Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saga of the BC Iceman

Dateline: 08/25/99 (News updated July 24, 2001)

Modern hunters have discovered the remains of an ancient hunter at the edge of a remote glacier near the Yukon - British Columbia border.

The group who made the discovery are all teachers from the Nelson, British Columbia area. On August 14, they were hunting for Dall sheep in British Columbia's Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Wilderness Park (special permits are available for hunting in the park) when one of them, Bill Hanlon, noticed the first piece of wood they had seen for miles. It turned out to be part of a carved walking stick, and further examination of the area by Hanlon, Warren Ward and Mike Roch resulted in the discovery of other artifacts and a headless body. Following a 2-day hike out, they contacted the Beringia Centre at Whitehorse to tell of their find. Government archaeologists, of course, flew immediately to the scene.

The body and artifacts (including the walking stick, a finely-woven cedar hat, a spear-thrower called an atlatl, and a leather pouch containing edible leaves and the remains of a fish) have now been flown to Whitehorse and put into a freezer room to prevent deterioration. The removal of the body and artifacts from the glacier was accomplished by a team that included forensic anthropologist Owen Beattie of the University of Alberta, as well as Yukon government archaeologists, a glaciologist, an artifact conservator and representatives of the Champagne-Aishihik First Nation (CAFN), in whose traditional territory the discovery was made.

As is so often the case with such discoveries, CAFN immediately turned the find into a political issue. Spokesman Ron Chambers stated today (Aug. 25) that the discovery proves the long-term use of the land by First Nations people (thus presumably strengthening their position on land claims). CAFN had held up official news of the find for 10 days while government representatives held discussions with CAFN elders regarding possible ways of dealing with the discovery. The elders agreed to a scientific study of the remains and have given him the title of Kwaday Dän Sinchi, meaning "long ago person found". (September 28, 1999 update - artifacts radiocarbon dated to 550 years BP).

The Aug. 25 edition of the Yukon News quotes CAFN chief Bob Charlie:

"The elders have indicated that we should use this situation, what appears to be an ancient tragedy, to learn more about this person, when he lived and how his clothes and tools were made and how he died," said Charlie. This person will have much to tell us, to help us understand our past, and the history of our homeland. We wish to see these human remains treated with dignity and respect and to see the most positive outcome of this long-ago event."

In fact, the band see the find as more than a cultural boon. It's already planning to tap into research grants that will help pay its members to study the remains.

The Yukon government has stated that an agreement to turn over artifacts (including bodies) to the First Nations would be honoured. However, the find was made in British Columbia, and the cedar hat, although possibly an item obtained in trade with coastal people, may also be an indication that the ancient hunter lived near the coast, not in the interior, so that statement may be premature. It is entirely possible that the man lived in what is now Alaska (and was just passing through BC on a hunting trip or on his way to the interior), and I expect that the Alaska government will be getting involved very soon. While this is not a case of body theft, if the man can be reasonably assumed to be Tlingit or from an even earlier coastal culture, a repatriation request will likely be forthcoming.


B.C. ice man find revisited
April 25, 2008

Above: The team of scientists at the discovery of Long Ago Person Found site in 1999. Right: Kjerstin Mackie, a textile conservator at the Royal B.C. Museum, examines the remain of a robe.

Public invited to hear summary about ‘Long Ago Person Found’

Al Mackie remembers well the moment he got the call about a discovery in the farthest reaches of Northwestern B.C.

It was Aug. 21, 1999. Initial information given to Mackie, a Victoria-based scientist with the B.C. Archaeology Branch, was that a pair of hunters out tracking sheep on a glacier in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, had stumbled upon well-preserved human remains.

Not just any human remains, but those of an individual who was clearly from another time and quite possibly another place. Within two days, the appropriate calls had been made to the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations – on whose traditional lands the remains lay – and a team of scientists were dispatched to the site to expedite the removal of the remains.

“They’re fine when they’re in the ice. But at the moment that these kind of materials thaw is the moment they start to decay,” said Mackie, who worked two years full time on the project and was a key go-between working with the other interested parties.

“There was considerable urgency to recover the remains,” he recalled. “That was the first agreement we made; get them out, put them into a freezer and then sit down and talk about what we’d do from there.”

Nearly nine years later, the research continues into the discovery of Kwäday Dän Ts’inchi, as the find became known – it means “long ago person found” in the Southern Tutchone language.
As part of this week’s Northwest Anthropological Conference at the University of Victoria, the Kwäday Dän Ts’inchi Symposium will see experts in fields ranging from forensic anthropology to cultural history to ethnobotany rehash the most minute scientific discoveries in the project, and touch on the far-reaching cross-cultural issues.


Globe and Mail, CanWest News Service: The BC Iceman (as in Brit. Columbia)

Found thawing from glacier, his genes make him family for living members of Canada’s First Nations. Nine years ago, far up in the northwest corner of British Columbia near the Yukon and Alaska borders, three hunters seeking Dall mountain sheep instead found a young man’s body emerging from a thawing glacier. He’d apparently been in the ice for several hundred years.

Soon he was dubbed the BC Iceman. The body had been sheared by glacial movement but was in fairly good shape. So were tools and clothes including a gopher skin blanket and a woven hat. More formally, he’s Kwaday Dan Ts’inchi or Long Ago Person Found in the Tutchone language.
Now a reunion of sorts is being celebrated. Canadian news outlets are carrying news, from a science conference in Victoria, that his genes indicate affinity to 17 people alive today. Fifteen of the 17, it says here, are from the Wolf Clan. They are among 240 members of native Champagne and Aishihik peoples who volunteered to be tested (the community appears to be deeply interested in archeology). All live in nearby regions of northern BC, Yukon, and Alaska.

For this first burble of news reporters tended to focus, naturally, on the delight felt by some of those who are either descendents of the fellow or of some of the members of his immediate family. It seems, from some of the background gleaned this morning (see Grist) that this story deserves a much broader treatment. That is, people have been working pretty hard to put the man’s story together. It’s a saga.



One of the research projects involved sequencing of Kwäday Dän Ts’ìnchi’s mtDNA, which revealed that it belonged to Haplogroup A, with the polymorphisms 16111T, 16189C, 16223T, 16290T, 16319A, and 16362C.



