Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How Do You Prove You’re an Indian?

AMERICA’S first blood quantum law was passed in Virginia in 1705 in order to determine who had a high enough degree of Indian blood to be classified an Indian — and whose rights could be restricted as a result. You’d think, after all these years, we’d finally manage to kick the concept. But recently, casino-rich Indian tribes in California have been using it themselves to cast out members whose tribal bloodlines, they say, are not pure enough to share in the profits.

What is surprising is not that more than 2,500 tribal members have been disenfranchised for apparently base reasons. (It’s human — and American — nature to want to concentrate wealth in as few hands as possible.) What is surprising is the extent to which Indian communities have continued using a system of blood membership that was imposed upon us in a violation of our sovereignty

Cont. Here:

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Native American Haplogroup X

By Roberta Estes, copyright 2011

People are just thrilled to get their DNA results back when they discovered they have mitochondrial DNA haplogroup X. They e-mail me right away and tell me they are Native American. 
But then, I have to ask the difficult question. I become that relative that no one wants to claim, the one who always is bursting the bubbles with ugly old reality.

So I ask, "What is your subgroup?"

And they reply, "Huh?"

So then I explain that haplogroup X isn't just Native American. In fact, it's found in Asia, all of Europe and in the New World Native Americans. 
Most of the time, these exchanges are by e-mail, so I can't see their faces. It's probably just as well, all things considered.

At this point, people are firmly divided into two camps. Those are the "I want to believe" camp and the "I want to know" camp. The "I want to believe" camp is afraid to do further testing because they are concerned that deeper testing will reveal that they are NOT Native. So they never test and continue to claim Native descent. The "I want to know camp" is just the opposite, seeking the truth, and they order the full sequence test.

You can see the various subgroups on the haplogroup X project page at: 

Haplogroup X is the "mother haplogroup." X2 is found throughout Eurasia and North America. Native American subgroups of haplogroup X2 are X2a, X2a1, X2a1a, X2a1b and X2a2 and they are determined by the following mutations in the various mitochondrial DNA regions.

Haplogroup HVR1 Region HVR2 Region Full Sequence
X2a 16213A 200G 8913G, 12397G, 14502C
X2a1 16093G 143A 3552C


X2a2 16254C 225C

This means that if you take the HVR1 region test and you are noted as being haplogroup X, if you don't have the 16213A mutation, then you're likely NOT Native American. Ouch, you say. How can we be sure? 
I encourage everyone to take the HVR2 and the full sequence level testing, especially if you think you MIGHT be Native. Why? Because we're still learning and I'd hate for anyone to determine they are NOT Native based on the 16213A mutation alone. There are such things as back mutations, and if you do have the HVR2 and full sequence mutations, then you may have experienced a back mutation or are maybe a haplogroup previously not found. 
So, your determination as haplogroup X is really just the appetizer and an invitation to the entree and dessert....HVR2 and full sequence testing!!!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Muster Roll of the Regiment in Granville County under the command of Col. William Eaton as taken at a General Muster of the said Regiment 8 October 1754

William Eaton's Muster Roll - Granville County 1754

by Roberta Estes

The Saponi Indians were allied and grouped with the Eno, the Shakori, the Totera and others especially after their time at Fort Christanna in from 1714-1716.  William Eaton was a well known trader and he obtained land in Granville County.  The smaller eastern tribes were quite unsettled after Fort Christanna was closed and tried living in different locations.  Eventually, all of these people were simply called the Saponi.  In 1730 the group went to live with the Catawbas in South Carolina on the North Carolina border, but in 1733, they were back in Virginia again.  In 1742, they returned to the Catawba, but returned a second time in 1748.  During this time, the Catawba were absorbing a number of remnant tribes who were not strong enough to protect themselves.  Indian numbers were dwindling due to constant warfare and disease.  Unlike the English, with a new supply of colonists constantly arriving from Europe, there was no replacement mechanism for the Native people.

By 1754, William Saunders in the "Colonial Records of North Carolina" report that a group of 30-40 Saponi had settled on the lands of William Eaton in Granville County, NC. 

As luck would have it, Janet Crain discovered the "Muster Roll of the Regiment of Granville County under the command of Colonel William Eaton as taken as a general muster of the said Regiment October 8, 1754."

On that list are several surnames that are recognizable as families associated with Native heritage such as Harris, Chavers, Alford, Cade, Nichols, Hedgeparth, Gowen and others.  Several are also associated with Melungeon heritage such as Gowen, Mullins, Collins, Bolton (Bollin) and Moore. 

