The Moore Family
Where did the fpc/mulatto Moores live before moving to Rockingham County, North Carolina, about 1778? That question has plagued me for decades and caused years of research. Unfortunately, I have not found a definitive answer because there is no reliable trail of deeds, wills, tax lists or other documents to point us in the right direction. I will attempt to answer that question by giving you my best guess based on the information I have collected to date. I freely admit that I cannot prove my theory with documents but it is my hope that the theory is someday proven or disproven, through research, newly found documents and DNA. In analyzing my “best guess” we will look at some of the available information and the surrounding circumstances and see if we can draw some reasonable inferences from that information.
The most well-known location where the people who came to be known as “Melungeons” lived is Hawkins and Hancock Counties in Tennessee. These two counties had a large population of mulatto/fpc people and many descendants of the original settlers still live in the area.
It is important at the outset to consider a couple of questions. Was it an historical and geographical accident that these people migrated to and lived in the same area of Tennessee? Was it just a coincidence? I think not. Several of the families moved into the area together, as a group. Some of the families or the ancestors of those families had been acquainted at some time and location prior to moving to Tennessee. Sometimes the group would split and go in different directions only to meet again at a new location. Sometimes, a family would drift off from the group and in a short time become “white” on documents and lose their connection to the group. Members of the group, and their ancestors, tended to intermarry within the group as the group slowly migrated westward. Continuous intermarriage within the group was the primary force that retained and preserved those characteristics in the individual which led to them being called “Melungeon” or listed as mulatto or fpc on documents.
Let’s begin our discussion of the Moore family in Rockingham County, North Carolina, with John Moore and try and establish some relationships. We know for a fact that John had five sons and I will suggest that he had a father, Charles, and probably three brothers, James, Andrew and Ephraim.
The most valuable document in researching these Moores, and the most well-known, is John Moore’s Revolutionary War pension application. The pension application was made by John in 1834 in Floyd County, Kentucky, and, after his death, by his wife, Sally. From that application we learn that John was born in May of 1758 in Orange County, North Carolina, that he married Sally Goodman in March of 1784, in Rockingham County, and, they had five sons, Joel, Andrew, Obadiah, Edmund and John Jr.
John would have been about 26 years of age at the time of his marriage and Sally, who was born about 1765, was about 19 years of age. We know John lived for most of his adult life in, first, Surry County, and then across the county line in the north-west corner of Rockingham County in an area which came to be known as Goinstown. The Moores lived along Hickory and Buffalo Creeks of the Mayo River just south of the Virginia line.
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