Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Pee Dee River Melungeons

By Joanne Pezzullo

The Pee Dee families; Bolton, Perkins, Shoemake, etc., are listed on the Core Melungeon DNA project page yet there seems to be mixed signals regarding the "Pee Dee Melungeons" or the "CORE Melungeons" coming from Estes, Crain, Goins and Ferguson in the latest paper published in JoGG. They write in this paper;
"One possible documented source of Portuguese ancestry may be from Juan Pardo’s men who were abandoned at various forts in present day North Carolina, one perhaps as far north and west as Morgantown, North Carolina. [206] Some of Pardo's men may have been Portuguese. These men, if they survived, would have had to have assimilated into the Native population and have taken Native wives, as there were no European women available in 1566. However, the core Melungeon family group is not originally found in western North Carolina, but in eastern Virginia."
It certainly would appear to me they have written the Pee Dee Melungeons out of the Core group as there is no evidence the Bolton, Perkins, Shoemakes etc., had any ties to the Virginia families, they were a separate group found on the Pee Dee River as early as 1725, a stone's throw from the town Ylasi/Ilapi that both deSoto and Pardo had visited, and very possibly descended from Pardos [or deSotos] men.

To continue reading:  Click Here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Virginia Health Bulletin, November 1925

Vol. XVII, Extra No. 12

Shall America Remain White? *
By W. A. Plecker, M. D.

From the Booklet:
Issued by
Bureau of Vital Statistics
State Board of Health
Richmond, VA

* Read before Section on Public Health, Southern Medical Association,
Eighteenth Annual Meeting,
New Orleans, La., Nov. 24-17, 1924.

The negro as a laborer is valuable, and if it were possible to preserve the race in purity with him in our midst, he would be a great asset.  Because this cannot be done, and because the mixed breeds are a menace and not an asset,we have them as the greatest problem and most destructive force which confronts the white race and American civilization.

 Both remote and recent history of many nations shows that in none of them have white and colored races lived together without ultimate amalgamation, and without the final deterioration or complete destruction of the white or higher civilization.

 We behold with awe the evidences which we now find in Egypt of the wonderful civilization of the past, when that country was white. The Pharaohs extended their conquest south and brought back as captives large numbers of negro men and women. Intermixture of the races began and progressed to such a point that one of the Pharaohs took as wife a negro woman whose son succeeded to the throne. This was about the time when Jeremiah the Prophet warned Israel to break with Egypt and affiliate with Babylon.  His warning was disregarded, Egypt was as a broken staff upon which to lean. The fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity resulted.

 Egypt, then a mongrel nation, soon went down before Assyria and is today a feeble and helpless nation of brown-skinned people devoid of initiative and dependent upon white leadership and protection.

 Four thousand years ago, India was ruled by Aryan conquerors, who instituted an elaborate caste system to prevent intermixture of the races. This system failed and the few survivors who might be called white are now looked upon as curiosities.

 South America and Mexico were subdued by Spanish and Portuguese adventurers, who began at once to raise up a mixed breed.

 Indians would not make docile slaves, and negroes in large numbers were brought in.
Much of South America and Mexico is today inhabited by a mongrel race of white-black-red mixture, one of the most undesirable racial intermixtures known, as I can testify from my own observation of similar groups in Virginia.

 Professor A. E. Jenks, of the University of Minnesota, and his assistant,made a house-to-house study of families the result of mixed marriages, the marriage records not even showing the color of the man and woman. These people have in Minneapolis an organization known as the Manassas Society, membership in which is dependent upon the intermarriage of a negro man and white woman. Already 200 such families are included in this society, with probable omissions.

 Similar conditions exist in many parts of the North and West. That condition alone, if unchecked, will in a few centuries legally mongrelize that portion of our country.

If we turn our eyes southward, we find a different but even more serious situation. None of our Southern States permits the intermarriage of whites and pure blacks, but all except Virginia and perhaps two others allow the intermarriage of whites with those of one-sixteenth or one-eighth negro blood.

 This serious situation calls for the speedy enactment of laws based upon that of Virginia, which defines a white person as one with no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian and forbids the intermarriage of whites with those with the slightest trace of negro blood.

