Monday, January 31, 2011

*** Genetic Genealogy for Beginners: DNA is the "Gene" in Genealogy! ***

 Due to popular demand, Family Tree DNA's Elise Friedman will be repeating the Genetic
Genealogy webinar that was posted about a couple weeks ago:

*** Genetic Genealogy for Beginners: DNA is the "Gene" in Genealogy! ***

What is Genetic Genealogy? What tests are available and which one should I
order? How much does a Genetic Genealogy test cost? Do I need to be a
geneticist to understand my results?

If you're a complete beginner to Genetic Genealogy and want the answers to
those questions and more, then this webinar is for you! Attendees will
learn about the history of genetic genealogy, be introduced to DNA basics
and inheritance paths, learn about the different types of DNA tests
available for genealogy, and learn about resources that will help you make
the most of your Genetic Genealogy experience.

Two sessions are scheduled to accommodate different time zones:

Tuesday, February 1, 2011
6pm GMT (1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific)

Thursday, February 3, 2011
8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific)

Free registration is required for these webinars. To register, please visit
the Relative Roots Webinars webpage and click the registration link next to
the date/time that you wish to attend:

Also visit the Relative Roots Webinars webpage to learn about other upcoming
webinars and sign up to receive email announcements about future webinars.
As long as there is demand for it, I hope to repeat the beginner webinar
during the first week of every month. I'm also currently working on
scheduling intermediate and advanced genetic genealogy webinars.

At this time, webinars are only available live during the scheduled dates
and times.

Elise Friedman

PS. If you have your own blog or website, please feel free to re-post this
announcement, or link to this blog post:


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Monday, January 24, 2011

Lunch Time at the Museum of Appalachia

Sheep in snowy pen

Museum of Appalachia is open and so is their Museum Cafe! Today (Monday) Aileen is cooking Turkey & Dressing, Chili, White Beans, assortment of veggies, potato patties plus good ol' Pinto Beans and Corn Bread. To top it off indulge in homemeade Fresh Apple Cake, Cherry Cobbler or Peanut Butter Cake! Lunch is served Monday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday from about 11:30-2:00 during Jan. & Feb. then everyday starting in March. The cafe is right in the Gift Shop so if you don't have pay for the Museum tour to enjoy lunch! Eat, Shop and warm by the fire!

Museum of Appalachia is now observing winter hours. They will be open Fri, Sat, Sun & Monday from 10:00am-5:00am January & February. (closed Tues-Thurs) Come in with a non-perishable food item for the local Norris Food Bank and receive $3.00 off regular adult admission. There will be a fire going in the Gift Shop waiting for you!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Will Allen Dromgoole

Will Allen Dromgoole wrote the following articles about the Melungeons.

Land of the Malungeons
A Strange People
The Malungeons
The Malungeon Tree and It's Four Branches
Mysterious Tribe Known as the Malungeons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Will Allen Dromgoole (October 26, 1860-September 1, 1934) was an author and poet born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She wrote over 7,500 poems; 5,000 essays; and published thirteen books. She was renowned beyond the South; her poem "The Bridge Builder" was often reprinted. It remains quite popular. An excerpt appears on a plaque at the Bellows Falls, Vermont Vilas Bridge, spanning the Connecticut River between southern Vermont and New Hampshire.

Early life and background

Will Allen Dromgoole was the last of several children born to Rebecca Mildred (Blanche) and John Easter Dromgoole in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[1] Her paternal grandparents were Rev. Thomas and Mary Dromgoole. Her great-grandparents were Edward Dromgoole, a Scots-Irish trader from Sligo, Ireland, and his Cherokee wife Rebecca Walton. He married her after immigrating to the North American colonies.
Dromgoole's parents sent her to the Clarksville Female Academy, where she graduated in 1876. She studied law with her father, but women were not allowed to become lawyers. She was appointed as staff to the state legislature, where she started working in 1883.


Dromgoole was a prolific writer, publishing both prose and poetry. She was also a journalist for the Nashville American, a newspaper based in the Middle Tennessee city.
She first published a story in Youth's Companion in 1887. It was about the Tennessee governor, Bob Taylor. She had a best-selling novel in 1911, The Island of the Beautiful.

Dromgoole taught school in Tennessee one year, and one year in Temple, Texas. There she founded the Waco Women's Press Club.[2] During World War I, Dromgoole was a warrant officer in the United States Naval Reserve. She lectured to sailors on patriotic topics.

Dromgoole wrote a series of articles on the Southeastern ethnic group known as the Melungeons, published in the Nashville Daily American (1890) and the Boston Arena (1891).[1][3] This historically mixed-race group was then living mostly in southeastern Tennessee and southwestern Kentucky. Her derogatory comments about them, while based more on hearsay than fact, expressed the biases about mountain people typical of her society and the period in which she was writing. Since the early 20th century, Melungeons have increasingly intermarried with European Americans and integrated into mainstream white society.[4]

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Indian Mounds of Loudoun County

 Hat Tip Laree

shadingby Eugene Scheel
A Waterford historian and mapmaker.
Indian mound near leesburg va
Indian mound off Route 15 and Foxfield Lane south of Leesburg
Many years ago, at the Purcellville Library, which was then the only public library in Loudoun County, I came across a set of small scrapbooks filled with undated clippings from unidentified newspapers. One told of a battle in the county between the Catawba and Delaware tribes. But because I didn't think either tribe lived in the area, I dismissed the article as legend.
Through the years, however, certain archaeological sites have almost convinced me that some battle took place sometime during the 1500s or 1600s in what is now the Route 15 corridor. During this period of initial European exploration and settlement of America's East Coast, anthropologists think there were upheavals of Indian groupings, caused in part by uncertainty as to which tribes were allied with the whites who came in large ships.
In my 1975 book, The Guide to Loudoun, I briefly mentioned an Indian mound seven-tenths of a mile south of Route 15 and Gleedsville Road (Virts Corner) [at the intersection of Foxfield lane and Route 15]. I called the mound "legendary," and using information from the newspaper clipping, I added that it was purportedly a "Delaware Indian burial mound, erected by that tribe after their defeat in battle by the Catawba."
Subsequent investigations of the mound by then-state archaeologist Howard McCord found no bodies, although he did not explore the ground underneath the mound or close to it.
I was tantalized by reports of people who lived within sight of the mound. They said that as far back as they could recall, people who appeared to be Native Americans would come to the mound in early morning or late evening and leave feathers, trinkets and arrows. Those visits continue today.
I assumed the mound was of Tuscarora origin, as there were several similar mounds in Loudoun and Fauquier counties along the Tuscarora migration route north, which followed present day Route 15. The Tuscarora had been defeated in North Carolina by the British, who guaranteed the tribe safe passage during the 1710s and early 1720s to join their Iroquois allies in central New York.
Frequently, as I drove south on Route 15, the mound and the purported battle prompting it were never far from my thoughts. They became paramount some months ago when I received the following message on my answering service: "My name is John Rocca. I'm a Tuscarora Indian." He had read my article, Indians Left Their Mark in Naming Landmarks, on the origin of Indian names in Loudoun and Fauquier and was curious that I had mentioned place names with Tuscarora origins.
I called Rocca, and we got together for breakfast. I learned that his grandfather, a full-blooded Tuscarora, farmed near Lovettsville during the early 20th century. Rocca alluded to a great Indian battle that had taken place near his grandfather's farm, in the vicinity of Oatlands and Courtland Farm, a few miles south of the mound near Virts Corner.
Rocca told me the site came to him "in a sweat on an Ojibway Indian reservation" inhabited by the Kettle and Stony Point band on the shores of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. The Ojibway, an Algonquin tribe that at times lived in eastern Loudoun, were friendly with the Tuscarora.
A few days later, I had a doctor's appointment, and my physician, John H. Cook III, began talking about area Native Americans. His son, Harrison "Ted" Cook, is an anthropologist and expert on digitizing map and geographic data. Cook told me his son spoke of an Indian battle or village at the spot where Little River flows into Goose Creek -- the same area Rocca mentioned.
Ted Cook and I spoke over the phone, and he remembered the meeting place of the two streams as a site where builders of the Dulles Greenway had to preserve wetlands in exchange for wetlands destroyed during construction of the privately operated toll road. He recalled that the site was large, laden with artifacts and had the potential to be named a national historic landmark, the highest honor accorded to an archaeological or historic site.
I began to hunt for the scrapbooks I had seen 30 years ago but couldn't find them. I did come across an article titled History and Traditions of "Greenway" in a 1903 edition of The Record, a short-lived Leesburg newspaper.
Greenway, I remembered, once encompassed the reported Delaware Indian mound. The farm, now a few acres with an early-19th-century brick house and pristine frame and brick barn, a mile south of the Leesburg bypass, was initially a 640-acre grant from Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax to William Mead.
Mead, a Quaker, took out his grant in 1746 and named it for a Capt. Greenway who had piloted his grandfather, also William Mead, from England to Philadelphia in the late 1600s. The detailed article bore no author's name, but its emphasis on genealogy and on events that took place at Greenway led me to believe it was by a Mead. The family owned Greenway into the 1880s.
More here:
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prince Among Slaves

Abdulrahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 Abdu-l-Rahman Ibrahim Ibn Sori (a.k.a. Abdul-Rahman) was a prince from West Africa who was made a slave in the United States. In 1828, he was freed after spending 40 years in slavery by the order of President John Quincy Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay after the Sultan of Morocco requested his release.


He was born in 1762 in Timbo, West Africa, (in present day      Guinea, Fouta Djallon). He was known as the "Prince of Slaves" or "Prince." He was a Fulbe or Fulani, (Fula) of the land of Fouta Djallon. Ibrahim left Futa in 1774 to study in Mali at Timbuktu. Ibrahim was leader of one of his father's army divisions. After winning a battle against a warring nation, he took with him a few soldiers to report back to his father, when he was ambushed, captured, and sold to slave traders in 1788 at the age of 26. He was bought by a Natchez, Mississippi cotton plantation owner, and eventually became the overseer of the plantation of Thomas Foster. In 1794 he married Isabella, another slave of Foster’s, and eventually fathered a large family: five sons and four daughters.[1]
By using his knowledge of growing cotton in Fouta Djallon, Abd al-Rahman Ibrahim rose to a position of authority on the plantation and became the de facto foreman. This granted him the opportunity to grow his own vegetable garden and sell at the local market. During this time, he met an old acquaintance, Dr. John Cox. Dr. Cox was an Irish surgeon who had served on an English ship. He was the first white man to reach Timbo after being stranded by his ship and falling ill. Cox stayed ashore for six months and was taken in by the Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima family. Cox appealed to Foster to sell him "Prince" so he could return to Africa. However, Foster would not budge, since he viewed Abd al-Rahman Ibrahim as indispensable to the Foster farm (among other reasons). Dr. Cox continued, until his death in 1816, to seek Ibrahim's freedom, to no avail. After Cox died, Ibrahim continued the cause.
In 1826, Abd al-Rahman Ibrahim wrote a letter to his relatives in Africa. A local newspaperman, Andrew Marschalk, who was originally from New York, sent a copy to Senator Thomas Reed in Washington, who forwarded it to the U.S. Consulate in Morocco. Since Abdal-Rhaman Ibrahim wrote in Arabic, Marschalk and the U.S. government assumed that he was a Moor. After the Sultan of Morocco Abderrahmane read the letter, he asked President Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay to release Abd al-Rahman Ibrahim. In 1828, Thomas Foster agreed to the release of Ibrahim, without payment, with the stipulation that Ibrahim return to Africa and not live as a free man in America.
Before leaving the U.S., Ibrahim and his wife went to various states and Washington, D.C. He solicited donations, through the press, personal appearances, the American Colonization Society and politicians, to free his family back in Mississippi. Word got back to Foster, who considered this a breach of the agreement. Abdul-Rahman's actions and freedom were also used against President John Quincy Adams by future president Andrew Jackson during the presidential election.
After ten months, Abd al-Rahman Ibrahim and Isabella had raised only half the funds to free their children. They made arrangements to leave America. He went to Monrovia, Liberia with his wife. Abd al-Rahman Ibrahim lived for four months before he contracted a fever and died at the age of 67. He never saw Fouta Djallon or his children again.


The funds that Abdul-Rahman and Isabella raised bought the freedom of two sons and their families. They were reunited with Isabella in Monrovia. Thomas Foster died the same year as Abdul-Rahman. Foster's estate, including Abdul-Rahman's other children and grandchildren, was divided among Foster's heirs and scattered across Mississippi and the South. Abdul-Rahman's descendants still reside in Monrovia and the United States. In 2006, Abdul-Rahman's descendants gathered for a family reunion at Foster's Field.
He wrote two autobiographies. A drawing of him is displayed in the Library of Congress.
In 1977, history professor Terry Alford documented the life of Ibn Sori in Prince Among Slaves, the first full account of his life, pieced together from first-person accounts and historical documents. In Prince Among Slaves, Alford writes:
Among Henry Clay's documents, for the year 1829 we find the January 1 entry, "Prince Ibrahima, an Islamic prince sold into slavery 40 years ago, and freed with the stipulation that he return (in this case the word "return" makes sense) to Africa, joined the black citizens of Philadelphia as an honored guest in their New Year's Day parade, up Lombard and Walnut, and down Chestnut and Spruce streets."

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1996 DeMarce Review Essay: The Melungeons

Review Essay: The Melungeons

by Virginia Easley DeMarce, Ph.D.
Originally printed in the National Genealogy Society Quarterly
Vol. 84, No. 2, June 1996

The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People. An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America by N. Brent Kennedy, with Robyn Vaughan Kennedy.
Published by Mercer University Press; Macon, GA 31210; 1994. xviii,
156 pp. Appendix, illustrations index.

Mercer University Press has placed its imprimatur on a book that attempts to cross the disciplines of anthropology, genealogy, and history with genetics as a periodic refrain. However, the author does not apply the standard methodology of any of these disciplines. Racial prejudice and persecution, as the title implies, are the themes that meld all this together. A chronological leap over several centuries enables the author 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.

