The name of this blog comes from Captain John Smith’s 1608 work, “A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as Happened in Virginia.” It concerns my own search for Native American roots in colonial-era Virginia and North Carolina, as well as commentary and analysis on the controversies that surround the use of genetics and genealogy to prove or disprove long-standing myths about Indian ancestry, which appears to be quite common in American families of majority European and African descent.

I have worked as a journalist for 15 years and have authored several bestselling traveling memoirs. For the past decade, I have covered the life sciences market, and the adoption of new technologies to serve consumer interests. By writing about National Geographic’s Genographic Project, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA, and doing my own research, I have become well acquainted with the issues that surround Native American identity and using such tools to better understand one’s personal connection to indigenous peoples. I am at work on a book that will provide an overview of my own personal narrative as well as the debates that accompany such investigation.


8 thoughts on “About

  1. Hello, I’ve only just discovered your blog and will follow closely from now on. I am a Byrd, and my family roots run deep into Nansemond County (where I’ve lived all my life). In trying to get to the bottom of a genealogical mystery (and apparently a hush-hush family secret) in my ancestry, I’ve only recently uncovered that my great-great grandmother, known only as Jane Byrd and believed to be unwed, was actually a Nansemond County or possible North Carolina Collins, specifically Margaret Jane Collins, b. abt. 1822, d. Mar 1869 Nansemond Co. Since then I’ve been trying to find out everything I can about any and all of the Collins of Nansemond Co, and your blog has begun to fill in quite a few “holes” for me. Also, when I had my late father’s sister’s DNA tested a couple of years ago, I was quite surprised to see a trace of Native American revealed. Perhaps this Collins addition to the tree explains that given what I’ve read in your blog. Anyway, I would like to thank you for sharing your information, and I look forward to keeping up with any more info you may share in the future.

  2. I am a NC researcher who has worked for over six years on genetic genealogy. My initial focus was and is JORDANS who called NC home during or before the 1700s,see nc1700sJordans.com. As I have worked along I have heard many deep rooted NC families claim a Native American connection. FTDNA and National Geographic don’t have many of the early indians who called NC home established. Many of the tribes are extinct.

    It is my hope that families who track back to land that became our SOUTHERN STATES will submit DNA kits through FTDNA. It is so important to anchor your work; that is to say, kits used to establish surnames/paternal branches of unique family trees should also include family finder tests too. If enough folks submit kits using best candidates over the age of 70 I believe scientists will have the best hope to isolate markers/autosomal information specific to Native American heritage. Add that to anthropological work and it is my hope that not only can we effectively do pedigree work and connect families to their European and African connecting branches BUT we can also bring to light valuable information about Native American Tribes and the earliest chapters of history.

    The window of opportunity will not be here forever. Genealogists and family historians need to understand the need of including DNA work in their efforts.

  3. I happened upon your blog as a result of an Ancestry hint. It was linked to Lemuel Collins of Hyde County. I wanted to let you know there were in fact two Lemuel’s in Hyde born about the same time One was the son of Wellington Collins and Nancy B Barber and the other is my great uncle son of John R Collins and Billie Ann Barber. My great uncle lived on Roanoke Island and the other Lemuel remained in Hyde County.
    Well, to say the least I was fascinated by your extensive research into the Collins line. I too am a Collins. My ggg-grandmother Milly Collins born circa 1788 first appears on the 1830 Hyde census as a “free person of color”. There are two other Collins women appear earlier on the 1820. Charity (Wellington’s mother) b circa 1792 and Abijah aka Abigail b circa 1790. I have always believe them to be sisters, but I can’t prove it. In addition, I feel they came to Hyde from another location. I have a been told they were of Native American descent, however the Collins name does not appear on any of the Mattamuskeet Documents.
    Now that I have found your site, I will keep close watch on your progress. Perhaps the mystery surrounding these women will come to light.

    1. Thank you Lillian. I actually created some of those hypothetical trees with the hope that someone would notice! The name Lemuel Collins is actually found in Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties in the 18th century. It was later found in Gates County tax lists from 1785 up to 1799. My ancestor, Graham Collins, was from the border of Gates County and Nansemond County, but it seems that his family too originated in Norfolk-Princess Anne. A woman named “Cati Collins” is listed as an Indian in Hyde County records in the 1760s. Perhaps she too came from the Norfolk-Currituck area? The name Graham Collins is also found in Hyde County in the 1860s, and also at Pamlico a bit later. This represents, from north to south, the entire extent of Algonquian Indian settlements in coastal North Carolina. I don’t think that Milly Collins and Abijah Collins absence from earlier censuses doesn’t mean they weren’t there. I also have Collins relatives who were not counted on censuses.

  4. Hi. I joined ancestry.com to help my nephew on a school project and found myself here. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and can’t wait to keep reading. I am a Collins, born and raised in Missouri. So far, I’ve traced as far back to John Collin Sr. as my 7th great-grandfather.

    1. Thanks Jennifer. DNA indicates that the Collins I descend from are related to the Bertie County Collinses. I match people who descend from his son Dempsey Collins, who moved to South Carolina, and Joseph Collins, who moved to Georgia.

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