Friday, March 18, 2011

Federal researchers declare eastern cougar extinct

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The "ghost cat" is just that.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday declared the eastern cougar to be extinct, confirming a widely held belief among wildlife biologists that native populations of the big cat were wiped out by man a century ago.

After a lengthy review, federal officials concluded there are no breeding populations of cougars — also known as pumas, panthers, mountain lions and catamounts — in the eastern United States. Researchers believe the eastern cougar subspecies has probably been extinct since the 1930s.

For more: Click Here.

For more on eastern cougars in general: Click Here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The world’s largest free genealogy search engine,, provides genealogists access to the best free genealogy content on the web including billions of names, dates and places worldwide. seeks to index and make searchable all of the world’s free genealogy information. While discovers new sites every day, some of the existing sites searchable on include genealogy message boards, family trees, state and local historical societies, the Library of Congress, National Archives, Ellis Island, Find A Grave, the Internet Archive, various U.S. state archives, and many tens of thousands of genealogy sites built by individuals. Similar to other search engines, honors site owners by linking directly to their content.

Unlike such search as Google, Yahoo and Bing, endeavors to search only sites of genealogical interest.

To try it: Click Here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Black and White World of Walter Plecker

This link, the last in the current series of three Melungeon Studies 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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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.

Monday, March 14, 2011

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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Statements & Rosters

These online records are extensive and free. While the site allows you to dive right in by surname, do be sure not to miss the site's search engine, a link to which is at the top of the page.

To go to the database: Click Here.

This site is brought to us by the American Revolution Association located in Camden, South Carolina.

To go to its homepage: Click Here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Old Photographs of North American Indians

A collection of thousands of public domain photographs from many different photographers, representing North American Indian from many tribes and nations, taken from 1847 to the early 1900s.

To see the photographs: Click Here.

Note: You must have a Facebook account to access this site. Facebook accounts are free.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Which George Gibson?

Data Compiled by Joanne Pezzullo

There is much confusion over the George Gibsons in the many different counties. Some researchers have published that George Gibson, son of Gilbert went to Orange County, North Carolina and died there in 1776 with a wife Mary. It would appear however that George, son of Gilbert, stayed in Louisa County and was married to Susannah. So who was George Gibson charged with concealing titheables in Louisa County in 1745 and appears to have went to Orange County, North Carolina? He may have been the son of John Gibson of Bertie County, North Carolina who married to Elizabeth Lowe and died in 1776 with a wife Mary.

If the above is correct then what happened to George Sr., and George Jr., of Charles City County records in the 1750s? Is George Senior the brother of Jane the Indian woman? Who is George Gibson who is found in records with the Dodsons in 1733 and later in 1760s on Crooked Creek in Pittsylvania County?

For more, including a George Gibson timeline: Click Here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Graysville Melungeons

Tennessee Anthropologist
Vol. IV, Number 1 (1979)

The Graysville Melungeons
(A Tri-Racial People in Lower East Tennessee)

By Raymond Evans


Located approximately 30 miles north of Chattanooga, the community of Graysville, Tennessee contains one of the most stable Melungeon settlements in the state. Field work in the community conducted in conjunction with archival research demonstrates that the Melungeons, who now compose more than half of the local population, came from Hamilton County durning the latter half of the nineteenth century. Census records and other archival sources indicate that prior to comming to Hamilton County they had lived in Virginia and North Carolina. In Graysville, the Melungeons strongly deny their Black heritage and explain their genetic differences by claiming to have Cherokee grandmothers. Many of the local Whites also claim Cherokee ancestry and appear to accept the Melungeon claim.The racist discrimination common in Hancock County and in other Melungeon communities is absent in Graysville. Here, the Melungeons interact in all phases of community life,and exogamy with local Whites is common practice.- Goins- and the term "Melungeon" is not used by the people or by their neighbors. Recent field observations of the Graysville Melungeons differ in no way from that of any other small southern Appalachian community.

To read this paper: Click Here.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Melungeons

By Bonnie Ball

Historical Sketches of Southwest Virginia
No. 2 - 1966, Pages 47 - 52
A Publication of the Historical Society of Southwest Virginia

A generation ago census records of certain mountainous counties of Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Carolina, and others proved somewhat confusing. This was due to the presence of a strange group of people whose origin was, and has remained, one of the deepest and most fascinating mysteries of American ethnology.

The "Melungeons" who were called "ramps" in certain areas by their neighbors, have characteristics that range from those of the whites and American Indians to Orientals or Negroes. This variation prevented a definite race classification, and has also given rise to numerous theories concerning their origin.

Some had dark, oily skin, kinky hair, upturned noses and dark stoic eyes. Others, even in the same family had coarse bronzed skin, with straight black hair. Still others, close relatives, differed little from their white neighbors, perhaps having brown or light, fuzzy hair, fair or medium skin, and dark blue or gray eyes. Then there were others among them that had smooth, yellowish skin, curly brown or black hair, and dreamy, almost Oriental eyes.

It would be impossible to make any accurate estimate of how many such people were scattered throughout the mountains of the Southern Appalachians, but it can be assumed that their number fifty years ago would have run into at least five digits.

According to Bruce Crawford, a former newspaperman, and leading student of ethnology of the Appalachian area, the Melungeons were officially recognized about 1887 and given a separate legal existence under the title of "Croatan Indians" on the theory of their descent from Raleigh's Lost Colony of Roanoke Island (North Carolina), a convenient means of disposal, but hardly satisfying to the inquisitive historian.

The older Melungeons insisted that they were Portuguese. I have known the Melungeons from childhood, when three families lived as tenants on my father's farm in Southwestern Virginia. Their children have been my pupils, and I have done first-hand research on their traits, customs, and past, but can give here only the proposed theories of their origin.

Mr. Crawford's research revealed that when John Sevier organized the state of Franklin (Tennessee) there was a colony of "dark-skinned, reddish-brown complexioned people supposed to be of Moorish descent." They were neither Indians nor Negroes, but claimed to be Portuguese.

There is a doubtful theory that the Melungeon was a product of frontier warfare when white blood was fused with the Indian captor's and that of the Negro slave.

There also persist stories (that are recorded in history) that DeSoto visited Southwestern Virginia in the sixteenth century by way of a long chain of mountain leading into Tennessee. One ridge known as "Newman's Ridge" (which could have been "New Man's Ridge") was once the home of a teeming colony of Melungeons who were strongly believed to have descended from members of DeSoto's party lost or captured there.