However, the question is whether or not there is anything on the muster list that might identify who is Native and who is not, and indeed, there is.  Several people are noted at either negro or mulatto, as follows:

·       Edward Harris, negro
·       William Chavers, negro
·       William Chavers Jun., Mul.
·       Gilberth Chavers, Mulatto
·       John Smith   Nut Bush (I'm just going to leave this alone)
·       Thomas Gowen, mulatto
·       Mickael Gowen, mulatto
·       Edward Gowen, mulatto
·       Robert Davis, mulatto
·       William Burnel, mulatto

John Smith's note of "nut bush" could be an indication of a location.  One man is noted by a creek name and one says "up the river".  Or it could possibly be an indication of a Native group association.  If we exclude this individual, as he is not noted as being negro or mulatto, there are a total of 9 men "of color."  Only free people could serve in the militia, so we know these men weren't slaves.

If each man had a wife and one child, that would be 27 people, 2 children would be 36 people and 3 children would be 45 people.  This fits the 30-40 Saponi stated to have gone to live on William Eaton's land.  Of these, the Chavers and Gowen families are known to be Lumbee as well as Tuscarora.  Harris is the primary Catawba surname, although being a very common surname, may not be related.  Gowen (Goins) is a Melungeon surname as well.

Perhaps, using the muster roll and the NC colonial records, in combination, we've just identified a number of Saponi families.  By this time in the historical record, the name Saponi could represent any of the eastern remnant tribes' members. 

Complete list here:

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Are These Customs Jewish or Appalachian?

by Janet Crain

I would preface my comments below with this statement;

I love and respect Jewish people everywhere. I have absolutely no animosity toward them, but rather I sympathize with everything they have been through. I'm sure some did come tothe New World and hide their heritage. But not in the droves suggested by certain writers. And nothing in any historical nor DNA evidence indicates they contributed any genes to the Melungeon population.

Several so called "proofs" of Jewish practices have been offered up on the Internet and in certain books.

One of the examples offered as proof is refuted by this information;

"having the Star of David inscribed on gravestones."

If the Crpyto-Jew's ancestors truly left as long ago as purported, there was no "Jewish only association" with the Magen David (Star of David) at that time for them to unconsciously remember and perpetuate for 600 hundred years. This was an ancient symbol that has only become strongly associated with Jews in the last hundred years. It is probably deeply rooted in our collective ancient human memories.

Posted on the Rootsweb Melungeon list 25 Sep 2007

Hi Listers,

There are 2 articles in the just published issue of Appalachian Quarterly (available from the Wise County, VA, Historical Society) which you might find of interest. The first is called "Burial Practices in Souther Appalachia";
It is based on a thesis by Donna Stansbury. Accompanying it is an editorial on Appalachian burial practices by Rhonda Robertson. Both cite several rituals that are likely Jewish in origin (and are currently practiced by some Jews).

Among these are:

1. Burying the body within one day of death, facing the east.

2. Waving a candle over the body and placing three handfuls of salt in a wooden bowl on the deceased's chest.

3. Stopping all clocks at the time of death

4. Covering all mirrors at the time of death

5. Placing silver coins over the eyes of the deceased.

1. This is so simple I won't even offer a source. Common sense tells us that in a time before embalming and the availability of metal coffins, the dead were buried as soon as possible. And, yes, a Christian would want to be facing East.

2. Again common sense tells us that candles are burned to reduce bad odors. Flowers were placed nearby if in season for the same reason. Salt and earth either separate or mixed placed in a dish on the body is an ancient practice probably going back to paganism.

3. & 4. Stopping all clocks at the time of death:

Covered mirrors

"The Victorians had a lot of superstitions associated with death. When there was a corpse in the house you had to cover all the mirrors," she said. "And if a mirror in your house was to fall and break by itself, it meant that someone in the home would die soon. When someone died in the house and there was a clock in the room, you had to stop the clock at the death hour or the family of the household would have bad luck. When the body was taken from the house, it had to be carried out feet first because if it was carried out head first,
it could look back and beckon others to follow it into death."

(According to Albion's Seed these practices predated Victorian time.)

5.Placing silver coins over the eyes of the deceased:

In Roman times coins were placed in the eyes or mouths of the dead so that the person could pay Charon, the ferryman, to row them across the river Stix. It is easy to see how that custom entered British sensibilities as Rome ruled Britain for over 400 years. Many soldiers retired there with a villa and an English wife. The custom had plenty of time to spread throughout Europe and beyond, extending into every place the Romans occupied.

There are several other Appalachian practices that some have contended are Jewish. These beliefs have spread all over the Internet. I will list those that come to mind.

Endogamy or cousin marrying. This is certainly a way to keep a line pure and protect land and money from
dissipating to outsiders. That is why so many groups the world over have employed this practice. It is certainly not confined to Jewish people.

Marrying at home or at a close relative's house instead of in a Church. This is a common practice among many people, especially settlers in frontier areas where the nearest church may be very far away. A traveling minister might find himself performing a dozen weddings of young lovers anxious to tie the knot while an official was available.

