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Melungeon ( ) is a term traditionally applied to one of a number of "tri-racial isolate" groups of the Southeastern United States, mainly in the Cumberland Gapmarker area of central Appalachia: East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and East Kentucky. Tri-racial describes populations thought to be of mixed European, sub-Saharan African, and Native American ancestry. Although there is no consensus on how many such groups exist, estimates range as high as 200.

Some self-identifying Melungeons dislike the term tri-racial isolate, believing that it has pejorative connotations. Until the late 20th century, some considered the term Melungeon to be pejorative.

DNA testing of Melungeon descendants has been limited, but the Melungeon DNA Project, which has more public results, so far shows overwhelming European and sub-Saharan African heritage of males in several families traditionally identified as Melungeon. This finding is consistent with the documented work by Paul Heinegg and Dr. Virginia DeMarce, who used a variety of historical records to show the formation of colonial families who were ancestors to free people of color in the 19th century Upper South.

Definition

The ancestry and identity of Melungeons are highly controversial subjects. There is wide disagreement among secondary sources as to their ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and geographic origins and identity, as they are of mixed ancestry. They might accurately be described as a loose collection of families of diverse origins who migrated and intermarried with one another. The U.S. census has a category for Melungeon, tabulated under "Some Other Race 600-999." Many scholars disagree about classifying Melungeons as a distinct ethnicity and describe them as one of numerous multiracial groups with origins in mixed unions in colonial Virginia, especially.

Melungeons are defined as having racially mixed ancestry; thus, they do not exhibit characteristics that can be classified incontrovertibly as being of a single racial phenotype. Most modern-day descendants of Appalachian families traditionally regarded as Melungeon are generally Caucasian in appearance, often, though not always, with dark hair and eyes, and a swarthy or olive complexion. Descriptions of Melungeons vary widely from observer to observer, from "Middle Eastern" to "Native American" to "light-skinned African American."

A major factor in the wide variation in descriptions is the lack of a clear consensus on exactly who should be included under the term Melungeon. Almost every author on this subject gives a slightly different list of Melungeon-associated surnames, but the British surnames Collins and Gibson appear most frequently; genealogist Pat Elder calls them "core" surnames. Many researchers also include Bowling, Bunch, Goins, Goodman, Heard, Minor, Mise, Mullins, Wise, and several others (although not all families with these surnames are Melungeon). Not all of these families were necessarily of the same racial background, and each line must be examined individually. Ultimately, the answer to the question "Who or what are Melungeons?" depends largely on which families are included under that designation.

The original meaning of the word "Melungeon" is obscure (see Etymology below). From about the mid-19th to the late 20th centuries, it referred exclusively to one tri-racial isolate group, the descendants of the multiracial Collins, Gibson, and a few other related families of Newman's Ridge, Vardy Valley, and other settlements in and around Hancock County, Tennesseemarker. Some researchers limited application of the term further to the descendants of Vardy Collins and his brother-in-law Shepherd Gibson, two early 19th-century settlers of that area. Recently, however, some researchers have begun to use Melungeon to mean almost all traditionally recognized tri-racial isolate groups of the Eastern United States.

Origins

A complex question

A common belief about the Melungeons of east Tennessee was that they were an indigenous people of Appalachia, existing there before the arrival of the first white settlers. But genealogists working in the late 20th century have documented, through a range of tax, court, census and other colonial, late 18th and early 19th century records, that the ancestors of the Melungeons migrated into the region from Virginia and Kentucky as did their English, Scots-Irish, Irish, Welsh, and German neighbors.

The likely background to the mixed-race families later to be called "Melungeons" was the emergence in the Chesapeake Bay region in the 17th century of what historian Ira Berlin (1998) calls "Atlantic Creoles." These were freed slaves and indentured servants of European, West African, and Native American ancestry (and not just North American, but also Caribbean, Central and South American Indian: see Forbes (1993)). Some of these "Atlantic Creoles" were culturally what today might be called "Hispanic" or "Latino", bearing names such as "Chavez," "Rodriguez," and "Francisco." Many of them intermarried with their English neighbors, adopted English surnames, and even owned slaves. Early Colonial America was very much a "melting pot" of peoples, but not all of these early multiracial families were necessarily ancestral to the later Melungeons.

