The Lost and Proud pages
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I grew up thinking I was "part Indian" and only recently have realized my family has been hiding the fact that we are melungeon, I think.
My last name is Pack (anybody here with that last name?) and in my family tree are Osbornes, Gibsons, and Daniels. Anybody with any of them?
Most of my family is dark skinned, black hair, and brown or greenish-brown eyes.
We are from the southwestern part of West Virginia, near where WV meets KY and VA. Anybody from these areas?
I feel kind of amazed that a whole group of people could "pass" for white for so many years. Everybody regards my family as "white" and some members (such as myself) are very light skinned, but many are not.
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Talked to my mother tonight. She is continuing her research on her father's side of the family. She got census records from 1910, which has his age recorded as 6 mos. That's pretty much dead accurate. The funny thing is, 10 years later, there's a sister that no one had ever heard of, and who disappeared in the next census. Her name is Iva. A relative of ours who lives in SC is tracing Iva's children, so she didn't die - she just went poof for some reason from the family.
Strange. Very strange.
Tuesday, February 1, 2005
9:44PM - Intro
I guess we all might be shy. And I may have already posted an intro at some point, but what the heck, I'll do it again.
My name is Courtney. I live in Chattanooga, TN. I grew up in Kingsport, which is in the northeastern tip of TN near the VA border. We always had heard my grandmother refer to our ancestors as being "Native American (Cherokee allegedly - who knows?), Black Irish", and other terms I now associate with Melungeons. The family names in my immediate ancestry also point to that heritage: Green and Bowlin (and on two different sides, no less!). People in my family are almost always dark skinned, dark haired, and dark eyed. Evidently there's a blue eyed gene that floats around and every once in a blue moon a child is born with that coloring and blue eyes, but the truth of the matter is that blue eyes just aren't a trait in our family. My grandmothers both had green eyes, though. My mother has been researching a lot about our family history. My grandfather on my mother's side grew up in Sneedville, TN, and there were lots of relatives I never met because they were pretty much shunned from the rest of our family. Dunno why...there are a few obvious guesses.
On my dad's side (Green), my family comes from VA and NC, migrating up through TN. It's harder to track them, because court house records were burned in the early 1900's (possible ethnic cleansing?). AND, they lived like gypsies and traveled all over NC, TN, and VA, finally settling in NC and VA.
My mother has a rare blood disorder that I can't spell or pronounce, so I won't even try. Her doctor asked her if she had Turkish or Spanish ancestry, as it is more common in Mediterranean people.
So, from what we can tell in just cursory glancing, we evidently have quite a bit of this heritage on three sides of my grandparents' generation. Interesting.
And now, I have a husband from WV, and his mother's maiden name is Moore (from what I've read, that's also a common surname for Melungeons). His family has the coloring, too, and has stories of Native American heritage, black dutch heritage, and pretty much all the hallmarks of a Melungeon family history.
So we've got it on both sides. WOW.
On a side note, is anyone going to the annual meetup in the summer (if I remember that's when it is - might be spring) for Melungeons? I'll try to get more info if no one else knows about this. My parents usually go, and they say that it's really interesting.
My husband always jokes that people can't make racial slurs around me because they're offending my heritage. It's only partially a joke because I actually DO get rather offended over racial jokes, etc., although I have learned that some people will continue to be ignorant and rude forever.
And just to get conversation started - who thinks we have ties to Turks or Israel?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
3:48PM - I'm still here!!!!!!
Hiya Melungeon interested brethrens!!!!
Just a note that i'm still here, trying to think of ways to get this community going (one of which is to post here more often, duh)
I recently re-joined one of the melungeon egroups so I thought I'd better give the heads up, the geneology bug has bitten me again!
So how many of you follow groups or info outside of this community??? (which has become a ghostown for a minute....sorry bout that.)
Friday, October 8, 2004
Hi! I was browsing through communities and people interested in Cumberland Gap, and found this group. I'm an interpretive ranger at the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, one of the largest National Parks. We are very lucky to have a great museum and bookstore, and I noticed we had some books on melungeons. If anyone was interested in these books, or just would like to know some of the information we often share with visitors, I'd be glad to help. I find this stuff really fascinating!