 Clerks who issue marriage licenses are required to assure themselves that both parties are white, according to the new definition, when that fact is claimed and are instructed to withhold the license, when in doubt, until satisfactory proof is submitted to them.

 The enforcement of the law naturally falls upon the Bureau of Vital Statistics, to which are reported the births, deaths, marriages and divorces of the State, all of which require a statement as to color.  Our office has accepted this task and has undertaken seriously, as far as possible, to secure from all sources the truth as to this point.

 Circular letters have been sent to all clerks physicians, local registrars, undertakers and midwives, with copies of the law, urging them to use all possible care to furnish us with correct statements.
School authorities have been reached through their journal, and the public is being instructed by newspaper articles and lectures.

 Much interest has been aroused and many cases of mixture are being called to our attention.
When this condition is found on the birth certificate if the mother has other children, we refer back to previous births to the same parents and make the certificates agree. We have thus caught a number of families in the act of passing over from the colored to the white class, some of their children being already recorded as white and some as colored.

 Our custom is to notify the head of the family that this situation cannot be allowed and that if one of his children is colored, they are all colored.

 The case is different, however, when the process of intermixture has so far advanced that communities of mixed breeds have been formed, particularly if they have or claim to have some intermixture of Indian blood.

Discussion (by other doctors)
From the booklet:
Issued by
Bureau of Vital Statistics
State Board of Health
Richmond, VA

 Dr. A. T. McCormack, Louisville, Ky. - I had the opportunity of going to Panama, where every race had contributed something, and the negroid influence was predominant, and where degeneration of all races had been more rapidly brought about by that element. I think it of extreme importance to white civilization to prevent the contamination.

Dr. W. A. Evans, Chicago, Ill. --Dr. Plecker calls attention to the fact that, independent of the strength or weakness of the strain, when strains are crossed there is begotten a something which fails to have the characteristics of either parent stock. That is well recognized in animal breeding.
The health officer, whether working in epidemiology or not, who does not recognize racial hygiene and racial peculiarities, the advantages and disadvantages of mixing these stocks, is failing in the responsibility that rests upon his shoulders.

Dr.Geo. Dempsey, New Orleans, La. - No mixture of Japanese, Chinese, negro, etc., has ever attained the high pinnacle for which the white race is known.

Dr Carl F. Raver, Charleston, W. Va. -- During slave days it no doubt was advantageous, from a commercial standpoint, to produce as many offspring of negro parentage as possible and many slave owners must have encouraged the mixing of the races.

 This produced the mulatto. Now it is this mulatto, or his offspring, thatis causing all the trouble. They do not wish to be classed as negroes and, if light enough in color, try to pass as white and marry into white families. Every possible means should be used to prevent this. The strongest weapon is public opinion. Public opinion allowed the mulatto to become started as an institution. It condoned the situation.

Note:  It is a peculiarity of American racism that as much or even more hatred is directed to those of mixed race as to those who are "pure" black.  Or "pure" American Indian for that matter, Hollywood westerns once regularly featuring the perfidious halfbreed, rightly shunned by whites and Indians alike.  Yet in reality millions upon millions of Americans have mixed white, black and/or Indian ancestry to one degree or another.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Walter Pleacker: Master of Documentary Genocide

Documentary Genocide: Families Surnames on Racial Hit List
By Peter Hardin, Times-Dispatch Washington Correspondent Sunday,March 5, 2000

Long before the Indian woman gave birth to a baby boy, Virginia branded him with a race other than his own.

The young Monacan Indian mother delivered her son at Lynchburg General Hospital in 1971. Proud of her Indian heritage, the woman was dismayed when hospital officials designated him as black on his birth certificate. They threatened to bar his discharge unless she acquiesced. The original orders came from Richmond generations ago.

Virginia’s former longtime registrar of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, Dr. Walter Ashby Plecker, believed there were no real native-born Indians in Virginia and anybody claiming to be Indian had a mix of black blood.

To continue reading:  Click Here.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chief Cook's Pleas Fall on Deaf Ears

Richmond Times Dispatch




Chief Cook Denies Kin With Heathen Race -- No Action Taken

By William G. Southall

Chief Cook of the Pamunkey Indians last night literally fell on the field of battle in a verbal clash with his paleface neighbors.

