their ranks. Thus the Melungeons, may be said to represent practically all the different races in America.
William E. Cole and Joe Stevenson Looney University of Tennessee.