Sunday, March 28, 2010

Why The Possum's Tail Is Bare

A Cherokee Story

The Possum used to have a long, bushy tail, and was so proud of it that he combed it out every morning and sang about it at the dance, until the Rabbit, who had had no tail since the Bear pulled it out, became very jealous and made up his mind to play the Possum a trick.

There was to be a great council and a dance at which all the animals were to be present. It was the Rabbit's business to send out the news, so as he was passing the Possum's place he stopped to ask him if he intended to be there. The Possum said he would come if he could have a special seat, "because I have such a handsome tail that I ought to sit where everybody can see me." The Rabbit promised to attend to it and to send some one besides to comb and dress the Possum's tail for the dance, so the Possum was very much pleased and agreed to come.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Work of the Mountain Mother

The work of the mountain mother is burdensome and she bears more than her share of responsibilities of the household. Her housework includes washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and often spinning and knitting for the family. Handicapped by lack of modern conveniences, her task involves undue hardship.

In most of the homes cooking is done on a small wood stove, with none of the modern conveniences; often the only implements are iron kettles, pots, and ovens which may be used interchangeably on the stove or in the fireplace; the latter is still preferred by many for baking corn bread and sweet potatoes. A scant allowance of fuel is provided from meal to meal. During a rainy spell, or when the father is away or sick, or the children off at school, the mother may be left without fuel, though wood grows at her very door.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Relative Finder vs. Family Finder

By MHS Board Member Roberta Estes

Hello everyone,

If you are interested in or have taken the new Relative Finder or Family Finder tests from either 23andMe or Family Tree DNA, please read this entirely to the end. I'm sorry for the length of this article, but it is important information.

I'm very pleased to see that the 23andMe test will have some competition. The prices have already come down. But which test is best and what is to be gained from either or both?

I'd like to chat about both of them, especially since one, 23andMe, is on sale and the other is not quite ready for release, Family Finder from Family Tree DNA, which is of course why 23andMe put theirs on sale when they did.

I'd like to do a comparison about what is tested, what you get and why you might want to test with either or both companies.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Melungeon DNA Project

Principal Administrator: MHS President Jack Goins

Project Information and Goals

Amateur and professional genealogists and historians have been researching records, newspapers articles, Bibles, church records and more, plus listening to family stories for years to try and document the Melungeon people. The Melungeon Project is a study of males and females who have proven known Melungeon ancestors, according to old records, and agreed on by some of the top serious Melungeon researchers. The participants must descend in a genealogical useful line; i.e., father to son to son, etc. for the Y chromosome testing and Mother to daughter to daughter, etc. for the mtDNA testing. The DNA results, combined with extensive genealogy research, hopefully will open some new windows for research on the Melungeon people. DNA information is to be used in conjunction with historical and traditional research.

For more information, and current results: Click Here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Goins v. The Indian Normal School in Robeson County, North Carolina

Material Compiled by MHS President Jack Goins

In 1885, Hamilton McMillan sponsored legislation to establish a normal school in Robinson County, North Carolina to train Lumbee Indians to teach other because they were not allowed to attend the white schools.

McMillan seemed obsessed with the theory they were descendants of John Whites Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. He admitted under oath, that he gave them the name Croatan,and also claimed they called themselves Melungeons. According to the following court case, these same people whom he said called themselves Melungeons, testified under oath they were Indians.

W.B. Goins, vs. Board of Trustees Indian Normal School. Filed October 12, 1915 in the Supreme Court of North Carolina.

“Old man William Goins and his sons W.W. Goins and W.D. Goins all in Depositions testified they called themselves Indians. William Goins testified his grandfather name was Fred Goins. I don’t know where he came from especially my great grandfather.”

Gaston Locklear testified for the defense. "I am a member of the board of trustees of the Cherokee Indian Normal School of Pembroke. I was not a member when some of these people were first permitted to attend the school. After this question arose I made an investigation about the time we were getting ready to exclude them or to pass on the question. I went to Sumpter County, South Carolina in the eastern part of Sumpter County. I went for the purpose of asserting what the general reputation was as to these people and to find out whether they were entitled to go to our school and saw a right smart of people. I have seen William Goins, the father of these plaintiffs. From my knowledge of the Indian people here and from my observation of him (William) he is not an Indian."

Q-Being appointed by member of the board state what you did for the purpose of ascertaining what the general reputation was down there?