The aged man took the floor to protest before the House Committee and General Laws against the provision of the Norris racial integrity bill which classified as colored all Virginians who are not pure white. 

“I am a sick man,” he said.  “I left a sick-bed,” he said to come here for the speech I shall make.  It may be that I shall go down in the effort. It makes no difference. I told my people that I would be in Richmond for this hearing if it meant that I should be carried back home in a baggage.  I would die for the Pamunkey tribe.

A Natural Orator

The chief is a natural orator. His is an inherited gift.  Indians have been noted for their picturesqueness of speech since they took over the language of the white man,  The leader of the Pamunkeys last night was impressive as he stood in the Virginia Capitol and pleaded for the preservation of his tribe.  His voice broke at time but always he recovered it and continued his impassioned address.

After he had concluded he went slowly back to his seat in the rear of the hall.  An advocate on the other side of the question propounded an inquiry.  The chef did not answer.  Two or three men came to his side discovered that he was exhausted and assisted him to a long seat upon which he might lie.  Aromatic spirits of ammonia were administered, and the Pamunkey leader finally regained his lost strength.

At times the chief’s speech was tinged with bitterness.

“You talk of granting us land” he cried.  “Do you bring with you from across the sea on foot of soil?  Was not all Virginia ours when you came here?  Some of you boast of being F. F. V’s. I do not. I say that I come from the First Families of America.

God Fearing Folk

“Tell me, would you blot out a nation? God forbid! The charge has been made that we were from the heathen race.  I deny it from the bottom of my soul. We come from  God-fearing folk.  Long before we new the palefaces the Great Spirit brooded over us and died in the belief that we should join our brothers in the Happy Hunting Grounds.”

“Who would have thought.” he concluded dramatically, “that the heart of Captain John Smith, who would “have destroyed all the Pamunkeys, beat in the breasts of the palefaces of this day.?”

Defines White Person

At 12:30 o’clock this morning the committee rose without taking any definite action.

The bill under consideration last night differs from the law enacted at the 1924 session of the Assembly principally in that it defines a white person as one who has not one drop of other blood in his veins, except that persons who trace themselves back to a marriage union between a white person and an Indian contracted prior to 1619, or who have in them an admixture of the blood of Indians belonging to the civilized tribes of Oklahoma or Texas, shall be regarded as white.  All others are to be classified as colored.

This is the objection raised to the bill by the Pamunkey, the Chickahominy, the Mataponi and the Rappahannock tribes.  They would consent, they said, to a law forbidding any intermarriage among the races and providing the severe punishment for violation of the statue.

Opponents of the measure before the House Committee proposed an amendment which would define white, Indian and colored persons.  This suggestion met determined opposition from Dr. W. A. Plecker, Registrar of Vital Statistics, and John Powell; who has labored indefatigably for several years in the cause of racial integrity.  They made the point that thousands of persons whom they regard as mulattos would come forward with the claim of Indian descent, all of whom must be investigated.  Such a burden, they said, would be too much for the department to carry and function efficiently the while.

Recognition of also three races would be out of line with the policy obtaining elsewhere, and would serve no other purpose than to throw out of joint all the machinery of classification.

Dr. Plecker Opens Discussion

Dr. Plecker who holds that there is no Indian in Virginia who does not carry in his veins some negro blood, opened the discussion with a brief explanation of the bill.  Speakers on his side of the question included Delegate Warren, of Portsmouth: Mrs. Fothergill, who was presented as a genealogist; John Powell and Major E. S. Cox.

Representing the opponents of the measure where Senator Douglas Mitchell, who appeared in behalf of the Pamunkeys; Manley H. Barnes, for the Chickahominies George Haw, also for the Chickahominies; Judge Fleet for the Rappahonnocks; M.D. Hart, Roger Gregory, Rev. Mr. Sudduth, Chief George Nelson of the Rappahannocks, and James H. Johnson, a member of that tribe.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Study: Native Americans Came to the New World in Three Waves

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY 

Native Americans streamed into the New World in at least three waves of migration starting more than 15,000 years ago, a gene study released Wednesday suggests.

