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review of scientific and news articles on dna testing and popular genetics

Rise and Fall of the Melungeons

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Few people today actually claim to be Melungeons, rather perhaps Melungeon descendants. The reasons have more to do with the abortive Melungeon Movement and various dysfunctional online Melungeon discussion boards than with the fact that "Melungeon" is an ethnic or racial slur. 

Just in time for Halloween, a new collection of Melungeon material has been published by Panther's Lodge. The new book is titled Ancestors and Enemies:  Essays on Melungeons and is written by Phyllis E. Starnes and Donald N. Yates. Read about the hopeful beginnings, cyberwars and inglorious petering out of Melungeon self-awareness in this new critical review of the subject.  

Ancestors and Enemies will be of particular interest to customers who have received a Melungeon match on their autosomal DNA test results, as well as anyone who believes they may have ancestry from this fascinating Appalachian ethnic group. And of course, just because politically correct notions have appeared to wipe out the modern-day Melungeons doesn't take away your Melungeon ancestry!

As the twentieth century was ending and the millennium approached, a new ethnic category was invented in the South. The Melungeons were born thrashing and squawling into the American consciousness. They were a tri-racial clan hidden away in the hills and hollers of Lower Appalachia with a genetic predisposition to six fingers and Mediterranean diseases and an unsavory reputation for moonshining, counterfeiting and secret cults. DNA studies showed they were probably descended from Portuguese colonists and had connections with Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans and Romani (Gypsies). Were they the country's oldest indigenous people? They soon got on the radar of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Recognition, which fought the nascent identity movement tooth and nail. This collection by two researchers involved in the explosive controversy tells the story of the Melungeon Movement in a coherent, chronological fashion for the first time. Fourteen original illlustrations, ranging from Granny Dollar, the last Cherokee Indian in Northeast Alabama, to Luis Gomez, builder of the oldest standing Jewish residence in the United States, add interest to the portrayal of this mysterious and exotic ethnic community.

It is available from Amazon in print and Kindle versions:

$14.23 Print edition
$9.99 Kindle edition

It is also available in a pdf download from Panther's Lodge for $8.95.

About the Authors

Phyllis E. Starnes was born in Fort Blackmore, in Scott County, Virginia. She is a genealogist and works as an investigator for DNA Consultants. Her family belongs to the original Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church, where "them Melungeons" made their first appearance in history (now Pine Grove). Donald N. Yates is a native of Cedartown, Georgia. He earned a Ph.D. in classical studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel. His latest book is Old Souls in a New World: The Secret History of the Cherokee Indians.


Kari Carpenter commented on 11-Nov-2013 03:01 PM

I just downloaded Ancestors & Enemies . . . Thank you so very much for publishing a few of my You Might be Melungeon if quips in your first chapter – my mother, my sister and myself are honored that you chose to do so. I read the first couple chapters before I felt I had to put my Kindle aside and send you this thanks and a bit of an update.

If my conventional genealogical efforts can be described as a gentle, slow stroll of discovery through my family tree, then the DNA Fingerprint test results we (myself, my mother and my paternal aunt) have received have catapulted us through a veritable wormhole and into entire new worlds of identity and self-discovery! I particularly like the Elizabeth Hirschman quote: “A whole new generation had gone to bed white and woke to find themselves brown”. Selah, Sister Hirschman!

And now on to “new business”:

1. Goins, Goin, (illusions of purely Caucasian ancestry) - Gone! I’m so glad that my Aunt Cindy is a really beautiful and cool person who has embraced her Fingerprint test results with great interest and a good sense of humor. Prior to her test, I had briefed her that our Goins line was likely to be tri-racial, but frankly neither of us expected that her African/black genetics would present so strongly. My (neophyte) interpretation of her results is that it is likely that we do have some colonial era slave ancestry, as well as some deep-seated African lineage (possibly from Moorish-era lines).

2. We were very happy to see both the Native American II marker, as well as the Lumbee Indian population match. It’s so gratifying to finally get substantial evidence that backs up oral family lore.

3. My Dad was often fond of quoting the television sitcom character Gomer Pyle: “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!” If Dad were still with us today – his sister’s results would have definitely elicited Gomer’s oft-repeated phrase.
Surprise #1 – Cindy inherited Jewish Marker III from both her Reamy mother and her Carpenter father (Jack Carpenter). Jack’s mother was Della Burks. I am now more confirmed in the opinion/possibility that my/our Burks were originally surnamed Burgos and were of Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

Surprise #2 – Cindy seemed to exhibit very little English/Welsh ancestry. This is a surprise, because the only information any of us ever knew about our emigrant ancestor, James William Carpenter (1833 – 1909) is that he came from England(!)

Hmmmm – could I speculate the following formula:
my aunt’s genetics + prior British residency + hidden origins + love of draft horses = Romanichal origins?

James William Carpenter’s wife’s name was Eliza Jane Bailey – another possibly Romanichal surname. It looks like I’ll be trying to get a couple more Carpenter cousins to test.

So – that’s my “summary progress report” to y’all. I really enjoyed your 30 October 2013 article about the findings re the deep European Siberian ancestry of Native Americans (congratulations!) You’ve certainly got my family’s attention and have piqued our collective interest. I’m really looking forward to hearing about my mtDNA results . . .

I hope you have a great time celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday (in whatever manner and perspective that is most meaningful to you and yours!)

With Fond Affection and Respect –


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Genes Are the Teachers

Sunday, October 13, 2013
By Teresa A. Panther-Yates

Sam Kean author of the book, The Violinist's Thumb & Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code," says while DNA is a thing—a chemical that sticks to your fingers... genes are more conceptual in nature." He says the genes are the story while the DNA are the words that make up the story. Chromosomes are long, cylindrical-like blocks that contain the words allowing them to create the story, similar to children's brightly colored alphabet blocks. Alleles are any alternative forms of the story ( read gene) that may occur at any given locus (point) on the chromosome, attaching themselves like people do on a train or bus or subway -grabbing on for safety and perhaps deciding to go a different route. Or tell a different story. Reminds me of the crazy, alternate endings that one sometimes finds on a DVD. For instance, there are Internet rumors of alternate endings for The Titanic—Jack surviving and swimming to shore and Rose dropping the diamonds in the ocean as her granddaughter watches. Personally, I don't like alternate endings. But alleles? Alleles we need. They make us unique.

