Eastern Cherokee

Eastern Cherokee
~Sherie Corbett 2014~

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Indians of Newmans Ridge






THE MORRISTOWN  GAZETTE

NOTES AND DOTS.
Sneedville, Aug. 16, 1878.
To the Editor of the Morristown Gazette :
Yesterday I took l. M. Jarvis horse and rode out to Joshua Davis', ten miles from here. Arriving at his residence "he was three miles off on a farm he owns in Claiborne county, so I took one of his horses and went to see him.  I found him engaged in the laudable business of building a school house on the lower part of his farm. He is a grandfather, yet, he said, he was taking right hold, hewing logs and doing' full days' work right along beside younger men, though he had not performed much out-door labor for a dozen 'years, having , .worked in his.,
blacksmith shop. He has several mineral springs near where he is working, the  water from one of which he freely drinks, which he thinks helps him. These springs are of little note a great ways from where they are situated, yet they are of local importance, and are resorted to by the people in the vicinity to their great benefit. While I was there, Mr. Hord, of New Canton, Hawkins - county, was visiting these springs, and, as he thinks, to his benefit. Mr. Hord is an old man between 70 and 80 years of age. If the great public knew of these springs they would be considerably resorted to -- as it is, it will be some years before they will be visited by invalids from great  distances, Mr. Davis thinks of pntting them in good condition, building houses and inviting patronage.- They are pleasantly situated and may, in ; time, be made objects of great interest. They are not at the bottom of hills, but come up from beneath the surface of the earth, which seems to rest upon a rock foundation,"

Returning to town called upon Sampson Williams. He is a man of some note in these parts, While he owns a large farm he has met with adversity, and like many who have been kinder to their neighbors than to themselves, have met with heavy losses. However, in his old age be has been taught by that expensive teacher, experience, and will hereafter avoid troubles which have, in times ' past, beset him. He has, for many years, held offices, such as post-master, deputy-sheriff, magistrate, &c but has passed ambition for office and taken out license as a lawyer. Mr. Jarvis has been initiating me into the history of the past, concerning Sneedville and vicinity. I was over on Blackwater creek, a famous section of Hancock county, on Thursday last. He has a farm there, on which he says is a most excellent chalybeate spring. It is resorted to for its efficacious waters.

Where the village of Sneedville is situated was once an Indian town. There are any quantity of flints half finished, scattered about over a wide extent in and around the village, showing that this was a place where they manufactured darts for their arrows, with which they killed their game. Many battle-axes, tomahawks, pestles, and remnants of Instruments and vessels of pottery used by the aborigines have been picked up in years gone by, so that now they are seldom found. Within a quarter of a mile of the court-house there is still visible a round-shaped knoll which may be a mound. It was once much sharper than it now is, so sharp that cattle never resorted to it for rest. It has been ploughed over and cultivated; and is now very much flattened.. I have seen many mounds, and am inclined to express it as my opinion that this - is a regular mound.

It could soon be determined, however, by digging into the middle of it down near to the level of the land around it. In size it was probably aboutt 30 feet wide in its extreme width and 60 feet long. It was built, if built at all, egg-shaped, or nearly so, and was very regular in its outline.

On a hill, not far from here, there is any amount of petrifcations. Mr Jarvis has furnished me with many specimens. They are vegetables turned to stone by some process not well understood by the unscientific. The curious thing about them to me is, because they are upon a hill, in limestone and gravelly soil. Most petrifactions are found in the earth in low and wet places. The bodies of human beings are sometimes turned to stone, but they are always, so far as I am  aware, found in low places, where silver or mineral waters are  found. Possibly some of the specimens found near here are animal petrifactions. Certainly, whole snakes are petrified, on Newman's ridge, and perhaps elsewhere hereabouts. But I have not time to stop to examine those curiosities in their several localities. I have some of them in my possession, which I will show you when I return home.

Right here, allow me to say that I am in correspondence with the officers of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D. C, who request me to collect all evidences of these singular formations, and transmit information and specimens to them. which I am doing, and respectfully request those who have any Indian battle-axes, tomahawks, arrow heads pottery, or other implements or trinkets once in posession of the Indians who formerly roamed over this country as "lords of creation," to send them to me at Morristown.

It is particularly requested that information shall be sent to me where the specimens were found and by whom they were sent. I am not authorized to pay anything for them. I have already some specimens collected, and want many more. Curious petrifactions are also invited. If left with John H. Tate & Co., they will find me. I am greatly under obligations to L. M. Jarvis, Esq., for hospitalities favors, information and other benefits for which I return him thanks on your behalf. Sine I was in this county last winter a great change for the better has taken place.

Berry has nearly, if not quite, broken up moonshining, and there is no ''grocery" kept in this place. Hence, peace and quiet prevail,  which proves that the shooting and cutting, so frequent for a short time last winter were sporadic rather than chronic.

Several new buildings have been built in this village. The Methodists have erected a very neat meet house, and William Y. Campbell has just finished a substantial and neat dwelling house. I hear the sound of the plane and other tools which speak well for Sneedville.
-------------------------------------------------------
Powell House, Rogersville, )
August 20. 1878.

To the Editor of the Morristown Gazette

My last letter to you was written at Sneedville. One or two items were omitted, You will see by the returns of the election in Hancock county, that the majority in favor of W. H. Smith for County Court was only four over R. D. Green, his Republican competitor, It was said, when I left Sneedville,  on the 17th, that Mr. Green intends to contest, on the ground that several of the ballots on which the name Green appeared without any prefix or given name were thrown out uncounted.

James Green received 33 votes and R. D. contests that part of the rejected votes were wrongfully rejected, because he can find more than four persons who voted on their ticket the name of Green, intended their vote for the contestant X . The Democrats claim that any name without a prefix or given name should in all cases be thrown out but, to say the least, here is a case for lawyers to disagree.

I am told that a beech stump standing in the village of Sneedville is petrified. George Mitchell, who lives some miles out from Sneedville, just on the edge of Hawkins county, showed me a piece of bark which he said he took from it, and which seems to be partially petrified if not wholly.

Lewis M. Jarvis also told me that there was a mine of red lead 'and another' of yellow ochre, both of which a painter here had ground and made into excellent paint. These are valuable minerals.

The bar of Hancock county consists of six members, - viz ;" L  M.Jarvis, Sampson Williams; William B. Davis, H. K. Herd and Messrs. Doughty, and Coleman. . three reside in town and  three on their farms, 'eight  and nine miles from town, in different directions becauset hey cannot support themselves by their practice alone.

Leaving Sneedville on Saturday, I took a seat with  Joseph Brooks who was going out to his farm five miles away, behind two horses, and accompanied him four miles, when he turned away to go to his farm and then I called upon the venerable Dr. Mitchell, who had spent a long life as physician in Sneedville, but who has retired from practice and resides on his farm situated on Clinch river.

The old gentleman was pleased to meet with some one who understood the art of budding fruit trees, and had me teach his son and grandson the art, for, old as he his 72 years of- age he desired to improve the quality of his orchards. And I will here observe. that the people in Claiborne and Hancock counties are way behind the times in this respect, taken as a whole, and need to be taught how to improve their orchards.  As a general thing, the Horse apple prevails, though the Limber Twig has been shown a  reference. In some in stances a very few have purchased new kinds of trees, to the number of 100 or more. The peaches are generally the kind - which were grown 75 years ago, though there is beginning to be an improvement in the purchase and planting of the new kinds. Both apples and peaches, as a rule, are of the late kinds. There are plenty of both apples and peaches along the whole distance I have traveled the past thirteen days, and men, women, and boys and girls are busily engaged in drying large quantities of them.

Saturday, just at night, found me at the hospitable door of William B. Davis, who heartily bid me welcome to his bed and- board. For traveling over rough roads under the influence of a scorching sun, I was tired and ready to accept of a good harbor for the night. Mr. Davis resides on a farm on Blackwater creek, consisting of the very moderate number of nine hundred and sixty acres. He is and has been a man of considerable importance, both at home and abroad, and besides being one of the six lawyers of his county, is  P. M. of Blackwater P. O.

Sunday morning the family started off for meeting, as there was to be baptizing in the Clinch river. Elders George Davis, John Davis and Click had been holding a two weeks meeting in the Davis meeting house, and a number of persons had been converted, and were that day to be buried in baptism with Christ, according to the practice of the Baptists. The place for baptizing was a mile or more from the meeting house, and on the way Mr. Davis showed me his father's farm, which is situated immediately on Clinch river, was settled 70 or 80 years ago, and stated that a bunch of asparagus is still growing which was planted the same time,

This led him to point out the place where was once an Indian village.  Specimens of the rude pottery of the aborigines are still found scattered about, and then he gave me a piece of Indian history, which is new to me, which he learned some years ago, in Arkansas, when he was Indian agent among the Cherokees at Fort Gibson. He learned it from old Jim , who was then sub-Chief. Jim told him that many, many years ago, a band of some 200 young men of this tribe left and went west to explore the country and find new and better hunting grounds, because, I suppose, they were encroached upon by the greedy whites.

They were never more beard of. But it seems when the Cherokees were transported to their new home in Arkansas that they found traces of an old Indian village, and specimens of pottery similar to those used by the Cherokees and made only by them. On Inquiry, the Cherokees found that their lost band went out to the head waters of the Arkansas river and settled there, and coming in contact with the Indians of the plains were annihilated.

Soon we came to the place of baptizing.  The services were conducted by Elder Click. Six persons were baptized. First, an old man who had already entered upon "the sear and yellow leaf of life,'  Brother Rogers, who had attained the age of sixty-six years; then a young man, followed by three youths fifteen to sixteen years of age, and a young woman. The company was orderly and the scene impressive. The crowd returned to the meeting-house where were to be held other, services and I passed over the river and on towards Lee Valley P. O.

A few miles ahead I found the road flocked by a union, basket meeting. Passing through, it I took a seat under the shade of a tree, supposing myself to be an entire stranger, but soon your correspondent, "Clinch." came along and made me feel quite at home.'

The forenoon meeting over, a recess of an hour and a half was had when preaching  recommenced. These meetings were conducted by local preachers ------preachers to the manner born, I mean-  a  Brown,  a Davis and others whose names I did not learn. It was an  occasion of considerable interest.

The name of --Trent is mouthed about as often in that section as Noe is in Hamblen county.  Clinch put me on his horse, whether I would or not, and walked himself three miles to bis father s residence, where I stopped over Sunday night.

On the the way we stopped and called upon George, son of Dr. Mitchell. George gave me some small specimens of petrifactions which are rare. . . .., Among them a bora of some animal I know not of. It is some two inches long with the rings around it in regular order, showing that it was an old animal. - The petrifaction is perfect. He has an Indian pipe eight or nine inches long, made in the form of a duck, which I would like for the Smithsonian Institute, Washington.

I was well entertained by Clinch and his father, William Berry, and on  Monday morning, pursued my weary way. The sun shown out clear, warm and oppressive, and at about one o'clock I reached the neat and attractive residence of John Starnes, where I found Dr. B. B, Owens and family, of your place. His wife is a daughter of Mr. Starnes, and she has a sick sister, on whom the Doctor is specially waiting. The issue of life and death is still uncertain, but if an attentive physician and the unremitting care of a mother and sister can restore her to health she will survive. Everything that can add to her comfort is provided by a devoted father. Oh what little heaven is there in such a house.

The doctor told me of a fool-hardy performance of a young man, in District No. 2 in Hawkins county, which resulted in his death. Tivis Cook was, on July 21, at a neighbor's house. His neighbor had a sweet apple tree. The apples were hardly medium sized. He bantered the owner to eat as many apples as be would, but the contest was not accepted. Cook then said he would see how many apples he could eat, and after cramming into his stomach 20, or, possibly, a few more, took a recess and went to the spring to drink, with the intention of returning to his task. But after drinking he was taken sick and vomited, but threw up only cider. He continued to grow worse and worse, and Dr. Owens was called to attend him.

He attempted to relieve the young man by vomiting and purging, but could get no operation, because, the excessive and inordinate stuffing had forced the pumice of the apples out of his stomach undigested, and they lodged in the small intestines in a compact mass. Cook died on the 24th of July.  Moral young men, never try to jump as far, run as far, or lift as much as you can, for fear of being ruptured do not cram your stomachs, beyond their capacity to digest food. Remember, always, that enough is as good as a feast,  and be content, for fear that a like death, will overtake you.

Coming over Clinch Mountain I found myself at the house of Andrew, he is a very old man of whom everybody speaks well.  He has a chalybeate spring on his farm to which invalids resort. Stopped over Monday night with Dr. Gillenwaters. He told me that there is a fatal disease among cattle in his neighborhood he lives five miles from this town which the people know nothing about. The cattle are taking with swelling in the thighs, suffer intensely and die, I have heard of it elsewhere, but know no remedy for it.

Arrived here .this morning, but have  not time, nor have you roomfor more, this time. You mixed up my Mulberry Gap and Sneedville letters curiously. You left off the Sneedville date and placed the last paragraph 'of the Mulberry Gap letter at the bottom of the Sneedville one.

We had a tremendous rain in this region last night, and more today. - J. S. W. ;

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Newmans Ridge - The Old Days


Herald and Tribune (Jonesborough Tennessee)

THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 1876

Mr. Editor In obedience to a promise made when I left Jonesboro I will give you a few items of my trip to Sneedville.  I reached that somewhat famous town about dark on the l6th inst. The roads were extremely muddy, but being mounted on Col. Irenius White's famous saddle-horse, "David" I feared no evil. Sneedville is situated not far from Clinch River, in a beautiful valley at the foot of Newmans Ridge.  It contains a population of about one hundred and fifty souls, one log church, one Academy, a Court House and Jail. The original name of the place was "Greasy Rock," so called because on a certain ledge of flat rocks near the town, the Indians are said to have skinned their bears.  

Hancock county was organized from a part of Hawkins County in 1848. It contains some very good farming lands, though most of the county is very rough and mountainous. It is by nature well adapted to the growing of the grasses, and could be made one of the beet counties  for raising sheep and cattle in the State. But the people grow mostly corn, oats and wheat and boat their surplus down the Clinch River to Chattanooga in flat-boats.

The county has a varied population, a great many of the people are industrious, enterprising and intelligent while some are groveling, vicious,  and indigent.  A race of people mostly by the name of Collins and Mullins live on the top and along the spurs of Newmans Ridge, and some of them in a fertile valley called  "Blackwater," history tells not of their origin," but as far as I can learn from the oldest ones among them, their ancestors came there from "Reed Island" about the beginning of the present century. They claim to be of Welsh extraction, some of them are quite dark in complexion, all have straight hair,  generally dark eyes, sharp noses, thin lips, and some of them very peculiar physiognomies. They have none of the peculiar marks of the African about them, and I have no idea that they have any African blood in them. The lands cleared out and cultivated by them on Newman's Ridge are said to be rich and productive. These people were all loyal to the United States Government in the  war and many of them served in the Union army aud made good soldiers. ( There are around three dozen old timers in Hancock County census in 1880 born from 1795-1820)

Circuit Court passed off quietly, a good deal of drinking, but no fighting that I heard of, it was too muddy to "form a line" on the Street of Sneedville. The famous Lowder case went off after a fashion.  He was indicted in January 1872, four years ago, on a charge of shooting his wife, which he claimed to have done accidentally. On the first trial the jury failed to agree, at a subsequent term several days were spent in an effort to obtain a jury, and hundreds of men were sworn but almost all seemed to have formed an opinion and the court had to adjourn without completing a panel.  He was again put upon his trial add convicted of murder in the second degree and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment in the penitentiary.   

The case was taken to the Supreme Court and reversed on the ground that the jury was incompetent by reason of having formed an  opinion from rumor and otherwise. The State could not change the venue and thus the matter stood. At the last the defendant through his counsel proposed to submit for voluntary man slaughter and take the shortest term (two years) in the penitentiary. The Attorney General after consulting with the court and many of the best citizens of the county, accepted the proposition, believing it the best that could be done under all the circumstances.

Two others came forward and submitted and took one year each in the penitentiary, one for aiding prisoners to break jail, and the other for killing a horse. I am now in the staid and quiet old town Rogersville, having arrived here yesterday all muddy, weary and worn. I am very well satisfied with the election of C. A. Mathes, as sheriff of your county, and the Deputies appointed under him are good selections. Calvin was a good and faithful soldier and I believe will do his duty as an officer.

"VlATOR."
Rogersville, Tenn. January 1876.



Rogersville Press and Times:  The Morristown Gazette., July 20, 1881, 
On last Friday, in Hancock county, on Newman's Ridge, a man by- the name of Mullins shot and killed Larkin Gibson. It seems that our informant knew but little of the particulars, but. according to the best information he had gathered, the facts are about as follows : Mullins is a revenue officer and Gibson a violator of the revenue law. It is supposed that Mullins tried to arrest Gibson, and that a fight ensued, resulting in the killing of Gibson, who, it is said, fired the first shot. Our informant, although he did not know, thought there had been quite a feud existing between the parties for some time.



THE REVENUE RAIDERS.
They Meet the Blackwater Moonshiners.
Battle on Newman's Ridge.
Burt Goins said to be Killed

Capt. H. H. Dotson with fourteen men made a raid into Lee county on Friday the 9th, reaching Blackwater at midnight, Saturday the 10th, when they struck Burt Goins' Distillery.- Finding no one there they destroyed it and passed on to Newman's Ridge, on top of which, in a dense forest, they struck Long & Maxey's Distillery, the most complete and unique moonshine outfit ever found in S. W. Va. A fine spring broke out of the ground and ran some 60 yards when it disappeared from view by running into a cavern, leaving no stream by which it could be traced or suspected.

The distillery was a large one, but all the refuse from it passed into the Cavern to be seen, smelled and heard of no more. Here the firm seemed to have had a splendid business, and doubtless felt secure from discovery, until Goins, as is supposed darted in to their seclusion and told them the raiders were coming. The 120 gallon still was at once emptied, and when the raiders arrived at dawn on Sunday its smoking contents were quite warm on the grounds. Some 30 yards distant they found the still which was then warm, so closely were the  moonshiners pressed that they had very quickly abandoned it. The Beer destroyed at these two distilleries was enormous. At Goins there were 1440 gallons and also 50 gallons Low wines. At Long & Maxey's there were 1728 gallons beer, and 100 gallons low wines. In all over 3,000 gallons beer, 150 gallons low wines, or singlings. Everything was destroyed, and then the party commenced descending the Ridge. Some distance below the summit they were passing through a field, when they were fired on by the moonshiners from a wooded spur of the ridge, directly above them. Then came

                                         THE BATTLE

Five or 6 shots were fired at them, most of which came from muskets, there being one squirrel rifle in the lot, judging by the sound. The fire was returned at once, and the battle continued for some 30 minutes, when the moonshiners ceased firing and, the raiders pressed on towards home, going up the valley some 7 miles for breakfast. During the battle, one of the Revenue party saw one of the Shiners step beside a tree and fire at them. He laid down and taking aim returned the fire, when he was seen to fall.

On their way home they were in formed by several citizens , that Burt Goins had been wounded in the the shoulder and died the afternoon of the same day. Goins is said to be the one who two years ago, In the Blackwater attack on the Revenue Raiders, shot and killed citizen Vandeventer, who was aiding the Revenue parly. . If the story of Goins death be true, (and we think there Is reason to doubt it,) this will make a total three deaths in the last two years, from these Revenue raids on the moonshiners of Lee and Scott. Vandevanter was killed in May 1877, Cox, of Scott, in April 1879, and Goins in May 1879. Over 100 shots were exchanged in the battle. We get these particulars from Capt. Dotson and Capt. Ballard.


The Morristown Gazette., July 04, 1877





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Did You Know ......

The 'First Part' of this article was printed from August of 1848 through October of that year in at least two dozen newspapers across the United States, to date I have not found one single newspaper that carried the 'Second Part' of the article. Why was the 'Second Part' not printed in any newspaper before Littell published 'his version' in March of 1849?  Is the 'Second Part' hidden away somewhere in a newspaper or magazine yet to be found?  Or is it the part of Littell's Living Age that falls under 'fiction'? 

Littell's Living Age
March 1849
"THE MELUNGENS"
Unknown Journalist

FIRST PART
It was reprinted from the Knoxville Register September 6, 1848 quoting from the Louisville Examiner. (We are sorry to have lost the name of the southern paper from which this is taken.)

We give to-day another amusing and characteristic sketch from a letter of our intelligent and sprightly correspondent, sojourning at present in one of the seldom-visited nooks hid away in our mountains.

You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, known hereabouts as 'black-water Springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. A hundred men could defend the pass against even a Xerxian army. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS.

The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. 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, that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These people made themselves friendly with the Indians and freed, as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a delightful Utopia of their own creation, trampling on the marriage relation, despising all forms of religion, and subsisting upon corn (the only possible product of the soil) and wild game of the woods.

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.

They are tall, straight, well- formed people, of a dark copper color, with Circassian features, but wooly heads and other similar appendages of our negro. They are privileged voters in the state in which they live and thus, you will perceive, are accredited citizens of the commonwealth. They are brave, but quarrelsome; and are hospitable and generous to strangers. They have no preachers among them and are almost without any knowledge of a Supreme Being. They are married by the established forms, but husband and wife separate at pleasure, without meeting any reproach or disgrace from their friends. They are remarkably unchaste, and want of chastity on the part of females is no bar to their marrying. They have but little association with their neighbors, carefully preserving their race, or class, or whatever you may call it: and are in every respect, save they are under the state government, a separate and distinct people. Now this is no traveller's story.

They are really what I tell you, without abating or setting down in aught in malice. They are behind their neighbors in the arts. They use oxen instead of horses in their agricultural attempts, and their implements of husbandry are chiefly made by themselves of wood. They are, without exception, poor and ignorant, but apparently happy. 




SECOND PART

Having thus given you a correct geographical and scientific history of the people, I will proceed with my own adventures.

The doctor was, as usual my compagnon de voyage, and we stopped at 'Old Vardy's', the hostelrie of the vicinage. Old Vardy is the 'chief cook and bottle-washer' of the Melungens, and is really a very clever fellow: but his hotel savors strongly of that peculiar perfume that one may find in the sleeping-rooms of our negro servants, especially on a close, warm, summer evening.

We arrived at Vardy's in time for supper, and thus despatched, we went to the spring, where were assembled several rude log huts, and a small sprinkling of 'the natives, together with a fiddle and other preparations for a dance. Shoes, stockings, and coats were unknown luxuries among them--at least we saw them not. The dance was engaged in with right hearty good will, and would have put to the blush the tame steppings of our beaux.

Among the participants was a very tall, raw-boned damsel, with her two garments fluttering readily in the amorous night breeze, who's black eyes were lit up with an unusual fire, either from the repeated visits to the nearest hut, behind the door of which was placed an open-mouthed stone jar of new-made corn whiskey, and in which was a gourd, with a 'deuce a bit' of sugar at all, and no water near than the spring.

Nearest here on the right was s a lank lantern-jawed, high cheekbone, long-legged fellow who seemed similarly elevated. Now these two, Jord Bilson (that was he,) and Syl Varmin, (that was she,)were destined to afford the amusement of the evening: for Jord, in cutting the pigeon-wing, chanced to light from one of his aerial flights right upon the ponderous pedal appendage of Syl, a compliment which this amiable lady seemed in no way to accept kindly.

'Jord Bilson,' said the tender Syl, 'I'll thank you to keep your darned hoofs off my feet.'

'Oh, Jord's feet are so tarnel big he can't manage 'em all by hisself.' suggested some pasificator near by.

'He'll have to keep 'em off me,' suggested Syl, 'or I'll shorten 'em for him.'

'Now look ye here, Syl Varmin, ' answered Jord, somewhat nettled at both remarks, 'I didn't go to tread on your feet but I don't want you to be cutting up any rusties about. You're nothing but a cross-grained critter, anyhow.'

'And you're a darned Melungen.'

'Well, if I am, I ain't n*****-Melungen, anyhow--I'm Indian-Melungen, and that's more 'an you is.'

'See here, Jord,' said Syl, now highly nettled, 'I'll give you a dollar ef you'll go out on the grass and right it out.'

 Jord smiled faintly and demurred, adding--

'Go home Syl, and look under your puncheons and see if you can't fill a bed outen the hair of them hogs you stole from Vardy.'

'And you go to Sow's cave, Jord Bilson, ef it comes to that, and see how many shucks you got offen that corn you took from Pete Joemen. Will you take the dollar?'

Jord now seemed about to consent, and Syl reduced the premium by one half, and finally came down to a quarter, and then Jord began to offer a quarter, a half, and finally a dollar: but Syl's prudence equalled his, and seeing that neither was likely to accept, we returned to our hotel, and were informed by old Vardy that the sight we had witnessed was no 'onusual one. The boys and gals was jist having a little fun.'

