Monday, August 31, 2009

Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library

The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia maintains a collection of more than 800 historic maps spanning nearly 500 years, from the sixteenth century through the early twentieth century. The collection provides a graphic resource upon which scholars can draw in re-discovering the minds and movements of early American explorers, revolutionary statesmen, cultural figures and politicians represented by the library's book and manuscript collections.

To see the online collection: Click Here.

Below is a map from the collection detailing possible routes for a proposed "National Road" connecting Washington, D.C. and New Orleans. The road was never built but note that one route would have taken it immediately south of Newman's Ridge.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site.

At the Tipton-Haynes historic site, eleven buildings tell a story of Tennessee's history from early settlement to the Civil War era. Contained within the large white house is the 25' x 35' log cabin of Col. John Tipton. The Tiptons enlarged the home and built a shed porch across the front of the house and built a separate kitchen. In the 1850s, Haynes changed the front porch to what is seen today and constructed his law office next to the house.

The outbuildings include a smokehouse, pigsty, loom house, still house, springhouse and the large log barn and corncrib from the Tipton period. In addition, there is the home of George Haynes, a slave with the Haynes family. Col. John Tipton is buried in the site's cemetery.

To visit: Click Here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heritage Alliance

Though the Heritage Alliance of Northwest Tennessee and Southwest Virginia only began in 2001, it actually has a much longer history. The present organization resulted from a merger of three previously existing organizations, each of which was dedicated to different aspects of historic preservation and heritage education. These organizations were the Jonesborough Civic Trust, the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum, and the Historic Jonesborough Foundation. Each of these organizations dates back to the 1970s. The present Heritage Alliance, with headquarters in the historic Duncan House in Jonesborough, maintains important aspects of each of these prior organizations while increasing efficiency and avoiding duplication of effort. Our expanded mission now recognizes the role we play, not only in Jonesborough and Washington County, but also in the wider region.

To visit their new web site: Click Here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Jonesborough, Tennessee

Founded in 1779, Jonesborough is Tennessee's oldest incorporated jurisdiction and is the County Seat of Washington County. Washington County was created in 1777 by Act of North Carolina as one of six counties on the western frontier in what later became the State of Tennessee. Frustrated with the lack of commitment from North Carolina to maintain and defend Jonesborough and other settlements, efforts were made to form a new state called the "State of Franklin" between 1784 and 1788. Jonesborough served as Franklin's temporary capital until a decision was reached to remain part of North Carolina.

When North Carolina ratified the new US Constitution in 1789, it ceded its western counties to the federal government and Jonesborough was placed under a territorial government. Finally statehood was achieved on June 1, 1796, when Tennessee was admitted as the sixteenth state of the Union following a close vote in Congress.

The Town of Jonesborough and surrounding Washington County were home to Andrew Jackson and many founding fathers of the State of Tennessee. Outstanding preservation efforts have made this Town one of the most authentic historic districts from the period 1790 to 1870 in the nation. Jonesborough is home to the International Storytelling Center that features numerous special events and festivals annually.

To learn more about Jonesborough: Click Here.

For Washington County History and Genealogy: Click Here and Click Here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee

Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee to the End of the Eighteenth Century (1853), now online, is the history of Tennessee from its beginnings as "that part of North Carolina west of the mountains" until it became the sixteenth state in the Union. Ceded by North Carolina to the United States after the Revolutionary War, but not accepted by them, they adopted several forms of self-government. This is a story of their trials, their battles with the Native Americans who occupied the lands the pioneers coveted, and their ultimate statehood. Ramsey, Corresponding Secretary of the East Tennessee Historical and Antiquarian Society, drew much of his material from original sources. As history, the Annals are extremely readable. As a genealogical resource, Ramsey's contribution to the field is invaluable.

To read the Annals online: Click Here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The State of Franklin

History of Western North Carolina
Chapter VI - The State of Franklin

By John Preston Arthur, 1914

THE ACT OF CESSION OF TENNESSEE. As Congress was heavily in debt at the close of the Revolutionary War, North Carolina, in 1784, "voted to give Congress the twenty-nine million acres lying between the Alleghany mountains and the Mississippi river." This did not please the Watauga settlers [For an explanation of the Watauga settlers: Click Here.], and a few months later the legislature of North Carolina withdrew its gift, and again took charge of its western land because it feared the land would not be used to pay the debts of Congress. These North Carolina law makers also "ordered judges to hold court in the western counties, arranged to enroll a brigade of soldiers, and appointed John Sevier to command it."

