Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Melungeon FAQ's

Melungeon Frequently Asked Questions

And Factual Resources


Melungeon Historical Society, $12.50 yearly membership, lifetime $125, Becky Nelson, Treasurer, 2200 Hawkins St., Knoxville, TN 37921, or

The Melungeon Historical Society was formed in 2008 in order to facilitate factual documented research and to dispel the many myths and inaccuracies surrounding the heritage of the Melungeons.

Melungeon DNA Project

Core Melungeon Surnames: Bolin, Bolling, Bunch, Collins, Denham, Gibson, Goins, Goodman, Minor, Moore, Mullins, Sullivan, Williams

Other names may be added as our research continues. If you have research to contribute or knowledge of additional names along with documentation, please contact us at

Melungeon Websites



  • Melungeons and Other Pioneer Families by Jack H. Goins
  • Melungeons: Footprints from the Past by Jack H. Goins
  • Melungeons: Examining An Appalachian Legend (second edition) by Pat Spurlock Elder
  • Lest We Forget by Jim Callahan
  • Melungeons: The Vanishing Colony of Newman Ridge by Henry Price.
  • Walking Toward the Sunset, A Comprehensive Portrait of the Melungeons by Wayne Winkler
  • Pocahontas’s People, The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries by Helen C. Rountree
  • Trace Your Roots with DNA by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner
While the MHS does not endorse the viewpoints of various authors, these books have been well researched and provide valuable information for the Melungeon historian.

Online Resources

Definition of the Melungeons by Jack Goins

Dr. Virginia Easley DeMarce articles:

What is a Melungeon?
Melungeons are a group of people referenced by that particular name, although at the time it was often in a disparaging or pejorative manner. They are found in Hawkins County, the portion now Hancock County, in Tennessee and into Lee County in Virginia
When did the Melungeons arrive in Hawkins County?
The first record of Melungeons is found in the Stony Creek church minutes in 1813 when a reference was made to “harboring them Melungins”. References were made in later unrelated records to several specific families. To date, only those families noted in the Melungeon surnames are found with specific references that indicate they are Melungeon.
Who were the Melungeons?
Lewis Jarvis[1] writes the following:
"Much has been said and written about the inhabitants of Newman Ridge and Blackwater in Hancock County, Tennessee. They have been derisively dubbed, with the name "Melungeon" by the local white people who lived here with them. It’s not a traditional name or a tribe of Indians. Some have said these people were here when this country was first explored by the white people and others that they are a lost tribe of Indians and have no date of their existence here. All of this is erroneous and cannot be sustained. They had land grants in places where they formerly lived. These people not any of them were here when the first white hunting party came from Virginia and North Carolina in the year 1761. They came here simultaneously with the whites between the years 1795 and 1812.
Jarvis goes on to describe them as the friendly Indians who came with the white immigrants who came to the New River and Fort Blackmore[2].
This definition combined with historical research gives us a clean list of surnames to work with. 
Where are the Melungeons today?
Melungeons no longer exist. Today there are descendants of Melungeons, but Melungeons were a particular clan of intermarried people who were known to have lived in a particular time and place. 
Where were the Melungeons before they came to Hawkins County?
Research is ongoing, but many of the families were found progressively migrating in family groups, first in Louisa County, Virginia, then in the Flat River area of NC, then into Wilkes Co., NC, in the New River area and then in the Fort Blackmore area of what are now Russell and Scott Counties in Virginia. Eventually they migrated across the border into what is now Hancock County, Tn., then part of Hawkins County, settled in the area of Vardy and are found on Newman’s Ridge and surrounding area and into Lee County on Blackwater Creek. However, before the 1813 church record referencing Melungeons, no records of these families ever having been called Melungeon has been found, so we refer to their ancestors as “ancestors of Melungeons”, not Melungeons. 
Are families who moved away still called Melungeons?
We have never found primary records that refer to anyone in families who moved away as Melungeon in any location other than in the Hawkins/Hancock County, areas. Families who moved away would be considered descendants of Melungeons.
What records are you referencing?
With the growing popular interest in the Melungeons and Melungeon heritage over the past several years, the topic has become rife with speculation and unfounded claims. Every place you look on the internet is another ever-growing list of Melungeon surnames and increasingly outrageous claims. Some misinformation has been as a result of drawing faulty conclusions, some as a result of poor or nonexistent research and some as a result of early, inappropriate, faulty and/or misinterpreted DNA testing. A great deal of information, both historical and genetic, have become available within the past few years. In the genetic genealogy community, many of the early theories and conclusions, especially surrounding autosomal testing for minority admixture have been discredited or called into question now that we better understand autosomal testing and what information it can and cannot reliably provide to researchers.
The Melungeon Historical Society is using only documented evidence based on primary[3] or secondary sources. We have also aligned ourselves with the largest DNA testing company in the world, Family Tree DNA, and are very careful not to over-speculate or overextend our conclusions beyond what proven scientific evidence and geneticists can support[4].

I’ve seen lists of Melungeons with a lot more surnames than is on your list? Why are there so few on your list as compared with others?
The list of Core Melungeon families is always open to revision with any documentation that any other family was referenced in any primary record as Melungeon. We took our list from the 1830 census[5], Lewis Jarvis’ records[6], court records[7], tax lists[8], Plecker’s lists[9], Droomgoole’s articles[10], the Shepherd Case[11], the 1890 census report[12], the 1880 census[13], voting records[14] and Eastern Cherokee Applications[14a] as well as other resources. Families who intermarried are not considered Melungeon, although their children would be considered descendants of Melungeons. Other researchers have included collateral lines with the list of Melungeons, and although they may marry into the Melungeon families, they are not referenced in primary or secondary sources as Melungeon.
My ancestor was the daughter of a family definitely referenced as Melungeon. She married a Campbell. Wouldn’t the Campbell family be considered Melungeon too?
No, her Campbell husband has no genetic or genealogical connection to the Melungeon families, and marrying the daughter of a Melungeon family does not make the resulting Campbell family Melungeon. The children of this family would be Melungeon descendants. If the Campbell family is found in primary or secondary historical sources referenced specifically as Melungeon, then they would be added to the Melungeon surname list, but only THIS Campbell family, not all Campbell families in the area. The reason some of the other Melungeon surname lists are so extensive is that they include all allied and intermarried families, and often extend the Melungeon designation to all families of the allied or intermarried surname, such as Campbell. In this example, the Campbell family would have Melungeon ancestors, they would be Melungeon descendants, but they would not be Melungeons unless source records show us otherwise.
What does DNA testing say about the Melungeons?
The Melungeon paternal families were both of European and African origin. To date, only one of the Melungeon related families, Sizemore, has been found with a Native American haplogroup[15]. However, at least one other ancestral family is documented in original records to have been Indian, but that family’s Y-line DNA is European in nature. Of course, the Native ancestry in that family may have been on the maternal side.
All families on the Melungeon surname list with proven genealogy on to the Hancock/Hawkins families are not yet represented in the DNA study.
In addition, we are actively seeking the DNA of the wives of these core families. The maternal mitochondrial DNA is every bit as important as the paternal lines, and many times the Native American ancestry is found in maternal lines.
For more information about DNA testing and the Melungeon DNA project, go to:
Article about DNA testing and Melungeons
Melungeon DNA Project
A forthcoming article, “Melungeons and DNA – 2009” reports on the most current findings. After publication in the MHS newsletter, the article will be available online at http://
What about autosomal testing that tells us what ethnic groups we fall into?
There are two types of autosomal DNA tests. The first test was by DNAPrint although was marketed by several other companies under different names. It was the only test to provide percentages of ethnicity for European, African, Asian and Native American. This company has gone out of business and this test is no longer available. While initially the genetic genealogy community was very hopeful that these tests were reliable and accurate, with time and several years of experience, the results unfortunately have come to be viewed increasingly as inaccurate and unreliable for the detection of minority ancestry admixture[16]. The only people who seemed to be happy were those who received results they were seeking. Others, such as an individual from Germany whose entire family had lived there for hundreds of years, received a report that said he was 35% combined Asian and Native American. He was understandably unhappy and exceedingly skeptical[17]. While these tests are interesting and perhaps hold promise for the distant future, the technology and underlying population data bases are problematic and the tests have difficulty in detecting minority admixture accurately, tending to report higher percentages than actually exist.
The second kind of autosomal testing provides you with a list of populations or geographic locations. Two companies provide this kind of reporting based on a standard Codis autosomal test[18]. The issues with this type of testing, or more specifically the interpretation of the tests, are that the population list relies on a number of factors which are problematic. 
1. The populations are taken from forensic and medical journals and are often small studies. The population from a small village in Northern Italy, with 20 people, may not be representative of all of Italy, for example. 
2. In other cases, the population identified may be ambiguous. For example, Lumbee is a designation. What does Lumbee mean? There is not a federally recognized Lumbee tribe with blood quantum membership criteria, so who is a Lumbee? The Lumbee group is known to have been extremely admixed as early as the 1880s[19], so today, what ethnicity is a Lumbee?
3. Who identified the individuals in the study as belonging to a specific ethnic or geographic group? The individual being arrested, the booking officer, the nurse in the doctor’s office? What criteria did they use to assign that person to that group?
4. How many people were involved in a reference study? One person or a thousand people?
5. We don’t know exactly how autosomal DNA is selected to be passed from parent to child, so what exactly are we measuring and what does it really mean?
6. Brian Burritt, the forensic police officer who created OmniPop, the tool upon which both companies analysis is based[20] has gone on record stating that he created Omnipop to differentiate between people, not to find their similarities, that genealogists are using his tool for something it was not designed for and they are overanalyzing the results[21].

7. OmniPop can legitimately be run with three different sets of marker criteria, all of which are “correct”, but the results of which will be significantly different[22]. Determining which one is “right” and presented to the customer may be a function of which one best reflects what the customer is looking for in their results.
Again, satisfaction with these tools seems to be a function of how closely the results reflect the desired finding of the individual being tested.
For additional information about autosomal DNA testing in general or in relation to Native Heritage, go to and scroll down to see the various articles.
I’ve been told my family is Black Dutch (or Black Irish or Black German). Is that the same as Melungeon?
Black Dutch is a common term in Appalachia for anyone who might be “too dark” to be all white, but needed some European (read non-African or non-Indian) affiliation that explained their dark features. Many people were referenced as Black Dutch, probably some of the Melungeon families as well as many others. Black Dutch does not equate to Melungeon, but it may well indicate some mixed heritage.[23] In the Melungeon areas, as well as other areas of Appalachia and among the Cherokee of Oklahoma, this label was prevalent and often used by families in order to hide mixed heritage for fear that their land would be taken from them.

Are the Melungeons Portuguese?
At least some of the families indicated on the 1880 census that they were Portuguese. Some also have an oral history that they carry Portuguese heritage. We know that Juan Pardo’s men were abandoned at various forts in western North Carolina (Morgantown), one perhaps as far north and west as eastern Tennessee. Some of the men may have been Portuguese. These men, if they survived, would have had to have assimilated into the Native population and take Native wives, as there were no European women available in 1566. There is also other oral heritage that indicates that the Portuguese ancestry may have come from a shipwreck. To date, there has been nothing to confirm their Portuguese heritage or to eliminate it as a possibility.
Are the Melungeons Turkish or Middle Eastern?
Recent speculation, misinterpreted early DNA results and problems inherent in autosomal testing have led to a significant amount of misinformation about the Melungeons having a Turkish or other Middle Eastern heritage.
There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any Turkish or Middle Eastern heritage in the Melungeon community. If there was an early Turkish ancestor in one of the Melungeon families, their DNA would be diluted by 50% in each generation as children were born to parents. By the time the 6th generation was reached, that Turkish ancestor would only contribute 1.5% of the DNA of an individual living today. For us, 6 generations is our great-great-great-great-grandparents. Using a 25 year generation, which is typical and an accepted calculation in genealogical circles, that 4th great grandparent was born in 1834. In 1834, the Melungeons were already living as a clan in Hawkins County Tennessee. Where did a Turk come from and how did he (or she) appear unnoticed?
If a Turkish or Middle Eastern ancestor was further back in time, say another three generations, or 75 years, back to 1759, then they contribute less than one fourth of one percent of our DNA to the current generation. One fourth of one percent is not detectable genetically. Typically anything beyond the 4th or at most 5th generation in autosomal testing is not detectable with any level of certainty[24].

Do the Melungeons descend from Raleigh’s Lost Colony of 1587?
We don’t know. The search to determine whether the Lost Colonists survived is ongoing. Visit the Lost Colony website at
If the colonists survived, they would have assimilated with the local Indian Tribes.[25]

Did Sir Francis Drake deposit Turks on Roanoke Island in 1586?
There is documented evidence that Drake did indeed have Turks on board his ships that encountered a terrible hurricane along the Outer Banks in 1586. However, there is also documented evidence that the Turks were ransomed back to their home country by Queen Elizabeth upon their return to England in exchange for Englishmen languishing in foreign prisons. The Turks were valuable to England and would not have been set ashore in Roanoke.[26]

Drake also had Moors, blacks and Indians on board, and what became of those individuals is unknown. Many may have drowned as the hurricane sank several of Drake’s smaller ships. Some may have been released or escaped. If they did, they would either have been killed by Indians, perished on their own or assimilated into the local Indian population. If they assimilated into the local Indian population, this would have been 423 years or about 17 generations ago. One ancestor 17 generations ago would contribute about 1/1000th of the DNA of someone living today, so would be undetectable using current autosomal DNA technology. However, the Lost Colony DNA project is working with people who live in and descend from the area in question, especially individuals with Native heritage, testing their Y-line and mitochondrial DNA which would remain virtually unchanged in those 17 generations. Y-line and mitochondrial DNA testing is the only reliable way to positively identify Native, African, European or Asian ancestry, because it remains unchanged as it is passed from parent to child, and it confers the added benefit of identifying the exact line where that ancestry originated in your family tree.
I have the lump on the back of my head called the Anatolian Knot. I heard that is a Melungeon trait. Doesn’t that prove I’m a Melungeon descendant?
The Anatolian Knot is another myth. All individuals have a detectable bump on the back of their head just above where their spine connects with their skull. In Anatolia, modern day Turkey, there is a group of individuals whose skulls apparently have a larger than normal bump. While searching for evidence that Melungeons were from Turkey or the Middle East, researchers discovered and published this information as related to the Melungeons. Unfortunately, since everyone has some amount of elevation in this area, everyone feels their head and then believes they are a Melungeon descendant.
I have shovel teeth and somewhat slanted eyes. Are those Melungeon traits?
Some traits such as shovel teeth and the epicanthal eye fold that is identified with “Asian eyes” are found in Native American groups. Given that we know that some of the Melungeon families have Native heritage and others have the (as yet unproven) oral history of Native heritage, it’s not surprising to find these traits among the Melungeon descendants of today. However, many people who are clearly, unquestionably, not Melungeon descendants have these same traits. These traits are not unique to Melungeons and cannot be used to identify someone with Melungeon heritage. 
What about Sarcoidosis and Familial Mediterranean Fever? I heard they are Mediterranean diseases and are found in Melungeon families.
There is not one documented case of either of these diseases in any descendant of a genealogically or genetically proven Melungeon family.
In an effort to better understand the occurrence levels of diseases that have been associated on various internet sites with Melungeon heritage, Kathy James[27], called Dr. Dunn at the Department of Health and Environmental Control in Nashville, TN in June of 2009 and inquired about statistics on Sarcoidosis, a disease that some have suggested is a “Melungeon disease”. He advised that this was not a reportable or recordable disease in the state of Tennessee and they were not keeping records on it and had never kept records on it.
Kathy further searched and found one study on the internet in 10 centers in the United States known to have patients with Sarcoidosis and none were in the state of Tennessee.
She then called a long-time physician in Hancock County, now retired and inquired as to how many cases he had seen in his career and he said, "two or three".
If Hancock County’s own physician who is clearly able to diagnose the disease has only seen 2 or 3 cases in his entire career practicing in Hancock County, Sarcoidosis is clearly not of epidemic proportions in the Melungeon descendant population.
For more information and updates, visit
Did Melungeons have 6 fingers or toes and do their descendants have them today?
There is no genealogically or genetically proven Melungeon family or descendant who has reported any occurrence of 6 fingers or toes within their family.
My ancestor looks dark or Native. I’m sure they were but don’t know how to prove it. They were from Appalachia, which is why I thought they might be Melungeon. What do I do next?
Remember that the term Melungeon is only representative of a small clan of people who lived on or near an isolated ridge in Hancock County, Tn. in the period of time from about 1800 to about 1900 when the families both dispersed and intermarried outside the Melungeon community. Melungeon was a name for a group of people who had white, African and Indian ancestors during a specific time period in a particular location.
Your family may have white, Indian and African ancestors as well. You need to follow the same practices the Melungeon Historical Society is following to find your ancestors and their heritage. Be aware that any evident admixture “not white” is considered to be a “person of color”.
1. Check all relevant records including wills, tax records, deeds, court notes and the census for any county in which your ancestor lived. Tax records often identify “people of color” or mulattoes.
2. The census indicates at least the three primary racial categories of white, black and mulatto. If your ancestor was dark, they would probably not have been classified as white. In some census your ancestors may be designated as white and in others a different category. Also be aware of other families with the same surname as they are possibly related and their information pertains to your ancestor as well, assuming they are related.
3. Were your ancestors allowed to vote? If not, in some locations at certain times in history, this may have indicated that they were considered “not white”. Both laws and practices varied from state to state and over time. In Tennessee Free Persons of Color (FPCs) could legally vote prior to 1835. One of the things the Tennessee state constitution of 1834 (ratified in 1835) did was to legally disenfranchise FPCs. Even so, Melungeons won most court cases challenging their right to vote.
After the Civil War, people of color voted freely during Reconstruction, in Tennessee and throughout the South, at least as long as Federal troops were around to protect them. Even after Reconstruction, non-white voting couldn't be explicitly banned due to the 15th Amendment. Legal roadblocks, like literacy tests and poll taxes, were erected to discourage non-white voting, as well as extra-legal impediments involving intimidation and assault; but there was always at least a trickle of non-white voting throughout the South, and more than a trickle in some places, especially in big cities, where the “colored” vote could be significant - Memphis being one example. And of course non-whites could vote freely in the North after the Civil War, and before it, too, in many Northern states.
Nonetheless, voting records, or lack thereof, can give you important insight into the racial classification of your ancestor.
4. Were your ancestors allowed to attend white schools? If so, they were not considered people of color. In some cases, Indian schools were established as well.
5. Check death records for your ancestor and their siblings. Death records reach back in time sometimes nearly a century. Virginia and Kentucky death records originated in the 1850s and 1860s. Tennessee did not begin birth and death registration until in the 19-teens, and then not consistently.
6. World War I Draft Registration cards show race and these individuals, for the most part, were born in the late 1800s. These are online at
7. Test your Y-line (paternal) and mitochondrial (maternal) DNA
I’ve tested by Y-line and mitochondrial DNA, and I was sure my ancestor would be Native, but they aren’t. Now what do I do?
The Y-line and mitochondrial DNA are the only definitive tests for European, African, Asian and Native American ancestry. However, they only test two lines, the paternal (surname) for males, and the maternal for both males and females. However, you can create a DNA pedigree chart and find appropriate family members and cousins to test for your various lines, filling in the slots on your pedigree chart. Instructions for how to do this are found at
How do I join the Melungeon Core DNA Project?
If you haven’t DNA tested with Family Tree DNA, go to this link and “click to join project” on the left hand side.
If you have already tested with Family Tree DNA, log on to your personal page. On the left side, click on “join projects”. If your surname is in the core project, then the Melungeon Core Project will appear as one of your options.
If your surname does not appear, and it won’t if you’re a mitochondrial participant, then click on “join projects”. After the next page is returned, scroll down and under “Dual Geographical Projects” click on “M”, scroll down and you’ll see the Melungeon Core project. Click to join. You will be asked to provide your genealogy before joining so that the project can remain focused.
I just want to compare my results to the Melungeon project results. Can I do that without joining the DNA project?
Yes, indeed, you can see our results at these two links:

[1] Lewis Jarvis was a respected local attorney in Hancock County. He knew and lived among the Melungeon families. His mother was a Collins. Without his historical notes, much of the Melungeon history would have been lost.

[2] Located in Russell County, Virginia when built before 1774, now in Scott County, Va. One of the earliest Forts in the area.

[3] A primary record source is the original record, such as original church membership records or the original census records. A secondary record would be a transcription of those records. Both primary and secondary sources can include items such as old letters written by individuals who had first hand knowledge of events and people who are conveying their knowledge to another individual. Oral family history is neither a primary or secondary source. This does not mean that it should be ignored, just that it cannot be used as a primary or secondary source. It may constitute a genealogically important hint, but it isn’t considered to be documentation.

[4] Our DNA advisor and board member, Roberta Estes owns DNAexplain, founded in 2004. Her company has teamed with Family Tree DNA to provide the Personalized DNA Report product to Family Tree DNA customers.

[5] Families later identified as Melungeon are typically noted as “other than white”.

[6] Lewis Jarvis, local attorney, knew these families personally.

[7] Various records include but are not limited to a case about voting fraud (people of color not allowed to vote) and others questioning “mixed race” marriages.

[8] Various tax lists in different locations where ancestors of Melungeons and Melungeons were noted variously as Indian, mulatto, free people of color and sometimes white.

[9] Walter Plecker (1861–1947) was a physician and public health advocate who served as first registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics, from 1912 to 1946. In the 1940s Plecker created a list of surnames, by county, in Virginia of those who he considered “not white” who were attempting to intermarry with whites, attend white schools, record their race as white on birth, marriage and death certificates and other actions he considered inappropriate and were prohibited for nonwhites.

[10] Will Allen Dromgoole (female) (1860-1934) was a reporter who visited several Melungeon families and stayed for a few days. She later wrote a series of articles that portrayed the Melungeons in an unfavorable and derogatory light.

[11] The Shepherd Case was an 1874 court case where the inheritance of a young woman was dependent on a racial classification of her Melungeon family.

[12] The 1890 census, although lost, was transmitted with a series of letters from the census enumerators and contained reports about the Indians in every state. Carroll D. Wright included information about the Melungeons in the 1890 census in a letter to the Hon. Hoke Smith., Secretary of the Interior. More information can be found here

[13] The 1880 census lists many of these families as Portuguese. For example the Hancock County census, District 4, page 278, ED 90, page 8, page 278r, ED 90, page 10 show Goins and Minor families’ racial designation overwritten from Portuguese to “W”, indicating white.

[14] Various cases between 1840 and 1846 accused and convicted various individuals of illegal voting. Nonwhites were not allowed to vote. The most infamous case was a Supreme Court case in 1846. Several Melungeon families were involved.

[14a] 1906-1909 Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims ("Guion Miller applications") NARA M-1104 rolls 1-348.

[15] The Sizemore family is ancestral to some of the identified Melungeon lines. For example George Sizemore’s daughter Aggy married Zachariah Minor whose family was identified as Melungeon. The Sizemore family themselves were never identified as Melungeon, but their ancestry was a contributor to some of those families that were identified as such.

[16] Many postings on the Rootsweb Genealogy-DNA list chronicle the unfolding issues with the DNAPrint test. One thread can be seen here, and searching on DNAPrint will reveal others of interest. Further analysis is provided in the paper “Autosomal Testing and Analysis” by Roberta Estes at as well as the forthcoming article mentioned in footnote.

[17] For in-depth analysis and understanding of the results of autosomal testing, see the forth coming article Revealing American Indian Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data by Roberta Estes. This article is currently in the academic review process and awaiting publication. The article tracks a single individual’s DNA and genealogy through all of the autosomal tests available and uses the results of all of the companies results combined with genealogy to evaluate the results.

[18] The Codis test is typically used for siblingship testing and forensic applications. It is available independent of any interpretation at

[19] McMillan, Hamilton. Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony: An Historical Sketch of the Attempts of Sir Walter Raleigh to Establish a Colony in Virginia, with the Traditions of an Indian Tribe in North Carolina. Indicating the Fate of the Colony of Englishmen Left on Roanoke Island in 1587. Wilson, NC: Advance Press, 1888. Online here

[20] Both companies have enhanced Omnipop by adding more records from more articles. DNATribes may have replaced Omnipop with their own software that operates differently. However, regardless of the tool being utilized to “crunch the data”, the fundamental issues remain with the populations upon which these results are based. Adding more data does not alleviate or address the inherent issues.


[22] Revealing American Indian Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data by Roberta Estes

[23] In Search of the Black Dutch, James Pylant (1997), American Genealogy Magazine 12 (March 1997): 11-30. In his article, Pylant states that Anglo-Americans loosely applied the term Black Dutch to any dark-complexioned American of European descent. The term was adopted as an attempt to disguise Indian or infrequently, tri-racial descent. By the mid-1800s the term had become an American colloquialism; a derogative term for anything denoting one's small stature, dark coloring, working-class status, political sentiments, or anyone of foreign extract.

[24] Revealing American Indian Heritage using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data by Roberta Estes

[25] See Where Have All the Indians Gone? What We Know and What We Don’t about Native American Eastern Seaboard Dispersal, Genealogy and DNA by Roberta Estes, scheduled for fall 2009 publication of JOGG, the Journal of Genetic Genealogy, found at [26] David Beers Quinn addresses this eloquently in his article, “Turks, Moors, Blacks and Others in Drake’s West Indian Voyage”, which appeared in the “Terrae Incognitae Journal for History of Discoveries”, [Vol. XIV, 1982], Wayne State University Press, available at

[27] Kathy James is a MHS Board Member and Vice President of Heritage. She also co-administrator of the Melungeon Core DNA Project, along with Penny Ferguson, Janet Crain, Jack Goins and Roberta Estes.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Saturday, August 30, 2008

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

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

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

View the whole article here

or here

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Quadrule Indians, Harlan County, KY

Image is from website: Nature Preserves KY

Quadrule Indians in Harlan County Kentucky

When I was a little girl, my grandmother used to tell us the story about our
Indian heritage, Indian was the word she used. She told us that our heritage came from the Quadrule Indians who lived on Wallins Creek in Harlan County Kentucky. She said the Cherokees were in Harlan too, but Quadrules were NOT Cherokee Indians, that they were more advanced, and friendly, and that they made beautiful pottery. Grandma said they were there when the first white man came, and they had always been there. She said the women were very beautiful, and that they married in with the white settlers. I used to love hearing grandma tell this story, and she told it from the time I was little, until she passed away when I was 27 years old.

In all
these years, as soon as I could read, I have searched for the word Quadrule, and have never found it among any Native American tribes. I've never found it to be a clan of any tribe. This is a wonderful story in my family, and I mostly just considered it that--- a grandma story and we loved hearing it as children. One day I found an unpublished manuscript on Harlan County Kentucky, and contained in this manuscript was a story of the Quadrule Indians. Needless to say, I started my search to find more written words on these Indians whom I have loved since I was a child.

Edmon Middleton, 1905-1935, was murdered by a dynamite blast in his car
September 4, 1935. Evidence showed that the dynamite was wired to the ignition the night before, and exploded when he started his car. The explosion could be heard all over the city of Harlan, Kentucky. Mr. Middleton was in his second year of his second four-year term as County Attorney in Harlan County. (Harlan Dailey Enterprise, September 4, 1935; Edmon Middleton 1905-1935 by Kathryn H. Trail, Harlan Mountain Roots) Mr. Middleton contributed many ways in his short life---one was by writing a history of Harlan County Kentucky, which to my knowledge was never published. His daughter, Mary Elmon Middleton graciously allowed this history to be placed in the "Harlan Mountain Roots."

According to my
research so far Middleton was the first to write a history on Harlan County, all others seem to refer to his work or use his work almost word for word in part. I was surprised and pleased to see that Mr. Middleton not only mentioned Quadrule Indians but elaborated on them in his history and told much the same story my grandmother had told. In other words he confirmed a family story. Middleton said, "The early settlers at first found the Indians who were living in Harlan County, but no roving bands, friendly and hospitable towards them." He goes on to tell that later as the Indians became alarmed of the growing danger of losing their lands, they became hostile. These hostile Natives were soon either killed or driven from Harlan County. The friendly Indians "remained until comparatively recent years." Some married in with the surrounding families.

He writes, "The chief tribes of Indians
in Harlan County were the Cherokees and Quadrules. The Quadrules inhabited Wallins Creek, and the Cherokees were scattered in smaller bands throughout the county, some of them on Wallins Creek. The Quadrules were friendly and mingled freely with the whites. The Cherokees usually were unfriendly and lived more secluded from the whites. The Quadrules were very adapt at spinning and weaving woolens and flax and making beautiful pottery. Often they did the spinning for the White people. The women wore beautifully colored clothing, and were just as fond of pottery of many colors. They made this pottery from the clay around Wallins Creek. S.J.C. Howard, who died in Harlan just a few years ago, and who was formerly County Attorney for Harlan, gave many interesting accounts of this colony of Quadrule Indians at Wallins. When a boy he used to hunt and fish with those Quadrule Indian boys. They lived as a tribe at Wallins Creek until after the Civil War, and then many went West when the Indians were colonized by the Government.

It is said that the Quadrule Indian girls were very beautiful.
Some of the older Indians returned to Wallins Creek after the colonization, and later scattered about through the County. After the mass of the Indians from Harlan moved west, it is reported that occasionally some of them would return, and take back packages of very heavy materials, which they would allow no one to see, and which the old settlers thought were some kind of very valuable Minerals." Mr. Middleton tells of an Indian mound that was unearthed just off main street in Harlan, giving up all kinds of flints, arrowheads, tomahawks, a little pottery, beads, and Indian skeletons. He mentions that in a large portion of Harlan County Indian relics have been found, giving evidence of early Native American existence there. Lisa Kirk, of the Enterprise Staff wrote an article titled "Wallins Named For An Early Surveyor." It tells that Wallins Creek was named after the longhunter who early on came into the area.

Kirk says, "The Quadrule Indians were a
settled, peaceful people living at Wallins Creek, and when the early settlers came in the Quadrules accepted them as friends. -------------Eventually the Quadrules were moved to a western reservation. The exact year is not known, but it is believed to have been sometime after 1865, following the close of the Civil War. --------Forests, parks and other sites were named for the belligerent Cherokees and Shawnees, but few remembered the Quadrules ever existed. As a belated honor to the friendly people, one of the scenic spots in the county, on Upper Martins Fork, now bears the name of Quadrule Falls." I spoke with the Virginia Parks Department historian, and he felt that the Indian mounds would have contained the earlier Native Americans who lived in the area, and that these Quadrules were more than likely a group of Natives who had broken off from a local tribe, probably the Cherokee or Shawnee. Everything I find separates these Quadrules from the Cherokees, as did my grandmothers story. All accounts seem to point out that they were not the same.

Penny Ferguson

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Yellow Store

Yellow Store Historical & Genealogical Record

“Out in the country, about 12 miles from this city, there is a store which for 126 years has held its trade, despite the disadvantage of its location, by a type of advertising it has followed since long before advertising developed into a science. Its color and the capitalization of that color in its name have made the "Old Yellow Store" a historic landmark throughout Eastern Tennessee. For 126 years, every time this store has been repainted, it has been repainted yellow.

Captain De Wolfe Miller, an old merchant of the place, tells how his grandfather built a raft of logs and floated them down the river with his family to the present site of the Yellow Store. Impressed with the country, he decided to locate, ad entered twenty acres of government land. Soon he made larger entries until he owned a large body of land and the Yellow Store was built.

But in those days, he says, "there were but few things kept in a store. The people tanned the leather, and made their own shoes, and then got the raw cotton, spinning and weaving their own clothes. I was a grown man before I ever wore a suit of "store clothes". In those days the people led the simple life and their wants were nothing compared with what people these days feel they just must have. My grandfather ran a tanyard and a shoemaker was a part of the store force.

My father succeeded his father, and later I came on and took charge of the farm and business. I can remember when we used to haul our merchandise from Baltimore. A wagon train was made up, consisting of half a dozen or a dozen teams, carrying country produce to that city and exchanging it for such commodities as couldn't be had in our country. We paid $6 in silver for every hundred pounds of freight brought back. These wagons were loaded with feathers, beeswax, tallow, hides, beans, dried fruits, ginseng, etc. The wagons would be started, and in a day or two a trusted man would follow on horseback to take care of the caravan and exchange the country products when the market was reached. This man in charge was for many years Wiley Woods, an uncle of Roy Woods, a member of the firm of Woods& Taylor, of Knoxville.

When the old East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad came through that, of course, did away with hauling our goods by wagons from Baltimore and we bought many goods in Knoxville as soon as this began to be a jobbing market.
I volunteered in the Confederate Army and fought hard until the close of the Civil War, when in 1868, I began business in the Yellow Store, which had never been vacant since it was built until two years ago, during the war, when the federal forces closed it. It was about the time I began business that the "drummers' as we called them then, started to visit the trade. They rode horseback and carried saddlebags. At first they had nothing but memorandum books, and while urging us to visit their firms would take down a few items. Gradually they got to carrying samples, which continued until now a merchant can stay at home and buy everything he wants, seeing the goods nearly as well as if in the jobber's house." (Rogersville Review 26, November 1936. Sesqui-centennial Edition, short History of Old Yellow Store)

After state Hwy 11 W was completed, circa 1921, the Yellow Store was turned around to face the new highway. We lived on the Old Stage road just west of the Yellow Store on Neil Miller’s farm from 1941 until 1946. My parents, McKinley and Ona Goins, saved a few items from that time period which included my first grade card and my ration stamp book # 876491. Food was rationed and families were supplied with ration stamps during World War 11.

Our family used them and traded at the Yellow Store. My first grade teacher at Magnolia (1944) was Edna Simmons Davidson, the principal was Miss Ethel Hodge, and the Superintendent of Schools was E. A. Cope.

Jim Thurman operated the Yellow Store during this time and I can remember all the stories he told about the history of the old store. He showed us kids several holes in the walls that was caused by gunfire during the Civil War. Most of these were patched with corncobs. I can still see Mr. Thurman smoking his pipe and rocking in his ole rocking chair. He seemed to really like us kids and we trusted him. We took a few eggs from one of mom’s hens and traded them for a pack of Old North State smoking tobacco. Joining me in this event was my brother William, cousin Hugh Arrington, and a neighbor Echol Klepper, son of Orbin who also lived on Neil Millers farm. There was an old spring house down near Sinking Creek in front of the Smith home just below 11 W. This was where we smoked most of that pouch of tobacco. I am sure Jim Thurman was sitting on the porch of the store watching smoke coming from the spring house and probably laughing his head off, because he told our parents and mom grounded us.

At 11:00 AM on April 11,1944 a windstorm swept through this area. Neil Miller remembered the date and time probably because it almost took his life. Neil saw the storm approaching and drove his truck to a field where Jay W. Klepper was working and brought him back to the tool shed. Neil started toward the house but the wind would pick him off the ground, after being tossed in the air twice by this storm he crawled to the back porch when his sister told others in the house there was a man at the back door. Neil was so dirty from the storm they did not recognize him until they drug him inside of the house and he washed his face. My grandpa Harrison and Jay W. Kleeper stayed in the shed and saw all the trouble Neil had getting to the house, grandpa told that a piece of tin from the barn came near Neil’s head. My father McKinley Goins, Orbin Klepper and Jesse Goode crawled in a potato hole near the sheds. This was a large hole Neil dug to keep sweet Potatoes at harvest time which kept them from rotting and freezing during the winter months. I can remember our outhouse passing by the window before I was put in a closet and told to stay there. This storm blew a large cedar tree into the Magnolia School House, but no one was seriously injured.