A- I went to find out if they were entitled to go to our schools.

Q-From this investigation you made what do you say is the general reputation as to whether or not they are people of Negro Blood.

A-Their general reputation is they are colored people.

Q-Have you seen William Goins father of the Plaintiffs?

A-I have, and who they said was their father.

Q-From your general knowledge of the Indian people here and from your observation of him, state whether or not in your opinion he is a man of Negro blood.

A-He is of Negro blood.

Source: Supreme Court of North Carolina, Archives Raliegh, North Carolina.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The 2010 National Genealogical Society's Annual Conference

And Related Activities
April 26 to May 1

One of the largest genealogy events of the year will begin on April 26 in a city well known to genealogists: Salt Lake City, Utah. The last few days of April and the first day of May will see a unique week featuring four conferences focused on genealogical research and technology.

The primary event will be the 2010 National Genealogical Society's Annual Conference in the States being held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This four-day event is held in a different city each year. The annual National Genealogical Society (NGS) conference typically attracts 1,500 to 2,000 genealogy enthusiasts, and I suspect this year's conference will be even bigger than the events of recent years.

Other events scheduled the same week include Brigham Young University's annual Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy (being held in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City), BYU's Family History Technology Workshop (being held in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City) and the FamilySearch Developers' Conference for software developers (being held at the BYU Conference Center in Provo).

The NGS conference will feature dozens of daily workshops to provide beginners and experts alike with tips on everything from basic research and organizational skills to locating resources, deciphering records, understanding DNA testing, and writing and editing family narratives. Special technology workshops also are planned to aid in understanding and using various genealogy-specific databases and programs. In fact, I will be making a presentation at this conference as well.

For much more information: Click Here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What the Census Said About 1870

Radical Cartography has published dozens of stunning charts and maps that illustrate much of the data in the 1870 U.S. census. You can view small versions of the maps and charts on your screen or download much larger images as ZIP files and then view them offline at your leisure.

The 1870 census was the first statistical census of the United States. Earlier efforts focused mostly on the names and the total number of inhabitants. The 1870 census asked many more questions and those answers were tabulated to provide an interesting statistical picture of a fast-growing country that was full of immigrants.

54 maps and charts are available, reproduced from the Statistical Atlas of the United States as published in 1874. You can view the images on your computer screen; click on an image to see a larger version. Instructions are also provided to download even larger images.

To see the Statistical Atlas of the United States: Click Here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Blacksburg Museum

The Blacksburg Museum establishes and informs a sense of place and time for Blacksburg, Virginia citizens and visitors through the interpretation of its historic buildings.

The Price House, 1840s-1853 (107 Wharton Street)
The Five Chimneys House, 1852 (203 Washington Street)
The Thomas-Conner House, 1878 (104 Draper Road)
The Alexander Black House, ca. 1897 (204 Draper Road)
The Odd Fellows Hall, 1905 (203 Gilbert Street)
The Bennett House, ca. 1912 (303 Wilson Avenue)
Old Town Hall, ca. 1920 (141 Jackson Street)
The Armory, 1936 (201 Draper Road)
The Blacksburg Motor Company(formerly Doc Roberts Tire), 1924 (400 South Main Street)

The museum is currently planning for the restoration of the Alexander Black House and the Odd Fellows Hall. The headquarters of the museum will be in the historic Alexander Black House, an 1897 Queen Anne Victorian home moved to its location on Draper Road in 2002. The Black House will be a cultural center celebrating Blacksburg’s heritage while providing space for public and private events. The Odd Fellows Hall will be restored and dedicated to collecting, preserving, and presenting the contributions of African-Americans to the community

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

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Quilts of Tennessee

What They Can Tell Us About Our Ancestors

Presented by
Lori D. Lockhart

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Quilts of Tennessee Collection at the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) contains a survey of quilts made in Tennessee from the 1820s through the 1970s. The mission started in 1983 as one of the projects for the Homecoming ’86 celebration. Researchers held quilt days in various locations across the state to collect photographs and historical information. The project was continued in 1989-1990 to include quilts, made in other states, currently owned by Tennesseans. The quilt surveys include photographs of the quilts, maker information, quilt provenance and a genealogical or family history. In addition to the recorded information with each quilt, a study of the individual quilt patterns show relationships to socioeconomic, political and religious cir-cumstances. All of these elements combined provide a fascinating record of human life.