And so it proved, for about midnight we were wakened by a loud noise of contending parties in fierce combat, and, rising and looking out from the chinks of our hut, we saw the whole party engaged in a grand me lee; rising above the din of all which, was the harsh voice of Syl Varmin, calling--

'Stand back here, Sal Frazar, and let me do the rest of the beaten of Jord Bilson; I haint forgot his hoofs yit.'

The mele closed, and we retired again, and by breakfast next morning all hands were reconciled, and the stone jar replenished out of the mutual pocket, and peace ruled where so lately all had been recriminations and blows. After breakfast, just as the supper had been at old Jack's, save only that we had a table, we started for Clinch river for a day's fishing where other and yet more amusing incidents awaited us. But as I have dwelt upon this early part of the journey longer than I intended, you must wait till the next letter for the concluding incidents."




The LEGEND of the Melungens printed apparently sometime in the 1840s [though it may have been printed much earlier as the original article has not been found] is an important piece of Melungeon History, ignored by most researchers and authors.  The article was published shortly after the illegal voting trials in Tennessee of Solomon Bolton and the men in Hawkins County, both claimed Portuguese ancestry. 

I believe it is also important to note the 'Legend' tells they were Portuguese who mixed with the Indians and when they came to Tennessee they then mixed with the 'whites and the blacks.'  Why is it widely reported they "hid their ancestry" or the Portuguese "was a cover story" to hide their African ancestry. 

They clearly state in 1848 they were Portuguese who later mixed with the blacks, so what were they hiding, and why do seemingly intelligent researchers and authors insist they didn't know who they were, or were trying to hide their ancestry?

This is the same story Dromgoole heard FORTY years later when she wrote; 'the Denham were Portuguese, the Collins and Gibson were Cherokee, the Mullins were white and the Goins were African' and in 2014 this is being backed up by DNA testing.



Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bonnie Ball Sage

Correspondence of Bonnie Sage Ball


The Melungeons (Notes on the Origin of a Race) by Bonnie Ball was the first book I read back in the mid 1990s when I first started researching these families. Bonnie was born December 1901 on Wallen’s Ridge near Stickleyville, Lee County, Virginia. More on her life can be read here; Tribute to Bonnie Sage Ball By Gladys Julian Stallard. Many articles and books have been published on the Melungeons over the years but Bonnie Ball insight into their history, customs, etc, is invaluable as her father had grown up with them in the late 1800s and she not only knew them as a child but taught their children. Here are some excerpts from her letters in the 1990s and also from her book which can be purchased here online The Melungeons by Bonnie S. Ball

February 24, 1990I've just read your letter which had gotten misplaced in my big pile of mail... Now that I am 88 I have had to give up most research , but I still write letters and reply to those of others, even though I cannot do much active research.

As to the Melungeons, I had known them since childhood, since my father had them living as tenants on our farm when I was 8 or 9 years old. He had grown up in the Blackwater, Va., area and known them all his life.

When the Goins family came to live on our farm their children attended our school, and after I grew up and began teaching I had them as pupils, and had even played with their children. However it never occurred to me t write about them until a Norton, Va., editor began publishing articles about them, even though he knew little about them. Then it occurred to me "why not write about them myself?" So, I wrote a brief article for the Read Magazine, which sent me $75. I began receiving letters from all over the U.S.A. I had no idea that so many people were interested. A few years later I wrote one for a magazine in Ky., then the head of the ? paid me to write one for it. And in the early 1960s I decided to put it into a booklet and I had more than 2,000 copies published.We had the Goins family for only a year or so, but we had Gibson, and Collins families living on our [land] for several years. My mother had a Collins family there long after I grew up and married.

Other Melungeon names that I remember were; Freeman, Moore, Sexton, Minor, and Sheets. Some of the Gibsons intermarried with other families like Phillips, Fanning, and Clark. [The Fannins, known as "Fanon," were slightly related to me and one of the Collins families who educated their children in Hancock Co., Tenn. [the man was a banker] had a daughter who married my father's step sister. They had only daughters. One took over the bank after he died and another became a high school principle in Bristol, Tenn.So this has been a fascinating subject for me and I still feel convinced that they are a mixture of Moorish, Portuguese, Croatan Indians, and a small portion of Anglo-Saxon blood that was left from the final massacre of the Roanoke Island colony in North Carolina. If not, how can we explain why they use old Elizabethan English expressions and all the older ones said they were "Porty-gee." The Portuguese who were often shipwrecked off the stormy N.C coast and chose to stay there and marry Indian women. The small segment that escaped from the final massacre by the Va., Indians evidently retained the old English words that the Melungeons used, like "Hit" [for it] "ferninst'[?] for opposite, etc. Please excuse my rambling and crooked lines.Bonnie S. Ball

Jan 1990I have your material but am now 88 years old and not carrying on any further research on the Melungeons. However, I grew up with them living and working on my father farm in Lee Co, Va, and he knew them well during his youth, and I have never doubted their real origin. I have sold over 2000 copies of my booklet. A step-sister of my father married a man of that group. He attended a mission school for that group, and was president of the local bank, which was later managed by a daughter. Some of them are still in this area and have become worthwhile citizens.

A Goins man once lived on our farm with his family, a large and strong man but was married to a woman that was probably not a Melungeon Others whom I knew in childhood were named Gibson, Freeman, Collins, and Sexton, which appear to be Anglo-Saxon names. However there is no doubt that they have a Portuguese ancestry a few generations back, but they also have some Anglo-Saxon names and speech.Bonnie S. Ball

August 1992I have just taken the time to read all your data on the Melungeons. I guess that the mail that I have received re this subject would weigh several pounds. And truly, most of it presents new or different ideas.

In fact I grew up in Lee County, Va, when my father and mother had decided to move off the little ridge top farm, and move down into the valley among the blue grass hills and limestone springs, where we would be near a public school. There were woodland along the side and top of Powell Mountain, and he realized that if we were to continue raising cattle and sheep the wooded area along the mountain side would have to be cleared.

He had been born and reared as a boy in the 'West Blackwater section of Lee County," which adjoins Hancock County, Tenn, and was familiar as a young man with Mahala Mullins and other Melungeons. And he admitted that he had bought some of Mahala's product.

By that time he had lost his father during his childhood and his mother had remarried. So he went to live with an uncle in another valley in Lee Co, Va. Later around 1900 he bought a small farm along Wallen's Ridge where I and 3 or 4 others were born. However we were over a mile from school and attendance was difficult in winter so the bought the bluegrass land along the creek and mountainside which was rapidly growing up into a forest So dad knew some of the Melungeons he hand known as a boy on Blackwater, but they had then scattered and some were living in a remote area of Wise County known as the High Knob area Some of them had even ventured to work in a nearby coal mine, but that life apparently did not suit them very well. So he sent a man with teams of horses and wagons to move them over into Lee county to clear the mountain land of forests, and take care of his livestock. that was about 1909, and they lived in the 'shanties' on our farm for 8 or 10 years.

As they moved back into the remote areas of Wise County, Va., the forest along the mountain top began to grow and grow and by now it extends all the way down to our once vegetable garden where a brother lives.
Occasionally we read of one of their cousins who, like most Melungeon men there, did some hunting and fishing. For extra spending money and chewin tobacco "they dug and sold the dried roots of gensing to sell (it grows in wooded areas and is claimed to have medicinal value.)

You may get tired before you read all these details. Even though several people have "stolen details" from my book, from which I have 'leased' to a Tenn. firm, I don't mind others using my material but they should, at least, ask for permission.Bonnie S. Ball

Some interesting excerpts from the book;

The older Melungeons insisted that they were Portuguese. I have known the Melungeons from childhood, when three families lived as tenants on my father's farm in Southwestern Virginia. Their children have been my pupils, and I have done first-hand research on their traits, customs, and past, but can give here only the proposed theories of their origin.

There is a doubtful theory that the Melungeon was a product of frontier warfare when white blood was fused with the Indian captor's and that of the Negro slave.

There also persist stories (that are recorded in history) that DeSoto visited Southwestern Virginia in the sixteenth century by way of a long chain of mountain leading into Tennessee. One ridge known as "Newman's Ridge" (which could have been "New Man's Ridge") was once the home of a teeming colony of Melungeons who were strongly believed to have descended from members of DeSoto's party lost or captured there.

In both Carolinas Melungeons were denied privileges usually granted to white people. For that reason many migrated to Tennessee where the courts ruled that they were not Negroes.

In weighing this last statement it is interesting to note that the Moors of Tennessee called themselves Portuguese, that the Moors of North Carolina came from Portugal, and that a generation ago the Melungeons called themselves Portuguese.The Portuguese tradition seems to persist in connection with the Melungeons much more than even that of the Lost Colony.She (Will Allen Dromgoole) gives no authority whatsoever for this tale, and further states that; "A Collins came to Newman's Ridge and reared a family by a wife whose ancestry was more vague than that of Cain's wife."

In a column called "The Southwest Conrner" published in the Roanoke News, Roanoke, Virginia, on February 25, 1934, Dr. Gooridge Wilson wrote the following ..............."Mr. Robert Gray, one of the last survivors of those who drove the great herds of cattle, horses, and mules from the mountains to the sea, says that the Melungeons were in much demand for this work, being expert handlers of the stock on long treks...... ... when he was a boy some of the oldest of the clan told him that they were "Croatans," survivors of the Indians tribe supposed to have destroyed or absorbed Sir Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony on Roanoke Island."
A TRIBUTE to Bonnie Ball 

Every Melungeon Researcher should have a copy of THE MELUNGEONS by Bonnie Ball    Amazon

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Molungeon Convention 1866

HARRISONBURG  
ROCKINGHAM REGISTER & ADVERTISER
SEPT 6,1866
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA
Brownlow, one of the ''Loyal Southerners" now in attendance on the Molungeon Convention sitting in Philadelphia, has declared his platform as follows:  "If another war comes, I want you to divide your army into three portions.  Let the first and largest portion come armed with weapons to do the killing.  Let the second come with torches and do the burning.  Let the third come with surveyors lines, and re-mark and re-settle the country.  These are my sentiments."


At latest advices from Philadelphia, the following comprised the names of delegates from Virginia to the MOLUNGEON CONVENTION now in session in that city; Jno Minor Botts, Geo. Ky Gilmer, Chas. W. Butts, N.Be. Janney, John Hawkhurst, Geo. Tucker, and S. D. Kerns.  Gov. Boreman of W. Va.., is also present.  Dr. Gilmer, of this place, is the only delegate from the Valley.


HARRISONBURG  
ROCKINGHAM REGISTER & ADVERTISER
SEPT 13,  1866
HARRISONBURG, VIRGINIA

A specimen of dignity, decency and ability of the MOLUNGEON CONVENTION, recently held in Philadelphia is thus related: Jack Hamilton, ex-Gov. of Texas, claimed attention while he read an estract from a speech delivered by Secretary Seward somewhere in Michigan.  o action was taken on it, although an excited delegate moved that Seward be sent three hundred and sixty-five degrees into rebel hell, with Montgomery Blair piled on him, for the words were not worth three cents a bushel.


Previous to the adoption of the address of Senator Creswell, of Maryland, by the MOLUNGEON CONVENTION, Parson Brownlow, in tones almost as tremolous as his fingers, spoke in favor of its adoption, and proposed the printing of ten thousand copies in large type, big enough for Andy Johnson to read "drunk or sober."

More on the MOLUNGEONS & the CONVENTIONS

 Go To:
http://www.historical-melungeons.com/molungeons.html

Thursday, July 31, 2014

DNA Project Revisited

HERE WE GO AGAIN

In a recent blog by Donald Collins he appears to be taking the AP Reporter to task for reporting; the Melungeons were Sub Saharan men and European women in the article published in 2012.  [Remember those words] These are my thoughts on it.
From the blog; "Well, it’s been just over 2 years (April 2012) since the paper "Melungeons, A Multi-Ethnic Population" was published in the 'Journal of Genetic Genealogy" writes Don Collins on his new blog.
OK,  it has been two years and all the ugly things that were written about the "People called Melungeons" have been printed, and for the most part buried out there on the internet wherever it is they dump their trash.   

The fires have been put out and any questions asked of Jack Goins and Janet Crain were effectively shut down altogether by Janet Crain, Administrator of the Rootsweb Melungeon List.  No discussion of the paper was allowed on her Melungeon list and some who wouldn't stop asking questions were simply unsubbed from the list.  

Perhaps Don Collins could go to his sources and find the answers to these questions asked TWO years ago that still go unanswered.  Perhaps Mr. Collins might include the answers in his ''part two" blog.


  • Why was the Native American DNA of Mr. Freeman not used in the study
  • Why was the fact that at least two of the six females tested had Cherokee Blood not mentioned.  Why was Millie Lovins used when Mr. Goins knew full well her ancestry was not Melungeon?
  • Why was the AP reporter told 'the story was not in error' by the lead researcher?  Why was Ms Loller told that while there were European DNA found in the study the FIRST generation were African?  
  • Why were the only documented Melungeon families, the Bolton, Shoemake, Perkins, Manley, etc., not included in the project?  These families were proven in court records, upheld by the Supreme Court, to be Portuguese people called Melungeons. Yet not one of them are mentioned in the study. Seems in their 'rush to publish' they couldn't wait to find descendants of this Core Melungeon Group. It's funny I never seen any quries put out by any of these researchers looking for these descendants. 
  • Why, most importantly, was this paper on the study published when at least two of the authors admitted the project was not finished but would continue. 
From Collins' blog; "If my memory serves me right, the original crew was Jack Goins, Penny Ferguson and Janet Crain. Shortly there after Roberta Estes came on board as an adviser. And the project started in July of 2005. A little later Kathy James joined as a Group Co-Administrator , focusing on the Gibson surname participants."
His memory is faulty.  I was very much involved in the formation of this project, supplying Penny, Jack and Janet with the genealogy records of participants.  I researched the FREEMAN family whose DNA came back Q, I researched Don Collins connection to the Bunch family, I researched the Alvis Gibson family whose DNA came back HaplogroupJ.  I discovered Alvis was not actually a Gibson, being born after his mother's Gibson husband was deceased and she was married to or cohabitating with John Rainey.  These are just a few.  Penny and I had many heated debates over whether to include the Hamilton County families in the "Core" project with Jack.  Penny and I finally convinced Jack they had to be included as they were documented in court records that could not be ignored.  I have published some of these emails. 

I might add that I quit this project in total disgust. As early as 2006 when this project was barely into it's first year there was talk of writing a book on the 'African ancestors of the Melungeons."  This was first introduced in October of 2006 on a research trip to North Carolina with Penny Ferguson and Jack Goins, later promoted by Jill Lackey.


More from Collins' blog:
The News Release
In May of 2012, an Associated Press news release hit both the printed and online media. I was a little surprised by some of the race baiting head lines, here are 2 good examples:
"DNA finds origin of Appalachia's Melungeons: African men, white women"
"DNA study seeks origin of Appalachia’s African-Americans"

Race baiting?  Really?  Just last year one of the first blogs [here] Jack Goins published was on this very subject. Goins writes:

"Our project results were submitted to a peer review board and published April 24, 2012 in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy and published by Associated Press reporter Travis Lollar in May 2012, the results of the first generation are offspring of Sub-Saharan African men and white women of Northern and central European origin." 

Is Jack Goins race baiting?   To make sure he gets his point across Jack continues....


"The majority of the male core groups were haplogroup E1b1a Sub-Saharan African and the maternal mtDNA group was European. The first mixed generation was the children from Sub-Saharan African men and white women of Northern and central European origin, the exact date of this mixing is unknown"

Is Mr. Collins seriously accusing the media of race baiting - writing the same thing Jack Goins wrote?


From Collins' blog; Then in the text of these articles it states: 
 "Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin." 
I have no idea if the AP reporter Ms.Travis Loller has any knowledge of the people who were called Melungins, or even any knowledge concerning Genetic Genealogy ?
 
I have no idea who wrote the press release, did it state ‘African Men and White Woman’ ? As no where in this study is that statement made, plain and simple.          So what happened ?, did the politically correct news media put a spin on this study ? Looks like it to me.
The news media spun this story? Why is this being pinned on Travis Loller two years later?  It is obvious from Jack's postings in 2012 and up til recently he believes the FIRST Melungeon families sprung from African males and European females. 

And shortly after the AP article appeared I found the reporter, Travis Loller's Facebook page. I sent her a long message which she kindly answered, not one message but several. She said if JoGG would issue a retraction she would report on it.  I wrote the editor of JoGG, no response, no retraction.

The question is, why didn't the authors of this paper request a retraction if they believed the article was in error? They were certainly aware of the 'slight error' as the lead researcher put it.  Why didn't she ask for a retraction?  Or Janet Crain or Penny Ferguson?

I suppose that any good reporter getting hit with a ton of negative feedback would go back to the source and ask if she needed to file a correction to her story, and that is what Travis Loller did.  After I sent the message asking if she had read the paper or looked at the DNA Project, and if she knew it was impossible for those Male European DNAs to have produced a child with African DNA this is her response to me;

Travis Loller to Joanne Pezzullo:


"A couple of other things you were asking about --the report mentions there are 8 female DNA lines. Some of those lines are from men. That is why you see only 6 females tested."
"Also, you are right that they also found European men in the ancestry of the male line (half the male line was sub-Saharan African and half was European). I asked Ms. Estes very specifically about this because obviously you don't come up with mixed race people from two white European parents. She said, essentially, that they thought these men might have come in to the group in the second generation. She was shown my summary paragraphs on the DNA findings before publication and told me that they were correct.


Perhaps  Don Collins should apologize to the AP Reporter?  

More spin, but why? Has the world lost interest in them and their study? Have the speaking engagements dried up?  Book sales lagging?  Why dredge this up and subject these Melungeon families to more horrid articles? 

If this project is continuing as Crain and Goins suggested it was two years ago, are they going to revise it now with new results?  If so it obviously is going to show the Melungeons were either European or Native American I'd say.

See my Review of the JoGG article 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hancock County - 1891

Hancock County - Moonshine, Feuds & Malungeons

ACTUAL MANNERS AND WAYS OF THE MEN AND WOMEN
From The New York Sun - November 29th 1891

Contrast Between the Facts and the Stories of Novelists -- Dwelling, Food, and Dress -- The Use and the Flavor of Mountain Dew -- The Law Breaking Malungeons.




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SNEEDVILLE, Nov. 26. -- It has been known that the great westward tide of civilization, setting from the seacoast for over a century, has split into many streams against the densest and most impassable part of the Appalachian system. The result has been that in the mountain fastnesses of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee primitive forms of civilization have remained in many places, while in other places there has been a long step backward toward barbarism. The railroads which opened up these parts to the world have gone far toward changing them. The former type of the mountaineer, with his hatred for strangers, his passionate love of the freedom of license and his disregard for human life, has disappeared from these lines of travel. Only in the far valleys and on the mountains overlooking the almost unbroken wilderness does the type still persist.

These mountaineers have of late years got much attention from writers of romances. And these writers of romances, being for the most part persons of surprising talent, have got much credit for realistic writing of fiction. Their use of the dialect, their portrayal of mountain life and character have been regarded as faithfully natural and lifelike. This esteem has, however not been shared by those who are familiar with the mountains and the mountaineers for many years. East Tennesseeans who have hunted through the mountains and have lived in mountain cabins for weeks and months say that the romancers have taken wide liberties with the dialect and with the people themselves to make a better story.
It may be said in the beginning that the mountaineers of whom this article speaks are not at all like the persons of the mountain romance. There are no beautiful women with wide eyes and minds full of idealizing. There are no men of especial comeliness. Love is passion pure and simple. Hatred is neither stagy nor poetic, but hard, fierce and sordid. The family relations are commonplace where they are not brutal. In fact, there are no materials for Sunday school romances. Hands are hard, calloused and freckled. Faces are dull, obstinate and generally marked by dissipation and toil. Feet, both male and female, are of generous proportions. In form the men are long and lean and poorly jointed, but full of muscles and sinews, while the women are big of calf and wide of hip and guiltless of corset bound waists - the proportions of mothers or hardy sons. Life is exceedingly matter of fact, as devoid of imagination as the splendid sunsets and the vast stretches of landscape are suggestive. The materials for the romancer, for the mooner of sentimentalities, and of false and unhuman sexual and social relations are not here.

This however, far from detracting from interest in these people, adds to it immeasurably. Human nature here is on the surface, acting and speaking, the former more out of all proportion than the latter as naturally and as frankly as the most ardent lover of plain speech could desire. The mountaineers are hospitable, or else they turn away the traveler at the point of a gun. They grasp the hand or they meet the outstretched hand with the knife blade. They have clear and strong ideas of right and wrong as the mountains reveal them. They detest the machinery of law and permit each man to be the arbiter and avenger of his own wrongs. Their women are as virtuous as could be expected, and often virtuous beyond expectation. Both men and women are rough, uncouth, brave, freedom loving, haters of innovation of government, good clothing, and the life of cities.

To a dweller upon Manhattan Island, the people of these mountain districts seem hardly real. It is not easy to understand, without experience, a region where all men go forth armed, where murders are of almost daily occurrence, and where the law never attempted to assert its authority. The man of the city goes forth to hunt once a year, and then takes a gun or so and handles it with a fair degree of skill at best. Yet, only a day and a night's journey from New York one will find men who carry a gun as a city man carries an umbrella or cane, who can use it an incredible distance with the skill and accuracy that a good billiard player shows with his cue. These men go forth to seek the beast and birds of the forests sometimes, but the real use of the gun or pistol is in attack upon or defense against the bearer's fellow-beings of the same community. Every man is prepared for war at an instant's notice, and no man hesitates to take a life if he believes it necessary.

When such a state of affairs is described, one would at once infer that such people would be exceedingly uncomfortable to visit. Yet the fact is that the life and property of a stranger are as safe in the wilds of the mountains as in Central Park. A milder, more hospitable set of people would be hard to find. their faces are gentle, their voices pleasant and ever cordial. If they see that the stranger comes in simplicity and good faith they will do anything for him. It is only where their rights are concerned and by rights must be understood most sensitive and delicate distinctions unknown in the jostling crowds of cities- that they show ferocity. Any one whose incredulity is aroused by the gentle and harmless exterior of the mountaineers has but to learn their past history or to see a mountain disturbance to believe all that has been said of these people and more than has been said of these people and more than is generally credited to them.

It is the purpose of this article to speak of one small county of East Tennessee which is a fair type of the wild mountain region. In this county no white man has ever been hanged. Yet, since the war no less than 150 men have been shot down in the most deliberate fashion. Within the past year 10 murders have been committed and no adequate punishment has been or ever will be given to the murderers. There is no man above 16 years of age who does not own one or more weapons- Winchesters, Spencers, Colts and the like.  Most of those men seldom go abroad without being well armed. The glistening barrel of the gun and the lump made by the pocket pistol are such common sights that they cease to attract attention. This county, though one of the smallest in the state, is about the worst. Its history would read like the history of an Italian principality in the Middle Ages.

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Toward the northeastern corner of Tennessee is Hancock County, a small triangle upon the map, and crossed by several high mountain ranges. It lies just over the border line from Virginia, with the Cumberland Mountains upon the northwest and the Great Smoky Mountains in full view to the east and south. There are no railroads in this county, and until the few last years there were rare arrivals or departures. The nearest railroad point even now is 20 miles away, across mountain roads that are difficult in rainy weather and impassible in winter. At all seasons of the year the scenery from the tops of Newman's Range, on Powell's Mountain is unsurpassed, even by the views in the heart of the Great Smoky Range. There are the Cumberland Mountains on one side and the towering and mist veiled Great Smoky Mountains on the other. Between lie smaller ranges covered by a sea of forests. In the spring, summer and autumn not a house is to be seen, only here and there thin and lazy columns of smoke to tell where the lonely cabins are hidden. The skies, the sunsets, the moonlight nights are serene, soft and beautiful.

The county-seat is a hamlet called Sneedville, a half-hearted scattering of little frame houses in a sort of basin formed by a curve in Newman's Ridge, which lies to the south and southwest. There are perhaps 150 people in Sneedville and its only brick building is a court-house, which looks extravagant, splendid and lonesome by contrast with the surroundings. Part of this court-house is given over to a jail, which is seldom inhabited. The floor of the cell room is bolted a chain. When they have an especially dangerous prisoner this chain is fastened about his leg and bolted so that it can be removed by filing only.

When a murder is committed in Hancock county the jailer or sheriff at once sets out to arrest the murderer. sometimes he has no difficulty. At other times he has to assemble an armed force. Pitched battles have been not infrequent. When the murderer is arrested peaceably he is released on bail, although murder is not a bailable offense. But the judge reasons that a bond will hold a man in Hancock county when a jail would not. This method of reasoning is the reslut of experience. Hardly one of the 30 or 40 houses in Sneedville is without a dozen or more bullets embedded in its log or board walls. And any inhabitant will tell you the history of each set of bullet marks - a bloody, ferocious history that sounds strange to a foreigner.

To the south of Newman's Range lies Powell's Mountain, which is really a range of about the same length as Newman's Range, to which it is parallel. Between Newman's Range and Powell's Mountain is the narrow valley of the Blackwater Creek, with bits of farming land, like market gardens in size, though not in fertility. On Newman's Range and Powell's Mountain and the rough lands thereabouts, live most of the people of Hancock county- mountaineers, who live partly by hunting, partly by the natural products of the bushes and trees, and partly by a rude and not very productive farming. There are many hogs, a few cattle, a few horse. In seed time ancient and exasperating plows tear up the ungracious soil in languid way. In harvest time the few straggling sheaves or ears are carefully got together. Pork, apple butter, blackberries in jam, preserves and jelly, apples buried and kept all winter, potatoes, beans and carrots and onions and beets in season, corn bread and sorghum at all times are the means of sustaining life. For pork they have a love that is almost veneration. They hold it to be the most nourishing, strengthening and pleasant kind of meat. every mountaineer has a small patch of sorghum, and also a machine for making it into the most abominable molasses that it has ever been the misfortune of the writer to taste. Sorghum is sugar, cream, milk, butter and seasoning. Then come corn bread, which they call “husky" thus admitting the apparent and unpleasant imperfections of home grinding.

Before these three staples come whisky. Without it mountain life would not be what it is. A lover of good whisky would object to the use of that name in connection with what these mountaineers drink. But the mountaineers themselves speak scornfully of the stuff they get when they make rare visits to the larger towns. They prefer this oily horror that smells like coal oil and tastes like a concentrated essence of brimstone. They drink it in great quantities, and before each meal a tin cup full of it is passed from father to son, daughter, grandson, child, and mother. They say that it opens the stomach up for food. To one not used to it, it seems to be opening the stomach to the winds of heaven. And in this frightful stuff lies the real secret of those mountain feuds that begin in sullen and morbid brooding, and end in corpses riddled with bullets.

The most respectable houses in Hancock county are in Sneedville. The mountain cabins are desolate and dreary and open to the weather. Not long ago the writer sat in a cabin on the side of Newman's Range. As the cabin was far up the mountain side a cold wind blew around and through it. There were two rooms and a loft. One room was used as a kitchen, the other room and loft for all other household purposes. Nineteen persons, 12 of whom were the children of the heads of the household, slept under that small, crazy roof. Men and women slept in the same room, not to speak of several wretched dogs which had fought with the human beings for food at the table an hour or so before.

There had been a general drunk and a dance after supper, for which the men and women had sunk exhausted or stupefied into bed. The door was wide open. The kitchen door not being upon hinges had been set aside when supper began. There were great clinks between the logs of the walls and a cold wind blew through the house. The writer could look out over the dark red embers of the back log and through the chimney wall to the great moon lit valley two miles away. He could look up through the floor of the loft, through the roof of cloudless mountain sky. Outside there was a profound stillness, broken by no sound, silent as though the world had suddenly paused breathless. Inside, there arose at intervals snorts and snores and moaning breaths from the sleepers, the mountaineer leading and the women joining in feebly but effectually. at times this sound of humanity at rest rose to a fearful loudness. Again there would be a pause which let the death like silence of the mountains penetrate the room. As this mountaineer had once read a book upon the diseases of the horse and had a library of one book - a school physiology - he bore the title of "Doc." He was a simple, foolish person, handy with a gun.

There are no saloons in this county. Each man keeps his jug or bottle and gets it refilled at the distillery. Moonshine whisky is scarce now, the government having at last convinced the mountaineers that the licensed still is the safest and best. But these licensed stills are wild and rough, and have the warlike appearance of the old moonshine stills. Just now there are perhaps a dozen of them in Hancock county. There was a time when a revenue collector could stand on Powell's Mountain and see in the valley and hollows below him the smoke of a score of illicit stills, safe from him because the trees made it impossible to mark the places whence the smoke came, and also because the guns of the mountaineers made the discovery almost assuredly fatal.
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II

From time to time the chief point for the producing of corn whisky has moved from one part of the country to another. It has been noticed that the riots, feuds and murders follow the stills. Wherever the most corn whisky is used, there the most violence occurs; and it is not strange that such whisky should put men into moods where life seems of trifling value. A feud generally starts from some trivial incident of a drunken brawl. The aggrieved person keeps drinking, falls to brooding, then tells his friends that he proposes to kill so and so. The threatened man hears of it, arms himself more carefully, and makes threats in return. The two men meet, and there is a fight or a murder. Friends and relatives take it up, and soon the whole mountain region is ringing with shots and the leaves are spotted with blood. The feud sometimes dies out for a while but soon begins to rage again, until wounds, deaths and funerals are distributed far and wide. Sometimes it is one branch of a family against another, more often one family against a rival family.

Aside from the feuds there are isolated murders which sometimes go no further than one or two deaths. Again they may be the foundation of quarrels and fights innumerable. Wherever a man has taken another man's life, he never leaves his home unprepared for an avenging relation of the murdered man. He is cautious about walking into no matter how friendly a crowd of the dead man's relations. He does not stand near a window unless he is sure that no one can draw a bead on him from its outlook. All the men in this region wear top pockets. They form convenient bolsters for short barreled pistols, and may lead to a false sense of security in the minds of foes. The knife is not so much in use as formerly. It gives an unfair advantage to strength and is less deadly. the pistol and the gun are the favorite weapons. The pistol may be carried in the top pocket. If too long in the barrel, it is slung in a holster suspended from a strap about the shoulders. Another favorite place for carrying it is in the waistband of the trousers just over the stomach and concealed by the waistcoat pulled down over it. the inside coat or waistcoat pocket has many friends. The gun is carried across the pommel of the saddle when riding, across the knees when driving or sitting, over the right forearm, barrel pointing forward and down when walking about. At home it stands in a corner near the chair of the owner or else just over the door on the inside. Some households in Hancock county can muster 10 guns, not to speak of knives, pistols and axes. The women often join in the fray, but the men never attack them, however great the provocation. Indeed, unless there is special distress the women take to the woods at the first attack upon the house and lie hidden there until the time comes for looking to the wounded.

Women learn to take death philosophically in this region. There are scores of widows and orphans. In the cities the father is the breadwinner, and his loss means hardships, sufferings and toil. Therefore, grief at death in cities is keen and pressing. In these mountain wilds one member of the family is as much a provider as another. A death means one less to help, and grief, therefore, is not so long enduring. Even where it is keen it does not express itself in shrieks and tears. It is silent and sullen. There are consoling thoughts that the death will be soon and properly avenged. The men do not avenge murder, however, so often through grief for the murdered as through the force of the mountain custom, which says that a murder is a stain until the murderer is killed.
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III

The first inhabitants of Hancock county, or, to be accurate, of what is now called Hancock county, were the strangest, most mysterious people that have ever settled any part of this country since its discovery. They are still there in greater numbers than ever before, and in as great mystery. These people are called Malungeons. They are a revengeful race, part white, part Indians, part negro. The negro strain is not spread thorough the whole race, as are the Indian and Caucasian strains, but is confined to a few families.  These Malungeons are tall, broad, powerful people, with straight black hair, swarthy complexions, small eyes, high cheek-bones, big noses, and wide, flat mouths. They look more like Indians than like white men. They are proud of their Indian blood, and will kill any man who comes calling them negroes. They came from North Carolina early in this century and could not then explain how they originated. Of course, there are many stories, but none seems to be satisfactory. In 1834 an attempt was made to bar them from voting, because of the alleged negro blood. They carried the matter into the courts, and the man who was the test plaintiff proved that he was Indian and Portuguese, and had no negro blood in his veins. After this the matter was dropped and the Malungeons were allowed to vote.

It is from these Malungeons that the feud spirit came. They were cunning, malicious, implacable, murderous. They were the original makers of illicit corn whisky. They taught the art and the hatred of government taxes to all the mountain people of this region. They were the first to fight the revenue officers and the last to give up open defiance. When they came they settled on the slope of Newman's Ridge, in the Blackwater Creek Valley, and on the opposite slope of Powell's Mountain. They kept to themselves for many years, and had no intermarriages with the other settlers until the last 20 or 25 years. they all had arms; they fought among themselves, and resisted to the death outside interference. A decade or so before the Civil War they were making moonshine whisky in the dark hollow of Powell's Mountain; they were carrying on bitter feuds, and were setting a most vicious example to the early white settlers, who by their very coming to such a shut-in part of the world rapidly lost touch with civilization.