If his Y chromosome is known, that information would be deeply appreciated.
History Chasers

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wilkes County NC 1790 Census; Tax List

From New River Notes
C 1998-2006 Jeffrey C. Weaver, Saltville, Virginia
1790 Wilkes County NC Census

The 1787 Wilkes County, North Carolina Tax List

There is a ton of information on Jeff's site.

Jeff, thanks for all that hard work!

The Melungeons Revisited

By Richard A. Pence

When I first noticed the title of the article by Nancy Sparks Morrison in the October Newsletter, I thought: "At last." At last, I hoped, someone has graced the Internet with some genealogically factual information on the Melungeons.

I was mistaken. It's another rehash of a discredited book.

"The Melungeons," writes Ms. Morrison, "are a people of apparent Mediterranean descent who may have settled in the Appalachian wilderness as early or possibly earlier than 1567, according to N. Brent Kennedy in his book The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People."

While there may be some basis for supposing these people are a distinct and identifiable ethnic group, no documentation is provided by Ms. Morrison other than quoting Kennedy's book - where documentation is suspect or nonexistent. His book is a "believe it or don't" collection of folklore, mythology, legend and hand-me-down hearsay - large portions of which are demonstrably inaccurate.

In her lengthy bibliography, Ms. Morrison cites two National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) articles by Virginia Easley Demarce, who is a historian with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and an authority on multi-racial ancestry in America. As importantly, she is a well-known genealogist with such credentials as being a past president of the NGS. Unfortunately, Ms. Morrison failed to include the most illuminating of Dr. Demarce's articles on this topic: a review of Kennedy's book, which appeared in the NGSQ more than two years ago (Vol. 84, No. 2, June, 1996, page 134).

To put it succinctly, this critical essay absolutely demolishes most of what Kennedy has written - and does so by employing the traditional tools of a genealogist: research in the original records.

Dr. Demarce begins by noting that Kennedy's "chronological leap over several centuries enables [him] to propose an exotic ancestry for '200,000 individuals, perhaps far more' (p. xv) - an ancestry that sweeps in virtually every olive, ruddy, and brown-tinged ethnicity known or alleged to have appeared anywhere in the pre-Civil War Southeastern United States."
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(Located on the Historical Melungeon Website)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Where did the Cherokee Get Their Turbans?

Proponents of a Turkish origin for Native American Indians have used the Cherokee turban as proof of contact and genetic contributions from Middle Easterners to the Cherokee and other tribes. Quite the contrary, the practice was introduced on their famous delegate trip to the Court of King George:

"Turbans were first introduced to the Cherokees by King George's
ministers, who deemed the appearance of Mankiller, Stalking Turkey,
Little Carpenter
, and other chiefs who made the trip to England
much too severe to be looked upon by their King. The King's
ministers changed the Cherokee visitors into garments which had
been left behind by a delegation from India.
The Cherokee chiefs returned to the Cherokee Nation
with the garments, which included the turbans.
These turbans and jackets became highly-treasured
items, worn for special occasions.

At first, Cherokees made additional turbans from
expensive imported cloths, but with the introduction
of the spinning wheel by George Washington, the
Cherokees began making their own cloth, from which
the Cherokee men fashioned headwear styled like the
exotic (and by now deteriorating) turbans worn at Council
by the aged chiefs who had 'crossed the water.' "


Scroll to the bottom of the page to view a video explaining this and an illustration of how to wear a turban.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuscarora War 1711 - 1715

— The Tuscarora War, 1711-1715 —

Bath State Historic Site

The Indians Retaliate . . .

From the first, there had been an Indian problem in Bath County. While disease had broken the power of the Pampticough tribe in the neighborhood of Bath, there remained many other small tribes scattered throughout Bath County. Behind these small tribes lay the powerful Tuscarora, an Iroquoian tribe closely connected to the Five Nations in New York. The movement of settlers into Bath County and up the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers had been watched with fear and resentment by the Tuscarora and the smaller tribes in this area. Favorite hunting grounds were being overrun and choice village sites were becoming sites for the settlers' towns.

While the chief danger to the settlers from Indian attacks came from the many Tuscarora, the first resistance the land-hungry settlers of Bath County faced came from the smaller tribes into whose territory they first moved. The first to resist the advancing tide of civilization were the Core (sometimes called Coree) and Nynee Indians, who lived south of the Neuse River. In 1703 they were declared public enemies by the Carolina government, which was determined to carry on a war against them. While the records of this conflict are gone, the Indians evidently were defeated, for the next time they are mentioned in history, they have moved into the interior where the Tuscarora have granted them land only six miles from one of their chief towns.

Throughout Bath County during the first decade of the eighteenth century, rumors of Indian plots and conspiracies constantly spread. In 1703, Lionel Reading wrote that an Indian had told one settler that several villages had "fully resolved to make trail (trial) of it for to see which is the ardiest." The next year word spread that some of the Tuscarora towns near the Pamlico settlement were becoming unusually friendly with the Bear River Indians, with the apparent intention of inciting them to attack the whites. About this same time the Machapunga Indians began to harass the settlers, which took the form of threats, hog-stealing, and actual assault on one settler. The settler did not fail to note that the Machapunga moved their village "nigh a wildnernesse where upon the least Intimation they can easily repair without being pursued."
Throughout this period the Bear River and Machapunga Indians continued their petty annoyances, and the settlers continued to petition the government for something to be done about the situation. Little seems to have been though for the settlers remained prey to roving bands of Indians who would enter a settler's home, ransack it, kill his hogs, and assault him if he protested.

In 1707, Robert Kingham reported that the settlers on the Pamlico told him that "they expected ye Indians every day to come and cutt their throat and yet they had no person to head ym [them] or Else they would goe and secure all ye Pamticough Indians."

Obviously, relations between the early white settlers and the Indians were not as harmonious as many historians have pictured. From the first, the Indians resented the colonists' encroachment upon their territory and used every means they had to show this resentment, at times resorting to out and out war. The Tuscarora, by all odds the dominant Indian power in North Carolina, had watched the steadily growing settlements with distrust, seething over each movement into a new area. When the tide of civilization flowed into the Pamlico-Neuse region, they saw the handwriting on the wall. They now decided they must make a stand or gradually be overrun, and by the summer of 1711, apparently decided to try to destroy the whites.