FRANKLIN. In August, 1784, a convention met at Jonesboro and formed a new State, with a constitution providing that lawyers, doctors and preachers should never be members of the legislature; but the people rejected it, and then adopted the constitution of North Carolina in November, 1785, at Greenville. They made a few changes in the North Carolina constitution, but called the State Franklin. John Sevier was elected governor and David Campbell judge of the Superior court. Greenville was made the capital. The first legislature met in 1785; Landon Carter was the Speaker of the Senate, and Thomas Talbot clerk. William Gage was Speaker of the House, and Thomas Chapman clerk. The Convention made treaties with the Indians, opened courts, organized new counties, and fixed taxes and officers salaries to be paid in money, corn, tobacco, whiskey, skins, etc., including everything in common use among the people.

To continue reading about Franklin: Click Here.

To see Franklin's statehood petition, with the names of all the signers: Click Here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A 19th Century Slang Dictionary

Compiled & Edited by Craig Hadley

Humbug? Shecoonery? Useless truck or gum? Hornswoggling? Honey-fuggling? Not in this book, dear sir! I swan to mercy, a huckle- berry above anyone's persimmon. Some pumpkins, a caution, 100 percent certified by a Philadelfy lawyer. If not, dad-blame it, I'll hang up my fiddle, and you can sass me, knock me into a cocked hat, give me jesse, fix my flint, settle my hash, ride me out on a rail and have a conniption fit, you cussed scalawag. Now ain't that the beatingest language you ever did hear? Sure beats the Dutch! Pshaw! Do tell! Bully for you!

This is just a small example of the period slang of the 19th century which may appear in printed material and most especially in diaries and letters.

To peruse the dictionary: Click Here.

Note: This dictionary is not exhaustive, but it is fairly sizable, and it makes some effort to give an idea of when in the 19th century the various expressions were used. In some cases (a few of them rather surprising) the dictionary merely confirms that a slang word or phrase used today had the same meaning in the 19th century, which is also useful to know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tennessee Gazetteer


Tennessee Cities: profiles of 6,702 Tennessee cities, towns, neighborhoods, subdivisions, settlements and other places in Tennessee that people call home. Each profile includes a variety of maps and aerial photos plus a listing of local schools, hospitals, parks, libraries, airports, churches, plus links to other nearby physical, cultural and historical features with maps, distances and driving directions. The profile for each Tennessee city & town also includes a variety of resources including local jobs, newspapers, real estate MLS listings along with a "nearby search" tool for finding nearly anything in the local area.

Tennessee Counties: data for each of the 95 Tennessee Counties including cities, towns and other populated places as well as Tennessee physical, cultural and historical features - all sorted by County.

Tennessee Maps: interactive state and County maps plus five standard maps/aerial photos for each Tennessee city, town, physical, cultural or historical feature. Most maps have links for a targeted local area search, distance and driving directions, and links to a very large map display.

Tennessee ZIP Codes: complete list of Tennessee ZIP Codes with the cities and towns formally associated with the ZIP Code by the US Postal Service. You can search for a Florida city or town and find corresponding ZIP Codes. A map displays the centroid for each Tennessee ZIP Code.

Tennessee Features: extensive lists of Tennessee Physical Features such as lakes, island and steams, Tennessee Cultural Features such as schools, parks, hospitals & airports, plus Tennessee Historical Features and Tennessee's National Historic Landmarks. Maps and driving instructions are provided for all Tennessee features.

Tennessee Census: census data for Tennessee cities, towns, villages and Census Designated Places (CDP) as well as all 95 Tennessee Counties - including County subdivisions. Data includes population, housing units, land and water area, and Tennessee State/Tennessee County demographics.

To access the Tennessee Gazetteer: Click Here.

The site's "Features by County" pages are of particular interest:

For Hancock County: Click Here.

For Hawkins County: Click Here.

For other Tennessee Counties: Click Here.

For gazetteers for other states: Click Here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

13th Annual Appalachian Festival

Raleigh County, West Virginia

The 13th Annual Appalachian Festival is three big days packed with arts, crafts, entertainment, music, food and fun! Held in Beckley and throughout Raleigh County, Friday, August 28 – Sunday, August 30, this year’s festival promises to deliver! Start each day with a down-home, hearty Appalachian style breakfast. Sample delicious cuisine at Taste of Appalachia while enjoying jazz & pop bands. For the history buffs (and the brave at heart) take a thrilling Ghost Tour and explore Beckley’s haunted sites. Check out beautiful quilts, stunning art, and crafts lovingly made by over 100 artisians! Theatre WV offers a Friday night performance by Phil Dirt & the Dozers that will have you laughing and singing along! There’s a flea market, coal mine tours, and folk music harkening back to the roots of Appalachia! For the auto enthusiasts, don’t miss the Classic Car Show featuring more than 100 classic automobiles! There’s more … craft demonstrations, strolling musicians, and bluegrass bands … all the best of West Virginia’s native talent! Don’t miss the Appalachian Festival! It’s sure to delight your senses and put a smile on your face! Events take place throughout Raleigh County. Check out activities at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center (former armory), Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, Crossroads Mall, Grandview Park, Tamarack, Uptown Beckley, and the Youth Museum of Southern WV.