What do alleles do? Alleles hang out together like cute little couples or a group of friends on the chromosomes. Just like people, some of them are dominant and some of them are shy (recessive). If you get two dominant people in the party, you know who is having their way. It is the same with alleles though it usually takes more than two people to really get anything done just like it usually takes more than two alleles to determine a trait. It might take quite a crowd of them. They might call another party (interact with another site of alleles). All of our genetic traits are caused by alleles interacting. The genes we inherit are all the same as humans, but it is how the alleles express them that makes us unique (Encyclopedia Britannica).

What about Genes and DNA? According to Ananya Mandal, MD, in her article, "Genes- What Are Genes?" DNA is the "chemical information database." The DNA carries the "complete set of instructions for the cell" and genes are the" working sub-units" of DNA. You might also see DNA as a library of information and the genes as the teachers and librarians who use the library and tell the students (each cell) how to work (how to make proteins), as each gene has a set of instructions, roughly speaking, for making a certain protein, be it melanin or insulin. Mary Kugler, R.N., in her article, "What are Genes, DNA, and Chromosomes?" says a gene is a "distinct portion of a cell's DNA" and has "coded instructions for making everything the body needs." These genes are "packed in bundles" of chromosomes. Something like all the librarians packed into offices that are really two offices in one. How many chromosomes do we have? Everyone has 23 pairs of chromosomes (46) but only one is sex- linked. The other 22 pairs are autosomal chromosomes determining the rest of the body's makeup (Kugler). What do chromosomes do? Keep DNA in its place.

Or if they were people, alleles would be the artists, genes the teachers, chromosomes the disciplinarians, and the DNA would be the great Wizard of OZ—except with real instructions.


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Indians and Crypto-Jews

Sunday, October 06, 2013

It's been exactly 10 years since this paper was first presented to a conference of Jewish genealogists and DNA experts, so we are posting it in this space on its anniversary. "DNA Testing of Southeastern American Indian Families to Confirm Jewish Ethnicity," Paper Delivered by Donald Panther-Yates at the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies Conference, San Antonio, August 3, 2003

The project I will be speaking about today is the first of its kind I am aware of. It grew out of the Melungeon Surname DNA Project started by Beth Hirschman, who was inspired—or manic enough at the time—to spring for the funds. I want to begin by thanking both Beth and Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA for their amazing help and support. At one point in the project, when the results were beginning to roll in, I was pleased to see that both Bennett’s son Elliott and Abe Lavender matched mitochondrial DNA results of several of our participants. Beth was able to e-mail Bennett with the message, “Welcome to Melungeon-land!”

The project called for volunteers to take either a female descent or male descent genetic test if they could provide reasonable genealogical proof that they were descended either from an early Indian trader or a Native American woman who married or had children with one. The odds were all against us. In order to qualify, the descent of the trader or his wife could not cross from the male to the female line; it had to be either the outside male line, father to son, father to son, or the outside female line, mother-daughter, mother-daughter. We could not, for instance, test one individual who claimed, very eloquently and convincingly, to be descended from both Pocahontas and her sister-cousin Princess Cleopatra. I received a fair measure of hate mail from professors of Indigenous Studies. One volunteer, a Collins in Kentucky, wrote to me about Torah study in her local band of the Saponi, though she assured me they were all good Christians. I also got an interesting letter from the chief of a Tennessee band of the Cherokee who lamented the fact that the tribe members were going through their fourth round of DNA testing without proving much Indian blood. They had found so much Jewish types among them that one of them decided to adopt the name “Rolling Bagel.”

Some of the test subjects invariably got cold feet and bowed out. I am particularly sorry to have missed the linear descendant of James Adair (author of the first anthropological study of American Indians), the linear descendant of Abraham Mordecai (founder of the town of Montgomery, Alabama), and the linear descendant of Cherokee Chief John Looney (whose ancestors were the famous Luna family of Portugal, among them “the Woman Who Defied Kings”). On the positive side, though, we hit paydirt by locating people with the right credentials and level of cooperation for a number of important historical figures. These included Nancy Ward, the Beloved Woman of the Cherokee Nation, who has more than 12,000 known descendants alive today; Col. William Holland Thomas, the Welsh trader who founded the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina; Chief John Bowles, the leader of the Texas Band of Cherokees; and Elizabeth Tassell, said to be the first Cherokee to marry a white man, (Ludovic Grant, a Scottish trader). To these may be added an ancestor both Beth and I have in common—William Cooper, an explorer and trader who was the scout for Daniel Boone.

What I’m going to do is run through the numbers first, then talk about a few of the genetic types on both the female (mostly Indian) side and white (mostly male) side, then sum up with some observations about the early mixing of Indians and Jews in the Colonial period. You will see that admixture between Jews and Indians is a sort of Eastern parallel to the experiences you are probably more familiar with in the American Southwest. I’ve brought all my files with my on a laptop if anyone is interested in seeing specific data or is curious about pursuing a connection after the lecture.

First, the numbers. There were 9 persons, mostly females, who took the Native Match test, and 12 persons, necessarily males, who took the Y chromosome test. Only one test result came back Unknown. Many of the haplotypes were unique, meaning they matched no sample in either Bennett’s clientele at Family Tree DNA or the larger databases he cross-indexes to, including Michael Hammer’s. This shouldn’t surprise us because the DNA testing of Native Americans has been very limited, controversial, concentrated in any event on Navajos and other Western reservation tribes. Peter Jones of the Bäuu Institute in Boulder, Colorado, recently published an important paper criticizing the whole state of anthropological genetics and calling for an entirely new beginning. Of the five lineages the current state of scholarship classifies as Native American—haplogroups A, B, C, D and X—our project found 2 Cs and one B, no A, no D, and one X, the latter in an uncle of one of our participants. The majority of those hoping to authenticate their female Indian ancestry (5 out of 9) proved to be  H, the most common European haplogroup. One was J, the classic Jewish/Semitic haplogroup. As for the Y chromosome haplogroups, half (6 out of 12) were R1b (sometimes called the Atlantic Modal Haplogroup), 2 (17%) were E3b, one of two well-studied Jewish haplogroups, and one was J2, the second well-established type. There were also single entries in the categories of Viking (Locklear, a Lumbee Indian name), Native American (Sizemore), and as I mentioned, one sample that turned out to be a “big unknown.” 

So those are the results we are dealing with. Both Beth and I—I'm not sure about Bennett—were impressed with the fact that, though this was just a small sample, it produced the same proportion of what we might call male Jewish DNA, roughly 20 percent, vis à vis 80 percent male non-Jewish DNA, as is the proportion in most studies of both Sephardic and Ashkenazi populations. On the female side, the most startling result was a strong hint that there were females carrying Middle Eastern genes among the Cherokees even before so-called “white contact” in the eighteenth century. 

