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.


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.


  • Hubert Elmer Kiser.

    I have always been conscious of a family secret without actually knowing it. All my ancestors are dead.Brent Kennedy wrote a book that has my family line, I have my records back to 1800. from family bible and have visited several of these people.I have brown skin and do not sun burn but am light enough to ‘pass”. Now I know the family secret.I have black and Cherokee blood and proud of it. Took me 83 years to find out Puck Kiser–Hubert E. Kiser, Jr I

  • Debra hamlin

    Melungeon ancestry answers so many questions I’ve always had.. Why my family is so dark.. With straight black hair, many of us with a white patch. My uncle born with an extra thumb. My sister with Asian eye folds. My daughter with mongolian blue spots.. The rumor that grandpa was Cherokee and grandma was black Dutch. But in searching we could never find the Indian connection.. Being melungeon makes so much more sense.. Now when people ask “What are you anyway” ( and the always do) I tell them we are melungeon..

  • Debra hamlin

    This is for Melissa Wilson.. My ggg grandfather donated the land so that berea college could be built with the stipulation that blacks and women could be educated there as well as white men.. His name was Joel Todd. I believe there is a melungeon connection in our family as we are all very dark and obviously mixed with something.. We were told Cherokee and black Dutch. I was excited to see you mention Bearea and the college my ancestor supported.

  • Laura Baker

    I have tried for years to find my family from Kentucky. But I can never get past my grandparents. Weird? But the stories of an Indian great grandmother, family that moved constantly from TN, KY, VA….It all fits. And my family pictures (few that I have) look exactly like some of the ones on these site. How can I find out more information?

  • Sally Herrin

    My mother and uncle were Semitic and/or Native American looking. They did not sunburn, had black hair and blue eyes. Their grandmother Caroline (nee Mink) Kegley was born in Virginia in the mid 1800s. Her husband was a well to do doctor, and many photographs of the family survive into this century, but no one I know ever saw a photo of Caroline, despite that fact that she was much loved by all. I began to suspect Melungeon roots when I read an essay “Doesn’t Everybody Kill Chickens that Way?” about families which practice kosher slaughter, as my mother’s family did until the late 20th century, a characteristic of some Melungeon families. By the way, African genetics don’t mean folks weren’t Jews. Ethiopia claims to possess the Ark of the Covenant to this day, and the Kushites (Nubians) were ancient allies of Israel.

  • Debra

    Like every other Appalachian I was told our family had Native American blood. I had a DNA test through FTDNA. I have African and European, black and white. FTDNA and both do test relatively in expensively.

  • Karla Akins

    I have studied the Melungeons for years out of curiosity alone. I am as Indo-European as one gets (had my DNA done) and never suspected any Melungeon ties. I haven’t a drop of Native American in my genes. Imagine my surprise when I learned my husband is related to Mahala Mullins and Flower Mullins! I may not have the DNA but my husband does. I married into the Melungeon clan and couldn’t be more proud.

  • Victoria Sexton-Hallowell

    I have been tracing my roots for several years now, being a native of WV with dark hair and green eyes, I heard whispers about my last name. My grandmother always called us “Portugese.” My great grandfather said he “grew up in the holler with injun cousins.” All we know is that we’re a bit of everything and have a culture all our own. Melungeon used to be such a derogatory nasty word here in the hills. I’m so glad we aren’t forced to live in shadow anymore.

  • Pam Sparks Jones-Hatfield

    My search started with Jesse Bunch who died in Greene County, IN. I traced him back to the Bunch families in eastern TN. Thinking, when I took my DNA test that it would show tri-racial results, my DNA test showed no African origins, and no American Indian origins, but, I do have Portuguese origins. – Pam Sparks Jones-Hatfield

  • Mary Jane Collins

    I have been doing family research as of late. I found a cousin on my father’s side that said my family was Melungeon. We descended from Samuel Collins who was Native America. In his line is Valentine Collins. I understand that my family line is considered a core Melungeon family. I still carry the Collins surname. My hair is brown as is my eyes. The children in my family are born with blue eyes but most but not all turn brown after a few months. I only learned about the Melugeons this year. My family is from the Appalachian. I grew up in Logan County, West Virginia. My father’s family was from Mingo County, West Virginia and Carter County, Kentucky. Family history did not interest me until I had my own daughter. People though that she was Native American. At 4’11 she is not happy being short but it runs in the family among the women. I know very little about my father’s side of the family because my mother did not think highly of them and would not allow myself and my brothers to know them during her life time. My older brother has warned me to stay away from my father’s side of the family because he considers them wild. I am glad that there are website that provide more information on the Melungeon culture.