Evidence

"The historical and anthropological evidence ... suggests that in general a significant portion (though not necessarily all) of the ancestry of the Magoffin and Clark County, Kentucky, and Highland County, Ohiomarker, enclaves originated principally from an admixture of African Americans and Whites in the early colonial period (from the late 1600s until about 1800) and secondarily from an admixture with presently unknown Native American groups in the mid-Atlantic coast region."

Historian Dr. Virginia E. DeMarce and genealogist Paul Heinegg, as well as Melungeon descendant Jack Goins, have traced the "core" Gibson and Collins families back to Louisa County, Virginiamarker in the early 1700s. Those families were of mixed European and African descent. Later some of the family members may have married Indian individuals who had assimilated into the English-speaking community. The Gibson family can be traced back even further to Charles City County in Tidewater Virginia in the late 1600s.

According to genealogist Paul Heinegg, the Gibson family probably derived from Elizabeth Chavis and her partner, whose descendants were called "mulattos" and "negros." The Chavis family was an early and large mixed-race family in several Eastern Virginia and North Carolina counties. Today, Chavis and its variants is one of the most widespread of the surnames associated with "tri-racial isolate" groups in the Eastern U.S., though it is not a typical Melungeon surname. Some researchers believe the surname was originally Chavez. In the 1940s Brewton Berry claimed it was derived from Chavers or Shavers.

Those families migrated in the first half of the 18th century from Virginia to North and South Carolina. The Collins, Gibson, and Ridley (Riddle) families owned land adjacent to one another in Orange County, North Carolinamarker, where they and the Bunch family were "free Molatas (mulattos)" taxable on tithes in 1755. By settling in frontier areas, free people of color found more amenable living conditions and could escape some of the racial strictures of plantation areas.,

Beginning about 1767, the ancestors of the Melungeons moved northwest to the New River area of Virginia, where they are listed on tax lists of Montgomery County, Virginiamarker, in the 1780s. From there they migrated south in the Appalachian Range to Wilkes County, North Carolinamarker, where they are listed as "white" on the 1790 census. They resided in a part of that county which became Ashe Countymarker, where they are designated as "other free" in 1800.

Not long after, Melungeon Collins and Gibson families were members of Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church in nearby Scott County, Virginiamarker, where they appear to have been treated as social equals of the white members. The earliest documented use of the term "Melungeon" is found in the minutes of this church (see Etymology below).

From Virginia and North Carolina the families crossed into Kentucky and Tennessee. The earliest known Melungeon in Northeast Tennessee was Millington Collins, who executed a deed in Hawkins Countymarker in 1802.

Several Collins and Gibson households appear in Floyd County, Kentuckymarker, in 1820, when they are listed as "free persons of color". On the 1830 censuses of Hawkins and Grainger Countymarker, Tennessee, Melungeon families are listed as "free-colored." , Melungeons were residents of the part of Hawkins that became Hancock County in 1844.

Although ancestors of Melungeons migrated alongside the early European settlers of Appalachia, contemporary accounts documented that by appearance they were considered to be mixed race. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, census enumerators designated them as "mulatto," "other free," or as "free persons of color." Sometimes they were listed as "white," sometimes as "black" or "negro", but almost never as "Indian." One family described as "Indian" was the Melungeon-related Ridley family, listed as such on a 1767 Pittsylvania County, Virginiamarker, tax list, though they had been designated "mulattos" in 1755. During the 19th century, due to intermarriage with white families, the Melungeon families began to be classified as white on census records with increasing frequency, a trend that has continued to the present . As recently as 1935, however, some members were described as "mulattoes" with "straight hair."

Assimilation

N. Brent Kennedy (1994), an independent researcher, characterized the gradual change in classification of Melungeons from "mulatto" to a "white" population as an "ethnic cleansing". This assertion is both historically inaccurate and a misuse of the term. Researchers have shown that the historical evidence demonstrates that the Melungeon families sought to identify and be accepted as white. In the example of Joshua Perkins of Johnson County, Tennesseemarker, Paul Heinegg showed that generations had married white or lighter-skinned people, which led to increasingly European-American or white appearance among descendants.