Beginning with an account of his diagnosis with erythema nodosum sarcoidosis, a rare, serious medical problem to which certain ethnic groups are prone-Kennedy presents a deeply felt account of his immediate family. However, nothing indicates that he investigated whether this medical problem has appeared elsewhere in the extended families who descend from his ancestors or, if it does occur in a pattern, in which line(s).1

Any study centered upon genetics and ethnicity should solidly document all genealogical data and links. Yet Kennedy offers no evidence, not even census records. He outlines an ancestry that centers in the Virginia counties of Wise, Russell, and Scott, and the Kentucky counties of Floyd and Pike. Beyond that, he implies that his forebears are traceable only to the mid-to-late eighteenth century. at which time they were primarily in northwestern North Carolina, (particularly modern Ashe and Yancey Counties) and the region that became Greenbrier and Franklin Counties, Virginia. He arranges his pedigree in a series of "family lines," including (pp. 137-38) one claimed ascent to Pocahontas (which, if accurate, certainly would not have been a basis for social persecution) . 2

The failure to provide documentation makes it difficult to retrace the path by which the author determined his generational links and sorted forebears from others of the same name. This difficulty will deter many readers from the fact checking that good genealogists always perform. Those who do seek actual evidence and those who already have conducted solid research on these lines will be dismayed at the extent of the genealogical errors set forth in so few pages. Similarly, a great deal of unearned trust is expected of students and scholars in other disciplines. This review essay covers four major areas of concern: ethnic identification, prejudice, genealogy, and historical origins. 3

Kennedy does not use the term Melungeon in its anthropological sense-that is, the interlocking families who moved into, existed in, and dispersed from Hawkins and Hancock Counties, Tennessee. Rather, he coins a very loose definition, expanding it to cover essentially all colonial-era Virginians and Carolinians who (in whatever records he consulted) are not clearly stated to be European American or African American. Melungeon thus becomes a catchall description for dark- skinned individuals whose ancestry does not seem to be sub-Saharan African-as well as their lighter-skinned relatives and descendants, whom he presents as subjects of racial prejudice. The manner in which numerous individuals are "deduced" to be Melungeon is troubling. By surmising a connection when he cannot show it, he makes "Melungeons" of numerous frontier families whose ancestry appears to be wholly northern European, including those whose known origin is Scotch-Irish or German. Typical cases are the Ritchies (pp.23-24), Hutchinsons (p.27), Kennedys and Hornes (pp. 66-68), Powerses and Alleys (pp.69-70), and Counts, Jessees, and Kisers (pp.77-79). In discussing an unproved line of descent from Edward "Ned" Sizemore, a central figure in the famous attempt to cash in on early-twentieth-century Eastern Cherokee claims awards (p.56), Kennedy ignores extensive testimony indicating that Sizemore descendants were, for social and legal purposes, a white family claiming Indian ancestry not Melungeons or free nonwhites. 4

Illustrative of the problem is Kennedy's analysis of William Roberson's ethnicity, which strongly suggests inexperience in genealogical and historical research. Because this Revolutionary War veteran supposedly said he was Scotch-Irish and from London, and because his name is variously spelled as Robertson, Robinson, and Robeson, Kennedy concludes the man was a Melungeon who purposefully obscured his true origins. "Surely, if William . . . really did come from England, Scotland, or Ireland, he would have known how to spell his last name.... [His] early meandering in [the Carolinas] undoubtedly plac[ed] him within the geographical region ... known as 'Robeson' county. Could William I have 'borrowed' his surname from the name of the county?" (pp.25-26). Coincidentally, Kennedy proceeds to state that Roberson's son married the first cousin of President Andrew Jackson. Obviously, in his historical studies, Kennedy has not encountered Jackson's declaration that he "could never respect a man who knew only one way to spell a word." 5

Kennedy often refers to the labels fpc (free person of color) and fc (free colored) informing readers that these were maliciously applied by the Scotch-Irish to their Melungeon neighbors in order to "strip the Melungeons of their lands" (p.12), and that "American antebellum census records consistently described those with Indian blood" as fpc (p. 89, italics added). Placing his family into this context, he says "they and we were 'free persons of color"' (p.5). In checking Kennedy's family lines, this reviewer consistently found the opposite-not a single instance in which his named ancestors, from 1790 through 1900, appear in public documents as anything but white. The legal acceptance of these lines as white by local officials contrasts curiously with the author's repeated statements that they were routinely labeled fpc. 6

As frontiersmen and mountaineers, his named ancestors repeatedly appear as white on federal censuses. Their marriages, where separate books were maintained for "white" and "colored," are entered in "white" books.7 In one case, when identifying the father of an out-of-wedlock child as "Melungeon" and "free person of color" (pp. 70-71), Kennedy does refer to a source-but misquotes the work he cites. The book is subtitled Free Black Population of Amherst County, Virginia, and it does mention (in other contexts) Kennedy's claimed ancestor, David S. Garland; but it does not identify' Garland as either Melungeon or fpc. In fact, it specifically indicates that he was white. 8

Kennedy alleges, but does not document, systematic, population-wide, race-based persecution of his ancestral families. His introductory assertion that Melungeons were "a people ravaged, and nearly destroyed, by the senseless excesses of racism and genocide" (p. xiii) begs for supporting evidence-as does his contention that Melungeon families were originally large landowners, deprived and marginalized by Scotch-Irish and other northern-European settlers (p.4). Similarly, the author offers no evidence for his statement that "being legally declared a 'Melungeon' meant losing one's land" (p. 125). He does not present one land grant, deed, or court case to show that his claimed Melungeon ancestral lines ever held large tracts of land or that they were deprived of them by whiter settlers. William Roberson is said to have "left Greenbriar County Virginia] at the same time the Melungeons were being 'evicted' "(p.25). No evidence of any Melungeon eviction is offered In Wise County, Virginia, supposedly, "undesirable land [was] ceded to the Melungeons in exchange for the prime property they had originally held. .... land where the town of Wise now sits (and) the beautiful farm country of the Powell Valley were territories well worth stealing" (p.39). Yet no court suits, deed’s, tax rolls, or land grants are cited. In repeating the family legend that "William Nash III had once owned some 6,000 acres of land, but gambled it away,"9 Kennedy's opinion that it was, instead, "probably taken [from ..... But to cover the truth [of their persecution] the family had to turn William III into an irresponsible reprobate" (pp. 39-40). Again, the author offers none of the court or land records or newspaper notices of public sales that genealogists routinely cite in cases such as this.

Echoing a theme popular with some writers on Southern minorities, Kennedy contends (p.14 and elsewhere) that records are scarce because persecution caused Melungeon families to "avoid" census takers and other public officials. 10 That assertion is difficult to support in this instance, because many records concerning his ancestral families are readily available. Genealogists of all families suffer lacunae in the records, but most failures to find evidence can be overcome by applying improved research skills. Kennedy is not precise in his discussion of public laws. For example, he states that "by 1834 Melungeons had been stripped of most rights of citizenship in both Tennessee and North Carolina" (p.15) and that "Sarah [Adkins] and husband John Bennett left North Carolina with their children in the late 1830's, about the time that North Carolina declared Melungeons to be 'free persons of color"' (p.46, italics added). North Carolina never "declared Melungeons" to be free persons of color; nor did a Tennessee statute single out Melungeons for persecution. Statutes did restrict the rights of persons who were legally classed as free persons of color; but the 1830s definition of that class, in both states, was the same definition established in the 1700s. In Tennessee, state law limited the term to those whose parent or grand-parent was a full-blooded Indian or Negro (i.e., descent to the third degree). North Carolina's law extended it to "all Negroes, Indians, and mulattos.... to the fourth generation, inclusive" (i.e., individuals with one-eighth-degree Negro or Indian ancestry). The laws of the 1830s did not affect farnilies who were legally white, they did not change anyone's classification, and they did not mandate anyone to be legally nonwhite once they passed the point that had been defined in the 1700’s. 11 Similarly, Kennedy reinterprets voting laws. "By a sweep of the judicial pen,,, readers are told, census takers arbitrarily ruled Melungeons to be fpc "and, presto! [they] became legally disenfranchised" (p, 12). 12 Returning later to that theme, Kennedy states that his ancestor Alexander Hall, son of Isham, rose to the rank of captain in the Confederate army but was not permitted to vote because of his status as a "free person of color" (p.33). Yet the 1830 census of Russell County, Virginia, labels Isham Hall white. 13 By the 1850 enumeration, Alexander had become a head of household-white, as were his wife, children, father, and father's family. 14 Alexander's future son-in-law, Wickliffe Hendricks Nash, who also saw Confederate service (p.33), was similarly counted as white, both in his father's household in 1860 and in his own household in 1880. 15 Kennedy provides no documentation for his statement that "well into the 1900s, the Nashes and Halls were not permitted to vote" (p. 40). If this was the case, the cause needs to be documented, because it does not appear to have been based on their racial classification in the census. 16

Two sections, headed "No Place to Hide," briefly sketch Kennedy's maternal and paternal lines. Some genealogical problems are obvious, even without documentation. Other links, relationships, and conclusions do not withstand fact checking. The following illustrates the types of concerns that genealogists must address before deciding whether to add the author's conclusions to their family records.


