Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year 2010!!

Genomics Law Report

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project nearly a decade ago, technological and scientific progress in the fields of genomics and personalized medicine continues to accelerate, with the next generation of human genomic research seeking to untangle the complex relationship between genes and traits and realize the promise of personalized medicine. As these fields have grown, researchers, entrepreneurs and established companies have all enjoyed increasing public and media attention – along with the attention of politicians, regulators, and judges, who are bringing a new layer of complexity to an already complicated legal and regulatory framework.

To help make sense of the resulting confusion, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson launched the Genomics Law Report. The Genomics Law Report focuses on the legal implications of important developments in the fields of genomics and personalized medicine — including key litigation, legislative, regulatory and policymaking activities — in order to facilitate understanding of the complicated and shifting legal landscape governing genomic and personalized medicine commerce and research.

The Genomics Law Report is designed to enable you to follow these developments as we see them, from a legal perspective, and facilitate the exchange of information and ideas within the genomics and personalized medicine communities.

To visit the Report's web site: Click Here.

Of particular interest may be a series of 36 expert guest commentaries on the most important ethical, legal or social issues involving genetic testing.

To go directly to an introduction to these commentaries: Click Here.

Note: To access the commentaries themselves, a PDF reader is required.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Europeans in Tennessee Prior to 1796

An Overview of the History
Of Europeans in Tennessee Prior to 1796

In the Summer of 1540 the Indian villages in the valley of the Tennessee River were ransacked by a strong mounted company of Spaniards from Florida. Before entering Tennessee, they had followed Hernando De Soto through what is now Georgia and the Carolinas, believing that somewhere in the vast reaches of the wilderness there would be treasure cities to plunder. From the Tennessee valley the Spaniards moved westward for almost a year. Many of them - including grim, iron- willed De Soto - had looted with Cortez in Mexico or Pizarro in Peru and, as a matter of course, they massacred the Indians and burned their villages when they failed to find gold. They followed bison trails and Indian trade-paths, wandering south at times into Alabama and Mississippi. In April 1541 the remnants of the party planted the flag of Spain on the bluffs of the Mississippi River and made camp near the present site of Memphis. After raiding Chickasaw villages nearby for food and mussel pearls, they crossed the river to continue searching for the will-o'-the-wisp gold they were never to find.

More than a century passed before there is record of another white man entering the territory.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Kentucky Records Resurface

A 'new' stash of old records being readied for viewing
By Josh Kegley -

Land, census and marriage records from the late 1700s to the early 1900s have recently resurfaced that could provide a treasure trove of information for genealogists and others.

The books, which are being indexed to make the information easier to pinpoint, were found in several places. The land and census records were at government archives in Frankfort, and several years' worth of marriage licenses were in the Fayette County clerk's storage area.

The documents are being scanned and eventually will be made available for public viewing on microfilm or a computer. But the original record books won't be available to the public in most cases.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Google News Archive Search

News archive search provides an easy way to search and explore historical archives. In addition to helping you search, News archive search can automatically create timelines which show selected results from relevant time periods.

To try it out: Click Here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thomas' Legion

Thomas' Legion of Indians and Highlanders, commonly referred to as the 69th North Carolina Regiment, was officially organized by William Holland Thomas on September 27, 1862, at Knoxville, Tennessee. Its members were recruited predominately from the Western North Carolina counties of Haywood, Jackson, and Cherokee; East Tennessee also recruited many for the unit. The command initially totaled 1,125 men and contained an infantry regiment and a cavalry battalion. Its artillery battery, John T. Levi's Light Artillery Battery (a.k.a. Louisiana Tigers), formerly served in the Virginia State Line Artillery and was added to the legion on April 1, 1863. During the war, the unit mustered more than two thousand five hundred officers and men (included 400 Cherokees: the Cherokee Battalion).

For much more about Thomas' Legion: Click Here.

Note: Many Confederate units from Louisiana serving the Eastern Theater were known as Louisiana Tigers at various times during the Civil War, not just the one mentioned above.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

William Holland Thomas

William Holland Thomas never knew his father, was raised by a single mother in a lowly mountain home, lacked any formal education, but was one of the most prominent figures in Western North Carolina’s history.

