Factors in the Microevolution of a Triracial Isolate

Factors in the Microevolution of a Triracial Isolate

American Journal of Human Genetics
Volume 18, Number 1 (January 1966)
pages 26-38

W. S. Pollitzer
Department of Anatomy
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

R. M. Menegaz-Bock
Genetics Training Committe
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

J. C. Herion
Department of Medicine
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Triracial Isolates today attract the attention of the anthropologist, the geneticist, and the medical scientist as questions arise concerning the origin of such isolates, their history, social status, breeding structure, and inherited pathological conditions. This paper describes the physical, serological, and clinical characteristics of a hybrid population in northeastern North Carolina (Witkop et al., 1960; Menegaz-Bock, 1962), its racial composition, and the cultural and biological factors in its evolution.


The population can be traced at least as far back as the American Revolution. The most common surname in this region today is the same as that of two brothers, said to be descended from Cherokee Indians and whites, who fought in that war. The census of 1790 for the county in which the majority of this population now live lists this name only under the designation “all other free persons;” four of seven other surnames frequent in this population are listed as “free white,” while three are listed under both of these headings. Many of these names, well-known in the isolate today, can be traced through the census reports of the nineteenth century. In 1800, ten are listed, mostly under “free persons of color,” and the census of 1810 lists six of these as “other free persons except Indians not taxed.” By 1820, most of these names appear in the column “free Negro.” Eleven surnames common in the current population are listed in the census of 1830 as “free colored persons,” and most of these are listed under the same heading again in 1840. The census of 1850, designating free inhabitants as “white,” “black,” and “mulatto,” registers a dozen of these family names as “mulattoes” and half of these also as “white.” In 1860, the census for the western district of the county listed 13 of the common names as free inhabitants, either white, black, or mulatto. In the 1870 census for the township where most of the population now lives, five of seven last names common in the group include mulattoes. The census of 1880 contains ten names common in the township now, and all but two of these are to be found under “mulatto.” The census of 1890 was destroyed, and names are not released for the censuses from 1900 on…

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