For more information: Click Here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Old Cookbooks are Filled with History

By Roger and June Lowe
Published in The Examiner

In addition to recipes, a cookbook can dish up a nice serving of history. Especially a book published in 1890 and passed down from mother to daughter (and in some cases, grandmother to granddaughter) through the years. Appalachian history can be found in the oddest places and attached to the strangest things.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Malungeons of Tennessee

And Their Portuguese Ancestry

Marion Daily Star - August 15, 1900

~Many of Them Fought In the Civil War ~But Are Now Moonshiners~
Intelligence a Characteristic~Also Fondness For Firearms and Firewater~

[Special Correspondence]
Owensboro, Tenn., Aug. 14.--

While much has been written from time to time about the "poor whites," mountaineers and the "Georgia Crackers," yet there is a still more peculiar class of southerners who have until lately escaped notice. These people are called the Malungeons. They are copper colored with high cheek bones, straight noses, black hair, rather coarse, black eyes, and have more intelligence than the average mountaineers.

A great deal of trouble has come to them because of their color and customs. The Malungeons number between 400 and 500. They live on Black Water Creek, in Hancock County, which section they have inhabited for more than 100 years. (2)

The records of Hancock County show that the Malungeon ancestors came to Powell's Valley as early as 1789, when they took up lands on the Black Water. Tradition says that they held aloof from the white settlers and spoke a strange language which not one of the pioneers could fathom. Some of them could speak broken English, and by this means communicated with the white merchants to the extent of buying arms, ammunition and other supplies which could not be procured in the valleys of their mountain homes.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

American Notes and Queries: Malungeons

Edited by William Shepard Walsh, Henry Collins Walsh
William H. Garrison and Samuel R. Harris

March 21, 1891 -- In The Arena for March 1891, there is an entertaining and valuable account, written by W. A. Dromgoole, about the Malungeons, an outcast race of people living in the mountains of East Tennessee. In 1834, by the Act of the Constitutional Convention, the right of suffrage was denied them, but it has since been restored. The Malungeons claim to have been originally Portuguese (in the Portuguese language, malandrim means an outcast, a vagabond). Their principal stronghold at present is on Newman's Ridge in Hancock county. They are not negroes, for their hair is straight, their complexion is reddish brown. The pure Malungeons are sometimes called Ridgemanites; those who have white or negro blood are called Blackwaters. Many persons believe, with some show of reason, that the Malungeons have an admixture of Cherokee blood. These people are exceedingly filthy and immoral in their habits. Their principal family names are Mullins, Gorvens, Collins, and Gibbins. It is a little remarkable that in Devonshire the name Gubbin, or Gubbins, was once very common among the outcasts of the Dartmoor, so much so that the whole stock or race (now nearly, if not quite extinct) used to be spoken of as the Gubbinses. The Malungeons, according to Miss Dromgoole, who spent some little time with them, would appear, as a class, to be rapidly diminishing in members.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sizemore Family History

My Sizemore Family History
By Samuel J Adams

Part I: Tales and Legends

Who were our Sizemore's and where did they come from? Discovering the answers to these simple questions turned out to be a great deal more difficult than I'd ever imagined. There are many tales and legends about our ancestors, but little actual proof. Some say we're descended from a line of Cherokee Indian Chiefs. Some think our blood is thick with fiery Scots-Irish. In the early stages of my quest I found us linked to several English noblemen, and even a Queen. That same genealogy took us back to a character named Fuko Howard who was born in the year 1115 in a place called Wiggenhall. Another had us connected to wealthy Virginia land owners and politicians. One tree even had us going back through Alfonso VI "The Valiant" King of Castile and Leon (born 1039 Castile, Spain), all the way back to Exilarch Hanini David, the high priest of the Jewish temple in Babylon, circa 620 B.C.! The truth - at least the provable part - is somewhat less glorious than kings and noblemen, but it's real. And the reality, as I've found it, is every bit as interesting.

To continue reading: Click Here.