Thomas was the commanding colonel of North Carolina's sole American Civil War legion, Thomas' Legion, and was the only white man to serve as a Cherokee chief. His cousins included President Zachary Taylor and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. It is widely believed that without Thomas's intervention there would not be the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and, to this day, the Eastern Band bestows honor and gratitude to their great white chief.

To read more about this fascinating man and the origins of the Cherokee Eastern Band: Click Here.

Note: More -- much more -- about his Civil War exploits tomorrow.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Podcast Appalachia: Where is Appalachia?


Hello, and welcome to Podcast Appalachia. I’m John Norris Brown.

In this episode, I want to define the geographic boundaries of the Appalachian region. This may sound easy to some, but these boundaries have been drawn and redrawn many times over the years, creating confusion over what is and is not Appalachia. Even today, the boundaries remain fluid and the subject of debate.

In spite of this, there are a few facts everyone can agree one. Obviously, Appalachia is centered around the Appalachian Mountains, but this alone is not the definition of Appalachia. The Appalachians extend far north, into New England and Canada, but no one would consider Canadians to be Appalachian. Some might even be offended by such a notion!

Appalachia is likewise not defined by state boundaries, as no single state is located entirely within the region, with the exception of West Virginia. Instead, Appalachia is comprised of portions of various states.

Over the years, numerous attempts to define the region have led to various definitions, but these definitions usually include the mountainous regions of Northern Georgia, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and West Virginia.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: This is the last in a series of three MHS Blog entries taken from Podcast Appalachia, which should not be confused with Dave Tabler's weekly podcasts based on his outstanding Appalachian History blog. This particular episode explains something which has puzzled me, why the boundaries of Appalachia as defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission are so peculiar, including many counties nowhere near Appalachia while excluding some counties clearly in Appalachia. As might be suspected, it involves politics.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Podcast Appalachia: The Lost State of Franklin


Hello and welcome to Podcast Appalachia. I’m John Norris Brown.

The “lost” State of Franklin was an unrecognized territory that sought statehood just after the War for Independence. Comprised of what is today Upper East Tennessee and the easternmost counties of Tennessee, but what was then part of North Carolina, the “state” existed for only four years. In spite of its failure, the Lost State of Franklin would capture the imaginations of generations of Americans.

In the mid to late 1700s, settlers in the region that would become the State of Franklin had always felt isolated in their new territory. Fairly or unfairly, they also felt their needs were being ignored by their state government in North Carolina.

Like any good mountaineers, they decided to take matters into their own hands. In 1772 they formed the Watauga Association, the first attempt at self-government in the area. The Watauga Association was something of a forerunner to the State of Franklin and became notable for declaring itself independent of British rule prior to the Declaration of Independence.

Over the next few years, these feelings of isolation and grievances against the North Carolina government would only grow more intense. So once again, the early settlers decided to assert their rights. In Jonesborough in 1784 the independent State of Frankland was declared, and a provisional constitution, which actually was only a slightly modified North Carolina constitution, was adopted.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Podcast Appalachia: Early Appalachian Explorers and Settlers


Hello, I’m John Norris Brown, and you’re listening to Podcast Appalachia, a podcast dedicated to the study and understanding of the Appalachian region.

In my last podcast, I attempted to define the geographic boundaries of Appalachia. Today, I want to look at some of the early history of the Appalachian region, including exploration and settlement, as well as the often tragic conflict between Europeans and Native Americans.

Appalachia is a unique region and is considered by some to be America’s “first frontier.” Over the millennia it has been “discovered” many times and has seen more than its share of conflict, tragedy, and bloodshed. In order to fully appreciate this long history, we must travel back in time long before written history to an almost forgotten people.

The first settlers in the Appalachian region came over 14,000 years ago. There are no written records, so much about them remains a mystery. However, it is known that the ancestors of the Iroquois and Cherokee people migrated into the Appalachian Mountains from the west in about 12,000 BC. They then split into two separate and distinct societies: the Iroquois in the north, and the Cherokee in the south.

To continue reading the transcript: Click Here.