In both Carolinas Melungeons were denied privileges usually granted to white people. For that reason many migrated to Tennessee where the courts ruled that they were not Negroes.

Traditions still persist that the Melungeons were descendants of the ancient Phoenicians who migrated from Carthage to Morocco, whenced they crossed the Atlantic before the American Revolution and settled in North Carolina. If this theory can be accepted, they were pure Carthaginians, and not a mixed race.

In weighing this last statement it is interesting to note that the Moors of Tennessee called themselves Portuguese, that the Moors of North Carolina came from Portugal, and that a generation ago the Melungeons called themselves Portuguese.

Yet there are factors that are puzzling in these assumptions. Such common surnames among them as Collins, Gipson (Gibson), Sexton, Bolen, Goins, and Mullens suggest no Phoenician background. And there is nothing about the word "ramp" to suggest a shy, usually inoffensive race of people. Neither is there any known reason for usage of the word "Melungeon" which is believed to have been derived from the French word "melange," meaning mixture.

The Melungeons were sometimes shy and reticent toward outlanders, but amiable with neighbors. They were loyal to their kin and employers. While they were fond of whiskey few were boisterous or malicious. I recall a story often told by my father, who was reared only a few miles from Newman's Ridge, about "Big Mahala Mullens" who lived on the Virginia-Tennessee state line. She grew so obese that she was unable to leave her house, and sat at the door all day selling whiskey to travelers. When she discovered the approach of revenue officials she waddled over to the Virginia side of her house if they approached from the Tennessee side, and vice versa if from Virginia. The act was probably unnecessary, since the authorities could not have removed her from the house. When Mahala died the chimney was torn away in order that she could be removed for burial.

Practically all Melungeons preferred a care-free existence with members of their own clan. For many generations they seldom married outsiders, and virtually all families in each area were related. Nearly all Melungeons, young and old chewed tobacco. They lived largely on bacon, corn pone, mush, and strong coffee. In early spring they gathered "crow's foot" from the woodlands, and "bear's lettuce" from spring branches, and ate them raw with salt. They liked wild fruits and berries to eat from the bush, but cared nothing for canning and preserving them. The holiday for Melungeon men was a week in late summer, after the crops were laid by, to be used for a ginseng expedition. No camping equipment was taken along except a water pail, knives, and a frying pan. They slept under the cliffs.

No fisherman could compete with the Melungeons. He simply waded into the stream, shoes and all, and searched with his fingers for fish hiding under stones. It no time he emerged with a nice string of fish.

Theirs was a hardy race, and seldom did they rely on a doctor. They applied many home remedies for injuries and brewed herb teas. Childbirth was a casual matter, usually attended by mountain midwife. Babies, as a rule, grew and thrived without any pretense of comfort or sanitation.

Their religion was of the simple Protestant type. They often attended their neighbors' churches, and occasionally had a patriarch-preacher in their group. They learned some of the old ballads and gospel songs from memory, for few of them could read or write. They accepted attendance at school, in most cases, an "unnecessary evil." Church picnics were always attended by Melungeon boys, but my mother once had a difficult time persuading young Willie that he must have a bath and wear a suit in order to participate in a children's day program. So he appeared, grinning broadly, in my brother's hand-me-down.

Then came industry to the Appalachians - coal, timbering, and railroads. The change was slow. World War I drew Melungeons into industry as well as military service. Coal towns grew up rapidly, and the Melungeon, like other tenant farmers, loaded up his few belongings on a wagon and headed for the "public works." A few remained behind and bought little hillside farms. For some reason their number appears to have decreased sharply in the past three decades, probably a result of long intermarriage, or perhaps many have been lost in white blood. Soon they may become just a legend - a lost race.

Note: Bonnie Ball was an early Melungeon researcher who wrote a number of books and articles about them.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Research Laboratories of Archaeology

Founded in 1939, the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) was the first center for the study of North Carolina archaeology. Serving the interests of students, scholars, and the general public, it is currently one of the leading institutes for archaeological teaching and research in the South. Located within the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's College of Arts and Sciences, it provides support for faculty and students working not only in North Carolina, but also throughout the Americas and overseas.

With one of the nation's finest collections of archaeological materials from the South, the RLA curates more than five million artifacts along with more than 50,000 photographic negatives, photographs, and slides. Over the past 60 years, virtually all of the major discoveries in the understanding of North Carolina's ancient past can be attributed to the RLA or to researchers trained there.

For more about the RLA: Click Here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Malungeon Town

Kingsport Times - 1923

Judge Lewis Shepherd, who has made a close study of the Melungeons, extending over a period of years, says that in a case of law in which he represented a Melungeon girl the question arose as to whether the Melungeons had negro blood in their veins. He said:

"A colony of these Moors crossed the Atlantic before the Revolutionary War and settled on the coast of South Carolina. They multiplied rapidly and by this industry and energy they accumulated considerable property. The South Carolina people, however, would not receive them on terms of equality. They refused to recognize them specially and would not allow the children to go to school with them.

"In fact they believed they were free negroes and treated them as such. By the laws of South Carolina a per capita tax was levied against free negroes and the tax authorities continuously harassed them by efforts to collect the tax. Under this rigid proscription of the proud people of South Carolina their condition became intolerable and so they migrated in a body and settled after a long and wandering journey through the wilderness in Hancock County, Tennessee."

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Journeys of James Needham and Gabriel Arthur in 1673 and 1674

Though the Piedmont and Mountains of North Carolina
To Establish Trade with the Cherokee

Contained in a Letter from Abraham Wood
To John Richards, August 22, 1674

To read: Click Here.

Note: You can read both the original letter and a edited version with clearer formatting and modern spelling.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Question: What is Genealogy?

Answer: Social Networking for the Dead

This was said by a speaker at a recent genealogical conference in the UK related to the "Who Do You Think You Are?" television program; however, this quote actually goes back several years and I do not know who said it first.

For more on the conference: Click Here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The Southern California Genealogical Society is proud to announce a new program, the Jamboree Extension Series,that provides family history and genealogy educational webinar (web-based seminar) sessions for genealogists around the world. The program will offer Jamboree-style seminars for up to 1000 attendees per session, at no charge. The Jamboree Extension Series is offered as a service to the genealogical community as part of the Society's mission "to foster interest in family history and genealogy, preserve genealogical materials, and provide instruction in accepted and effective research techniques."

