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Home: Surnames: Pocahontas Family Genealogy Forum

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Re: DNA testing
Posted by: Ralph Porter (ID *****7157) Date: May 16, 2009 at 10:08:54
In Reply to: Re: DNA testing by Joyce of 1080

An illicit liaison isn't the only way for a non-paternal event. There were cases where stepchildren took the name of a stepfather when the mother remarried. If the children were young enough at the remarriage they might never know they had a stepfather. There were also cases where parents were killed by violence or disease and the children were taken in by neighbors. I have also heard of one or two other scenarios and I bet you know of one or two yourself that I haven't mentioned. Since my father's family descends from Scotch-Irish who settled on the Pennsylvania frontier there could have been an undocumented Native American line. My mother's side settled the Virginia frontier. The first ancestor of her maiden name arrived at Jamestown around 1624; it was one of this line who married a descendant of Pocahontas (as best I can tell, but I don't think this line is documented).

Interestingly, Native American lines are showing up in England and Norway where it appears that mitochondrial DNA has migrated from the New World and been lost to memory. One historic source for the lines in Norway would be from the Viking settlements in Greenland. It's possible there were lines started by women from North America, but the settlements there didn't last anywhere as long as they did in Greenland where they remained for hundreds of years before dying out. One historical source for those in England would be the Native Americans brought there by early colonists and explorers for "show and tell" to help advertise the colonies and for scientific interest.

So there are a number of ways for Native American traits to show up in the DNA of a person today with no associated documentation. However, if enough people who trace their ancestry back to Pocahontas test and show marker values commonly associated with Native Americans and each other we can guess what some of Pocahontas' marker values probably were (with emphasis on the "guess" and "probably"). That doesn't mean that anyone with similar traits descends from her; their marker values could have come from some other undocumented Native American line. It might lend more weight to those who claim descent and have some Native American marker values than those who claim descent and have none, but, like you, I doubt DNA will ever provide "proof" of descent.

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