Monday, December 21, 2009

West Virginia Puts Vital Records Online

The West Virginia Vital Research Records Project is a collaborative venture between the West Virginia State Archives and the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) to place online via the West Virginia Archives and History Web site selected West Virginia county birth, death and marriage records, and selected statewide death records in a viewable, downloadable and searchable format.

For more information: Click Here. (A PDF reader is required)

To access the online records: Click Here.

This is something pilot project which will hopefully be extended to other states.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Memoir of the Chief Vann House

By Levi Branham, 1852 - 1944

"My master always treated me like I was human being..."

I spent a large portion of my life in the Chief Vann house with my old master, Mr. Edmondson. He had a daughter by the name of Jennie. Jennie had a waitress who was named Tein. Another of his daughters was Sug, whose waitress was Fannie. Another one of his daughters was Georgia whose waitress was Elvie. These were all of the single daughters that Mr. Edmondson had when I was with him, but he had three married daughters whose names were Harriet, Sallie and Sue. Harriet married Bob Anderson, Sue married Street, and Sallie married Dr. Mathis.

One of my young masters was John Edmondson, another, Tom Polk Edmondson. I was Tom Polk's waitman until he went to the Civil war between the North and South. Bill, the youngest, was quite small. All of the waitmen and waitresses stayed in the Edmondson house now known as the Chief Vann house. The room in which we stayed had a fine carpet on which we slept. Mr. Edmondson gave us fine blankets and we surely did sleep warm and comfortable.

To continue reading: Click Here.

It should be noted that "house slaves" were often treated much better than the far more numerous slaves who worked in the fields. It should also be noted that however "good" a master Mr. Edmondson may have been, he was still a man who regarded other human beings as his property, deprived them of their liberty and extracted uncompensated labor from them, even from small children. Slavery, even in its most benign form, was -- and remains -- a vicious, thoroughly immoral institution and a crime against humanity.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Chief Vann House

It calls into question the definition of civilization.

Hollywood and pop culture would have you think that Native Americans are poor, uneducated, lazy, shiftless relics of a bygone era who can't handle their firewater and are dependent on the federal government for a hand-out. But, one look at the Chief Vann House and all of that goes out the window.

The Chief Vann house is located on Spring Place Road, three miles west of Chatsworth, Georgia, at the intersection of Highways 225 and 52-A. It is one of the oldest remaining buildings in North Georgia, featuring beautiful hand carvings, a 12 foot mantle, and a cantilevered 'floating' staircase that left me speechless, when I first saw it as a kid on a school trip. It is one of the few buildings in the Southeast Tennessee/North Georgia area that I would feel comfortable in calling a mansion.

To continue reading this entry from Dave Tabler's excellent Appalachian History blog: Click Here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Long Hunters

By Emory L. Hamilton

Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication 5 - March, 1970
Historical Society of Southwest Virginia

The Long Hunter was peculiar to Southwest Virginia only, and nowhere else on any frontier did such hunts ever originate. True, there were hunters and groups of hunters on all frontiers in pioneer days, but they were never organized and publicized as the long hunts which originated on the Virginia frontier. Most, if not all of the long hunts originated on the Holston in the vicinity of present day Chilhowie, but were made up of hunters who lived on both the Clinch and Holston rivers. The idea of [t]his manuscript is to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these long hunters were native to the area and were land owners, or residents along the waters of these two rivers.

Perhaps no group in history, who contributed so much to the knowledge of the topography of our country, have been so nearly completely by-passed by historians as have the long hunters of the late colonial days. In almost every instance when the pioneer settler moved toward the extreme frontier, he had long since been preceded by the long hunter. When the first settlers were arriving at Wolf Hills (Abingdon) and Cassell's Woods in 1768 and 1769, the long hunters had long ago bypassed these points and were then hunting far away in the Ohio and Cumberland.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Virginia's Southwest Corner: 1700 - 1983

By Theodosia W. Barrett

Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia, Publication 17 - 1984
Historical Society of Southwest Virginia

In the 1700's, the southwest corner of Virginia beginning at the head streams of the Holston and Clinch Rivers was a hunter's paradise. The great virgin forest was a vast storehouse of essential resources for man's survival. The formation of this central Appalachian region is picturesque and different from any other place. The Clinch Mountain range divides the watersheds of the Holston and Clinch Rivers. Both valleys with rolling foothills and steep slopes are limestone areas, ideal for farming and grazing.

