Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Here's wishing all readers of this blog
A happy and healthy 2009
And better days ahead

Claiborne County Genealogy and History

We often speak of Hawkins County, to the east and southeast of Hancock County and Newmans Ridge because Hancock County was created from it and many old records pertaining to the Melungeons are located in its archive. However, Claiborne County, Tennessee, immediately to the west of Hancock County and Newsmans Ridge, may also be of interest to you.

To visit its GenWeb site: Click Here.

To locate GenWeb sites for other counties of interest: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Immigrant Servants Database

The Immigrant Servants Database is a project designed to help Americans trace the Europeans origins of their colonial ancestors. Historians estimate that more than 75% of the colonists who settled south of New England financed their voyages to the New World as indentured servants, convict servants and redemptioners. This project aims to identify all immigrants described by these terms in American and European sources from 1607 to 1820 and to reconstruct their lives and families.

To visit this searchable online database: Click Here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Artifacts from Vardy

Digital Library of Appalachia

Artifacts from Vardy, Hancock County,Tennessee

Katherine Vande Brake
Professor of English and Technical Communication
King College, Bristol, TN

The items from Vardy that E. W. King Library at King College contributes to the DLA collection restate the themes so clearly outlined in Michael Joslin's introductory essay to the digital library project--community, isolation, religion, literacy, and hard work. However, these photographs, records of the Vardy Presbyterian Church, and other documents also expand the collection in an important way. Many of the people who lived in the Vardy community were descendants of the Melungeons and can trace their family lines back to the first Melungeons in Tennessee--Vardiman Collins, Shepherd Gibson, and Irish Jim Mullins who came to take up land grants in what was then Hawkins County shortly after the end of the Revolutionary War. So the Vardy artifacts provide an opportunity to see and understand how a significant Appalachian minority group lived and worked in the first half of the twentieth century. They also show the effect of missionary work in the southern mountains.

To visit this online essay and photographic exhibit: Click Here.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pictures from the Museum of Appalachia

A while back the MHS Blog discussed the Museum of Appalachia. Here is a site chock full of high quality photographs taken there. This site is a real treat, and be sure to follow all the links so as not to miss any of the photographs.

To see the photographs: Click Here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Owe My Soul to the Company Store

Sixteen Tons
Lyrics by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Some people say a man is made outta mud
A poor man's made outta muscle and blood
Muscle and blood and skin and bones
A mind that's a-weak and a back that's strong

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin' when the sun didn't shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

I was born one mornin', it was drizzlin' rain
Fightin' and trouble are my middle name
I was raised in the canebrake by an ol' mama lion
Cain't no-a high-toned woman make me walk the line

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

If you see me comin', better step aside
A lotta men didn't, a lotta men died
One fist of iron, the other of steel
If the right one don't a-get you
Then the left one will

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

Prior to the unionization of coalminers, and for some time afterward, the company store was a very real institution in the mining towns which grew up amid the great coalfields of Appalachia. Under the company store system, miners were paid not in money but in script redeemable only to purchase items for sale at the company store. This system kept miners in debt-bondage to the coal companies while adding to their profitability. It was not invented by the big Appalachian coal companies but it was perfected by them.

To see pictures of company stores and the Appalachian mining communities built around them, many of them now ghost towns, in areas pertinent to Melungeons and reflated families:
For pictures from other areas and to see a map of the major Appalachian coalfields: Click Here.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Civil War in Southeast Kentucky

Keeping the Homes Fires Burning
Civil War in Southeast Kentucky
by Holly Timm

With the advent of war, Harlan [County, Kentucky]'s lengthy border with Virginia, stretching [at that time] from Cumberland Gap towards Pound Gap, became a border with another country, subject to invasion. Histories of the era make no mention of Harlan County and only slight references to Southeast Kentucky, giving the impression that nothing much happened here during that time period. It is true that no major battles occurred in the area nor did anything of significance to the outcome of the war take place in our mountains but, the effect on the area and its people was extensive and long-lasting.