While writing of his multiple "shot[s] of Old Booker Mullins' genes" (p.73), Kennedy says next to nothing about the man, only that he was born 1762, died .1864, and was "apparently from Franklin County, Virginia" (p 47), 17 a county created in 1785. A variety of records actually exists to track this man and to sort him from numerous other contemporaries of the same name. Tax records that have been conveniently published since 1972 show this Booker to be a 1789 settler of Burks Fork and Greasy Creek of Indian Ridge, in Montgomery County, Virginia 18 (now the county-boundary area between Floyd and Carroll Counties, slightly above the North Carolina line). From here, Booker apparently moved south, as a subsequent census attributes to his son David a circa 1800 birth in North Carolina. 19 From there, they trekked westward into Floyd County, Kentucky, where Booker's household is enumerated-as white-in l8l0. 20 Other early-nineteenth-century censuses and land records (not discussed by Kennedy) place Booker and his grown children in both Floyd and its offshoot counties, Pike and Lawrence. 21 By 1830, this Mullins family had backwashed from eastern Kentucky into southwestern Virginia’s Russell County, where Booker is recorded as a free white male, aged sixty to seventy. 22 He last appears, 1860, in Wise County-aged ninety-six, of Virginia birth, and still white. 23

A more-serious genealogical problem, for which the evidence apparently confused Kennedy, is the identification of Booker's wife. She is said by Kennedy (without documentation) to be "Nancy Judith Stanley" in each of the four tables presented on pages 48, 49, 50, and 51. However, the text at page 48 discusses her as "Booker's wife, Nancy Stanley." At page 49, the text comments: "Old Booker may have had a previous marriage, possibly before his marriage to Nancy Stanley. The name Judith Bunch, or Bench, has occasionally been tied to Booker." Virginia's eighteenth- and nineteenth-century marriage records are highly incomplete. 24 Surviving records show that Judith Stanley married one of the several contemporary Booker Mullinses during 1803 in Franklin County, Virginia. However, this is not Kennedy's ancestral couple, because this Booker Mullins is shown consistently on the Franklin County censuses from 1810 through 1860. 25 Meanwhile, the Booker Mullins from whom Kennedy descends obviously had married by 1790 or so, because he had a son James) who wed in 1812 and another (Sherwood) who married in 1813. 26 The only evidence this reviewer has found of a Booker Mullins to Nancy {-} marriage is the 1835 union of Booker Mullins, son Sherwood and grandson of "Old Booker," to Nancy Potter in Pike County, Kentucky. 27 Chronology suggests that Kennedy attributed to "Old Booker" born circa 1764 some of the post-1835 children of this younger Booker and Nancy Mullins. 28 There were also at least two, possibly three, other men named Booker Mullins in the area of eastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia between 1790 and 1860 - classed as white, Yet another problem relating to the author's genealogical reconstruction of the Mullins family is his statement that the famed Mahala "Big Haley" (Collins) Mullins, of the Hancock County, Tennessee, Melungeons, "married into" the family of his own ancestor's son, Wilson Mullins; and he cited Wilson's birth in 1824 (p.48). Mahala herself was born in 1824; and the 1880 census shows that her husband, John Mullins (whose identity Kennedy appears not to know), was born about 1815. Kennedy does not show a relationship between her husband and his own family line. In any case, John was too old to have been a son of Wilson.


Pursuing the Mullinses through the federal censuses also yields evidence that Kennedy did not fully exploit the available sources. His genealogical table for the Hall family (p.36) cites two consecutive Hall-Mullins marriages: Isham Hall I (dates unknown) to Mary Mullins and Isham Hall II (1785-1856) to Jane Mullins. His only statement regarding the origins of either Isham is that the one born 1785 "claimed to be from Greenbriar County, Virginia" (p.30). For ancestor Henry Clyde Runyon, comp., Marriage Bonds of Pike County, Kentucky, 1822-1865 (Belfry, Ky: p.p., 1984), 78, citing file no. 431. Kennedy apparently confused the 26-year-old Sherrard [Sherwood] Mullins (wife Anna i.e., Nancy-aged 22), in Booker's 1860 household, with the much-older Sherwood who was Booker's son. Certainly Sherrard and Anna cannot have been the parents of Andrew Jackson "BrandyJack" Mullins, who was born in 1834 (Kennedy, p.50) 29 Two were heads of households on the 1840 census of Pike Co., Ky; one, age 40-50; another, 20- 30. See Jesse Stewart and Leah Stewart, comps., 1840 Federal Census of Pike County, Kentucky (n.p. n.p., Ca. 1990), 3. The 1850 census more fully identifies them as Booker Mullins (age 55, wife Mary; Floyd Co.) and Booker Mullens (age 31, wife Nancy; adjacent Pike Co.). See Barbara, Byron, and Samuel Sistle; 1850 Census, Eastern Ky. Counties of Breathitt, Caner, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Lawrence, Letcher, Morgan, Perry, and Pike (Nashville: Byron Sistler and Associates, 1994, 68, 301. One Booker Mullins married Polly Johnson, daughter of William Johnson, 16 Apffl 1821; see Skeens, Floyd Kentucky, Consent and Marriage Book, p.136. A second Booker wed Polly Newsom, daughter of Harrison Newsom, 5 December 1829; see Runyon, Marriage Bonds of Pike County, 43, file no.235. Subsequently, there appears Booker Mullins Sr., age 68, b. Va., with wife Polly, age 60, b. N.C., on the 1870 U.S. cens., Pike Co., Ky., dist. 9, Robinson Creek, dwell. 26, fam. 26; and Booker Mullins, age 70, with wife Polly, 65, both born in Va., on the 1880 U.S. cens., Pike Co., Ky., 9th precinct, Upper Elkhorn Creek, dwell 16, fam. 16. All listings identify them as white. 30 Gowen Research Foundation, Electronic Library, file GOWENMS.OO2, closed stacks, printout dated 30 March 1996, unpaginated. Available to foundation members via sysop, 806-796-0456. For the foundation, contact Arlee Gowen, 5708 Gary Ave., Lubbock, TX 79413. Mahala Collins was the daughter of Solomon and Virginia Jane "Gincie" (Goins) Collins. Adkins, whose granddaughter married in 18511 the only stated origin is "1700s, North Carolina" (p. 70). Yet the 1850 census of Russell County, Virginia, is more explicit. It is one of the serendipitous enumerations on which the marshal recorded the county of birth for all persons born within the Cornmonwealth. Both Isham Hall and Henry Adkins are assigned a birth in Franklin County, Virginia-the place Kennedy speculates for Booker Mullins.


1. This omission contrasts strikingly with T. Tipton Biggs, Knowing Mama: The Discovery of a Family (Omaha, Neb: privately printed, ca.1980), which painstakingly tracks the progress of Huntington. disease through an extended family from the 1820s until the present.

