Archiver > SEPHARDIM > 2003-12 > 1070815687

From: "Sephard Manager" <>
Subject: [SEPHARDIM] FW: Jewish DNA among Southeastern Indians
Date: Sun, 07 Dec 2003 16:48:07 +0000

----Original Message Follows----
Subject: Jewish DNA among Southeastern Indians
Date: Thu, 4 Dec 2003 12:32:35 -0700

This is a Message Board Post that is gatewayed to this mailing list.

Surnames: Adair, Thomas, Bowles, Cooper, Sizemore, Wallen, Cone, Mordecai,
Collins, Grant, Waters, Powhatan, Cherokee, Choctaw, Blevins, Ward, Coody,
LeFlore, McAbee, Rogers, Glass, Black, Fox, Blackfox, Holland, Hyde,
Classification: Query

Message Board URL:

Message Board Post:

DNA Testing of Southeastern American Indian Families to Confirm Jewish
Paper delivered at Society of Crypto-Judaic Studies, San Antonio, August 8,

Donald Panther-Yates

THE PROJECT I will be speaking about today, which is the first of its kind I
am aware of, 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 Bennetts 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 the
claim of 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, though
they had found so much Jewish genetics 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 in 1775), 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 bright side, though, we did hit paydirt by
locating people with the right credentials and level of cooperation for a
number of important historical personages. 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 Ch!
erokee 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 Im going to do is I am going to 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 as a sort of
Eastern parallel to the experiences you are probably more familiar with in
the American Southwest. Ive brought all my files with my on a laptop if
anyone is interested in seeing specific data or is curious in 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, but many of the
haplotypes were unique, meaning they matched no sample in either Bennetts
clientele at Family Tree DNA or the larger databases he cross-indexes to,
including Michael Hammers. This shouldnt surprise us because the DNA
testing of Native Americans has been very restricted, controversial, and
concentrated at any event on Navajos and other Western reservation tribes.
Peter Jones of the Buu Institute in Boulder, Colorado, 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 admits as Native American -- haplogroups A, B, C, D,
and X -- our project found 2 Cs and one B, no A, no D, but one X 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-chromosomes, half (6 out of 12) were R1b, sometimes called the
Atlantic Modal Haplogroup, 2 (17%) were E3b, one of the two well-studied
Jewish haplogroups, and one was J2, the other. 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, and both Beth and I (but Im
not sure about Bennett) were impressed with the fact that, though this was
but a small, purposive sample, it produced the same proportion of what we
might call male Jewish DNA, roughly 20 percent, vis vis 80 percent
male non-Jewish DNA (Atlantic modal haplogroup) as is found 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
Mideastern genes among the Cherokees even before so-called white
contact in the eighteenth century.

For our first break-out, lets talk about the results for a woman whom I
shall call unoriginally Judith, for she showed the J haplogroup in
the female line. Judith was very forthcoming with documentation, names,
dates, and a lot of family history that would probably have remained hidden
to most academic researchers. She claimed strict matrilineal descent from
Betsy Walker Hyde, a native girl who was born about 1718, captured in a
military operation by the English, and raised by Sen. Felix Walker. Her
descendant, Catherine Hyde, was remembered as a full blood Cherokee,
was selected by Col. Will Thomas, and she and bore him several children.
Jasmine put me in touch with the last, lone descendant of one of Col.
Wills other daughters, also by a Native woman, Demarius Angeline
Thomas Sherril. The mtDNA there was haplogroup X, a rare Native American
lineage which may have come from Europe. There are many rea!
sons 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. In support of the crypto-Jewish culture of these people were
the given names 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 who died at the head
of 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 everyones surprise Bowles DNA came
back J2, the haplogroup that contains the Cohen modal lineage, with a
two-step mutation matching a person identified as Ashkenazi from the
Ukraine. How could this be? Bowles was similar to several other Cherokee
chiefs in having been a known half breed. His father was a Scots
trader and his mother a full-blood Cherokee woman. When his father was
killed and robbed by two North Carolinians in 1768, the son was only 12
years old, but within the next two years the fair-complexioned, auburn
haired boy had killed both !
his fathers slayers. After that, he became a Chickamauga warrior. The
Bowl (in Cherokee, Duwali) was a white chief at the same time as The Glass
(in actuality, Thomas Glass of North Carolina) and Black Fox, my ancestor (a
Scotsman descended from Blacks and Foxes), were chiefs of the Cherokee
Nation. I believe all their families were Scottish crypto-Jews.