For detailed Sizemore genealogy: Click Here.

Note: Although not Melungeons themselves, some Melungeons had Sizemore ancestors, making the Sizemore family of interest to Melungeon researchers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to Research a Little Bit of Melungeon

A Basic Guideline.

Pat Spurlock Presented This Talk
At the East Tennessee Historical Society First Families Fair
On May 27, 2000.
Reprinted here by permission of Mrs. Elder

Good morning and Welcome to Knoxville! I appreciate you all showing up because I LOVE to talk about Melungeons. I’d like to keep my lecture short enough that we’ll have plenty of time for questions.

You’ll see on your handout a list of my frequently asked questions and the answers are:

How do you pronounce that word? Melungeon

What is a Melungeon? We’ll cover that in a minute.

Am I a Melungeon? Not that I know of but I want to be.

Are you a Melungeon? I don’t know.

These may seem like silly questions, and I do want us to have fun with the seminar, but without a serious definition and a plan, you won’t get very far in Melungeon research. Your handout highlights the boring parts about how to develop a theory and obtain dependable results. I know that researching Melungeons isn’t as dangerous as doing brain surgery, but you still need reliable methods and skills if you want reliable results.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Avoiding Pitfalls in Melungeon Research

A talk presented by Pat Spurlock in 1998.
It is reprinted here with her permission.

Good morning everybody.

I'll be talking to you this morning about how to avoid some of the pitfalls you may find while researching Melungeons. First, I want to warn you this is my very first public talk unless you count teaching high-school Sunday school class. I'm a researcher and a writer, so if you want to've been warned. I do promise not to preach, but I HAVE wanted to convert Bill Fields for several years.

How many of you think you MAY have Melungeon ancestry? How many of you positively are Melungeon descendants? How many are here only because they have to be?

Seriously, I understand some genealogy classes were taught on Thursday and Friday, so I hope I don't bore you folks who attended those. My talk will likely touch on some of the same things. Those of you who did attend the classes-I know you're already tired of hearing the word "documentation" but I'm going to use it several times today.

OK ... let's get down to business.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: This is a transcript of the first of two talks given by the noted Melungeon researcher Pat Spurlock. The second follows tomorrow.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Thirteen Year Old Kentucky Bride

Comments on Wooton's Creek, Kentucky, May 31, 1898
Excerpt from the diary of the Rev. Dr. John J. Dickey

Yesterday morning, Monday, I left Hyden to come to this neighborhood to see about getting permission to furnish a teacher for this school district. There are 109 scholars in the census. I want to put a Wilmore teacher here, full of the Holy Ghost, to get the people saved. As I passed near the school house there were 10 or 12 men sitting at the roadside on blankets or coats, playing cards. There were two games going on. I stopped and warned them mildly, they never stopped playing or made any reply. I went to see Harrison Napier, a trustee, a merchant living two miles above the mouth of Wooton's Creek. He is 44 years years old or nearly so, and five weeks ago married a girl not quite 14 years of age. He has grandchildren, several children at home. She came to the store, looked as she is, a little girl, with short dress on, very childlike in her manner and appearance. Mr. Napier told her to go back to the house as that was the place for the children. He is a very bright man, is considered the best salesman in the county. He said that he would employ any teacher that the district wanted, but I am told he has a man whom he wants to put in. He gave me no encouragement, was not disposed to talk about the matter. He is very impure and his impurity led him to kill a man whose wife's affections he had alienated, a man named Bailey. His excuse for marrying a child was that he knew that she was pure and being a child she and his children would get along pleasantly together. This is a hard community though there are some good citizens in it. There is a lawless element; two stills were cut
up a few days ago.

Note: John J. Dicky was a late 19th century Methodist minister based in southeastern Kentucky. There will be more from him in a forthcoming blog entry. The reference to a "Wilmore teacher" is a reference to Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, founded by the Methodists in 1890; and there is an obvious parallel to the missionary work in Vardy which the Presbyterians were beginning to undertake at the same time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Goodspeed's History of Tennessee

County Histories

The Goodspeed Publishing Company of Nashville and Chicago issued A History of Tennessee from the Earliest Times to the Present, together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of … [County names go here] . . during 1886 and 1887. Unfortunately, the project was not completed and therefore not all Tennessee counties are represented in this series. A total of eighty-two counties were recorded, however, the histories of Davidson County and twelve rural counties of the Cumberland Plateau were never published.

Goodspeed published their work in three parts. First was the general History of Tennessee, Illustrated; second, the histories of the individual counties; and lastly, some biographies of folk from the individual counties.