To continue reading: Click Here.

A Southwest Virginia based group known as the Long Hunters receives more than passing mention in this article. More on them tomorrow.

Note: A number of Melungeon core families lived for some time around Fort Blackmore in Southwest Virginia before migrating to nearby Hawkins (now Hancock) County, Tennessee, and the earliest known written occurrence of the word Melungeon appears in the 1813 minutes of the Stony Creek Baptist Church, also in Southwest Virginia.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Virginia Road Orders

On Monday we discussed road orders. I have learned, thanks to a helpful reader, that Virginia road orders for a number of counties, for select years, mainly in the 18th century, are available online courtesy of the Virginia Transportation Research Council.

To access them: Click Here and when the page comes up, enter "road orders" in the search box, then press the search button.

Note: To actually see the road orders, a PDF reader is required.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Virginia Memory

Gateway to the Library of Virginia's
Online Digital Collections

Launched in 2009, Virginia Memory is part of the online presence of the Library of Virginia, the state archives and reference library at the seat of government for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In 2006, the Library began reviewing its online presence and came to the conclusion that our traditional Web site could no longer deliver effectively our online content.

In 2007 and 2008, work began in earnest on the redesign of our agency site, as well as the creation of this offering, Virginia Memory. Virginia Memory has been designed as a gateway to the Library's digital collections, whether those items are indexed and delivered through traditional library systems, offered in online exhibitions, organized as resources for educators and students, or presented as research articles by staff who work with the collections on a daily basis.

To go to Virginia Memory: Click Here.

To go directly to its online collections: Click Here.

To visit the Library of Virginia's main web site: Click Here.

Note: The Virginia Memory web site is still in beta test and therefore may be unusually buggy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Road Orders

By Terry Gruber

During the colonial period, the most important political body, as far as the general population was concerned, was the County Court. The governor, Council, and House of Burgesses made general laws and regulations for the colony that obliquely impacted personal lives, but the regulations that directly effected the day-to-day living of the population were performed by the County Courts. The chief members of the court, the Justices of the Peace, appointed the sheriff, levy collectors (taxes), road surveyors, and other officials. They were also responsible for issuing ordinary licenses (18th century equivalent of hotel licenses), regulating numbers and placement of mills, setting prices at public houses (such as ordinaries), calling grand juries to hear criminal and civil disputes, approving and regulating road construction and maintenance, and various other administrative functions.

The County Courts kept a record of their proceedings called Order Books. From these court records, a researcher can obtain a solid feeling for the pulse of everyday life. Servant indentures, orphan placements, estate appraisals, prices for food and lodging, the nature of civil disputes, road locations, mill placements, and ferry prices are but a few pieces of information that can be gleaned by reading the books.

One of the frequent entries in Order Books are those concerned with road maintenance and construction. In the various road related records are names of local inhabitants charged with the various duties involved in the construction and maintenance of roads. Usually the single largest source of names are those listed on petitions for road construction.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: This article goes on to give specific examples from Hampshire County, Virginia but the general principles involved applied throughout Virginia and to other colonies, and later to states throughout the Southeastern United States and beyond. Since road orders identify county residents at a given time and their location within the county, they constitute a valuable genealogical and historical resource.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Virginia's State Outdoor Drama
Big Stone Gap, Virginia

This is a fascinating, exciting, and tender love story of a beautiful Virginia mountain girl and a handsome young mining engineer from the East. The drama depicts the story of the great boom in Southwest Virginia when the discovery of coal and iron ore forced the lusty, proud mountain people into making many drastic changes in their way of life. The burst of the industrial revolution was upon them.

The homespun wit and humor of these mountain folk is intermingled with stark tragedy, suspense, very often violence and their final acceptance of their inevitable destiny. All are portrayed in this musical drama to bring it to a happy ending. A superb evening of family entertainment.

The drama, interwoven with beautiful, haunting folk music, some of it original, is performed live before a magnificent 72-foot panoramic painting of the valley known as Lonesome Cove.

For more information: Click Here.

Note: The 2010 schedule is not yet on the web site but performances generally run from late June to the end of August.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Blackwater Creek in Vardy Valley

Blackwater Creek, Vardy Valley
Hancock County, Tennessee

"You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, known hereabouts as 'black-water Springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. A hundred men could defend the pass against even a Xerxian army. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS. The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women."
--Littell's Living Age, 1848.

For some other creeks, rivers and streams of interest: Click Here.

Note: This post is lifted almost word for word from the Historical Melungeons Blog, which can be found in the MHS Blog's "Links of Interest" section, a link to which is on the sidebar to the right.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Making a Melungeon Connection with DNA

I have said here more than once that there is no DNA test for Melungeon ancestry. Which is true. I have, however, always added the caveat that that there is one exception to that rule, which is when DNA testing can be used to show descent from an historically known Melungeon, documented by traditional genealogical and historical methods.

Today I present an example of just such an occurrence involving a family named Vick using DNA testing performed by 23andMe and augmented by 23andMe's Relative Finder.

To read about it: Click Here.

To visit 23andMe's web site: Click Here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Melungeon Myths: The Anatolian Bump

Much can be found on the Internet about Melungeons possessing something called the Anatolian bump, or more properly, an external occipital protuberance, or in plain English, a conspicuous bump on the back of the head. This has been cited as both evidence of Melungeon ancestry and as evidence of Melungeons having had Turkish origins.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Melungeon have not been shown to have been any more likely than other people to possess this bump, nor is the bump indicative of Anatolian origins, it being found to some degree throughout Europe and the world.

For more on this subject: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Genealogy Software

As Recommended By
Dick Eastman Writing In
Eastmans' Online Genealogy Newsletter

RootsMagic Essentials (, click on "Free Download") and Legacy Family Tree 7.0 ( These are both Windows programs. I can't decide between these two. They are both great programs but are quite different from each other. Both have free editions available and both are quite powerful. I am amazed that these companies produce such good software free of charge. You might want to upgrade someday to the paid versions but many people never will. These free versions are that good and both are much better than any other free Windows genealogy program I know of.

The only free Macintosh genealogy program I would consider is Personal Ancestry Writer II (often called PAW2U). It is a good genealogy program that does all the basics and it is available free of charge. However, it does not contain all the advanced features of the free Windows genealogy programs, such as RootsMagic Essentials and Legacy Family Tree 7.0. Personal Ancestry Writer II is available at

To visit the newsletter's home page: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Welcome to Chronicling America, enhancing access to America's historic newspapers. This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP).

The soaring description above is actually quite misleading. In reality, less than a hundred newspapers are actually available online. However, the collection does include a goodly number from Kentucky and a few from Virginia, and if the site just happens to have a newspaper of interest to you, it is a goldmine.

To visit: Click Here.

We can only hope that a great many more newspapers are added to this collection in the not too distant future.

Monday, December 7, 2009

December 7, 1941

The USS Tennessee at Pearl Harbor

By Kenneth Fieth, Metropolitan Nashville Archivist

"There were so many of them flying together that they looked like one. They came through the valley very close to the ground and I could clearly see the rising sun on the end of each wing. Not a few minutes later, the rumbling sounds of multiple explosions rolled through the pineapple field." The missionary's son whose jet-black hair is now gray waved his hand in a dive as he recalled the first time he ever saw a Japanese warplane. His first lesson occurred on Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941.

The men of the USS Tennessee, moored on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor, had a far more harrowing experience. The following excerpt is from the official after-action report filed by the Commanding Officer of the Tennessee on December 11, 1941.

"On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the USS Tennessee was moored starboard side to quay Fox 6 [in Naval terms that is a berth for the ship lettered as "F 6"] with two hausers and seven manila lines. The USS [West] Virginia was moored alongside to port. Boiler #1 was steaming for auxillary purposes....This ship was the flagship of Commander Battleship Division Two....the USS Arizona was moored about 75 yards ahead and astern of the Tennessee.