For our first break-out, let’s talk about the results for a woman whom I shall Jasmine, for she showed the J haplogroup in her female line. Jasmine was very forthcoming with documentation, names, dates and a lot of family history that would probably not have been shared and made available under other circumstances. She claimed strict matrilineal descent from Betsy Walker Hyde, a native girl born about 1718, who was captured in a military attack by the English and raised by Sen. Felix Walker. Her descendant, Catherine Hyde, was remembered as a “full blood Cherokee.” Catherine became the mistress of Col. Will Thomas and bore him several children. Jasmine put me in touch with the last, lone descendant of one of Col. Will’s other daughters, whom he fathered with another native woman, Demarius Angeline Thomas Sherril. The mtDNA there was haplogroup X, a rare Native American lineage which may have come from Europe or the Middle East, not Asia. There are many reasons to think Col. Thomas himself was a crypto-Jew. His mother was a Calvert, and the Holland surname is often associated with Jews from the Netherlands. Supporting the suspicion these people were crypto-Jewish culture are the names they gave their children: Demarius (Tamar), Darthelia, Joshua, Parmelia and (my favorite) Docie Beatrice.

 Let us go now to the man who turned out to bear Jewish male DNA. I was extremely pleased to get correspondence from the descendants of Col. John Bowles, the founder of the Texas Band of the Cherokee. Chief Bowles died leading a war party, shot in the back by a white man near Redlands, Texas, in 1839. We located two elderly brothers in Oklahoma who were great-great-great grandsons of the legendary chief. To everyone’s surprise Bowles DNA came back J2, with a two-step mutation matching a person identified as Ashkenazi from the Ukraine. How could this be? Bowles was similar to other Cherokee chiefs of his day in being a halfbreed. His father was a Scottish trader and his mother a full-blood Cherokee. When his father was killed and robbed by two North Carolinians in 1768, John was only twelve years old, but within two years the fair-complexioned, auburn haired boy had killed both his father’s slayers. After that, he became a Chickamauga warrior. He was called The Bowl (in Cherokee, Duwali). And he was not the only "white chief." Another during the same period was The Glass, whose name in the North Carolina settlements was originally Thomas Glass. Chief Black Fox, my ancestor was a Scotsman descended from Blacks and FoxesI believe all these families were Scottish crypto-Jews. They were heavily intermarried, generation after generation.

I ran a search for matches on Bowles DNA in the Y-STR Haplotype Reference Database. There were 17 matches in Europe—Albania, Berlin, Budapest, Bulgaria, Bydgoszcz in northern Poland, Cologne, Colombia (2), Freiburg, Latium, Pomerania, Stuttgart, Sweden, Tyrol, Umbria, Warsaw and Westphaia. A “one-off” mutation produced Freiburg and Lombardy. The picture that emerged was one that closely echoed the distribution pattern for the Gothic invasions that repeopled Italy, France and Spain. To the contrary, the predominant matches in our Melungeon surname study have led to the Iberian Peninsula and to places like Antioquia, Colombia, where Marranos and crypto-Jews emigrated. Here was a Jewish haplotype that, historically speaking, seemed to have traveled out of Scandinavia and the Baltic region, passed through Italy to Spain and Scotland and migrated on to the Americas, where it mingled with the Indians.

In another of our surnames, Rogers, one can also retrace the footsteps of the Goths.

How about Wales as an unlikely place to find Jews? Our project established the Jewish origins of another great pioneer family of the South who intermarried with Cherokees, the Blevinses.  Two of our Blevins test subjects were found to have E3b genes, which even Bennett admits are Ashkenazic. The name Blevins originates in Britain and by the seventeenth century was associated with the little port town of Formby. It may be derived from (a)b (Welsh for "son of") and Levin (meaning Levite). William Blevins, born in Rhode Island, was a Long Hunter who explored Kentucky and Tennessee with Elisha Wallen in 1734. His son had two Cherokee wives, sisters, and a multitude of Blevinses appear on the Cherokee rolls. All are my cousins, as my great-great-grandmother was Mahala Jane Blevins. The Blevins family has occasionally shown itself to be openly Jewish. Bertha Blevins, a declared Jewess, married Moses H. Cone, who was born in Jonesboro, Tennessee, in 1857. She endowed the Greensboro (N.C.) Health Care System upon her death in 1947.

Now it is time to look at the American Indian results. We were fortunate in being able to sample the DNA of two key female figures in Cherokee history. Elizabeth Tassell (we might as well call her a “princess” as long as the American Indian Movement or sticklers in the BIA are not listening), married Ludovic Grant, a Scottish trader about 1720. His name probably comes from French Grand, German Gross. The couple's  descendants are the oldest of the bloodlines studied in a definitive fashion by Emmett Starr, whose genealogies were the basis for government blood quantums and tribal membership. One of Elizabeth Grant's eleventh-generation descendants, with a long Dutch name, joined our study and her DNA proved to be haplogroup C. This was also the haplogroup of an Oklahoma descendant of Nancy Ward, the famous Beloved Woman. Both participants preserve their clan affiliation, which is Wolf Clan.

Does this tell us anything? I think it does.  One’s clan was passed from the mother to her children in a strict matrilineal fashion, just like mitochondrial DNA.

Another test subject, a San Francisco man, matched a woman of Hispanic descent with a crypto-Jewish surname. He carried B lineage and the family still preserved the fact they were Long Hair Clan.

Haplogroup C, notably, has a large “cline” in the southern Appalachians. The B haplogroup, concentrated in the Southwest, appears to fit the Pueblo Indians.

Let me mention a “Big Unknown,” before concluding. This was an 80-year-old gentleman in California by the Scottish-sounding name of McAbee who generously joined our study, with the help of his niece. Their family had a sturdy tradition of crypto-Jewish practices in Kentucky, including opening the door for the prophet Elijah on special days. Everybody at Family Tree DNA drew a blank over his DNA, which was finally classified as “Unknown.” It was described by all the rest of us as “eerie.” The family claimed they were descended from Judas Macabbaeus. Could it be true? As I learned, it is indeed a very rare haplotype. The closest matches in the Y-user database in Berlin were in Albania, Bulgaria/Romani, London and with a Bulgarian Turk. If surviving descendants of the Hasmonean Jews, the first convert population, lived anywhere it would likely be in those places.