2. The claimed line from Pocahontas is said to have come through Benjamin Bowling born 1734)and wife Martha "Patsy" Phelps. This couple (although Kennedy does not state so) married 1751-53 in Albemarle Co., Va. See Families of Yancey County, North Carolina 5 (March 1988): 5; and "Osborne and Related Families," Pike County, Kentucky, 1821-1983; Historical Papers, no.5 (Pikeville: Pike Co. Hist. Soc., 1983), 61. Kennedy's connection depends on an assumption that the Benjamin who married Martha is the same one who later wed Charity Larrimore. This assertion was published in 1985 by W. W .Lake, "The Pocahontas Connection," The Mountain Empire Genealogical Quarterly 4 (Winter 1985): 214-7; but it has been challenged by David Risner, "Bolling Family Information," The Mountain Empire Genealogical Quarterly 7 (Winter 1988): 273-74, who presents contrary evidence. Kennedy points out that the ascending line of the Benjamin who married Martha Phelps is itself unproved, although often claimed-as in R. Marshall Shepherd, "John Rolfe Lineage," The East Kentuckian: A Journal of Genealogy and History 25 (September 1989): 34-35. For a general pro-and-con discussion of the limited evidence available, see Alexander R. Bolling Jr., The Bolling Family: Eight Centuries of Growth (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1990), 114-17.

3. Because this essay is a book review rather than a full-fledged genealogical study, all of the author's families have not been comprehensively reconstructed. The present analysis is designed to indicate the direction that future research should take.

4. For a synopsis of this rich body of Sizemore oral history, see Jerry Wright Jordan, comp., Cherokee by Blood: Records of Eastern Cherokee Ancestry in the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1910, vol.1, Application’s to 1550 (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1987), 126-81 Kennedy (p.24) cites 1725 as the date of Sizemore's birth. This is incompatible with the claims-case testimony, which holds that Ned's father fought in the Revolution and that two of his brothers were in the War of 1812. The oral histories may have been confused, but Kennedy does not cite corrective evidence or address the conflict. The testimony also does not document Kennedy's stated Sizemore connection to his Phipps family. Jeffrey C. Weaver, Eastern Cherokee Applications, Southwest Virginia Ancestors 4 (Winter 1990): 33, indicates that Edward ("Old Ned") Sizemore was a Loyalist, "hung by Col. Ben Cleveland on the Tory Oak in Wilkesboro NC." This must be a different generation from the "Old Ned" in the Sizemore testimony, who died in the 1850s. Regarding the ethnicity of this family and their census labels, consider for example, George and Owen Sizemore and their household members who are all considered white on the 1800 Ashe Co., N. C., census. See Eleanor Baker Reeves, A Factual History of Early Ashe County, North Carolina: Its People, Places and Events (Tex.: Taylor Publishing Co., 1986), 67. The 1820 census. of Ashe Co. similarly cites the households of George (Sr and Jr), Edward, and Owen as white. See Dorothy Williams Potter, 1820 Federal Census of North Carolina, vol. 2, Ashe County (Tullahoma, Tenn.: privately printed, 1970), 13. (ASHE COUNTY NC ONLINE CENSUS DATA )

5. Quoted by David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed: Fou, British Folkways in America (N.Y: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989), 718. Kennedy (p.67) also proposes a deliberate fabrication of origins to explain another common type of genealogical carelessness-- an alleged birthdate of 1781 for Pleasant Home, said to be the son of Jesse Home, born 1777.

6. As previously noted, this reviewer has not retraced the author's lines through every available record. However, for all sources consulted and all lines traced, results were consistent. As representative examples:

(1) The author repeatedly applies the term fpc to ancestral lines in Ashe Co., N.C. (pp.46.55-56. 69-70). While antebellum Ashe certainly had free persons of color, Kennedy's named ancestors were not among them. The 1820 census of Ashe (as a specific) lists six fpc house hold but Kennedy's Phipps, Swindle, White, Tolliver, and Osborn families were all classed there on as white. See Potter, 1820 Federal Census of North Carolina. . - Ashe County, 6, 11-12, 14-l6, 18-19. (2) As late as 1860, Kennedy's Swindle line was classified as white in Western Virginia; see 1860 U.S. cens., Wise Co., Va., pp. 28O~1, dwelling 110, family 110.

(3) For 1870, Kennedy's lines of Kennedy, Kiser, Mullins, Nash, Powers, and Swindle (Russell and Wise Cos., Va.), were all considered white; the Hopkinses (found by the reviewer in Pike Co., Ky.), were deemed white there also.

7. For example, see Larry and Pat Taylor, eds., Wise County, Virginia, Marriage Register, 1887-19C0 (Clintwood, Va.: Southwest Va. Ancestors, 1994); and Dorcas McDaniel Hobbs and John Walter Picklesheimer Sr., comps., Pike County, Kentucky, Death Records, 1849-1909 (n.p.: p.p., ca. 1990).

8. Sherrie S. McLeRoy and William R. Mc LeRoy, Strangers in their Midst: The Free Black Population of Amherst County, Virginia (Bowie, Md.: Heritage Books, 1993), 194,218.299. Garland is mentioned herein as administrator of the estate of John Redcross in 1802 and as the 1840 head of a white household that also contained 8 fpc and 40 slaves.

9. Nash's wealth extended considerably beyond land. The 1840 cens. credits him with 17 slaves. He is enumerated as a white male, aged 30-40, sharing his home with a white female, aged 20-30, and a white male, aged 15-20. See Elizabeth M. Carpenter, ed., 1840 Census, Russell County, Virginia (n.p.: p.p., Ca. 1991), 16.

10. The assertions of nineteenth century legal persecution in the adjacent counties of Wise, Russell, and Buchanan are also difficult to accept when one reads the 1880 census. entry for Kennedy's claimed great.great.grandparents, James Colley and Emma Farrel (whom he describes, p.77, as one of the 'Black Jacksons' W) Not only did the census taker label the family white, but he identified their son William as the county sheriff. See 1880 U.S. census., Buchanan Co., Va., Sand Lake Magisterial Dist., enum. dist. 16, sheet 45, dwell. 35, fam. 35.

11. For N.C., see Revised Statutes of the State of North Carolina, Passed by the General Assembly, 1836-37, 2 vols. (Raleigh: Turner and Hughes, 1837), chap. Ill, "An Act Concerning Slaves and Free persons of color." This source recapitulates prior laws. For Tenn., see Returnj. Meigs and William F. Cooper, eds., Code of Tennessee Exacted by the General Assembly of 1857-'8 (Nashville: E.G. Eastman and Co., 1858), 41, 687, which recounts prior acts; Joshua W Caldwell, Studies in the Constitutional History of Tennessee, 2d ed. (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke Co., 1907), 202-03; Robert. Shannon, ed., The Constitution of the State of Tennessee (Nashville: Law Book Pubi. Co., 1915), 374-76; and Thos. H. CoIdwell, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee during the Years 1868-9 (Louisville, Ky.: Fetter Law Book Co., 1902), 231-67.

12. Census takers, of course, did not wield a judicial pen. Their returns had no judicial authority. Again the author appears unfamiliar with record sources. Kennedy's theme of political discrimination against his ancestors is clearly at odds here with various evidences, for example, the subsequently discussed election of his ancestor to the Va. state legislature (as a Democrat) in 1879. If one cannot vote, one cannot hold office.

13. Elizabeth M. Carpenter, ed., 1830 Census of Russell County, Virginia (Clintwood, Va.: Mullins Princing Royalty, ca. 1991), 11.