Friday, July 16, 2004
10:58AM - Heya
I'm Hallow *not my real name haha* and I just found out last night via my aunt that we're Melungeon thru my dad. He (as well as all my aunts and uncles) were born in Wise, Virginia. I've never been there but hope to get to go there someday.
I'm so new to all of this and from just finding out what very little I have I am interested in knowing more.
Growing up all I was told by my dad (and he, from his father *who was a coal miner*..that passed when he was a teen) that he was told we were "black irish". I never really understood it. Looking up what little I did last night on Melungeon history I found why my features are how they are *having a flat nose haha* and also my dad's found out why he's had restless leg syndrom. :( Doctors had passed it off as other things but now, thru reading up, we've found out it's in our blood.
Anyway, I just thought I'd step forward and sorta introduce myself. I really hope to continue learing about all of this; I think it's so interesting!
Tuesday, June 8, 2004
8:18PM - Native Diaspora
I'm not sure if I wrote about my experience trying to see my ancestors applications from the Guion miller rolls or not.
Basically, I found my great-grandparents names (both sides) on the Guion-miller rolls, i sent in to get the application TO SEE the applications that they filled out back in the day (if you aren't familiar with the Guion-miller rolls do a simple keyword search, it's very interesting)
BAsically they sent me a paper back saying they would gladly let me see my families applications.
All I need is
1. English names (got that)
2. Numbers from the Roll (got those)
3. Indian names....
For me, being able to see these applications would answer alot of quetions for my family that have been lost deep in the kentucky holler.
there is a very polite statement on the form that says I MUST have all 3 items or my request would be denied.
Now I ask you, Is there anyone else on the planet that is made to feel they need a pedigree besides me and people like me?
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Nancy Sparks Morrison sent this through the melungeon topica list today.
1:53AM - Finding my roots.
I too have recently discovered my...Melungeonacity? ;)
Shovel teeth, the head ridge, black hair, blue-grey eyes, a tendency to darken savagely in the sun (though I stay out of it), high cheekbones, etc. Tales of "Cherokee" and "mulatto" ancestors.
Does anyone know how to do more research? I've checked Melungeon surnames and there are about a billion in my family, but I'd like to be quite sure.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Race, Face, and Place:
On Becoming Color-Minded
By Darlene Wilson
When people ask me for a definition of 'Melungeon,' I like to say that
depends on the
century in which someone chose to wear the word as a self-label. In the
to say 'I'm a Melungeon' might have been a way of saying, 'Don't kill
In the seventeenth, it could easily have been a way of saying: 'Don't
me, I'm not a
Virginian or a Carolinian!' But, by the eighteenth-century, the lingo
changed that to
say, 'I'm a Melungeon,' probably meant: 'Don't kill me, I'm not White!'
it was, along
Appalachia's ridge tops and river-bottoms, mostly 'Whites' who caused
and misery for
anyone who displayed anything other than a lily-white face and
When I first joined the Melungeon genealogy LIST, I was fascinated by
other names and
labels that, along with Melungeon, signified similar patterns of class-
persecution. It seems that personal histories and local conflicts spawn
micro-labels at the
level of community so that a person called Melungeon in one community
if he or she
moved, be renamed a Brass Ankle or a Guinea or a Lumbee. I'm beginning
even short geographic distances between us can mean "a thousand
local-ized by a ridge or two that serve as social and political
In 1956, when I was four, my family moved to a house on Pole Bridge
County, VA. It seemed to me that at least half the other twenty or so
families with whom I
was most acquainted (at Maple Grove School and Nash's Chapel Church)
This neighborhood is on the top of Guest Mountain, also known as
Mountain-- to wit, if you 'tended' to identify with Wise, then you said
was at the top of Coeburn Mountain since Wise Mtn. could also mean the
Wise and Norton. People in Coeburn, however, refer to it as Wise
the adoption of modern mapping by Virginia's Dept. of Trans. and,
the county, have we legitimated one designation --Coeburn Mountain--
local use but, on
USGS maps, it's still Guest Mountain. For those who have read Brent
it is the site of the Nash homeplace and heritage.
