Thursday, May 12, 2016


The Melungeon families came with and were part of the original pioneer settlers before they were labeled Melungeons. Arriving in East Tennessee on, or before 1790. The first U.S. census was conducted in 1790. Under the law the census takers were required to ascertain the number of inhabitants within their respective districts, omitting Indians not taxed, distinguishing free persons from all others, and noting the sex and color of all free persons. Tennessee, then known as the Southwest Territory, was included in this first census. The original forms filled out by the enumerators, were destroyed in a fire and only the totals are known. The territory had a population of 35, 691 persons, including 6,271 free white males 21 years and older, 10,277 free males under 21, 15,365 free white females, 3,417 slaves, and 361 "other free persons." The  other free persons enumerated in this census confirm that a free settlement of nonwhites was living in East Tennessee by 1790. Most of these "other free persons" were living in East Tennessee because as late as 1776 eastern Hawkins County was the western most settlement in Tennessee.(Heads of Families-North Carolina the first census  of the United States , taken 1790 the reprint company, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1961. p 4, Price Henry)  

 Several were in the Revolutionary War and filed pension Applications in Hawkins County, such as Charles Gibson, Lewis Collins, William Going and Zephaniah Goins who was at the siege and surrender of Cornwallis. The above were enumerated free colored on U.S.census and old tax records, and the sad part is, none of these named received land grants for their service, most likely because of the color of their skin.

Another Melungeon book full of myths and opinions:  “Ancestors and Enemies; Essays on Melungeons.”DNA studies showed they were probably descended from Portuguese colonists and had connections with Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans and Romani (Gypsies).”

This book is repeating an old myth of six fingers and toes, and diseases, which is a slap in the face to proven Melungeon descendants and using an autosomal test to prove this is inconceivable because this test checks both your father and mothers line and it would be highly unlikely that both lines would be Melungeon. There is no Muslim DNA test, a Muslim can be any nationality.  Pork meat was one of the favorite foods of the Melungeon, who were Christians, as the 1801 Stony Creek Church minutes confirm. A court record (1846) in the Hawkins County archive shows two Melungeon Collins were sent to prison for stealing hogs. 

 *William Goings Pension claim filed in 1819, amended in 1820 contained an inventory of personal property, which consisted of*four hogs*, one pot, one oven, an old chair, one axe,one hoe, four forks, four knives, three tin plates, (for a family of 6) all of which was valued at $13.50*.   

The historical Melungeons were Protestant by faith and Baptist by demonination, minutes confirm they were members of several Baptist Churches along the Clinch River beginning 1800’s, these old church minute and court records eliminates Jews and Muslims as part of their heritage and culture. 

 Many Muslims are appalled at the sight of Christians freely eating pork. They are repulsed by the sight of a pig just as much as the early Children of Israel were under the Mosaic Law, which continues to affect the lives of millions of Jewish people still today. The pig was clearly forbidden in the Old Testament: ( 

The male Y-DNA for Romani (Gypsies) Is HM82, and the female mtDNA Haplogroup for Romani Gypsies is M. Neither of these haplogroups is found in the Core Melungeon  Y, or mtDNA test results. And none are found in the Melungeon Families group of 277 members. The Goins Y-DNA project has 175 members and none with the Romani (Gypsies)haplogroup.- . 

The Romani (Gypsies) HM82 haplogroup, doesn't show in the Bunch, Collins, and Gibson DNA project.                           
Hat tip to Don Collins

A story that Drake released Muslim Moor on the coast of NC has been proven false by documentation. In 1586, Sir Francis Drake freed about 200 Turks, 300 Indians, and 100 Negroes from the Spanish at either Santo Domingo, Cartagena or Saint Augustine. There is no record of the disposition of the Indians and the Negroes. However, the 200 Turks were returned to England.

    "Records in London Archives prove that some, if not all, of the Turks were aboard the Primrose, Martin Frobisher Captain. The Queen's Privy Council wrote a letter to a  merchant in London, who had dealings with Turkey, asking him to arrange for their return to Turkey."  "Dr. William S. Powell, Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, stated: "The Moorish prisoners, however, were eventually sent back to Turkey as a gesture of goodwill from Queen Elizabeth."