Other actions by the whites also caused the Indians to act. Perhaps nothing made them hate the settlers of Bath County more than the whites' kidnapping and enslavement of their people. By 1710, this had reached such proportion that the Tuscarora sought permission of the government of Pennsylvania to settle in that colony so that their children born and those soon to be born might have room to sport and play without danger of slavery. In their quaint phrases, they begged "a cessation from murdering and taking them, that by the allowance thereof, they may not be afraid of a moose, or any other thing that Ruffles the Leaves."

Closely akin to this problem was the ill-feeling and misunderstanding surrounding trade between Indians and the white settlers. The whites felt that the Indian traders were hard men who drove hard bargains. Conversely, the Indians soon saw that the whites were cheating them in their transactions, for the traders, John Lawson tells us, esteemed it "a Gift of Christianity not to sell to them so cheap as [they did] to the Christians." The traders, knowing the Indians' weakness for strong drink, often got the Indians drunk as a means of defrauding and stripping them of their property. One observer reports that the Indians were never "contented with a little, but when once begun, they must make themselves quite drunk; otherwise they will never rest, but sell all they have in the World, rather than not have their full dose."

Certainly another reason for the Indians' decision to take up the tomahawk was the indignities inflicted on them by the white settlers. The Indians were a proud, dignified, and lordly people, unaccustomed to the condescending and often insulting way the whites often treated them. Just a few days before they sought their revenge they complained to a settler who had been unfortunate enough to fall into their hands, that they "had been very badly treated and detained by the inhabitants of the Pamtego, Neuse and Trent Rivers, a thing which was not to be longer endured." That the whites, who looked upon the Indians "with Scorn and Disdain" and considered them "little better than Beasts in Human Shape," eventually felt their wrath cannot be too surprising.

Full Article Here:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Membership Application for MHS

Melungeon Historical Society, Inc.

Tenative plans, subject to change.

FYI: Application for MHS membership will be made by submitting a completed application form and designated dues to the Secretary/Treasurer, subject to the approval of the Membership Committee. If membership is denied, the dues shall be returned to the applicant. Membership in the MHS will include the privilege to nominate, vote, and to be elected to the board of directors as one of two positions filled from the membership at large. The member-at-large seat on the board of directors shall serve a one year term.

Additionally you will be entitled to electronic newsletters, the latest information on Melungeons, a list serve chat group, discounted or no fees for lectures, etc, . Dues will be due at 1 year intervals. You will be encouraged to send a documented family group sheet along with your application.

Mail to: MHS
Becky Nelson
2200 Hawkins Street
Knoxville, TN 37921

Melungeon Historical Society

News Release:

Wayne Winkler, president of a newly formed Melungeon research group, has made the following announcement:

On Saturday, April 19, 2008, the Melungeon Historical Society held its first meeting in Rogersville, Tennessee. The organization was formed by a group of Melungeon researchers and descendents to collect and preserve historical records that pertain to the Melungeons and/or their kinfolks and descendents. MHS will use documented family genealogy, documented historical research and documented DNA research conforming to recognized professional and scholarly standards to compile and prepare records, to establish and maintain a website and/or blog to keep members informed, and to sponsor and encourage educational meetings, gatherings, lectures, and activities in genealogy and history. The Melungeon Historical Society will be a membership organization, and those interested in joining should contact Becky Nelson:


We look forward to a new era in Melungeon research and welcome all who share our desire to preserve our Melungeon heritage.

Wayne Winkler, President
Jack Goins, Vice-president, Heritage
Penny Ferguson, Vice-president, Research
Becky Nelson - Secretary/Treasurer

Board of Directors:
Tari Adams
Don Collins
Janet Crain
Roberta Estes
Dr. Harold B. Houser
Kathy James
Joy King
Dr. Kathy Lyday-Lee
Dennis Maggard
Kevin Mullins
Evelyn Orr
Joanne Pezzullo
Cleland Thorpe
Beverly Walker

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Warriors' Path

The Warriors' Path or Trace crossed the Ohio River at the mouth of Cabin Creek in Mason County, Kentucky, below the mouth of the Scioto, where Portsmouth, Ohio, now stands. This Trace ran to the Upper Blue Licks, in Fleming County; thence to Eskippakithiki, which the white settlers later renamed Indian Old Fields, in Clark County; thence up Station Camp Creek, in Estill County, to the Pictured Caves at its head near the mouth of Red Lick Creek; thence through the low hills of Jackson County to the Flat Lick near Barbourville, in Knox County; and thence out of Kentucky through Cumberland Gap, and along the back border of the Carolinas to the Spanish settlements in Georgia and Florida. This was from prehistoric times a major trade route down which went copper, northern furs, and glacial pebbles for making stone axes; and up which came sea-shells, southern plumage, and mica. When Georgia was considered part of Florida, the Spanish had settlements on the coast and gold mines in the interior. At this time the southern end of this trace was where some Shawnees or Savannahs as they were there called, built their towns on the waters of the Savannah River. Here they robbed the Spanish and traded with the South Carolina English for the firearms and edged tools which had become so necessary for their existence. (Lucian Beckner)
Article from Filson Club

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rockingham North Carolina, Early Records

From Lumbee Indians and Goins Family Blog

Collection of Records posted by Cindy Young.


Rockingham County was organized in 1785 with land from Guilford County. It adjoined Henry County, Virginia and Pitt¬sylvania County, Virginia on the south, and the settlers moved freely back and forth the state line as if in one community. Rockingham County was in the heart of Melungeon country in North Carolina.
Jim Hall wrote August 18, 1999 regarding Goinstown, North Carolina:

"There exists no formal or legal designation for the Goinstown area that I have found. There are no "Goinstown" road signs to guide you or to let you know when you are there. There is no "Goinstown" on any map that I found. There is no town of Goinstown. There is a rural area which is referred to as Goinstown. The Goinstown area still exists in Rockingham County today but I doubt that anyone could say with any accuracy where it begins or ends. So let me tell you in general terms where I think "Goinstown" was and is.