Abstaining from eating meat not properly bled out. This is forbidden in the New Testament. Acts 15:20

I am sure I have missed a few things, but I will close with this one;

Sweeping the corners of a room toward the center. This is one that puzzles me. Who would sweep from the middle of the room toward the corners? That would accomplish nothing and just be moving dirt around. LOL

Remember Melungeons were first found in a Christian Church; Stony Creek Baptist church. Some people have even tried to say the Primitive Baptist Church was a cover for Crypto (hidden) Jewish people. This is also said about the Quakers and possibly others. Free Masonry is likewise implicated. None of this makes any sense.and reflects these writers' lack of familiarity with the subject.

Additional reading

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Conclusions and Jumping to Them

Conclusions and Jumping to Them

By Roberta Estes, copyright 2011

One of the things that people who study the sciences in a university environment learn is how to think with both logic and reason. This training is necessary to form a hypothesis and to construct experiments that will truly address the question or questions they are attempting to answer, without bias. This technique is called Cause and Effect Cognitive Reasoning.

However, it's easy to get caught up with what is colloquially called "pretzel logic." And for those untrained as scientists, especially those who might want to believe something specific, it's very easy to see how pretzel logic occurs.

Let's look at cause and effect cognitive reasoning.

Example 1

1. Eighty percent of the cracks in blacktop streets occur when the temperature is over 90 degrees.
2. Deaths in the elderly population increase when the temperature is over 90 degrees.

Cracks in the street are causing an increase in deaths of elderly people. Equally wrong conclusion - deceased elderly people are causing cracks in the street.

Why are these conclusions wrong? Because while items 1 and 2 are linked by the same underlying cause, neither of them is the cause of the other. It is incorrect to infer that they are.

Example 2

1. All canine animals are ferocious (for this example).
2. Bears are ferocious.

Bears are canine animals.

Why is this wrong? Just because items one and two are individually accurate does not mean that you can draw any parallel, analogy or conclusions between items one and two.

This becomes more difficult when we introduce factors where we know the outcome to be true.

Example 3

1. All living things need water.
2. Roses need water.

Roses are living things.

While this is factually true, it is not true because of the facts stated, but because of two facts that are not stated.

3. Dead things do not need water, and...
4. All thing are either dead or alive.

When these two extra data points are added, we can then correctly deduce the answer that roses are living things. However, to do so by using only statements 1 and 2 would be a logically incorrect process for the same reasons that our first two examples were wrong. It's difficult to understand this though, because we already know that all matter is alive or dead and dead things don't need water.

This is an example of letting pre-existing knowledge influence a conclusion. Even though people claim to understand this logic process when stepped through examples individually, and the methods for accurate deductive reasoning, more than 80% of the population still fails simple logic tests.

So now that we understand how NOT to get caught up in logic traps, let's move on to areas more relevant to genealogy.

Example 4

1. A DNA participant matches an individual whose ancestor is known to live a few kilometers from the participants ancestor in Germany.
2. The matches ancestor is Jewish.

The participant is Jewish.

What is wrong with this conclusion? This is the same situation as Example 2 where the two individual statements are true, but no connection can be drawn between the two facts.

Could this be true, meaning could the participant's ancestor be Jewish? Yes, but one cannot state that it is true through logic or deductive reasoning based on only the information presented here. More information is needed.

What might the scenarios be?

The two individuals may have a common ancestor in the Middle East before the dawn of the Jewish religion and migrated to Germany independently.

The two individuals may share a common ancestor in Europe, and one family may have subsequently converted to Judaism.

The two individuals may share a common ancestor in Europe, and one family may have subsequently converted from Judaism.
There is not enough information given in items 1 and 2 to reach any conclusion about Jewish heritage for the participant. To conclude otherwise would be incorrect at best, and potentially unethical, depending on the circumstances and motivation for drawing the incorrect conclusion.

Example 5

1. A Y-line DNA participant claims to have Native heritage.
2. The DNA participant carries yline haplogroup R1b or a subclade.

Haplogroup R1b indicates Native heritage.

This is the perfect example of pretzel logic. This is incorrect because while these items individually may be perfectly accurate, there is no logical link between the two. Here's why.

The individual may not have Native heritage at all.

The individual may have Native heritage, but not on the paternal line.

If the individual does have proven Native Heritage on the paternal line by genealogically accepted documentation sources, such as the Guion-Miller Rolls, the paternal ancestral DNA can still be European because many European males fathered children with Native women and those children were considered full tribal members due to their mother's tribal status. However, the DNA of these fathers is still of European origin, regardless of whether the children were considered tribal members or not.

No DNA tests on pre-contact burials produce any evidence of European haplogroups, so there is no reason to suspect that any haplogroup R1b members were part of either initial or later migrations to North America before European contact.

Example 6

1. A male in the Melungeon project carries haplogroup E.
2. An individual in the Portuguese project carries haplogroup E.

Men who carry haplogroup E are Portuguese. Equally wrong conclusion - all Portuguese men with haplogroup E are Melungeon.