The last DNA test results I would like to talk about were those of a verifiable crypto-Jewish family among the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians. This was a male paternal-line descendant of Louis LeFleur/LeFlore, a French Canadian trader who married Rebecca Cravat, said to be an “Indian princess.” He introduced the first cattle, hogs, keel boats, cotton and tobacco crops to the Choctaw. LeFlore thus occupies the same position of Culture Bearer as Nancy Ward holds among the Cherokee. His son Greenwood became the principal chief of the Choctaw, married a Jewish Cherokee woman named Elizabeth Coody and managed to stay in Mississippi after Indian removal. One branch of the family in modern times changed its name to Flores, which seems to be the original Portuguese form. Flores is a big Marrano surname. A run through the Y-STR database confirmed numerous Iberian and Latin American matches, with Asturias and Central East Spain being the strongest hits.

One of the really cool things about DNA analysis is finding a match and making contact with people you would never have dreamed you are related to. When we got the results for Gayle Wilson, an enrolled Cherokee in Oklahoma, and found out she carried the Nancy Ward gene, a young schoolteacher in California by the name of Juan Madrid wrote to us inquiring how he could have matched her. Madrid, of course, is a fairly common Marrano name. But he had no tradition of being Cherokee. His grandmother lived among the Comanches, and all the family would talk about is “some Indian blood somewhere,” without being specific. Juan definitely had the Cherokee Wolf Clan gene, and he is now pursuing tribal enrollment. I found out he already had an Indian name. Significantly, he is called Two Hearts.

It is time to draw some conclusions and end. Bennett has repeatedly assured both Beth and me that there is no such thing as “Jewish DNA.” Strictly speaking, it’s true. There are haplogroups into which the DNA of people known to be Jewish today fall. But even some Arabs and Muslims test positive for the Cohen gene. So how can we be so sure the Y chromosomal haplotypes we are studying are Jewish? The answer lies in a chain of circumstantial evidence. The overwhelming preponderance of surnames with Hebrew and Sephardic Jewish roots, combined with multigenerational cousin marriage and other historical factors, cannot be ignored. Genetics without a good genealogical chart is useless. Even the charts can sometimes be misleading unless one has access to death-bed confessions and whispered family traditions.

Only in the last two years did I find out my family was Jewish, or perhaps better said, crypto-Jewish. There is not a single surname in my family tree, which I have traced back more than 700 years in some lines, that defies the pattern. Despite all this, though, I always wanted to find something concrete and unequivocal, something of the vanished past I could touch with my hands and cling to in my thoughts. So this spring I made a pilgrimage to New Hope Cemetery on Sand Mountain in Tennessee where my great-great-great grandmother Mahala Jane Blevins Cooper is said to be buried.

New Hope is a beautiful, forgotten place. The dogwoods and redbuds were in flower; it was a Sunday morning. The Cooper-Blevins burial plot was on the edge of the cemetery with the oldest stones, rough unmarked header and footer rocks, unlike the rest of the graves. I took a picture of my great-uncle Harmon Cooper’s memorial. It had the Freemason or Templar cross and showed a hand pointing to the sky, with the words GONE HOME. I was thrilled, satisfied at last I had concrete proof, for I’d seen similar designs in the crypto-Jewish burials at Purrysburgh, South Carolina. I cleaned the graves … put down a tobacco offering in the Indian manner … said the Shema and Shecheyanu … and wished I had learned the Mourner’s Kaddish. I finally experienced what I think I had been looking for all along … a shock of recognition, a strong feeling that the ancestors were placated and pleased. If I have accomplished nothing else, I would like to leave you with this. We all have a moral imperative to uncover our families’ past. And they would have been proud of us.


Bill Hucks commented on 18-Jan-2014 01:37 PM

According to Wikipedia, Moses H. Cone married Bertha Lindau. How do you explain this discrepancy (that she was a Blevins)?

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Where Do I Come From: Teresa Panther-Yates

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Real People's DNA Stories

I Found My Grandmother’s People

By Teresa Panther-Yates

I grew up thinking I was English on my father's side and French-Cherokee on my mother's. But I also knew there was a mystery in my Southern Gothic family. And no one was talking about it. It took me most of my life to document my Melungeon and Jewish ancestry. I learned a lot on my journey through perseverance, but I learned the most from the DNA Fingerprint Plus. That journey has been a long one.

Our family reunions were bizarre. Grandmother, named Etalka Vetula, and my Aunt Elzina would arrive from an obscure town in Alabama looking just like two witches from Oz. At least that is what I thought when I was six. They wore clothes from another time and place. Sweeping black Victorian dresses with high collars, long sleeves and black lace-up boots in the heat of summer. It was the 1950's. No jewelry adorned their necks, and no smiles appeared on their faces.

It was especially discomfiting since my mother looked and acted like an early Cher, wearing flamboyant Spanish skirts and always tossing out witty and outrageous remarks. The witches and she did not get along. Whispers about "Black Dutch" circulated around the dinnertable with slivers of pecan pie. Fried chicken was the main dish with tall, silver candles at the center lighted at dusk. We never ate ham. We never went to church.

If it was Christmas, it was spelled Xmas. There was no mention of the baby Jesus. Ornaments, songs, and holiday cards were generic and dissembling. My mother once shooed away carolers singing "Silent Night." Her favorite holiday tune was "Rockin Around the Xmas Tree.” But we did not sing this around my severe aunts. The tree was decorated with redbirds and popcorn. My father would use the comics to wrap presents, not because we were poor. He was a doctor.

My maternal grandmother, Luta Mae, would have had taken me out of the Indian calico floral dress before my aunts arrived, putting on a black velvet one, to my dismay. I was the very picture of Wednesday from the Addam's Family.

Of course, my family seemed normal to me. I did not know why most mothers I knew looked more like Doris Day or why they shunned my beautiful, dark-olive skinned mother at the country club, or why their children would not play with me. This was the South in the 50’s before integration. Wasn’t I white? I was confused.

When I married Don, we became very interested in our genealogy and would spend many weekends researching in archives and libraries and trying to not go blind looking at microfiche. On one of these weekends, we visited my Aunt Elzina. I have six Elzinas in my family. As amiable as ever, she jeered, "You will never discover the truth about my mother's people." She did let slip an interesting story about Great-grandmother Redema. When Redema was a young girl they “arrived on a rich man’s farm to train his horses.” Afterward they managed to buy the farm. Were they Gypsies? Aunt Elzina's arrogant challenge made me the more determined. There were several clues that I began to add up. I remembered that my mother took me aside when I was twelve (the age when a young girl is given a bat mitzvah in the Jewish faith). Did I know I was named after a little Sephardic Jewish girl "running around in the Arizona desert"? I thought it an odd remark, as I did not know any Jews.

