Melungeon Conference and Celebration, June 12-13
The weekend of June 12-13 will feature two events focusing on the Melungeons, the multi-ethnic people that have been a part of Appalachia folklore for over generations, and the subject of scientific research for the last half-century. The Melungeon Historical Society will hold their first annual conference on Friday, June 12, in Rogersville, Tennessee, while the Vardy Community Historical Society holds their Spring Fling at their museum on Vardy Road in Hancock County, Tennessee.
History, genealogy, and the latest DNA technology will come together at the first annual Melungeon Historical Society conference o June 12. "For nearly two hundred years, writers and researchers have speculated about the origins of the Melungeons," says Wayne Winkler, president of MHS. "For the most part, the story of the Melungeons has been told through myths and legends. The Melungeon Historical Society believes that answers will be found through scholarly research."
The public is invited to this event, which will be held at the Hawkins County Rescue Squad meeting room, 955 East McKinney Avenue, Rogersville, Tennessee. Registration begins at 9:30 am, and the conference will run until about 8:30 pm, with lunch and dinner breaks.
Presentations at the MHS conference will begin at 10 a.m. and will cover topics such as the origin and historical uses of the term "Melungeon," DNA research on Melungeon families, and other topics related to the multi-ethnic people first documented in the Clinch River region in the early 19th century. The use of DNA technology in genealogy will be covered by Roberta Estes, founder of DNAExplain, a Michigan company that analyzes and interprets individual DNA tests.
Other presenters include Jack Goins, Hawkins County Archivist and author of Melungeons and Other Pioneer Families; Kathy Lyday-Lee, a professor at Elon University who taught a course on Melungeons; and Kathy James, who will present DNA information on the Gibson and Collins families.
"This conference is of special interest to those who want to learn more about the Melungeons," said Winkler, "but it is also designed to benefit anyone interested in genealogy and especially in the use of DNA technology to trace family lines." The conference is free, but donations are suggested to help promote the work of the Melungeon Historical Society.
On Saturday, June 13, the Vardy Historical Society will hold its Spring Fling from 10 am until 2 pm. The location is the Vardy Church Museum, which features displays from the Presbyterian mission which provide education opportunities for Melungeon children from 1899 to the early 1970s.
The Spring Fling features Appalachian crafts such as basket and chair weaving, apple butter making, corn grinding, shuck dolls, hominy making, a tractor show, and plenty of music.
For more information on the MHS conference, contact Winkler at 423.439.6441 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the VCHS Spring Fling, contact Claude Collins at email@example.com or 423.733.2305.
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