Our purpose is to both publish here the county histories and biographies. When we do not have a transcription, we will attempt to link to other websites.

To go to the county histories: Click Here.

Note: County histories for Hancock and Hawkins Counties, the counties of greatest importance to Melungeon studies, were published and are among the county histories available through the link above; and both have, in fact, been individually blogged here previously.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Peculiar Race of People

The Melungeons
A Peculiar Race of People Living [in] Hancock County
The Knoxville Journal

The newspapers of the country are again wrangling with the 'Melungeons' or 'lungens' a peculiar race of people living along Newman's Ridge in Hancock county. They are also scattered along Clinch mountain in Hawkins and Grainger in isolated settlements. Even that bright and fascinating young writer, Miss Will Allen Dromgoole has taken it upon herself to journey all the way from nashville to the wilds of Hancock for the evident purpose of settling once and for all the much disp... (?) question of their origin. Unfortunately she gleamed little information other than that already published. It might be -- that she made a mistake in going among these strange people for that purpose, .... having they know about as much concerning the matter as any one else and that is not adding much. They themselves know virtually noting of their origin or antecedents from whence they came or the character of the mixed blood that courses through their veins.

In color they range from nearly white to a strong copper tint. They are of the average stature and general physical bearing; eyes always black, and short wavy or kinky hair, impressing one at first sight with the idea that they are of mixed white and negro blood. They are as a rule ignorant, uneducated and the knowledge and practice of virtue among them is woefully missing. Until quite recently they believed it was the inherent right of man to make moonshine whisky and take human life. They are growing better in this respect, however and the number of arrests for violation of the internal revenue laws in Newman's ridge district is growing beautifully less.

A large section of Hancock along the sides of Newman's ridge and in the valley of the Blackwater and Sycamore is almost entirely given up to the 'Melungeons.'

To continue reading: Click Here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Genealogical History of the Melungeon Families

By Mark French Jr.
Of Clintwood, Virginia

Paper Originally Written, November 22, 1947.
Corrected Edition Written, February 20, 1964.

Uncle Wash Osborne of Copper Ridge near Dungannon in Scott County gave me more information about the Melungeons than anyone else. Uncle Wash's full name is George Washington Osborne.

From what I gathered from Uncle Wash, the Melungeons started coming to Wise and Scott Counties about 1820. These people came in about equal numbers from Kentucky from Newmans' Ridge and lower end of Lee County. A few came from North Carolina.

The first Collins family, who came to Scott County from Newmans Ridge were white.

From Kentucky came the following families; Collins, Gibsons, and Sextons. From Newman's Ridge; Collins, Littons and Bollings. Very few people with these names came from Newman's Ridge.

From Blackwater, Tennessee came the Sweeneys, Adkins, Lucas, Bollings, Goins and Baldwins.

Also the Melungeons came to Scott County from Letcher County, Kentucky near Whitesburg at a place called Lick Rock. These people lived in large numbers. Uncle Poke Gibson came to Scott from Letcher about 1820. He claimed to be Portuguese Indian. A few Littons came from Newman's Ridge who are member of the Melango Tribe. There are two groups of Littons members of the Melango Tribe who live in Scott County and the Littons of Wise County who are not members. The Littons of Wise are no relation to the Littons of Scott.

The Bollings, who are numerous in Scott and Wise Counties, came from Newman's Ridge. The have all the features of the Indian race.

Old Jack Bolling, the originator of this family, is believed to have come from a low life grade of Indian. He married a melungeon by the name of Collins or Sexton but this is the first and last crossbreed in the family. His people were strong and spoke half-broken English. He was pure bred Melango and had no other blood in him. In this case word Melango pertains to Indian blood only.

The Baldwins came to Scott County from Blackwater, Tennessee.

They came from an Indian tribe there and the first Baldwins here were full-blooded Indian but in this region mixed with Negro slaves and Gibson and Sextons which leaves a variously diluted blood.

Most of this set of Baldwins live in Scott County. The present members of this name are one-third Indian, one-third Portuguese and one-third colored. Another group, the Coins, who are very near full Indian came from Blackwater, Tennessee. The Goins, a high-minded group of people, are believed to be mixed with white people. They settled among the white people of Scott County in the last one hundred and forty ears. The Sweeneys who came from Blackwater, are a fighting tribe when in anger; other wise, they are a peaceful group. They are not as dark as some of the other members from Blackwater. Nerve is one of their outstanding traits not being afraid of anything. Years ago Old man Nichols gave several of them a good beating and thence they scattered. A few settled in Russell, a few in Lee, a few in Wise, a few in the lower end of Scott, a few at Newman's Ridge and others went down to the home of their forebears Blackwater Swamp, Tennessee.

