Melungeon DNA Project

Melungeon DNA Project

The Melungeon DNA Project is a genetic study of people who have Melungeon ancestors mostly in Hancock County, Tennessee and nearby areas of Kentucky according to historic records. Participants' genealogical suitability for inclusion is determined by a group of Melungeon researchers. The study was started in 2005 by Jack Goins, author of Melungeon And Other Pioneer Families. Goins is of Melungeon ancestry and has done extensive research on the group. Participants must descend in a direct paternal line for the Y chromosome testing, or a maternal line for the Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing.

The Melungeon DNA Project volunteer administrator has no commercial affiliation with any profit-making organization and receives no compensation for services or expenses involved with the project.

Group 1: Core Melungeon At present, "Bunch, Goins, Gibson, Minor, Collins, Williams, Goodman, Denham, Bowlin, Mullins, Moore, Shumake, Boltons, Perkins, Mornings, Menleys, Breedlove, Hopkins and Mallett," and name variations, have been designated core families by the project organizers. More names may be added as this is an ongoing research project, and these names will be in Group 1.

Group 2: Melungeon related. If the above names are in the participant's family but are not in a direct line to enable Y-DNA or mtDNA testing, participants will be placed in Group 2: Melungeon related.

Preliminary results of the Core Melungeon DNA Project are available here:

To summarize, most individuals tested to date have been shown to have Y and/or mtDNA haplogroups that are considered Western European and/or African. Y-DNA R1b is predominant in Western European countries of: U.K., Ireland, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal. It also hovers around 50% in France and Germany.

This is consistent with historic research of Paul Heinegg, who in Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware traced many African-American families free in North Carolina in 1790-1810, back to families descended from marriages and unions between white women and African men in colonial Virginia. The women were free, often indentured servants; the men were free, indentured or slaves, and sometimes freed slaves. By the early 19th century, their mixed-race descendants had joined the movement to the frontiers in Virginia and North Carolina (and later Kentucky and points west), in part because they found it an easier social environment than the Tidewater plantation area. In those frontier areas, the mixed-race people were sometimes called or identified as Portuguese, Arabs, Indian, Melungeons and other groups.[1]

Also, through conquest, enslavement, genocide, disease and assimilation, European and to a lesser extent African DNA was introduced into the Indian populations [2]

Having the paternal or maternal progenitor carry a specific haplogroup does not, of course, imply that the family was predominantly of that ethnicity. Or that the progenitor was, in fact, of that ethnicity.


  1. ^ Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware, 1999-2005
  2. ^ Roberta Estes – 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

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