 North and South America were totally empty of people until the first arrivals from Siberia crossed a land bridge into Alaska, spreading in a few thousand years to the tip of South America. The genetic study may help settle a debate between a long-held view that the peopling of the continents came as one event instead of the more recently supported notion, backed by this study in the journal Nature, that the migration happened in three distinct waves.

To continue reading:  Click Here.

Note:  Much evidence of the story of the peopling of the Americas is almost surely waiting to be found under the waters of Pacific Ocean off the coasts of North and South America, sea level having risen considerably since the last Ice Age. Indeed, it is possible that one or more of the waves of settlement came from Asia by sea, following the coast as it was at that time, and did not use the celebrated Alaskan/Siberian land bridge at all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Words of Wisdom from Walter Plecker

By W. A. Plecker, M.D., FELLOW A.P.H.A.
State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Richmond, Virginia

Read at the joint session of the Public Health Administration and Vital Statistics Section of the American Public Health Association at the Fifty-third Annual Meeting at Detroit Michigan, October 23, 1924. This copy from The American Journal of Public Health, 1925.

When two races live together there is but one possible outcome, and that is*the amalgamation of the races. The result of this will be the elimination ofthe higher type, the one on which progress depends. In the mixture the lower race loses its native good qualities which may be utilized and developed in the presence of a dominant race.

The mongrels are superior in mental power to the lower race. They are more cunning and more capable, but they lack the creative power of the higher race, and cannot sustain a lasting civilization that will rank with the best of the world.

History affords many examples. Egypt in the day of her greatness was white.  But the white Pharaohs began to extend their dominion south into the negro land, and to bring back multitudes of captives for laborers and soldiers, special mention being made also in their records that women in large numbers were included. Interbreeding with these negroes began and continued through many centuries until the country became largely negroid.

The climax was finally reached when one of the Pharaohs took to himself a negro wife and his mulatto son Taharka succeeding to the throne. The colorline had vanished and with it Egypt's greatness. Assyrian invaders met with no effective resistance. From that day to this Egypt has been a mongrel nation, incapable of initiative, and now dependent upon foreign protection and leadership.

India affords a parallel example. Four thousand years ago the invasion of India by Aryans occurred. These came into contact with a mixed population of white-yellow- black composition. The conquerors attempted to prevent their own amalgamation with the natives by establishing a rigorous caste system, which was not like the present one based upon occupation, but upon color. This system failed, and though caste is still in force in India the reason for it no longer exists.

Modern South Africa is a melancholy example of what may occur when the intermixture which inevitably results is hastened by fanatical religious teaching and misguided legal interference from the mother country.  Major E.S. Cox, who spent years in that region and in other countries studying race conditions, in his book "White America," (White America Society, Richmond, VA) gives a graphic account of the struggle made by the determined colonists against the imposition. They lost out, and the population of Cape Colony province is today largely mixed, showing how quickly this condition results when the natural process is speeded up by negrophilism and the law.

Let us return now to our own country, and, as we are considering Virginia, to that state in particular.

There are about twelve million negroes; of various degrees of admixture in the Union today. Of the population of Virginia, nearly one-third is classed as negro, but many of these people are negroid, some being near-white, some having actually succeeded in getting across into the white class.

The mixed negroes are nearly all the result of illegitimate intercourse. The well known moral laxity resulting from close contact of a civilized with a primitive race makes illegitimate intermixture an easy matter. This is illustrated by the fact that the illegitimate birth-rate of Virginia negroes is thirty-two times that of Rhode Island, while the District of Columbia rate is thirty-seven times, and that of Maryland forty-six times.

In the days when slavery was still a blight upon our state, it was quite acommon occurrence for white men to father children born to the negroservants. The history, as related to me, of at least one colony of people known as "Issue" or "Free Issue," now spread over several counties, is that they originated in part in that manner.

It was considered undesirable to retain these mulattoes on the place, bearing the family name, and a number from one county were given theirfreedom and colonized in a distant county. These intermarried amongs tthemselves and with some people of Indian- negro-white descent, and receivedan additional infusion of white blood, either illegitimately or by actual marriage with low-grade whites.