We read Brent Kennedy's book and discovered many of our ancestors were Melungeon. Don looked up the name Etalka and determined it was Hungarian and Yiddish. My father gave me two paintings of my great-great-great-grandparents. I said, "Dad, these people are not English or French. They are too dark. What are they?" He said, "You ask too many questions. If you keep digging, you will find people you do not want to be related to."

A second cousin sent me a fragment of a letter she discovered a great-granduncle of mine had written. It was in Demotic Egyptian. After my Aunt Elzina died, I discovered from documents my father shipped on to me in cardboard boxes that before my line of Rameys were in France, they were in Egypt.

Before I got these records, we had just started the business DNA Consultants. Don ran my profile. Egyptian was at the top. I laughed, "This has got to be wrong!" But DNA doesn't lie.

I got expected information as well as some surprises. Melungeon was near the top. My grandfather had always told me he was part Cherokee. I got a Native American marker. But I also got things that threw me. My mother probably loved Spanish skirts for a reason. I have a lot of Iberian results. I did not know I had Turkish ancestry. This is a common match for anyone with Melungeon ancestry. And English? Near the bottom! It turns out I have more Mediterranean and Eastern European ancestry, as well as Jewish. I have two out of three Jewish markers, one a Sephardic Jewish marker, confirming my mother's talk to me, and proving one of the reasons that led to my open return to Judaism. I do have Hungarian matches as well as Romanian/Transylvanian matches (originally Hungarian territory), which confirmed Don’s suspicion that Etalka was Hungarian. It turns out to be a diminutive of Adele, a Hebrew name.

So I found my grandmother’s people, despite Aunt Elzina and other naysayers.

Learn what surprises you may have in your ancestry!


Roberta commented on 04-Oct-2013 02:41 PM

You wrote of your "open return to Judaism". If you don't mind my asking, does this mean that you were accepted by the religion as Jewish because of your DNA and didn't have to convert? Donald Yates replies: No, not really. The rabbi said DNA didn't matter and he wasn't quizzed about it anyway. The important thing was that my immediate ancestors were practicing Jews, some buried in the Jewish cemetery. And that I wanted to re-embrace Judaism. He said other rabbis might require that I "convert" instead of return. His name is Rabbi Arnold Mark Belzer, now retired.

Roberta commented on 06-Oct-2013 01:35 AM

Thank you for your reply!

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Autosomal Testing Revalidated

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Autosomal Ancestry Tests: More Confirmation of Their Stability

By Teresa Panther-Yates

How fast does the molecular clock tick? Americans, especially, like most everything fast. We don’t think too much about the word slow. But two scientists have changed our minds about that. As often happens in science, two research teams independently reached the same groundbreaking results. The breakthrough in the present case concerns the mutation rate of DNA and has profound implications for human evolution as well as for autosomal DNA ancestry analysis.

What is the DNA mutation rate? This is the rate at which a genetic marker mutates or changes over time. James X Sun et al in the recent article in Nature Genetics, “A Direct Characterization of Human Mutation Based on Microsatellites,” and A. Kong et al in the recent article, “Rate of de novo Mutations and the Importance of Father’s Age to Disease Risk,” in Nature both made an important, recent discovery. The speed of mutation in DNA is slower and more stable than previously thought. They discovered this how? By the magic of math.

How can math help us discover our ancestry? DNA is stable. Because it is so stable, we can calculate our way all the way back to when we swung in the trees and threw guavas at gorillas. (Even early man was in the trees longer than previously thought according to Charles Choi in his recent article in Science, “Early Human ‘Lucy’ Swung from the Trees.”) And these calculations lead us to the stories of our ancestors.

What does this mean concerning autosomal DNA ancestry tests? They have even more scientific validity. Second-generation DNA ancestry testing is based on these very genetic markers, and that is confirmation that the alleles on your DNA that are examined using a statistical basis have been relatively unchanged for the past 20,000 years. That’s about twice the length of what we call world history, hence a meaningful enough time frame for valid inferences about population patterns and ancestry of individuals.

These common and not-so-common markers that everyone has are behind the method making it possible for anyone to take an autosomal ancestry test. Autosomal or non-sex-linked markers change at a much slower rate than the Y chromosome, for instance, which seems to be highly changeable, depending on the father’s age (Kong 201). The Y chromosome is a marker only males have. It is used for other types of tests: male, haplotype, sex-linked DNA tests. Only males can take these tests, and it only provides information about that one male line.

Who knows what our DNA has yet to tell us? Or what DNA tests there will be in the future. This is an exciting new field. But what you can know now with a true and thorough autosomal DNA test is more than most realize is possible. The DNA Fingerprint Test is a simple test anyone can take that gives you a comprehensive snapshot of your cumulative ancestry.

Above:  Sample laboratory readout of a DNA profile or fingerprint.


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Back to Africa

Friday, September 06, 2013

Africa’s Circulatory Migration Route

By Teresa A. Panther-Yates

While it is probably true that we all came out of Africa some 200,000 years ago, some of these first ancestors of ours also returned before Europeans were Europeans. The migration path went both ways. This is a resounding discovery. Erika Chek Hayden in her recent Nature article, “African Genes Tracked Back” says this “reversal” or two-step migration meant that these ancestors reimported “…genes from the rest of the world [which] were carried back to southern Africa, long before European colonizers arrived.”

The findings come from a flurry of research made possible by better tools for surveying African genomes. They suggest that scientists previously underestimated the rich diversity of African genetics. Hayden quotes Luca Pagani, a geneticist at the Wellcome trust Saenger Institute near Cambridge, U.K who says, “Until now, we have been applying tools designed specifically for non-African people to African people.” Hayden also quotes Carina Schelbusch a geneticist at Uppsala University in Sweden, as saying, “It’s a really exciting time for African genetics.”

The new research also explains a mystery. It means that some African groups previously thought to be genetically isolated actually “…carry 1-5% of non- African DNA” according to population geneticists at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass., who examined the individual genetic variations of some 1,000 individuals (Hayden). This picture of admixture explains why some Africans carry non-African genes. In fact, some carry a lot of them.