In addition, Kennedy's use of the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe assimilation of Melungeons into the white community was misleading because it does not conform to the term's definition. No government or group took concerted actions against the Melungeons, such as wholesale killing or removal from a territory, that would qualify as ethnic cleansing.

In her review of Kennedy's 1994 book, historian and genealogist Dr. Virginia E. DeMarce wrote:
Kennedy alleges, but does not document, systematic, population-wide, race-based persecution of his ancestral families.
His introductory assertion that Melungeons were "a people ravaged, and nearly destroyed, by the senseless excesses of racism and genocide" (p. xiii) begs for supporting evidence-as does his contention that Melungeon families were originally large landowners, deprived and marginalized by Scotch-Irish and other northern-European settlers (p.4).
Similarly, the author offers no evidence for his statement that "being legally declared a 'Melungeon' meant losing one's land" (p.
125).


The shift from "mulatto" to "white" was dependent upon appearance and community perception of a person's activities in life. Definitions of racial categories were often imprecise and ambiguous, especially for "mulatto" and "free person of color." In the British North American colonies and the United States at various times in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, "mulatto" could mean a mixture of African and European, African and Native American, European and Native American, or all three, as documented by historian Jack D. Forbes (1993). At the same time, these groups did marry with each other, and there were questions about which culture took precedence. The loose terminology contributed to the disappearance from historical records of remnant non-reservation American Indians in the Upper South. They were gradually reclassified as mulatto or free people of color and were later classified only of African ancestry primarily as society hardened into a biracial system. This appeared to have happened with some of the Indians of Delaware. In addition, classification depended upon perception, based both on appearance and what was known of a person in the community: who he associated with, what activities he was involved in, and whether he carried out particular obligations.

Acceptance

The families known as "Melungeons" in the 19th century were generally well integrated into the communities in which they lived, though this is not to say that racism was never a factor in their social interactions. Records show that on the whole they enjoyed the same rights as whites. For example, they held property, voted, and served in the Army; some, such as the Gibsons, also owned slaves in the 18th century.

On the other hand, in the tensions about race and slavery leading up to the Civil War, several Melungeon men were tried in Hawkins County, Tennessee, in 1846 for "illegal voting", under suspicion of being black. They were acquitted, presumably by demonstrating to the court's satisfaction that they had no appreciable black ancestry. Like some other cases, this was chiefly determined by people testifying as to how the men had been perceived by the community and whether they had acted white by voting, serving in the militia, or undertaking other common activities, etc.

"Law was involved not only in recognizing race, but in creating it; the state itself helped make people white. In allowing men of low social status to perform whiteness by voting, serving on juries, and mustering in the militia, the state welcomed every white man into symbolic equality with the Southern planter. Thus, law helped to constitute white men as citizens, and citizens as white men."

After the Civil War and during Reconstruction, southern whites began to scrutinize racial identity more as they struggled to assert white supremacy. A person's Melungeon ancestry was assessed in an 1872 trial in Hamilton County, Tennesseemarker. This case was brought by relatives contending over an inheritance of property. They questioned the legitimacy of a marriage between a white man and a Melungeon woman. Based on testimony of people in the community, the court decided the woman in the case was not of African ancestry.

Modern anthropological and sociological studies of Melungeon descendants in Appalachia have demonstrated that, whatever their origins, they have become culturally indistinguishable from their "non-Melungeon" white neighbors: they share their Baptist religious affiliation and other community features. With changing attitudes and work opportunities, numerous descendants of the early Melungeon pioneer families have migrated from Appalachia to other parts of the US. Notable Melungeons include U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and NASCAR driver Brian Vickers.