Varieties of R1b, a common Y-DNA haplogroup in western Europe, are found in abundance among Portuguese men. About 60 percent of Southern Portuguese and about 83 percent of Northern Portuguese belong to the subclade of R1b known as the Atlantic Modal Haplotype (AMH). There are some areas in Portugal where the AMH is found in about 90% of men.
The mtDNA haplogroups H, U, and L were found in substantial numbers in the population of Portugal in ancient times (including the Epipaleolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic eras) just as they are today.
( of mixed-race (white/black/Amerindian) descendants of Portuguese live in Brazil today. Some Portuguese of Portugal themselves have a small portion of black ancestry as well. This is true of the mainland, in part since African slaves were brought to southwestern Portugal's Alcácer do Sal region in the 1400s-1800s, but even more so for those from Madeira who often show Sub-Saharan African scores above 1 percent in 23andMe's ancestry composition reports, even as high as 4.8%. Also, some from Madeira are presented with estimates of 0.1% or 0.2% Amerindian admixture by 23andMe.

Some neighbors including county and state officials believed the Melungeons had Negro blood as this court case confirms. "Trouble started for Elijah Goin when his daughter married Billy Mayes May 23, 1853 in Clairborne County, TN. His brother  Sterling Mayes took exception to the marriage and started telling everyone that the whole Goin family were mulattoes and negroes. Elijah Goen was a school teacher and he finally filed a slander suit against Sterling Mayes requesting $5,000 damage. The case finally went to court. The verdict  Elijah  won his slander suit against Mayes but the jury only awarded him $50.00 far less than the $5,000 he sought.   Sterling Mayes appealed the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court at Knoxville, were the circuit court decision was reversed and remanded, Sterling won the appeal on the grounds that it had long been common Knowledge in the community that the Goen family was mixed blood.  Elijah Goen grandfather Thomas Goin a Rev. War soldier in 1788 sold his land 225 acres in Washington County,and moved 90 miles west to newly created Hawkins County, Tn from which Claiborne County was created. I find Thomas Goen descendants listed in the DNA Core Melungeon review (E1b1a).  

Minor, John vs Bloomer, James  
   This case involving an abduction reached the courts of Hawkins County and later the  Tennessee Supreme Court. Wilson Minor a free man of color (as Melungeons were referred to) abducted the niece of James Bloomer in 1852, for the purpose of marring her. Minor apparently anticipating trouble secretly dispatched his brother John for fast horse to Rogersville for a marriage license to make everything legal.  According to this case Minor secured the license and was stopped in the road on his return and commanded Minor to dismount and hand over the license, but denied he had the license, with knife in hand demanded Minor to give him the license. Where upon Minor took the license from his pocket and surrendered it. (Wilson Minor had purchased a Marriage Bond in Claiborne County,TN.- W.Minor and J. Bloomer, dated 11 Dec 1852 (Jane daughter of Joseph Bloomer) and most likely John Minor gave James Bloomer the bond,  because no marriage record was recorded for Wilson Minor in Hawkins County) The State charged James Bloomer with assault. Defendant offered to prove that John Minor was the brother of Wilson Minor, who had abducted the niece of the defendant for the purpose of marrying her, and that the Minors were free persons of color within the degrees prohibited by the statute from intermarrying with white persons, and that the young lady abducted was white an infant of tender years. Upon objection made by the attorney general, this proof was rejected by the court and jury found a verdict of guilty Jan term 1855 before J Paterson,  charged James Bloomer with assault. The Jury found the defendant guilty. A motions for a new trial and arrest in Judgement were made, and overruled by the court, and a judgment for a fine of one cent, and costs, were rendered by the court, The case was appealed to the state supreme court who ruled. We do not think the court erred in rejecting the evidence offered by the defendant.(Supreme Court of Tennessee, Sneeds report volume 3 pages 40,41 and 42-Copy in Hawkins County Archives ) John and Wilson Minor were sons of John Minor Sr and Susan Goins, John Jr was in the Civil War. Wilson disappeared from History shortly after this trial. 

