Melungeons, A Multiethnic Population 

 

Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson, Janet Lewis Crain

 

Abstract

Melungeon is a term applied historically to a group of persons, probably multiethnic, found primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties, Tennessee, and in adjoining southern Lee County, Virginia.  In this article we define the Melungeon population study group, then review the evidence from historical sources and DNA testing--Y-chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA--to gain insight into the origin of this mysterious group.

 

 

Address for correspondence:  Roberta Estes, robertajestes@att.net 

 

Received:  July 2011; accepted Dec 2011

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

The Melungeons were a group of individuals found primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties of Tennessee and in the far southern portion of Lee County, Virginia which borders Hawkins and Hancock counties in Tennessee.  At one time isolated geographically on and near Newman's Ridge and socially due to their dark countenance, they were known to their neighbors as Melungeons, a term applied as an epithet or in a pejorative manner.

 

As the stigma of a mixed racial heritage dimmed in the late 20th century and was replaced by a sense of pride, interest in the genealogy and history of the Melungeon people was born.  With the advent of the internet and popular press, the story of these people has become larger than life, with their ancestors being attributed to a myriad of exotic sources: Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, Ottoman Turks, The Lost Tribes of Israel, Jews, Gypsies, descendants of Prince Madoc of Wales, Indians, escaped slaves, Portuguese, Sir Francis Drake's rescued Caribbean Indians and Moorish slaves, Juan Pardo's expedition, De Soto's expedition, abandoned pirates and Black Dutch, among others.  Melungeon families themselves claimed to be Indian, white and Portuguese. 

 

Furthermore, as having Melungeon heritage became desirable and exotic, the range of where these people were reportedly found has expanded to include nearly every state south of New England and east of the Mississippi, and in the words of Dr. Virginia DeMarce,[1] Melungeon history has been erroneously expanded to provide "an exotic ancestry...that sweeps in virtually every olive, ruddy and brown-tinged ethnicity known or alleged to have appeared anywhere in the pre-Civil War Southeastern United States."[2] 

 

Formation of Melungeon DNA Project

 

The Core Melungeon DNA Project was formed at Family Tree DNA in July of 2005[3] with the goal of testing the Y-line and mitochondrial DNA of families identified as Melungeon.  The first step was to define which families were Melungeon and were eligible to be included. 

 

The popular press has extended the definition of Melungeon dramatically.  The project administrators researched various records to determine where the label of Melungeon was actually applied, and to whom.  They found the word first recorded in 1810 and used for the next 100 years or so, primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties in Tennessee, and slightly into neighboring counties where the Melungeon family community reached over county and state boundaries into Claiborne County, Tennessee, and Lee, Scott and Russell Counties in Virginia.  The project was subsequently broken into Y-line and mitochondrial DNA projects, and in 2010, a Melungeon Family project was added with the advent of the Family Finder product.

 

First Records of Melungeon

 

The first recorded instance of any word resembling Melungeon is found surrounding an 1810 event in Arkansas.  In 1972, Baxter County, Arkansas published a Centennial edition of its history. In it they describe a Tennessean, Jacob Mooney, along with Jacob Wolf, reportedly of Hawkins County, Tn.,[4] who made numerous incursions into Arkansas for the purpose of trading livestock, etc.  The following passage describes Mooney's first trek to Baxter County in 1810.  

 

"The four men who had come with Mooney were men of Mystery, referred to by oldtimers who knew of them as "Lungeons." They were neither Negro or Indian and in later years Jacob Mooney was ostracized for living with these "foreigners"...by the time he moved to Arkansas for good, his former slaves and the "lungeon" men had died and most of their families had moved west with the Indians."[5]

 

The next written record of Melungeons is found in Russell County, Virginia in the Stony Creek[6] church minutes in 1813[7] when a reference was made to “harboring them Melungins.[8]  From that point forward in time, we access historical documents to determine which families were originally considered to be Melungeon. 

 

As early as 1848, the outside world heard of the Melungeons and became interested when Littell's Living Age[9] published an article referring to the Melungeons in which it was claimed that:

 

 "A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese adventurers, men and women - who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia.  These intermixed with the Indians and subsequently their descendants (after the advances of the whites into this part of the state) with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens." 

 

With this article, cultural interest in the group of people known as Melungeons began, and various articles and publications followed, some of which contained information that related to their heritage.

 

 

Table 1:  Melungeon Heritage Table

 

Year

Source

Melungeon References Provided

1810

History of Baxter County Arkansas[10]

First reference to Melungeons in written records indicating they were from Hawkins County, Tn.

1813

Stony Creek Church Minutes (1801-1814), Russell Co., Va.

First local reference to Melungeons - reference to "harboring them Melungins."

1848

Littell's Living Age

"Society of Portuguese adventurers...who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia...intermixed with the Indians and subsequently their descendants...with the negroes and the whites"

1886

Goodspeed's History of Tennessee[11]

Says Newman's Ridge "has since been occupied mainly by a people presenting a peculiar admixture of white and Indian blood."

1888  1889

1890

1907

1915

Hamilton McMillan[12]

Lumbee as descendants of Lost Colony, Lumbee "formerly called themselves Melungeans", Lumbee "branch of the Melungeans", Lumbee "call themselves Malungeans", says Melungeon designation preceded first tribal name 

1889

Dr. Swan Burnett[13]

"Proudly call themselves Portuguese."

1889

Atlanta Constitution letter from Laurence Johnson[14]

"Claim to be Portuguese - original site on the Pedee River in NC and SC...crew consisting mostly of Moors with sprinkling of Arabs and negroes turned ashore free...found wives among Indians, negroes and cast off white women...free people of color of Pedee region."

1890

1890 census paperwork[15]

"Melungeons in Hawkins County claim to be Cherokees of mixed blood (white, Indian and negro)...Collins and Gibson reported as Indian, Mullins white, Denham Portuguese, Goins negro...enumerated as of the races which they most resembled."

1890

1891

Articles by Will Allen Dromgoole,[16] Nashville Reporter

"Claim to be Cherokee and Portuguese", some claim a drop of African blood, Collins and Gibson claimed Cherokee ancestors, "stole names of Collins and Gibson from white settlers in Virginia where they had lived previous to North Carolina", white (Mullins), Portuguese pirate (Denham) and African (Goins).

1897

"A Visit to the Melungeons" by C.F. Humble[17]

"We know that Mullens and Moores received their names from white husbands and fathers, and we do no violence to the probabilities by assuming that the prevalent names, Collins, Gibson, Williams, Goans, Bell came in the same way."

1903

1914

Lewis Jarvis, Hancock County Tn., attorney and historian[18]

"Called Melungeon by the local white people...not here when first hunting parties came...had land grants where they formerly lived...were the friendly Indians who came with the whites as they moved west" to the New River and Fort Blackmore...married among the whites.  Names Collins, Gibson, Bolin, Bunch, Goodman, Moore, Williams, Sullivan and "others not remembered" as Indian.

1907

Hodges Book of American Indians north of Mexico by James Mooney[19]

"A mixture of white, Indian and Negro...the Redbones of SC and the Croatans [now Lumbee] of North Carolina seem to be the same mixture" and "Croatoan, Redbones, Delaware Moors and Melungeons are of similar origin" and "name Melungeon is probably from melange-mixed or Portuguese."

 

 

In 1903, Lewis Jarvis,[20] a local attorney who lived and worked with the Melungeon families and was ultimately responsible for identifying many of the families by name, wrote the following: [21]

 

"Much has been said and written about the inhabitants of Newmans 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.”

 

In his 1903 article,[22] Jarvis identifies the Melungeons as Vardy Collins, Shepard Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodman Chiefs and says:

 

"They settled here in 1804, possibly about the year 1795", obtained land grants and "were the friendly Indians who came with the whites as they moved west.  They came from Cumberland County and New River, Va., stopping at various points west of the Blue Ridge.  Some of them stopped on Stony Creek, Scott County, Virginia, where Stony Creek runs into Clinch River.  The white immigrants with the friendly Indians erected a fort on the bank of a river and called it Fort Blackmore[23] and here yet many of these friendly Indians live in the mountains of Stony Creek, but they have married among the whites until the race has almost become extinct.  A few of the half bloods may be found - none darker - but they still retain the name of Collins and Gibson, &c.  From here they came to Newman's Ridge and Blackwater and many of them are here yet; but the amalgamations of the whites and Indians has about washed the red tawny from their appearance, the white faces predominating, so now you can scarcely find one of the original Indians; a few half-bloods and quarter-bloods balance white or past the third generation." 

