Melungeon Mystery Solved?

Melungeon Boys
Nowadays, it seems that every other black-haired, mountain dweller claims Melungeon roots. The name refers to a specific set of families. Traditionally dark-featured and visibly different from their white, black and Native American neighbors, they have lived in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee for centuries.

Their ethnic origin has been a source of debate for nearly as long. Over the years, they’ve been called American gypsies, descendants of the “lost colony” of Roanoke, and members of a wayward Israeli tribe. Many Melungeon’s themselves claim that their ancestors are Portuguese; some identify as Native American; and still others profess to have originated in Africa.

This ambiguity made early Appalachian whites suspicious. They isolated the Melungeon’s to their own small communities in places like Newman’s Ridge and the Blackwater Valley of Tennessee.

ArchGoins

Early references to the group speak volumes. Dating to 1813, minutes from an area church describe someone as “harboring them Melungins.” This less than neighborly phrasing suggests that area congregants regarded the group with disdain, and according to the Melungeon Heritage Association, the discrimination did not end there. In nearly a dozen court cases, the ethnicity of Melungeon people was challenged, including one case in which several members of the group were tried for illegal voting. They were accused on the grounds that they were not white and therefore ineligible to cast a ballot. While they were acquitted, this kind of legal discrimination, along with a general social stigma, dogged the Melungeons well into the twentieth century.

It wasn’t until the 1960s, when other racial groups found a new pride in their identity, that the Melungeon’s revisited their own. Rather than reject the name that had been used against them, they reclaimed it.

Ever since, popular interest in the group has grown. Melungeons have inspired news articles across the country; several books; the 2007 documentary Melungeon Voices; and at least one song called “Little Carmel.” Performed by the rock band The Ready Stance, the tune riffs on the questions surrounding these now notable people:

Little Carmel

Try to trace the roots along
Melungeon family tree
Each branch divides in triad
Settler, slave, Cherokee
Outcast, exiled miles behind
Some seaside colony
Legend holds in manifold
Dash Turk or Portuguese…

Once an ethnic mystery has been memorialized in song, you know it is the stuff of legend, but that legend is slowly being unraveled. A recent DNA study, published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy, dove deep into the backgrounds of Melungeon families. The researchers compared the families’ oral histories, documentation such as court records, and DNA patterns. They found that, in spite of a wide range of ethnic claims, the overwhelming majority of their subjects were the offspring of men who originated from sub-Saharan Africa and women from northern or central European. That is, Melungeons are the most common kind of mixed-race in the United States–black and white.

2001 Melungeon Winter

A 2001 novel inspired by the Melungeons

A conflicting study, conducted at University of Virginia College at Wise, claims to have found more complex DNA evidence with a different sampling of Melungeons. While this research has not been peer reviewed, it states that “about 5 percent of the DNA indicated African descent, 5 percent was Native American, and the rest was ‘Euroasian,’ a group defined by clumping together Europe, the Middle East and India,” according to a 2012 article in Wired Magazine.

It seems the Melungeon debate continues. Researchers are jockeying to crack the group’s ethnic code, and their DNA evidence is undoubtedly inching us closer to a final answer.

This, of course, begs a whole new set of questions. What happens to the Melungeons once their mystery is solved? Will they still inspire songs? Will people still clammer to claim Melungeon roots when they know exactly what that means? Will journalists and bloggers like me still bother to write about this unusual clan, or will they fade into history, another mixed-race group assimilated into the mainstream?

It would be great to hear your thoughts. Please post a comment below.

