Melungeon DNA database and studies

Including DNA Consultants’ Melungeon DNA Project

Here you will find links to other Melungeon DNA pages together with in-house studies and publications. We have been studying Melungeon DNA for 10 years and completed Phase I of our studies in 2010. To view pages containing data you will need to register.

Phyllis Starnes

Phyllis Starnes, Project Administrator.

Melungeon Population (NEW)

More Information about Melungeons (NEW)

Icon Power Point A Genetic and Lexicographical Profile of Melungeons (2904 KB)

January 22, 2011. Watch PPT presentation by Donald N. Yates at Arizona Family History Expo, Mesa . . . the latest word on Melungeon genetics and origin of the word!

Update, Sept. 16, 2010. The article by Donald N. Panther-Yates and Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman, “Towards a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia,” is currently in page proofs at Appalachian Journal and ought to be published sometime this fall. We will post a copy of it here when it appears. In the meantime, we are pleased to post the data containing the profiles of the forty participants (unassociated with name). I will be in communication with each of you over the next few weeks to thank you personally and see if you want to add any information to your case. A big, big thank you to the following for their patience and endurance. This is an enduring benchmark in Melungeon studies!

Update to the update: The article was published. A copy can be viewed here:

Icon PDF Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia (9638 KB)

Copyright © 2010, Appalachian State University. Used with Permission.


Anonymous, Mabel Bentley, Judy Douglas Bloom, Leah Laura Bulgariev, John (Dick) Caldwell, John R. Caldwell, Sr. (deceased), Virginia Caldwell, William Collins, Mary Goodman, Floyd Milton Grimwood (deceased), Ann Reagan Haines, Linda Barnett Hall, Nancy E. Hammes, Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman, Pat Goin Jones, Brenda LaForce, Everett LaForce, Jessica Kiely Law, Bonnie J. Lyda, N. Brent Kennedy, Richard Kennedy, Margaret E. Kross, MeriDee Orvis Mahan, Karen Mattern, Sebenia Ann Milbacher, Nicolas J. Millington, Holli Starnes Molnar, Nancy Sparks Morrison, Teresa Panther-Yates, Billy Starnes, Julia Starnes, Keely Starnes, Phyllis Starnes, Richard Stewart, Doretha J. Thornton, Kaye M. Viars, Celia Wyckoff, Wayne Winkler, Betty Yates Adams, Donald N. Yates.

Raw DNA Profiles for 40 Participants in Melungeon n=40 (57 KB)

Information on Donald N. Yates and Elizabeth C. Hirschman’s article, “Towards a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia, Appalachian Journal vol. 38 no. 1 (Fall 2010), pp. 92-111.

Order whole issue from Appalachian Journal.

Read more about the study.

Purchase article or subscribe to Appalachian Journal.

Statement of Elizabeth C. Hirschman, Feb. 23, 2010.

My vita lists the dates and publication outlets for the Melungeon papers that have come out so far. I think the Melungeon DNA Project started with my male ancestor data with surnames Caldwell, Carter, Cooper and the rest during the early 2000s and then grew as people wanted to join it. This would have come about largely as a result of my presentations at the Melungeon Unions from 2002 onward.

From the original project description:  “This study is looking at males who have a Melungeon ancestry.  Open to all who think their ancestor may have Melungeon heritage. In November 2002 a subproject titled Southern U.S. Native American DNA was added. This looks at both male and female lines that began with an Indian trader and Native woman in the Southeast.”

From the original project background:  “To determine the relatedness of people with an oral traditon of being Melungeon and then determine the overall ethnic backgrounds of the Melungeon community.”

The first data incorporated into the project were the 12 marker Y-chromosome results of Brent Kennedy, Nov. 8, 2000. With the introduction of a 25 marker product, many male participants were upgraded from 2003. In the meantime, male results were used to illuminate certain Scottish clan histories in my book with Donald Panther-Yates, When Scotland Was Jewish, at print for nearly five years, and not appearing until July 2007.

My research partner Donald Panther-Yates presented an analysis of the DNA of people in the sub-project Southern U.S. Native American DNA at a meeting of the Society of Crypto-Judaic Studies in San Antonio, Texas, in the summer of 2003.

As of this writing, there are 102 members of my original Melungeon Surname DNA Project, most with Y chromosome and mitochondrial reports. The bulk were tested before 2005, when enrollment for the project was discontinued. From focusing on Scottish clan and Melungeon surnames (i.e., male lines), the project increasingly broadened its scope. Its new home at DNA Consultants will provide a venue for all people who believe they may be descended from Melungeon forbears, male or female, including autosomal ancestry.

Initially, many people in the genetic genealogy community were frustrated that the incoming Jewish DNA results were not originating in the Middle East, as they had strongly believed and hoped (some as Zionists), but were showing a lot of Khazar, Central Asian, Eastern European and Western European/Spanish/French input. Don Panther-Yates and I — and also Ellen Levy Koffman on the DNA-Genealogy list at Rootsweb — had been saying this was the case. Critics were not happy that the data were confirming it.