 

Jarvis later names James Collins, John Bolin, Mike Bolin and "others not remembered" who "went to the War of 1812" whom he says "were quite full blooded Indians."  He ends by saying that:

 

 "They all came here simultaneously with the whites from the State of Virginia, between the years 1795 and 1812 and about that there is no mistake except in the dates these Indians came here from Stony Creek." 

 

Jarvis stated that the purpose of his article had been to address the myth that the Melungeons were a lost tribe of Indians having no date of their existence and that they were found when the first hunting party came into the area in 1761, which he asserts unequivocally was incorrect. 

 

In 1914, in a letter to Mrs. John Trotwood Moore,[24] Jarvis writes: 

 

These people were friendly to the Cherokees who came west with the white immigration from New River and Cumberland, Virginia, about the year 1790.  The name Melungeon was given them on account of their color. I personally knew Vardy Collins, Solomon D. Collins, Shepard Gibson, Paul Bunch and Benjamin Bunch and many of the Goodmans, Moores, Williams and Sullivans, all of the very first settlers and noted men of these friendly Indians. In the Civil War most of the Melungeons went into the Union army and made good soldiers. Their Indian blood has about run out. They are growing white. They have been misrepresented by many writers. In former writings I have given their stations and stops on their way as they emigrated to this country with white people, one of which places was at the mouth of Stony Creek on Clinch River in Scott County, Virginia, where they built a fort and called it Ft. Blackmore after Col. Blackmore who was with them. When Daniel Boone was here hunting 1763-1767, these Melungeons were not here."

 

Nearly all of the 1800 and early 1900 era contacts with the Melungeons record their heritage as either Indian or Portuguese, mixed variously with whites and negroes.  Saundra Keyes Ivey[25] sums up the situation in her dissertation: "The Melungeons carefully preserved the "Legend of their history."  This "Legend"...included an original descent from Portuguese adventurers and later intermarriage with Indians, negroes and whites."

 

Why Portuguese?

 

If the Melungeons were not Portuguese, why would they have said that they were?  The answer to this question may be at least partially found in the 1834 Tennessee constitutional amendment, which went into effect in 1835, and meant significant changes for those citizens designated as "free persons of color."

 

 Every free white man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the county wherein he may offer his vote, six months next preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for members of the general Assembly, and other civil officers, for the county or district in which he resides: provided, that no person shall be disqualified from voting in any election on account of color, who is now by the laws of this State, a competent witness in a court of Justice against a white man. All free men of color, shall be exempt from military duty in time of peace, and also from paying a free poll tax.”[26]

 

What this doesn't say in so many words is that negroes, Indians and mulattoes, in other words, free persons of color, and slaves, were forbidden from testifying in a court of law against a white person, voting and other civil rights afforded to white people. 

 

In addition to the 1834 Tennessee legislation, the Indian Removal Act[27] signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on March 26, 1830 provided for the removal of the "5 Civilized Tribes" from their lands east of the Mississippi to lands west of the Mississippi.  Viewed by historians as an act of cultural genocide, the first tribes were removed in 1831 and the last, the Cherokee were removed in the dead of winter in 1838, resulting in the deaths of about 4000 Cherokee, or about 20% of the tribe,[28] known as the "Trail of Tears."  Some feel this number has been drastically understated.  Regardless, beginning in 1830, Indian is not a label one wanted attached to their family, and at that point, almost anything else was preferable. 

 

Given that these families were from Virginia and North Carolina before they settled in Tennessee, this would not have been their first brush with discriminatory laws. 

 

In October 1705 in Virginia, the following act was passed:

 

"Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto."

 

This was followed by:

 

"That all male persons, of the age of sixteen years, and upwards, and all negro, mulatto, and Indian women, of the age of sixteen years, and upwards, not being free, shall be, and are hereby declared to be tithable, or chargeable."

 

This certainly might be reason to seek residence elsewhere, perhaps in North or South Carolina.

 

In Virginia in 1691, 1705 and 1753 and in North Carolina in 1715 and again in 1741, intermarriage was banned between whites and negroes, mulattoes or Indians, which obviously had the effect of encouraging intermarriage between blacks and Indians.  Another ban specifically against white-Indian intermarriage was found in Tennessee in 1821, where most states only banned black/white marriages.[29]  Dr. Ariela Gross contends that the "vanishing Indian" was a result in this timeframe of the reclassification to mulatto and negro and follows several examples forward through time.  The 1705 Virginia statue that declared that a Mulatto is "a child of an Indian" as well as "the child, grandchild, or great-grandchild of a negro" was not modified until 1785 when a "colored person" was defined as all persons with "one fourth-or more negro blood" and only those with "no negro blood" were allowed to be classified as Indians.

 

Portuguese was considered white, although Portuguese were expected to look "dark", having Moorish blood.  Portuguese was claimed in other locations as well, possibly also to mask either Indian or negro heritage.[30]  DeMarce suggests that an obvious explanation is the perpetual wish for non-African ancestry, which had led to a plethora of myths.[31]  While Caucasians of Mediterranean descent were rare in British North America, they were counted as white and were, if willing to be naturalized and become Protestant, not subject to the legal disabilities imposed upon free mulattoes and Indians.

 

The Portuguese claim was not restricted to Hawkins/Hancock County families.  Lewis Goans moved to Hawkins County in 1855 from Rockingham County, NC, the same area where the Melungeon family of Zephaniah Goins lived prior to moving to Hawkins County in 1811.  On December 11, 1895, Lewis died and his obituary provides the following information:[32]

 

"Lewis Goans, an aged and well known citizen of our county, died at the residence of Harris Bell on Cave Ridge near town Tuesday night after an illness of about 6 weeks, Aged 84 years.  Until his last illness Mr. Goans had never been sick but 2 days in his life, and was an exceptionally well preserved man.  He was Very Dark complected and claimed to be of Portuguese stock." 

 

Harrison Goins, who wrote "Indian" as his racial classification on his WWI draft card, was the grandfather of Jack Goins[33] and son of Hezekiah Goins.  Harrison claimed to be one quarter Indian and never discussed Portuguese.  Harrison's sister never discussed Indians and told stories about her Portuguese Goins ancestors.[34]  Hezekiah's mother was a Minor, and the Minors and Goins, including Hezekiah, claimed Portuguese ancestry on the 1880 census.  Hezekiah was the great-grandson of Zephaniah Goins who moved from Rockingham County, NC in 1811 to Hawkins County. 

 

Ethnicity Challenges

 

Melungeons voted, owned land and otherwise functioned as white people in Hawkins and Hancock Counties in Tennessee.  However, their ethnicity was challenged.

 

Ariela Gross documents a claim to Portuguese heritage when in 1855 in Carter County,  Jacob Perkins, "an East Tennessean of a Melungeon family", attempted to win damages from John White for the accusation that he had "negro blood."[35]  In this case, many depositions were given regarding the family heritage and whether they were Portuguese, negro or mulatto.  If they were Portuguese, they would be treated as white, and if they were negro or mulatto, they would lose the rights of whites.  While the outcome of this lawsuit does not exist, the lawyers extensive notes do, and in a note from Jacob Perkins to his lawyer, he shares his perspective as to what is so damaging about the accusation of "negro blood":

 

"1st the words imply that we are liable to be indicted = liable to be whipped = liable to be fined; They bastardize our children; They disqualify us from serving on a jury - from being a witness - from merchandizing; 2.  These words worse than theft or murder; 3. They are slander upon the plaintiff and his ancestors who are dead."[36]

 

In addition to the various articles that provide various and sometimes conflicting ethnic and historical roots for Melungeon families, several lawsuits occurred that contested the ethnicity of both Melungeon and Lumbee families with similar surnames.

 

 

 Table 2: Contested Ethnicity

 

 

Year

Case or Event

Information

1833

General Assembly of Tennessee Petition[37]

Petition by sons of William Nickens (Wilson Co., Tn.) petitioning the Assembly stating that their parents were from Portugal and had settled in the US  "many years since" and that "their colour is rather of the mixed blood by appearance."  They asked to have the same rights as other citizens of the state.

1845 - 1848

Hawkins County, Tn. Voting Rights Cases[38]

The state challenged the right to vote of several individuals who were alleged to be free persons of color and therefore not white and eligible to vote.  Nine men, eight of which were Melungeon were prosecuted.  They were Vardy Collins, Zachariah Miner, Solomon Collins, Ezekiel Collins, Levi Collins, Andrew Collins, Wiatt Collin, Lewis Minor.  All were found not guilty except Vardy who paid a fine and the suit was dropped.

1851

Wilson Co., Tn.[39]

Letter from R. M. Ewing in 1890 stating that in 1851 when he attended law school there were a group of people living in Wilson County called Melungeon and claimed to be of Portuguese descent.  Includes surnames of Richardson, Nickens and Collins.

1852

Bloomer vs Minor, Hawkins Co., Tn.[40]

Bloomer accused Minor of abducting his niece for the purpose of marrying her.  Bloomer states in court that Minor's are free persons of color and the niece is white, precluding the marriage.  Found in favor of Minor.

1853

Goins vs Mayes, Claiborne Co., Tn.[41]

Mayes objects to marriage of his brother to a Goins female, stating Goins were negroes and mulattoes.  Goins initially won, but the verdict was overturned by the Tennessee State Supreme Court stating that it was common knowledge in the community that the Goins were of mixed blood.

1855

Perkins vs White, Carter Co., Tn.[42]

Jacob Perkins accused John White, of "an East Tennessee Melungeon family" of having Negro blood.  Various depositions claimed Portuguese, negro and mulatto.

1857

Perkins vs White, Johnson Co., Tn.[43]

Joshua Perkins took John R. White to court because White was heard to say the Perkins were negro and should be taken to court for having white wives.  Perkins stated that his grandfather was Portuguese, but lost the case.

1872

Testimony before Congress by Giles Leitch, Jr., attorney[44]

Attorney who had defended militia members who killed several Lumbee in Robeson Co., NC stated that the Lumbee were "a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian without much negro blood at all", "Mulattoes."

1874

Shepherd Case (Jack vs Foust), Hamilton Co., Tn.

Inheritance of woman challenged due to her race.  Bolton family alternatively defined as negro, Malungeon, mixed-blood, Portuguese, Spanish/German and descendants of ancient Phoenicians who settled in Portugal.  Includes description of migration path from SC to Hawkins Co., Tn.  Mentions families Bolton, Goins, Shumake, Perkins, Morning, Menley, Breedlove and others.

1884

Randolph Co., NC Court Minutes[45]

Flora McDonald, 88 and Catharine McBryde, 83 "are acquainted with Daniel Goins, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, (John Harmon) who was a native of Portugal and was always called a Portugan and was the color of the natives of that place...that he, his sons and grandson always exercised the right of and passed as white men in every respect."

1915

Goins vs Robeson County (NC) Board of Education

Suit filed by the Goins family claiming they are Indian and not negro, seeking admission to Indian school. 

 

 

The Shepherd Case

 

This case is known as the Shepherd Case[46] because the honorable Judge Lewis Shepherd, when he was an attorney before becoming a judge, defended Martha Simmerman, a young woman accused of having negro blood, and he wrote about this famous case in his memoirs in 1915.  For many years, his memoirs were the only known record of this case, but since, the actual case records have been found in the Tennessee State archives under the case name Jack vs Foust.  This case identifies several Melungeon families with surnames not otherwise identified as being Melungeon in the Hawkins/Hancock County core region. A watershed case in many respects, it provides information about Melungeon families in locations other than Hawkins and Hancock Counties in Tennessee, and provides invaluable historical breadcrumbs.

 

In this case, the inheritance of a young woman, Martha Simmerman (granddaughter of Solomon Bolton), was dependent on the racial classification of her Melungeon Bolton family.[47]  The court determined that the family was not of mixed African blood, the allegation, which would have caused her to lose her inheritance per the laws of Tennessee at the time.  Testimony in the case indicated that the family was alternately defined as Spanish/German or Portuguese, descendants of ancient Pheonicians who, after Carthage fell to the Romans, immigrated across the straits to Gibraltar and settled in Portugal. 

 

A tax collector in Spartanburg District[48] in South Carolina where Solomon Bolton had lived testified that he too had investigated the "blood" of Bolton to determine whether to levy the "free negro" tax on Solomon Bolton and had decided not to, whereas he did levy it on another person who claimed to be Portuguese.[49] 

 

Other witnesses testified that Bolton, Perkins and other people of the same community called themselves "Portuguese" or "Spaniards" but were considered "free negro."[50] 

About half way through the trial, A.B. Beeson was the first witness to refer specifically to the Melungeons.  When asked about Solomon Bolton's identity, he answered, "He was called a Malungeon" and referred to "His general association with the Malungeons - his own people.  I never saw him associate with whites except when he had business."  When asked to name the same families of this "race or character", Beeson named several including Perkins and the Goinses.[51] When asked what he understood a Melungeon to be, he replied "I think it is a term applied to mixed blood people."[52]

 

Lewis Shepherd details in his memoirs the argument he made to win over the court for Martha Simmerman, persuading the chancellor that her father's marriage was valid and that Jemima Bolton, Solomon's daughter, was legally white. Shepherd explained that:

 

"These people belonged to a peculiar race, which settled in East Tennessee at an early day ... known as 'Melungeons.' ... It was proven by the tradition amongst these people that they were descendants of the ancient Carthagenians; they were Phoenicians, who after Carthage was conquered by the Romans, and became a Roman province, emigrated across the Straits of Gibraltar, and settled in Portugal.... About the time of our revolutionary war,[53] a considerable body of these people crossed the Atlantic, and settled on the coast of South Carolina near North Carolina."

 

He went on to explain that when South Carolinians "began to suspect that they were mulattoes or free negroes, and denied them the privileges usually accorded to white people," the Melungeons left South Carolina and wandered into Tennessee.[54]

 

 

According to Shepherd, writing in 1915:

 

"Our Southern high-bred people will never tolerate on equal terms any person who is even remotely tainted with negro blood, but they do not make the same objection to other brown or dark-skinned people, like the Spanish, the Cubans, the Italians, etc."

This case included testimony about a migration path from South Carolina to Hawkins County, Tn., then on to Hamilton County, Tn. 

William McGill,[55] Justice of the Peace 1834-1850, in Hamilton County, testified for the plaintiff and stated: "We generally called them Malungeons when we talk about the Goins and them, the Goins who were mixed blooded."

Witnesses who testified in the 1874 Chattanooga trial named those who originally lived in Hawkins County. Judge Lewis Shepherd in his memoirs listed the families mentioned in this case:

 

"The Goins, Shumake, Boltons, Perkins, Mornings, Menleys, Breedlove & others.  They came from South Carolina, across the mountains to now Hancock County, Tennessee, and spread out from there."

 

Written records may not exist that show that all of these families named by Lewis Shepherd were in Hancock County,[56] but there is no reason for Judge Shepherd to have lied about this.  Shepherd had first hand information from representing these people.

 

Subsequent research revealed a 1794 South Carolina petition from individuals who fell under the “Act for Imposing a Pole Tax on All Free Negroes, Mustees and Mulatoes”[57].  This petition includes the name of Martha Simmerman's ancestor in question, Solomon Bolton, as well as his father, Spencer Bolton.  Interestingly enough, this list also includes the surnames of Gibson and Collins, known Melungeon family names, and others including Oxendine which is exclusively a Lumbee surname. 

 

The Shepherd Trial Goins Family

 

Further research tracks the Goins family referenced in the Shepherd trial from Sumter County, SC to Moore County, NC in 1820 where they are found living beside 3 Riddle families.  The Goins family (by various spellings) in Sumter County, SC and in Cumberland and Moore Counties in NC are always classified as either mulatto or black.  They are found associated with the various families mentioned in the testimony from the 1874 lawsuit[58] as well as the 1915 Robeson County Trial[59]; Epps, Jackson, Gibbs, Chavis, Oxendine and Smiling.[60]


In his testimony at the 1915 trial, Hamilton McMillan stated: 

 

"The Croatan tribe lives principaly in Robeson County, North Carolina, though there is quite a number of them settled in counties adjoining in North and South Carolina. In Sumter County, South Carolina, there is a branch of the tribe, and also in east Tennessee. In Macon county, North Carolina, there is another branch, settled there long ago. Those living in east Tennessee are called "Melungeons", a name also retained by them here, which is corruption of 'Melange', a name given them by early settlers (French), which means mixed.''

 

In 1915, the Cherokee Indians of Robeson County, now the Lumbee, sought to exclude other children from their Normal School because they had "negro blood" or because they were not Lumbee.  The Goins children were members a sub-group of the Lumbee known as the "Smilings" who had come from South Carolina.  In a long trial, Willie Goins testified that he brought his family from Sumter County, SC and that they "belong to the Indian race of people if any to my knowledge."  A group of ministers was sent to SC to investigate the racial heritage of the Goins family, and in SC it was explained that "we are sometimes called "Red-bones", some call us "Croatans."  Rev. Locklear gave his opinion that "on the mother's side plaintiffs are Indians and on the father's they are malungeans."[61]

 

This information provides a connecting link between the Melungeon families of Tennessee and the Lumbee families.  In the late 1800s documentation indicates that the Lumbee also referenced themselves as both Portuguese and Melungeon. 

 

It was culturally and financially important for a family to be or become white as soon as they could.  Whiteness, or in essence, absence of negro or other nonwhite blood was determined in two different ways in court of law, and both were used, often in combination, as documented by several trials.  Physical attributes were evaluated, such as flatfootedness, a trait associated with negroes, versus a high arch, associated with European heritage, kinky versus curly or straight hair, and a flat, broad nose versus a more European beak-type nose.  Of course, in the case of mixed, or alleged mixed heritage, these traits were not always definitive, so past activities and prior acceptance as white was also taken into consideration. Did the person or family in question (and their parents and grandparents) attend white churches or negro congregations, were they taxed as white or as free persons of color, did they eat with the white folks or the black folks at gatherings?  Did they muster in the militia, vote, serve on a jury or testify in court against whites, activities reserved exclusively for whites?  If they had past acceptance or their ancestors did as "white", it was unlikely they would be found to be otherwise.[62] 

 

In 1902, James Mooney addressed the issue of Portuguese oral history:

 

"All along the southern coast there are scattered here and there bands of curious people whose appearance, color, and hair seem to indicate a cross or mixture of the Indian, the white, and the Negro. Such, for example, are the Pamunkeys of Virginia, the Croatan Indians of the Carolinas, the Malungeons of Tennessee, and numerous other peoples who in the days of slavery were regarded as free Negroes and were frequently hunted down and enslaved. Since the war they have tried hard by act of legislature and otherwise to establish their Indian ancestry.  Wherever these people are found, there always will be the traveler or investigator passing through their region, who will encounter their tradition of Portuguese descent, and in view of their ignorance, will wonder how these people ever came to know of the nation of Portugal.[63]

 

Racial Identification

 

There are a few terms used repeatedly in historical documents when referring to individuals on the early tax lists and census records.  Many of the terms had different meanings at that time in history.  Additionally, it’s important to look at the entire record for context. 

 

For example, if there are only three options, white, black and mulatto, one would never find an Indian listed. On the other hand, on tax lists, if one is listed as an Indian, even if the surname in question today is not proven Native by DNA testing, there is no reason to believe that the family in question did not have Native heritage.  There was simply no advantage prior to 1887 when land became available[64] to claiming any heritage except white.

 

Mulatto today is taken to mean mixed black and white, but historically, it meant not 100% negro and not 100% white, therefore discernibly admixed, and it could have been mixed black/white, Indian/white, black/Indian or a combination of all three. 

 

Mixed meant the same thing, basically, not black and not white. 

 

Negro typically meant black and not appearing or known to be admixed. If you looked admixed, you were called mulatto or mixed or sometimes mustee/mestee if the admixture was known to be Indian.

 

Mustee is a term no longer widely in use, and when it is used today typically means something akin to “half-breed.”  The historical usage of the word typically meant mixed with Indian blood.  The mixture could have been Indian/white, Indian/Spanish in Mexico or the Southwest or could possibly also mean Indian/black.  Again, the context of usage would be important but any individual so referenced in historical documents could be suspected of having Native heritage that was admixed at that point in time.

 

White was white.  One could not be white if one had any minority ancestry “to the third or fourth generation inclusive” depending on when and where the record was created.[65]  At one point, after the Civil War, this law was extended to include even “one drop” of non-white ancestry, most notoriously with Virginia's Racial Integrity Act of 1924 wherein race was defined by the "one drop rule", classifying anyone with any non-white ancestry as negro.[66] 

 

How individuals were defined varied widely.  Often how they were identified had more to do with the person doing the identification than the heritage of the individual.  It’s not uncommon to find someone defined as mulatto in one location, white in the next, mixed in the next, mulatto again, then white.  Census takers generally looked at people and decided, or knew their family and history and wrote what they thought to be true.  Census classifications for individuals who never moved can vary from census to census.

 

Given the social, economic and civic discrimination of historical times, it goes without saying that “white” was the race that provided educational opportunity, removed repression, assured civil equality such as the right to vote and fostered financial success.  It was advantageous to become “white” if at all possible, and quickly.

 

Families tended to live in nuclear groups.  They suffered discrimination and repression equally throughout the group.  Survival often depended on having the assistance of your “kinship group.”  In other words, people established clans.  When it came time to consider moving further west for land, opportunity or just a fresh start, they didn’t migrate alone.  They went in groups with their children, parents, brothers, cousins and in-laws.  In some cases, none stayed behind.  More often, some did.  It’s important to look at family groupings when we track family migration.  Finding the same surnames and individuals in the new location that match those of the old imply a kinship group.  Migration paths are key to understanding the Melungeons.

 

Melungeon Migration Patterns

 

Jack Goins’ research has shown that the ancestors of many Melungeon families are found in early Hanover and Louisa County, Virginia, circa 1720, on the Pamunkey River, the area shown on Figure 1.[67]

 

Beginning about 1747, these families migrated to the Flat River area of Granville County, North Carolina.  This area became Orange County In 1752. Some families from Louisa and Hanover County migrated about the same time to Lunenburg County, Virginia areas that later became Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry and Patrick Counties in Virginia.

 

Locations of the homes of Melungeon families are shown in Figure 2 created by Jack Goins.  This area in present-day Person County, NC, located near the border with Halifax County, Virginia, is the area that is the home of the Haliwa Saponi Tribe.[68] 

 

 

 

Beginning about 1767 some from these groups migrated to the New River, primarily the area that is today Ashe and Allegheny (formed from Wilkes) Counties, North Carolina and Grayson County, Virginia.  Locations of Melungeon families are shown in Figure 3[69] on the border of these three counties.     

 

 

 

The next leg of their journey finds them in early Lee and Russell Counties in Virginia and Hawkins County in Tennessee between 1792 and 1800.  By the mid 1800s we find them in Hawkins, Hancock and Eastern Claiborne County in Tennessee and in Lee and Scott Counties in Virginia.  In Figure 4 the Fort Blackmore group is shown in present-day Scott[70] County, Virginia and the Hancock County group is shown north of Sneedville near the Virginia border.[71]

 

Other family members had moved on to other locations and states, in particular Kentucky and western counties of Tennessee, but other than in Hamilton, Wilson and Carter Counties, Tn., we find no record of those individuals being referenced as Melungeon in their new locations.

 

Melungeon families found in the various migration locations are shown in the following table:

 

 

Table 3: Melungeon Co-Location Migration Table

Surname

Jamestown era - Early Virginia

Hanover & Louisa, Va. Area

Lunenburg & Halifax Va. Area

Granville & Orange, NC -  Flat River

Montgomery & Grayson, Va.,  Wilkes & Ashe, NC - New River

Russell, Va. Area

Hawkins Hancock, Tn.  Area

Bell

 

 

 

 

X

 

X

Bolin

 

 

X

X

X

X

X

Bunch

X

X

X

X

X

 

X

Collins

 

X

 

X

X

X

X

Denham

X

X

X

 

 

X

X

Gibson

X

X

 

X

X

X

X

Goins

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Goodman

 

X

X

X

 

 

X

Minor

 

X

X

X

X

X

X

Moore

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

Mullins

 

 

X

 

 

 

X

Nichols

 

 

 

X

X

 

X

Riddle

 

 

X

X

X

 

X

Sizemore

X

 

X

X

X

 

X

Williams

 

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

 

Core Melungeon Families

 

In order for a surname to be included in the Melungeon DNA projects, at least one historical record must exist stating that this family was considered to be Melungeon during the 1800s and early 1900s in Hawkins and Hancock Counties of Tennessee or adjacent areas.  Supporting records were also incorporated.

 

The list of Core Melungeon families was taken from multiple historical sources, including the 1830 census,[72] Lewis Jarvis’ records,[73] court records,[74] tax lists,[75] Plecker’s lists,[76] Droomgoole’s articles,[77] the Shepherd Case,[78] the 1880 census,[79] the 1890 census report,[80] voting records,[81] Eastern Cherokee Indian[82] Applications, Rev. William Humble's correspondence[83], William Grohse's[84] records as well as other resources. 

 

Every family included is specifically referred to or identified as a Melungeon in one or more of these records. 

 

 

Table 4:  Melungeon Family Identification Table

Surname

Census[85]

Jarvis[86]

Court

Tax Lists

Plecker[87]

Articles

1890 Census

Grohse

Other

Bell

1840 1850, 1870, 1880

 

 

Wilkes Co. NC fpc

 

Humble[88]

 

 

Inter-marriage & location[89]

Bolin, Bowling, Bolling, Bolton

1830 1860 1870

Full blood

1743 Orange Co., VA[90], 1874 Shepherd case

 

Yes

 

 

 

Stony Creek minutes, [91] Blackwater church minutes,[92]  New River[93]

Breedlove

 

 

1874 Shepherd case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunch

 

Yes

 

1755 Orange Co., NC[94]

Yes

 

 

 

New River

Collins

1830

1870

1880

Full blood

1743 Orange Co., Va., 1745 Louisa Co., Va.[95], 1846 voting trial

1755 Orange Co., NC

Yes

Humble, Dromgoole[96]

Yes[97]

Yes

1773 Fincastle Co., Va. living on Indian land

Denham

1840

1860

1870

1880

 

 

 

 

Dromgoole

Yes[98]

 

 

Gibson

1830

1860

1870

Yes

1745 Louisa Co., Va.[99],

1755 Orange Co., NC

Yes

Humble, Dromgoole[100]

Yes[101]

 

Blackwater church minutes

Goins

1830 1840 1870 1880[102]

Yes

1846 voting trial, 1853 slander suit,[103] 1874 Shepherd case

 

yes

Humble, Dromgoole

Yes[104]

 

Blackwater church minutes[105]

Goodman

1830

1870

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

Minor

1830 1840[106] 1860 1870 1880[107]

 

1846 voting trial, 1852 suit[108]

 

Yes

Dromgoole

 

Yes

1854 Marriage Record, Cherokee Indian Application,[109] Blackwater church minutes

Moore

1830 1840 1870

Yes

 

 

Yes

Humble

 

 

 

Menley

 

 

1874 Shepherd case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning

 

 

1874 Shepherd case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mullins

1830 1870

 

 

 

Yes

Humble,

Dromgoole

Yes[110]

 

 

Nichols

1830

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

Perkins

 

 

1855 case, [111] 1857[112] biracial marriage case,[113] 1874 Shepherd case,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shumake

 

 

1874 Shepherd case

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sullivan

 

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trent

1870

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes[114]

 

Williams

1830 1870

Yes

 

 

 

Humble

 

 

1789 Wilkes Co. NC Bastardry Bonds[115]

Sizemore[116]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riddle[117]

 

 

 

1767 Pittsylvania Co., Va.[118]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Census Returns

 

In 1846, the easternmost portion of Claiborne County, Tn. and the westernmost portion of Hawkins County, Tn. were taken to form Hancock County.  Newman's Ridge, the primary home of the Melungeons was then mostly within Hancock County, but the northern end of Newman's Ridge and Blackwater Creek were in Lee County Virginia.  Little War Creek and War Gap extended into Hawkins County, and Clinch Mountain extended into Claiborne.  The primary Melungeon family groups were within Hancock County, Hawkins and Claiborne Counties in Tennessee and Lee County in Virginia.  

 

In Figure 5, Jack Goins plotted the various locations of the Melungeon families in 1848.

 

This census table below is provided to show the changing census classification of family groups over time within the same geographic area.  Census reporting was inconsistent.  The 1830/1840 racial shift is particularly interesting, especially in light of the 1834 Tennessee Constitutional amendment removing civil rights from any individual not entirely white and the 1830 Indian Removal Act brutally implemented throughout the 1830s.

 

Many of those who are identified as free persons of color (fpc) in the Hawkins County 1830 census were also identified as Melungeon, but, being identified as fpc in the Hawkins County 1830 census alone does not identify a family as Melungeon.

 

In 1830 and 1840, the census county recorded in the table below was Hawkins County.  In 1850 and later, the county is Hancock unless stated otherwise. 

 

Melungeon surnames of Hawkins/Hancock County Tn. or Melungeon ancestral families with DNA participation are noted in red.  Melungeon surnames outside of the Hancock/Hawkins area are italicized.  Melungeon ancestral families, meaning those not found designated as Melungeon in the Hawkins/Hancock area, but proven to be ancestral to the Melungeon families are designated by *.

 

 

Table 5: Melungeon Census Ethnicity

 

Name

1830

1840

1850[119]

1860

1870

1880[120]

Hap

Bell

Fpc & White(1)

 

Mulatto

Mulatto (1), White (2)

Mulatto (3), White (1)

Black (2), Mulatto (4)

R1b

Bolton[121]

 

 

White (2)

White (1)

White (3)

White (2)

 

Bowling, Bolin, Bowlin

Fpc (3)m White (2)

White (7)

White (7)

White (5), Mulatto (1)

White (4), Mulatto (1), Mulatto& White (1)

White (2)

R1b

Breedlove

White (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunch

White (6)

White (5)

White (2)

White (2)

White (4)

White (2)

E1b1a

Collins

Fpc (17),  White (6)

White (24)

White (33)

White (29)

White (26), Mulatto (11), White& Mulatto (9)

White (63), Black (1)

E1b1a R1b

R1a

 

Denham

 

Fpc (1), White (2)

White (4)

Mulatto (1), Mulatto& White (3)

Mulatto& Black (1) Mulatto& White(1) White(1)

White (1), Black (1)

I1

Gibson, Gipson

Fpc (10), White (2)

White (18)

White (10)

White (35), Mulatto& White (1)

White (9), Mulatto (12), Mulatto& White (2)

White (25)

R1b E1b1a

Goins

Fpc (4), White (3)

White (1), Fpc (1)

White (5)

White (5)

Mulatto (3), White (5)

White (12), Mulatto (1), P/W (3)

E1b1a

A

Goodman

Fpc (1)

White (8)

White (3)

White(2)

White (3), Mulatto& White (1)

White (7)

R1b

Minor

Fpc (2)

Fpc & White (3)

White (3)

White (3), Mulatto& White (1)

Mulatto (2), White (2), Mulatto& White(5)

White (2), Mulatto (2), P/W (7)

E1b1a

Moore

Fpc (2), White (16)

Fpc (1), White (18)

White (4)

White (4)

White (4), Mulatto& White (1)

White (6)

R1b

Menley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mullins

Fpc (2), White (1)

White (10)

White (8)

White (6)

Mulatto (1), White (9)

White (13)

R1b

Nichols*

Fpc (1), White (2)

White (2)

White (1)

White (1)

White (4), Black (1)

White (5)

R1b

E1b1a

Perkins

 

White (1)

 

 

 

 

 

Riddle*

 

 

 

 

 

 

R1b

Sizemore*

White (5)

White (5)

White (5)

White (9)

White (10)

White (3)

Q1a3

Shumake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sullivan

White (4)

White (5)

White (7)

White (3)

White (1)

 

 

Trent

White (11)

White (17)

White (13)

White (22)

White (26), Mulatto& White (1)

White (46)

R1b

Williams

Fpc (1), White (18)

White (20)

White (8)

White (8)

White (10), Mulatto& White (1)

White(23)

R1b

 

 

Melungeon DNA Projects

 

The criteria for joining the Core (Y-line) or mitochondrial DNA projects is that the participant must be paternally descended from an individual within the core group of surnames from the relevant counties, or their direct ancestors.  Participants that wish to join must request membership from the administrators and provide their relevant genealogy. 

 

Expected Genetic Results Based on Historical Records

 

In the table below, we identify what genetic results we would expect to obtain based upon the cultural, family oral history and historical (deeds, census, tax, court) records.  This list only includes the Hawkins/Hancock Melungeon and ancestral families, not the families identified in the Shepherd case that are not found in Hawkins/Hancock Counties.  It should be noted that Rev. Humble tended to identify all families as white and Plecker interpreted all admixture to be of negro origin.

 

 

Table 6: Melungeon Family Expected Ethnicity

 

Surname or Group

European

African

Native

FPC/Mixed

Portuguese

Bell

Humble, 1830, 1850, 1870 census

1880 census

 

1840, 1850, 1870, 1880 census

 

Bolin

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census, 1874 Case

1874 Case, Plecker

Jarvis says full blood,[122]

1743 Orange Co, VA record, oral history

1830, 1860, 1870  census, 1874 Case

1874 Case

Bunch

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

Plecker

Jarvis

1755 Orange Co. NC tax  list

 

Collins Surname

Humble, 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

1830 census,

Plecker

1890 Census, Dromgoole, Jarvis says full blood[123]

1830, 1870, 1880 census, 1846 voting trial, 1745 Louisa Co, Va. concealed tithables, 1755 Orange Co NC tax list

Dromgoole

Denham

1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

1870, 1880

 

1840, 1860, 1870 census

1890 Census, Dromgoole, Grohse

Gibson Surname

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880

Humble

Plecker

1890 Census, Dromgoole, Jarvis

1830, 1860, 1870 census, 1755 Orange Co., NC tax list

 

Goins Surname

1830,1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

Humble, 1874 Case

1890 Census, Dromgoole, 1874 Case,

1853 Suit,

Plecker, 1854 Marriage Record

 

1830, 1840, 1870, 1880 census 1874 Case 1846 Voting Rights case

 

1874 Case

1880 census

Goodman

1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

Plecker

Jarvis, Indian on wife's line

1830, 1870 census

 

Minor

1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

1854 Marriage Record, Plecker

Cherokee Indian application

1830, 1840, 1860, 1870, 1880 census, 1852 Suit, 1846 Voting trial

1880 census

Moore

1830, 1840, 1650, 1860, 1870, 1880

Humble

Plecker

Jarvis

1830, 1840, 1870 census

 

Mullins

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

1890 Census, Dromgoole,

Humble

Plecker

 

1830, 1870 census

 

Nichols

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

1870 census

 

1830 census

 

Perkins

1840 census

 

 

1855 case, 1857 Biracial marriage

 

Riddle

 

 

1767 Pittsylvania Co., Va. tax list

 

 

Sizemore

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

 

Family oral "Old Ed" was an Indian

 

 

Sullivan

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870 census

 

Jarvis

 

 

Trent

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

 

 

1870 census

 

Williams

1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 census

Humble

 

Jarvis

1830, 1870 census

 

 

 

Haplogroups

 

The Melungeon paternal families were both of European and African origin.  To date, only one of the Melungeon ancestral families, Sizemore, has been found with a Native American haplogroup.[124]  The Riddle family has been documented in historical records to be of Native ancestry, but the paternal line proves to be European.  All mitochondrial DNA lines tested to date are European, haplogroup H.

 

Of the Core Melungeon names and their ancestral families, we find them grouped as follows:

 

 

Table 7: Melungeon Surname Haplogroups

 

Surname

Haplogroups

Earliest Records

Bell

R1b1b2[125]

Lee Co., Va., Hawkins Co., Tn.

Bolin

R1b1b2[126]

Brunswick Co., Va., Granville Co., NC, Lunenburg Co., Va.

Bunch

E1b1a

Lancaster Co., Va., Hanover/Louisa Co., Va.

Collins

R1a1, R1b1a7a, R1b1b2, E1b1b8a

Louisa Co., Va.

Denham

I1

Charles City Co., Va., Louisa Co., Va.

Gibson

R1b1b2, E1b1a

Charles City Co., Va., Louisa Co., Va.

Goins

E1b1a (2 groups), A

York Co., Va., Louisa Co., Va.

Goodman

R1b1b2[127]

Louisa Co., Va.

Minor

E1b1a

Louisa Co., Va.

Moore

R1b1b2

Louisa Co., Va.[128]

Mullins

R1b1b2

Lunenburg Co., Va. - may not be relevant, otherwise, Lee Co., Va.

Nichols

R1b1b2, E1b1a[129]

Rockingham Co., Virginia

Riddle

R1b1b2

Granville and Orange Co., NC

Sizemore

Q1a3a

Jamestown, Charles City Co, Lunenburg Co., Va.

Williams

R1b1b2[130]

Louisa Co., Virginia

 

 

Of the 15 surnames and the 22 haplogroups, 1 is Native American, 8 are African and 12 are European.

 

Outparenting Events

 

During the analysis, several outparenting events were discovered.  Typically known as nonparental events (NPE), these are also known as undocumented adoptions.  Prior to the 1900s, adoptions were informal events when one family took the child of another family to raise when necessary.  In some cases, when infidelity is involved, the father may not realize that he is raising another man's child, but in many cases, the reason is much less sinister such as a child taking a step-father's name, a family taking an orphan to raise, or an illegitimate birth where the child takes the mother's surname.  All of these events result in the DNA of the surname not matching the expected genetic line. 

 

The Melungeon project had a significant number of these results, and with only three exceptions, the matching surname was within the Melungeon family group.  The exceptions are neighboring surnames.

 

The outparenting events were as follows:

 

 

Table 8: Melungeon Outparenting Events

 

Surname

Matches

Surname

Bunch

Matches

Williams

Collins

Matches

Bunch

Gibson

Matches

Donathan

Gibson

Matches

Goodman

Goodman

Matches

Manis

Goings

Matches

Collins

Collins

Matches

Gibson

Cook

Matches

Collins

Collins

Matches

Mullins

Bolin

Matches

Gibson

Bolin

Matches

Sizemore

Bolin

Matches

Williams

Minor

Matches

Fisher

 

 

Donathan is not a Melungeon surname, but was involved with the Louisa County, Va. family group.  They were also prosecuted in 1745 along with the Melungeon group of families in Louisa County, for concealed tithables, inferring that they too were a part of the mixed racial community.

 

Cook and Manis are Hawkins/Hancock County surnames.

 

One of the cultural aspects that Dromgoole found remarkable was that the Melungeons were "defiant (or worse, ignorant) of the very first principles of morality." 

 

In another article, Dromgoole states again that "they are exceedingly immoral" and references Melungeon women with white or black husbands and some with "three separate races represented in their children, showing thereby the gross immorality that is practiced among them." 

 

Dromgoole also shared with us a very interesting piece of trivia about two Melungeon families. 

 

"So old Jim Mullins took up with (having no set form of marriage service) a Melungeon woman, a Collins, by whom he had a large family of children.  Sometime after he exchanged wives with one Wyatt Collins, and proceeded to cultivate a second family.  Wyatt Collins also had a large family by his first wife, and equally fortunate with the one whom he traded her for."[131]

 

While viewing this behavior through the filter of post-Victorian morality, it seemed quite remarkable, but when viewed through the filter of matrilineal social customs practiced by the tribes inhabiting Virginia and North Carolina in the 1600s and 1700s, it's not unusual at all.[132]

 

Theda Perdue discusses this phenomena when telling of a trader who had fallen in love with a Native lady.

 

"They were married in the Indian manner, that is, without Christian rites.  Native people in the Southeast normally wed with little ceremony, made no long-term commitments, and parted easily if either spouse became dissatisfied." 

 

Perdue discusses the white perception that when an English man married a Native female, which was the typical scenario, that the female moved into his house and functioned as an English wife, but that was not the case.  She goes on to tell of the trader who did not expect his goods to be confiscated and doled out to his wife's relatives after marriage, in accordance with the Native understanding of ownership and maternal culture.  One either adapted, or left, and those who remained quickly adapted to living "in the Indian manner."[133]

 

African cultures in the Americas also tended to be maternal, and certainly, slavery in colonial America limited and sometimes removed any opportunity for the female slave to select a partner at will. Her choices were restricted to available males on or near her plantation, some of which were possibly enslaved Indians, or other African or mixed race males in the general vicinity.  In other situations, the female slave had no choice in the matter whatsoever.  While legal marriages certainly did not exist for slaves, they too had marriage rituals, although were often separated from family by subsequent sales.  White males were certainly known to father children with African females, although it was without the benefit of marriage and resulting children were born into slavery.

 

This high number and wide distribution of outparenting events involving almost every core Melungeon surname may suggest remnants of matrilineal culture. 

 

Autosomal DNA Testing

 

While Y-line testing gives a direct view into the ancestral source of the Y-chromosome, hence the paternal (surname) line, and mitochondrial into the ancestral source of the maternal line, autosomal DNA testing functions differently.

 

Autosomal testing tests the DNA inherited from all of one's ancestors.  Each individual inherits half of their DNA from their mother and half from their father.  Grandparents each contribute about 25% to each grandchild, but not the same 25%.  Which DNA gets passed to each child in each generation is a function of how the DNA is combined, and each child inherits differently from each parent.  Reaching back in time, each person carries approximately the following amounts of DNA from their ancestors:

 

 

Table 9:  Autosomal Inheritance Percentages

 

Gen

# of Ancestors

Birth Year

Ancestor

Approximate % of Ancestor's DNA Carried

1

2

1925

Parents

50

2

4

1900

Grandparents

25

3

8

1875

Great-Grandparents

12.5

4

16

1850

Great-Great-Grandparents

6.25

5

32

1825

Great-Great-Great-Grandparents

3.125

6

64

1800

Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents

1.56

7

128

1775

Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents

Less than 1%

 

 

Ancestors double in each generation, so you carry a little more than 1%, on average, of the DNA contributed by each of your 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents.

 

Using 25 years as a genealogical generation, the 4th great-grandfather of someone born in 1950 would have been born about 1800 and may have lived until close to 1900. 

 

If your ancestor in generation 6 was Native American and was not admixed, you would carry about 1% of their DNA.  In each generation, you stand a 50% chance of losing your Native ancestor's DNA at any particular allele location as each child inherits half of their DNA from each parent.

 

Therefore, today, you stand about a 1% chance of retaining the DNA of that particular ancestor at any specific location.

 

 

 

D9S919

 

A paper was published in 2007[134] that indicated that about 30% of the Native Americans tested carry a specific value range for autosomal marker D9S919.[135]  These values are not known to occur in other populations.  This is the only marker value currently known to occur exclusively in the Native American population making this particular marker extremely useful in determining whether an individual carries Native American admixture.

 

A value of 9-10 confirms that the individual has a Native ancestor someplace in their family tree.  A value of anything else does not disprove Native admixture, only that this individual today does not carry Native ancestry at that specific allelic location.  Several participants (11) in the Melungeon Y-line(8) and Family(3) projects have taken the D9S919 test, and none of the participants' values were 9 or 10.  This information neither confirms nor eliminates Native Ancestry from their heritage. 

 

Values of the eleven participants were as follows:

 

 

Table 10: D9S919 Values 1

 

Value

16

17

18

# of Participants Exhibiting that Value

9

6

7

 

 

The Patriarchs

 

For each of the Hawkins/Hancock families, a patriarch or patriarchs have been identified by using historical and genealogical research methodologies.  Through the Melungeon-Core DNA project, it has been possible in many cases to obtain multiple participants who descend from the surname progenitors, allowing us to confirm the genetic patterns of the patriarch for each family.

 

Patriarchs are identified variously; by the 1830 census (including their racial designation), except Denham which is from 1840; Jarvis, indicated by *; or 1802 Stony Creek Church Minutes (1801-1814) which are indicated by #.

 

 

Table 11: Melungeon Patriarch Table

 

 

Family Name

Patriarch(s)

Progenitors

Y-Line DNA

Comments

1

Bell

Thomas - fpc

 

Possibly R1b1b2[136]

Proximity, not proven genealogy connection

2

Bolin, Bowling, Bolling, Bolen[137]

James*

 

 

 

 

James on 1801 Lee Co Tax list as white

3

 

Mitchell - white

 

 

 

4

 

Levi - white

 

 

 

5

 

John - fpc

 

 

 

6

 

Michael - fpc

 

 

On 1808 Lee Co Tax list

7

 

David

 

R1b1b2

Married in 1804 in Grainger County to Polly Rayl(e)[138]

8

Bunch[139]

Benjamin - white 

Lambert is son of Benjamin, Paul and Jesse are probably sons of Benjamin, Green (Greenberry) possible brother to Benjamin 

E1b1a

E1b1a - 3 Melungeon kits match 14 additional Bunch surname project kits who descend from John Bunch b 1630, probably New Kent Co., Va.

9

 

Samuel not present in 1830

 

R1b1b2

Suspect NPE - matches 2 Williams

10

Collins[140]

George - white

 

 

 

11

 

James - white

 

 

 

12

 

James - white

 

 

 

13

 

Martin - white

s/o Samuel

Samuel also has sons Vardy (R1a1) b1760 and Valentine (E1b1a8a[141]) b1764, both in Wilkes County, NC, whose haplogroups do not match

From Louisa Co., Va. - see line 29

14

 

Tandy - white

 

 

 

15

 

William - white

 

 

 

16

 

Benjamin - fpc

 

 

 

17

 

Benjamin - fpc

 

E1b1a7a, 4 participants, son Levi R1b1b2

Benjamin b 1750, wife Nancy

18

 

Andrew - fpc

s/o Benjamin

 

 

19

 

Edmund - fpc

s/o Benjamin

Son Levi's line R1b1b2

2 participants, Suspect NPE - match Gibsons

20

 

Millenton - fpc

s/o Benjamin

 

 

21

 

Vardy - fpc

 

R1a1, 7 participants,

Vardy is supposed to be the son of Samuel, as are Martin and Valentine

22

 

Simeon - fpc

s/o Vardy

 

 

23

 

Harvey - fpc

 

 

 

23

 

James - fpc

 

 

 

24

 

James - fpc

 

 

 

25

 

John - fpc

 

 

 

26

 

Martin - fpc

s/o James

R1a1

 

27

 

Solomon - fpc

 

 

Wife Jencie Jane Goins, daughter of Joseph Goins and Millie Loven

28

 

Wiatt - fpc

 

 

 

29

 

Valentine not present in 1830

 

E1b1a8a, Suspect NPE pre-Hawkins County, matches with Bunches

 

30

 

Collins

 

R1b1b2

Matches Mullins

31

Denham

Washington - white

 

 

 

32

 

John - white

 

 

 

33

 

David - fpc

 

I1

From Louisa Co., Va.

34

Gibson[142]

Rubin#

 

s/o Thomas

 

 

35

 

Thomas#

s/o Thomas

 

 

36

 

Charles - fpc

s/o Thomas

 

 

37

 

Henry#

 

 

 

38

 

Thomas - fpc

Bryson's father Thomas

E1b1a

Matches Donathan

39

 

Sheppard (Buck) - fpc

 

R1b1b2 Main Group, 15 participants

From Louisa Co., Va., married a Denham

40

 

Andrew - fpc

Possible son or brother of Shephard

 

 

41

 

Esau - fpc

 

 

 

42

 

Sherod - fpc

 

 

 

43

 

 

 

 

 

44

 

Jordan - fpc

s/o George or Gilbert

 

George from Louisa Co., Va.

45

 

Jordan - fpc

s/o George or Gilbert

 

George from Louisa Co., Va.

46

 

Jonathan - fpc

 

 

 

47

 

Jesse - fpc

 

 

 

48

 

Freelin - mulatto[143]

Probably s/o Zachariah

R1b1b2 Group 1 - only participant

Suspect NPE matches Goodman and Manis

49

Goins[144]

Zachariah, not present 1830, Isaiah 1840

 

E1b1a Group 1, 4 participants

Zachariah b in Halifax Co., Va. 1770

50

 

Crispor - white

 

 

 

51

 

John - white

 

 

 

52

 

William - white

 

 

 

53

 

Fountain - fpc

s/o Zephaniah

 

 

54

 

John - fpc

 

 

 

55

 

George - fpc

 

E1b1a Group One

Matches Collins

56

 

Harden - fpc

 

 

 

57

 

Thomas - white - Claiborne Co.

 

E1b1a Group Two

 

58

 

George Washington Goins b 1835

s/o Alexander s/o Elijah s/o Joseph s/o Joseph bastard son of Agnes Going[145]

A

 

59

Goodman[146]

Edmund - fpc

 

May be R1b1b2

See Freelin Gibson[147]

60

Minor

Zachariah - fpc

s/o Hezekiah

E1b1a

Hezekiah m Elizabeth Goins in Henry Co., Va. in 1795

61

 

John - fpc

s/o Hezekiah

E1b1a

Hezekiah m Elizabeth Goins in Henry Co., Va. in 1795

62

Moore[148]

James[149] - fpc

 

R1b1b2a1b

James s/o Charles

63

 

James - fpc

 

 

 

64

Mullins[150]

James - fpc

"Irish Jim"

R1b1b2, 1 participant plus 2 matches in Mullins project

 

65

 

Samuel - fpc

 

 

 

66

Sullivan

Ezekiel - white

 

 

 

67

 

John - white

 

 

 

68

 

John - white

 

 

 

69

 

Thomas - white

 

 

 

70

Trent[151]

Benjamin - white

 

 

 

71

 

Alexander - white

 

 

 

72

 

Alexander - white

 

 

 

73

 

George - white

 

 

 

74

 

Henry - white

 

 

 

75

 

James - white

 

 

 

76

 

Jesse - white

 

 

 

77

 

Samuel - white

 

 

 

78

 

William - white

 

 

 

79

 

Zachariah - white

 

 

 

80

 

Abner b 1826 Hawkins

 

R1b1b2 group One and Two participants, both from Abner

 

81

 

Joseph b 1807 Hawkins

 

R1b1b2 group Two

Matches very large group of Trents out of NC and VA in 1700s

82

 

William died Claiborne Co. 1801

 

R1b1b2 group Three

Matches group out of Amherst Co., Va.

83

 

John Calvin b 1840 Hawkins Co.