From my research I think that the area came to be referred to as Goinstown in the mid to late 1800s. But the seeds for Goinstown were planted in the 1700s. My opinion is that Goinstown historically included the NW corner of Rockingham County, NC, the NE corner of Stokes County, NC, and the southern portions of Henry County, VA, and Patrick County, VA. Many of the early Goins, Moore, Gibson and Harris families (whose descendants were listed as mulatto on later census records) lived along Buffalo Creek and Hickory Creek which runs east and west across the county line of present day Rockingham and Stokes County.

Today, Goinstown is an area referred to almost exclusively as being in NW Rockingham County [Madison Township]. Goinstown Road still runs through NE Stokes County and changes to Schoolhouse Road at the Rockingham County line. The Goinstown Road is still a dirt road.

Many of these mulatto families [Goins, Moore, Gibson, Harris] lived close to the NC/VA border and moved across the state line often leading to research confusion. I think that sometimes it was easier to travel to the county seat in Martinsville, Henry Co., VA, than to the county seat in NC.

Many of these families migrated west in the first half of the 1800s century. Some moved to Scott and Hancock County VA. Others moved to eastern KY, primarily Floyd County.

However, if you drive through the area [there are only a few paved roads as this is still one of the poorest areas of the county], you will find many Goins, Gibson and Harris mailboxes. Most of the mulatto Moores moved away by 1860.

I found the old Gibson and Harris Cemetaries. In both cemetaries there appeared to be more Goins grave markers that any other family, some dating to the early 1800s.

In the 1800s some of these families also moved south and east in the county. Some lived along the Mayo River others moved to Stoneville and Madison. I am not sure where these families migrated from. John Moore, the earliest of my Moores that I have verified, was born in Orange County, NC, in 1758. But Orange County at that time included part of present day Rockingham County so the Moores may have been in this area at the time of John's birth. Many mulatto Gibson families also lived in Orange County, NC. in the 1750s. I don't know where the Goins families migrated from. They may have migrated south from VA.

One of the few written articles that I have found about Goinstown is an article in in the book, "The Heritage of Rockingham County," by the Rockingham County Historical Society, published in 1983. It is a very short article written by Zelma Joyce Scott. The introduction written by the editor reads as follows:

'Goinstown as a community has a special story to tell. Mysterious in it's origin, it's natives tend to insulate themselves against intrusion. The roots of that clannishness may be found in the process of acculturation forced on the Indian society of North America. Historically the repeated choice for the Indian has been to join another still functioning Indian group elsewhere or merge within the conventions and associations of either the white or black man's way of life. Many of the families of Goinstown consider themselves Indian. A letter written by Douglas Rights, a noted authority on North Carolina Indians, which is preserved in the Smithsonian Institute archives, speaks of Goinstown as a mixed blood settlement in Rockingham. He points out that among the principal families are Harris, Goins and Hickman, and that Harris is one of the most familiar surviving family names among the Catawba Indians. A member of the Harris family of Goinstown had told Dr. Rights that his people had drifted off in two directions, the lighter color drifting out and associating with the whites, and the darker taking places in Negro society.'

In the article Ms. Scott states, 'These people have many features of Indian, Portuguese and other nationalities. Some local people believe they are part of the Lost Colony of Manteo....'

I talked to Ms. Scott in an attempt to get more information but she couldn't give any more details than was given in the article.

During the 1930s one of the WPA projects was to preserve old cemetery inscriptions by recording information on grave markers. Some WPA workers recorded information on the markers in the John Foy Cemetery located three miles west of Madison. This information can be found in WPA Pre-1914 Cemetery Inscriptions. I have looked at all the cards and found no other useful information. One of the typewritten cards pertains to the Walker I. Gibson family. Walker Gibson was probably in C.S.A. but his widow could not get a pension as he was regarded as a Negro.

All this family of Gibson were up to about 1895 listed by tax listers as Negroes; they called themselves East Indians [from the Indies or Indians from the East], else assumed by some to be Melanoe."

Louise Nunn, candidate for a master's degree, wrote in 1937 "A Comparison of the Social Situation of Two Isolated Indian Groups in Northern North Carolina." In her dissertation, she described a Rockingham County group that showed on the tax rolls of the county as "9 Goins families, 3 Harris families and 2 Richardson families." The group was concentrated around "Gointown, North Carolina."

Miss Nunn wrote that the Rockingham group was very unstable in 1937. The white-appearing part of the group was trying to exclude the children of dark-appearing part of the group from attending the special "Indian School" that had been built for them. She reported a definite Negroid appearance in the darker children.
"The Goinstown community is located in the northwest corner of Rockingham County, North Carolina, on the border with Stokes County. The prominent family names are Goins, Hickman, Harris, Richardson, and Kimmons. These related families can be traced back at least to the early 1800s in the area as free colored persons. The tradition is that they are descended either from 'Croatan' Indians [there was a period in the 1930s and 1940s when it was popular to describe any group of Indian people of uncertain origin as descendants of the 'Croatans'] or from remnants of the Saura tribe who mixed with non-Indians in the area. The community had a school until the early 1960s that was officially classed as Indian and has gradually merged with the white community. There is still a perception among the local whites that the Goinstown people are of Indian descent. With the location of the old Saura Town nearby on the Dan River, it is possible that these people possess, to some degree, Saura ancestry.


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Indians of North Carolina from Senate Document

63d Congress, 3d Session, SENATE Document No. 677

"letter from the secretary of the Interior, transmitting, in response to a Senate resolution of June 30, 1914, a report on the condition and tribal rights of the Indians of Robeson and adjoining counties of North Carolina"

RED SPRINGS, N. C., July 17, 1890.