To continue reading this lengthy and fairly detailed account of the Civil War in Southeast Kentucky: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Y-STR Allele Nomenclature

Nomenclature—Take Two
Editorial by Whit Athey
Journal of Genetic Genealogy
Volume 4, Number 2 (Fall, 2008)

A year ago in this space, I lamented the differences in Y-STR nomenclature that existed on several markers between genetic genealogy companies. Since that time, things have only gotten worse as some markers that were previously scored the same by all companies, now have differences. Most companies appear to be trying to do what they believe fits best with the recommendations of the International Society of Forensic Genetics (ISFG), but there are apparently differing interpretations of these guidelines. In addition, a few companies have standards on a few markers that pre-date the general acceptance of the ISFG recommendations.

In this issue of JoGG, the Human Identity Group at NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology], led by John Butler, has written a review article on Y-STR nomenclature that tries to explain the basis for the differing interpretations (Butler, 2008). Perhaps more importantly, the group is now providing its own recommendations for the markers where differing scoring methods exist between companies. This could well be a turning point in the history of this messy subject. We can only hope that now all of the different companies will adopt the NIST recommendations and bring an end to the confusion.

Undoubtedly, if these recommendations are adopted industry wide, the change to the new standards will bring its own confusion at first as we try to get used to seeing a new range of values being reported from our favorite companies, but this should only be a temporary problem. There will probably be temporary confusion in the public databases as well, though it should be possible for each database administrator to make a blanket change to all records in order to bring them into line with the new standards.

The advantages of having industry-wide standards are compelling for both buyers and sellers of genetic genealogy services. The advantages for consumers are obvious, but the confusion caused by differing standards may be causing a small number of people to opt out of testing altogether. Probably more important for companies is the amount of time that a company must spend on explaining why its results may be different from those of another company. It seems that both customers and companies would benefit considerably from uniform standards.

Now that we have some clear recommendations on the specific markers where there are differences between companies, the ball is in the court of the genetic genealogy companies. Let’s hope that they will do the right thing. It would be helpful if they could coordinate the date for any changes that they may adopt.

To read the NIST paper: Click Here. (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required)

Note: This paper is very lengthy and very technical.

To read a much shorter and less technical interview with the NIST Human Identity Group team members: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review Essay: The Melungeons

By Virginia Easley DeMarce, Ph.D.
Historian and Past President of the National Genealogical Society
Originally printed in the National Genealogy Society Quarterly
Vol. 84, No. 2, June 1996

The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People. An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America
By N. Brent Kennedy, with Robyn Vaughan Kennedy.
Published by Mercer University Press; Macon, GA 31210; 1994

This frequently discussed review is the most important academic critique of the most widely read and most influential book about Melungeons ever written.

Here is an excerpt exemplifying the review:
Kennedy does not use the term Melungeon in its anthropological sense-that is, the interlocking families who moved into, existed in, and dispersed from Hawkins and Hancock Counties, Tennessee. Rather, he coins a very loose definition, expanding it to cover essentially all colonial-era Virginians and Carolinians who (in whatever records he consulted) are not clearly stated to be European American or African American. Melungeon thus becomes a catchall description for dark- skinned individuals whose ancestry does not seem to be sub-Saharan African-as well as their lighter-skinned relatives and descendants, whom he presents as subjects of racial prejudice. The manner in which numerous individuals are "deduced" to be Melungeon is troubling. By surmising a connection when he cannot show it, he makes "Melungeons" of numerous frontier families whose ancestry appears to be wholly northern European, including those whose known origin is Scotch-Irish or German. Typical cases are the Ritchies (pp.23-24), Hutchinsons (p.27), Kennedys and Hornes (pp. 66-68), Powerses and Alleys (pp.69-70), and Counts, Jessees, and Kisers (pp.77-79). In discussing an unproved line of descent from Edward "Ned" Sizemore, a central figure in the famous attempt to cash in on early-twentieth-century Eastern Cherokee claims awards (p.56), Kennedy ignores extensive testimony indicating that Sizemore descendants were, for social and legal purposes, a white family claiming Indian ancestry not Melungeons or free nonwhites.

Illustrative of the problem is Kennedy's analysis of William Roberson's ethnicity, which strongly suggests inexperience in genealogical and historical research. Because this Revolutionary War veteran supposedly said he was Scotch-Irish and from London, and because his name is variously spelled as Robertson, Robinson, and Robeson, Kennedy concludes the man was a Melungeon who purposefully obscured his true origins. "Surely, if William . . . really did come from England, Scotland, or Ireland, he would have known how to spell his last name.... [His] early meandering in [the Carolinas] undoubtedly plac[ed] him within the geographical region ... known as 'Robeson' county. Could William I have 'borrowed' his surname from the name of the county?" (pp.25-26). Coincidentally, Kennedy proceeds to state that Roberson's son married the first cousin of President Andrew Jackson. Obviously, in his historical studies, Kennedy has not encountered Jackson's declaration that he "could never respect a man who knew only one way to spell a word."

