To Laura: A Rebuttal and a Revisit with the Sephardic Jews and the Melungeons and the Mormon Pioneers

Note: When I began my rebuttal to Laura’s comment , I meant for it to be a comment, but realized it was a post instead…

Jewish Star on SLC Tabernacle


When our people, the Sephardic Jews, left Spain, during the 400 years  of the Inquisition, they numbered from ¼ to ½ million people.  A large population of highly educated skilled individuals just did not go POOF into the night!

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Part IX Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: The Great Melungeon Migration

After my article DNA Mormons? published in Sunstone, I was introduced to Marylee Mitcham thru Dan Wotherspoon. Marylee brought me back to the Melungeons,  I had investigated several years earlier. She told me of recent updates in Melungeon studies. Researchers had expanded the definition of Melungeon  to include tri-isolate groups in  Northern Georgia. Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Upstate and Long Island New York.   Now the possibility of our Melungeon-type ancestry seemed quite plausible.

I read up on the latest information and easily digested the new theories. After all, I had several years of getting comfortable with the idea of our ancestors as an European/Amerindian/African mix. We had ancestors who came to America in the 1600’s; so it was likely our DNA was a mixture  of European, Amerindian and African. We were mystified about the additional Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian DNA.

Later Marylee called to tell me she had  even more exciting news that my possible Melungeons were also Sephardic Jews.  I had never heard of Sephardic Jews, and was only vaguely aware of the Spanish Inquisition.  Dear Marylee persisted; so to placate her I conducted the “Uncle Carmi Test”.

Rhoda Benson daughter of Carmi Benson

Rhoda Benson daughter of Uncle Carmi Benson

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Part VIII Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: What the Heck is a Melungeon?

Ten  years ago, my husband Mike and I had the misfortune of getting the flu at very the same time. He lay on one couch and I on another, while Sesame Street entertained our toddlers. When Sesame Street was over,  both of us were too tired to search for the remote.  Consequently PBS remained on, as a far more interesting documentary on the history and struggles of “passing” Americans.  At some point in the program, I looked over to my husband with his curly hair, olive skin tone,  and full lips; a light bulb went on.

Joanna and Rulon

It was at that moment my journey began.

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