Jamboree Extension Series presentations will be scheduled on the first Saturday and third Wednesday of each month. Saturday sessions will be held at 10am Pacific time / 1pm Eastern time; Wednesday sessions will be scheduled at 6pm Pacific time / 9pm Eastern time.

For more information: Click Here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

National Genealogical Society Family History Conference

The NGS 2011 Family History Conference will be held in the Charleston Area Convention Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive, North Charleston, South Carolina, 11–14 May. The convention center is conveniently located near the Charleston International Airport and is surrounded by a number of hotels with restaurants and outlet stores nearby. Historic Charleston is twenty minutes away via taxi or shuttle service if you are staying at the Embassy Suites, the convention host hotel.

The four-day conference will include more than fifty national speakers providing over one hundred lectures including: an ethnic track; research in South Carolina and the surrounding states; migration to Georgia, Tennessee and the Gulf states; a Board for Certification of Genealogists track with lectures about methodology, record analysis, and problem solving; religious records; using technology to enhance your research experience, and much, much more.

For more information: Click Here.

To register online: Click Here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Portuguese Denham Family

By Joanne Pezzullo

''When John Sevier attempted to organize the State of Franklin, there was living in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee a colony of dark-skinned, reddish-brown complexioned people, supposed to be of Moorish descent, who affiliated with neither whites nor blacks, and who called themselves Malungeons, and claimed to be of Portuguese descent.'' --Will Allen Dromgoole

While no source for the above has been found, the pension applications of David and Harden Denham from Guilford County, North Carolia show they served under John Sevier during the Revolution it would certainly seem John Sevier was indeed familiar with the Portuguese. David and Harden Denham were born in the 1750s in Hanover/Louisa County, Virginia and are associated with the Joseph Goodman family. Other Gibson names thought to be connected to the 'Melungeons' are found on the 1775 Petition of the Inhabitants of Washington District, as well as Sevier's Petition of the inhabitants of the Western Country in December 1787 to form the State of Franklin.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Remnant of an Indian Race

Watson's Jeffersonian Magazine
1911, Page 522

Dear Sir:

Your letter of yesterday received. I happen to have the information you seek. The Nashville American of June 26, 1910 (since consolidated with the Nashville Tennessean) published a paper of about 10 pages in celebration of its 98th anniversary and in this paper is the true story of a small number of people to be found in a few counties of East Tennessee, as in other sections of the Appalachian region, called Melungeons or Malungeons. I have traveled horse-back before, during and since the Civil War, in the counties where these people live, and have seen them in their cabin homes and from information received independently of what Judge Shepherd says, I am satisfled his statement is to be relied upon.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Friday, February 18, 2011 consists of 4,500 pages of more than 50,000 Free Genealogy Links; for US, UK, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Europe, Canada, Australia & New Zealand.

The types of records you can find using include parish registers, censuses, cemeteries, marriages, passenger lists, city directories, military records, obituaries and more.

To visit: Click Here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Upper Road

The Upper Road branched off from the King's Highway at Fredericksburg, Virginia, and went southwest through Hillsboro, Salisbury, and Charlotte in North Carolina, then on to Spartanburg and Greenville in South Carolina. The road generally followed the old Occaneechee Path which went from Bermuda Hundred on the James River, and Old Fort Henry (now Petersburg) southwest to the Indian trading town of the Occaneechi which existed by 1675 on an island in the Roanoke River at about the location of today's Clarksville, Virginia, close to the present Virginia and North Carolina state line. From that location the trading trail went both north and south. The Trading Path divided at the Trading Ford of the Yadkin River, one branch turning toward Charlotte, the other through Salisbury to Island Ford on the Catawba, to the north of present Lake Norman. DeSoto and his cavaliers were perhaps the first white men to use portions of the great Occaneechi Path (1540). Some of the people associated with Fort Henry were Col. Abraham Wood, Thomas Batts, Robert Fallam, James Needham, Gabriel Arthur, and John Lederer. From 1700-1750, active trading was carried on by white emigrants with Indian villages. After 1740, the proprietary governor of the Granville District began to issue grants to Quakers and others from the tidewater counties of North Carolina and Virginia, attracting them into the northern half of North Carolina. By 1750, the Upper Road became an important wagon route for southbound migrations into that portion of North Carolina. During the Revolutionary War, the road was used extensively for troop movements in the South--relating to the battles at Guilford Courthouse, King's Mountain, and Cowpens.

For more on the Upper Road: Click Here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Gibson and Goins Families

Data compilied by Joanne Pezzullo

These two families have a close association going back to at least mid 1700s.

For details: Click Here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cyndi's List

Of Genealogy Sites on the Internet

No listing of Internet genealogical resources would be complete without a mention of Cyndi's List. Cyndi's List, which is actually a hierarchy of hundreds of thousands of genealogical links, is very extensive but there is no apparent screening of the links given as to their reliability. The Melungeon section in particular is a wealth of misinformation and is NOT to be trusted.

With that caveat, to go to Cyndi's List: Click Here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Melungeons & Lumbees on Chippoakes Creek

Data Compiled by Joanne Pezzullo

Early in the 1600s the Gibson, Collins, Ivey, Sweat, and Chavis families are found living on Chippoakes Creek in Virginia. Later these families can be found living along the Pee Dee River where they were later called Malungeons, Redbones, Lumbee, etc.

For documentation: Click Here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cherokee National Forest

The Cherokee National Forest is located in Eastern Tennessee and stretches from Chattanooga to Bristol along the North Carolina border. The 650,000-acre forest is the largest tract of public land in Tennessee. It lies in the heart of the Southern Appalachian mountain range, one of the world's most diverse areas. These mountains are home to more than 20,000 species of plants and animals. Each year millions of people visit Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest. It is a place of scenic beauty that provides opportunities for anyone interested in nature and history.

For more information: Click Here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Romance is in the mountain air in Tennessee

By Joe Edwards, Associated Press – Fri Feb 11, 3:36 pm ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Romance is definitely in the mountain air as Cupid-inspired couples head for the Smokies for Valentine's Day vows.

Approximately 30 wedding chapels in the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge area in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park expect brisk business this weekend and Monday when excited couples repeat their vows on a romantic adventure with mountain majesty as a backdrop.

The love-struck have been descending on the East Tennessee area for years to get married, and Valentine's Day and the weekend before have turned into marriage marathons.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The North Carolina Digital Collections

The North Carolina Digital Collections feature digitized and born-digital materials held by the Archives & Library of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

To visit: Click Here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hancock County - Moonshine, Feuds & Malungeons

Actual Manners and Ways of the Men and Women

From The New York Sun - November 29th 1891

SNEEDVILLE, Nov. 26. -- It has been known that the great westward tide of civilization, setting from the seacoast for over a century, has split into many streams against the densest and most impassable part of the Appalachian system. The result has been that in the mountain fastnesses of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee primitive forms of civilization have remained in many places, while in other places there has been a long step backward toward barbarism. The railroads which opened up these parts to the world have gone far toward changing them. The former type of the mountaineer, with his hatred for strangers, his passionate love of the freedom of license and his disregard for human life, has disappeared from these lines of travel. Only in the far valleys and on the mountains overlooking the almost unbroken wilderness does the type still persist.

These mountaineers have of late years got much attention from writers of romances. And these writers of romances, being for the most part persons of surprising talent, have got much credit for realistic writing of fiction. Their use of the dialect, their portrayal of mountain life and character have been regarded as faithfully natural and lifelike. This esteem has, however not been shared by those who are familiar with the mountains and the mountaineers for many years. East Tennesseeans who have hunted through the mountains and have lived in mountain cabins for weeks and months say that the romancers have taken wide liberties with the dialect and with the people themselves to make a better story.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Genalogy Books to Go

A lot of us would like to take our genealogy and genealogy-related books, magazines, and reference guides along with us, without having to haul a lot of bulk and weight around. Ideally, it’d be great to have a lot of it in an eBook or other portable format, that we could take with us on a portable/mobile device, whether it’s an eBook reader, a mobile phone, or a laptop. One way you can do that is with Amazon’s Kindle platform, which is available for different mobile devices and operating systems.  As long as it’s one account, some of the publishers allow you to have the same books loaded on multiple devices with Kindle without paying extra, so you could have them on a Kindle, on your PC or Mac, and on an iPhone or BlackBerry.

For lists of compatible devices and genealogy-related books available through Amazon’s Kindle Store: Click Here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mysterious People Inhabit Northeastern Part Of Tenn.

Bill Sanders
Times-News Writer
October 16, 1949

On Newman's ridge in Northeastern Tennesee live an unknown people. Only one fact about them is indisputable, that they are strange people. From there fact turns to legend.

These people are called Malungeons. their characteristics are like those of the Indian in many ways -- an olive colored skin, straight black hair, small hands and feet, and high cheek bones.

Many stories have been told about where they originated. About the time of the Portuguese revolt against Spain, Portuguese ships plied the Caribbean Sea and many times marooned unwanted crew members. It is possible that these people could have been marooned on the South Carolina coast and made their way to the Clinch Valley.

When white men started moving down the Clinch River they found a group of people already settled on the rich farmlands. Even then as now they didn't associate with other people and eventually were driven off their farms and took refuge in Newman's Ridge, and many of them turned to distilling whisky as their main source of existence.

The most popular story about their moonshining is that of Big Haly Mullins. Sam Mullins, her nephew, says that she really existed. Weighing between 600 and 700 pounds she was too big to get outside her cabin, so she sat inside and shouted orders to workers at the stills. Many times revenue officers came to her cabin on the highest point of Newman's Ridge and each time officially arrested her and each time left the ridge without her. Big Haly was too much of a load for any combination of men and too big for a mere mule to take her down the narrow mountain trails. She lived to be 105 years old. The fireplace in one side of her cabin was knocked out in order to get her out for burial.

Other legendary stories told about the Malungeons related that they could have been remnants of Negro slaves or Indian tribes that had taken refuge in Newman's Ridge. But the fact that they are there is not legendary.

Sam Mullins, a Malungeon who has left the ridge and settled in Rogersville, laughed as he told the story of Vardy Collins and Buck Gibson. It seems these two had worked up a profitable enterprise in the Negro slave trade before the Civil War. Vardy would cover Buck with dark stain and take him to the nearest plantation and sell him as a Negro slave. Vardy would make off into the forest and Buck would wash the stain off at his first chance and walk off the plantation without making explanations to anyone.

In Malungeon country nobody uses the word ''Malungeon.'' Ask a man about them and the answer will usually be, '' Yes, I know about them but Mr. ---------, could probably tell you more than I could." So you see Mr.--------------------- and he says, "I have heard of them but this fellow across the railroad tracks is the authority on them."

Occasionally someone will talk about them but one thing holds true with everybody. One word will never be heard, "Malungeon."

Note: This article, which is presented here for its historical interest, contains many inaccuracies. One important point it does get right: Melungeons never called themselves Melungeons.  It was always something they were called by others.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area

The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area is a partnership unit of the National Park Service and administered by the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University. Since its inception, the Heritage Area has worked with communities and organizations across the state to tell the powerful stories of the home front, the demands of fighting and occupation, the freedom of emancipation, and the enduring legacies of Reconstruction.

To explore the Civil War in Tennessee: Click Here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area was designated by Congress and the President in November, 2003 in recognition of the unique character, culture, and natural beauty of Western North Carolina and their significance to the history of our nation.

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina are among the oldest mountains on Earth. The landscape is full of superlatives: the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and highest waterfall (Whitewater Falls) in the eastern United States; the oldest river in North America (the New River); and the two most visited National Park lands in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park). The region is also blessed with a stunning diversity of plant and animal life; more, in fact, than the whole of Europe.

But there is more to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area than just its mountains, for out of those mountains grew a rich cultural heritage as well.

To explore the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area: Click Here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Will Allen Dromgoole

Tennessee author and poetess Will Allen Dromgoole played a pivotal role in Melungeon historiography thanks to four newspaper articles about Melungeons written by her in 1890 and 1891 and published in the Nashville Daily American and the Boston Arena. The accuracy of these accounts is debatable, to say the least, but for good or ill they constituted the first widespread reporting about the Melungeons and influenced later authors, making no study of the Melungeons complete without them.

To read about the life of Will Allen Dromgoole: Click Here.

To read the four articles:
  • "The Melungeon Tree and Its Four Branches"
  • “Land of The Malungeons”
  • "The Malungeons"
  • "A Strange People"
And more: Click Here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Who Do You Think You Are?" Returns for Another Season

The poplar genealogical TV program "Who Do You Think You Are?" returns to NBC for another season on February 4th at 8 Eastern, 7 Central Time. Travel through time and deep into the family stories of eight fascinating celebrities as they solve centuries-old mysteries, uncover long-lost family ties and make shocking discoveries about their ancestors.

For more information: Click Here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

American Journeys

Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration and Settlement
A Digital Library and Learning Center

American Journeys contains more than 18,000 pages of eyewitness accounts of North American exploration, from the sagas of Vikings in Canada in AD1000 to the diaries of mountain men in the Rockies 800 years later.

Read the words of explorers, Indians, missionaries, traders and settlers as they lived through the founding moments of American history. View, search, print, or download more than 150 rare books, original manuscripts, and classic travel narratives from the library and archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

To enter: Click Here.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Walk Toward the Sunset" Revival

Walters State Community College brings a regional favorite to a new generation with the drama “Walk Towards the Sunset.” The play, written by Kermit Hunter, tells the story of the Melungeon people, a disenfranchised group centered in Hancock County.

Melungeons are a mixed-race group, which, even in the mid-1900s, were denied the right to own property or obtain an education.

The play ran as an outdoor drama for from 1969-1975 in Sneedville. Historian and author Wayne Winkler credits the play with creating a sense of pride among the Melungeon people.

“Even today, there are Melungeons who don’t want to admit or discuss their heritage. But those who do talk, do so openly and often loudly,” Winkler said.

Bringing the play back to life has been a welcome challenge for Walters State students, according to director Jerry Maloy, associate professor of music and theatre at Walters State. The cast includes several proud Melungeons (some of whom are cast as an angry mob) and many students have embraced the mystery surrounding the people.

For more information, including show times: Click Here.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Revamped Web Site

The noted Melungeon researcher Joanne Pezzullo has revamped her web site, making it easier to navigate, and has added a search engine for it. This is the best Melungeon site on the web and it can always be reached through the Melungeon Studies blog's "Links of Interest" page, a link to which is on the blog's sidebar.

To go there now: Click Here.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pickin’ in the Park

Morristown, Tennessee Welcomes Musicians of All Ages

Musicians for thousands of years have gathered on porches and in public places to play music with friends. Every Thursday evening from May thru September hundreds of musicians of all ages and styles gather at Fred Miller Park in Morristown for a weekly acoustic jam session. It’s called “Pickin’ in the Park,” and the goal is to help musicians learn more about their craft and to preserve East Tennessee’s rich musical heritage.

Pickin In The Park begins at 6 p.m. and winds up at dusk. The pickins are held at the same time, rain or shine every Thursday evening from May through September each year. Whether musicians have an ear for that high lonesome sound, bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, jazz or rock, they’re all welcome at the Pickin’ in the Park. The weekly event also features drum circles for percussionists. The only rules are no electric instruments or amplifiers and microphones for acoustic instruments, no commercial instrument sales, no formal performances and no charge. In other words, it is a fun, free acoustic jam session.

For more information: Click Here.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jimmy Martin Memorial Bluegrass Festival

Sneedville Tennessee is proud to announce the Jimmy Martin Memorial Bluegrass Festival. Sponsored by The Hancock County Tennessee Historical and Genealogical Society.

Dates: May 27 - 28 2011
Times: Fri 1pm-9pm, Sat 12:30pm-9pm

At Ken Cantwell's Airstrip on Tazewell Highway.
Campers and RVs are welcome.

For more information: Click Here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Caring for Your Family Archives

Advice from the National Archives

Topics discussed:

* How do I preserve my family papers?
* How can I safely mount my documents, memorabilia, and photographs into albums or scrapbooks?
* What kind of photo album should I use?
* How should I attach my photos to the album pages?
* Should I remove my photographs from old albums, such as black paper albums or self-stick albums?
* How should I caption my photographic prints; is there a safe way to write on the back of photographs?
* How should I frame and display my photographs?
* How should I store my photographic prints?
* Should I convert my home movies to video tape?
* How can I get some important documents that I own repaired?
* Should I digitize my photo collection? Is it safe to throw away my original film and prints after I digitize them?

To read: Click Here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Cumberland Gap

The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
By William W. Luckett

Tennessee Historical Quarterly
December, 1964, Vol. XXIII, No. 4

Cumberland Gap is a prominent V-shaped indentation in the Cumberland Mountains. It is situated on the Kentucky-Virginia boundary approximately one-quarter mile north of the point where Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee meet. The base of the pass lies in a plane 300 feet above the valley floor and 900 feet below the pinnacle on its north side. On the south side, the mountain is only 600 feet above the saddle of the Cap. Viewed from a distance, this picturesque natural feature probably appears much the same as it did when seen by the first pioneers. However, a closer look will reveal that the north side of the pass has been sliced by a modern highway to a depth of approximately twenty feet.

Indians used Cumberland Gap as a gateway through the mountains long before the arrival of the white man. Those crossing the Ohio at the mouth of the Scioto River found a well-beaten trail known as the Warriors' Path, leading directly to the Gap. Often they ventured beyond and into the Carolinas on the Catawba Trail, or toward the south on the Clinch and Cumberland Cap Trail which connected with others leading to present-day Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee. Occasionally these hunters returned to the Scioto country by following the Great Indian Warpath which intersected the Catawba at a point about thirty miles southeast of the Gap.

To continue reading:  Click Here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

RootsTech 2011

Explore Emerging Technologies

February 10 - 12, 2011
Salt Palace Convention Center
Salt Lake City, Utah

If you have ever clicked a mouse in the pursuit of your ancestors, RootsTech is for you! Discover new and emerging technologies that will improve and simplify your activities. Help shape the future of family history by sharing your feedback with technology innovators.

For much more information: Click Here.

I'll wager that no one will go to RootsTecvh 2011 based on this blog entry but we live in an era of rapidly evolving technology-based genealogical tools and resources, and it's well worth going to its web site just to look at the topics to be presented and discussed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kentucky Explorer Special Offers

Kentucky Explorer magazine, a magazine devoted to Kentucky history and genealogy, is having a special on CD's of its back issues.

For details: Click Here.

For more about Kentucky Explorer: Click Here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Two Notable Deeds

February 14, 1835

Hawkins County, Tennessee Deed Book 15: 397-398

George Gibson of Putnam County, Indiana to Simon Collins of Hawkins County, $150, tract on Black Water Creek, part of a 300-acre tract granted by the State to James Johnson and Moses Humphrey, containing 50 acres more or less and witness by Vardy [his mark] Collins, Burrell [his mark] Sullivan and Morgan Collins.

Hawkins County, Tennessee Deed Book 15: 398

Jordan Gibson to Simeon Collins, of Hawkins County, $200, the west fork of Black Water Creek, part ofa 300-acre tract granted to James Johnston and Moses Humphreys... a patent line south of Powells Mountain, Signed by Jordon [his mark] Gibson and witnessed by Vardy Collins and Alfred Collins.

Note: Vardy Collins was a well-known Melungeon, and Collins and Gibson were common Melungeon surnames around Black Water Creek (and Newman Ridge). Note also that in 1835 Hancock County was still part of Hawkins County.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Appalachian Traditional Music

A Short History
By Debby McClatchy

In the 1763 Treaty of Paris the French gave up their American land rights to the English, causing the start of a larger expansion through and into the Appalachians from 1775 through 1850. The population explosion in Ireland (from four million in 1780 to seven million in 1821), coupled with a lifting of travel restrictions from that country, increased immigration to the US. Most of the Scots-Irish coming to Pennsylvania came as indentured servants. When their terms of service were over they found local land too expensive and so went south into the mountains. It is generally perceived that this 'lower' class of immigrant resulted in the 'poor white trash' or 'hillbillies' of Deliverance fame, although the truth is that to survive in the Southern Mountains you needed to be resourceful, healthy, and knowledgeable.

By 1790 any good land was taken or too expensive for most. Still, communities were settled rather late; at the time of the Civil War (1860s) most settlements did not average more than three generations back. All this tended to produce communities that were isolated geographically and unstable, at least compared with the higher degree of order, law, and precedent found on the Eastern Seaboard. Frontier life was rigorous and a struggle; people needed to rely upon each other, and anything social, including religion, was highly important, producing a generally deeply religious population. Musical traditions from home were important links to the past and were cherished and passed down to the next generation.

Traditional Appalachian music is mostly based upon Anglo-Celtic folk ballads and instrumental dance tunes. The former were almost always sung unaccompanied, and usually by women, fulfilling roles as keepers of the families' cultural heritages and rising above dreary monotonous work through fantasies of escape and revenge. These ballads were from the British tradition of the single personal narrative, but the list was selective; most of the one hundred or so variations of the three hundred classic ballads found in American tradition are to do with sexual struggles from the female standpoint, as Barbary Allen, Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender, and Pretty Polly. One is less likely to find Scottish ballads of rape and dominance, or those with men as heroes. A large percentage, perhaps almost half, of the American variations tend to be about pregnant women murdered by their boyfriends.

The ornamentation and vocal improvisation found in many Celtic ballads seems to have led to that particular tonal, nasal quality preferred by many traditional Appalachian singers. But, even as content was changed to reflect American locations, contexts, and occupations, many nineteenth century versions of the Child Ballads still refer to Lords and Ladies, castles, and ghosts, and retain as their central theme love affairs and interpersonal relations. The churches of America were also very influential and usually more puritan in nature. Many fairly explicit lyrics were softened and cleaned up. British paganism was frowned upon, and this censorship resulted in ballads where repentance and doom supplanted sinful behavior.

For more: Click Here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Collection of Appalachian Stories is are trying to preserve Appalachian culture through story telling on the web. The site welcomes stories, true and fictional, from its readers. If you have a story, submit. Or just stop by to browse.

Categories range from ghost stories to recipes to pictures to home remedies to coal mining stories to mountain living.

To visit: Click Here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties

Compiled and Edited by Charles J. Kappler

This is an historically significant, seven volume compilation of U.S. treaties, laws and executive orders pertaining to Native American Indian tribes. The volumes cover U.S. Government treaties with Native Americans from 1778-1883 (Volume II) and U.S. laws and executive orders concerning Native Americans from 1871-1970 (Volumes I, III-VII). The work was first published in 1903-04 by the U.S. Government Printing Office. Enhanced by the editors' use of margin notations and a comprehensive index, the information contained in Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties is in high demand by Native peoples, researchers, journalists, attorneys, legislators, teachers and others of both Native and non-Native origins.

Volumes I through VII are now available on the web both as fully searchable digitized text and as page images. The contents may be accessed from the Table of Contents or Index of each volume or through keyword searching.

To consult the compilation: Click Here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

HathiTrust Digital Library

The mission of HathiTrust is to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.

In this effort our goals are:

* To build a reliable and increasingly comprehensive digital archive of library materials converted from print that is co-owned and managed by a number of academic institutions.
* To dramatically improve access to these materials in ways that, first and foremost, meet the needs of the co-owning institutions.
* To help preserve these important human records by creating reliable and accessible electronic representations.
* To stimulate redoubled efforts to coordinate shared storage strategies among libraries, thus reducing long-term capital and operating costs of libraries associated with the storage and care of print collections.
* To create and sustain this “public good” in a way that mitigates the problem of free-riders.
* To create a technical framework that is simultaneously responsive to members through the centralized creation of functionality and sufficiently open to the creation of tools and services not created by the central organization.

Currently Digitized:

7,857,428 total volumes
4,413,590 book titles
195,899 serial titles
2,750,099,800 pages
352 terabytes
1,963,843 volumes in the public domain

To visit the HathiTrust Digital Library: Click Here.

Note: Full online text is only available for works in the public domain.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Tennessee Historical Society Discusses the Melungeons in 1890

Magazine of American History
With Notes and Queries, Illustrated
Edit by Mrs. Martha J. Lamb
VOL. XXV, January-June, 1891

Page 258:

The Tennessee Historical Society held an interesting meeting on the 9th of December last, at Nashville, Judge John M. Lea presiding. Colonel Reese, on behalf of the committee to consider the eligibility of women as members, reported that there was nothing in the rules to prevent, and, in fact, that the society now had a lady member—Mrs. Martha J. Lamb of New York.