42 Comments

  • Martha Gibson Jones Chaffins

    I have Melungeon ancestors. My family is originally from Wise Co, VA and have the surname “Gibson” which is one of the names associated with the Melungeons of Southwestern VA. I have the “knot” on the back of my head, the shovel teeth, and while I am not especially dark-skinned, I tan easliy and have dark brown hair. My grandmother always said we were “black dutch.” Some of my ancestors were darker-skinned than I am. I have always been interested in tracing the roots of the Melungeons, and I enjoyed your article. I don’t know if it will ever be possible to know exactly who the Melungeons are and where they came from, but it is most interesting to study. Thank you. Marty Chaffins

  • RALPH OTEY DILLON

    MY FAMILY SETTLED IN SOUTH WEST VIRGINIA, IN 1726 CAME FROM IRELAND(700 YEARS THERE) AND WERE PART OF THE NORMANS 1162 THE DE DILLIONS THAT INVADED IRELAND DURING THE CRUSADES!!! JOHN HENRY THOMAS DILLON 5 GREAT GRAND FATHERS BACK CAME FROM IRELAND WITH 13 BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND SETTLED NEAR HALES FORD BRIDGE, COLONY OF VIRGINIA !!! I NEVER HAVE HEARD OF MELUNGEONS THAT I CAN RECALL BUT I AM VERY INTERESTED I SUCH SUBJECTS, ESPECIALLY THE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL, I HAVE FEELING, SPIRITUAL IN NATURE THAT LEAD ME TO BELIEVE I AM A DESCENDANT OF NEHAMIAH, SAME AS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE THAT REBUILT THE 7 GATES OF JERUSALEM IN 50 NIGHTS WITH HELP FROM THE ROMAN GOVERNOR AT THE TIME , I BELIEVE, WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP BETWEE 500 AND 400 BC

  • Amanda Dee

    My sister is a big fan of the ancestry show on PBS so for her birthday last year I got her a DNA testing kit. We were a little surprised when it came back as her main ancestral roots were from Indonesia then Ireland and then Middle Eastern/Northern Africa. This article helps me understand those results better. My family is from Letcher County KY.

  • melissa wilson

    I have suspected that my paternal grandmother, Della Mae Stephens, was Melungeon. Her family moved to KY & had a mill somewhere here. They eventually ended up in Berea, KY. Berea was a small college, originally for black & white students, one of the first to serve a desegregated group of people. This didn’t last for very long. The college had to change it’s mission to be inclusive of the entire appalchian area. Please let me know if anyone knows about these folks—I am very much interested in finding out as much as I can. Della married John Mac Wilson when they were both students at Berea; he in college, & she in what they referred to as “normal” school—like high school, as far I can tell. Any info will be greatly appreciated.

  • R. L. Richie

    Melungeon groups or tribes are established in many more areas than you mention. Brass Ankles in South Carolina and Redbones in Louisiana, for example. Just sayin’

  • eric

    I have been supposed native american ancestry for a while. Thought they may be melungeons. When I heard that melungeons could be africans, I thought that was interesting. So, I had my DNA tested at 23andme. Turns out the south asian/ east indian thing was correct. It would be interesting to see how many more melungeon descendants have this mixture.

  • diana seay

    My husband’s grandmother, as country as they come, lived in Hamblen County, then Greene County, both in East Tn. her entire life. She had no interest whatsoever in her heritage, but when asked what she was, replied “Irish and Black Dutch”. I had no idea what Black Dutch was at that time or I would have tried to get more out of her. I have since learned that Black Dutch was another word used for Melungeon. We live very close to Sneedville, which is where we always heard that Melungeons lived. I would love to learn more about this subject. Thanks for your article.

  • Bob

    Aloha,

    My family roots come out of Albemarle Virginia. My ggg grandfather was a Gibson and it was his wife that we always were told was Native American. The oldest living relatives who have dies in the last year said she was from a Virginia Indian tribe that started with an “M.” we always thoughtthat ot could have been monacan or mattiponi indians. then there was my grandmother who said her gg grandmother 100% Cherokee. I’ve just started looking into the possibility that maybe they were melungeon.
    I resemble some pictures we’ve seen of the Virginia melungeons.

    Well I recently had my DNA here are my results cold we be melungeons?

    Genetic Ethnicity Summary

    Your genetic ethnicity reveals where your ancestors lived hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of years ago.

    Scandinavian 32%
    Southern European 31%
    British Isles 19%
    Persian/Turkish/ Caucasus 7%
    Eastern European 6%
    Uncertain 5%

    Ancestry tells me that the Uncertain part of my DNA is due to not having enough samples to confirm what they’ve found. They said that monacan and mattiponi fall into the uncertain group but Cherokee does not.

    Well it hard to say, bu does any pone else have these kind of results.

  • Richard Goins

    I love the question. ” What happens to the Melungeons once their mystery is solved? Will they still inspire songs? Will people still clammer to claim Melungeon roots when they know exactly what that means? Will journalists and bloggers like me still bother to write about this unusual clan, or will they fade into history, another mixed-race group assimilated into the mainstream”?
    I think You need to spend some time around some of us. Our identity is not so much tied to where we come from but how we live. We keep to ourselves and take care of our selves. The history say’s it all. People were often afraid to go back in them hills because of how Melungeon’s were treated and how those same Melungeons responded to that treatment. Hill people is a great explanation of who we are. Fiercely independent people who developed a reputation for being “Not to be trifled with” as My Grandpa’s neighbor put it.

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Richard, I love this response, and the description of your people. We all need to get to know you better.

  • Linda Wilson Fleming

    My father’s side of the family, who ended up in Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa were all originally from the Carolinas and Virginia. The family tree is loaded with Basses, a few Cole ancestors, Epps, Grahams, Wilsons, and Tanns which we think was originall Kikotan. Ancestors married into the Moore, amd Swett(Sweat) families. Dad’s family, living in north eastern Iowa among Germans and Scandanavians, NEVER discussed the dark skin. Dad’s mother was a Graham and her father claimed he was of Scottish descent, but I have never found any validity to that while a member of Ancestry.com. In fact, her great-grandfather Allan Graham Sr. is listed in military records as a dark skinned farmer whose alias was Grimes.

  • Knox

    Melungeons are not Portuguese. They are descendants of Nordic women and Black men, as the Y-DNA and mtDNA concluded.

    The Melungeon lied about their ancestry, claiming to be Portuguese, just to escape slavery.

  • Deborah Phelps

    My DNA results were very similar to Bob in earlier post. Did not have Persian and do not think the puzzle is solved yet. My line is Thomas Collins brother of Vardy ( mothers side). I do wonder if is a big mix of a lot of races. My gut thought they were from India and may be part of it but did not show in my DNA.

  • Cynthia Hermstad [Shirley's daughter].

    To Melissa – “Normal School” is the old name for a college for teachers. My grandma went to one in Illinois – Northwestern University was called “Northwestern Normal School” in the early part of the last century. I went to San Jose State University in CA. When it was first established, it was called … wait for it … “San Jose Normal School,” and it was for teachers.
    To everyone else on this page, I am fascinated, as my late mother was a genealogist. I love the idea of DNA studies to discover more about our heritage. [My mom said we came from a long line of peasants - which meant we were healthier than royal types, with their porphyria and hemophilia inheritances!] My brother and my son have very dark skin; some of my ancestors were from Virginia, so maybe….?

  • Traci Dolan

    My family is descended from Nordic and Middle Eastern, per our DNA studies.

  • Ryan

    I think the melungeons are actually moorish and maybe Turkish. I think maybe the were gypsies roaming around the Mediterranean area. My mother has thalassemia and I know for a fact it is a Mediterranean associated disease.

  • Mike Fields

    In reply to Knox: My DNA did in fact show Portugal and Spain, 23% to be specific. On top of that, I have a letter of an ancestor moving from South Carolina to the Cumberland Gap in 1770, where Charity Kennedy is described as dark skinned and Portuguese. The dna study was only limited to a few families, although I urged them early on to include families from Southeastern Kentucky. We also have Nordic, African, and Native American. Also have the family photos to back it up. My line was far more melungeon that what you see on the web, and my story will be on KET here in Kentucky soon with data and pictures to support it

  • Mike Fields

    My DNA Results

    65% Scandinavian
    23% Southern European ( Portugal, Spain, Italy _
    12% Unknown ( loading up the raw DNA to the Stanford page, and its almost all Native American.)