Legends

In spite of being culturally and linguistically identical to their white neighbors, these multiracial families were of a sufficiently different physical appearance to invite speculation as to their identity and origins. Sometime during the first half of the 19th century, the pejorative term "Melungeon" began to be applied to these families, thus creating a separate group that did not previously exist. It would therefore be anachronistic to speak of "Melungeons" prior to that period. Local traditions soon began to arise about this "people" who lived in the hills of Eastern Tennessee. According to Pat Elder, the earliest of these was that they were "Indian" (often specifically "Cherokee"). Melungeon descendant Jack Goins states, however, that the Melungeons themselves claimed to be both Indian and Portuguesemarker. One early Melungeon was called "Spanishmarker" ("Spanish Peggy" Gibson, wife of Vardy Collins).

Despite the scant evidence, Iberianmarker (Spanish and/or Portuguese) and Native American ancestry are both possible, in addition to African, given the history of multiracial families in the Melungeons' time and place of origin (late 17th century-early 18th century Eastern Virginia). However, claims about such ancestry made by Melungeon descendants in the 19th century or later should not necessarily be taken at face value. Because of the social problems associated with race, many Southern families with multiracial ancestry claimed Portuguese and/or American Indian (specifically Cherokee) ancestry as a strategy for denying African ancestry.

Although the available historical evidence makes a specific tribal origin such as Cherokee highly unlikely for the original Melungeon families, some of their descendants may have later intermarried with families of Cherokee ancestry in East Tennessee. Anthropologist E. Raymond Evans (1979), regarding the Cherokee claims of the Melungeons of Graysville, Tennesseemarker, writes:
"In Graysville, the Melungeons strongly deny their Black heritage and explain their genetic differences by claiming to have had Cherokee grandmothers. Many of the local whites also claim Cherokee ancestry and appear to accept the Melungeon claim...."


A more recent claim of a specific tribal origin for Melungeons is Saponi, an early Virginia Siouan tribe. Elder (1999) suggested that the Saponi and other tribes who resided for a time at Fort Christannamarker in Virginia may have been a component of Melungeon ancestry. Historian C. S. Everett initially hypothesized that John Collins the Sapony Indian, who was expelled from Orange County, Virginiamarker, about January 1743 for firing at a white planter, might be the same man as the Melungeon ancestor John Collins, called a "mulatto" in 1755 North Carolina. But Everett has revised that theory after having discovered evidence that these were two different men named John Collins. Only the latter man, identified as mulatto in the 1755 record in North Carolina, has any proven connection to the Melungeons.

Descendants of Thomas Collins say their family story is that they were descended from a Saponi Indian. According to their family accounts, ancestors lived "as Indians" in Virginia in Louisa County. This statement is consistent with mixed-race people choosing to identify with one of their cultures, and of multiracial people choosing to identify as Indians, whether or not they had Native American ancestry. In later government records, some members of the Collins family were referred to as Indians.

Another source frequently suggested for Melungeon ancestry is Powhatan, a group of tribes inhabiting Eastern Virginia when the English arrived. During the 19th and 20th centuries, speculation on Melungeon origins continued, producing tales of shipwrecked sailors, lost colonists, hoards of silver, and ancient peoples such as the Carthaginiansmarker. With each author, more elements were added to the mythology surrounding this group, and more peoples were added to the list of possible Melungeon ancestors. The most influential of these early authors was probably Will Allen Dromgoole, who wrote several articles on the Melungeons in the 1890s.

More recent suggestions by amateur researchers as to the Melungeons' ethnic identity include Turk, and Sephardi (Iberian) Jewry. These researchers posit that the Melungeons are descended from Sephardi Jews fleeing the Inquisition. However, there is no historically documented evidence that Melungeons themselves have ever claimed any of those ancestries, nor does any verifiable historical evidence exist to support such theories. From their research, David Beers Quinn and Ivor Noel Hume believe that perhaps not all of the Turks rescued by Francis Drake in the sack of Cartagenamarker were repatriated to their homeland. "Whether any of them got ashore on the Outer Banks and were deserted there when Drake sailed away we cannot say." This view is not supported by academic historians.