* * * The Croatan tribe lives principally in Robeson County, N. C., though there is quite a number of them settled in counties adjoining in North and South Carolina. In Sumter County, S. C., there is a branch of the tribe, and also in east Tennessee. In Macon County, N. C., there is another branch, settled there long ago. Those living in east Tennessee are called “Melungeans,” a name also retained by them here, which is a corruption of “Melange,” a name given them by early settlers (French), which means mixed. * * * In regard to their exodus from Roanoke Island their traditions are confirmed by maps recently discovered in Europe by Prof. Alexander Brown, member of the Royal Historical Society of England. These maps are dated in 1608 and 1610, and give the reports of the Croatans to Raleigh's ships which visited our coast in those years. * * * The particulars of the exodus preserved by tradition here are strangely and strongly corroborated by these maps. There can be little doubt of the fact that the Croatans in Robeson County and elsewhere are the descendants of the Croatans of Raleigh's day.
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another page:
Across the line in South Carolina are found a people, evidently of similar origin, designated “Redbones.” In portions of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee are found the so-called “Melungeons” (probably from French melange, “mixed”), or “Portuguese,” apparently an offshoot from the Croatan proper, and in Delaware are found the “Moors.” All of these are local designations for peoples of mixed race with an Indian nucleous differing in no way from the present mixed-blood remnants known as Pamunkey, Chickahominy, and Nansemond Indians in Virginia, excepting in the more complete loss of their identity. In general, the physical features and complexion of the persons of this mixed stock incline more to the Indian than to the white or negro.
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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Who Were the Cheraw?

Guy Family

by S. Pony Hill

CHAPTER 1. “A Very Large Nation”

The Colonial Period

by Steven Pony Hill, Copyright ©2005 all rights reserved.

Little is known about the Cheraw Tribe prior to their first encounters with Europeans in 1534. They were known to the Cherokee as “Ani-Suwa’li”, or “the Suwali people.” The Cheraw Tribe was actually a loose confederation of tribes who all spoke a version of the Siouan language. Known by such general names as the Cheroenhaka, Esaw, Isaw, Sara, and Saraw, this confederacy of eastern Siouan peoples included the Manahoac, Hassinunga, Shakori, Eno, Meherrin, Nahyssan, Nottaway, Occaneechi, Saponi, and Tutelo. Encountering them in 1701, explorer John Lawson described them as “the Esaw Indians, a very large Nation, containing many thousands of people.”

In the early 1600’s many important historic incidents occurred which would affect the Cheraw descendents for generations. Already suffering from constant raids from the Iroquois on their northern border, the Tuscarora to the south, and the Cherokee west, the Cheraw now faced a new threat, European colonists pushing inland from the east. Cheraw Indians being taken captive by raiding parties of Iroquois and Cherokee were being sold as slaves to the colonists and this did nothing to better the situation. From 1616 to 1630, Opechancanough, successor of Powhatan, and chief over all the Algonquin speaking tidewater tribes, expressed his displeasure with the encroaching white men by waging a bloody war. Indian captives were taken in increasing numbers from the tidewater tribes during this time and forced into slavery. Those Indians not taken as slaves were forced to wander the Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina area.

In 1657 the English forced most of the Powhatan remnants onto reservations in Virginia and the Siouan tribes were gathered in four main concentrations:

“The Monacan, along the James; the Saponi along the Rivana and James
Rivers and Otter Creek; the Tutelo in the Roanoke Valley; and the
Occaneechi on islands at the confluence of the Roanoke> and Dan Rivers.”

Arguably the most influential event to occur in the 1600’s happened in 1660 when Virginia determined that “…an Indian sold by another Indian or an Indian who speaks English and who desires baptism will now receive his or her freedom.” This allowed many Algonquin and Siouan war captives held in slavery in the colonies to regain their freedom, but it also provided incentive for their masters to downplay the Indian ancestry of those in servitude in order to retain them. These former slaves quickly rejoined their tribesmen bringing with them their acquired skills as carpenters, wheelwrights, and ferry operators. Most importantly, these newly freed Indians brought with them their new English names and Christian religion. Unfortunately they also retained the stigma of being former slaves, a condition which would cause their white neighbors to eye them with suspicion for generations.

In 1713, the confederated eastern Siouan Nations signed a Treaty of Peace with the Virginia Colonial government at Williamsburg. Among the different Nations represented were the Occaneechi, the Stuckanok, the Tottero, and the Saponi. At the invitation of Governor Spottswood of Virginia, these Indians settled a four-square-mile reservation encompassing the north and south side of the Meherrin River. On the north banks were the Nansemond and related Algonquin-speaking bands, on the south were the Siouan-speaking Tutelo, Saponi, Cheroenhaka, Eno, and also an Iroquoian-speaking band of Tuscarora who had survived the war with the Carolina settlers just 2 years earlier. Spottswood endorsed the construction of Fort Christanna where the Indian children had mandatory training in academics and Christianity. After the closing of the Fort Christanna school a few of the students followed headmaster Charles Griffin and enrolled at the Brafferton Indian School at William and Mary.

Because of the continued hostilities between these Nations and the Iroquois to the north, the governors of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia held a conference at Albany in September of 1722 to hammer out a peaceable agreement between the Tribes on their borders. Governor Spottswood undertook negotiations for the “Christanna Indians” who were composed of “the Saponies, Ochineeches, Stenkenoaks, Meipontskys, and Toteroes.”

In addition to their traditional native enemies, it is obvious that the remnant tribes considered the encroaching white settlements as an almost equal threat. It also appears that, on the subject of trespassing whites, even the Algonquin and Siouan peoples could agree and cooperate. On October 24, 1723 the Virginia Government spoke out on behalf of the Meherrin and Nansemond Nations and warned the North Carolinians:

“Whereas, the Maherin and Nansemond Indians have this day complained
that notwithstanding the repeated orders of this government for security to them the possession of their lands, whereon they have many years past been seated, between the Nottoway and Maherine Rivers, divers persons under pretense of grants form the Government of North Carolina surveyed the lands of the said Indians and begun to make settlements within their cleared grounds.”

This report is especially interesting as it implies that portions of the Nansemond had obviously moved west of their ancestral homes around Norfolk, Virginia, and were living with the Meherrin between the Nottoway and Meherrin Rivers.

Full Article Here:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Forts in Southwest Virginia

Forts in Southwest Virginia

Native Americans had a network of trails throughout the mountains, gaps, and waterways. The early settlers realized the importance of these networks so a clash occurred when both wanted to be in control. As the settlers moved into western Virginia, and what is now Tennessee, they traveled, settled and crossed many of these main Indian trails.