I grew up hearing the term 'ramp' applied to people who were also
'Melungeons.' A 'low-class people' who supposedly lived over in either
counties, but certainly in the vicinity of Stone Mountain, were called
'Stone Mountain Ramps.' While some people of Nash descent or Nash
probably used the term in my hearing, it was also well-used by others
or moved in, as my family had. As kids, we just picked up the labels
But when I got to high school, I learned that the 'big kids' in our
neighborhood had been
correct in their warnings-- the town kids referred to all of us as
Bridge Road Ramps"
and indeed meant it as an insult. Later, I learned that folks from
Hurricane section of Wise County and originally called Fernalda or
plagued with that label of "ramp." But, still, the label mainly served
carried a tone of dismissal, and was mostly used by those for whom
town-living was part-
and-parcel of their 'class' privilege and social consciousness. Race
implied since 'we'
were all 'white' or so we were told.
Then, when I was 16 yrs old (summer of '69), I took a part-time summer
Durden's lunch counter/store (remember that, anybody?) on Park Avenue
Around the first of August, the proprietor and his wife (I called her
'Dominatrix' but that's
another story) began going over the store and carefully securing
counter displays, locking up the lipsticks and jewelry, keeping the
(to the alley)
locked up every day instead of open for the convenience of workers in
When I asked why they were doing all that, a regular employee told me
August was the
unofficial, but widely recognized, annual "Melungeon time" for
probably looked dumb-struck since she went on to explain about all
thieves and their in-bred kin-folks who came down once a year from
shop (and steal) in Norton; she added: "of course, you know, they're
FROM over in
Scott and Lee counties."
The next day, I got my first look at these 'Melungeons' when the same
my arm and pointed to the door, saying, See- here THEY come! I looked
appeared to be customers like many others who came in day-after-day:
people, a family perhaps, their clothes were clean but not
some (but not all)
had dark brown or black hair, sharp, swarthy features and dark brows,
shyness when approached by sales clerks or waitresses.
The point is-- they looked and acted just like me and many members of
The differences were few-- they weren't dressed-up in the sense of
and tended to be dressed too warmly for August weather. But then, as I
learned when I
"waited" on them, they had been traveling since before day-break,
their ginseng and
other trade-goods to market. Hence the splurge of shopping, 'the
Time' for the
merchants. The women and children were prone to touching merchandise--
fabrics or smell-good stuff-- but then so was I, though my mother would
my hand and say, 'You don't know who else's been handling that!'.
Later on that first M-day, I asked Mrs. Durden/Dominatrix how much
thought they'd lost to these Melungeons over the many years that they'd
She couldn't remember that they'd lost anything because they'd been
by other merchants to "lock it all up" when the Melungeons came to town
to make sure
they didn't "touch" anything that couldn't be cleaned of their taint.
Then she told me to get some disinfectant and start washing down the
such Melungeon families had just finished eating. Since it was still
middle of the busy
afternoon-hours, I must have objected because I remember that she
hissed at me--
"Do it now! Those folks are nasty and nice people might have to handle
touched! " or words to that effect.
I was stunned and still am. I know that, even as a kid, had people
everything I touched, I would have noticed and been heart-broken!
if they had
just taken my hard-earned money. Why wouldn't young people want to
back at such
proprietors with petty larceny or vandalism? Now, I'm not advocating
retribution but gee whiz! I'd be more surprised if they had NOT been
resentful. No wonder
everyone of my parents' generation tried to escape the 'label' of
as soon as they
could do so.