  • AnnaD

    My family lines I’ve been able to find are mostly from the states always mentioned but I always wonder why the other Appalachian states are never mentioned. The majority of my results start in Indiana because that’s where I grew up. My Collier line were abolitionist for the underground railroad and highly recognized throughout the community but finding where they came from is often a challenge because 1.) their was a fire and all documents were destroyed or 2.) the territories had been conveniently changed and 3.) those territories are no longer in the same state. Thankfully some ancestors went back to England to pass and remain which has allowed a connection to America and before that I’ve found within the Indian Dynasties when things were recorded in 1 A.D. The internet is amazing! I’m a mix of everything and that everything has connected me to a long line of people who have always been recognized for advocating what they believe and I know that my advocating, is my birth right :-) After all, isn’t it time to stop trying to hide something that will never be given federal recognition? Recognition is given, without giving recognition!!

  • Burt Smiley

    Our Central Virginia Caucasian family has seen similar discrimination toward darker-skinned people living near the James River. They were called “High Yellows,” while they called themselves “Spanish,” just as Melungeons call themselves “Portuguese.”

  • Kathleen Wallen Salyers

    hi there my name is kathleen Wallen Salyers my fatherand I are doing some genealogy now we are really enjoying it we have hit a brick wall with my great great great grandfather his namewas Evan wallen and his wife’s namewas Jayne Collins or Nancy Jane Collinswe are not sure where to go from here we cannot find any information on either person we believe we may be of Melungeon ancestrywhere do we go from here?

  • Mark Lynn Ferguson

    Kathleen, I’ve not done genealogical research myself, but the resources I’ve heard cited most often are and local birth and death records. I’m hoping other folks have ideas as well. Best of luck!

  • Christopher Forest

    I thought everyone had a knot on the back of their head. That is not the case. I have shovel teeth as well. When I was younger I would get high fevers103-105 yes 105 a few times I was put in the hospital doctors could not find the cause, ran tests. Doctor said strange you don’t look Turkish you have mediterranean fever and if you were full blooded Turkish you would be dead. For years this fever troubled me I got use too it and grew out of it. One night I saw a tv show talking about Melungeons and had all my questions answered. I’m proud that I am part Melungeon.

  • James Rudd

    I am Melungeon. I lived in Tazewell Va near the head of the Clinch river. My Grandmother was from Trammel va in Wise county. All of the members of my family are dark skinned and have kinky hair. My grandmother was listed at one time as mulatto. Although I have light skin I did have a lot to explain to my classmates in school. I have been told by uncles that the only people who can claim to be true melungeons had to be raised in the clinch river valley.

  • Jessica Fowler

    Mary Jane Collins, I am also a descendant of Samuel Collins, My grandmother was the daughter of Elsie Collins, Who was the Daughter of Viney and Harvey Loyd Collins who descended from Vardy Collins. Samuel is my 7th great grandfather and Vardy is my 6th great Grandfather. I started researching because I get ask ALL the time if I am mixed with anything or could I be indian, I am light/yellowish color skin, I have jet black hair and dark brown eyes, It’s amazing what all I have found!

  • Deborah Thompson Collins

    I sure would like to find out more about the Collins/Bridgeman/Woodruff connection I know in my heart we are melungeon and Indian but I want to know about Becky Collins daughter of Joshua Collins who married Mathew Bridgman, our family lost their history on purpose but sure left a lot of hits such as being related to Daniel Boone some how and so far it seems true they got to GA and Thompson got in the mix so help folks. Brown eyes and Nearly Black hair here which has a lot of wave at times

  • Leisa Sander

    I have been trying to find out who my great grandfather is for the last 32 years. I have been told by my father John Henry Andis D/O/B 9/23/1934 is the son of Kate Gibson Collins D/O/B 7/23/1915. Daughter of Martha Mollie Gibson who married Henry Dye Collins, but she already had my grandmother Kate Gibson before marring a Collins. She also had a son James C Smith D/O/B 4/12/1930. Martha Gibson’s parents were Susan Blakely and Isaac Collins, Isaac D/O/B year 1810. Kate Gibson Collins married Robert Harold Andis but he is not my father’s dad. I guess in those days you were given a surname based on the house you were living in?? I believe that we are no doubt part of the Melungeon group based on what I have researched. Our facial features, olive skin, high cheek bones, some with very dark tanned skin. If anyone can shed some light on this I would love to know who my great grandfather is possibly or was. Robert Harold Andis was not a known fact. We all come from SW Va. Lee, Scott. Wise County and Tazwell, TN. Harlen, Ky.

  • claude lawson

    I am melungeon I have black hair and brown eyes and I was born in hankcock county,tn. when I was in the hospital my fever would get high 103-105 it was called Mediterranean fever and im glad to be a melungeon.

  • fred

    My mother’s side is melungeon and I am white, but all melungeons have different genetics and ancestry origins, some are european and native American, some European and African, some European Portuguese. Elvis himself was melungeon and you wouldn’t know it. So not all melungeons have very dark skin. My grandparents have black hair and tan skin. But I do not. Most melungeon features and blood has been diluted out for melungeons marrying white People. I have Cherokee Indian decent on my father’s side and melungeon on my mother’s and my skin is a very light tan color almost as of a person who works outside and gets a slight tan but nothing dramatic that would have me confused for Indian or portugese. Like I said Elvis also is of melungeon decent and besides the black hair you would never know. Also apparently Lincoln was melungeon as well.


    Im 58yrs old and melungeon thru & thru. I still have dark brown hair and eyes too. Very hairy as well! both parents from virginia phillips use to be phips and my moms maiden name was mullins.I dont sun burn dark skin too.. Im a Melungeon and proud

  • Ed Bostick

    A comment on the origin of the word “melungeon”. Southern Italians and Sicilians tend to be darker than their northern countrymen. The North Italians refer to the dark-skinned people as “melzhans”… Meaning “eggplant”. The derogatory implication is “you’re so dark that you look like an eggplant”. Maybe another Mediterranean connection?

  • Linda Gibson Thomas

    My name is Linda Gibson, from Bell Coiinty Ky.. Frakes. twenty miles from nearest town of Pinrville, county seat..The area was isolated until W.W.2 My grandfather was Greenberry Gibson. His mother was Polly Gibson , living with a man John Rains from Claborne Co. Tn. Best as I can gather.. We cannot get past Polly Gibson. In the genealogy search.. She had two or three dark skinned sons. No American or negro feathers except skin color.. The Gibsons were discrimated against in our area as second class citizens in area schools and by Neighbors..Some of my cousins were very dark, skin and eyes.. My children and I have shovel teeth, Factor five blood testing.. My twelve year old grandaughter has dark olive skin and does not sunburn. very noticible. bMy brother has three grandchildren are very dark black hair and eyes. Ther last names are Lambdin. We are not Native American. Nor negro in appearance.. My mothers family did not want her to marry in the Gibson family in In 1920’s… Linda,

  • james b hunter

    after reading these articles i see that i have some melouengen charistics .

  • Jayme Ballard Denson

    After reading the articles, I know I have the characteristics of the Melungeons. So much is explained, especially my mothers and her families looks, especially her father whose last name was Justus.

  • Melissa

    My GG was adopted in Kentucky. All my other ancestor lines are traceable into the 1500’s. My dad did a DNA test and we found we are part Melungeon. We were always told GG was Native American. We have several Sub Saharan markers and Native American. The weird part is the Eastern European and Portugese. It is nice to finally know why myself, my dad, and now my daughter look the way we look. We have been questioned our whole lives. I wish I could trace her story further, I still remember meeting her when I was little.

  • Liadan

    I have strong Melungeon ties in my family.

    For those whose DNA doesn’t show Native blood, there are lots of reasons for that:

    There are too few Native DNA to compare to
    DNA tests can’t reveal all Native DNA
    You can have a Native ancestor but not inherit that DNA

    There are many fully documented Natives, whose DNA does not show Native.

  • Ethan Arnold

    Siyo, my name is Ethan Arnold. I come from the Shoemake, Evans, and Chavis families who migrated to Campbell Co Tennessee in the early 1800’s, and down to Jackson Co Alabama in the mid 1800’s.
    They came from the Pee Dee river in South Carolina, leaving the state to avoid furthermore discrimination.
    In Virginia and the Carolinas they were listed as “Free People of Color”, once in Tennessee and Alabama they were listed as “Mulatto”. In 1910 they were listed as “Indian”. All of them applied for the Guion Miller Roll of 1909, but were rejected for not living with-in the Cherokee Nation of 1835-49.
    Growing up we were always told we were Cherokee, and raised with mixed Christian and Cherokee beliefs.
    I’ve traced my ancestors back to the Tuscarora reservation in present day Bertie Co N.C and the Saponi settlement in Granville Co N.C in the 1750’s through the 1760’s. And from there they went to South Carolina.
    We never heard the name “Melungeon” until I did my research and found that my family had been classified as such by bloggers.
    We still do not call ourselves Melungeons, we call ourselves Cherokee and Eastern Siouan Native American Indian, and we are enrolled citizens of the state recognized Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama.
    In my people’s G-M roll applications they tell of the removal, and at the time of removal of the Five Civilized Tribes, the Cherokee’s who were going to the present day Qualla Boundary asked my family to go along with them, recognizing them as Indians and relations.
    We also have cousins enrolled with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and we are working on enrolling with the EBCI.