Why is this wrong? I'm sure by now you recognize the error in the logic. These two statements, while individually true, have nothing to do with each other. What might be more accurate situations?

There are many men in Portugal who carry haplogroup E. Haplogroup E was born in Africa and through migration and enslavement, haplogroup E subgroups are found throughout Europe and the Americas.

Melungeon males who carry haplogroup E need to be individually evaluated as to the locations of their matches, both current and ancestral, and results combined with genealogy.

Melungeons are defined as a particular group of individuals in a specific place and time, and people living in Portugal are not included in the group defined by documented records.

People who are members of haplogroup E can be found in nearly every geographic project, so finding one in the Portuguese project and logically connecting the Portuguese to the Melungeons due to this finding would come under the category of either pretzel logic or perhaps the desire for a particular outcome.

Searching for Data to Support a Desired Outcome

Drawing a conclusion and then attempting to fit data into the conclusion isn't science, it's deception, but unfortunately, to the uninitiated, it can sound quite compelling. This is why scientific review panels exist in the scientific world, to insure unbiased reporting of results and accuracy of logic in the scientific process. There are no internet police to regulate the truthfulness or accuracy of websites and what they have to say, but in academic publishing there are editors and peer review boards, and they are brutal. They do however, insure that the consuming public can have faith in the results within the limits of what science had to offer at the time of publication.


The internet is the perfect breeding ground for pretzel logic. People desperately want to believe one thing or another, someone is Native or isn't European, is Jewish or isn't, for example, and using pretzel logic, they can convince themselves, and sometimes others as well that A and B separately are true, so combine them to get C. This isn't a recipe, and A and B can't simply be combined.

At the following website, compliments of California State University at Fullerton, several examples of different types of faulty reasoning are provided.

Dr. Robert Gass, who provides this website, specializes in Human Communications in the areas of persuasion, arguments, critical thinking and deception detection.

Don't fall into the pretzel logic trap. Be sure when you're evaluating logic statements and scenarios, especially those described by others that you don't allow previous knowledge, preconceived ideas or personal desires to cloud your vision. Be sure to ask yourself if these factors might be influencing the position of the individual making the statements.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

What is a real Indian Nation? What is a fake tribe?

Fraudulent groups passing themselves off as tribes have become big business during the past two decades, with more than 200 that claim to be some sort of Cherokee tribe. However, there are only three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes: two in Oklahoma and one in North Carolina. Many of the would-be Cherokee "tribes" are cultural societies or history clubs, whose members may or may not belong to any of the federally-recognized tribes. Still others are harmful, and some are even created for criminal purposes.

False tribes distort genuine Indian history to explain their very existence, and typically members know little about the true culture they claim to represent.

 Excerpt from "Sovereignty At Risk" document

You can go here and register to access this site.

If you don't want to register, just download the file listing fraudulent tribes:

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Europeans in Tennessee Prior to 1796

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“Tennessee” Pre-1796 Timeline

  • In the Summer of 1540 the Indian villages in the valley of the Tennessee River were ransacked by a strong mounted company of Spaniards from Florida. Before entering Tennessee, they had followed Hernando De Soto through what is now Georgia and the Carolinas, believing that somewhere in the vast reaches of the wilderness there would be treasure cities to plunder. From the Tennessee valley the Spaniards moved westward for almost a year. Many of them - including grim, iron- willed De Soto - had looted with Cortez in Mexico or Pizarro in Peru and, as a matter of course, they massacred the Indians and burned their villages when they failed to find gold. They followed bison trails and Indian trade-paths, wandering south at times into Alabama and Mississippi. In April 1541 the remnants of the party planted the flag of Spain on the bluffs of the Mississippi River and made camp near the present site of Memphis. After raiding Chickasaw villages nearby for food and mussel pearls, they crossed the river to continue searching for the will-o'-the-wisp gold they were never to find.

  • More than a century passed before there is record of another white man entering the territory. In 1673 a woods ranger named James Needham was commissioned by Abraham Wood, Virginia trader, to scout the possibility of trade with the Overhill Cherokee whose towns lay along the Little Tennessee and Tellico Rivers. Accompanied by Gabriel Arthur, an indentured servant, and several Indians from the Cherokee Lower Towns, Needham twice crossed the mountains into Tennessee. On the second trip he was killed by the Indians.

  • Cont. here: Http:// 

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White

    I am now reading this fascinating book and while it is not about Melungeons specifically, much of it is applicable. And the author does mention Melungeons on three pages in a much better and more accurate assessment than is usually accorded.

    The author contends that there are millions of American who have no clue they have one or more African American ancestors. This phenomena is due to most families who got "white enough" choosing to pass for white. The social, legal and financial benefits were just too tempting to do otherwise.

    Three families are traced in this book; the Walls, Gibson/Gipsons, and Spencers with information about allied lines. Modern day descendants are interviewed. One man only learned of his origin through extensive Genealogical research.