Where Don and I have performed a service, I believe, is by just following the DNA trail and accepting new findings (e.g., the Gypsy/Roma) when they come in, instead of clinging to an a priori theory/belief/wish. To cite one different approach, a lot of Behar‘s early 2000s studies now are being criticized for his over-claiming a Middle Eastern origin for the majority of Jews.

Elizabeth C. Hirschman Curriculum Vitae (73 KB)

Suddenly Melungeon! Reconstructing Consumer Identity Across the Color Line  Article by Elizabeth C. Hirschman and Donald Panther-Yates in Consumer Culture Theory, ed. Russell W. Belk (Routledge, 2007). Limited preview.

Drawing on a vast array of research contexts ranging from brand collecting, globalizing food in India, and art consumption to rock festivals, dog shows, and fan fiction, this volume suggests both the breadth and depth encompassed by Consumer Culture Theory (CCT). CCT is a specific interpretive approach to understanding consumer behavior that has crystallized in the past few years out of an evolving stream of research conducted over the past few decades. These chapters present cutting edge CCT research and are a subset of the work presented at the first CCT Conference. Besides its focus on consumption, CCT research emphasizes the cultural context of consumer behavior with the intent of constructing theory. As the innovative writings, photography, and poems in this volume illustrate, rather than being a single theory, Consumer Culture Theory is a set of empirical and conceptual approaches emphasizing non-positivist methods and culturally constructed meanings. These chapters present a rich stew of ideas, findings, and insights that represent the best of CCT. Together they sketch some of the domains that CCT research seeks to inform. Collectively they should enlighten, inspire, and empower further research in the CCT spirit. *International in scope *Qualitative and quantitative approach to consumer behavior research.

Melungeons:  The Last Lost Tribe in America, by Elizabeth C. Hirschman (Mercer University Press, 2005). Limited preview.

Most of us probably think of America as being settled by British Protestant colonists who fought the Indians tamed the wilderness, and brought democracy–or at least a representative republic–to North America. To the contrary, Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman’s research indicates the earliest settlers were of Mediterranean extraction, and of a Jewish or Muslim religious persuasion. Sometimes called Melungeons, these early settlers were among the earliest nonnative Americans to live in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. For fear of discrimination-since Muslims, Jews, “Indians,” and other “persons of color” were often disenfranchised and abused–the Melungeons were reticent regarding their heritage. In fact over time, many of the Melungeons themselves forgot where they came from. Hence, today the Melungeons remain the “last lost tribe in America,” eyen to themselves. Yet, Hirschman, supported by DNA testing, genealogies; and a variety of historical documents, suggests that the Melungeons included such notable early Americans as Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Andrew Jackson. Once lost, but now forgotten no more.

Kinfolks, Falling off the Family Tree:  The Search for My Melungeon Ancestors, by Lisa Alther. Limited preview. 2007 book.

Best-selling author Lisa Alther chronicles her search for missing branches of her family tree in this dazzling, hilarious memoir.

“Romancing the Gene:  Making Myth from ‘Hard Science’,” by Elizabeth C. Hirschman and Donald Panther-Yates, Handbook of qualitative research methods in marketing, ed. Russell W. Belk

The Melungeon Health Education and Support Network. Nancy Morrison’s Melungeon Health Page. Excellent resource for answers to health and family medical history questions.

Melungeons publications of Donald Panther-Yates

  • “DNA Fingerprinting to Discover Your Ancestors: How to Test Your DNA for Family History and Interpret the Results of a DNA Ancestry Test.” Jan. 2008 article on by Donald N. Yates
  • “You Might Be Melungeon If…,” Nov. 2007 article on by Donald Panther-Yates
  • “Sand Mountain Melungeon Families,” May 2005 article on by Donald Panther-Yates
  • “You Will Never Find the Truth,” March 2003 article on by Donald Panther-Yates

Cooper – Yates – Choctaw – Cherokee – Sephardic in Ga./Ala./Tenn. Rootsweb genealogy pages of Donald Panther-Yates.

Yates and Cooper Cherokee-Choctaw-Sephardic Genealogies. Family Tree Maker Online tree.

Icon PDF Jewish Indian–Who’d ‘ve Thunk It (30 KB)    “Jewish Indian Who’d ‘ve Thunk It.” Presentation by Donald Panther-Yates at 2002 Melungeon Union, Kingsport, Tenn.

Icon PDF Shalom and Hey, Y’all (243 KB)    Article by Donald Panther-Yates published in the Appalachian Quarterly

More information about Melungeons
Toward a Genetic Profile of Melungeons in Southern Appalachia
Melungeon Match
Melungeon DNA Fingerprint Plus
The War on Melungeons
Brent Kennedy’s book on Melungeons