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee

Voices of the Land, the signature exhibit of the East Tennessee Historical Society's Museum of East Tennessee History, with more than 8300 square feed of floor space, interprets the history and culture of East Tennessee during the past 250 years. The ever-present influence of the land, the role of East Tennessee within the larger state and national stories, and the daily lives of the people who have called this place home are part of this unique exhibit.

* The First Voices: Cherokee Indians
* New Voices: The East Tennessee Frontier
* Divided Loyalties: Civil War, Brothers Against Brothers
* Federal Power: Oak Ridge, TVA
.....Great Smoky Mountains National Park
* Birthplace of Legends: Emergence of Country Music
* Pioneers for All: Civil Rights Activists

Voices of the Land: The People of East Tennessee is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (865) 215-8830.

Or: Click Here.

For a Knoxville News-Sentinel piece on the exhibit, complete with panoramic pictures: Click Here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Smiling Indians of Sumter County, South Carolina

"1910 the federal census listed 126 American Indians in Privateer Township, ... between Maxton and Rowland, where they became known as the Smiling Indians."

Indians of the Southeastern United States in the Late 20th Century - Page 76 - by James Anthony Paredes


"I, LI Parrott, clerk of the court for Sumter County, said state, do hereby certify that the families of Smilings and Goins of this county have been known as "Red Bones" ever since I have been acquainted with the peopole. Mr. McDonald Furman, now deceased, took a great deal of trouble several years ago to establish the fact that they were...of the Indian race...they are looked upon as a separate race, neither white nor negro."

"I know William Goins, father of these parties. I visited them in South Carolina once about 6 years ago. The general reputation I got down there was that they were indian people. They were supposed to be indians. I have lived in robeson county all my life and i am perfectly familiar with the indian people up here. from my association, being in the home of old man goins and his family and from the investigation i have made of the people there, my opinion is that on the mother's side plaintiffs are indians and on the father's side malungeans. the rev william goins is not a typical indian by feature, he is a mixture between white and indian."

For more, including several newspaper articles written by McDonald Furman: Click Here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Principal Chief John Ross

Between 1790 and 1845, the Cherokee attempted to become a nation state, lost their ancestral land, endured removal to the Indian Territory, and suffered the destructive Civil War, in which their early alliance with the Confederacy jeopardized their nation. Throughout these tumultuous years, the dominant political figure in the Cherokee Nation was John Ross, whose leadership spanned the entire period. By ancestry, Ross was seven-eighths Scottish, and he grew up in both Cherokee and frontier American environments. He had been educated in English by white men and was a poor speaker of the Cherokee language, but his bi-cultural background allowed him to represent the Cherokee to the Americans in government. He was one of the wealthiest men of the Cherokee Nation.

In terms of heritage, education, status, and economic pursuits, Ross closely resembled his political foes President Andrew Jackson and Governor George R. Gilmer of Georgia. He was among the elite of the Cherokee Nation. By his own person he called into question many of the 19th century European-American assumptions about race and Native American.

John Ross was Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1866.

For more on his life: Click Here.

To read a 1836 letter from John Ross to the US Congress pleading the Cherokee case: Click Here.

For the most part, the plea fell on deaf ears.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Melungeons Ways Are Passing

By Willard Yarbrough
News-Sentinel Staff Writer

Sneedville, Tenn
April 26, 1972

Spring air was nippy along Blackwater Creek in Vardy Valley. So chilly, in fact, that Howard Mullins lifted his hands with palms exposed to coal fed flames of the open fire. Such delicate hands, calloused from field work and 110 winters spent in isolated hill country where necessities of life long since have become luxuries to a mysterious people to whom Mullins belongs. He is one of the last of the Melungeons, oldest of them all in Hancock County, which has been home to the Melungeons for 200 years.

Those left in Snake Hollow, Blackwater, Vardy and Mulberry - are few in number, Most have left the hills for jobs in cities far and near. And time is catching up with those remaining. In 1931 there were 40 Melungeon families living on Newman's Ridge above their ancestral home. Today, only two families remain on the steep ridges. Genealogist William P. Grohse Sr., who lives near Mullins, estimates there may be under 200 families left in the country.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Now on Amazon

Melungeons: Footprints from the Past by MHS President Jack Goins is now available on

To go to its Amazon listing: Click Here.

For a full description of the book: Click Here.