14.1850 U.S. census., Russell Co., Va., pp. 323b-324, dwells. 1438-1439, fams. 1438-1439.

15.1860 U.S. census., Scott Co., Va., pp. 35~55, dwell. 816, fam. 815.1880 U.S. census., Wise Co., Va., enum. dist. 101, sheet 24, dwell. 249, fam. 249. Kennedy does not address the genealogical significance of the 1860 census., which shows Wickliff Nash in the home of his father, William Nash, age 59. At that time, William apparently had a much-younger wife, Virginia, age 29. The wife and mother cited by Kennedy, Margaret Ramey, was still alive that year, because she later appears as "mother" and "white" in her son's household; see 1880 U.S. census., Wise Co., Va., enum. dist. 101, sheet 24, dwell. 249, fam. 249. Other Rameys repeatedly appear as white on southwest Va. and eastern Ky. returns. The following 1850 enumeration entry also should be examined carefully for relevance: 1850 U.S. census., Scott Co., Va., pop. sch., p.422, dwell./fam. 967: Margaret Ramey, 28, female; Louisa J., 10, female; Wickliffe, 8, male; Sally, 60, female; and Worthington Brooks, 20, male, born in N.C. All the Rameys were said to have been born in Va. Presumably all were considered white, because they, like others on the page, have no entry to the contrary in the column for race.

16. For the turn-of the century racial status of this family, whose "darkness" is heavily treated by Kennedy, see 1900 U.S. census., Wise Co., Va., enum. dist. 123, sheet 3, fam. 4, dwell. 42, citing the widowed Louisa (Hall) Nash and her children as white.

17. This assumption may have been made on the basis of a birthplace provided for 67-year-old James Mullins on an 1857 marriage record. See John C. Mullins, wise County', Virginia, Marriage register, 1856-1886 (n.p.: p.p., 1981), 9, no.97. Franklin Co. was created from Henry and Bedford Cos. Prior to that, in the 1770s, family names associated with this Mullins line appear in Henry Co. See Lela C. Adams, Henry County, Virgina, Deed Book I and II Bassett, Va.: p.p., 1975), 30,44,82,91; and Lela C. Adams, 1778-1780 Tax List of Henry County, Virginia (Bassett, Va.: p.p., 1973), 16, 27-28, 41.

18. Nettie Schreiner-Yantis, ed., Montgomery County Virginia, Circa 1790: A Comprehensive Study-Including the 1789 Tax Lists, Abstracts of Over 800 Land Surveys ~ Data Concerning Migration (Springfield, Va.: p-p., 1972), 98.

19.1860 U.S. census., Wise Co., Va., p. 325, dwell. 400, fam. 400. A Mullins line that went from Pittsylvania Co., Va., into Burke Co., N.C., and from there into Russell Co., Va., has been put into print also. See Gary M. Mullins, "The Ancestral Lineage of Ollie Cox Mullins," The Mountain Empire Genealogical Quarterly 7 (Winter 1988): 21~38. This article is most helpful in distinguishing the various Mullins lines that came into Russell Co. by different routes than the one taken by Booker Mullins.

20.1810 U.S. census., Floyd Co., Ky., p.105. See also 1820 U.S. cens., Floyd Co., Ky., p.37.

21. In 1823, Booker Mullins was in the part of Floyd that had just been cutaway to create Lawrence; see Clayton R. Cox, "Pike County, Ky., Deed Book A, 1820-1828," The East Kentuckian 22 (March 1986): 16. Joe R. Skeens, comp., Floyd County, Kentucky, Consent and Marriage Book, 1808-1851 (Prestonsburg, Ky.: p.p., 1987), 21, shows the marriages of several Mullins men, including that of Kennedy's traced ancestor, David Mullins, to Jenny Short on 3 February 1820.

Pike Co. was created from Floyd in 1822. For more on the family's activities there, see Dorcas Hobbs, "First Tax List of 1823," in Leonard Roberts, Frank Forsyth, and Claire Kelly, eds., Pike County, Kentucky, 1822-1967, Historical Papers, no.2 (Pikeville: Pike Co. Hist. Soc., 1976), 4-12 (which includes Booker Mullins, John Booker Mullins, and ten other Mullins landowners on Shelby Creek).

22. Carpenter, 1830 Census of Russell County, 17-18.

23.1860 U.S. cens., Wise Co., Va., p. 325, dwell. 401, fam. 401.

24. See the 1844 affidavit on this point that was published by Mary McCampbell Bell as "Who Is to Blame'." NGS Quarterly 75 (September 1987): 193.

25. Marshall Wingfield, Marriage Bonds of Franklin County, 1786-1858; Transcribed from the Original Records, Annotated and Alphabetically Arranged (Baltimore: Genealogical Pubi. Co., 1973), 166. According to the 1850 enumeration (dwell. 1496, fam. 1490), this Booker was aged 71; his wife Judith, 67. In 1860 (dwell.

335, fam. 331), Booker was 80 and Judith was 75. See Karen Mann Robuck, comp., Franklin County, Virginia,

1850 6,, 1860 Censuses (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1990), 131. A married Judy Mullins, aged 63 and born in Va., died in August 1849 in Pike Co., Ky.; see Dorcas McDaniel Hobbs and John Walter Picklesheimer Sr., Pike County, Kentucky, Death Records, 1849-1909 (n.p.: p.p., ca. 1990). She could not have been Judith Stanley, who married in 1803. If the death record's age is correct, it is doubtful that she bore the older children of Kennedy's Booker.

26. James Mullins married Agnes Little in 1812; see Julius Little, "Isaac Little and his Descendants," The East Kentuckian 21 June 1985): 4. The actual marriage record does not list James's father. However, Sherwood Mullins was named as son of Booker Mullins when he wed Mary Roberts in 1813; see Skeens, Floyd County, Kentucky, Consent and Marriage Book, 21.

27. Clyde Runyon, comp., Marriage Bonds of Pike County, Kentucky, 1822-1865 (Belfry, Ky.: p.p., .1984), 78, citing file no.431.

28. Kennedy apparently confused the 26-year-old Sherrard [Sherwood] Mullins (wife Anna-i.e., Nancy-aged 22), in Booker's 1860 household, with the much-older Sherwood who was Booker's son. Certainly Sherrard and Anna cannot have been the parents ofAndrew Jackson "BrandyJack" Mullins, who was born in 1834 (Kennedy, p.50)

29. Two were heads of households on the 1840 cens. of Pike Co., Ky.: one, age 40-50; another, 20- 30. See Jesse Stewart and Leah Stewart, comps., 1840 Federal Census of Pike County, Kentucky (n.p.: n.p., Ca. 1990), 3. The 1850 cens. more fully identifies them as Booker Mullins (age 55, wife Mary; Floyd Co.) and Booker Mullens (age 31, wife Nancy; adjacent Pike Co.). See Barbara, Byron, and Samuel Sistle; 1850 Census, Eastern Ky. Counties of Breathitt, Caner, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Lawrence, Letcher, Morgan, Perry, and Pike (Nashville: Byron Sistler and Associates, 1994), 68, 301. Crie Booker Mullins married Polly Johnson, daughter of William Johnson, 16 Apffl 1821; see Skeens, Floyd Kentucky, Consent and Marriage Book, p.136. A second Booker wed Polly Newsom, daughter of Harrison Newsom, 5 December 1829; see Runyon, Marriage Bonds of Pike County, 43, file no.235. Subsequently, there appears Booker MuHins Sr., age 68, b. Va., with wife Polly, age 60, b. N.C., on the 1870 U.S. cens., Pike Co., Ky., dist. 9, Robinson Creek, dwell. 26, fam. 26; and Booker Mullins, age 70, with wife Polly, 65, hoth born in Va., on the 1880 U.S. cens., Pike Co., Ky., 9th precinct, Upper Elkhorn Creek, dwelL 16, fam. 16. All listings identify them as white.