BUT, then, this makes me feel guilty too! I see what the media refers
class" or "trailer trash" and recognize 'kinfolk' (spiritually and
historically if not directly) but I
don't trouble myself to object on their behalf. Despite their own
ancestry, I grew
up listening to my own family, some neighbors and too, too many
debase others as low-class, or no-class, ramps, rogues and Melungeons.
of them are
also vicious racists, despising all darker-others. If you don't believe
you should hear the
talk on the "radios" of truckers hereabouts and those of workers at the
mines of Wise
County. Racist, women-bashing, hate-filled and class-drenched-- they
other for heightened prejudices and for helping to inflame each others'
biases. They hate
Blacks, Japs, Jews, poverty pimps, Fem-i-Nazis, and bleeding-heart
but they also
advocate violence against "tree-huggers'"and "frog-kissers." These too
our 'cousins' and
they resent the upsurge of interest in Melungeons and ridicule those
in rescuing our
Someone recently told me of an elderly man from Wise County who said
had been a 'fighting word' when he was young and he couldn't understand
would want now to be one. I think he was expressing the sentiments of
Melungeon and "ramp" still mean "dirty" and "low-class." Let me put it
this: you can't
Appalachian (or American) 'white middle-class' unless a mostly-white,
white, under-class is also available for the middle-class to point to
say, 'See the no-
class, see the Melungeon, see the filth--well, that's not me or my
Scholars have only recently begun to investigate how such a
in African-American communities, to create America's own version of
"apartheid." Hate begets hate in a downward spiral; self-loathing is
penalty that some
have to wear for the system to work. Melungeons and mixed-ethnic
hated, so they, in turn, hated and feared the taint or accusation of
dark-ness. Rather than
oppose it, most of us have perpetuated a two-class, two-caste system:
'men' and 'not men'; the two castes 'people-of-color' and the
Yet, thinking of
'us-versus-them' in THESE terms sure can change the balance-of-power,
This cycle of self-loathing and 'other'-bashing must end with us, the
So, I hereby
suggest that we embrace the old language of hatred and rob it of its
woman-of-color will proudly dance at a "ramp frolic" and visiting
always welcome at MY table! We can't make up for the past, we can't
but we CAN throw a mighty monkey-wrench into the cycle-of-violence and
of-hate that is
still endured by people-of-color in our own back-yards and around the
Monday, December 8, 2003
Perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of genealogical research to emerge about Africans and Indians outside the Indian Territory of the West has resulted from the work of Virginia Easley DeMarce. The National Genealogical Society Quarterly in March 1992 issue featured an artilce by Dr. DeMarce, who while studying migration patterns took careful notice of an occurrence in the upper South of those who were of mixed ancestry. Her article is essential for any researcher whose ancestors may not be from the Five Civilized Tribes, but whose family is still known to have Native American ancestry. Her piece is entitled "Very Slightly Mixt: Tri-Racial Isolate Families of the Upper South-A Genealogical Study".
Her work is mentioned here because there are thousands of African Americans from Virginia, and the Carolinas who claim Native American Ancestry, yet have no direction as to where to go to document this relationship. The effort to trace Indian ancestry from the Upper South is probably one of the more challenging areas of Black-Indian Genealogy. Unlike the extensive records to be found in the Five Civilized Tribes, there was a deliberate effort of the United States to eliminate other tribes by officially eliminating them from the Federal Census. In the early 1800's it was not uncommon to learn that many tribes were simply "terminated". As a result, among those families where Indian ancestors lived, they were frequently listed as mulatto, or as white, depending upon the complexion of the individuals enumerated. This official "termination" gave the impression that the population in the United States was either black or white. This challenge in locating Indian ancestors from this region must be clearly understood by the family historian from the beginning.
The kind of documentation such as that of the Five Civilized Tribes does not exist. As mentioned earlier the primary exposure that Africans and Indians had to each other came throught the institution of slavery, and this is basically because it was the institution of slavery that brought the Africans to America. Before and after the Civil War, there were other kinds of contact between Africans, Indians and whites. Black genealogists know that it is not uncommon to find ancestors from the white population, and likewise, it is not unusual to find ancestors from the Indian nations. However, if legally recognized marriages occurred between blacks and individuals of any other race these marriages may have likely have occurred primarily for free blacks. After the Civil War, there was intermarrying that occurred, although in many places this was still illegal. It was also not unusual to find that mixed families tended to select spouses from other mixed families.