The French were located to the north and west, with Shawnee and others siding with them. They had settlements at French Lick (now Nashville) and east of Knoxville, at the French Broad River. The Spanish were to the south; Cherokee were also south of these settlements. Mingos were in now West Virginia. The Spanish and French befriended the Indians and tried to stop the settlers. East Tennessee was still part of North Carolina with the Virginia boundary coming as far down as possibly Rogersville, Tennessee. North Carolina could not take care of her far-flung western territory, so the Virginia militia did. Lord Dunmore’s War, in 1774, caused a lot of confusion with the Shawnee and Mingo attacking and killing so many. The settlers decided at that time to build the first forts in Clinch Valley. In late 1775 militia forts were built in Lee County, Virginia. Attacks on settlers were coming from the north and south, so beginning with the Cherokee War in 1776, the settlements were largely abandoned in Lee County and western Scott County and in the main Valley of the Houston from Kingsport to Abingdon. Eventually thirty-six forts were built in southwestern Virginia; all were a day apart or closer if a warning militia was hurrying to alert another fort. These thirty-six forts were strung from Wynne’s Fort in Tazewell Virginia, to Martin’s Lower Station near Cumberland Gap.

The fort that interests Melungeon researchers a little more than others is Fort Blackmore. Lewis Jarvis said the Melungeons were “friendly Indians” who came with the white settlers. “They came from the Cumberland County and New River, Virginia, stopping at various points west of the Blue Ridge. Some of them stopped on Stony Creek, Scott County, and Virginia, where Stony Creek runs into Clinch River. The white emigrants with the friendly Indians erected a fort on the bank of the river and called it Fort Blackmore and here yet many of these friendly ‘Indians’ live in the mountains of Stony creek, but they have married among the whites….” Jarvis then adds, “They all came here simultaneously with the whites from the State of Virginia, between the years 1795 and 1812 and about this there is no mistake, except in the dates these Indians came here from Stony Creek.”

There is a lot we don’t know about all these old forts, yet we do know several things about them. A recent book I found has many historical documents in it, “The Forts of the Holston Militia,” authors Lawrence J. Fleenor, Jr. and Dale Carter. An online site has Emory Hamilton’s work: FRONTIER FORTS By Emory L. Hamilton

Penny Ferguson

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Defining Mixed-blood Indians in Colonial Virginia and the Carolinas

“A Rose by any other name is a Cactus”

By Steven Pony Hill


Augusta County, VA (Orders 1773-1779)

19 AUG 1777….Nat, an Indian boy in the custody of Mary Greenlee who detains him as a slave complains that he is held in unlawful slavery. Commission to take depositions in Carolina or elsewhere.

17 SEP 1777….On the complaint of Nat an Indian or Mustee Boy who says he is to be set free from service of Mary Greenlee…nothing appeared to this Court but a bill of sale for ten pounds from one Sherwood Harris of Granville County, NC that through several assignments was made over to James Greenlee deceased, late husband to the said Mary….said Mulattoe or Indian Boy is a free man and no slave.
( Nat was most likely half-Indian, so therefore Mulatto or Mustee could be used interchangeably, use of these terms were influenced by the status of his servitude)

Charles City County, VA (Orders 1687-95)

DEC 1690….Thomas Mayo an Indian belonging to Jno. Evans is adjudged 14 years old.

Chesterfield County, VA (Orders 1767-71)

6 APR 1770…On motion of Sibbell, an Indian woman held in slavery by Joseph Ashbrooke, have leave to prosecute for her freedom in forma pauperis.
- Sibbell an Indian wench V. Joseph Ashbrooke, for pltf. To take deposition of Elizabeth Blankenship and Thomas Womack.
- Sybill a Mulatto V. Joseph Ashbrooke – dismissed.
(Sibell was most likely less than full blooded Indian…she was described as Indian up to the point it was determined that she was legally a slave, then she was described as mulatto…use of the term is influenced by the status of her servitude)


Dinwiddie County, VA

18 AUG 1794...registered free papers of “Nancy Coleman a dark brown, well made mulatto woman..freed by judgement of the Gen’l Court of John Hrdaway being a descendant of an Indian.”

10 FEB 1798…registered free papers of “Daniel Coleman a dark brown free Negro, or Indian…formerly held as a slave by Joseph Hardaway but obtained his freedom by a judgment of the Gen’l Court.

14 AUG 1800…registered free papers of “Hagar Jumper a dark brown Mulatto or Indian woman short bushy hair, obtained her freedom from Stephen Dance as being a descendant of an Indian.”

27 MAY 1805…registered free papers of “Betty Coleman a dark brown Negro woman…formerly held as a slave by John Hardaway…liberated by judgment of the Gen’l Court as descended of an Indian.”


Goochland County, VA

7 MAR 1756…Elizabeth, daughter of Ruth Matthews, a free mulattoe, baptized by the Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish.

26 SEP 1757….Cumberland County Court to bind out the children of Ruth Matthews, an Indian woman, to William Fleming.
(Ruth is described as ‘a free mulatto’ at one time, ‘an Indian’ at another.)


Henrico County, VA

5 MAY 1712…..Thomas Chamberlayne brings before this Court his servant Mulatto man Robin and informed the Court that he hath several times run away. Ordered to serve one year from (release date).
- Robin Indian (filed) against Major Chamberlayne…next Court.

FEB 1712….Robin Indian ordered free from Thomas Chamberlayne’s service at end of year’s service.

MARCH 1713….Thomas Chamberlayne against his servant Robin Mulatto hath unlawfully absented himself for 16 weeks.
(Robin is described as Mulatto until he is determined to be illegally held as a slave, then he is described as Indian…use of the term is influenced by his servitude…his former master tactfully uses the term Mulatto to influence the Court to return him to slavery)

APR 1722…Peg an Indian woman servant belonging to Richard Ligon appeared…be adjudged free..he be summoned.
JUN 1722…Peg a Mulatto servant born in this County whose mother was an Indian intitled to freedom at the age of thirty years, having petitioned for her freedom against her master Richard Ligon.
(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

JAN 1737….petition of Tom a Mulatto or Mustee setting forth that he is the grandson of a white free woman and hast a just right to freedom but that his master Alexander Trent contrary to law or equity detains him in slavery.
(the terms Mulatto and Mustee are used here interchangeably)

JUL 1739…On the petition of Indian Jamey alias James Musttie is exempted from paying County Levyes.