A casual reader of Internet sources on this group might be left with the impression that there exists in the hills of East Tennessee an enclave of people, probably of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern origin, who have been in the area since before the arrival of the first white settlers. Such romantic fictions find no support among academic historians and genealogists, however. Historian Dr. Virginia E. DeMarce, former president of the National Genealogical Society, and author of several articles on the Melungeons, said in a 1997 interview: "It's not that mysterious once you...do the nitty gritty research one family at a time...basically the answer to the question of where did Tennessee's mysterious Melungeons come from is three words. And the three words are Louisa County, Virginia."

Etymology

There are many hypotheses about the etymology of the term "Melungeon". One theory, long favored by linguists and many researchers on the topic and found in several dictionaries, is that the name derives from the French mélange, or mixture. Another theory traces the word to malungu, a Luso-African root from Angolamarker meaning "shipmate." Kennedy (1994) speculates that it derives from the Turkish melun can (from Arabic "mal`un jinn" ملعون جنّ), which purportedly means "damned soul", although the Turkish word "can", meaning "soul", is Persian in origin, rather than Arabic; here, apparently confused with the Arabic word "jinn", better known as genie. It has been suggested that, at the time, this (condemned soul) was a term used by Turks for the muslims who had been captured and enslaved aboard Spanish galleons.

Many suggested etymologies seem to be striving for connection between the term "Melungeon" and the ethnic origin of people designated by that term, but there is no basis for this assumption. It appears the name arose as something others, of whatever origin, called the multiracial people. For example, Kennedy believes this group to be at least partly of Turkish origin; thus, for him, their name must also be Turkish.

The earliest known written use of the word "Melungeon" is in an 1813 Scott County, Virginiamarker Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church record:

"Then came forward Sister Kitchen and complained to the church against Susanna Stallard for saying she harbored them Melungins. Sister Sook said she was hurt with her for believing her child and not believing her, and she won't talk to her to get satisfaction, and both is 'pigedish', one against the other. Sister Sook lays it down and the church forgives her."


The usage of this word in the minutes without definition suggests it was a word familiar to the congregation. It appears at first glance to refer to a group of people: this is how Goins (2000) and others read it. However, such a reading seems at odds with the fact that several Melungeons were at the time members of the church, namely Thomas and Charles Gibson and Valentine Collins. Also, there is no record of any group called "Melungeons" prior to this time.

A more likely derivation for "Melungeon" could be from the now obsolete English word malengin (also spelled "mal engine") meaning "guile", "deceit", or "ill intent", and used as the name of a trickster figure by Edmund Spenser in his epic poem The Faerie Queene. Thus, the phrase "harbored them Melungins" would be equivalent to "harbored someone of ill will", or could mean "harbored evil people", without reference to ethnicity. Judging by these church minutes, then, it appears that the families who would later be called "Melungeons" in Tennessee were not yet known by that term in 1813 Virginia.

By 1840, "Melungeon" was apparently being used as a racial pejorative, at least in Tennessee: a Jonesborough, Tennesseemarker, newspaper article of that year entitled "Negro Speaking!" refers to a competing politician in derogatory fashion: first as "an impudent Malungeon from Washington Ctymarker, a scoundrel who is half Negro and half Indian," then as a "free negroe". Since Washington County borders Hawkins, the term "Melungeon" was presumably already associated by that time with Northeast Tennessee. However, it is unclear whether the word referred to a specific set of families or was just a generic label for a certain category of African American. The article does not provide the politician's name, but the 1830 census for Washington County, Tennessee lists the names of several free colored families, including several surnamed Hale. DeMarce (1992) listed Hale as a Melungeon surname, but Elder (1999) found no evidence that they were connected to the core Collins and Gibson families. By the mid-to-late 19th century, at least, the term appeared to refer specifically to the multiracial families of Hancock County and neighboring areas.

There seems to be no written evidence to demonstrate the process whereby a word meaning "ill will" in 1813 had come to mean a "half Negro ... half Indian" or "free negroe" by 1840. Even today, though, some people in Eastern Tennessee still use the term to mean something like "boogeyman," suggesting a possible intermediate stage.