At present these people are claiming to be white, or Indian, and under theformer law when a person with one-sixteenth negro blood could be declared white, they were able in some instances to establish their claim legally.

These mixed breeds are not classed as white by the people of the community, and they will not associate with the genuine negroes. Five hundred or more in number they thus constitute a class of their own, and a serious problem in that county and others to which they migrate. If refused classification as white they claim to be Indian, and as such have been accepted in the birth reports to avoid listing them as white.

In a recent test case, the court upon evidence submitted from our birthrecords reaching back to 1853, and from the testimony of old residents, decided that these people under the new "Racial Integrity" law cannot be permitted to intermarry with whites.

Another large colony which extends over into North Carolina probably has a similar origin. We have also compromised with these, and accept certificates as Indians, which indicates to us that they are not white.

In another county are about forty descendants of an illegitimate mating of a negro man and white woman four generations back. All of these haveformerly succeeded in being classed as white. though under the new law our office has supplied to the clerks who issue marriage licenses, school authorities, commonwealth's attorneys, physicians and local registrars, a complete family tree, with the injunction to class them as colored.

Similar conditions exist in other localities, though not yet so far advanced. A case was recently discovered where a white man married a mulatto woman (probably in another state), and now has nine children, four of them being reported to our office as white. Investigation revealed the fact that two other women bearing the same family name had mated with white men and were raising large families of children.

Another man whose birth was reported in 1878, both parents being registered as colored, had the court declare him a white man under the one-sixteenth law; married a white woman, and has four children reported as white by physicians.

The question of their color was referred to our office by the school authorities when the facts were discovered, and the white school advised under the new law not to receive them, though they engaged a lawyer to assist them.

These examples illustrate the fact that even in Virginia where the questions of race and birth receive as much attention as anywhere in the country, the process of amalgamation is nevertheless going on, and in some localities is well advanced. Complete ruin can probably be held off for several centuries longer, but we have no reason to hope that we shall prove the one and only example in the history of the world of two races living together without amalgamation.

In Mexico, much of South America and the West Indies the process is practically complete, the mixture being Spanish or Portuguese, Indian and negro. Some portions of southern Europe have undergone a similar admixture.  Immigrants from these lands to this country, while really negroid, are classed as white.

Several South American countries, or portions of them, still retain a considerable degree of race purity, which is being maintained by European immigration.

The immigration law recently passed by our Congress will stop the legal admission of Mongolians and will check much of the negroid immigration from elsewhere in the old world, but it will not prevent negro and negroidimmigration from other parts of the western hemisphere. It is estimated that there are today from 500,000 to 750,000 Mexicans in the state of Texas alone, and that Mexicans compose more than half of the population of .

But it is possible to stop the legal intermixture, and that Virginia has attempted to do in the above mentioned law, which defines a white person as one with "no trace whatsoever of blood other than Caucasian," and makes it a felony punishable by confinement for one year in the penitentiary to make a willfully false statement as to color.

Clerks are not permitted to grant licenses for white persons to marry those with any trace of colored blood. It is needless to call attention to the sad plight of a white person who is thus imposed upon or of a white woman who under such circumstances would give birth to a child of marked negro characteristics, as will occur from time to time under Mendel's law.

The new law places upon the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics much additional work, but we believe it will be a strong factor in preventing the intermarriage of the races and in preventing persons of negro descent from passing themselves off as white.

We are greatly encouraged by the interest and cooperation of physicians, local registrars, clerks, school authorities, the general public, and even the midwives. Our success during the first four months of the enforcement of this law, in securing more accurate statements as to color on our birth certificates and in correcting previously existing errors is far beyond our expectation.

The states which now permit free intermarriage of the races, as listed in"American Marriage Laws", (Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 1919) are:

Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The most urgent need is the speedy adoption by these states and the District of Columbia of a law forbidding the intermarriage of the white and colored races. The white race in this land is the foundation upon which rests its civilization, and is responsible for the leading position which we occupy amongst the nations of the world. Is it not therefore just and right thatthis race decide for itself what its composition shall be, and attempt, as Virginia has, to maintain its purity?

This is working no hardship and no injustice upon the other races; for the same effort tends at the same time to maintain the purity of their races as well.

That the mongrel races are liable to perpetuate the undesirable qualities of both their constituent stocks is abundantly demonstrated by a study of the larger and older of the mongrel groups in Virginia, as well as upon a study on a far larger scale in various other parts of the world.

The colored races therefore should be equally zealous in preventing both the legal and illegal admixture of the races. We are glad to say that the true negro of Virginia is beginning to appreciate this point and is agreeing to the wisdom of this movement. Our chief trouble is with some of the near-whites who desire to change from the colored to the white class.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ancient 'New York City' of Canada Discovered

By Owen Jaurs, LiveScience

Today New York City is the Big Apple of the Northeast but new research reveals that 500 years ago, at a time when Europeans were just beginning to visit the New World, a settlement on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Canada, was the biggest, most complex, cosmopolitan place in the region.

Occupied between roughly A.D. 1500 and 1530, the so-called Mantle site was settled by the Wendat (Huron). Excavations at the site, between 2003 and 2005, have uncovered its 98 longhouses, a palisade of three rows (a fence made of heavy wooden stakes and used for defense) and about 200,000 artifacts. Dozens of examples of art have been unearthed showing haunting human faces and depictions of animals, with analysis ongoing.

Now, a scholarly book detailing the discoveries is being prepared and a documentary about the site called "Curse of the Axe" aired this week on the History Channel in Canada.

"This is an Indian Jones moment, this is huge," said Ron Williamson, an archaeologist who led dig efforts at the site, in the documentary shown in a premiere at the Royal Ontario Museum. "It just seems to be a game-changer in every way."

For more:  Click Here.

Nothing to do with Melungeons or even Appalachia, but fascinating.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Last Stand

Excerpt From:

"'The Last Stand': The Fight for Racial Integrity in Virginia in the 1920s."
Journal of Southern History 54, no. 1 (February 1988): 69–92.

By Richard B Sherman

 The necessity for race integrity legislation in Virginia as shown by an ethnological survey of the State by congressional districts

By John Powell [writing circa 1923 in support of the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924]

Ninth Congressional District

This district consists of the city of Bristol and thirteen counties.  The character of the region is wild and mountainous, peopled by the most characteristic type  of the pure South Appalachian mountaineer.  In the hills, illiteracy and poverty are the rule although incalculable mineral wealth, for the most part as yet undeveloped is concealed in the earth.  In Tazewell we have the great Pocahontas coal fields but in the other counties, with few exceptions, the resources remained unexploited.  A wonderful future lies before this section  Here too, are to be found the rich blue grass lands, but owing to the conformation of the terrain, farming on  a large scale is impracticable. Hence the institution of slavery was never widely extended in this district.  Consequently its negro population is at a minimum.  Several of the counties make the proud boast of being 100 per cent white.  Here, if anywhere, we should expect to find freedom from racial amalgamation.

Pregnant With Danger

And yet, despite the apparent security - or rather, because of it - the situation is pregnant with grave danger.  These counties suffered little during the reconstruction period.  Negro domination was unknown” there were not enough negroes to dominate.  Union sentiment was strong.  This accounts for the strength of the republican party in this region.  All these circumstances have deflected the mind of the population from the racial problem, both in its political and its biological aspects.  Although no district in the State excells the Ninth in zeal for racial integrity the infrequency of the danger has resulted in a proportionate relaxation of watchfulness in guarding the color line.  Hence negroid near-whites from West Virginia and Kentucky and negroid mixed Indians from Tennessee and North Carolina, seeking an outlet for social ambitions.  Thwarted in their native localities have found in this district easy access to the status of whites and have mixed almost unhindered with the unsuspecting population. 

“Melungeons” from Tennessee. “Redbones” and self-styled “Cherokees” from North Carolina have easily succeeded in “passing.”  A similar situation exists along practically the whole southern border of the State: but, although the invasions of the Second, Fourth and Fifth districts have been more numerous, they have met with correspondingly greater opposition.  We have seen already how rapidly mix-breed descendents of one individual can multiply and how easily and widely they may be distributed.  These phenomena are again met within the Ninth District, where their potentiality of danger is magnified by a false sense of security.