The Adkins family of Indian origin came from Blackwater, Tennessee. Some of them have migrated from Scott County to Letcher and Pike County. A Kentucky family name which belongs to the Melango tribe is the "Lucas' facial features are large and massive with ruddy cheeks. It is believed they are descended from Portuguese Indians and Irish. The name Lucas is of Irish origin.

Another family which originated from the melungeons is the Moores. The Moores came in to this county from Newman's Ridge about 1807. The originator of the Moores here was old Eth Moore. The family name of this forebears had the Irish prefix O and was spelled O'Moore. Eth Moore always said he was one-third Portuguese Indian. Of course the other two-thirds consisted of Irish and don't know what. The Moores of Wise County are descendants of Eth Moore.

Eth Moore had tolerable dark skin, broad cheek bones, broad face, very pretty eyes black as a cat, a nose three inches long, very flat and wide as a opossums. He spoke with an indistinct tone since his words came through his nose. Eth Moore, a school teacher, a man of knowledge and brilliant mind, lived during the slave days but kept no slaves as he considered them too irresponsible to have onthe place.

The name Eth was a shortening of the name Ethan. The Moore set of Scott County, who are descendants of old Eth Moore, are people o good business sense. Usually the men and women are very good looking.

Another name of the Melango tribe of this region is the Frenches.

The Melungeons migrated to the Southern sections of this country such as Newman's Ridge and Wise and Scott Counties from the North. They migrated to Scott County in about equal numbers from Newman's Ridge and Letcher County, Kentucky. To Newman's Ridge the Indian tribe came from Blackwater Swamp, Tennessee and the Portuguese Indian element came from someplace in the North. They migrated down here from the North in all probability because it was very cold up there and were in need of blankets and warm houses and had not money to buy the blankets nor the industry to build warm houses. Therefore they migrated further south where no blankets and warm houses were needed. Of course, blankets and warm houses were needed during winter season of the year but winter season was of short duration.

I have separated the Melango families into the different groups as follows:

1. Purebred Indian groups from Blackwater, Tennessee a. Coins b. Bollings c. Sweeneys d. Adkins e. Minor

2. Indian group from Blackwater who married in other Melango Tribes a. Baldwins

3. Melango groups from Kentucky a. Collins b. Sextons

4. Indians and whites from Newman's Ridge a. Bollings b. Collins

5. Portuguese Indian and white from Newman's Ridge a. Collins

From Newman's Ridge a. Moore's—married Sextons and Gibson during first generation

6. Portuguese Indian from Kentucky a. Gibson

Under the column Portuguese Indian and white are the few people who came from Newman's Ridge called Collins. In Scott County they married among the Sextonsand Gibsons. By intermarrying among these other people their blood became variously diluted. We know definitely that the blood of the descendants of Collins of Newman's Ridge consists of Portuguguese Indians and white. The first Collins from Newman's Ridge were reported to be white.

Now the descendants of old Eth Moore in the generations since 1835 who married in families other than Melango have very little Melango blood in their veins. Of course, blood of the descendants of those who married the Melangoes in the last one hundred and twenty years in Scott County is variously diluted. Under the column Purebred Indian group from Blackwater are the Minors. The Minors, a fighting people, show more of the Indian than any other Indian group in Scott County. They claim to be Portuguese Indian stock. They are of large stature, tall of black complexion and very strong. I believe the Minors are of three-quarters Indian and on-quarter Portuguese. The are of the type of people whose word is their bond. In Scott County some of them own large stock farms and have prospered.

The story of the Spanish ship wreck was verified by Samuel Sexton. It was repeated to him by Aunt Caroline Collins who heard it from her father, Johnny Sexton, who came to America on a ship which carried Spanish bullion. Johnny Sexton came to Stone Mountain from Eastern Virginia. His family was of Spanish descent. I do not have the Spanish shipwreck story readily was available to insert in this paper.

I read an interesting article in the October 18 issue of the SATURDAY EVENING POST called "The Legend" written by Elizabeth Worden of Washington D.C. It gives different theories advanced by different people about the origin of the Melungeons of Blackwater Swamp and Newman's Ridge, Tennessee. I do not have a copy but gave it to Hamp Osborne who writes an article called "Hillbilly" in a Scott County newspaper.