Several other uses of the term from mid-19th to early 20th century print media have been collected at this website.. As can be seen, the spelling of the term varied somewhat from author to author, until eventually the form "Melungeon" became standard.

Modern identity

The term "Melungeon" was traditionally considered an insult, a label applied to Appalachian whites who were by appearance or reputation of mixed-race ancestry, though who were not clearly either "black" or "Indian". In Southwest Virginia, the roughly synonymous term "Ramp" was also used, though this term has never shed its pejorative character.

Thanks to a play of the late 1960s, however, "Melungeon" began to lose this negative connotation. It became a self-identified designation of ethnicity. This shift in meaning was probably due to playwright Kermit Hunter's outdoor drama Walk Toward the Sunset. This play about Melungeons was first presented in 1969 in Sneedvillemarker, Tennesseemarker, the county seat of Hancock County. Making no claim to historical accuracy, Hunter portrayed the Melungeons as indigenous people of uncertain race who were mistakenly perceived as black by the white settlers. Thanks to the increased interest in Melungeon history that this drama sparked, as well as its depiction of Melungeons in a positive, even romantic, light, many individuals began for the first time to self-identify as Melungeons. The purpose of the drama was "to improve the socio-economic climate" of Hancock County, and to "lift the Melungeon name 'from shame to the hall of fame'". The increasing acceptance of minority groups by Americans in the wake of the social changes of the 1960s was likely also a factor in this shift.

Interest in the Melungeons has grown tremendously since the mid-1990s due to their being featured in a chapter of Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent and N. Brent Kennedy's popular book on his claimed Melungeon roots, The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People. In addition, the Internet has led to many people doing research in family history. With access to numerous websites devoted to the "mysterious" Melungeons, an increasing number of people are interested and, perhaps because of it, the number of individuals claiming Melungeon heritage has increased rapidly. "Elaine Dundy's excellent biography of Elvis provides fascinating genealogical background and unintentionally paints a rather convincing Melungeon heritage for the 'King of Rock and Roll'." Many newly self-identifying Melungeons have no demonstrable connections to families who have been historically known by that term. Often the new claimants had been completely unaware of either the term or the group until learning about them on the Internet.

Some individuals begin to self-identity as Melungeons after reading about the group on a website and discovering their surname on an ever-growing list of "Melungeon-associated" surnames, or discovering certain physical traits or conditions purportedly indicative of such ancestry. For example, Melungeons are allegedly identifiable by "shovelled incisors," a dental feature very common among, but not restricted to, Native Americans and Northeast Asians. A second feature attributed to Melungeons is an enlarged external occipital protuberance, dubbed an "Anatolian bump", after the unsubstantiated claim that this feature appears among Anatolianmarker Turks with higher frequency than in other populations. This latter notion stems from the hypothesis, popularized by N. Brent Kennedy, that Melungeons are of Turkish origin. "I came to believe the long-discounted Melungeon claim to be of Portuguese — and even Moorish and Turkish — origin. The 'Mediterranean look' of my own family ..."

Another claim found often on the Internet is that Melungeons are more prone to certain diseases, such as sarcoidosis or familial Mediterranean fever, although neither of those diseases is confined to a single population. The "disease" claim also originated with N. Brent Kennedy, who began his quest into Melungeon origins after he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Claims that certain physical traits and conditions are more prevalent among Melungeon families still rest only on anecdotal evidence, and are not yet supported by any scientific research.

Kennedy's ancestral connections to this group are a matter of debate. In her review of his 1994 book, genealogist and historian Dr. Virginia E. DeMarce found that Kennedy's attempted documentation of his Melungeon ancestry was seriously flawed and did not properly take account of existing historical records or genealogical practice.. Kennedy responded to her critique in this article..

DNA testing

At the suggestion of N. Brent Kennedy, a DNA study on Melungeons was carried out in 2000 by Dr. Kevin Jones, using 130 hair and cheek cell samples. These samples were taken from subjects who were largely chosen by Kennedy himself as representative of Melungeon lines. McGowan (2003) described Dr Jones' discovery of the political aspects of genetic research when the results of the study caused disappointment among some observers. "...Jones concluded that the Melungeons are mostly Eurasian, a catchall category spanning people from Scandinavia to the Middle East. They are also a little bit black and a little bit American Indian." This study has to date not been submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal, nor has a list of those contributing samples been published. It is unclear to what extent the subjects were actually descendants of families historically designated or since documented as "Melungeon."