  • Laura Baker

    I have been searching for my grandfather’s side of the family for years. I can never find any true information. My grandfather was Henry Baker, son of John Baker and Martha Napier Baker. My father is Corbett Baker. My father was 4 when they left Hazard, KY for Maryland. My grandfather used to tell me stories about his father dying when my grandfather was under 10 years old. He said his father had been a High Sheriff and they worked in the coal mines. He also told stories about his Cherokee Indian grandmother. But I cannot find any record of his family. Is there anyone who knows my family? Carolyn Davidson Hicks wrote a book about her family and mentioned my GGrandfather, but she says he didn’t die until 1953, which does not match with my Grandfather’s story that his father died before 1930.
    Thanks so much, Laura Baker

  • Bridget Reitz

    I have been doing genealogy for a little over a year now. My mothers paternal grandmother was a very dark skinned woman from what was told along with many of my moms relatives on that side including a couple of her siblings. My mother as a youth had red hair and very light skin, her father had natural olive skin with a grayish eye color and dark hair. Her fathers mothers maiden name was Phipps from eastern KY. After trying to figure out where the darker skin came in I found on the internet about the Phipps of eastern KY that they were of Melungeon descent and now knowing that it makes sense but of course they were always told it was the NA skin tone. My mother had her dna done and her ethnicity is mainly Northern European but with traces of SS and NA (a bit more SS) also more Italian and Iberian than the SS and NA. Wondering if the Italian (Sicilian perhaps) is where the SS comes in? anyone here do the dna test and any thoughts? confused.

  • JK

    Does anyone know anything about the origins of my ancestor Rachel Waters born in 1790 from Ashe, NC. It appears that she was mixed race, but details beyond that are unclear.

  • crystal Douglas

    My dad has passed
    he looked like he layed in a tanning bed all his life, so did his mother
    one of my daughter’s is that way
    . I just don’t think this is all Cherokee like I was thinking
    . I got black hair but I burn badly. Please tell me how to get the information and figure this out.

  • Sheila Sinclair

    Laura Baker

    June 24, 2014
    I have tried for years to find my family from Kentucky. But I can never get past my grandparents. Weird? But the stories of an Indian great grandmother, family that moved constantly from TN, KY, VA….It all fits. And my family pictures (few that I have) look exactly like some of the ones on these site. How can I find out more information?
    Laura this is exactly my story. My Great Grandmother was “adopted” “an orphan” “took this family name”. I have tried for 25 years to find her family! Sheila

  • MERRY McDonald

    Reading the comments are helping me to see more about my father’s family. Family is from Cumberland county Burkesville Ky. My father had blue black straight hair. Dark skin and Amber hazel eyes. He went by a nickname Mac. No birth certificates all born at home. Aunt Molly would only say the family was pretending to be what they were not. Did DNA thru 23 me. Nothing for my father’s family

  • Rose Ann Minor Irvin

    My great grandparents are john & armite minor my grandfather is William howard minor my grandmother is blanche herron minor, my father is Hobart (sonny) Minor my grandmother came to dunlap ks back when my dad was a teenager. they talked about the minor family. I guess my grandfather was married twice blanche was his 2nd wife. I know nothing of my minor side but would love to know

  • Lynn Weddington Tucker

    My great grandparents were Green and Amanda Sexton who lived in Floyd and Knott County, Kentucky. Green was born in Letcher County and his mother (Hannah) was reputed to be “an Indian.” I know that Sexton is reputed to be a Melungeon name and I would be interested in learning more.

  • Ann R Davis

    I am sure we had some so-called “Melungeon” ancestors, though we had never heard of the word. Our older relatives stated they were “Portuguese, Spanish, Gypsy, American Indian”. Had an autosomal dna test done, and together with many years of research, know that the legends were surprisingly true. My father’s line (besides Nordic and British ancestry) did indeed include Portuguese, Spanish, Gypsy and American Indian (Cherokee/Eastern Sioux) – also those races one would expect in Portuguese, ie, North African, S.S. African, Spanish, Jewish, Indian (from India), and Gypsy indicators. The Cherokees had Jewish blood (isn’t that mind boggling?) His mother’s Cook line came from the Pee Dee region of SC, and seem to be associated with known “Melungeon” families. Where they came from before that is a mystery. The given first name “Gadi” is used in the Cooks and their allied families in the Pee Dee Region. Some say Gadi was a nickname for Gideon. It is actually a Sanscrit name of ancient origin, though in some favor in recent years among Israelis. I wish more people had an autosomal dna test done, to determine their racial heritage.