    This is a well researched and written treatment. The author is very fair and impartial. His detailed descriptions of Civil War battles are worth reading the book for. If an officer made stupid mistakes and needless sacrifices of his men, this author states so regardless of which side that officer represented. This carries over into much of the retelling of historical events. And at the end of the day you come away with the understanding that these people were first and foremost human beings, mothers and fathers, doing their best to survive and make a better world for their children.

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    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Great Grandma was a Full Blooded Cherokee Princess ~ Now What????

    Roberta Estes copyright 2011

    So you've become interested in your family heritage and someone told you that your great-grandmother was a full blooded Cherokee princess.  You find this quite interesting of course, and would like to find out more.  But where do you turn, what do you do, and can DNA testing help you?  Let's look at your options one at a time.

    First, let's just be honest here.  Your great-grandmother was probably NOT a full blooded Cherokee Princess.  I've heard this story thousands of times - even in my own family - and it's simply not true.  There are two reasons it's not true - but don't give up -  keep reading - there's light at the end of the tunnel!

    Reason 1 - The Cherokee didn't have princesses. 

    Reason 2 - Unless your great-grandmother was living on the Cherokee Reservation in either Oklahoma or North Carolina , she probably wasn't full blooded.  The Cherokee east of the Mississippi were relocated in the 1830s in the ordeal known at the Trail of Tears.  You can read more about that at this link - and here   A census was taken at that time, and even then, few Cherokee were "full-blooded".  Many were admixed with mostly European traders, but a few with African Americans as well.

    The Cherokee who were allowed to remain east of the Mississippi were already living outside of the reservation, were citizens of the states in which they lived and owned land, living mostly as Europeans, not Native people.  Most were Native women married to white men.  Today they form the Eastern Bank of the Cherokee and mostly descend from people on the original Baker Roll.  You can search the Baker Roll here -

    Given a generation length of 25-30 years on the average, the Cherokee removal was between 6 and 7 generations ago.  IF your ancestor was full blooded at that time, and IF they married a full-blooded white person for every generation since, you would be 1/64th Cherokee and great-grandma would have been 1/8th.  Of course, there are a lot of IFs in that statement.

    Now, the good news.  Many times, where there is smoke, there is fire.  If your family carries the oral history that you have some Native ancestry, you probably do.  These stories tend to become exaggerated over time and also tend to lose track of the correct generation.

    Let's talk about some things you can do to discover your Native heritage.

    1.  The census is your friend.  Thankfully, the census has been indexed and is available online.  Some years are available free by using Heritage Quest, available though most libraries via the internet with a library card.  Check with your local library.  Personally, I use but it requires a subscription for most years.  In the census, if your ancestor was of mixed heritage and it was visible, they may be noted as mulatto in the census.  There were only three categories, black, white and mulatto.  In this context, mulatto meant mixed.  Find them in every census available.  The census began in 1790 and in most places, the census is available every 10 years, except for 1890 which was destroyed.  Sometimes their ethnic designation changed from census to census and even one mulatto finding is a significant hint.  Check their siblings too.

    2.  Where did they live?  The census will tell you not only where they lived, but where they were born and where their parents were born.  Often you can track the family back in time. If your ancestors were Cherokee, they would have been living where the Cherokee tribe was located.  On the map below, you can see where the Cherokee and other tribes were found before removal in the 1830s.

    3.  The word Cherokee has become generic, like the word Kleenex.  Many people who descend from now defunct tribes have lost their tribal name.  The Cherokee are the best known tribe east of the Mississippi, and therefore many families have assumed for years that the Cherokee were their ancestors, when they were not.  In the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s, many tribes were nearly decimated and their remnant people joined together.  You can read about this in my paper titled Where Have All the Indians Gone? Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA in Relation to Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony of Roanoke. This paper is available free on my website, but was originally published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy.  It discusses the various tribes, their locations as well as their fates at length.

    4.  There are Native resources you can check.  There were several rolls taken beginning in 1817 and ending in 1924.  You can see them at this link -  The most famous and useful are the Dawes Rolls and the Guion Miller Roll, both of which are used to document tribal heritage and at that time, enrollment in the tribe.  You can search the final rolls index for free at this link -  Many legitimate Cherokee enrolled, and many families with a history of Native heritage attempted to enroll as well.  Most were declined because even then, they could not prove their connection to the Cherokee.  However, if one of your family members, or their siblings, or cousins attempted to enroll, the application is chocked full of genealogy information.  These applications are the Holy Grail of Native American genealogy research.  Notice on the bottom of this page that you can also search other rolls as well.  You can also search at using the collection title "Dawes Packets".

    5.  You can engage others to help you in your search.  A company called Cherokee Roots has published a significant amount of information in book format and will also assist you in your search.  You can see their products and services here -

    How Can DNA Testing Help?