More recently, Jack Goins has started a Melungeon DNA Project, with the goal of studying the ancestry of hypothesized Melungeon lines. So far, Y chromosomal DNA testing of male subjects with the Melungeon surnames Collins, Gibson, Gill, Goins, Bunch, Bolin, Goodman, Stowers, Williams, Minor and Moore has revealed evidence of European and sub-Saharan African ancestry: Y haplogroups R1b, R1a, J2; and E3a, respectively. This finding is consistent with the documentation and research by Paul Heinegg and Dr. Virginia DeMarce. One Goins line looks likely to be a variety of Y haplogroup L with roots in Portugal, Spain and Italy. Taken as a whole, such findings appear to verify the early designation of Melungeon ancestors as "mulattos", that is, descendants of white Europeans and Africans. The line with a variety of haplogroup with roots in Portugal, Spain and Italy is consistent with historian Ira Berlin's research showing that some of the charter generation of enslaved or servant people in the Chesapeake Bay colony were Atlantic creoles. They had Spanish or Portuguese father or paternal ancestors and African mothers; ancestors were connected to the African slave trade run by Spain and Portugal.

More recently, a large DNA genetic test concluded that Melungeons are of Iberian (mostly Iberian Jewish) descent, though this is debated.

(See List of Melungeons)

Similar groups

Other so-called "tri-racial isolate" populations include the:



Each of these groupings of mixed-race populations has a particular history, and there is evidence for connections between some of them. The Goins group has long been identified as Melungeons by people from the rest of Tennessee, and the surname Goins is also found among the Lumbees.

Sociologist Brewton Berry (1963) used the term Mestizo for these groups, but that alternative has not been generally adopted.

In his Foreword to the section on Virginia, North, and South Carolina in Heinegg's work on free African Americans, historian Ira Berlin sums up the history of such groups thus:
Heinegg's genealogical excavations reveal that many free people of color passed as whites—sometimes by choosing ever lighter spouses over succeeding generations. Even more commonly, they claimed Indian ancestry. Some free people of color invented tribal designations out of whole cloth. Here Heinegg, entering into an area of considerable controversy, explodes what he declares the 'fantastic' claims of many so-called tri-racial isolates.


