Thursday, December 23, 2010

Littell's Living Age: The Melungens, March 1849

We give to-day another amusing and characteristic sketch from a letter of our intelligent and sprightly correspondent, sojourning at present in one of the seldom-visited nooks hid away in our mountains.

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--who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These people made themselves friendly with the Indians and freed, as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a delightful Utopia of their own creation, trampling on the marriage relation, despising all forms of religion, and subsisting upon corn (the only possible product of the soil) and wild game of the woods.

These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants (after the advances of the whites into this part of the state) with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens.

For the complete article: Click Here.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion this remains the single most important paper that documents the Melungeons.

    There was in fact a community of people known as Portuguese living very near the town marked as Saura on the Pee Dee -- they then went to Tennesse where they again mixed with those Indian families residing on the Ridge and then with the whites and the blacks.

    This is the same story told to Dromgoole and Humble in the 1890s and is now being backed up by DNA.

    Joanne Pezzullo