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, 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 resembled the distribution pattern for what Beth Hirschman
believes were the Gothic invasions that repeopled Italy, France and Spain.
The preponderance of matches in our Melungeon surname study has been in the
Iberian Peninsula and places like Antioquia, Colombia, where Marranos and
crypto-Jews emigrated. Here was a Jewish haplotype that, historically
speaking, seems to have traveled out of Scandinavia and the Baltic region
with the Lombards, gone through Italy to Spain and Scotland and passed on to
the Americas, where it mingled with the Indians.
In another of our surnames, Rogers, one can almost see the footsteps of the

How about Wales as another unlikely place to find Jews? Our project also
established the Jewish roots of another great pioneer family of the South
who intermarried with Cherokees, the Blevinses. Two of our test subjects
were found to have E3b genes, which even Bennett admits are Ashkenazic. The
name Blevins originates in the High Middle Ages and by the 1400s was
associated with the little Welsh port town of Formby. It may be the Welsh
form of Wolf, or Benjamin. William Blevins, born in Rhode Island, was a Long
Hunter from Virginia who explored Kentucky and Tennessee with Elisha Wallen
in 1734. His son had two Cherokee wives, sisters, and numerous Blevinses,
all of them cousins of mine, appear on the Cherokee rolls. The Blevins
family has sometimes been 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 call her a princess as long as the
American Indian Movement is not listening), married Ludovic Grant, a Scots
trader about 1720 (the name probably comes from French Grand, German Gross),
and their descendants are the first and the oldest of the bloodlines studied
in a definitive fashion by Emmett Starr, whose genealogies are the basis for
government blood quantums and tribal membership even today. One of her
eleventh-generation descendants, with a long Dutch name, joined our study
and her DNA proved to be haplogroup C as did also an Oklahoma descendant
of Nancy Ward, the famous Beloved Woman. Both participants preserved their
clan affiliation, which was Wolf. Does this tell us anything? I think it
does, since ones clan was passed from the mother in a strict fash!
ion, just like mitochondrial DNA. The other test subject, a San Francisco
man who matched a woman of Hispanic descent with a crypto-Jewish surname,
was of the 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 correspond to
the Pueblo Indians and former Mound Builder tribes, one of whom, the
Natchez, were integrated together with the Cherokee as the Long Hair Clan.

Let me mention the Big Unknown before concluding. This was an
80-year-old gentleman in California by the Scots-sounding name of McAbee who
generously complied with our study, with the help of his niece, and whose
family had a sturdy tradition of crypto-Jewish practices in Kentucky,
including opening the door for the prophet Elijah on special days in their
homes. All the powers at Family Tree DNA drew a blank over his DNA, which
was finally classified as Unknown and 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 match in the Y-user database in Berlin were in
Albania, Bulgaria/Romani, London and with a Bulgarian Turk. If and I
repeat if descendants of the Hasmonean Jews, who were the first convert
population to Judaism, lived anywhere it would likely be in those places.

The last DNA test results I would like to talk about were those of a
verifiably crypto-Jewish family that lived 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 among the Choctaw, and thus occupies the same position of
Culture Bearer as Nancy Ward among the Cherokee. His son Greenwood became a
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 changed its name to Flores. Perhaps I should say, they
changed it back to Flores, which 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 highest scores.

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. Very 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, its true. There are haplogroup determinations that contain the
DNA of people known to be Jewish today. 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 the overwhelming
preponderance of surnames with Hebrew and Sephardic Jewish roots, combined
with multigenerational cousin marriage and other historical factors that
must be properly interpreted. Genetics without a good genealogical chart is
useless, and even the charts are deceptive in the case of crypto-Jewish
families unless one has access to the death-bed confessions and whispered
family traditions.

Only in the last two years have I found out my family on both my mother and
fathers side was Jewish, specifically crypto-Jewish with numerous ties to
the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and other southeastern Indian
tribes. There is not a single surname in my family tree, which I have traced
back more than 700 years in some lines, that breaks 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 heart. 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 Coopers memorial. It had the Freemason or Templar
cross and showed a hand pointing to the sky, with the words GONE
HOMEId seen similar designs in the crypto-Jewish burials at
Purrysburgh, S.C. I dressed the graves put down a tobacco offering in
the Indian manner said the Shema and Shecheyanu wished I had learned
the Mourners Kaddish, and finally experienced what I think I had been
looking for all along a shock of recognition maybe, the strong feeling
that the ancestors were, or would have been, pleased. If I have accomplished
nothing else, I would like to leave you with this. We all have a moral i!
mperative to uncover our families past. And they would have been proud
of us.


General view of New Hope Cemetery, Marion County, Tennessee, with
Blevins-Cooper burial plot.

Gravesite of Harmon Cooper (1830-1879)

Winterize your home with tips from MSN House & Home.

This thread: