Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Code To Live By In Appalachia

Radio Interview with Jack Goins and Johnnie Rhea

 A Code To Live By In Appalachia

“Mysterious” is probably the first word most people associate with the Melungeons. They were a mixed race group that settled in southern Appalachia in the late 1700s. They lived in their own communities, separate from their white neighbors. Some stayed in those communities as late as the mid-20th century.
Jack Goins
Jack Goins
The oldest generations of Melungeons had a striking look: dark skin, straight black hair, blue eyes. Nobody knew where they had come from or how, exactly, they ended up in the mountains along the Tennessee-Virginia border. Melungeons themselves often explained their distinct looks by claiming Native American or Portuguese ancestry. But their white neighbors would sometimes claim they had African heritage.
The mystery of the Melungeon people drew me in, just like it’s drawn in so many others. Growing up in Tennessee, I remember my mom occasionally mentioning the Melungeons. Whatever remarks she made always seemed to end with: “… and nobody knows where they’re from. Isn’t that something?”
Recently, a little googling led me to Jack Goins, the force behind the Melungeon DNA Project. Jack is a retired TV salesman in Hawkins County, Tennessee, who is descended from Melungeons. He’s been gathering DNA samples from other descendants to try to get some answers about Melungeon ancestry.

So Who Are the Melungeons, Really?

Click here to find out:

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