At about 7:55, planes, observed to be Japanese by their markings, were seen dropping bombs on Ford Island. [Ford Island is in the center of Pearl Harbor and was used for mooring the ships of "Battleship Row"]. This ship [Tennessee] went to general quarters....Immediately, after the bombing of Ford Island, planes began torpeoding and bombing the battleships and other ships in the Harbor. This ship opened fire with .50 caliber and 5" caliber guns about five minutes after the attack.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Note: The article, as can be seen in the excerpt above, initially misidentifies the USS West Virginia as the USS Virginia but gets it correct thereafter.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

David Crockett

Born not on a mountaintop but in East Tennessee, Davy Crockett's Birthplace has been preserved by the State of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation as an historic site within the state park system. The site consists of 105 partially wooded acres of land along the Nolichucky River in Greene County, Tennessee.

To visit the state park's web site: Click Here.

It is probably a tossup as to whether Davy Crockett or Andrew Jackson is the most illustrious son of Tennessee.

For an overview of his life: Click Here.

Crockett truly was a legend in his own time; however, the real person, a three term congressman and an ardent political opponent of Andrew Jackson and his Indian Removal Act, was both a good deal more human and a good deal more interesting than the legend. For an excellent in depth account of Crockett's life, consult: Three Roads to the Alamo by William C. Davis, (ISBN 0-06-017334-3), which tells of the life of not only of David Crockett but of William Barret Travis and Jim Bowie as well. Of the three, Crockett was easily the most admirable.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Stories, Old Ragged Verse, Letters to and from mountain cousins by Storyteller and Appalachian Humorist Stephen Hollen. Enjoy the humor and bittersweet memories of Eastern Kentucky and a place where the mist crawls down the mountainside ''like molasses on a cold plate''

To view this entertaining and eclectic Appalachian blog: Click Here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Family Portraits: Virginia Indians

At the Turn of the 20th Century

This is an online photographic exhibit produced by Sweet Briar College showing the faces of just a few of the actual people, they and their children and grandchildren, that Walter Plecker tried to erase from history. It is worth looking at these pictures with that thought in mind.

To view: Click Here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Black and White World of Walter Plecker

By Warren Fiske
Published in Style Weekly
September 22, 2004

This link, the last in the current series of three MHS Blog entries dealing with Dr. Walter Plecker, Registrar of the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 to 1946, is to an article reviewing the life, character and motivations of this truly evil man.

To read the article: Click Here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Plecker Letters Pertaining to Melungeons

This is the second of a three-part series on the infamous Dr. Walter Plecker, Registrar of the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 to 1946. During the course of his documentary war on Virginia's Indians and on those whites he deemed not white enough to satisfy his racist ideals, the Melungeons and those of Melungeon descent did not escape his malevolent notice. The link below presents a number of his letters touching on the subject, including his list of "mongrel" surnames. Of particular interest, however, is his exchange of letters with the Tennessee State Archivist and Librarian specifically asking about the Melungeons and their origins. Note that he did not like the answer he received and made it clear he would ignore it.

To read Plecker's letters: Click Here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924

This begins a three-part series on the infamous Dr. Walter Plecker, Registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 to 1946, who for decades conducted a racial inquisition in Virginia which resulted in all Virginia residents previously classified as being Indian and some previously classified as being white being reclassified, against their will, as "colored." Plecker's reign of documentary terror, which brought untold anguish and suffering to its victims, was buttressed and expanded by passage of the equally infamous Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924, an act largely inspired by Pecker himself, the full text of which follows below.

The next article in the series will deal with Plecker's efforts to ferret out and reclassify as "colored" Melungeon families in Virginia (along with many other families he regarded as "passing for white") and include his notorious list of "mongrel" surnames. For now it is worth mentioning that the activities of Dr. Plecker and the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924 were cited at the Nuremberg war crimes trials in defense of Nazi racial laws and activities.

The Virginia Racial Integrity Act was declared unconstitutional in 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court in an unanimous decision, Loving v. Virginia, and was formally repealed by the Virginia legislature in 1975.

To read the Virginia Racial Integrity Act: Click Here.

Note: This begins a re-blogging of a series of three important MHS Blog entries originally made over a year ago.