NOV 1740…petition of Thomas Baugh it is ordered that the Church Wardens of Dale Parish do bind out Joe a Mulatto the son of Nan an Indian woman according to law.
(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

18 NOV 1747….will of Richard Randolph…to my son John the third part of my slaves, he taking my two Negroes, Indian John and Essex as a part of his third which two Negroes I propose he should have.
(an Indian is described here as a ‘Negro’…the term is influenced by his servitude)

2 DEC 1754….Church wardens of Henrico Parish do bind out Ezekiel Scott and Sarah Scott, children of John Scott, Tommy son of Indian Nan, Henry Cockran son of John Cockran, and Isham Roughton an Indian according to Law.

5 MAR 1759….Ordered that the Church Wardens of Henrico Parish bind out Ben Scott and Roger an Indian Boy according to Law.

Cont. Here:


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina. Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools

Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina


The Indian Office at Washington had no knowledge of the existence of the Croatan Indians until the latter part of 1888, when that office received a petition sent by fifty-four of these Indians describing themselves as "a part of the Croatan Indians living in Robeson County," and claiming to be "a remnant of White's Lost Colony," and petitioned Congress for aid. On January 11, 1889, the directors of the Ethnological Bureau in response to this petition replied:

"I beg leave to say that Croatan was in 1585 and thereabouts the name of an island and Indian village just north of Cape Hatteras, N. C. White's Colony of 120 men and women was landed on Roanoke Island just to the north in 1587, and in 1590 when White returned to revisit the colony he found no trace of it on Roanoke Island, save the name 'Croatan' carved upon a tree, which, according to a previous understanding, was interpreted to mean that the colonists had left Roanoke Island for Croatan. No actual trace of the missing colonists was ever found, but more than 100 years afterwards Lawson obtained traditional information from the Hatteras Indians which led him to believe that the colonists had been incorporated with the Indians. It was thought that traces of white blood could be discovered among the Indians, some among they having grey eyes. It is probable that the greater number of the colonists were killed; but it was quite in keeping with Indian usages that a greater or less number, especially women and children, should have been made captive and subsequently incorporated into the tribe."

The Croatan Indians of Sampson County, North Carolina.
Their Origin and Racial Status. A Plea for Separate Schools: Electronic Edition. Butler, George Edwin, 1868-1941


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Removing the Keystone of Turkish Theory

by Janet Crain

A persistant rumor has spread all over the Internet that Melungeons descend from the some 300 to 600 Turks and other nationalities said to have been left on Roanoke Island in 1586 by Sir Francis Drake. In truth, there is NO evidence there were any left, much less several hundred.

Drake was returning home from the sacking of Cartagena when he decided to visit Roanoke and dispose of some of the freed prisoners and Maroons he had acquired during his adventures. He was carrying a human cargo of several hundred. He is said by Ivor Noel Hume in "Virginia Adventures" to have highly inflated the numbers. This voyage is of great interest to Melungeon researchers because this voyage in 1586 is the basis of the Turkish connection first started by Brent Kennedy's book; Melungeons; an Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing. It is, in fact, the keystone of the Turkish Connection Theory. Remove it and the rest crumbles. That is what I propose to do.

It is known that many of the people never reached Roanoke. Many died of strange fevers in Florida. Apparently Drake intended to leave the rest of the freed Africans and South American Indians to furnish labor for the new Colony which he expected to have grown to some 600 English by then. In truth there were about 100 men, badly in need of food and suffering the ill effects of their bad treatment of the local Indians. Ralph Lane was in charge at Roanoke and he accepted Drake's offer of minimal food supplies (Drake had been out a long time and was running low himself) and a ship, the Francis, capable of navigation into the bay plus other pinnaces, etc. and armament. All the supplies were loaded onto the Francis along with Lane's best naval officers. Lane wanted to stay a few more weeks exploring the Chesapeake.

But the best laid plans of mice and men can be blown to pieces by a terrible storm such as the one that then struck. Many of Drake's ships which had been waiting "standing in the roadway" off the Outer Banks were blown out to sea by the massive "hurricano" and scurried back to England. The Francis was among them with the badly needed supplies and trained naval navigators. Ralph Lane then accepted Drake's offer to transport the first colonists back to England. Most of the small pinnaces carrying the extra passengers had been dashed to pieces on the shoals during the storms. The Turks, known to have been with Drake, were apparently better safeguarded. They were valuable as trade for English prisoners lanquishing in Ottoman prisons. Some 100 Turks were, in fact, ransomed to their homeland.

So, just who might have gone ashore before the storm hit? Many people have a hard time visualizing the scene at Roanoke. Roanoke is surrounded by very shallow waters, hence the name; Shallowbag Bay. The only way to get there was by laborious offloading of men and supplies to shore boats and threading through the one pass, Fernando Pass, and the treacherous shoals and currents made worse at times by Northwestern winds blowing directly into the Bay. The shore boats were large by our standards and equipped with a mast and sail. They require a skilled pilot and several strong sailors to row. People didn't just hop on one and go sight seeing. Only those with important business such as Sir Francis Drake and Ralph Lane who negotiated several times were transported back and forth. The rest of the fleet with the passengers onboard stood out in the Roadway, the navigable waters off the Outer Banks, which wrap around this area like protecting arms.

I am saying this to lay to rest the idea of a huge number of the passengers dis-embarquing and perhaps being caught off guard by the storms and staying behind. Hume and David Beers Quinn are the authorities on this period and both say there were no Turks left. Hume says no one else, Quinn, at most a very few. Left with no supplies on the Outer Banks what would they have found to eat? If the Indians had not killed them, they would have starved.

It should be noted that the Native Americans communicated by a"grapevine" so efficient that Indians in Canada knew of happenings in the Virginias. No mention of any dumped off passengers was ever made.

Additionally, there was plenty of room for these passengers to sail with Drake. Hundreds had died in the battles in Florida, from fevers, and in the hurricane. Drake was returning with more ships than he left with, having captured many. And they would have furnished badly needed labor to sail these ships back to England.

Add to this the extreme difficulty of unloading these passengers in addition to loading the Roanoke settlers, which the crew deeply resented for the delay and extra work and danger this imposed and it is highly unlikely Drake would have taken such actions.

Ivor Noel Hume says:

Thus the hurricane of June 1586 may have ripped away the first page from the history of blacks in English America.