After the reports of various committees had been read, and other business transacted, Judge Lea addressed the society on the subject of the Melungeons. He outlined the early history of the settlement of North Carolina. A party under the protection of a friendly Indian chief had gone into the interior when the first settlers came to that coast and had been lost. No other settlers came till a century afterward, and they were told of a tribe who claimed a white ancestry, and among whom gray eyes were frequent. This people were traced to Buncomb and Robeson counties, where the same family and personal names were found as in the lost colonies. They are now called Croatians, on account of a sign they made on the trees to keep their way. The Bosques of the Spanish coast have been said to have settled in that country, but this theory was not thought to be trustworthy. It would be impossible for negroes to form a distinct race, because the number necessary for a colony would not have been allowed to run at large. The race has several old English words which are used as they were in England two hundred years ago, and a case of civil rights has been won in court by a Melungeon displaying his person and proving to the court that he was of Caucasian blood. North Carolina gives the Croatians $1,000 a year for a normal school, and they have excellent roads. This colony, whose early history is thus so clearly traced, lies within forty miles of the Tennessee Melungeons.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Melungeons Defined in 1895

The Century Dictionary
An Encylcopedic Lexicon of the English Language

Prepared Under the Supervision of
William Dwight Whitney, Ph.D. LL.D.
Professor of Comparative Philology and Sanskrit
Yale University

Page 3702:

Melungeon (me-lun'jon), n. [Origin obscure:
perhaps ult. < F. melange, a mixtiure: see
melange.] One of a class of people living in
eastern Tennessee, of peculiar appearance and
uncertain origin.

"They resented the appellation Melungeon, given to them
by common consent by the whites, and proudly called
themselves Portuguese." Boston Traveller, April, 1889)

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Indians of the Southeastern United States

By John R. Swanton
Smithsonian Institution
Bureau of American Ethnology
Builletin 137
Published in 1946

Several years ago when I was collecting materials from early writers regarding the Creek Indians and other Southeastern tribes, a quantity of notes accumulated bearing on the material culture of these people. These, augmented by a few of my own and sketches of the later history of the several tribes, I have brought together in the present work. Some material has also been included to augment earlier publications dealing with the social and ceremonial usages of the peoples in question. Although they are included in the same general area, it is not claimed that the discussion of certain of these tribes is complete, meaning particularly the Cherokee, Tuscarora, Quapaw, and Shawnee, which have been made the subject of considerable additional research and are still being studied. Indeed, no claim of a hundred-percent completion of any tribe can ever be made safely, since some manuscript may at any time be drawn from its place of concealment and modify materially everything that has been published, or even occasion a total revolution in our ideas regarding it. The present effort involves in the main a collection of source materials which it is hoped and believed will be of use to future students.

To read this very lengthy publication online: Click Here.

To download it as a set of large PDF files: Click Here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Preserve Your Family History for Free at

By Dick Eastman

BackupMyTree is an automatic backup program to preserve your data on the web and allow you to retrieve that data at any time. It works with many of today's most popular genealogy programs, although not with all of them. BackupMyTree automatically finds and backs up industry standard GEDCOM files as well as data files created by Family Tree Maker, Personal Ancestral File, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic (version 4 or later), Family Tree Builder, Family Tree Legends, Ancestral Quest, Ancestry Family Tree, Reunion for Mac, and GenoPro. Note the inclusion of Reunion for Macintosh. The rest are all Windows programs.

If your hard drive crashes or your data is lot for any other reason, you first repair any damage, then you log onto the service and download any or all of your genealogy files.

BackupMyTree is supported on Windows XP, Vista, and on Windows 7. It reportedly works on earlier versions of Windows as well but is not officially supported on those older products.

BackupMyTree provides fast, automatic backup and off-site storage for all of your family tree files. All of the most popular family tree file formats are supported. You can retrieve any or all of your files at any time. It is FREE, simple, easy, safe and secure.

I rarely recommend specific products but I am recommending this one. BackupMyTree should be installed on every genealogist's Windows computer.

For more on BackupMyTree: Click Here.

To go to  Click Here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Full Moon Names and Their Meanings

Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year.

To see the Farmers Almanac’s list of the full moon names: Click Here.

For an even better list of full moon names: Click Here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Melugeon Studies Moves to a New URL

As of today, January 14, 2011, the Melungeon Studies blog moved to a new URL reflecting its proper name. Some links may be broken due to the move; these will be corrected as soon as possible but most of the blog should be working as usual.

New blog entries will be made here, so please update your book mark to reflect the new URL. I believe that the RSS feed and the new email feed will still work, but I will be testing that to make sure.

Thank you!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Wayback Machine

One of the many features of the Internet Archive, blogged about yesterday, is the legendary Wayback Machine which preserves the contents of many web pages no longer in existence:

Browse through over 150 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible.

To use the Wayback Machine: Click Here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Allen County Library

The Allen County Indiana Public Library has made a remarkable genealogical collection available online through the Internet Archive. While it has many items pertaining to Allen County, of course, it has many more which range far afield. To cite just one example among hundreds, it contain the marriage records of Hawkins County, Tennessee for the years 1797 to 1886.

To view Allen County Library's online collection: Click Here.

To visit the Internet Archive's main page: Click Here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

An Introduction to Genealogy

By the One, the Only, Dick Eastman

Do you have a curiosity about your family tree? Many people do. Some may have their interest piqued because of an heirloom, an old picture, or perhaps an unresolved family mystery. The reasons people get hooked on genealogy are many and varied, but each person's search is unique. After all, the search for your ancestors really is a search for yourself.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Lewis and Clark

A National Registry of Historical Places Travel Itinerary

The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, in conjunction with the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), proudly invite you to discover the historic places of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This expedition, which took place between 1804 and 1806, has been described as the greatest camping trip of all time, a voyage of high adventure, an exercise in manifest destiny which carried the American flag overland to the Pacific. It was all of this and more. This travel itinerary highlights 41 historic places listed in the National Register of Historic Places and associated with Lewis and Clark. Many of these places are also part of the National Park Service's Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

For much more: Click Here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Melungeon Studies Blog Email Subscriptions Redux

I have been informed that the instructions I gave yesterday for switching from the old email feed to the new email feed were less than clear.

Unsubscribing from the old feed is done by clicking on the unusubscription link at the bottom of the email. Subscribing to the new feed must be done on the blog itself, and it is there, not within the email, that you will find a link for doing so on the sidebar to the right.

You can, if you like, first subscribe to the new feed, then unsubscribe from the old. That way you could ensure that the new feed is working for you before canceling the old feed.

Thank you for your patience and attention to this matter!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Melungeon Studies Blog Email Subscriptions

If you subscribe to the Melungeons Studies blog by email, please unsubscribe and re-subscribe using the link on the blog's sidebar to the right. I have created a new email feed for the blog which gets its title right, and while I cannot stop the old feed at this time, I cannot guarantee how long it will keep working.

The RSS feed is not affected.