30. Gowen Research Foundation, Electronic Library, file GOWENMS.OO2, closed stacks, printout dated 30 March 1996, unpaginated. Available to foundation members via sysop, 806-796-0456. For the foundation, contact Arlee Gowen, 5708 Gary Ave., Lubbock, TX 79413. Mahala Collins was the daughter of Solomon and Virginia Jane "Gincie" (Goins) Collins.©

Virginia Easley DeMarce, Ph.D

5635 North Twenty-fifth Road

Arlington, VA 22207

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Melungeon's Ways Are Passing

We are reposting some of the old Melungeon articles which appeared in
magazines and newspapers in order to give the reader an understanding of how
Melungeons were presented to the outside world in the past. We do not
necessarily agree with every statement. They are for educational purposes

Melungeons Ways Are Passing

News-Sentinel Staff Writer
Sneedville, Tenn

By Willard Yarbrough, April 26, 1972
Spring air was nippy along Blackwater Creek in Vardy Valley. So chilly,  in fact, that Howard Mullins lifted his hands with palms exposed to coal  fed flames of the open fire. Such delicate hands, calloused from field  work and 110 winters spent in isolated hill country where necessities of  life long since have become luxuries to a mysterious people to whom  Mullins belongs. He is one of the last of the Melungeons, oldest of them  all in Hancock County, which has been home to the Melungeons for 200  years.

Those left in Snake Hollow, Blackwater, Vardy and Mulberry - are few in  number, Most have left the hills for jobs in cities far and near. And  time is catching up with those remaining. In 1931 there were 40  Melungeon families living on Newman's Ridge above their ancestral home.  Today, only two families remain on the steep ridges. Genealogist William  P. Grohse Sr., who lives near Mullins, estimates there may be under 200  families left in the country.

Link to Jews Seen

Melungeon youth, just as others, are leaving rural America for jobs in  towns and cities. Hancock's population of 12,000 in 1900 dropped to 6719  by 1970, according to the U. S. Census. Scholars and anthropologists  and the just plain curious come into these hills in ever increasing  numbers. They want to see and talk with hill people with such Melungeon  family names as "Mullins, Collins, Goins, Gibbons, Miser, Bowlin and  Bell. A young Israeli scholar came the other day and became convinced  that these lovely olive-skinned people had Jewish ancestry and fled ages  ago to escape persecution at home. He cited two things he said linked  Melungeons with ancient Jews: Christianity - with the ever-present Cross  - and the name Vardy. Meaning Uncertain "Vardy", he told chronicler  Grohse, "stems from an Israeli word that means rose. So vardyman means  'man of roses'." Vardy Collins, born in 1766, was the first Melungeon to  settle on the Blackwater. Grohse says he came around 1780 or a little  later. His real name was Navarrh, but visitors to his mineral springs  and hotel knew him by the shorter name, Vardy.

Melungeon - what does it mean?

The Melungeons themselves, God knows, don't refer to themselves as  Melungeons. They don't know where the name came from, whether from the  French word "melange" (mixture), the Afro-Portuguese "melungo"  (shipmate) , or the Greek "melan" (black). Back at Howard Mullins' open  fire, Mrs. Mullins, who is 72, said she never heard the word until five  years ago when she read a book about "Melungeons." These hill people,  now intermixed with non-Melungeon mates, simply know it's a bad word  which their white neighbors once used to frighten their children:  "Better be good or the Melungeons will get you!"

Accustomed to Hard Times

Melungeons have been angered for almost two centuries about two things:  Strangers who call them by that name, so the Melungeons think, allude to  "mixture" as having Negro blood. And writers of sensational Melungeon  stories at times have ridiculed a sensitive, peaceful people. Back in  1840 there was an open insult to the Melungeon name in the state  Legislature. "A West Tennessee Democrat," said Grohse, "argued with an  East Tennessee Republican. The Democrat became so exasperated that he  told the legislators 'Don't pay any attention to him; he's one of them  East Tennessee Melungeons!'" One thing is certain. Melungeons are used  to hard times and privation.

Mrs. Howard Mullins remembered the Depression days when she obtained a  WPA job at the courthouse here as charwoman. "I walked eight miles  across Newman's Ridge to Sneedville every day", she said. "I'd leave  before daylight, work all day, and walk home after dark - with my dress  tail likely as not frozen stiff where it touched the snow. And you know  what I got for my first week's work? A check for $2.40!"

Still Was Guarded

Old-timers remember worse times, but they consider they were fortunate  even then. Melungeon men and women many, many years ago worked all day  in a farmer's fields just for the food they ate lunch. Melungeons always  have been excellent moonshiners, though this is mostly in the past.  Mrs. Mullins remembers when she and her first husband lived next door to  Howard Mullins, who she later married. "Howard would fire up his still  and I'd build up my fire under my washpot, so anybody going along the  road would think I was washing. Neighbors helped each other. I guess I'd  wash three or four times a week, or pretend to, and hang my clothes on  the line to hid Howard's still from sight."

Quit Drinking at 90

How has Grandpap Mullins lived to be 110? "He was drunk most of his  life," she said. "That might have helped preserve him. He quit drinking  20 years ago, but there were many times I'd have to take the mule and  sled and find him passed out drunk up a hollow. "We both chew tobacco. I  do because I don't want to smell his breath," she said, pointing to her  now blind husband as he chewed Beechnut as if it were chewing gum. "He  chews two packs a day." Mullins hasn't been out of Vardy for more than a  year, his last venture being to Sneedville. He hasn't seen a doctor in  years, either, and used only aspirin for medicine. Mullins lost his  father at age 8. The father and another Melungeon argued at the Mullins  moonshine still, Elbert Mullins losing the argument.

Howard Mullins, who has been chewing tobacco for 101 years, is the  oldest child in his family. His mother was married three times. Howard's  son, Burkett, 78, visits at times. Mrs. Mullins, who was a Collins,  said she was born in a log house on the Ridge, that food was prepared on  a dirt floor "because we had no money to buy lumber" and that the cabin  had only one half-window for natural light.

Times Easier Now

Melungeons love to talk about hard times, because they're not so hard  today. all homes I visited here recently had electricity and telephone.  The Collinses, Mullinses and Mizers, along with the the others, find  life easier on the valley floor. Their abandoned log cabins are along  the creek banks or on the ridges, often the object of collectors.  Painted houses either are rented or owned now, being taken over by the  melungeons as others quit the Blackwater. Stone chimneys often are the  only reminder of Melungeon life; some houses are gone.

Melungeons don't make gold coins any more, either. They used to mint  them on the Ridge, take them into Sneedville to buy provisions - but  they never said where they got the gold. Merchants welcomed the coins  because they contained more pure gold than those from the U. S. Mint.  Sneedville stores still buy ginseng or "sang from Melungeons who dug the  roots for shipment to the Orient. Melungeons, such as Tilmon Hunt, in  his 80s, love to hunt, and they eat what they bag. Tilmon displayed a  fox squirrel he felled after an all-day hunt with his dog in the hills.  And once Tilmon walked all the way home from Norton, Va., where he had a  "paying job" years ago.

