16 July 2012

DNA study seeks origin of Appalachia's Melungeons

Image from Original Article

I found this a fascinating article about Melungeons; the focus is on using DNA to try and separate the fact from the fiction about these Appalachian residents.  Though many of us have used DNA to connect to cousins or determine the “basics” of our ancestral genetic mix, it’s interesting to read about using DNA across a group to learn more about “separat[ing] the truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking” ...

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..

Are you of Melungeon ancestry?  What do you think about what the DNA study revealed?  Is your own research consistent with the findings?

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  1. Where was the editor when NBC published this?

    How can you take a picture in 1898 when the people ostensibly died in 1817 and 1813? They probably died in 1917 and 1913.

  2. I hear ya ... lately my local newspaper has had some atrocious errors also -- and things that spell-checker would at least catch. And, one hopes that the underlying research was of a higher caliber ;-)