    My marker lines up with the Sizemore’s, as I go back to them twice, once through my mother, once through my father, to George ALL Sizemore. Only.5% was African. The Sizemore Native American marker is very old, and originated with a Sizemore European woman and a full blooded Native American man, but by research has lead me to believe they was Catawba, not Cherokee

  • Crystal

    My family comes from the Big Stone Gap, Virginia, area. My grandmother was a Moore, she married a Ghee, and a few years later married a Yeary. I was wondering if anyone had recognized any of those names.
    All my life people looked at me funny when I told them I had my grandmother’s tan (she was a red-head but tanned dark very easily). I have dark hair, dark eyes, high cheek bones, and people always said I looked exotic. When I was young it didn’t feel like it was a compliment but more of a puzzle they wanted to know the answer to. Mamaw said my coloring was from “the hills”. When I was born they argued that I looked like a “Alaska or Hawaii baby”. I have a son who also has the exact same coloring (black hair, red highlights, easily tans, high cheek bones). My hair is usually very long so people connect my looks with American Indian ethnicity. To be blunt… I have no idea.
    My uncles mentioned that “maybe it was the mulungeon in us” so I thought I would ask the experts… What do you think?

  • Kathy Cannon

    I just learned that my mother, maiden name Collins, is a direct descendant of Vandy Collins’ brother Thomas. Her father was Henry Clay Collins of Bradley County, Tennessee. She was born in 1932 and grew up in McDonald, TN, a few miles from Red Clay (Red Clay served as the seat of Cherokee government from 1832 until the forced removal of the Cherokee in 1838) and Black Fox communities. My nieces and nephews attended Black Fox Elementary School. I don’t have my DNA results from 23andme back yet but I’m curious to see what I’ll find!

  • Bob M

    My gg grandmother was a “Cherokee or Choctaw” named Martha Baker born ~1840. She married my gg grandfather near the Cumberland gap in Wolfe County Ky. We know that my gg grandfather lost contact with his extended family over this 2nd marriage. Circumstances point towards her being a Melungeon not Native American which is ironic since that side of my family is not ethnically or racially progressive to put it politely.
    If more is known about the true origins of these people, I believe the story will hold more interest. Racial combination that is considered progressive today is well trod ground from 150 years ago cloistered in the hills of Appalachia.

  • Elsie Kaha-Kenney

    A few years ago my cousin had started researching our paternal grandfather’s side. Since he died at such a young age (because early 30′s ) she has little to go on. All anyone ever knew wasthe that grandpa was Cherokee his name was James A. Sizemore. She had found found artucles about the “Melungeon” race. At the time our parents were ill and everything came to a halt. I decided to pick up and found your site. Thank you because it has ignited the search again for our grandfather’s root, especially after seeing the comment from Mike Fields stating his ancestors name. Again Mahalo for you site.

  • Elsie Kaha-Kenney

    So sorry stated paternal grandfather when in actuality I meant Maternal.

  • nell post

    In Philippi, WV, there’s a small ridge called Guinie Ridge where dark skinned, dark haired people are clustered. One of the surnames common among them is Maines. Can’t remember other names but I imagine they are Melungeon.

  • Tamela

    As I was reading your readers’ responses, the phrase “black dutch” and the corresponding description caught my eye. My great grandmother always told me I had the “dark german” in me: I tan rather darkly very easily and had dark brown hair with a hint of red highlights in my younger days along with blue eyes. My sister is blond with pale skin. Just wondering if the phrase “dark german” is another version of “black dutch”. The term “melungeon” is new to me.

  • Debra hamlin

    All my life I was told we were part Cherokee and chocktaw and my great grandma claimed to be black Dutch. My father was teased as a child being asked “what are you? Black? Indian? Or what?” No one in my family ever used the word Melungeons today is the first time I’ve heard that word and I’m 50 years old… But the pictures I’ve seen of melungeons look like my family. We came from Virginia then to Kentucky and then to Oklahoma… Could it be possible we are melungeons?

  • Penny Banfield

    I had my DNA done by DNA Consultants ,who say they have the largest Melugeon data base. Melugeon was my highest concentration. I had never heard the word. But my uncle used to say we were black Dutch .
    After I read some books , I realized it fit perfectly.
    Because the DNA test is autosomal , I couldn’t be sure from which side I had inherited. My fathers family were all from Appalachia. But I inherited a Mediterrainian blood disease from my mothers side which pointed towards the Portugese component.
    The lab had me test a cousin from both sides since both my parents are deceased . Melugeon was found in my paternal cousins DNA but not my maternal .
    This is so interesting but frustrating.:)

  • Emi

    Does anyone have any information concerning the Coffey family, particularly Thomas Coffey or Isaac Coffey? They are possibly Melungeon, although we had originally been told part Cherokee. We know that they were in Berea, Kentucky and then Indiana. We also know that the Coffey men frequently married women from the Chasteen family. Any information is helpful, no matter how small. Thanks.

  • Diane Hastings

    As a social worker for the US Dept of Health and Human Services during the 1960′s . I saw several isolated areas of dark skinned families often living in remote areas and in small cluster settlements along the Cumberland Plateau and the Eastern Highland Rim in Tennessee.
    This would be in the counties of Cumberland, Fentress, Overton and Putnam. I was told they were Black Irish and when I asked them what that meant they replied, in the old days of Ireland there were Spanish aggressors that came there and married into the Irish families. I have no idea if this is what a Black Irish is but wanted to share this. Most all had the look seen today of the Melungeon people of Tennessee and SW Virginia. Strangely, some children in the families had white-blonde hair and blue eyes but dark skin, while some had light colored skin and cold black hair and eyes.
    The families seemed to connect well with others since this is the poor Appalachia we hear about and most others just called them people with lots of Indian blood but I wasnt so sure about that. Thanks for the articles on a very interesting subject.

  • Claudia

    My maternal grandfather, whose family immigrated from Sweden, was very dark-skinned, dark brown eyes, straight dark hair. I’ve heard the term “Black Swede”. He had been told there was Jewish heritage. My paternal grandfather’s line has roots in Hawkins Co, Tenn with the Weddle family who some genealogy researchers have identified as “Black Dutch” or Melungeon heritage. I’m waiting for my Ancestry.com DNA results and figure it will tell me I’m a child of the wonderful world. For me, I wish I knew the stories that led my specific ancestors to migrate and have made me the person I am today.

  • Anaitha Chambers

    I have just received DNA results which show Native American.Southern European, Portuguese, Jewish, Spanish,Scandinavian and more. My mother lives just off wilderness road on the Cumberland Gap. We trail ride up to the Hensley Settlement which was dedicated as part of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park on July 4, 1959 which lies in three states: Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. What a perfect place to see the Red Coats (British) or anyone that would threaten there survival.

    I believe that Melungeons, a French term, were a ‘mix’ of the remnant tribes of Native Americans and maybe people from the 1690 French traders in America who formed a colony of people in Southern Appalachia in a town that they had built of log cabins, which were all grouped together. The descendants of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, or early shipwrecked Portuguese, or one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, or that they were descendants of the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians,

    I think the marriage of Minor to Goings shows importance’s because the land owned by John Goings was home to all who where freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government or laws of 1834 not allowing Indians to own land, so this marriage gave the Minors ownership.

    HEZEKIAH MINOR ”Under the column Purebred Indian group from Blackwater are the Minors. The Minors, a fighting people, show more of the Indian than any other Indian group in Scott County. They claim to be Portuguese Indian stock. They are of large stature, tall of black complexion and very strong. I believe the Minors are of three-quarters Indian and one-quarter Portuguese. They are of the type of people whose word is their bond. In Scott County some of them own large stock farms and have prospered.” Source: Wash Osborne Eastern Cherokee Application -Minor

    HEZEKIAH (Zachariah)was born 1766 in Halifax County, Virginia, and died 1840 in Hawkins County, Tennessee. He married ELIZABETH GOING September 19, 1795 in Henry, Virginia, daughter of John and Elizabeth Going.The Marriage Bond of Hezekiah Minor and Elizabeth Going

    Know all men by these presents that we Hezekiah Miner and John Going are held & firmly bound unto Ro. (?) Brooks, Esq. Governor of the state of Virginia in the just & full sum of 150 dollars Current Money of Virginia we bind ourselves, our heirs, Exec. or Adm. Jointly and Severally firmly by these Presents Sealed with our Seals and Dated this 19th Day of Sept. 1795. Whereas there is a Marriage deserving Thy Good Permission Suddenly intended between the above bound Hezekiah Miner and Elizabeth Going. Now the Condition of the above Obligation is such that if there is no Lawful cause to obstruct the sd marriage then the above obligation is to be void or else remain in full force & virtue.

    Signed, Sealed and Delivered Hezekiah X Minor
    seal
    in the Presence of John X Going
    seal
    Tunstall Cox-Abstracted from copy of Original by Lloyd D. Minor, 09 Sep 1997

    Native American Data for Elizabeth Goings (Married Hezekiahi Minor)
    Name: Goings, Elizabeth
    Tribe: Choctaw
    Record Type: enrollment
    Sex: F
    Enrollment Type: P (Parent)
    Card No.: 2555.

    ACHARIAH2 MINOR (HEZEKIAH1) was born 1798 in Rockingham County, North Carolina, and died March 10, 1872 in Kyles Ford, Tennessee. He married AGGIE SIZEMORE October 18, 1824. She was born July 29, 1803 in Tennessee, and died 1870 in Hawkins County, Tennessee. His son married Aggy Sizemore.

    The marriage of George “ALL” Sizemore to Aggy Shepherd originated from a raid by indians of a white man’s camp where they captured a white girl. In retaliation, the white men (Cornett) followed and rescued the girl and captured the Indian girl who was later given to a white family to raise. Aggy is thought to be a Creek Indian. George lived in both the white man’s world, and the white top Cherokee tribe throughout his life.

    George “All” SIZEMORE, b. 1750-1755, d. 1822 in KY, m. Agnes “”Aggy”" SHEPHERD or CORNETT, who was b. ABT 1763, d. 1833. ” George is thought by some to be the son of a Cherokee Chief and a beautiful white woman (SIZEMORE?). She was captured and held briefly before rescue by her brothers, but not before she conceived a child by the Cherokee Indian chief. Aggy was a little Indian Girl captured by mistake during the rescue of 2 small white girls who were stolen from the wagon train. She was raised by the leader of the wagon train, a Mr. CORNETT. They had at least 11 children.

    George was a large, hairy fellow, prone to getting into fights. He was part Indian and often lived a white. George was part Cherokee and a prize fighter. What made George “Goldenhawk” Sizemore so unusual is that he fathered 54-57 children, a figure that is debated by historians. However, George, himself, boasted on at least one occasion that he had fathered 55 children. Census records show Goldenhawk at one time supporting four different families with 7 to 10 children in each of them. In 1860, he was indicted for bigamy in Floyd Co., Kentucky, and according to minutes from the hearing, the judge said, “Mr. Sizemore, I understand you have about 50 children, to which Goldenhawk replied, “I guess you’re right. But, judge, if I’d been half as pretty a man as you are, I’d had more than that.” There are no known portraits of Goldenhawk, but he was said to be one of the ugliest men that ever was, puzzling his descendants, leading them to believe he had more attractive qualities than good looks. GEORGE SAMUEL SIZEMORE was born 1783 in Washington Co., N.C. (Tenn.), and died May 06, 1864 in Magoffin Co., Ky. He was called Goulden in earlier times and later he went by Goldenhawk. He was born some say in North Carolina and some say Virginia. He is the son of George “All” Sizemore, 1/2 Cherokee Indian and Agnes Cornett Shepherd. He was the brother of Henry “Hunting Shirt” Sizemore.

    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 none.

    • Name: Agnes “Aggy” Shepherd CORNETT
    • Sex: F
    • Birth: 1755 in Cherokee Nation, North Carolina
    • Death: 1833 in Clay County, Kentucky
    • Note:
    Aggy is said to be a full-blooded Indian girl captured by settlers and raised by a man named Cornette

    ALFRED MINOR (father ZACHARIAH2, granddfather HEZEKIAH1) was born August 12, 1830 in Hawkins County, Tennessee, and died April 21, 1907 in Kyles Ford, Tennessee. He married (2) CHANEY FIELDS 1865 in Tennessee. She was born December 1834 in Tennessee and died 1905. Listed as ‘Portergee’ on 1880 census- scratched out and “W” written over. MARY MINOR, b. June 12, 1866, Fisher Valley, Hancock, Tennessee child of ALFRED MINOR and CHANEY FIELDS

    Native American Data for Chaney Fields
    Name: Fields, Chaney
    Tribe: Cherokee
    Record Type: enrollment
    Sex: F
    Enrollment Type: P (Parent)
    Card No.: FRR452

    My grandmother was Darcas Goldie Yeary 1897 at age 13. The 1900 census shows spelling of her name as Darcus not Dorcus. Daughter of Henderson Yeary, her mother Mary Minor Yeary.

  • curtis newman

    I have recently found out that I am a Melungeon, my folks came from Pennington Gap Virginia, I was always told that I was a Cherokee Indian and white. I am now persuaded that I am truely a Melungeon. Could someone who knows the Newman of Penington and Goins inform me more. I have waited until all my relatives like grandmother , etc are now deceased, to beat it all my father was killed in coal mines near Pennington Gap, a place called St. Charles I believe.

  • T.Cooper

    One of my uncles recently said we were Portuguese. I was shocked only because I had never thought about that being a possibility! The family story is my paternal grandmother, Irma Robinson was born in Charleston to William Robinson and Catherine Simpson in 1895. My grandmother Irma told me she was Cherokee and she believed mother died and she was brought to NYC as a 2 year old to live with relatives. There is also a story that her mother came to NY at some point to see her. It was believed her father had died before she turned 2 years old. She had strawberry blond hair, green eyes and red skin. She married Palmer A Cooper son of Osceola A Cooper.
    There seemed to be a lot of secrecy about who we were. My father was also red skin, green eyes with soft wavy hair. I know I am mixed race, my mother is a descendent of Joseph Labat from a Bay St. Louis, Ms creole family.
    Grandmother Irma said they ” said they were Negro because the Negro was treated better than the Indians”. The Robinson and Cooper name are both on the surname list. A lot of mixed race people have green eyes maybe it is just a coincidence that my brother and I have green eyes and had light hair as kids. Its will be nice to pass on the family history to my children and my 11 grandkids.
    Bonjou,
    T.Cooper

  • Richard Goins

    My family history was not something that my ancestors were proud of or talked about. My Grandfather hid it like the secret to great riches. Only well into my 30′s did any of us understand why. Fearfulness of people learning who we were. That tells you a little something about what His family might have gone through. In my life I have just been a white guy. When I Grandfather was a kid he was considered a mixed race mongrel and now days white men are not well liked. The people looking desperately for the answers to who Melugeons are would do better to just listen to who Melungeon people say they are. We decide who we are. We always have. I guess I really don’t know how it matters who my Grandfathers Grandfather was. He told me who we were and that’s good enough for me. Why is it not good enough for people who have nothing to do with us? I am an American. That’s it, nothing else.

  • Eve

    I have an ancestor who I haven’t been able to trace named Samuel Newman that was born in TN, lived in Illinois, lost an eye in the Battle of Jonesboro, GA during the Civil War, and died back in Illinois, a year after the war ended due to complications to his wound. It has been passed down through the family that he was full-blooded Cherokee but I have not been able to find proof. He is listed as white on censuses, but there is also a story of his wife being shunned by her family for marrying him because he was Indian. I took a DNA test and it showed 0% trace of Native American ethnicity. That made me look more into Melugeon research and the theories of African and European DNA results, but I had 0% African ethnicity in my DNA results. But interestingly enough, I had trace DNA of:
    <1% Asia South (India)
    3% Italy/Greece
    3% Ireland
    2% Iberian Peninsula(Southern France, Spain, Portugal)
    2% Finland/Northwest Russia
    1% Caucasus(Georgia, Armenia, Iraq, Iran and Turkey)

    Thank you for this post, I think it gives me hope in finding who his parents were.

  • cindy a stinson

    my daughter has been doing our ancestry. It was difficult to locate my maternal grandmother’s family, but she finally did it, and it turns out that she was a malungeon descendent. Had never heard of it before, until now. I thought that my grandmother must have some spanish or italian because she was so dark. now i know why she was so dark. People always thought i was indian because of my high cheek bones and i thought there must be some indian in me too. I looked up malungeon and have been researching what is said about the people. It is very interesting.

  • sylvia farahan

    My grandfather’s mother was a Yeary. Her married name became Overton. She married very young and began having children about 1890. I think her father’s last name was Yeary. They lived in Hancock County.

  • Mary Hendrix

    My paternal grandfather Charles Ambrose Hendrix Sr. was a darkish-skinned man from Tennessee who said his people were “Black Dutch” and originally from southeast Kentucky. Are there any Melungeon Hendrixes in that area?

  • Rose Parker

    The trail stops with my great great grandmother. Family didn’t want to talk about the relatives. My maternal side is very dark, black hair and black eyes. My brother has red hair and very red-brown skin. I am olive skinned tone. I have traced my great great grandmother Lucinda Langston married to John Allen Hill in Tennessee. They moved to Texas. When John Hill died in Texas Lucinda married Ethan Melton. Had DNA done and 7% unknown, 3% west Asia. The rest European,Ireland,Scandinavia. I find the name Hill and Langston both listed in the Melungeon names. Would love to trace my history in Tennessee. Any information concerning this would help. Thank you. R. Parker

  • RosemaryOs

    Both my parents families are rooted in Tennessee (Giles, Lincoln, Monroe Counties) and pre-Revolutionary War ancestors stretch over NC, SC and Va. I also have done the Ancestry DNA and have the South Asian, Caucasus and Iberian Peninsula DNA. My grandmother’s Aunt looked remarkably like a Cherokee and was also born in the seat of the Cherokee Nation in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.. But AncestryDNA did not pick up on Native American. I am waiting on results from 23andMe and hoping for more clues as to the South Asian ancestor

  • Daniel Freeman

    My family is Waccamaw-Siouan/Lumbee – Freeman Family. We have been able to show our presence in the Pee Dee River area long before the first Spanish Colony (Pee Dee River Colony) was established there in 1566. Our records show that the Tribe that was here was the Melungeon. In our DNA Testing (Waccamaw Family and Freeman Family DNA Projects); the Freeman line shows a unique Spanish/Jewish DNA Marker. But we have a large part Native American. I’m trying to understand this study because it talks only about a group from Virginia in the 1800′s. Not the real “Core” Group which comes from South Carolina.

  • Renita

    My great grandmother (my moms, mom, mom lol) last name is White. Her name is Naomi White. Her fathers name (my great great grandfather) is Pearl White. Pearl was born in Ky then moved to west Tn. Could he be melungeon? I saw White on the list of Surnames. Also, my mom went to the geanology section in the library (harold washington library chicago) and found out that her grandmother Naomi (my great grandmother) was listed as mulatto. And pearl was listed as “white”. Could they have been melungeon?

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