The piece by DeMarce is essential for the black genealogist because she closely examines probably for the first time the tri-racial isolate groups. It is from this understanding of the tri-racial population that individuals may be able to penetrate the realm of possible Indian ancestry. DeMarce also notes that one should not be mislead by the term isolates. An assumption might be made that the groups lived in isolation from others, whereas she indicates that these groups were actually more fluid and flexible because of the movement and intermarriages that occurred. This flexibility occurred as groups intermingled with each other, more frequently than in later years. She emphasizes that the intermarring of members from one mixed family to another mixed group was deliberate and that mulattoes not only intermarried among themselves, but also with families of known Indian-white descent. Families such as the Basses of Norfolk County, Virginia as well as the Tennessee Melungeons where the Goins, a well-known tri-racial clan, were known to have moved with and intermarried with other mixed groups, such as the Red Bones in Louisiana including the tri-racial Willises, Sweats, Ashworths, and Perkins. Over the years, the Indian-white and Indian-black communities continued, but the fact that the original Indian population was greatly decreased due to disease, made the concept of Indian "extinction" easier to accept. However, despite the decrease in the polulation, those remaining Indiansa were visible, and were steadily making complaints in the court system, protesting against broken treaties of the Europeans
Thursday, November 27, 2003
4:15PM - sambo from alabambo
the thansgiving holiday has me thinking about the ancestors. after hanging out with the family i'm back at home looking up melungeon and lumbee and tri-racial isolate stuff.
it brought up the memory of a childhood song.
does anyone remember this song?
I am a pretty little Dutch girl,
as pretty as pretty can be,
And all the boys
Around the block
Are chasing after me.
I have a boyfriend, Sambo.
who comes from Alabambo,
With forty-eight toes
And a pickle on his nose
And this is the way my story goes
One day as I was walking,
I heard my boyfriend talking,
To a little girl
With a strawberry curl
And this is what he said to her,
I L-O-V-E, love you,
I K-I-S-S, kiss you,
I K-I-S-S, kiss you
On your F-A-C-E, face.
i thought it fit so well with melungeon/racially mixed groups' characteristics. the dutch thing. (black dutch?) the 48 toes being an exaggeration of the twelve fingered and twelve toed variety. sambo from alabambo. sambo was a mix of indian and black.
but when i googled the song i came up with a different version. the boyfriend was fatty from cincinatti. makes me wonder where the version i was taught comes from....
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
9:31AM - TELL TELL STORYTELL!
Hiya folks! Since geneolgy sucks for us and it's nothing but a bunch of brickwalls and mysterious first names why not tell some stories??????
I sent this one to an email group Im on...The topica melungeon group ( check it out)
A subject we were talking about ( on the egroup) got me thinking about a true story that
happened to me when i was about 10 or 11 years old
here in Indiana.
My sister and I went to stay with my Aunt George in
Blountsville, IN ( about 1/2 hr from my home)...we
were getting settled in having a good time and I had
just started curling my hair all the time ...I think
it may have even been bleached even ( my mom was a
hairderesser and always bleaching my hair, I know.) i meet the
neighborhood kids and do the official kid thing "
What's your name.... "blah blah" Where you from blah
blah..." everything was going alright until one of
them looked at me and said " Are you part N____?"
(( MInd you... I diddn't realize at the time I had a
right or reason to take offense (sad) not to mention I
have light eyes, my skin GETS dark coppery tan in the
summer but during the winter I'm olive i had never
experienced this kind of racism before or even thought
I was any different or whatever.))
I said ...
" No, I'm Italian." :)
I stayed Italian through my 8th grade year I think
and even fooled a teacher or two with my olive
complexion ... i even made up lineages and family
names, pretty Italian ones ending in I like
Capelli.... ect...my cousin caught on and decided to
be Italian too! Come to think of it... I recall my
aunt Ernestine saying his daddy who was from the
holler of KY was Italian too. I knew I wasn't Italian
but to me it was more exotic and exciting than merely
being "part cherokee" when asked to explain my
I don't believe there is one drop of Medditeranean
blood in my veins as far as any of us knew until i
found out about the Melungeons. I think a Romani
connection would make sense and would in a way fulfill
my childhood prophecy wouldn't it? IN a far-fetched
roundabout way???? No?