Kennedy often refers to the labels fpc (free person of color) and fc (free colored) informing readers that these were maliciously applied by the Scotch-Irish to their Melungeon neighbors in order to "strip the Melungeons of their lands" (p.12), and that "American antebellum census records consistently described those with Indian blood" as fpc (p. 89, italics added). Placing his family into this context, he says "they and we were 'free persons of color"' (p.5). In checking Kennedy's family lines, this reviewer consistently found the opposite-not a single instance in which his named ancestors, from 1790 through 1900, appear in public documents as anything but white. The legal acceptance of these lines as white by local officials contrasts curiously with the author's repeated statements that they were routinely labeled fpc.
To read the review in its entirety: Click Here.

To read Brent Kennedy's response to the review: Click Here.

This is must reading for anyone with an interest in Melungeon studies. You be the judge of what might be called the great debate of Melungeon studies.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tennessee's Landmark Documents

An online collection of twenty landmark historical documents is maintained by the Tennessee State Library and Archives. This collection features both images of the original documents and transcriptions of their contents.

To visit the collection: Click Here.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives maintains many other online resources, but unfortunately you must be a Tennessee resident (and obtain a password from your local library) in order to access most of them.

To have a look: Click Here.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Letcher County Giant

Martin Van Buren Bates, sometimes referred to as “Baby Bates,” the “Letcher County Giant,” or the “Kentucky Giant,” was a legitimate Appalachian folk hero. During his lifetime, he was known throughout America and Europe for his impressive stature and his various exploits. He was literally a “giant among men.”

Martin Van Buren Bates was born in Letcher County, Kentucky, on November 9, 1845, the son of John Wallis and Sara Waltrop Bates. At birth, Martin was a normal sized infant, the son of normal sized parents, and the brother of normal sized siblings. So it was quite a surprise when he grew up to become famous as the “Kentucky Giant” and one of the more interesting characters to emerge from Appalachia.

To continue reading this truly fascinating tale: Click Here.

Be sure to read the lengthy comment at the end which corrects and amplifies a number of points.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Great Appalachian Earthquake of 1897

Epicenter: Giles County, Virginia
May 31, 1897

This earthquake was the largest in intensity and areal extent in Virginia in historical times. The area of maximum ground motion extended over an elliptical area-from near Lynchburg, Va., west to Bluefield, W.Va., and from Giles County south to Bristol, Tenn.

The shock was felt severely at Narrows, about 3 km west of Pearisburg. Here, the surface rolled in an undulating motion, water in springs became muddy, and water in some springs ceased to flow. The flow of water in springs also was disturbed in the area of Pearisburg, about 70 km west of Roanoke, and Sugar Run.

The shock was strong at Pearisburg, where walls of old brick houses were cracked and many chimneys were thrown down or badly damaged. Many chimneys also were shaken down at Bedford, Pulaski, Radford, and Roanoke, Va., and Bristol, Tenn.; many chimneys were damaged at Christiansburg, Dublin, Floyd, Houston, Lexington, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount, Salem, Tazewell, and Wytheville, Va.; Charlotte, Oxford, Raleigh, and Winston, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Bluefield, W.Va. Felt from Georgia to Pennsylvania and from the Atlantic Coast westward to Indiana and Kentucky.

Aftershocks continued through June 6, 1897.

To read a number of contemporary accounts: Click Here.

For brief accounts of significant Virginia earthquakes from 1774 to the present: Click Here.

To learn more than you ever wanted to know about the origins and history of the Appalachian Mountains: Click Here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tennessee Melungeons and Related Groups

By Dr. Virginia Easley DeMarce
Historian and Past President
Of the National Genealogical Society

The great majority of individuals in the United States who carry a mixed European, African, and Native American genealogical heritage are not members of social isolate groups. The majority of them identify with some other component of the wider society--most commonly white, sometimes Black, and sometimes Native American. As such persons trace their family history, they may find that some, though probably not all, of their ancestors were at some time part of a tri-racial isolate settlement. Therefore, the genealogical study of such groups is of interest to a wide segment of the modern American population.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lee County Genealogy and History

Lee County, Virginia has an unusually rich GenWeb site.