Age in Doubt

They'll really never know, these vanishing Americans, their true origin.  Some aren't sure of their ages, either. Grohse, a German who settled in  Vardy because he married the great-great-great- granddaughter of Vardy  Collins, said the 1880 Census listed Howard Collins' age at that time as  7. if so, that would make him only 99 and not 10, the birthday being  1873. But Mullins says he is 110. Grohse likes to believe the Melungeons  were of Portuguese or Spanish ancestry. And 1850 document shows Vardy  Collins, then 86 owned $1500 worth of real estate and that his wife's  name was Peggy. Rev. Arthur H. Taylor, a Presbyterian missionary here in  1916 and a Grohse relative, reported he had learned that Vardy Collins'  wife was known as "Spanish Peggy".

Came From East Coast

Miss Martha Collins, a descendant of Vardy, and president of Citizens  Bank of Sneedville, leans to the Phoenician theory - that these ancient  mariners were lost from ships in the Mediterranean during a storm, and  ended up on American shores. Monroe Collins, a tenant farmer at the foot  of Bunches Trace near Treadway, doesn't gave a hoot about his people's  origin. He'd rather pour water into groundhot holes along the creek,  flushing his quarry, and convert the animal either into stew for dinner  or a pet on a leash in his yard.

Mrs. Mattie Collins, 98, who lives across a creek reached by footbridge  just outside Sneedville, knows only "my people came from across the  waters." Sheriff Gene Collins says he isn't a Melungeon, that he has  Cherokee Indian ancestry.

Scholars over the decades, and even more recently, seem rather convinced  that Melungeons sprang from Mediterranean people. Some believe they  were Moors, such as Shakespeare's Othello, fleeing the wars via the sea  and settling in Portugal.

Had Land Grants

All agree that these olive-skinned people - comprised of beautiful  women, fine-featured and erect males, and lovely children - migrated  here from the East Coast, whether their beginning was from shipwreck  following mutiny, survivors of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, remnants of  Hernando DeSoto's expedition in East Tennessee, or the very last of the  Lost Tribes of Israel. They agree, too, that most came via North and  South Carolina, in advance of the white man, many settling here with  land grants following the Revolutionary War and given out by Tennessee,  Virginia and North Carolina.

Hancock County was in each of these states before final boundaries were  drawn. The Melungeons, however, like many an American tradition, are  passing, just as are some of their own traditions. Graveposts are  disappearing from the cemeteries. Standing on Newman's Ridge and looking  northward, Melungeon country is breath takeingly beautiful. This is so  whether one looks to the left at the green valley of Little Sycamore or  Snake Hollow, directly ahead toward Mulberry Gap, or to the right and  the valley of the Blackwater and Vardy.

English names merely add to the mysterious legends of these hill people.  One hill saying is that if a Mullins marries a Collins, their off  spring is a Gibson. The Melungeons aren't so reticent anymore, or  skeptical of strangers, and this is largely so because of Kermit  Hunter's outdoor drama that's shown here each summer beginning July 4.  "The Melungeon Story: Walk Toward the Sunset" is staged at the base of  Newmans's Ridge in Sneedville. It depicts their travail and  discrimination against them, from the time John Sevier found them in  1784. It tells how racial bars were broken with the marriage of a  Sneedville white to a beautiful Melungeon lass.

These "people of free color" finally were permitted by the Legislature  to vote! And famed author Jesse Stuart tells in his book, "Daughter of a  Legend", how he dated a Melungeon when he was a student at LMU. Even  today, however, Melungeons are lampooned. A recent magazine article said  the drama was concocted to bilk money from tourists at a Melungeon trap  that featured no Melungeons. How sad! Melungeons built the outdoor  theater, helped stage the play, and performed in it. And Hancock  Countians gave money and labor, signed notes for operating capital, and  lost money in efforts to preserve the Melungeon culture and tradition.


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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chief Vann House Historic Site

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Chief Vann House is the first brick residence in the Cherokee Nation that has been called the "Showplace of the Cherokee Nation". Owned by a Cherokee chief named Chief James Vann, The Vann House is a Georgia Historic Site on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the oldest remaining structures in the northern third of the state of Georgia. It is (on Spring Place) located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 76 and Georgia 225 in Murray County, on the outskirts of Chatsworth in northwest Georgia (leaving the main highway and heading south towards the Vann House, which has a commanding view of all the land around it and of the Cohutta Mountains, some 10 miles (16 km) to the east.).

Construction of The Vann House

When James Vann was rising to become the wealthiest businessman in the Cherokee Nation as well as a chief, he decided to build a two-story brick house which would reflect his status. For its construction, Vann brought in professional architects for its design. In addition to providing an education to local Cherokees, the Moravians contributed to the building.

In July 1803, a man named Vogt, perhaps James Vann’s brother in-law, Charles Vogt, and Dr. Henry Chandlee Forman, arrived to begin construction. Work began in late 1803 and the house was completed early in 1804. Both the exterior walls (which are around eighteen inches thick) and the interior walls (which are around eight inches (203 mm) thick) are solid brick. These bricks came from the red clay located on the Spring Place Plantation (Vann House) property. Handwrought nails and hinges came from Vann's own blacksmith shop. Only the interior walls of the third floor are plaster on wood.

The house is a combination of the late Federal style architecture and early Georgian style. Both Georgian and Federal styled homes have two full stories with a half third story. The house has this type of design: the ceilings of both the first and second floor stand at twelve feet, while the ceiling of the third floor stands at only six feet.
The first and second floors have the standard three rooms. On both levels there is a room to the east, a room to the west, and a hallway dividing the two. On the first level, the room to the east is the Vann dining room, while the room to the west is the drawing room, more commonly referred to as a family or living room. On the second floor, the room to the east is the master bedroom and the room to the west is the guest bedroom. Only the third floor, which operated as storage space during James’s life and then as children's rooms during Joseph’s life, strays from this common design.

The third floor is divided into two rooms. The room that the stairway leads into on the third floor is believed to have served as the boys' room. This room is two-thirds the width of the home and has two closets cut into its walls. The second room of the third floor is that of the girls. This room is only one-third the width of the home; however, this room could be shut off from the boy’s room, giving the girls more privacy.

The interior of the home is decorated with beautiful colors. The four colors present in the home are red, blue, green, and yellow. White is used throughout the home but only as a filler color. There are two possible reasons for these four colors in the home. The first possibility is that these four colors represent different elements of nature. Red represents the Georgia red clay, blue represents the sky, green represents the trees and grass, and yellow represents the wheat and corn of the harvest. The second possibility is that these four colors are part of Federal style colors.

The red, blue, and yellow seen in the Vann House were often used in other homes of the late seventeen hundreds and the early eighteen hundreds. The only difference between how these colors were used in this home versus how they are used in other homes of the time is the way in which they are distributed. Most homes of the Federal period would concentrate colors in one room, giving a house a red room, blue room, etc. However, in the Vann House the colors have been mixed in almost every room giving the rooms a multi-color appearance, as well as the mantels, door jambs, and wainscotings, all of which are original to the house. The doors, known as Christian doors, are of special interest. Their construction features a cross and an open Bible.

In addition to the blacksmith shop, the 800-acre (3.2 km2) property around the Vann House included 42 slave cabins, 6 barns, 5 smokehouses, a trading post, more than 1,000 peach trees, 147 apple trees, and a still.

After constructing The Vann House, James lived at the house for 5 years before he was killed at Buffington’s Tavern in 1809. After his death, his favorite child, Rich Joe Vann, which was neither his youngest or eldest child, inherited the house.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

DAR Online Library Record Copy Service

There’s a recent genealogy tool you might want to investigate for a connection to a Revolutionary War Patriot. It’s the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution ) Online Library Record Copy service. You can now search the DAR Genealogical Research System. You may purchase a record for $10 if there is a green "Purchase" button. Pay with your credit card. You then have one week in which to download the record.

Read the directions here:
Online Library Record Copy service.

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