DNA casts light on Melungeon background

From The Associated Press:

For years, varied and sometimes wild claims have been made about the origins of a group of dark-skinned Appalachian residents once known derisively as the Melungeons. Some speculated they were descended from Portuguese explorers, or perhaps from Turkish slaves or Gypsies.

Now a new DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy attempts to separate truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking. The study found the truth to be somewhat less exotic: Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.

And that report, which was published in April in the peer-reviewed journal, doesn’t sit comfortably with some people who claim Melungeon ancestry.

“There were a whole lot of people upset by this study,” lead researcher Roberta Estes said. “They just knew they were Portuguese, or Native American.”

Most of the stuff I’ve read linked the Melungeons to some type of Portuguese or eastern Mediterranean ancestry.  This latest study focused on families in upper East Tennessee, so it’ll be interesting to see if they extend it to other areas.



Filed under Appalachian History, Tennessee History

2 responses to “DNA casts light on Melungeon background

  1. V.E.G.

    In speaking of Melungeons, there is a newest hero of Melungeon origin, Steven Gene Sizemore!

  2. V.E.G.

    There is a newest hero of Melungeon origin: Christopher Lee Mintz!

    Here is the ancestry of Christopher Lee Mintz’s Melungeon ancestry:
    John Harmon
    William Goins
    Leah Goins
    Daniel Goins
    Abraham Goins
    Norvie Goins
    Esther Mae Yow
    Eva Mae Kennedy
    Robert William Mintz, Jr.
    Christopher Lee Mintz (That’s him!!!!!!!)

    Congratulations, Chris! Well done! He is like the man on a horse saving others!

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