To visit: Click Here.

Do be careful to explore it thoroughly. Of special interest is its maps showing the evolution of counties in Southwest Virgina.

To view: Click Here.

It is always important to remember that county boundaries have changed over time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Remember My Chains

Contrary to what the title might lead you to expect, this web site contains an eclectic collection of 17th and 18th century colonial records from the American Southeast pertaining to American Indians and to their social interactions with the colonists. The material is neither well-organized nor well-explained, but you may find something you have been looking for here, or something of interest that you never knew existed. Melungeons are mentioned a number of times but not in the entry which is of the most importance to Melungeon studies: Look for Louisa County, Virgina!

To visit: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Puzzle to Ethnologists

The People of East Tennessee

They are a Puzzle to Ethnologists
and are Called "Malungeons."

The New York Evening Post, 1902

Scotch, Irish and pure English are the types of the majority of the inhabitants of Eastern Tennessee. There are some negroes. The Indians, the Cherokees who once possessed the region have disappeared without leaving perceptible trace. But there is one group, a swart, short, stocky race, of small hands and feet, low cheek bones, small, regular teeth, heavy, straight, course hair, always black, which is distinct from the other types. The speech of this people is guttural and drawling to an extent not observed in the other white mountaineers. The men are given to hunting, fishing and idling, the virtue of industry being monopolized, as a rule, by the women of the group. Agriculturally they excel in growing apples, peaches and grapes. Locally known as "Malungeons," these striking racial survivals are more of less of an ethnological puzzle to the historians of Tennessee. Outside of Claiborne and Hancock counties, where the larger settlements are, similar groups have been found near Rabun Gap, Georgia, and in Sevier County, Tennessee. The theory most commonly accepted in regard to all the "Malungeons," however, is that they are descended from Portuguese colonists for the Western word in the seventeenth century. Several such adventures are recorded of the year 1664, these being a sequence of troubles at home. One fleet, the first to go, was never heard of again, and it is supposed that after a shipwreck the survivors of one of the vessels made their way into the mountains of Tennessee, though what confirmation or the explanation is provided by the traditions of the folk does not appear. Aforetime, the Malungeons were given to the illicit manufacture of liquor and to desperate fighting. It is related of one Betsy Mullins, who built her house on a hill, that she practiced moonshining for years in notorious, open defiance of the law, waxing greatly in wealth and weight. She was immune from arrest, for down the steep mountainside and through the the narrow trails the revenue officers could devise no method of taking a woman of 600 pounds.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Obama's true colors: Black, white ... or neither?

By Jesse Washington
AP National Writer

This relatively thoughtful Associated Press article on how America perceives President-elect Barrack Obama's race is pertinent to the Melungeon experience:

To read: Click Here.

Note: The article is incorrect in its explanation of where the "one drop rule" came from -- it was the product of early 20th century white supremacists and eugenicists, such as Walter Plecker, not antebellum slave owners -- while its explanation of how "white" genes entered the "black" gene pool is woefully simplistic and incomplete.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Appalachian Music Samples

To visit a storehouse of Appalachian music samples: Click Here.

These samples have been placed online by Appalachian musician and singer/song writer Henry Queen. To visit his Appalachian music blog: Click Here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Melungeons and Moonshine

An early MHS Blog entry discussed moonshine in Appalachia, suggesting Melungeons were no strangers to the trade, including the famous Melungeon moonshiner, Mahala Mullins.

Joanne Pezzullo, an indefatigable Melungeon researcher, has compiled a collection of newspaper, magazine and other accounts spanning the 19th and 20th centuries dealing with moonshine in and around the Newmans Ridge area, no few of them referencing Melungeon involvement in one way or another.

To read: Click Here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

1915 Dissertation

Status of the Negro in Virginia
During the Colonial Period
Gerald Montgomery West, M.A.
Submitted as one of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the
School of Political Science,
Columbia College.
Nov. 8 1915

Fundamental Law of the Colonies.

"About the last of August came in a Dutch man of warre that sold us twenty negars," wrote John Rolfe in 1619'.

Thus, briefly and incidentally, was chronicled an event fraught with such momentous results — the introduction of slavery into tho Anglo-American colonies.