I meant to go down to Slant and talk to John Sallings about the Indians from Blackwater but failed to do so. Of course, I doubt if he could tell me anything about the mixed group of Melungeons. John Sallings is now deceased, dying two or three years ago.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Grave Houses

The Grave House
By Frederick Smoot

Genealogy will lead the ardent researcher down many roads. Obscure burial grounds and lesser known burial customs can be the reward for following those roads. One reward could be the discovery of the ruins of a grave house, sometimes called a grave shelter. They can be found throughout the south, especially in hill country. The grave house is different from the mausoleum. The grave house is built over an “in earth” interment, while in the mausoleum the bodies are above ground, often being placed in a alcove in the walls. As we might expect, our early grave houses may contain more than one body. The style of the grave house could vary. Logs, milled lumber, field stones, ashlars, and even brick are the potential materials of the grave house. Some grave houses were built without doors. Many abandoned early grave houses would have totally disappeared as the wooden parts rotted away. Those grave houses that had a stone perimeter foundation may today appear simply as old stone walls - and if no headstones remain -- may be passed over as cemetery - looking too much like the foundation of a small building.

To continue reading: Click Here.

To read a Knoxville News-Sentinel article about finding a grave house in Hancock County: Click Here.

Important Note: Some authors and web sites claim that grave houses are indicative of the occupant of the grave having been a Melungeon. This is another Melungeon myth, howbeit a minor one, which is simply untrue. As stated above, grave houses are found throughout the South. And in fact, some American Indians of the Southeast constructed grave houses, as can be seen in the early 20th century picture of Seminole grave houses shown below.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Second Visit to the Melungeons

By C.H. Humble, 1897

Home Mission Monthly
Woman’s Board of Home Missions
The Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A

On July 3, 4 and 5, I was in Blackwater valley, between Mulberry and Newman's ridges, Hancock county, Tenn., where dwell a peculiar people called the Melungeons.

On August 26, I again started for this region, this time from Lone Mountain, on horseback, the distance being twenty-six miles, over a fair road with no considerable hills.

At least a dozen schoolhouses and churches were passed, in only one of which was there a Sunday- school.

About nine miles out I rode into a crowd of school-children, sixty in number, enjoying recess. The teacher said there were eighty scholars in the district, but they had no Sunday-school. He cheerfully agreed to give me an hour on the morrow at 2 P.M., and to "norate" the appointment. At that time the house was crowded, nearly a hundred persons being present. After an address, a Sabbath-school was organized, which we will be able to visit at short intervals.

But as the approach to Blackwater was made the inquiry arose, " What is my Fourth of July Sabbath-school doing?" and on my arrival I was rejoiced to learn that it was in a flourishing condition and was truly the "Pride of the Valley."

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: This link takes you to Humble's account of his first visit to the Melungeons which was blogged here a little over a month ago Since then his account of his second visit has been appended to it and can be found immediately following it by scrolling down. However, you might want to read or reread his account of his first visit before reading about his second visit. Below both accounts are several quotes from Presbyterian publications further mentioning the Melungeons between 1897 and 1919.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pow Wow time is the Native American people’s way of meeting together, to join in dancing, singing, visiting, renewing old friendships and make new ones.

It is a time to renew thought of the old ways and to preserve a rich heritage. contains a wealth of information about powwows, including photos, videos, sound recordings and a very comprehensive powwow calendar covering all the US and Canada. Non-Indians are usually welcome at powwows, and the site contains a helpful section on powwow etiquette.

To visit Click Here.

Note: A good deal of patience may be required when loading this site over a dialup connection, and JavaScript absolutely must be enable in order for the site to display and function properly.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cherokee Stickball

Stickball - A Game of Life
As told by Jerry Wolfe to Rob Hunt

I'll tell you the legend, a legend my father told me about the stickball games.

He said back in the days when the white settlers were moving in, they were having a game, probably up in Big Cove. And he said the new people that came in had never seen a game played - had never seen anything like it.

One of the old men - an old Cherokee man - was sitting on the sidelines watching the young men play. One of the settlers sat down with him and said, "That's quite a game. I've never seen anything like it." And they had a conversation, of course, talked about it. And right toward the end he said, "When did you start playing this game? How old is it?" And he said, "It's old. It's been played generation after generation," he said. "It dates back to who knows when, on back beyond. It started back when the animals of the forest had a ball team."

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: This game was very real and played by Indians throughout Eastern North America. In Canada, it inspired the game now called lacrosse.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Peculiar People

Indiana Messenger
Indiana, Pennsylvania

March 17, 1897

Just across the Kentucky line in Tennessee, live a peculiar people. They are known as the Malungeons. They are splendid specimens of the human race , copper colored with high cheek bones, straight noses, black hair, rather coarse and straight, eyes invariably black, and above the ordinary mountaineer in intelligence. Their peculiar color and their customs have caused them a great deal of trouble. They number between 200 and 400. The live on Black Water Creek, in Hancock County, and they have lived in this section for over 100 years. The records of Hancock county show that the ancestors of this strange people came to Powell’s Valley as early 1789 when they took up lands on Black Water.