For instance, the male Y-DNA haplotype R1 b1 which is the most common haplotype among Western Europeans is also found among some Africans. Miguel Gonzalez et al in his 2012 article, “The Genetic Landscape of Equatorial Guinea,” in the European Journal of Human Genetics says that the human Y- DNA chromosomes R1b1 though “very common in Europe are usually a rare occurrence in Africa,” but there have been some “…recently published studies that have reported high frequencies of this haplogroup” in parts of Africa. One wondered why until now. Hayden isn’t the first to propose the idea of an ancient journey out of Africa and then back again. There have been genetic clues before this. Gonzalez extrapolates from his R1b1 data “that this represents a ‘back-to-Africa’ migration during prehistoric times.” And Hammer et al in the article, “Out of Africa and Back In,” in the Oxford Journal of Evolution postulates that there was more than one African migration path.

Now that we have determined the migratory paths were more multifaceted than previously thought, what else can we extrapolate from this? Could people have (gasp!) also had boats and ships earlier than we allow them in our myopic hegemony of ideas? Certainly, discontinuous gene flow by sea could explain pockets of genetics that otherwise do not fit with the standard view of a welter of footsore people aimlessly trooping around the world and solely driven by survival.

Naw. We predict such an explanation will only be dismissed with ridicule. Human evolution has no motives according to the experts. It is completely random and unplanned. It obeys only the rules we make up for it.


Raymond commented on 16-Nov-2013 08:33 AM

It is interesting how much discussion occurs regarding "back migration" and a lack of discussion regarding the "Arab Slave Trade" which brough millions of Europeans to N. Africa as slaves and concubines. (Collusion?) Also, there were many Greek, Roman, Circassian, and other Mamlukes (arabic for slave) in N. Africa that contributed to the genetic make-up. Their descendants at still found in Berber tribes such as the Kabyle, Rif, etc. Some of these same groups even ruled Egypt for some time, erecting statues of themselves that are mistaken for ancient Egyptian artwork.

Most are familiar with the Zanj (African slaves) but are unfamiliar with the rest of those same documents mentioning the "European" women that were slaves in the harems. This provides a better explanation of European mtDNA in N. Africa than "back migration" from thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, we are only considering works from people during a time of immense racial predujice as valid references leading to useless debates, conjecture, and falsification of history.

DNA doesn't lie. People's rendering of history only confuses the DNA results. For example, how is it that Native American DNA is found in Africa and Europe? Could it be that Native Americans were taken as slaves to those places, or taken there centuries later in military campaigns? Are Native Americans descended from East Indians who migrated over a "land bridge" (NA's deny this) or did some East Indians intermarry with them when they were brought over as slaves in the 1600's (documented) or came with the Hessian Army (self admissions by the same in the 1800's; documented) and married into some of the tribes? DNA only proves the relation, not the "how" they are related.

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Neanderthals and We Humans: Dwarves Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Monday, August 26, 2013

Neanderthals: The First Artists?

By Teresa Panther-Yates

With all the news about Neanderthals being superior to Homo sapiens sapiens and teaching "us" how to survive in the distant Stone Age, it is perhaps appropriate to ask whether Neanderthals were the first artists? Or among the first artists? The idea seems shocking. After all, we learned in school that these were brutish savages incapable of higher thinking and symbolic thought or expression. The picture of a Neanderthal making handprints in Spanish caves or fashioning shell necklaces is odd indeed because art is largely “considered evidence of sophisticated symbolic thinking, [and] has traditionally been attributed to modern humans, who reached Europe some 40,000 years ago” according to the recent Wired Science article, “First Painters May Have Been Neanderthal Not Human.”

So how could that be possible? Where did they get artistic expression? And was it genetic? Or was it learned? We are not yet clear whether there were Neanderthal-human babies. After the initial, scientific bombshell in the May 7, 2010 article in Science, “A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome,” suggested that many of us “[have] 1-4% Neanderthal DNA,” and some Neanderthal-human trysts must have been going on, scientists are now doubting it and believe we only share a common ancestor.

A recent article in Discovery, discusses this in “Humans, Neanderthals Did Not Have Babies,” as does a recent Smithsonian article, “Hot for Hominids—Did Humans Mate with Neanderthals or Not?“ The latter takes the middle ground, quoting Ed Yong from Discover magazine that it was probably a “rare” occurrence and every population has that “weird” person in the group not indicative of the actions of a community. (I am thinking of an adult many observed in my hometown who dressed up in a black cowboy outfit like the Lone Ranger strutting down the street). If this theory is correct, perhaps it wasn’t the popular thing to do.

However, whether your ancestor went to bed with Neanderthal Jane or just taught her to make shell necklaces and ran off with a cousin of hers, or some other scenario, many now think Neanderthals, not humans, may have been the earliest artists. A recent Daily News & Analysis article, “Neanderthals Learned to Make Jewelry and Tools from Modern Humans," says an international team from the Max Planck Institute in Germany suggests there was a “cultural exchange” between the two species and there is evidence that Neanderthals “learned how to make jewelry and sophisticated tools” from the early ancestors of humans. The reasoning behind this is based on the fact that artistic relics were found near Neanderthal remains but the artwork was “clearly” indicative of human hands. So the conjecture is that it must have been learned.

Whether this is true or not, Neanderthals were creative. According to Kate Wong, in her recent Scientific American article, “Oldest Cave Paintings May Be Creations of Neanderthals , Not Modern Humans,” to judge from archeological evidence, Neanderthals not only wore feathers but “painted their skin” and “made jewelry from teeth and shells.” But was their artistic expression learned? There are those that do not think so. According to Eric Wayner, in a recent Smithsonian article, “Do Feathers Reveal Neanderthal Brain Power?,” Neanderthals wore feathers as personal adornments, which showed them to be “capable of symbolic expression.” And Wong says, there are Spanish and French caves thousands of years old with cave paintings long thought to be the artwork of early humans that are now suspected to be the work of Neanderthals. Why? She says because of recently refined techniques of radiocarbon dating these paintings are “significantly older” than once thought. In fact, some may be older than the date when the first humans arrived in Europe around 41,500 years ago. When there were thought to be only Neanderthals.