   The Melungeons right to vote was certain to be challenged, especially by an unsuccessful candidate who felt his loss was due, at least in part, to the votes of "free men of color." 
“State of Tennessee, Hawkins County. I do certify that a popular election was held according to law at the respective election places in all the districts in Hawkins County on the seventh day of August 1845 for a member to Congress. Andrew Johnson received fourteen hundred and thirteen (1413) votes and  William G. Brownlow received nine hundred & seventy six (976) votes. This the 8th day of August 1845,  Jacob Miller Sheriff of Hawkins County.” From this election sprang the illegal voting trials in Hawkins County, Tennessee.  the defendants were Melungeon patriarch Vardy Collins, Solomon Collins, Ezekial Collins, Levi Collins, Andrew Collins, Wiatt Collins,  Zachariah and Lewis Minor, all posted bond for $250.

 In the grand jury trial the state  used the term colored leaving no doubt the state must prove negro blood back to and including the 3rd generation. The outcome of Vardy Collins case was not clear he paid the cost, during this time Vardy was visited by an unidentified correspondent in Littel's Living age identified him as the owner of a hotel and mineral springs. Also, chief cook and bottle washer of the Melungeons. The other cases were tried by two separate Juries who found them not guilty, John Netherland was their attorney and his argument was Portuguese, according to Swan Burnett the physical trait of flat-feet to prove African ancestry was used, one was found sufficiently flat-footed to be found guilty.  They were not lying about their Portuguese ancestors, most had migrated from countries such as Angola and other small African nations at that time under the control of Portugal.   
The term Melungeon is a local word that appeared to be in common usage by 1813(Stony Creek Church Record). It was used with derogatory connotations to describe mixed blood neighbors and is not a recognizable English word.   Every clan in the eastern United States had a beginning point and this point is proven by the oldest written records that are mentioned in this article . You are a known Melungeon descendant, which means that your ancestor belonged to one of the known Melungeon families and a member of your ancestor’s family at some time lived between Powell Mountain (on the north side of Newman’s Ridge) and Copper Ridge (running along the Clinch River) This land boundary extends into the western part of Claiborne and Grainger Counties and the extreme western part of Lee and Scott County, Virginia. This location has been identified by the unknown Jounalist in Littell’s Living Age (1849—quoting from the Louisville Examiner [1848]) as the Melungeon area. Some of these families moved to other states and localities, family genealogy and now DNA is locating many of those families. 

“You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, and Mineral Springs in Vardy, Hancock County, Tennessee known hereabouts as 'black-water springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the  Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS. We stopped at 'Old Vardy's, the hostelries of the vicinage. Old Vardy is the 'chief cook and bottle-washer' of the Melungens, and is really a very clever fellow: but his hotel savors strongly of that peculiar perfume that one may find in the sleeping-rooms of our Negro servants, especially on a close, warm, summer evening. We arrived at Vardy's in time for supper, and thus dispatched, we went to the spring, where were assembled several rude log huts, and a small sprinkling of 'the natives, together with a fiddle and other preparations for a dance. The dance was engaged in with right hearty good will.The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women--who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and  drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants after the advances of the whites into this part of the state with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens.”  

 “Beatty Collins grandson of Vardy was interviewed by C. H.  Humble in 1897, when Humble ask the school teacher, Beatty’s son  about the Melungeons he strongly resented  its application to his people and replied “ We are a Pure Blood”. (Home Mission of the Presbyterian Church USA a visit to the Melungeons  C.H. Humble  July 2, 1897)

Anyone who has made an honest study on the Melungeons should not be suprised at the announcement of a high persentage of African DNA in the core paternal line.  Tax, census and court records agrees with the DNA findings of these descendants, as recorded in the peer review article in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy.

This history begs the following question. If I can document my family back to a core Melungeon say Vardy Collins or Zachariah Minor, What percent of ethnic makeup, as shown by DNA would I have, born say 1940-50? This author has asked permission to use the follow data copyright 2011 by Roberta  Estes.