  • Joe Baptista

    This article came recently to my attention. I am Portuguese born in Lisbon, over 20 years ago I visited Cape (Cabo Verde) archipelago, it was fascinating to me to watch the carachteristics of the natives.

    Beautiful light brown skin color some with intense blue or green eyes.

    This former Portuguese colony independent after 1975, for centuries was a detaining center for slaves captured in Africa possibly in Angola, another former Portuguese colony and sent to America and Brazil, the mixture of Africans with Europeans originated this nice looking people Caucasian look but with brown color.

    All Cape Verdean called themselves Portuguese

  • Johnny Melungeon

    “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”

    That study by Roberta Estes,Jack Goins and Paul Heinegg was “peer reviewed” by themselves. They are not actual scientists, only amateurs

  • Amanda Pullias

    Mary Jane Collins; I was privileged in my health care career to meet Miss Martha Collins and her sisters with whom she lived in her later years in Murfreesboro TN. A book had been written about the Melungeons and dedicated to her. She had been a bank president in Sneedville TN where there is a significant Melungeon population. A most interesting, intelligent lady…I loved that a woman in a tiny Tennessee community had risen to such leadership within her community. IF you are related to her, you have a blessed heritage.


    Go figure this out. My Dorton line traces to William F. Dorton Sr. b 1730 marr Elizabeth Watts. They are all from Scott, wise , and Washington counties Virginia. Big Stone Gap and Rye Cove Virginia. My Dorton’s are also Bryant’s and Fugate’s. My Dorton side says Black Dutch. My Collins side traces to Aristarcus “Starkus” Collins marr. Elizabeth Collinsworth in Davidson Co, Tenn 1821. Most of the Collins are now in Newton and Benton Co, Arkansas. My Collins side says Indian and that my G Grandfather Benjamine F. Collins (marr Clara Harrison) had an Indian census card, know one knows what tribe. Both sides dark skin. I’m running into huge walls. Can anyone help? Thanks.

  • Sparrow Brown

    I’ve noticed that several of the commentators here have mentioned that their families have come from the Pee Dee regions of NC and SC. If you have ancestors from that region, have you looked into the possibility of having Lumbee ancestry? I use to work in Pee Dee region of SC, and many of the people have tan skin year round, dark hair, and blue or green eyes. I also noticed that some of the commentators mentioned the names “Chavis” and “Evans”, which are names typically associated with the Catawba Indians in Lancaster and York counties SC. Many of the descendants of the Catawbas, Lumbees, and Cheraw Indians and of “light” African-Americans would pass in White society as “Black Irish” well pass desegregation in the area schools in the 1970s.

  • mark mullins

    I have a lump on back of head and dark skinned. I dont know anything about shoval teeth. Always had a lost sense of identity.


    This information in this blog is interesting. Could the Mediterranean fever referred to herein be Mediterranean Anemia or Thalassemia? Some of my ancestors were from Bluefield West Virginia and Laytonsville, Maryland. The Mediterranean Anemia runs in my family and we are Tri Racial. My Great Granfather, William Johnson Holland was a Mulatto as were most of my maternal great grandparents.


    Our mtDNA is M* which was then changed M23 which is an East Eurasian haplogroup. My matern Grandmother was from Nova Scotia and her Mother was a small.brown Indian woman. My maternal Grandfather was from Georgetown S.C. and his mother, Anna Eliza Alston (Harrison) was a Mulatto but Grandfather said she was an Indian. In some records Anna’s husband was described as Black but Grandfather said he was light skinned also. I believe any Melungeon comes through the Maryland families of Johnson, Holland and Keys.

  • Ashley

    My father’s family came from Southwestern Virginia and Kentucky. He and his whole immediate family all look Middle Eastern. When I was a kid, people used to ask me what country my dad was from even though he has a heavy Appalachian accent. Anyway, we’ve all been interested in the Melungeon topic for years, but we were never able to find out the background of many family members.

    Last month, I got a DNA test. My results were European and Middle Eastern, with Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria named specifically as possible places of origin. Half of the Middle Eastern portion came from Asia Minor and half came from North Africa. Anyway, after reading everything over the last few years that said Melungeons are not Middle Eastern after all, I was surprised to see my results. My family is partially of Middle Eastern descent, not Native American or African, and I’m not sure where to go from here. I would love to know how those ancestors came to Appalachia and who they were, but I think it may remain a mystery.

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