DNA, the X Chromosome & Minerva Tolliver Manning

For many years, I have been hearing the stories that my 3rd Great Grandmother, Minerva Tolliver Manning was “Full-Blooded Cherokee.” I’ve never believed it and have written about the possibility of Minerva being Native American a few times before. Please see:

Ever being the skeptic, I considered that my grandmother had really gotten pregnant from a different man other than whom she said was the father. She was apparently estranged from her husband at the time of her pregnancy and anything is possible. (She never suggested that her husband was the father.) If the man she always said was the father actually was, then my mother’s half-sister will show the same genetic information on their X-chromosome.

My half-aunt was tested and sure enough, they are half sisters, which we expected. What is really cool is that for a person’s 22 chromosomes they are a mix of each of their parents, however, for the 23rd chromosome, the XX, a girl receives one X from their mother and one X from their father. The mother’s X is a blend of her parents but the father’s contribution is passed on with little to no change. That means that if two girls share the same father then one of the X chromosomes is identical between the two girls. My mother and my half-aunt share one X exactly, so we know, beyond any doubt, they share the same father.

% contribution atDNA
% cont. of X Chromosome
Mom & Half Aunt
Mary Manning
John W. Manning
2nd Great-Grandmother
Minerva Tolliver
3rd Great-Grandfather
Tulion Tolliver
As you can see from
the above table, a person’s 2rd Great-Grandmother provides four
times the contribution to an X chromosome than to the normal atDNA
contribution. If Minerva was full-blooded Cherokee as family history says then,
alternating sex through generations, her 2nd great-granddaughters should
have about 25% Native American contribution. Not there.  According the test results from 23 & Me,
their identical X-chromosome shows no Native American contributions.  
What is very interesting is that although both my mom and my
aunt are over 99% European, there is a .2% Sub-Saharan contribution overall and
it is on the X chromosome.  Looking at
only the shared X chromosome it appears to be between 4% and 6% of the X contribution.
That would be in keeping with a 4th or 5th Great-Grandparent’s
contribution.  If Minerva were ¼ to 1/8th
Sub-Saharan African, she would have had about the right percentage to “pass” as Native
American.  From the DNA evidence that
appears to me to be much more likely of a scenario than for Minerva to have
been Cherokee.
My Mom’s X results
My Aunt’s X results


Future Activity
As the saying goes, a mother knows her own children, but fathers can be a surprise. As such, I’m confident that Clifford/Dick was Mary’s child. I am also confident that Enoch and Minerva believed that Mary (and her sister Phoebe) were their granddaughters. Mary and Phoebe were orphaned and Enoch and Minerva raised them for a while.

Although reasonable and likely, there is always a possibility that someone else jumped into the mix. I know next to nothing about Mary’s parents, John William Manning and Eliza Jane Fannin. It is always possible that John William Manning wasn’t Mary’s father. Mary had a half brother, Robert, but we are not certain if he was John’s child or Eliza’s child who took on the surname of Manning. In either event, I don’t believe that line will provide much in the way of proof. Rather, Minerva had five daughters, Nancy Ann, Sarah Jane, Mary Ermaline, Grisella, and Prudence Manning. Their female descendants will have the mtDNA that would show Native American ancestry if Minerva were, in fact, Cherokee.

I’ll continue research for the descendants of Minerva and see if any of them are interested in testing, but as things sit currently, I am confident that Minerva was not Native American.

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