Tradition says that they held aloof from white settlers and spoke in strange language, which none of the people understood. Some of them spoke broken English, and by this means communicated with the white merchants in the extent of buying arms and ammunition and other supplies which they could not raise in their mountain homes. They intermarried until their racial characteristic were so thoroughly established in their progeny that the frequent marrying of strangers by members of the colony during recent years has had no perceptible effect on their colony, hair and general resemblance to their ancestors, who lived half a century ago.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Melungeon Frequently Asked Questions

And Factual Resources

Who were the Melungeons? When did they arrive in Hawkins/Hancock County, Tennessee? Where did they live before? Where are they now? Where can you find reliable information about the Melungeons?

To learn the answers to these and many, many other commonly asked questions about the Melungeons: Click Here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Divorce in Early Tennessee

By Gale W. Bamman, CG, CGL
© Copyright, Gale W. Bamman, 1985, 1999

Editors note: This paper has been adapted from the Introduction found in her book, Tennessee Divorces 1797-1858, Taken from 750 Legislative Petitions and Acts* by Gale W. Bamman and Debbie W. Spero, and is published here with permission.


Divorce was the last resort for unhappily married persons in the early 1800s because of the ensuing shame, embarrassment, and ostracism. Nevertheless, when a marriage could no longer be tolerated, a divorce was sought, either through the courts, or by petitioning the Tennessee General Assembly for a decree.

Only a small number of divorces were sought by petition to the General Assembly, 1797-1858. The others were brought before the superior courts between 1799-1809, then from 1809-1835 in the circuit courts, and since 1835, either in the circuit or chancery courts.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sullivan County History and Genealogy

Sullivan County, Tennessee (then still North Carolina) was established in 1779, primarily from Washington County, Tennessee (then North Carolina), although part of Sullivan, including the “North of Holston” and Carter Valley Settlements, was considered part of Virginia, and Tennesseans were taxed by Old Fincastle, Montgomery and Washington Counties in Virginia rather than by North Carolina. In 1784, the ill-fated State of Franklin was created (records now mostly lost and/or duplicated in Tennessee county records), and in 1787, Hawkins County, Tennessee was created from the majority of Sullivan's western territory (and then some). In 1790, North Carolina ceded it's “western lands” and Tennessee became part of the “Territory South of the Ohio River”, which it remained until achieving statehood in 1796.

To visit the Sullivan County Historical & Genealogical Society: Click Here.

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

Monday, August 3, 2009

Where History Will Surprise You is a place where original historical documents are combined with social networking in order to create a truly unique experience involving the stories of our past.

The collections feature documents, most never before available on the Internet, relating to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, US Presidents, historical newspapers, naturalization documents, and many more. is more than just an online repository for original documents. In addition to hosting millions of records, Footnote supports a community of people who are passionate about a variety of topics relating to history.

As can be seen in the example above, the documents at are not merely transcriptions but very high quality images of the original, primary source documents. Click on the example, the resolution for independence introduced by "Light Horse" Harry Lee of Virginia and passed by the Second Continental Congress on July 2, 1776, to enlarge the image to see its size and quality, and then know that the example is half the resolution of the image at

(Incidentally, it was the passing of this resolution which actually declared American independence, not the publishing of Jefferson's public declaration of independence on July 4, 1776, which was previously written and approved in anticipation of the passage of the Lee resolution.)

To visit Click Here.

Note: This is ultimately a subscription site; however, many documents are available for free and you are allowed to search their holdings prior to subscribing so as to have a good idea of what you will be getting for your money.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Old Homeplace

A Poem with Pictures
By Matthew Burns

To read and view this touching piece: Click Here.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Greenbier Ghost

A while back I made the claim that the Bell Witch of Tennesee is the only paranormal event ever commemorated in the United States by a state-erected roadside historical marker. I have now discovered that I was misinformed. West Virginia's Greenbrier Ghost is also celebrated by a roadside marker, as you can see (the image can be enlarged by clicking on it).

To read about the Greenbrier Ghost in Wonderful West Virginia Magainze: Click Here.

To read about the Greenbrier Ghost in Wikipedia: Click Here.

To go to the MHS Blog entry on the Bell Witch: Click Here.