In order to determine the legal condition of the negro at this, his first and enforced appearance in those colonies, as well as subsequently, it will be necessary to examine the various
charters of the colonies and the English common and statute law.....

To continue reading this dissertation in full: Click Here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Internet Archvie

The Internet Archive is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, it provides free access to researchers, historians, scholars, and the general public.

To visit the Internet Archive: Click Here.

The Internet Archives' collection of online texts may be its most useful aspect for genealogical and general historical purposes.

To visit: Click Here.

To go directly to the American libraries sub-collection: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Harlan County Genealogy and History

A number of Harlan County, Kentucky records are available online.

To visit a Harlan County research site on RootsWeb: Click Here.

To visit Harlan County's GenWeb site: Click Here.

To locate GenWeb sites for other counties of interest: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Lost Colony Blog

Any suggestion of a link between the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the Melungeons is highly speculative and certainly did not involve a direct trek west to the mountains of Tennessee, there to be discovered by Europeans centuries later as is so often erroneously depicted in Melungeon books and on Melungeon web sites. If there is any connection at all it would be by way of Lost Colony survivors mixing with American Indians and would be reflected in the genes of early colonial families throughout Virginia and the Carolinas, both predominantly European and American Indian.

Still, the search for Lost Colony survivors is a fascinating one, and may just possibly have some bearing the Melungeons, however distant.

To visit the Lost Colony Blog: Click Here.

To go directly to its associated Lost Colony DNA projects: Click Here for the mtDNA project and Click Here for the Y-Line DNA project.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Lumbee Indians and Goins Family Blog

The Lumbee Indians, The Lost Colony of Roanoke and The Goins Family Tree. This Blog will explore the relationships between them. Please note that the blog serves as a collection of all Goins/Going/Gowen early records and that there is no intention to suggest that all Goins are Lumbee related. Only by listing them all, tracking their migration routes and taking your comments on the families into consideration, can we study and determine what lines are related to others. Enjoy!

It has been suggested that there is a relationship between the Lumbee Indians and some Melungeons families. The centrality of the name Goins to both groups alone makes this an idea worth investigating; however, such a connection is yet to be proven.

To visit Lumbee Indians and Goins Family Blog: Click Here.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Beyond the Hatfields and McCoys

Only the Hatfield-McCoy feud is really remembered nationally today but it was by no means the only Southern Appalachian feud, nor was it even the bloodiest or the most famous at the time.

For an overview: Click Here.

To read about the Toliver-Martin feud: Click Here.

To read about the French-Eversole feud: Click Here. (Adobe Acrobat Reader Required)

To read about the Hargis-Callahan feud: Click Here.

To read about the Hill-Evans feud: Click Here.

To read about the Baker-White feud: Click Here.

To read about the Turner-Howard feud: Click Here.

To read about even more feuds: Click Here.

The list seems almost endless, and if all this appears somewhat amusing in retrospect, we must remember that for the participants it was quite serious and quite deadly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


"It is a poor, weak-spirited county in eastern Kentucky now that has not its feud and its band of thugs protected by the courts. … The savages who inhabit this region are not manly enough to fight fairly, face to face. They lie in wait and shoot their enemies in the back. … One can hardly believe that any part of the United States is cursed with people so lawless and degraded." New York Times, July 26, 1885

"My research reveals that there was indeed an outbreak of unusual violence in Appalachia in the mid-1880s. However, it was not caused by a Civil War legacy, ancient hatreds, or family vengeance but, rather, by the advent of economic and political modernization, whether fostered by local elites or by outsiders." Feuding in Appalachia, Evolution of a Cultural Stereotype by Altina L. Waller

For an academic look at the feuding phenomenon: Click Here.

To read about the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud in Blue Ridge County: Click Here.

To read about in in Time Magazine: Click Here.

For a more comprehensive look: Click Here.

Tomorrow: Some feuds you may never have heard of.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Guineas of West Virginia

"Almost White"

"There is a clan of partly-colored people in Barbour County often called Guineas, under the erroneous presumption that they are Guinea negroes [sic]," observed WV historian Hugh Maxwell in the 1890s. "They vary in color from white to black, often have blue eyes and straight hair, and they are generally industrious. Their number in Barbour is estimated at one thousand.