In Russell and Tazewell

Case No..1. Russell and Tazewell counties.  (On file in the State records)

A.O. moved to Russell County shortly after the Civil War and settled on Orchard Ridge.  He came from North Carolina.  His wife had had an illegitimate child before her marriage by a negro.  This girl grew up and was married to E. R. a white man.  They had seven children of whom six married white people  The seventh, Perlita, was not married but bore four or five  illegitimate children. Another daughter, D., married C. G. and bore him eight children, al of whom married into white families.  One of these children, R., marries K. S. under circumstances which will be related below.  Forty-three of the descendents of E. R. and his mulatto wife are listed in the State records.  The total number is far greater.  These people are treated was white, attend white churches and their children go to white schools.  Some of them live in Russell County, but many have crossed into Tazewell, where the majority now reside.  Exclusion of these negroid children from the white schools would incur great, difficulty and even greater danger.  Human  life is  lightly held in these counties and the mix breeds would not balk at any extreme in wreaking vengeance on any who opposed their pretensions, as the following quotation will show;  “If they should learn that I am the informant, I would have to leave the community or live in fear and dread as I know my life would be in danger.”

Case No. 2. Tazewell County (On file in the State records)

The clerk of Tazewell refused to issue a license for the marriage of the above-mentioned  r. G. to K. S.  The couple went over into Tennessee, where they obtained a license and were married, returning immediately to Tazewell County where they now reside. The facts were presented to the grand jury by the Commonwealth’ Attorney, but the witnesses who were summoned were afraid to give evidence and no indictment was found.

Lee County Case

Case No. 3. Lee County (On file in the State records).
A birth certificate from this county has the father listed as white, the mother as questionable.  She is a member of a negroid family which moved into Patrick County from North Carolina whence she removed to Lee.

Case No. IV.  Lee County (on file in the State records).
This case was also brought to the attention of the Vital Statistics Bureau through a birth certificate on which both mother and father were recorded as doubtful: Both were from Tennessee.  This case shows the difficulties in determining the proper racial status of the above-mentioned “Melungeons” and other mixed groups, claiming Indian extraction.

Case No V. Lee County (on file in the State records). Lee County (on file in the State records)

On another birth certificate sent in to Richmond the father, a native Virginian is recorded as white: the mother born in Tennessee, as doubtful: another “Melungeon” case.

Case No. VI  Scott County (on file in the State Records)

This case will be presented by quoting from a letter from a local registrar:  “There is here in Scott County a considerable number of people who go by various names such as “Melungeons,” “Gawhans,”  “Malingoes.” They are a mixed race, not looked upon as Caucasian, although to my knowledge several have married whites.  They object to being called negroes, but some of them claim to be part Indian.  They have Indian traits, keep dogs and hunt and love wild meat. I have no way of knowing what race they belong to  except by general appearance. Some of them are fairly white, whle others of the same family are dark with kinky hair.  I do not believe that they should be allowed to pose as white.”

Case No. VII. City of Bristol (on file in the State records)

The State Registrar received the following letter: “Will you kindly send me right away a copy of the birth certificate of F------ W------- as per enclosed card.  The reason for asking is that he is attending the public school here, and there is some question as to whether he is white or colored.”  The birth certificate of this child was examined. Both parents were white; both were natives of Tennessee Melungeons?

Washington County

Case No VIII Washington County (on file in the State records)

In this county there is an extended group of dubious race being the same family names whose racial derivation seems well nigh indeterminable.  Investigation of the records shows that of eighteen marriages of people bearing this name nine were performed on white and nine on colored licenses.  Some of the members of the group claim to be of Indian extraction, but some of their neighbors insist they are colored. The difficulties of a definitive investigation seems insuperable.  Meanwhile their dubious blood continues to be disseminated among whites.  One of those families migrated to Goochland County where they entered their children in a white school.  The negroid appearance of these children aroused protest against their attendance.  The superintendent of the school wrote to the father requesting that he establish the right of his children to attend the school.  The superintendent reported to the State registrar:  “I never received a reply from the letter. But the children have never come back to school except to get their books.”

