I realize that your comment on "illnesses floating in the air" was a broad comment and not meant to be taken specifically. These supposed Melungeon diseases are showing up in families in the Wayne and Lincoln County area. They are for the most part being misdiagnosed. I have a friend, she is nineteen now and she has had the same symptoms since she was eighteen months old. She was treated for a whole battery of diseases as was Nancy. Her father and an Aunt died from these same symptoms. Her father was diagnosed with Chron's disease, he died a horrible death at age thirty five. The child's grandmother had told a story about her father coming back from serving in the military with Mediterranean Fever. The child's mother did some research and found that her daughter had all the symptoms of Familial Mediterranean Fever. This is an inherited disease of people of Mediterranean descent, not one that can be "caught". The doctors scoffed at the mother for three years because the child was a little blonde haired blue eyed girl with an Irish name, no way that she would have this. Finally, to get the mother to shut up about it, the child was tested and guess what? The mother, uneducated as she is in the medical field was right. This child had inherited the gene for Familial Mediterranean Fever from her Lincoln County parents. Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) occurs most commonly in people of non-Ashkenazi Jewish, Armenian, Arab, and Turkish background. None of these were in her family. She is on permanent dialysis because of kidney failure directly related to the development of amyloids in her kidneys and her liver is failing. She will not live long. Had she been diagnosed earlier, the medication known to treat the disease could have been given to her and she may not have developed these life threatening complications. The sad thing about it is that for the disease to develop, both parents must have the mutated recessive gene. Then there is a one in four chance that each child born to those parents will have the disease. So both parents carried the gene. It is very likely that her father and Aunt had the same disease, but we will never know because they died before she was properly diagnosed. IF they did, that meant that her grandmother and grandfather on her fathers side both had the mutated gene. Since both parents must have the gene, her mother got it from somewhere in her family. Now another sad thing is as you mentioned, we in this area are mostly "inbred" cousins marrying cousins and then their children marrying. So it is highly likely that this condition is more common than we know. I am not saying anything about the "inbreeding" in a malicious manner, my grandparents were third cousins before they married and that is just one side of the family. Who are the people who are pushing the research? Those pesky people who believe in Melungeons. My own father has symptoms of this disease but refuses to be tested for it because he just doesn't buy into the myth that he could be more than Irish and Native American. As for people never hearing the term Melungeon that is most likely true. Another example, my great grandfather Honaker thought that for his whole life that his ancestors were Irish and Native American. He wasn't a brilliant man, he grew up in the hollers of Lincoln County, his family having migrated there from Bland County VA around 1890. In tracing his roots, every line in his family as far back as I can go came from Germany. Every line, does that make him German? No, because he lived in America. Another small thought, have you read Lalita Tademy's book Cane River? It is a fictionally written book based on genealogy research of her family. Her family is descended from slaves and white slave owners in Louisiana. Each generation of women had a family with a white man, but even though the children in later generations were as white as anyone from Anglo Saxon decent, they were considered black. Some of the family left Louisiana and "passed" for white. The ones left there could not legally marry a white person. Her grandfather went against tradition and had a legal marriage to a black woman and Ms. Tademy is one of the descendants. Yet in the picture of her grandparents, it looks as though a white man married a black woman. There are probably descendants of the family members who "passed' who do not know their African heritage and my have diseases inherent to Africans who will go undiagnosed. People hide things that they do not want known. My father's family swears that one of their Ferrell great grandmothers was "full-blooded Cherokee" and to look at my grandfather, you could swear the same thing, but there is no evidence of any Native American in our background. Another Ferrell cousinhas a story of a woman who was "kidnapped by the Indians and brought back half-breed babies".Who was she? I don't know, can't find her. I was also told years ago by a lady who did genealogy research that my Bell line was the "dark Bell's" and that it came from the "Ferrell side" she did not say this nicelybut wouldn't elaborate on it. My grandfather of course stuck to the "full blooded Cherokee" story. The Ferrells that I have researched are Irish. So it had to be either Jane Jackson who married in the line or Elizabeth Fields, the two elusive members of the family that I can not find. These women came from the Russell/Wise county area of Virginia where the term Melungeon is known and has been used for many generations. As to my Adkins line? I am fairly certain that they are not in anyway related to anyone known to be Melungeon. Maybe it will be found that Melungeon was just used as a term for dark skinned people I am fairly sure that they aren't a race of people, but they may be a group bound together by the area that they came from, and these people may be the ones who introduced the gene into our Anglo Saxon families that are causing inherited diseases among our families as the inbreeding continued in my family well into the 1950's. Maybe there will never be any proof, but hey if it furthers medical research why not keep an open mind?