    DNA testing can help you in a number of ways, depending on who is available to test.

    There are three kinds of DNA testing for genealogy.  All three test different parts of the human DNA and for different genealogy reasons.

    A white paper is available that explains this at titled DNA Testing For Genealogy: The Basics. 

    The first type of DNA testing is Y chromosomal testing.  Men given their Y chromosome to their sons, which is what makes them male.  Women don't have a Y chromosome, so they can't contribute any part of it to their sons.  Therefore, the father's Y chromosome is passed intact to his sons.  He inherited the same chromosome from his father, and his father from his grandfather, on up the paternal tree, which fortunately matches the surname.  Therefore, men can test their Y chromosome to see if they match another man of the same surname to see if they share a common ancestor. 

    Based on the results, men are grouped together in larger groups called haplogroups, and there are two Native American haplogroups that men fall into.  This identifies them as Native American.  In our situation with great-grandma, this won't work, because she did not have a Y chromosome.  However, if you know who great-grandma's father was, you can test his male descendants (of the same surname) today to see if maybe great-grandma's Native ancestry came from her father.

    The second type of DNA testing is mitochondrial DNA testing. Women give their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to both sexes of their children, but only the women pass it on.  Men do not contribute their mitochondrial DNA to their children.  Therefore, in the current generation, men and women can both test, but when testing ancestors, the person to test today must be descended from the woman in question through all females to the current generation.  In our case, if you are descended from great-grandma only through females, meaning your mother, and her mother, then you can personally test to see if great-grandma was Native through her mother.  Like with men, women's results are grouped together in haplogroups and your haplogroup will tell if your maternal ancestor was Native on her mother's side.

    If you are unlucky and you don't descend from great-grandma through all females, meaning she is your father's grandmother, for example - you're still not out of luck.  Find someone who descends from her through all females and ask them to test.  If she has a son left living, he can test as well.  What if she had no female children who had female children or sons left living?  Then move up the tree a generation to her mother and see if she had any female children who had female children. 

    The third type of testing is called autosomal testing.  It tests all of your DNA and one of the results is a percentage of ethnicity.  This tells you how much of 7 basic worldwide groups you are, including Native American.  This test is quite accurate back about 5 generations and beyond that, can sometimes pick up minority ancestry.  Even 1% is enough to confirm the oral history as accurate.  Looking at your family tree - if your Cherokee ancestor was 5 generations back in time, you would be 3.12% Cherokee.  If your Cherokee ancestor was really great-grandma and she was full blooded, you would be 12.5%, which is plenty to be detected using autosomal testing.

    There are differing types of DNA tests for genealogy and various quality factors.  I strongly recommend that you use Family Tree DNA for testing purposes for a number of reasons.  First, they don't "guess" at your haplogroup, they test. Other firms attempt to extrapolate, and many times, incorrectly.  Second, they have the largest data base for comparison to others who have tested - and you may well find cousins you didn't even know you had.  Third, they have projects you can join, for free, and obtain discounts if you order your tests through projects.  Projects can be surname projects or projects such as those focused on Native Americans - and you can join an unlimited number.  Each project has an administrator who is a volunteer, but generally very helpful.  Lastly, they are one of only two firms to use the latest technology for autosomal testing (as of 2011) which tests over half a million autosomal locations.  You just can't do the ethnicity predictions accurately with only a few locations.  Some firms try to do them with as few as 15 and 21, as compared to half a million.

    The tests can be ordered at and they are the Yline test for males, the mitochondrial test for female ancestors and the Family Finder tests for ethnicity percentages.  After your testing is complete, if you want more information about the DNA results and an heirloom report, you can also order a Personalized DNA report, either at Family Tree DNA or at

    Enjoy your search for your family!!!  It's a journey you'll never regret.


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    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    What Blood Won't Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America

    Harvard University Pres, 2008

    By Ariela J. Gross
    John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History
    University of Southern California

    Is race something we know when we see it? In 1857, Alexina Morrison, a slave in Louisiana, ran away from her master and surrendered herself to the parish jail for protection. Blue-eyed and blond, Morrison successfully convinced white society that she was one of them. When she sued for her freedom, witnesses assured the jury that she was white, and that they would have known if she had a drop of African blood. Morrison’s court trial—and many others over the last 150 years—involved high stakes: freedom, property, and civil rights. And they all turned on the question of racial identity.

    Over the past two centuries, individuals and groups (among them Mexican Americans, Indians, Asian immigrants, and Melungeons) have fought to establish their whiteness in order to lay claim to full citizenship in local courtrooms, administrative and legislative hearings, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Like Morrison’s case, these trials have often turned less on legal definitions of race as percentages of blood or ancestry than on the way people presented themselves to society and demonstrated their moral and civic character.