The cases in this district do not show the sordid degradation found in the other districts. However, the situation is non eth less critical.  The tide of amalgamation has risen even to the mountain tops, and the very isolation of the population has only made them the more helpless against the incursion.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Richmond Times Dispatch for Feb. 12, 1926

Richmond Times Dispatch
Feb. 12, 1926 


House General Laws Body
Acts Favorably on Amended

Stripped of Provisions 
Classifying Indian Blood
as Colored

The amended racial integrity bill
was favorably reported late yesterday
afternoon by the House Committee on
General Laws, in executive session and 
will now go on the House calendar.

Stripped of the provisions that would hav
classified as non-white descendants
of many prominent families fused with the 
blood of Indian Chiefs, the measure
retain the maximum penalty of five years' 
imprisonment for marriage between whie and 
non-white races.

Indians living on reservations in Virginia and
foreign non-white white students are
classed as white.

Non-whites are defined in the following

"That persons deriving from mixed Indian groups, resident within or without the State of Virginia such as are known and designated as "Melungeons" "Red Bones" "Moors" Mixed Indian or others, shall be deemed to be non-white.

A person of the white race is defined as to be a person whose blood is entirely white having no known demonstrable or ascertainable admixture of the blood of another race.

The amended bill provides that parties to marriage prior to June 17, 1924 whose blood mixture was white and North American Indian blood, and their legal descendants shall be deemed to be white persons.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Is Half a Melungeon DNA Study Better than None?

Recently the Journal of Genetic Genealogy published the following:  

Melungeons, A Multi-Ethnic Population 

Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson, Janet Lewis Crain


Melungeon is a term applied historically to a group of persons, probably multiethnic, found primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties, Tennessee, and in adjoining southern Lee County, Virginia. In this article we define the Melungeon population study group, then review theevidence from historical sources and DNA testing--Y-chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA--to gain insight into the origin of this mysterious group.

This paper can be read in its entirety:  Here.

Based on the paper, the Associated Press wrote a news story, one widely circulated version of which can be found:  Here.

Subsequently a number of people asked my opinion of this paper and the Associated Press news story, which has prompted to end more than a year of retirement from blogging about Melungeons.  Below is my response, originally made on a Melungeon discussion forum:

I have been asked my opinion of the recent paper by Goins, on Melungeon ancestry as revealed by the Melungeon Core Family DNA Project administered by the authors.  I finally expressed my opinion publicly on a very obscure forum and am repeating the exchange I had there on the subject to the wider audience here:

For the record, I was very disappointed by the paper in question. It did not reflect the comprehensive Melungeon Core Group DNA study that I, like so many others, expected and had so long anticipated. It found no Indian ancestry because it didn't look for any, the DNA testing being almost exclusively confined to male lines when any Indian ancestry would be far more likely to show up in female lines. Why the study's authors had no interest in the female side, I do not know, but it was a most unfortunate omission. I wonder now if we'll ever see a proper Melungeon DNA study done. In the meantime, this study does not show that Melungeons were originally a mix of black men and white women as reported in the press. At most it demonstrates that there is black ancestry in some Melungeon male lines, which we already knew based on private testing. And the misunderstanding of it by the press does nothing but further muddy already muddy waters.


>On 6/26/2012 4:02 PM, [someone] wrote:
>Very well put, Dennis.

Thanks, [someone].  I always thought this study was going to cover both male and female lineages, and I can't imagine why the authors had no interest in the female side but instead give the impression that the male side is the whole story.  Surely the authors know better, and if that was not their intention, they should be making every effort to correct the AP and other news stories that were published making claims to that effect.

Ten years ago I was a big proponent of DNA testing and thought it might unlock the secret of Melungeon origins.  Now I think DNA testing isn't going to tell us anything we don't already know about Melungeon ancestry through conventional genealogy and history.  But this study has had the unfortunate effect -- intended or not -- of using DNA testing to obscure, if not virtually ignore, half the story.

I'm using the phrase "half the story" rather loosely here.  Together male and female lineage testing would not tell the whole story, of course, but they would tell twice the story that male lineage testing alone does.  Actually, more than twice the story since the results for each side need to be evaluated in light of the other.

Dennis Maggard

For another, more detailed critique of this study by an outstanding Melungeon researcher and genealogist well known in Melungeon research circles:  Click Here