The Yellow Store survived this 1943 storm and probably several others, but on Saturday night March 5, 1955 a tornado scattered the old store over the hillsides. I thought that was the end of the store except for memories, but I was wrong. Thanks to the Miller family they kept many of the old charge account ledgers, etc. These records have been microfilmed and are available for viewing at H.B. Stamps Memorial Library. They can be viewed in: Yellow Store Journals Volume 1, 1848-1849; Volume II 1850-1857; Volume III 1859-1860; and Yellow Store Ledgers Volume l, 1851-1857; Volume II 1855-1858.

While viewing this microfilm I was surprised at how many of my kinfolks traded at the Yellow Store, plus several foreparents traded with Jacob and his son C. C. (Cornelius Carmack) Miller. Most of my blood related families lived along the Clinch River in 1800's and came by wagons through Looneys Gap to the Yellow Store.

C.C. Miller owner of the Yellow Store joined the confederate Army in 1861 and in July 1865 he was charged with treason:

“State Of Tennessee Hawkins County to the Sheriff of Hawkins County, You are hereby commanded to take the body of C.C. Miller and have him here before the Judge of our Circuit Court, to be held for the County of Hawkins in the Court House at Rogersville, on first Monday after the fourth Monday of September next, to answer a charge of the State exibited against him by presentment for Treason and have you then and there this writ. Witness Wm M. Pifren Clerk of our said court July Special term 1865.”

Hawkins County, Tennessee Circuit Court, July Special Term 1865:

"The Grand Jurors for the County and State aforesaid, having been duly summoned, elected, panneled, sworn and charged, to inquire the body of C.C Miller being an inhabit of, and residing within the limits of the State aforesaid and under the protection of it’s laws, and owing allegiance and fidelity to the State aforesaid, not regarding the duty of his said allegiance, nor having the fear of God in his heart, and being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil, wickedly and traitorously devising and intending the peace and tranquility of the said state to disturb, and to stir, move excite Insurrection, Rebellion and War against the said State Of Tennessee on the 20th day of July in the year of our Lord, Eighteen Hundred and sixty one with force and arms the county and State aforesaid, falsely, maliciously and traitorously did imagine and intend to raise and levy war insurection and rebellion against the said State Of Tennessee, and in order to fulfill and bring to affect the said traitorous imaginations and intentions of him the said C. C. Miller he the said C.C. Miller afterwards to-wit: On the day and year aforesaid with force and arms in the County and State aforesaid, with a great multitude of persons, whose names to the Jurors aforesaid are unknown, to-wit: Thirty person and upwards, armed and arrayed in a warlike manner, that is to say with guns, pistols, swords and other warlike weapons as well as offensive and defensive, did falsely and traitorously join and assemble themselves together against the State of Tennessee.”

1853 Yellow Store Ledger records Lewis Minor. Also, page 120, 1860 is Lewis’ brother Zachariah Minor who paid William Goen’s bill. ( Zachariah and Aggy Sizemore Minor’s daughter Susan married William Goins this authors G,G, Grandparents. William Goins was hung in Jan., 1865 during the Civil War, near his home on Big Ridge, now Fishers Valley, Hancock County, TN.) Zachariah Minor account through Jan 6, 1860, total bill was $46.99 and marked paid. It stated, “Gilford Minor, Zack’s son. Lewis Minor, Scott Co., VA., Jan. 1855.” John Minor, Lewis Minor and Zack Minor were brothers, and all had charge accounts at the Yellow Store.

On Yellow Store ledger page 105, starting Jan 15, 1851, “Andrew England Scott Co.” was written by Mr. Miller. Andrew England owned a Grist Mill in Indicut Valley, Scott County, Virginia. He married Catherine Fisher, daughter of Henry and Happy Riddle Fisher, their daughter Mary married Samuel J. Arrington, this author’s fifth generation grandparents. Andrew was the son of John and Mary Parsons
England. John England was present during the siege and surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

Yellow Store Ledger page 388, “William C. Bateman, April 22, 1854 paid $10.00 for painting a Stable and Crib.” On June 20, 1855 he was paid “50c for painting a Buggy.” Yellow Store ledger page 115, Oct 28, 1848 “William C. Bateman was paid $6.00 for painting the store and Bateman's dwelling.” According to this record William Bateman lived in one of Millers houses, which also agrees with his location on the 1860 Hawkins County, Tennessee federal census enumerations for the William and Ellen Bateman family, profession listed on the census was “ painter.” William C. Bateman may have put the first coat of yellow Paint on the store. William and Ellen Bateman’s daughter Janis Virginia born 1855 married Haze Mayo in Rogersville 15 Sept., 1877. Five children were born to Haze and Virginia Bateman Mayo, they were: James H. Mayo b. April 4, 1878, Leroy "Roy" Mayo b. 25 Sept 1880, d. Feb 13, 1947. Bart S. Mayo, born 13 April 1885 died Dec 1, 1955, Effie Mayo b. July 11, 1890 d. 1980's, Charlie Mayo, b. Dec. 31, 1882 d. Feb 13, 1947.

1850's-Yellow Store Ledger, page 181, “Cornelius Grose,” his account balance due $18.97 for several items purchased beginning March 1, 1853, through Feb 25, 1858. Cornelius Grose lived below the present day old Shanks Store in Stanley Valley, Hawkins County, Tennessee. Isabelle Gross wife of Thomas Anderson was the daughter of Henry Gross b 1823 and Mary b 1824. Henry Gross was the son of Cornelius and Isabelle Simmons Gross. Margaret Anderson daughter of Isabelle Gross and Thomas Anderson married William Franklin “Billy” McCullough 5 Jan. 1902. Married by Justice of Peace J. E. Lane, bondsman was R.G. Johnson. Another member of this McCullough family is recorded on Yellow Store Ledger page 168, “Samuel McCullouch shoe leather,” recorded Jan 26, 1849.

1854-Mr. Miller also tells us on another Ledger that John Minor Sr. was dead by 1854. On three separate Ledgers Mr. Miller identifies his wife as a “Widow.” Example: “John Minor (Widows son) also Wilson Minor (Widow’s son) and Joseph Miner (Widow’s son.)” John Minor Sr. was the son of Hezekiah and Elizabeth Going Minor, his wife described by Mr. Miller as “Widow Minor” was Susanna Going Minor, daughter of Zephaniah and Elizabeth Thompson Going. John and Susan
Minor’s grandson Joseph Miner established the Joseph Minor and Son Monument Company in Rogersville.