    Unearthing the legal history of racial identity, Ariela Gross’s book examines the paradoxical and often circular relationship of race and the perceived capacity for citizenship in American society. This book reminds us that the imaginary connection between racial identity and fitness for citizenship remains potent today and continues to impede racial justice and equality.

    For more information: Click Here.

    Note: Melungeons are specifically discussed in Chapter Four: Citizenship of the "Little Races".

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    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    African American History of New York Before the British

    by Janet Crain
    Black History Month is drawing to a close and I wanted to present this little known aspect of American History. Free and enslaved blacks played an important part in Dutch Manhattan. I am presently reading The Island in the Center of the World by Russell Shorto. The author has the amazing ability to make the teeming city of Manhattan disappear and enable the reader to see the meadows and hills, streams and waterfalls, all gone now and flattened into the foundation of the high rent district of the most powerful city in the world. He brings the people back to life also and the African Americans who were there from the first receive their due importance.

    Free Blacks and Slaves In Dutch Manhattan
    African American History of New York Before the British

    Nov 19, 2009 Melissa Cooper
    Slavery in New York

    The early history of black life in New York City includes slaves, servants and free men, and dates back to the earliest days of the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.

    According to Leslie M. Harris, author of In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City 1626-1863, the first known European-based settler of Manhattan was a free black, or mixed race, sailor named Jan Rodrigues. In 1613, Rodrigues was marooned on the island of Manhattan, put ashore off a Dutch trader by his shipmates for unknown reasons. He appears to have adapted readily to Native American life, becoming fluent in several native languages and eventually marrying a woman of the Rockaway tribe. As the wave of European explorers and traders arrived on the island, Rodrigues thrived as a translator, negotiator and trader.
    Changing European Rationale for Slavery

    In 1625, a small group of persecuted Walloons settled on the green island that the Lenape Indians called Mannahatta, or Island of Many Hills. The following year, eleven African slaves, owned by the Dutch West India Company, joined them.

    By the 1640s, New Amsterdam was home to black and Native American slaves, free blacks, and black and white indentured servants. Originally only non-Christians could be kept as slaves with the supposed goal of bringing them to God. Conversion would theoretically lead to freedom. But as the colony's dependence on slave labor increased, the rules and rationale would change. By the mid-1850s, the Dutch Church stopped converting blacks. Race, not religion, was becoming the distinguishing mark of the slave.
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    Free Blacks and Property Rights Under the Dutch

    Slavery under the Dutch was very different than it would be under the British or in the post revolutionary United States. Free blacks had the uncontested legal right to own property; that ownership was, according to Peter Stuyvesant, “true and free.” In 1647, records state that among a group of settlers who had gathered to await Stuyvesant’s return from Europe, were whites, slaves and free blacks, including Anna von Angola, an African widow who had recently been granted ownership of a farm on Manhattan.
    Legal Rights of Slaves Under the Dutch

    Slaves too had property rights, although they were prohibited from owning either real estate or human beings. Slaves, like free blacks, had legal rights and access to the court system. They regularly filed, and often won, suits against Europeans for damages, unpaid wages and other wrongs. Slave testimony was accepted in court, and slaves could work for wages.
    Half-freedom and the Start of New York's Free Black Community

    In 1644, slaves used the court system to petition for freedom. The Dutch responded by granting "half-freedom" to the original eleven slaves and their wives. Half-freedom was a newly created legal state that permitted these blacks to live as free, self-sufficient men and women on gifted land near the Fresh Water Pond. But half-freedom also imposed conditions: the newly freed blacks had to work, whenever called upon, for the Dutch West India Company and pay an annual tribute. If they did not meet these conditions, they could again be made slaves. The state of half-freedom could not be passed to their children, who remained slaves.

    The land given to New Amsterdam's half-free blacks would develop into the center of Manhattan's free black community. Two hundred years later, the area would be known as the Five Points, a notorious slum of blacks and Irish immigrants.

    Blacks in New Amsterdam's Final Days

    In 1663, as they prepared to cede ownership of New Amsterdam to the British, the Dutch granted complete freedom to all half-free blacks. When the British took over the following year, Manhattan's black population included approximately three hundred slaves and 75 free blacks, thirty of whom were landowners.

    cont. here:

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    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Big Sale at Family Tree DNA Ending in 20 Hours

    Family Tree DNA currently has an offer via their Facebook page for 40% off a range of DNA tests for 24 hours only in celebration of the company receiving 5000 likes on their fan page. The offer applies to NEW kits only.
    Full details are on their Facebook page.
    You do not have to join Facebook or "like" the page to qualify for the discount.
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    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Cumberland Gap Homecoming

    Cumberland Gap Homecoming

    All events will be held in the Holiday Inn Express in Middlesboro, Kentucky (1252 N. 12th St.), right on the main drag just north of the Cumberland Gap.  These sessions are sponsored by the Cumberland Gap Yahoo internet group who has a shared interest in how DNA can help with genealogy research.  Sessions are free, but seating is limited, so first folks there get to sit down.
    A few rooms at a discounted rate are still available at the Holiday Inn for this group by calling the hotel directly at 606-248-6860 and telling them you are with the Cumberland Gap Homecoming.  After the Holiday Inn fills up, the Sleep Inn next door may have rooms available.