“A large red disk” on one of the Spanish caves, El Castillo, is “at a minimum 40,800 years old, making it some 4,000 years older than the Chauvet paintings which were previously thought to be the oldest in the world.” This and a “stretch of limestone wall with dozens of hands” in the same cave are both thought to possibly be the handiwork of Neanderthal painters because the “estimates” are considered to be at best a conservative “minimum.” According to Ker Than, in the recent National Geographic Daily News article, “The new dates raise the possibility that some of the paintings could have been made by Neanderthals who are thought to have lived in Europe some 30,000 or 40,000 years ago.”

So if Neanderthals were painters where did they get their creative expression if not from humans? Wong says that both “modern humans and Neanderthals might have inherited their capacity for symbolic thinking from their common ancestor.” And she says, if that is the case, “the roots of our symbolic culture go back half a million years.”

Neanderthal Index $99

Neanderthal Q&As

Most Humans Part Neanderthal (blog post, May 12, 2010)


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You Might Be Melungeon If . . .

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Real People's DNA Stories

More "You Might Be Melungeon If" Rules

By Kari Carpenter

My husband and I just had a good laugh reading over your “You Might Be Melungeon If . . . “ article.   It inspired me to write up a few “real-life” examples from my own family.  These are individual experiences of myself, my mother or my sister.

You might be Melungeon if . . . 

You and your cousins called your grandmother “Mammy”.        

Your Southern granddads found it prudent not to enlist as Rebel soldiers—instead they retreated deep into the mountains and waited until the Civil War was over before returning home.

Your ancestors and relatives have names like:  Abel, David, Solomon, Milton, Emmanuel, Vito, Vida, Verdo, V.T., Orvia, Rozella, Permelia and Rhoda.

Your children are born with odd-looking dark spots and your Asian doctor looks at you funny when you tell her that both you and your husband are Caucasian.    

Your Native American neighbor sits you down and gently explains to you that you are a mixed-race person.

While at a Protestant church service, an evangelical prophet points you out and addresses you as a “Mother in Israel.”

There’s no world cuisine that you won’t eat.

You feel uncomfortable living in an all-white population—even though you’re “white”.

In college, your Jewish boyfriend repeatedly asked:  “Are you sure you’re not Jewish???”

While all the other girls your age wanted to learn how to bake cookies—you had an inexplicable desire to learn how to make bagels.

Does anyone know if any of the Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church Kitchens have descendants that have DNA tested or might be willing to DNA test?  I have 2 male Ketchand cousins who might be willing to test (if I ask nicely). 

Your California Melungeon Cousin, Kari Carpenter


Monica Sanowar commented on 21-Aug-2013 11:21 AM

Kari, I'm on the floor dying laughing right now. I was recently tested, and when I saw the results, quite a bit of it was shocking, but so much of what you said is true.
Keep the humor going. I love it.

Kari Carpenter commented on 22-Aug-2013 04:47 PM

Thanks Monica. Over time, I have come to the conclusion that the truth found in real life is far more fascinating (and funny) than anything "made up". The discovery of my Melungeon ancestry has resoundingly confirmed this view. Really - who could've ever imagined such a diverse background of world ethnicities??? The material has written itself - I just report it!

MARIE MATULIS commented on 07-Nov-2013 05:48 PM

being all "white" has not been very easy for me-looking like a more-than-somewhat mixed race person, from grade school to 66 years old.

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Where Do I Come From: Donald Yates

Monday, July 29, 2013

Where Do I Come From

Real People's DNA Stories 

Sizemore Indians and British Jews

By Donald N. Yates

As soon as EURO DNA was released last month I quickly studied my new list of European nationalities where I have significant ancestral lines according to DNA Consultants' new autosomal population analysis. I had come to know and accept, of course, the usual suspects, compiled from the 24 populations available from ENFSI (European Network of Forensic Science Institutes). But the new list represented 71 populations and far surpassed ENFSI or any other database in commercial use. It had, for instance, the first European comparisons for countries like Hungary, Lithuania, Malta and Iceland. So how would my familiar matches—Scotland, Ireland, England, Belgium and the rest—shake out in the new oracle?

Some of the top matches—above British Isles or Northern European ancestry—were Central European. Here were the top 20:

Rank European Population Matches
1 Slovakia – Saris (n=848)
2 Finland (n = 469)
3 Slovakia – Zemplin (n=558)
4 Netherlands  (n = 231)
5 Slovakia – Spis (n=296)
6 Romanian - Transylvanian - Szekler (n = 257)
7 Romanian - Transylvanian - Csango (n = 220)
8 Scotland/Dundee (n = 228)
9 Switzerland (n = 200)
10 England/Wales (n = 437)
11 Ireland (n = 300)
12 Italy (n =103)
13 Denmark  (n = 156)
14 Romanian (n=243)
15 Swedish (n = 311)
16 Serbian - Serbia / Vojvodina / Montenegro (n = 100)
17 Icelandic (n=151)
18 Estonia (n = 150)
19 Romanian - Transylvania/Banat (n = 219)
20 Norwegian (n=1000)

Slovakia? Romania? To be sure, I had always had a fascination with both countries. In my salad days I studied in Europe and traveled to Bratislava, where I fell in love at first sight with the chiseled blonde visage of a friend of my university classmate. And I had also been to Romania in the days of its Communist regime, when my long-haired travel companion and I were welcomed like long lost relatives or conquering pop heroes. 

Admittedly, the results of an autosomal ancestry test are cumulative and combinatory. While they do reflect all your ancestry, as no other test can, you are cautioned not to use the matches to try to pinpoint lines in your family genealogy. There is always a temptation to over-interpret. 

My European admixture results from AncestryByDNA had yielded a confirmatory result:  20% Southeast Europe. That struck me at the time as odd. Yet Hungarian was now one of my top metapopulation results, too. (Remember, Hungarian data did not figure into ENFSI because Hungary is not in the European Union.)

The Scottish (my grandmother was a McDonald) made sense, as did all the other matches from what I knew through years of paper genealogy research. But I was unaware of any strong Central European lines.

Sizemore Research:  Pitfalls of Genetic Genealogy
Then I recalled the Sizemores. My great-great-grandmother was a Sizemore, and they were multiply connected with my Coopers, my mother's maiden name. Could the Central European effect in my EURO result be from the Sizemores?

Much ink—or at least many keystrokes—has been expended on the Sizemore controversy. There are pitched battles on genealogy forums and edit wars in cyberspace. One armed camp has them down as Melungeons and admixed Cherokees with crypto-Jewish strains. Another holds it as an article of faith that the Sizemores were a lily-white old Virginia British family and the surname comes from something like Sigismund (think Goetterdaemmerung). Y chromosome DNA shows ambiguous conclusions:  you can visit the advertisement page sponsored by Family Tree DNA. 