Melungeons, Minority Ancestry and DNA Roberta Estes, copyright 2011 

“The most common inquiry I receive is from people wanting to find their Native ancestry. Everyone in Appalachia has a story someplace in their family about having Native heritage. This really isn't surprising given that most everyone whose ancestors settled in the Appalachian region came through Virginia and North Carolina, and they didn't just fly in from the coast. Most families migrated over several generations from the coastal areas, to the piedmont, to the frontier lands, into the mountains, then finally, arriving on the other side or settling in an isolated valley. If a genealogical generation is 25 years, then each of us today that was born in 1950 has 10 generations between us and the year 1700. If our ancestors arrived in Jamestown, then it's 14 generations, give or take a bit. Remembering that the number of our ancestors doubles with every generation (you have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, etc.), 10 generations gives us 1024 ancestors and 14 generations gives us 16,384 ancestors. If these ancestors are mostly in the US, it's probably more likely that we DO have Native ancestors than we don't. Having said this, if we have one full blooded native ancestor in 1800 at the 6th generation, they would contribute only 1.56% of our total DNA. At the 10th generation, in 1700, one full blooded native ancestor would contribute .1%, so one tenth of one percent of our total DNA and at the 14th generation, in 1600, less than one one hundredth of one percent (.01%) of our DNA. It's no wonder we seek these ancestors but seldom find them. They are the proverbial needle in the haystack. The most direct route we have to indentifying a Native ancestor is either Y-line, paternal, or mitochondrial, maternal DNA testing. Regardless of how far back in time, the Y-line and the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups which are what we use to identify Native ancestry is unchanged because neither the Y chromosome nor mitochondrial DNA is mixed with any DNA from the other parent. Let's look at an example. One of John Doe's ancestors was among the Melungeon people who were identified in documented records as Melungeon, and they carry the oral history of having Native heritage. Pretty much all Melungeon families carry this oral history, and if they don't individually, certainly they do as a group. John very much wants to recover his Native heritage and learn about his Native genealogy. Although John himself can't test, because his paternal (surname) line is Doe, and his maternal line is Smith, and neither are Melungeon, he finds a paternal line descendant of his Melungeon line. Let's say he is a descendant of Zachariah Minor and Aggy Sizemore. I have chosen this couple because we have the Y-line DNA of Zachariah and the mitochondrial DNA of Aggy. Zachariah Minor and Aggy Sizemore are 6 generations removed from John Doe, and sure enough, just like our model that suggests this generation would occur 47 about the year 1800, Zachariah Minor was born in 1799. John Doe carries about 1.56% of the DNA from Zachariah Minor and about 1.56% from Aggy Sizemore. John Doe is just positive that this family is Native and is desperate to prove that heritage, so he asks a male Minor descended from Zachariah to test. Zachariah's haplogroup from his DNA testing is determined to be E1b1a, African. Thinking that maybe the Native heritage comes through Aggy Sizemore, John finds a descendant (through all females) of Aggy Sizemore to test, and her haplogroup is H, European. So far, nothing that suggests Native. Now John just knows that his ancestors would never claim Native heritage if it wasn't true, and he just knows that in the 200 years and several generations between 1800 and 2000, that none of those ancestors would have expanded on a story or misremembered something. He is utterly convinced that they are Native, so his interpretation of the DNA results is that because he is convinced that his ancestor are Native, the DNA results must be wrong - and that haplogroup E1b1a which is confirmed in scientific literature to be African must indeed really be Native, and the same with haplogroup H. In fact, he surmises, so MANY people who are convinced that they have Native heritage are showing up with European or African haplogroups, as opposed to Native, that the entire scientific community must be wrong. While John's tenacity must be admired, especially his quest to find descendants to test, his logic is flawed by his strong desire to be Native. However, John isn't entirely wrong - his ancestor's ARE Native - but he's focused in the wrong place. The Y-line and mitochodrial DNA only has the ability to test one line, and only one line. The beauty of it is that it doesn't matter how