"They have been a puzzle to the investigator; for their origin is not generally known. They are among the earliest settlers of Barbour. Prof. W.W. Male of Grafton, West Virginia, belongs to this clan, and after a thorough investigation, says 'They originated from an Englishman named Male who came to America at the outbreak of the Revolution. From that one man have sprung about 700 of the same name, not to speak of the half-breeds.' Thus it would seem that the family was only half-black at the beginning, and by the inter-mixtures since, many are now almost white."

To read more about the Guineas: Click Here.

Note: While this article, quite correctly, nowhere links the Guineas of West Virginia to the Melungeons, it cites a presentation on the Guineas given at a 1997 Melungeon gathering as though it were a gathering of Guinea descendants, and the blog entry is tagged as Melungeon. There is, in fact, no evidence linking the Guineas to the Melungeons genealogically, despite the efforts of some authors to do so without evidence; however, they are similar to the Melungeons in that they are another mixed-race group alleged to have mysterious origins, and as a result they have had cultural and legal experiences similar to the Melungeons. Such mixed-race groups were spread up and down the eastern seaboard, as documented in mid 20th century by Price and Beale, et al.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tennessee Constitution of 1834

The 1834 Constitution disenfranchised free persons of color, resulting in a number of court cases involving attempts to deny Melungeons the vote. The operative section reads as follows:

Article 4.

Sec 1. Every free white man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the county wherein he may offer his vote, six months next preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for Members of the general Assembly, and other civil officers, for the county or district in which he resides: provided, that no person shall be disqualified from voting in any election on account of color, who is now by the laws of this State, a competent witness in a court of Justice against a white man. All free men of color, shall be exempt from military duty in time of peace, and also from paying a free poll tax.
This was surprisingly controversial and only passed the constitutional convention by a narrow vote after much debate. The competent witness clause appears to have been intended as something of a grandfather clause and was probably required in order to get the necessary votes for passage.

Tennessee is known for having one of the longest state constitutions, a distinction on which they made a good start in 1834. The 1834 Tennessee constitution (sometimes called the 1835 constitution because it did not go into effect until it was ratified in 1835) has a number of interesting features, including barring atheists from holding public office, prohibiting the legislature from abolishing slavery and feeling the need to explicitly outlaw dueling.

To read it in its entirely: Click Here.

To see the current Tennessee state constitution: Click Here. (Acrobat Reader Required)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to create opportunities for self-sustaining economic development and improved quality of life.

Its Area Development Program and Highway Program address the four goals identified in the Commission's strategic plan:
1. Increase job opportunities and per capita income in Appalachia to reach parity with the nation.

2. Strengthen the capacity of the people of Appalachia to compete in the global economy.

3. Develop and improve Appalachia's infrastructure to make the Region economically competitive.

4. Build the Appalachian Development Highway System to reduce Appalachia's isolation.
Each year ARC provides funding for several hundred projects throughout the Appalachian Region in support of these goals. These projects create thousands of new jobs, improve local water and sewer systems, increase school readiness, expand access to health care, assist local communities with strategic planning, and provide technical, managerial, and marketing assistance to emerging new businesses.

To visit the Appalachian Regional Commission online: Click Here.

Articles from its journal, Appalachia Magazine, are available online.

To reach them directly: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Africans and Indians: Only in America

"If you believe people have no history worth mentioning
it is easy to believe they have no humanity worth defending"

There in the misty dawn of the Americas two peoples of color began to meet in slave huts, on tobacco and cotton plantations, and as workers in dank mines. For two centuries Indians and Africans remained enslaved together, and Native Americans were not exempted from the system until after the Revolution. Scholar C. Vann Woodward has concluded "If the black-red inter-breeding was anywhere as extensive as suggested by the testimony of ex-slaves, then the monoracial concept of slavery in America requires revision."

To read this article by historian William Loren Katz: Click Here.

The phenomenon of Indian and black intermixing in early America is undoubtedly important to Melungeon studies. Note that the transcriber of this article made a glaring typo in the first paragraph where "geological detectives" should have read "genealogical detectives" instead.

Monday, December 1, 2008

West Virginia Historical and Genealogical Resources

The West Virginia Historical Society has online articles taken from its journal, The West Virginia Quarterly, going to back to 1996.

To visit: Click Here.

To search an online database of West Virginia birth, death and marriage records: Click Here.

More online West Virginia resources can be found at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History; to visit: Click Here.