This is the Melungeon book to buy if you are only buying one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The White Caps of Sevier County

The White Caps of Sevier County, Tennessee, were a vigilante group formed in approximately 1892 by citizens who wished to rid Sevier County of individuals (mostly women) whom they deemed lewd or adulterous.

Their modus operandi was to leave the offending party a note signed "White Caps," occasionally accompanied by hickory switches, warning them to leave town. If this tactic proved ineffective, the group escalated to whippings.

The White Caps were extremely popular between 1892 and 1896 and thus hard to control legally. Local law enforcement turned a blind eye to their doings and even when arrested White Caps would frequently tamper with juries to ensure their acquittal. In this atmosphere of tolerance, the beatings gradually increased in severity.

To continue reading: Click Here for Part 1 and Click Here for Part 2.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

That Newfangled Internet Thing is Going Nowhere!!

On February 27, 1995, Newsweek published an article about the future of the Internet. In that article, Clifford Stoll wrote:

Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.

Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

To read more: Click Here.

Note: A link to the full text of the 1995 Newsweek article is provided.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Roots Television

Online Genealogical Videos

These days, there’s a horse channel, a wine channel, a sailing channel, a poker channel, a guitar channel, and even a shipwreck channel. So why, we wondered, isn’t there a channel servicing the millions of people interested in genealogy and family history? After all, there are many that claim that tracing roots is the second most popular hobby out there.

Well, now there’s a channel for us. Roots Television™ is by and for avid genealogists and family history lovers of all stripes. Whether you’re an archives hound, a scrapbooker, a cousin collector, a roots-travel enthusiast, a Civil War re-enactor, a DNA fan, a reunion instigator, a sepia-toned photos zealot, an Internet-junkie, a history buff, an old country traditions follower, a cemetery devotee, a story-teller, a multicultural food aficionado, a flea market and antiques fanatic, a family documentarian, a nostalgia nut, or a mystery-solver, Roots Television™ has something for you -- and that “something” is quality programming.

To visit: Click Here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

23andMe Half Price Promotion

You can get the anniversary edition of 23andMe's autosomal DNA test for half price in this promotion.

For more information: Click Here.

You can get the same $200 discount on the Complete Edition by clicking "Continue Shopping" at the top of the store page, then adding a Complete Edition to your cart.

At that point, if you only want the Complete Edition, you can remove the Ancestry kit and you're left with just the Complete Edition with the discount applied.

Remember, you have to click the "order now" button on the "Faces of America" landing page [found at the link above] to get the discount - that is the button that applies the promotion to the store.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Indian Removal Act of 1830

The Indian Removal Act was signed into law by Andrew Jackson on May 28, 1830, authorizing the president to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi in exchange for Indian lands within existing state borders. A few tribes went peacefully, but many resisted the relocation policy. During the fall and winter of 1838 and 1839, the Cherokees were forcibly moved west by the United States government. Approximately 4,000 Cherokees died on this forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."

For more on the Indian Removal Act: Click Here.

For the text of the Indian Removal Act: Click Here.

Lands Assigned to Emigrant Indians
West of Arkansas and Missouri - 1836

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Georgia Gold Rush of 1828

The Georgia Gold Rush was the first significant gold rush in the United States. It started in 1828 in the present day Lumpkin County near county seat Dahlonega, and soon spread through the North Georgia mountains, following the Georgia Gold Belt. By the early 1840s, gold became harder to find. When gold was discovered in California in 1848 to start the California Gold Rush, many Georgia miners moved west.

The Georgia Gold Rush lead to the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and, ultimately, to the Trail of Tears.

For more on the Georgia Gold Rush: Click Here.

For more on its later aspects: Click Here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Genographic Project

Of the National Geographic Society

Where do you really come from? And how did you get to where you live today? DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.

The Genographic Project is seeking to chart new knowledge about the migratory history of the human species by using sophisticated laboratory and computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. In this unprecedented and of real-time research effort, the Genographic Project is closing the gaps of what science knows today about humankind's ancient migration stories.

The Genographic Project is a five-year research partnership led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells.