A cruel and terrible fate for these forgotten people that historians of the time did not consider important enough to even record their fate.

Present Day Map of the Area:

View Larger Map

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Timeline of Important Events

I wanted to introduce this excellent timeline done by Historical Melungeons Blog co-editor Penny Ferguson. It is a valuable research aid.

by Janet Crain


Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, with six vessals carrying five hundred men and women, and eighty to ninety fine horses arrived at present-day North Carolina and Virginia in vicinity of Albemarle Sound and Chesapeake Bay. "Of the five hundred colonists who went on the 1526 expedition, only one hundred fifty returned safely to the Indies. The number who remained in the interior of present-day North Carolina and Virginia is not known, however, that they survived and reproduced is a certainty. Reference to non-Indian peoples residing in the vicinity of the Albemarle /Pamlico/Chesapeake Bay area was made by other Europeans of a later date, i.e. The English of Raleigh's venture and Captain John Smith of the Jamestown Colony." Eloy J. Gallegos "The Melungeons."

Cont. here:


Saturday, April 5, 2008



Will T. Hale & Dixon L. Merritt 1913

Dr. Samuel Tyndale Wilson says in his excellent little volume, “The Southern Mountaineers:”

“Occasionally the student of sociology may stumble upon a community that is a puzzle, as, for example, the one occupied by the ‘Melungeons’ of upper East Tennessee.”

That is all he says of the community; and so far as known, no other history refers to the Melungeons at all. Miss Dromgoole in an article mentioned further along states that they appeared during the existence of the State of Franklin; while Colonel Henderson in a letter declares that they were in the East Tennessee mountains when the earliest settlers arrived. The word “Melungeon” was once more familiar to Tennesseans than it is now.

To illustrate, it was a custom immediately after the close of the war between the states for the Democratic editors of the central and western sections of the state to refer flippantly to their eastern neighbors collectively as Melungeons, perhaps because East Tennessee was largely Republican in politics. It was in the nature of an epithet. That it was, and still is resented, may be seen from the following circumstance. In seeking for the latest information relative to this puzzling community we recently wrote to a citizen of upper East Tennessee to help us out. This reply was received so promptly as to lead to the belief that he hardly waited to finish the query before snatching up his pen. And perhaps his eyes were red as he wrote;

“We have no such race. Our citizens are civilized people and believe in earning their living by the sweat of their brow, and are far superior to those who try to disgrace them by placing the fictitious name of ‘Melungeon’ upon them.”

The word used to be uttered by parents and nurses as a bugbear to frighten children into obedience: thus, “if you are not good, the Melungeons will get you.” Notwithstanding our acquaintance with the word, few really know what it means.

The Century ventures this definition of Melungeon:”One of a class of people living in East Tennessee, of peculiar appearance and uncertain origin.” It hen makes this quotation from the boston Traveler for June 13, 1889: “They resented the appellation Melungeon, given to them by consent by the whites, and proudly called themselves Portuguese.”

It is remarkable that Tennessee history is silent on the subject since by the census taken in 1795 the Melungeons must have been numbered with the 973 “free person” other than the whites. There could hardly have been so many free negroes within the bounds of the present state only about twenty-five years after the first settlement. That of itself should have received notice. Moreover, the Melungeons’ votes, as well as those of the free negroes, had something to do with the politicians making such a radical change in the constitution of 1834, whereby both were disfranchised; though, as we shall presently see, the Melungeons were finally restored to citizenship through the efforts of Col John Netherland, of Hawkins county, the witty and eloquent opponent of Isham G. Harris for the governorship in 1859.

Col. W. A. Henderson, for some time president of the Tennessee Historical society and at present one of the most prominent members of the Tennessee bar, furnished the writer the following information in 1912:

“The name, Melungeon, is of obscure origin; probably it is from the French melange, a mixture. The Melungeons are a peculiar people living in the mountains of East Tennessee, western North Carolina, southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky, and are of queer appearance and uncertain origin. They have swarthy complexion, straight black hair, black or gray eyes–Indian’s eyes are always black—and are not tall but heavy-set. * * * * They call themselves Portuguese (which they pronounce “Porter-ghee’) and were found in the regions mentioned by our first pioneers of civilization there. As a body, they were as concrete as the Jews, and their descendants are still to be found.

“The Melungeons were never adherents to the Indian religion and rites, but adhered to the Christian religion. The cross was ever held by them as a sacred symbol. In religious belief they are chiefly Baptist. It is a fact that they took no part in the Indian wars, either against the whites or the Indians.

“From time immemorial they have been counterfeiters of gold and silver, and, strange to say, their money contained more of the precious metals per coin than that minted by the government. At one time within my recollection these coins passed current, without question. There is a legend that their silver came from Straight creek, a tributary of Cumberland river which flows into that stream at Cumberland Ford ( now Pineville, Ky.). Ruins of ancient furnaces are still to be seen along the banks of Straight creek, but have not been used within the makers of the silver money in that section. The Beckler gold dollars were coined in North Carolina, and some of these coins are yet extant, preserved as curiosities. They were of native gold made by a family named Beckler and were called ‘Becklers.’

“The Melungeons have always, moreover, boasted of their kinship withe the white race. Many years ago a decision was handed down by the supreme court of Tennessee, holding that the Melungeons were not negroes. The case probably arose out of some prosecution for illegal voting.
“Where this people originated will probably never be known. **** Some people believe that the Mulungeons were descendants of the lost Raleigh Colony of Roanoke which disappeared, supposedly absorbed with the Croatan Indians; but they have never claimed any affiliation with the English— and that was an English colony. They must come of some colony emanating from Portugal. They are a living mystery.”

Full Article Here:


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Verry Slitly Mixt, author Virginia DeMarce

"Verry Slitly Mixt": Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South--A Genelogical Study

Many thanks to Virginia DeMarce for permission to post this article.

Very slow loading but worth the wait.

View the whole article here

or here

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Looking at Legends - Lumbee and Melungeon

Looking at Legends-Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied Genealogy and the Origins of Tri-racial Isolate Settlements

National Genealogical Society Quarterly 81 (March 1993)

by Dr. Virginia Easley Demarce
published here by special permission

Click on the image to access all the pages.

Looking at Legends-Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied Genealogy and the Origins of Tri-racial Isolate