Mr. Miller also gives the address of James Madison Sisemore (now spelled Sizemore) as Big Poor Valley, he refers to a son James as “ Matt’s son” on ledger sheet page 502. Miller sold Sisemore leather and he also bought shoes from Sisemore. Matt’s son William O. Sizemore (Wild Bill) is listed as a shoe maker in Civil War Records, this trade was probably handed down from James Madison’s father Owen Sizemore Jr., who was also listed as a shoe maker on the mortuary notice of his death May 1860, murdered at a still house, Hancock County, Tennessee.

1850 Yellow Store Ledger page 331 was “Nancy Sizemore and Thomas Sizemore Jr.” and on page 63 is “Andrew Stapleton.”

The children of Elijah Hurd who lived on the Clinch River are identified and separated from other “over the mountain Hurds” as Jacob Miller described them. After their names he wrote in small letters whose son this was on his charge Ledger, not only for the Hurds but many other families. Most of these Hurds complicated things by giving
their children the same names of their brothers, etc. Several Hurds with the same names are on the old Yellow Store Ledger as they came across Looney’s Gap and traded with Jacob and C.C. Miller.

No other record, to my knowledge, exists that identifies the following Hurds: “John D. Hurd, Elijah son, August 1, 1854.” His charge account for this date was $9.29. “Joseph E. Hurd, Elijah son 1 lb Sugar Aug 1, 1848.” “Elijah Hurd, son of Elijah 1853”. On page 258 “Jesse Hurd, Elijah son.” “George G. Hurd, Elijah son,” on August 31, 1835 he charged a pair of boots. “ Elijah Hurd Sr. your note on Jan 15, 1855 paid June 10 by son Elijah.” “Carter Hurd, Elijah son.” Also the following over the mountain Hurds as described by Mr. Miller are: “Elem Hurd John’s son, Elem Hurd, George’s son, John A. Hurd, Jesse son, Hiram Hurd, John’s son.” “ Dec 16, 1853 John Herd, Jame’s son.” “1859 James Hurd, John’s son, Jacob Hurd, Jame’s son. William W. Hurd, Jesse son.” “1855 George Hurd, Jesse son, Thomas E. Hurd, Jesse son.”

Elijah Hurd/Herd on the Yellow Store Ledger with several sons was born 1779, died
1866, he married Mary Walling circa 1804, she was the daughter of William Walling.

James Hurd/ Herd b. 1782, died 1840, married 1st Elizabeth Swain, married 2nd Nancy Fisher, his sons listed on the ledger were John and Jacob. James and Nancy Fisher Hurd are this authors 6th generation grandparents.

Other over the mountain traders were “Jesse R. Wallen, son of John, date 1850 $3.75, Clinton Bledsoe and Isaac Bledsoe, son of Clinton.”

“1854 Henry Fisher Jr. $2.00,” also “Jackson Fisher for Henry Fisher”. They were sons of Henry and Happy Riddle Fisher who are this authors 6th generation grandparents.

Page 395, “1854 Joel Winstead.” Page 428, “James England, Andrew’s son.” Joel Winstead was son of Ezekial Winstead, he married Mahalia England born 1831, daughter of Andrew and Catherine Fisher England.

Page 396 “William Fisher over mountain.” He was also a son of Henry and Happy Fisher.
Page 337 August 1854, “George Sizemore $14.22.” He married Lydia Sizemore d/o of Owen Sizemore Sr., George and Lydia are this authors 6th generation grandparents.

Page 358 “August 4, 1854 $1.58 for leather, Gilford Minor, Zack’s son.”

Aug 28, 1856 “Henry Payne Sr., Enoch Roller Elias son.” “Andy Roller Elias son, James England Andrews son “.

Other names taken in order as entered on the old Yellow Store Journal dated 1848

Robert Johnson
William H Green, Andrew Campbell
H.M. Shields
A.J. Jenkins
John Charles
C.C. Carmack
Daniel Chambers
John Richards
William L Chambers
William H. Grey
William C. Carmack
Charles C. Watterson
John Carmack Sr.
James C. Miller

Thomas Wilhems
Henry B. Evans
John Simmons
Lucen Brice
James R. Coldwell
George A. Simmons
Lewis Davis
John Jenkins
John Charles
Wesley Biggs
O.C. Miller
Absolem Burem
John Shanks
John Price
William Phipps
Stephen Wilson

Samuel Wilson
George Parker
William Armstrong
Crockett Chambers
Thomas Stanley
James Looney
William P. Owens
James R. Fogery
Jackson Jenkins
Daniel Shanks,
John Young
David Chambers
James Gross
Jacob Miller
A. J. Camp
John L. Gose
Preston Williams
C.E. Carmack
George Felkner
Stephen Hagood
Thomas Richards
John Shields
Ansel Campbell
George R. Powell
Benjamin W. Vaughn
Edward Watterson
Alexander Shelton
Earnest Mitchell
Nancy Derrick
Terrell Gillenwater
William D. Thurman
Thomas R. Coldwell
Alexander Shelton
David Laughmiller
Alexander McBrown
George Waganer
Jesse Brown
Jossiah Delp
Jacob Simmons
Elijah Edens
David Shanks
William Evans
William Francisco
Andrew Campbell
William Cock
William Powell
John Richards
Labourn Williams
Isom Edens
David D. Anderson
William McBroom
John Brice
F. E. Watterson
William W. Johnson
James Johnson
James Crawford
George Bradley
Nancy Kensinger
Benjamin N. Thurman
Nancy Hagood
John Phepps
John Herd per son Jesse
Elias Roler (across mnt.)

Williams Kinkade
Mary Ann Kinkade
Enoch Horton Sr.
Thomas Barrette Jr.
James B. McBride
John Smith
John Tate Jr.
William Church,& Ollie Church (mother)
Margaret Young
George A. Gibson
Polly Bray
Elijah Hurd per Joseph C.Hurd.

Thanks to the Miller family for the great old Yellow Store and for doing a good job recording, identifying, separating and preserving family history and thanks for the memories.