Thank you!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Announcing a New Melungeon Discussion Group

Libby Bunch Smiddy, a bona fide Melungeon descendant through multiple lines, and I, a long-time RootsWeb Melungeon list moderator in years past, have established a new, Yahoo-based Melungeon discussion group called Melungeon Studies.

This group is not affiliated with the Melungeon Historical Society, the Melungeon Heritage Association or any DNA testing project or organization. As such, the only constraints on discussions there will be that they be evidence-based and that the usual and expected participant decorum be maintained. Being Yahoo-based, this group also has the advantage of allowing files and images to be uploaded its web site for all to share, among other features, although the actual discussions are carried out through email in the manner of a RootsWeb mailing list (but are also accessible through its web site).

The noted Melungeon researchers Joanne Pezzullo and Kathy James have already signed on to be a part of this new group, and anyone interested in joining us should: Click Here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"The Malungeons"

According to Joanne Pezzullo

From my research I hope to be able to show that the Malungeons were in fact Portuguese Adventurers who intermixed with the local Indians in the Carolinas, I believe I can.

These families were reported along the Pee Dee River as early as 1725, they may have joined Christian Priber's 'Paradice', his Utiopa in the Cherokee Indian Town. They were likely ejected after his arrest in 1743 when Chief Attacullaculla signed an agreement in Charleston to trade only with the British, return runaway slaves and expel Non-English whites from their territory, in return they received guns, ammunition, and red paint .[*]

From court records found in North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri, Illinois these families from the Pee Dee declared they were Portuguese and in most cases they succeeded. The Ivey, Halls, Chavis, Shoemake, Bolton, Perkins, Goins, Collins, Nickens, Dungee, and others have all been identified as Portuguese in courts, county histories, etc.

In 1848 a journalist from Louisville, Kentucky visited Newman's Ridge where he stayed at the Vardy Inn and wrote the 'legend of their history' -- and it would appear that Vardy Collins and/or his wife 'Spanish Peggy Gibson' were the possibly the source. Most researchers assume Vardy was giving the history of his Collins family but it is likely his ancestors were merely Indians as were many of the other early settlers on Newman's Ridge. The little Portuguese community on the border of the Carolinas appears to have started breaking up around 1800 and many had moved west after the War of 1812.

Judge Lewis Shepherd defended the granddaughter of Solomon Bolton in 1874 and in that trial testimony was given by credible witnessess that Solom Bolton [and people of his race] had been 'called Malungeons' and as Shepherd would tell it later these people came from South Carolina. In fact Solomon Bolton's father, Spencer Bolton was said to have been born on the Pee Dee River in 1735 which would means his family as well as deeds of the Bass, Perkins, Ivey, etc., can be shown living in the same area that in 1754 showed '50 mixt families' residing. Judge Lewis Shepherd tells how these people came over the mountains from South Carolina to Hancock County, Tennessee and spread out from there.

The Lowery of the Lumbee families according to history have Portuguese ancestors and it is said that Tobias Gibson, son of Jordan is also said to have had Portuguese ancestry. It seems fairly clear to me that the Portuguese settlers who intermixed with one tribe, most likely the Cheraw or Saura, became the 'Lumbee' while just across the line those same families who intermixed with the other tribes, possibly the Catawba, Pee Dee, etc., became known as Redbones. As they moved into Tennessee and intermixed with the Saponi-Occaneechi families of Gibsons, Collins, etc., they became what was described in 1848 as the 'present race of Melungens.'

For more: Click Here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tax Lists: A Goldmine of Information

By Barbara Vines Little

Published in OnBoard
The Newsletter of the Board for Certification og Genealogists

Virginia is missing its 1790 and 1800 census records and about half of the records for 1810. Tax lists are the closest thing to a census available for this time period. Fortunately a number of tax records have been published as substitutes; e.g., a 1787 personal property tax list that named every white male aged twenty-one or older, was published as The 1787 Census of Virginia. While tax lists do not count everyone, censuses typically do. Tax lists are usually compiled each year and thus provide an annual snapshot of individuals in the community.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Special Censuses

Special Censuses Counted More Than People

By Sharon Tate Moody
Tampa Bay Online

How much corn, potatoes, flax, sugar and honey did your great-great grandfather farmer produce in 1860? How successful was your great grandfather's small manufacturing business in 1880? How many men and women did he employ and what did he pay them?

Where would a researcher find such revealing information about their ancestors? In the census — but not the one we usually refer to as "the census."

Researchers are most familiar with the national population survey taken every 10 years since 1790. Those records vary in the information they provide; the census initially began to determine population for elected representation.

But the government also wanted other information, so it created a variety of surveys, called schedules, which provided insight and clues for researchers.

To continue reading: Click Here.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Gibson Descendant Freedom Suit, 1804

In 1804 an enslaved family who were descendants of a George and Jane Gibson of Charles City County, Virginia, filed suit claiming freedom based on their being of Indian descent, the claim specifically being that Jane Gibson was an Indian.

To see a transcript of their petition: Click Here.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Stories of the Civil War

National Park Service Civil War Institute

The Civil War touched every person and influenced every institution more profoundly than any other event in American history. Over half a million young Americans gave their lives fighting for or against the effort by Southern states to secede from the Union and to preserve a society based on slave labor. Not only were civilians deeply scarred by the war, but no aspect of the society, economy, or political system was spared. To this day, no part of the American past attracts so much continuing interest as the War Between the States.

The National Park Service conserves the sites of the most important military actions of the war. Through exhibits, video presentations, ranger talks and guided tours, publications, research and educational programs, historians and interpreters help provide Americans and their guests with a deeper understanding of the conflict. Today, those efforts have grown to include the World Wide Web.

Here you can begin to explore the broader meanings of the Civil War, for you, for Americans of that time and of ours. The information is arranged according to four major areas of impact on America:

Social Aspects of the Civil War: How was the contest influenced by the rapidly changing world of American family, community, and work life, and especially by the institution of slavery?

Economic Aspects of the Civil War: How was the nature of war itself transformed by the industrial and transportation revolutions of 19th-century America?

Political Aspects of the Civil War: How did the conflict over the issue of slavery shatter the American political order, shape wartime strategies, and transform our system of constitutional government?

Military Aspects of the Civil War: How were battlefield decisions often shaped by the prior knowledge and experience of the soldiers, even in their peacetime lives?

To let the words of National Park Service Rangers guide you on your path to discovery of the Civil War: Click Here.