 

R1b1b2 group Four, only participant

 

84

Williams[152]

Timothy - fpc

s/o Charles

May be R1b1b2 see Samuel Bunch

Does not match Williams Group 5 or Group 8

85

 

Aaron - white

 

 

 

86

 

Alexander - white

 

 

 

87

 

Charles - white

 

 

 

88

 

David - white

 

 

 

89

 

Edward - white

 

R1b1b2

Group 5 from Williams surname project

90

 

George - white

 

 

 

91

 

James - white

 

 

 

92

 

James - white

 

 

 

93

 

John - white

 

 

 

94

 

John - white

 

 

 

95

 

John - white

 

 

 

96

 

Moses - white

 

 

 

97

 

Robert - white

 

 

 

98

 

Silas - white

 

 

 

99

 

William - white

 

 

 

100

 

Luke - 1799 marriage in Hawkins

 

R1b1b2

Group 8 from Williams surname project

101

Sizemore[153]

George -  white

s/o Ned

Q1a3[154]

 

102

 

Owen - white

s/o Ned

 

 

103

 

Owen - white

Prob s/o Owen

 

 

104

 

Anderson - white

 

 

 

105

 

William - white

s/o Edward s/o Ned

Q1a3

 

106

Riddle

William - left before 1830

 

R1b1b2

 

107

Nichols[155]

William - fpc

 

R1b1b2 or E1b1a

Line tested out of Rockingham Co., NC - genealogy connection not proven

108

 

William - fpc

 

 

 

109

Mosley[156]

Jacob - white

 

 

 

110

 

Jonathan - white

 

 

 

111

 

Henry - fpc

 

 

 

112

 

William - fpc

 

 

 

 

 

The Melungeon Families

 

For each of the Melungeon families, several sections of information are provided. 

 

Initially, family history and summarized genealogical information are provided.  When the surname is genetically broken into different ancestral lines, this information is provided individually for each group. 

 

An ethnicity section is provided to discuss relevant DNA findings for the family group. 

 

A Haplotree Match Location Table is provided to provide insight into deep ancestry.  This tool is provided by Family Tree DNA and provides information about the origins of other individuals who have been SNP tested and who match the participants haplogroup exactly.  This information is given as "exact, one step and two step" matches to STR markers and us useful in understanding the genesis of the ancestral line being tested. 

 

A second table, Ancestral Matches, provides participant identified location information from matching Family Tree DNA clients’ kits combined with an academic data base (although these are not necessarily SNP tested) and is meant to give participants another view into their ancestral homeland.  The columns in this table provide the location by the number of mismatches in the allele values, up to a maximum of 7 mismatches at 67 markers, which is the maximum distance considered by Family Tree DNA to be a genealogical match.

 

In some cases, a discussion is included regarding the relevance of test results.   

 

Line numbers from the Patriarch Table (above) are shown below in parenthesis (1).

 

Bell

 

William H. Bell, son of John Bell and Mary Claiborne of Augusta County, Virginia, according to family researchers, is found in what would become Hawkins County between the time he was married to Rebecca Gibbons in 1782 in Sullivan County and the birth of his final child born in Hawkins County in 1792 before his next child was born in Knox County in 1794. 

 

In the 1830 Hawkins County census, a Thomas Bell (1), a free person of color was found, over the age of 55, plus a free colored family between the age of 24-35 with one male and one female child under 10 and a white family between 20-29 with two female children, one under 5 and one 10-15, plus a female slave age 10-23. 

 

A Bell testee's ancestor, Archibald Randolph Turk Bell is later found in Scott County, Virginia, born to a William Bell in Hawkins County in 1826.  A William Bell is shown in Lee County in 1830, so William may have moved to Lee County before 1830, or he could be living with Thomas, the white family with the male under age 10.

 

Bell Ethnicity

 

If William Bell of Scott County, Virginia is related to Thomas Bell of Hawkins County, the haplogroup is R1b1b2, European.  Archibald Bell does match the descendants of John Bell of Augusta County.  This identification needs to be treated as inconclusive until a genealogically confirmed Bell can be found and tested.  Haplotree and Ancestral Match tables have been omitted for this family due to the inconclusive nature of the genealogical connection.  If the genealogy is correct, this haplogroup suggests that the individuals who were designated "of color" did not obtain that designation from the paternal Y-line.

 

 

 

 

 

Bolin 

 

The Bolin family is found in close proximity to the other Melungeon families.  We find this genetic line in Brunswick County, Virginia in 1739, in Lunenburg County in 1749 and in Halifax County in 1759.  In 1760, William Bolin is found in Orange County, NC adjacent to a Gibson.  Classified in the Bolling DNA project as Group 5, this entire group descends from a James Bolling who was delivered to Kent County, Virginia in 1700 and died in 1729.  His descendant, David was born about 1774 in Virginia, married in 1804 in Grainger County to Polly Rail (Rayl, Rayle).  James Bolin is found in 1801 on the Lee County tax list.  This descendant family carries the oral tradition of Native ancestry. 

 

Bolin Ethnicity

 

The Bolin DNA is haplogroup R1b1b2, Western Modal Atlantic Haplotype (WAMH).  Unfortunately their markers are extremely common, rendering their Haplogroup Matches and Ancestral Matches relatively useless.  The most common matches in both categories were English.

 

Another individual in the Melungeon Family project matches this gentleman as well, and both men match a non-native Sizemore line, a Gibson and a Williams.

 

This haplogroup designation indicates that if the Bolin oral history is correct and they carry Native ancestry, it was not derived from the paternal Y-line.

 

Bunch

 

The oldest progenitor of the Bunch family grouping is attributed to a John Bunch who was born about 1630 and arrived in Lancaster Co., Va. about 1650.  He owned land on the Pamunkey River by 1670 and had 2 sons, John and Paul Bunch.  He is the progenitor of the Bunch family in both Claiborne and Hawkins/Hancock Counties in Tennessee. 

 

Henry Bunch is found in Chowan and Bertie County, NC in the 1727 suggesting a southern migration out of Virginia. Embrey Bunch of Bertie County wrote his will in 1780, proven in 1789, leaving assets to his son Micajah. Bertie County is the home of the Tuscarora "Indian Woods" settlement, popular with traders, and a location where many people of mixed race are found.  This Bunch family, "of color" is known to have intermarried with the Bass family of Nansemond Indian heritage.[157]

 

In 1720, Paul Bunch is found in South Carolina with Gideon Gibson, both men of color, married to white wives, who were reported to have been free men in Virginia.[158]  Gideon Gibson's descendants match the Gibson primarily Melungeon line.

 

The Bunch family can be tracked with the other Melungeon families as early as 1745 in Louisa County, Virginia when Samuel Collins, Thomas Collins, William Collins, Samuel Bunch, George Gibson and Thomas Gibson (among others) were summoned to appear in court for concealing tithables, probably their mixed race wives. 

 

The Bunch family and the Goins are also allied when in 1759 Joseph Going, the illegitimate child of Agnes Going is bound to James Bunch in Louisa County, Virginia.

 

From Louisa County, we track Micajah Bunch with other Melungeon families through Granville (1750) and Orange (1755) Counties in North Carolina, Fincastle (1774) in Virginia, Wilkes (1779) in North Carolina, Lee (1792, 1793, 1795, 1796, 1797) County in Virginia,[159] and then on to Cumberland County, Kentucky.   

 

Micager (generally short for Micajah) Bunch is living in Lee County, Virginia as early as 1792 and was still on the tax list in 1797 with other Melungeon families such as Zachariah Goins, Jesse Bowlin and several other Bunch men.  Benjamin (8), found in the 1830 Hawkins County census, is possibly a son of David Bunch and matches the DNA of 14 other descendants of John Bunch born in 1730.

 

Bunch Ethnicity

 

Except for one Bunch participant, all Bunchs match and are haplogroup E1b1a.  Haplogroup E1b1a is of sub-Saharan African origin.

 

The Bunch family is consistently white in the census, but the concealed tithables case in Louisa County certainly infers that Samuel Bunch is either himself admixed, or his wife is.  White wives are not taxed, wives "of color" are subject to tax.  The concealed tithables are likely the result of the men's declaration that their wives are not "of color."  Samuel himself is never recorded as a person of color, but his wife is believed to be Mary Moore, daughter of John and Anne Moore, also of Louisa County, a family whose children are noted as free persons of color.  The fact that Samuel is married to a woman "of color" is suggestive that he may be mixed as well.

 

The 1720 Virginia/South Carolina record also documents that Paul Bunch was "of color", but was free, as was his father and that Paul was married to a white wife.  In 1727, Henry Bunch in Chowan County was also recorded as being "of color".

 

This Bunch line also matches a descendant of Valentine Collins. 

 

The one Bunch participant who does not match this group is haplogroup R1b and matches a Williams.

 

The E1b1a haplogroup supports the historical records that indicate Bunch male family members were "of color."

 

Bunch Haplotree Matches

 

SNP tested haplogroup matches from Family Tree DNA and academic data bases.

 

1 Step

2 Steps

MDKO[160] Ireland

Ghana (Nzema)

 

Nigeria

 

MDKO Canada

 

Ghana (Fante)

 

MDKO England

 

Bunch Ancestral Matches by Mutation

 

Locations provided by participant matches at 67 markers.

 

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

UK

Ireland

England

 

 

 

England

 

 

Scotland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collins