Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shock and Awe

When the recently published article hit the internet in April I have to admit I was absolutely stunned.  I could not believe these four researchers, three of whom were my ‘fellow researchers’ for five years, wrote a paper with so many mistakes, errors, genealogies based on speculation, and giant leaps. (my opinion of course)

When I got to the part on the Sizemores that read: 

 “The Sizemore family, while not specified as a Melungeon family in Hawkins family (?) was ancestral to the Melungeons, and as such, is relevant to the study of the Melungeon families.”

I knew they were writing out the Native American history of the Melungeons.  How could they mention the  Sizemores 90 times in this report, and write they were ‘ancestral to’ and not be a Melungeon?  How could Aggy Sizemore be one of the six participants in the mtDNA CORE MELUNGEON group while they ‘wite out’ (no pun intended) her parents?  

And then I was really taken aback when I read this; 

The haplogroup for this Sizemore group is haplogroup Q1a3a,  Native American.  Historical records suggest that the Sizemore family was considered mulatto, a designation which at that time meant "not fully white" and could refer to Native or African admixture. 

What do we take away from this?  The male participants with E haplogroups are African, the male participants with R and I haplogroups are also African (they descended from Sub Saharan men and white women) and even the Sizemores with their Native American haplogroups also “could be” African?

The Riddles, also ancestral to the Melungeons, (particularly in the Gibson family), the Sizemores, the Freemans, (left out of this paper but on their project page), Jemina Simmes Goins, father was a Cherokee, Elizabeth Townsend, Cherokee (on project page but not in paper) the “Head and Source” of the Melungeons, Vardy Collins and Buck Gibson are identified as ‘Cherokee Indians’ (also sourced in this paper)  SEVEN of the participants in the Core Melungeon Project are included in Roberta Estes “Lumbee Indian Project” and they found the “Melungeons descend from Sub Saharan men and European women”?

The African Melungeons

On page 83 of this paper they write; 

“The DNA evidence alone suggests a strong African component in the Melungeon heritage.  This evidence is corroborated by a multitude of historical documents for many families.”

The DNA suggests that the “Head and Source” of the Melungeons did NOT have African DNA but European, another branch named in Dromgoole’s reports the Denham are also NOT African but European, as are the Goodmans, the Mullins, Bunch, etc., and while the remaining families with African DNA ( I believe there were six)  may indicate an African component in the Melungeon heritage there is no evidence these families were the founders of the Melungeons. Where are the “historical documents” that corroborates African heritage for many families.

Were the first Africans in 1619 free men?

They write on page 83:

"In 1619, the first Africans, 20 men and 3 women, were imported to Jamestown, not as slaves, but as indentured servants.  At this time, slavery did not exist in Virginia."

On the internet you can usually find whatever you need to prop up an argument;

Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery  
(Edited by Randall M. Miller and John David Smith, Greenwood Press, 1988 pp 281)
 “The legend has been repeated endlessly that the first blacks in Virginia were "indentured servants," but there is no hint of this in the records. The legend grew up because the word slave did not appear in Virginia records until 1656, and statutes defining the status of blacks began to appear casually in the 1660s. The inference was then made that blacks called servants must have had approximately the same status as white indentured servants. Such reasoning failed to notice that Englishmen, in the early seventeenth century, used the work servant when they meant slave in our sense, and, indeed, white Southerners invariably used servant until 1865 and beyond. Slave entered the Southern vocabulary as a technical word in trade, law and politics.”

In 1619 the first Africans arrived by boat at a time when there was a real shortage of European women. If these Africans were the ‘founding families of the Melungeons', as suggested in this paper, where did they find the European women?  

"The Virginia Company of London seemed to agree that women were indeed quite necessary. They hoped to anchor their discontented bachelors to the soil of Virginia by using women as a stabilizing factor. They ordered in 1619 that "...a fit hundredth might be sent of women, maids young and uncorrupt, to make wives to the inhabitants and by that means to make the men there more settled and less movable...." Ninety arrived in 1620 and the company records reported in May of 1622 that, "57 young maids have been sent to make wives for the planters, divers of which were well married before the coming away of the ships."

To say the newspaper report by Travis Loller was ‘shock and awe’ would be putting it mildly.  Here is this 100+ page report peppered with references to the Indian heritage of the Melungeons, dozens of  male particpants with European DNA and almost half of the female participants had Indian ancestry, all in this report, yet the headline read; ‘descendants of Sub Saharan men and white women’?  Ms Loller apparently inverviewed Jack Goins, did he not tell her of his Native American heritage or did she just decide on her own not to use it?  When Ms Loller asked the lead researcher if her report was correct that they descended from ‘Sub Saharan men and white women’ did she tell her about all of the Native American ancestry that was mentioned in the report?  And after it went viral and the reporter contacted Roberta Estes did Estes tell the reporter she made a ‘slight error’ and there were European male participants also?  The answer is no!  

Read about the Indian ancestry of the Melungeons herehttp://www.historical-melungeons.com/index.html

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