Alan Lerwick, a Salt Lake City genealogist, upset the apple cart some years ago by linking America's Sizemores to Michael Sismore, buried in the Flemish cemetery of the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in London in 1684. That was the same parish as my Coopers lived in. Then and now, it is the most Jewish section of London.

Sizemore is not a British surname before the sixteenth century. It was clear to me long ago that neither my Sizemores nor my Coopers were Mama Bear, Papa Bear families. Spurred by my EURO DNA test results, I dug into my subscription at Ancestry.com and learned that Michael Sismore was recorded as being born as Michael Seasmer in Ashwell, an important village in north Hertfordshire, November 1, 1620. His parents were Edward Seasmer and Betterissa (a form of Beatrice). New information! Alert the list moderators and surname project guardians!

Seasmer is undoubtedly the same as Zizmer, an old Central European Jewish surname adduced in multiple families in Israel, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Austria, Russia, Moldavia and the United States. Edward and Michael are favored first-names in the U.S. branches. The Hebrew letters, which can be viewed on numerous burials in Israel, are  (in reverse order, right to left) RMZZ. Cooper is a similar Jewish surname, common in Russia and Lithuania and Israel as well as the British Isles and the U.S. In fact, my father's surname, Yates, is a Hebrew anagram common in the same countries, meaning "Righteous Convert."

Hertfordshire was an important center for British Jewry, mentioned in the works of Hyamson, Jacobs and others (see map above). A good hypothesis to explain the transformation of Michael's name from Seasmer to Sismore and thence to Sizemore is this. His grandfather, a Zizmer, came to England in the time of Elizabeth, perhaps via the Low Lands, possibly as a soldier or cloth merchant. This could account for Michael Sizemore's burial in the Flemish cemetery of St Katharine's by the Tower, usually reserved for foreigners. It also explains the predilection in descendants for such names as Ephraim, Michael, Edward, William, John, Richard, James, George, Hiram, Isaac, Samuel, Solomon and Henry. And why girls were named Lillie, Lydia, Louisa, Naomi, Pharaba, Rebecca, Sarah and Vitula. The last name (also found in my wife's grandmother's name) was a Jewish amulet name. It meant "old woman" in Latin and was given to a child to augur a long life. 

Zismer took the form of Cismar, Cismarik, Zhesmer, Zizmor, Ziesmer, Zausmer, Cismaru and Tzismaro—all amply attested in the records of European Jewry, including Jewish Gen's Holocaust Database, with the records of over two million victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide of World War II. I am proud of my Jewish heritage through my great-grandmother and through my half-blood Cherokee Indian mother Bessie Cooper Yates. 

Thank you for indulging me in this genealogical excursion into a family mystery. Like the restaurateur, I would be to blame if I didn't eat in my own establishment. I can confidently say that DNA Consultants' new EURO DNA is a smorgasbord of genetic delights for those jaded by the old-fashioned sex-linked testing. I thank our R&D team, in particular Professor Wendell Paulson, our head statistics consultant, along with all those who helped vet its amazing power, and I encourage you to try it today!


Zoltan commented on 13-Sep-2013 03:48 PM

About Seizmore. If it really relates to Zizmer, Cismar etc. then it is a pure Hungarian surename: Csizmár, with the meaning of boot maker (Csizma=boot from the old turkish word of cizme)
Please note that the refferred areas of Slovakia and Transylvania are former Hungarian territories, so the connection is clear and matches with your DNA.

I do not know when you wrote the article but Hungary is in the EU since 2005.

I hope I could help.

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Where Do I Come From: Shawn

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where Do I Come from:  Shawn

Real People's DNA Stories

Ethnicity Beyond European Migration

By Shawn

My journey into DNA testing began with my desire to expand on my known heritage, while clarifying debated Jewish ancestry.  What I have found in return is that my ancestral paper trail only uncovers a small portion of the blood that runs through my veins.  My DNA Consultants results, for the most part were quite surprising.  My European matches were fairly consistent with my country origins on paper and surrounding areas.  The major surprise, however, was that my number one European match was Romani/Gypsy and my number 10 match was Czech Republic.... 

Things became much more interesting with my World Population Matches.  My scores (in order) were Romani/Gypsy, Middle Eastern, African, Iberian, Central European, African-American, Jewish, Mediterranean European, European American and Eastern European.  I also came up with Native American admixture to top it off.  These results are causing me to believe that there may be a line or more of family lineages that I have yet to tap into. 

Looking back on things now, I have received comments from others concerning my phenotype such as "I'm not sure what you are,” "You don't look Irish" and "You must have some Black ancestry."  Some have even just assumed I was Hispanic or Caucasian.  Interestingly enough, almost all acknowledge that they see my Italian/Spanish phenotype, while a few also see slight Native American.   

While my results provided insight into how diverse my blood really is, they also put an end to an age-old family debate as to our Jewish ethnicity.  One of my relatives from a few generations past would passionately defend her position that our family line was indeed Jewish, while another family member would vigorously put forth his position that we were not Jewish.  He would try to prove our non-Jewishness any time he could.  I also had another family member along that same family line say that he almost did not get hired for a job because the hirer thought he was Jewish.  I always believed these accounts, especially since as young as I can remember I have found this side of my family (Italian and German) to phenotypically look Italian and/or Jewish.  

So where does all this leave me now?  My results show my blood is much more than simply Italian, French, Irish and German.  They confirm family testimony of Spanish/Portuguese/Iberian and Jewish ancestry.  Perhaps more interestingly, my results leave me re-assessing my ethnicity or multi-ethnic heritage, end years of family verbal passages or debates and leave me with intriguing new ancestries that are waiting to be discovered. 


Maria OConnor commented on 23-Jul-2013 12:42 AM

Shawn: Countries frontiers are artificial. For example, there are people of celtic heritage in northern Spain, northern Portugal, all over Ireland, all over England, all over Scotland, all over Wales, Southern Germany, northern France, Northern Italy, etc. All of them, even considering the come from different places have the same celtic DNA. So, if you have an ancestor from Spain or Portugal, could be of celtic origen, or mediterranean origen.
If a person has jewish sefardi dna, it could be originated from Southern Spain, Southern Portugal, North Africa, Middle East, etc.
Also, in South America there are great numbers of people of European ancestry, including non hispanic non portugue ancestry, like Irish, German, Italians, etc.
Is quite complicated, due to ancient and new migrations.

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