For much more: Click Here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Christiansburg Institute

Dedicated to the education of African Americans immediately following emancipation and continuing throughout the segregation era, the Christiansburg Institute may be thought of as the Tuskegee Institute of Virginia. Indeed, Book T. Washington served as its superintendent for a number of years and its faculty boasted many Tuskegee graduates. With the end segregation in Virginia, the Institute closed in 1966 but its history is now being honored through a museum and educational center thanks to the work of Christiansburg Institute, Inc., founded in 1996, whose mission is to promote and preserve its unique place in the history of African American education in ways which will exemplify its legacies of educational achievement and lifelong educational opportunity. Central to its mission is the restoration of the Christiansburg Institute campus to include the Smokehouse Museum, the Shop building, a Memorial Garden, the Principals' Cemetery and the renovation of the historic landmark Edgar A. Long building.

To visit the Christiansburg Institute online: Click Here.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

West Virginia Association of Museums

Welcome to the Museums of West Virginia, the official website for the West Virginia Association of Museums. The Mountain State has many treasures that we invite you to explore. We encourage you to use this resource to visit the places and experience the activities that represent the history, arts, technology, industry, and cultural diversity that our state offers.

Included are listings for 218 West Virginia museums.

To visit this site: Click Here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

National Archives Genealogy Fair, April 14-15

The National Archives will host its sixth annual Genealogy Fair: The World of Genealogy on April 14 and 15, 2010, from 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. This year's two-day program will showcase the diversity of Federal records located at the National Archives as resources for family history research. Speakers include National Archives staff, historians, and genealogy professionals. The fair will provide information and guidance for experienced genealogy professionals and novices alike. The fair is free and open to the public, and presented in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives.

Sessions include workshops on records relating to minority and ethnic groups including African Americans, Chinese, German, Irish, Japanese, Native Americans, and women, as well as a session on DNA genealogy testing, and an evening program on the new genealogy-based TV series Who Do You Think You Are? National Archives staff will demonstrate how to use databases including the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) and Access to Archival Databases (AAD).

For more information: Click Here.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Hornellsville Weekly Tribune (New York)


South Carolina's Redbones

There are a singular race of people in South Carolina called the Redbones. Their origin is unknown. They resemble in appearance the gypsies, but in complexion they are red. They have accumulated considerable property and are industrious and peaceable. They live in small settlements at the foot of the mountains and associated with none but their own race. They are a proud and high spirited people. Caste is very strong among them. They enjoy life, visit the watering places and mountain resorts, but eat by themselves and keep by themselves. When the war broke out several of them enlisted in the Hampton legion, and when the legion reached Virginia there was a great outcry among the Virginians and the troops from other states because we had enlisted Negroes. They did not resemble the African in the least, except in cases where Africans had amalgamated with Indians. This intermixture, which is common in the Carolinas, produces marvelous results. It takes the kink out of the hair of the African, straightens his features and improve him in every way except in temper---Interview with Senator Hampton.-------------

For much more on the Redbones: Click Here.

Note: Many Redbones subsequently migrated to Louisiana. There are obvious similarities to the Melungeons and a relationship between the two groups has been postulated by some authorities.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The New River Heritage Coalition

The New River Heritage Coalition was formed in 2004 by the leadership of local heritage sites in order to improve the cooperation and collaboration between the member sites. Our goal is to bring a cohesive picture of the cultural heritage that thrives along the New River. The Native Americans, the early explorers, the European settlers, and even the push of industrial development followed the river, and so does our present day search for that heritage. The New River Heritage Coalition is supported by a grant from the Community Foundation of the New River Valley, membership fees, and private donations.

To visit the New River Heritage Coalition: Click Here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Washington County HIstory and Genealogy

The first white settlers arrived in what is present day Washington County, Virginia in the 1760's. Abingdon, previously known as Wolf Hills, was selected as the name of the county seat. Washington County was formed from Fincastle County in 1777. The original Washington County, in addition to containing some of the other present day surrounding counties, also contained what is today, Sullivan County, Tennesse.

To visit the Washington County USGenWeb site: Click Here.

To vist the Historical Society of Washing County: Click Here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to building the world's foremost collection of DNA and corresponding genealogical information. To date, SMGF has collected more than 100,000 DNA samples, together with four-generation pedigree charts, from volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.

SMGF is making its collection available for searching on this web site. Finding matching DNA results and pedigrees in the Sorenson Database can help you make new family connections throughout the world and across generations.

To visit the SMGF web site: Click Here.

Of special interest is the site's collection educational materials, including animations, explaining various aspects DNA and DNA testing and how they relate to genealogy.

To go directly there: Click Here.