DNA Testing, Part 3 – Sex, Lies and yDNA

In human DNA only males carry the Y-Chromosome so NORMALLY the yDNA follows a particular surname. My GG-grandfather Muncy gave his y-chromosome to my great-grandfather Muncy, who gave that same y-chromosome to my grandfather, who in turn gave it to my father and then to me. Mutations of specific markers happen along the way, but mutations don’t happen frequently. Mutations become key to identifying one branch from another. A mutation in the y-chromosome of my 4G-grandfather will also show up in my y-chromsome. There might be additional mutations during that time, but his mutations will be evident in my y-chromosome. If someone who believes he is my cousin also descended from my 4G-grandfather has the same mutation(s) then we can assume that connection. But if he doesn’t share the same mutations as my 4G-grandfather and me, then we don’t share that descent.

Non-Paternal Events (NPEs)

Non-Paternity Events (NPEs).  I really hate that term because it conjures up virgin birth or something similar. Every child born is the result of a paternal event, but I didn’t create the term and I guess we have to live with it. Think of Non-Paternity Events as situations in which the parent you expected is not the parent you thought was the parent.

You will note that in a paragraph above I said the y-chromsome NORMALLY follows the surname, but there are exceptions. The so-called Non-Paternity Events (NPE) such as adoptions or out-of-wedlock births can result in a person’s surname not matching that expected from the y-chromsome. For those who must deal with these issue, y-chromsome testing and comparisons offer some hope of finding their true ancestry.

Mysterious Ancestry

Blevins Asher (and Polly Muncy?)

“So let’s talk about Blevins Asher.”

“No, let’s not.”

“Yes, I think we need to talk about him to make a point.”

“Well, if you really think it necessary. But I’d rather not.”

Blevins Asher, born about 1822 in Kentucky, and died in Leslie County, Kentucky in 1880.  He first married Ruth Muncy sometime before 1854 and had two daughters and three sons that I’m aware of.  Here the facts get murky. Ruth apparently didn’t die until about 1870, yet Blevins started having children with Mary (Polly) Muncy, sister of Ruth, about 1854.  I’ve not waded deep into murky waters here, but I can say that records show he had two (or maybe three) sons and one daughter by Mary Polly Muncy, and the sons took the surname of Muncy. It is pretty clear from the records they never married. I don’t know if Blevins and Ruth separated, or he just took up with her younger sister. Open marriage in the 1850’s?  I’m not convinced. I’ve got enough  research projects to occupy my time without wading into this issue, especially since I’m not a direct descendant. I’ll let someone else work this out.

So, why bring this up 136 years after Old Man Asher died? It’s important because he was the father of at least two males who carry the Muncy name, not the Asher name. If his male descendants who carry the Muncy name ever take a yDNA test and join the Muncey Project at FTDNA, they will show up as not related. They don’t carry the Muncy y-chromsome profile.

Forbidden Love

In 1988 Estle P. Muncy, MD, published a book entitled “The Muncys in the New World.” (see reference sources on this website) This small but well researched book adds information that was not included in previous genealogies. Although I did not know Dr. Muncy except through correspondence, one gets the feeling that a motivation in publishing this book was to answer questions about his great-grandfather (James M. Muncy Jr.), and his great-great-grandmother (Ann Muncy).

Through detailed research and oral history, Dr. Muncy proves that his great-great grandmother, Ann Muncy, had two illegitimate children – a daughter Delila and a son James. His research reveals that Ann was almost certainly in love with an unnamed Melungeon boy and bore two children. The Melungeons were a dark skinned, multi-ethnic group that were viewed as inferior to many in the Appalachia areas in Tennessee and Virginia.  Roberta Estes has co-authored a paper detailing a history and genetics of Melungeons so I will refer you to this document for a more complete picture of the Melungeons.

Family and community opinion might have prohibited a marriage to a Melungeon, or the Melungeon family might have objected to a marriage to a Muncy — but Ann evidently did not let the relationship fade before bearing two children. James M. Muncy, Ann’s illegitimate son was called “Jr.” after Ann’s father, James M. Muncy, Sr. (younger males of the same name were often called Jr. to distinguish them from an older relative, even though not the father.) James Muncy, Jr. died young (1865) after marriage and had two sons, William Muncy (b. 1860) and Peter (b. 1862). Both William and Peter married and had male descendants.

The point is that this is another example in which the yDNA of the descendants of James M. Muncy, Jr. will not match the yDNA of the Muncy line. Indeed, Dr. Muncy’s yDNA would not match. Dr. Muncy went to great pains to prove that Ann Muncy’s two children did not have a Muncy father. Today, yDNA would prove that without a doubt.



While illegitimate births may provide the most titillating stories, an equally important non-paternal event is adoption. Today we are accustomed to adoptees attempting to find their natural parents, and DNA analysis certainly can play an important part.

However, even more interesting is the attempt to find a connection in unknown/unrecorded adoptions.  For example, a Jones may find through testing that he has no relationship to the yDNA of his Jones cousins. The first thought is “there was an illegitimacy in my background.” (not that there is anything wrong with that!) But illegitimacy may not be the cause at all!

In rural, isolated parts of America unrecorded adoptions were pretty common. The Jones family may have lived on a farm connected to the Muncy family and the Roberts family. Sickness strikes and Papa Jones and Mother Jones both succumb leaving four children, two boys and two girls.  The Muncys and Roberts step in and unofficially take in the children. The boys are split between Muncy and Roberts households, as are the girls. They become members of the family, working with and sharing experiences with their new family, and they adopt the name of the new family. Two hundred years later a Muncy male and a Roberts male both discover that they do not share the Muncy yDNA or the Roberts yDNA. However, in time and with an expansion of yDNA testing, they may be able to find out their original surname and family lineage.




Leave a Reply