    Bring your research and genealogy, a pedigree chart and be prepared to share.  Come and sit a spell.

    Sessions are only scheduled for the mornings so participants will have time to enjoy the rest of the events being held at the Cumberland Gap Jamboree.
    Each evening, companionship time will be offered in the meeting room for visiting and discussing the events of the day.

    For updates to this schedule, I recommend subscribing to the Historical Melungeons, Native Americans and Appalachians Blog at or subscribing to our Yahoo group by sending an e-mail to:
    If you are interested in the Cumberland Gap DNA project, we have two projects, one for paternal (yline) DNA that follows the male last name, and one for maternal (mitochondrial) DNA which follows the maternal (mother, mother’s mother, etc.) DNA and genealogical lines. 
    You can also e-mail me or my co-administrators for the project FAQ - Roberta Estes,, Penny Ferguson or Janet Crain  
    This schedule is not cast in concrete and is subject to change.  Hope to see you in June.

    Cumberland Gap Homecoming Schedule

    Wednesday, June 8th - Welcome Reception - 7 PM - Holiday Inn Meeting Room (all events are in the meeting room)
    Welcome to this informal reception.  Please grab a munchie (Walmart is across the street) and bring along to share.  Bring your own nonalcoholic drink.

    Thursday, June 9th, 2011

    8:30 - 9:30 DNA and Genealogy Introduction - Roberta Estes
    Come and learn about how DNA can be used for genealogical research.  You’ll learn about how DNA testing works for both males and females.  We’ll make science understandable, and by the end of this lecture, you’ll be putting together your own genealogical DNA test plan.  Bring your pedigree chart along for quick reference.
    9:30-9:45 - Break

    9:45 - 10:45 Pennsylvania Connection to the Cumberland Gap - Arnold McClure

    How Pennsylvania ties into the migrations through the Cumberland Gap, down the Shenandoah Valley and down the Ohio Valley to Kentucky.  Mr. McClure will offer a timeline for the migrations and answer questions you may have about your own ancestry that may help with your research.

    10:45 - 11:00 - Break

    11:00 - 12:00 - Twists and Turns in the Rocky Road - Roberta Estes

    This fun filled lecture uses case studies of both Y-line (paternal) and mitochondrial (maternal) DNA testing to show how DNA can be used to both prove and disprove relationships between people.  Be prepared for surprises.  This is our most entertaining and most requested presentation and makes a few family skeletons dance.

    7:00 - Sit a Spell
    Just come and visit, exchange info, share stories....and well....just sit a spell.  

    Friday, June 10th, 2011

    8:30 - 9:30 Yikes, My Results are Back!  Now What??? - Roberta Estes
    Have DNA results but aren’t sure what to do with them?  This session walks you through how to interpret your results and how to get the most out them.  This presentation is for both Y-line and mitochondrial DNA.

    9:30-9:45 - Break

    9:45 - 10:15 Women Who Spied for the Confederacy - Connie Lawson
    Eleven women of various social and economic backgrounds who spied for the Confederacy during the Civil War

    10:15 - 10:30 Break

    10:30 - 12:00 Where Have all the Indians Gone? - Roberta Estes
    This presentation uses the information presented in Robertas most recent academic publication titled “Where Have All the Indians Gone?"  This unique approach combines long buried historical data about the Native American tribes that inhabited the area between the Atlantic seaboard and the Appalachian Mountains with DNA information to provide both answers and new questions.  Where are the descendants of the Indians today?  Who are they?  Where are they?  What happened? 

    7:00 Sit a Spell

    Saturday, June 11, 2011

    8:30 - 9:30 The Melungeons - Jack Goins
    Who were the Melungeons?  Where did they come from?  Who were their ancestors?  Are you descended from a Melungeon family?  Learn about these fascinating people from the premier Melungeon researcher and Hawkins County Archivist.

    9:30 - 9:45 Break

    9:45 - 10:45 Melungeons and DNA, the Untold Story - Roberta Estes

    This presentation combines history, genealogy and DNA to address the mystery and myth of the Melungeons of Hancock and Hawkins County, Tennessee, their ancestors and descendants.

    10:45 - 11:00 Break

    11:00 - 12:00 Cumberland Gap Migrations - Roberta Estes

    Who were the pioneers who settled in the Cumberland Gap area?  Where did they come from?  Who stayed and who used the Gap as a gateway to the west?  What does the DNA of the members of the Cumberland Gap group tell us about those hearty pioneers, where they came from, and who they really were???  Join us on our journey along the Wilderness Road to discover their history.

    7:00 - Sit A Spell

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