many generations back your "Native" or "African" or "European" ancestor lived, their DNA is still there to tell you their story, undiluted by subsequent generations. But this means that of your 64 ancestors in 1800, the Y-line and mtDNA can only report on the Y-line for the paternal line and the mtDNA for the maternal line - just those two lines - and tells you absolutely nothing about any of the rest of your ancestors. To find out about the rest of those ancestors, the best thing to do is to find "proxy" individuals from those lines to test and build yourself a DNA pedigree chart of all of your ancestors. In John Doe's case, as luck would have it, he found a Sizemore male that was descended from Aggy Sizemore's father, George Sizemore, who agreed to test. Lo and behold, George Sizemore's descendant came back with results in haplogroup Q1a3a, Native American.  Furthermore they aren't Melungeon, but they are ANCESTORS of Melungeons, or at least this Melungeon family. It stands to reason that Aggy might well retain the oral history of her Native ancestor. We know that Aggy was born in 1804, and we can track the Sizemore family back another 3 generations or so to Edward, "old Ned", born about 1725. He is Aggy's great-grandfather and given that we know he unquestionably had a Native ancestor, that "full blooded" ancestor had to have been born sometime between 1600 and 1700. From John Doe, the oldest Sizemore in that line, Edward, is 9 generations, and John Doe carries only .20% or two tenths of one percent of his DNA - but the 48 Sizemore males that are alive today who descend from Edward - several of whom have now DNA tested, all carry 100% of his Y-line DNA - so that story of Native ancestry is crystal clear. It's equally as crystal clear that Aggy Sizemore's mother, while she was admixed Native from her father's side, her mitochondrial DNA from her mother, haplogroup H, is European. Just because Aggy is admixed Native from her father's side, does not make haplogroup H Native. The male children of Zachariah Minor and Aggy Sizemore carry lots of different DNA. Their Y-line is African, E1b1a, their mitochondrial DNA is H, European, but their ancestors who are not represented by either the Y-line or mitochondrial DNA are Native, haplogroup Q1a3a. This doesn't make DNA testing "wrong", but necessitates that the individuals interpreting the results understand how to correctly apply DNA results to genealogy. John Doe today carries parts of all of these ancestors, no matter how miniscule. So what does that make John Doe? How John Doe self-identifies is up to him. Some people choose to select that one twentieth of one percent of their heritage and claim it above all others - in this case Native. Some choose to identify with their paternal haplogroup - in his case Doe - which hasn't even been discussed here. Some identify with their maternal haplogroup. Some people complete a DNA pedigree chart and idenfiy with all of their ancestors. In John Doe's case, we know he's a small amount Native, at least part African, but based on how he looks and the majority of his ancestors as proven by both DNA and genealogy, he's primarily European. Many people self-identify with their primary phenotype or the cultural heritage with which they were raised. No one but John Doe can determine how he self-identifies. What we can say is that science has provided him with a window into his miniscule amount of Native heritage (less than 1%), his undetermined amount of African heritage, although it too is likely abut 1% based on the genealogy, that would have never been confirmed or available to him without the science of genetic genealogy. The more lines that John Doe tests (via proxy), the more he will know about all of his ancestors. The Melungeon DNA projects are attempting to do just that, gather the genealogy and test all of the Y-line and mitochondrial lines of the Melungeon people and their ancestors. An important part of the heritage of the Melungeons as a people and as individual families is held in the secrets revealed by DNA testing.” 

If you descend from a Melungeon family, or know those who do, please considering DNA testing. Anyone who is interested in autosomal DNA tests should check the market and compare prices. Ancestry is $99, Family Tree, Family Finder test is $99.00. FTDNA also offer the male y and maternal mtDNA test.  All these test results mentioned can be put on GEDmatch. If you have taken a DNA test that you cannot use on GEDmatch it is most likely outdated. My advice is to get a second opinion. I have tested with Family Tree, 23andme and some of the old Print an autosomal tests that are now obsolete. Plus one Y-DNA test was done by a lab in England. With the same results E1B1A as my FTDNA Y-test. 

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