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.

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