References

  1. Melungeon Heritage Association
  2. William Harlan Gilbert, Jr., "Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States", Report to the Board of Regents of The Smithsonian Institution, 1948
  3. Donald B. Ball and John S. Kessler, "North from the Mountains: The Carmel Melungeons of Ohio", Paper presented at Melungeon Heritage Association Third Union, 20 May 2000 at University of VA's College at Wise, Virginia Accessed 14 Mar 2008
  4. Shirley Price, "The Melungeons Are Coming Out in the Open", Kingsport Times-News, 28 Jan 1968, accessed 9 Apr 2008
  5. see Demarce, Heinegg
  6. Donald B. Ball and John S. Kessler, "North from the Mountains: The Carmel Melungeons of Ohio", Paper presented at Melungeon Heritage Association Third Union, 20 May 2000 at University of VA's College at Wise, Virginia, Accessed 14 Mar 2008
  7. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans in Colonial Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware, Church and Cotanch Families
  8. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans, op.cit., Gibson and Gowen Families
  9. Jack Goins, "Definition of the Melungeons"
  10. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans, op.cit., Chavis Family
  11. Brewton Berry. "The Mestizos of South Carolina", The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 51, No. 1 (Jul., 1945), pp. 34–41
  12. Orange Co, NC — Census — Early Tax Records, 1755–1779
  13. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans, op.cit., "Church and Cotanch Families"
  14. Tax List of Montgomery County, Virginia, accessed 14 Mar 2008
  15. 1790 Federal Census for Wilkes County, North Carolina, accessed 14 Mar 2008
  16. 1800 Census — Ashe County, NC, accessed 14 Mar 2008
  17. Stony Creek Baptist Church Minute Books
  18. 1820 Census — Floyd Co, KY
  19. 1830 Census — Hawkins Co, TN
  20. 1830 Census — Grainger Co, TN
  21. Hancock County, Tennessee Genealogy
  22. Pittsylvania Co, VA Tax List, 1767
  23. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans, op.cit., "Pettiford and Ridley Families"
  24. Census, Hancock Co, TN
  25. Nevada State Journal, 10 Nov 1935, p.6
  26. http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/lhr/25.3/gross.html Ariela Gross, "Of Portuguese Origin": Litigating Identity and Citizenship among the "Little Races" in Nineteenth-Century America", Law and History Review, Vol. 25, No. 3, Fall 2007, accessed 22 Jun 2008
  27. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, 2005, accessed 27 Aug 2008
  28. Dr. Virginia, E. DeMarce, Review Essay: The Melungeons, National Genealogical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 2, June 1996, pp. 134–149
  29. Dr. Louise Heite, "Delaware's Invisible Indians"
  30. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans, op.cit., Gibson and Gowen Families
  31. Ariela Gross, " "Of Portuguese Origin": Litigating Identity and Citizenship among the "Little Races" in Nineteenth-Century America", Law and History Review, Vol.25, No.3, Fall 2007, accessed 22 Jun 2008
  32. Jack Goins, Hamilton County, Tennessee Court Case Research, (selected transcripts)
  33. Sergei N. Khrushchev, Nikita Khrushchev and the Creation of a Superpower, State College: Penn State Press, 2000, p. 377.
  34. Melungeon Heritage Association Website
  35. Paul Heinegg, Free African Americans, op.cit., Church and Cotanch Families
  36. Melungeon Heritage Association Website
  37. Set Fair for Roanoke David Beers Quinn Page 343
  38. Ibid, p. 343
  39. "Melungeons", National Public Radio
  40. Hashaw, Tim (Jul/Aug 2001) Tim Hashaw, "Malungu: The African Origin of the American Melungeons." Eclectica Magazine.
  41. Hashaw, Tim (2007) The Birth of Black America: The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown. Basic Books.
  42. Joanne Pezzullo and Karlton Douglas, "Melungeon or Malengin?"
  43. Stony Creek Baptist Church Minute Books
  44. Melungeon Heritage Association Website
  45. 1830 Census, Washington County, Tennessee
  46. Melungeon Heritage Association Website
  47. Sovine, Melanie L. "The mysterious Melungeons: a critique of the mythical image." U. KY dissertation, 1982.
  48. Ivey, Saundra K. Oral, Printed & Popular Culture Traditions Related to the Melungeons of Hancock County, TN, Indiana U. dissertation, 1976; [1]
  49. Ibid. p.141
  50. Melungeon Forum, Genealogy.com Website
  51. Yuji Mizoguchi, "Shovelling: A Statistical Analysis of Its Morphology", U. of Tokyo, Bulletin No.26, Feb 1985
  52. Ibid, R. V. Kennedy.
  53. Ibid. p.102
  54. University of Maryland Medical Center Website
  55. "Learning About Familial Mediterranean Fever", National Human Genome Research Institute
  56. Dr. Virginia, E. DeMarce, Review Essay: The Melungeons, National Genealogical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 2, June 1996, pp. 134–149
  57. Dr. Brent Kennedy Responds to Virginia DeMarce, Southeastern Kentucky Melungeon Information Exchange
  58. Kathleen McGowan, Where Do We Come From?, Discovery, 1 May 2003, accessed 14 Mar 2008
  59. Family Tree DNA Website
  60. Melungeon DNA Project: Y DNA Results
  61. Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America, Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1998, pp. 17–25 and 29
  62. [2]
  63. Heinegg, Paul. Free African Americans, op.cit., Foreword, accessed 5 May 2006


Bibliography

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  • Winkler, Wayne (1997). " The Melungeons." All Things Considered. National Public Radio. 21 Sept. 1997.


See also



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