The Carmel Indians (pronounced Car'-mul) are a group of Melungeons who lived in Magoffin County, Kentucky and moved to Highland County, Ohio. Dr. Edward Price observed that the most common surnames among the families were Gibson, Nichols and Perkins. His research found that the ancestors of the group were listed as free people of color on census records.[1] Paternal line descendants of Bryson Gibson and Valentine Collins who participated in the Melungeon DNA Project belong to Haplogroup E-M2.[2] The group were listed as free Black and Mulatto in Kentucky prior to the American Civil War.[3] [4]

As researcher Paul Heinegg (1997) has documented the ancestry of the majority of the Free Negro population can be traced to African Americans free in Virginia before the American Revolution. He has found that most of these free African Americans were mixed-race children of early unions during the colonial period between white women, indentured servant or free, and African men, indentured servant, free, or enslaved. This was before the racial caste had hardened and, on small farms, white and black workers lived near each other and associated. According to the law, children were born into the social status of their mothers, by the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, adopted in the 17th-century Virginia colony. Since the mothers were white and free, their children were free born.[5]