Sunday, October 26, 2003
8:28AM - BEING Melungeon
O.k. so everyone knows about the email group on topica, Right? Melungeons@topica... it's very, very busy. About 20-50 post a day ( alot of homey chitter chatter though, I don't mind, I just choose what I want to open and delete the rest) I'm kind of quiet on it because I have the tendency to cause trouble and frankly, I don't want to out of respect for the older folks on there. It's a good group with alot ofgeneolgy tips and the occasional connection to possible kin.
I see on that group alot of the same problems and reasons why proclaiming and maintaining your cultural identity has been such a hard thing for appalachian descendant people, records were loosely kept and could be easily lost.
It is not really important for me to know exactly what "my blood" is, i Identify with Melungeon because the words to me reflect who i am.
I am NOT any of the one small percentage of "Blood" I have in my veins... I am tired of "Blood Quantum" questions. I'm a beige person, a Native of this country, my ancestors burned a trail and mingled with the people who were already here, with those who were strong enough to make it where they were. Thats really all there is to it. the cultures and ethnicities mesh and you have somthing new...not 2 things, not 4 things or 8 things. One person. You are not "parts' that can be divided .
Thursday, October 23, 2003
I noticed you said a family name of yours is Davis.
One of mine is too. On my fathers side, his paternal grandmothers last name was Davis.
More surnames of mine are:
Keith (Also Melungeon)
Baker (Also Melungeon)
Boswell (British Romani)
Gaddes (I have yet to find out about this one.)
Just thought I would add in that tidbit of info ^-^
1:58AM - New To The Community
I am new to the community. Well, I guess I could tell you my story.
I was in an AOL chat room, just randomly chatting. And someone asked where I lived..so of course I answered.
"I live in Tennessee."
So then she asked me if I was "Melungeon." And honestly, I had NO clue what she was talking about.
I started to do some research and found a list of physical traits belonging to the Melungeons. I have them all. From the jet black hair and steel blue eyes, to shovel teeth, to the bump in the back of my head. ANd yes, I can even do the fabeled Melungeon squat :)
Next thing, was figuring out surnames, I did research and found that most of my family on my mothers side was listed as FPC on the census forms. I have known all my life that my grandmothers father was Cherokee Native American. And looking at both sides of my family..the skin color range never really meant anything to me. It seemed normal.
On both my mother, and fathers side the people range from olive skinned, dark headed, to fair skinned and blonde headed. Due to what I now recognize as a Melungeon bloodline.
Not only this, but I recently realized that my greatgrandmother belonged to one of the most common Gypsy groups in Britain.
Pretty interesting stuff eh?
Well anyhow, I hope to find some friends here, and some Melungeons around my age. (im 17)
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Wednesday, October 8, 2003
8:10PM - Parts is parts
I thought some of you would like this...
Thursday, September 25, 2003
1:50PM - Melungeon Dna
I pulled this from the very busy melungeon email group, email@example.com....it annoying huge but a treasure trove of links ect...it must be some kind of hotbed right now... I'm getting no less than 25 messages every 6 hours it seems.
This Dna "general overview" doesn't really say much besides what we really pretty much already knew....
I'd like to be tested i think though i wouldn't want to pay for it.
Nancy sparks morrison maintains this egroup and she does a good job I guess with as busy as it is, i guess if your family hails from Appalachia and you need a DNA test to determine your lineage you can pretty much assume your Melungeon...i"ve been told by Nancy on this very group that I'd "never know the truth"
She's been told the same thing...
As many, many others.
The DNA test are so expensive !!!! I don't think I would feel right about spending $150 bucks for one of the "simple" ones.....aaaargh
Even then how do we know it's truthful?
Friday, September 19, 2003
The above link is a story about my Great Great Grandfather on my Fathers side.
Seems he had some strong Juju...
( Watery, I think I found a Richardson/Brewer connection iffin' yur interested.)
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