Of these Malungeons there were originally three families- the Gibsons, the Mullens, and the Collinses. Early in the history of this race a great feud arose between the Gibsons and the Collinses. Old Buck Gibson and Old Vardy Collins put their heads together and made a great plot. Gibson fixed Vardy with soot or paint so that he looked like a genuine negro. Then they went up into Virginia, Gibson offering Vardy for sale. He soon found a purchaser. As Vardy was a finely-built, strong man, Gibson got $1,100 for him. Of this $500 was in cash and the balance in a team, a wagon and store goods.

With a few farewell words of praise for his fine negro, Gibson set out southward. In a day or two Vardy made his escape, washed himself, and fled fast and successfully on the trail of Gibson. There was pursuit, but Vardy was not recognized or else was not overtaken. When he got back to Powell's Mountain he found Gibson in the full enjoyment of the proceeds of the trick. Vardy called on him for a division of the spoils. Gibson flatly refused, after putting him off several times. This began a bushwhacking war between the two families, which kept up, with intervals of peace, until the breaking out of the Civil War. Sometimes the Collins tribe and the Gibson tribe joined hands against common foe, the revenue officers. But these breathing spells only gave further foment to a hatred which was kept alive at all times by the rivalry between moonshine stills. The Civil War put an end to feuds for so long that new causes had to spring up before a properly conducted feud could be again set on foot. But the Malungeons had laid the foundations with their illicit stills and their family hatreds. And the Civil War gave every one down that way a taste of fighting. The result of these things has been the 150 and more murders, each of which has something peculiarly tragic to distinguish it from the others.
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IV

Soon after the close of the Civil War the state of affairs in Hancock county attracted the attention of the Internal Revenue Department. There were about 1,500 voters in the county, representing a population of six or seven times that number of persons. Most of the people were law-abiding and quiet; but those who lived in and around the two mountain ranges which have been mentioned several times were disorderly, riotous and busily engaged in the distillation of moonshine whisky. These objectionable people were the Malungeons, the whites who had intermarried with them and the relatives of these whites. In all gorges, the hollows, the thickets, along Blackwater Creek were moonshine stills. Great rivalry existed between these stills, and sharp and often fatal encounters between proprietors and their henchmen were of daily occurrence. Before the revenue officers had time to do much more than count the columns of smoke rising from the green bosom of the mountain and valley, war had broken out and the moonshiners were at work destroying each other.

In that region there lived two desperate families of whites, the Rheas and the Rainses. There were Sam Rhea and his sons, Doll, Andy and Lee, and Big Bud Rains. They had become moonshiners and they set about driving the original moonshiners, the Malungeons out of the business. They first attacked the Mullens, who were soon reinforced by a good part of the tribe of Collins. The Rains-Rhea gang was armed with Spencer rifles of a heavy caliber, each rifle having eight shots. Each member of the gang also carried two big army pistols strapped to his waist. They not only carried on their feud against the Malungeons, but also successfully resisted the revenue officers.

Not a day passed without a battle and the people of Sneedville were soon accustomed to hearing the cracking of rifles and pistols, yells and curses up the mountainside or over in the Blackwater Valley. The Malungeons are said to have got much the worse of this feud. They lost so many in killed and disabled that for a time the Rains-Rhea gang had everything its own way. They took advantage of their success to make themselves feared and hated in all Hancock county. The end of this feud was a pitched battle in the streets of Sneedville. Nearly 100 men were killed and wounded. The houses were filled with bullet holes, and not until late in the afternoon did the Rains-Rhea gang withdraw, beaten and suppressed for the time.

A few years after that the Rheas and the Rains family had a quarrel over politics. Rhea had decided that he would carry an election that was to be held at Mulberry Gap. Big Bud Rains heard what he proposed to do and prepared to go and see that Rhea should get left. The Rheas were there in full force and outnumbered the Rains faction two to one. The Rheas fell upon the Malungeon contingent of the Rains faction and disarmed them. Big Bud Rains was in a grocery store some distance from the scene of the fight. He heard of it, and also that the Rheas were coming at the same time. When Andy Rhea, pistol in hand, stepped upon the porch of the store. Bud Rains drew a dragoon pistol, aimed it and fired full at him. The bullet ploughed across his chest and shattered the bone of his left arm and nearly tore it off. With a yell Rhea sprung at Rains, who caught him in his arms. Rhea threw his right hand, holding the pistol, over Rains's shoulder and fired it into his back. Rains dropped with a curse and died in a short time. Rhea was taken home and was not out for two months. When he did reappear his left arm was gone. Instead of being tamed by these happenings, he became more desperate than before. He and his brothers were reinforced by a certain William Fugate, known as "Bad Bill" He was nearly six feet and a half in height splendidly built and handsome, after a desperado fashion. His favorite pastime, after murder, was to ride at full tilt around a tree, with the reins in his teeth and a revolver in each hand, firing rapidly. He could put a belt around the tree every time. He had killed eight men when he joined the Rheas. With Bad Bill came Joe Epperson and Lum Coleman. They rode about killing or shooting down the friends of the Rains family. Some they whipped nearly to death. Others they invited out of their houses and shot down and riddled, shouting and cursing the while.

After this gang had terrorized Sneedville several times the Sheriff got together a force of twenty men. armed to the teeth, and went down to Rhea's house, seven miles below Sneedville. to arrest him and his brothers. When the offices arrived they found the Rheas all assembled and ready for a fight Their women and the little children had hid in the woods. There was a clearing all around the house. After some consultation the officers decided to cross this clearing on the run and storm the house. The first advance was met with a terrific volley which killed or wounded five of the attacking party. The officers started to retreat. The desperados were so elated that they leaped from the house into the clearing and again opened fire. The officers rallied and for three hours the fight raged, now in the clearing and again from behind trees and rocks. Andy Rhea was shot forty eight times before loss of blood forced him to drop to the ground. "Bad Bill" Fugate stood out after all the rest were down. He had a revolver in each hand and his aim was unpleasantly excellent, even though he was staggering about with red froth on his lips. A big ball from a Spencer rifle finally ended him. When the last shot had been fired both parties were absolutely disabled. The most desperate of the gang had fallen.

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V

For a good many years after this the murder were isolated cases, with no more than two or three in a family killed. Four years ago, however, another feud broke out, and is still going on, although a lack of able bodied males in the two families has caused a recent temporary cessation of hostilities. This is the Green-Jones feud, which, next to the Sutton-Barndard feud is the worst that has ever caused deaths in Hancock county. Richard Green and Asa Jones were neighbors and friends. One day, about four years ago, Green saw that his hogs were limping and bleeding. He went along the mountain to find out the cause and came upon Asa Jones' son Jim stoning and dogging his hogs. "Bill! stop that thar!" yelled Green. "That ain't now way to do my hawgs!" "Keep yer hawgs to hum" said young Jones.

Green fell to cursing and then to thrashing the boy, who yelled so loudly that old Asa came. Asa separated them and took up the quarrel. He ordered Green to go home. As Green was unarmed he went away sulkily, swearing that he would have revenge. A few days afterward Green and his wife were walking along the mountain road. Green had his three month's old baby in his arms. They met up with Jim Jones driving home in a wagon. As soon as Green got within range he drew a pistol from his pocket and holding the baby in his left arm opened fire upon Jones. Three of his five shots entered Jones' body, but he managed to keep his seat until he got home. He was carried into the house and died a few days afterward.

Old Asa Jones was furious at this, and, getting together his relatives, he declared war against Green and all his tribe. They lay in wait one afternoon behind some rocks at a point where they knew Green came by with his two brothers. The first shot from the rocks warned the three Greens, and they jumped for the trees. The two parties fired at each other until dark. Richard Green was shot through the clothing. His brother James was so badly wounded in the arm that it had to be cut off. Both sides were now prepared, and for a month or two there were ambuscades and bloodshed almost every day. One morning the Jones crowd, 18 strong, got about the house of Richard Green before daylight. They surrounded it on all sides and got ready to make a battle. At daylight the besiegers raised a great shout, and the battle began. The outsiders fired and charged, the garrison was not slow in answering and repelling. One of the bravest of the garrison was little Jimmie Green, 13 years old. He not only helped his mother and sisters load the guns, but shot once or twice himself.

He was just handing his father a reloaded Spencer when a great ball from a Winchester crashed between the logs of the house and passed through his heart. The ball went clear through the body and flattened against the chimney stones. "Hurry up that gun, Jimmy!" said his father, looking around. The boy's eyes were wide open and glassy. His mouth opened and shut, his little brown hand was held hard against his breast. He fell with a crash, the gun sliding across his body. "Mother!" called Green, "they've killed your Jimmy!" and he caught up the gun to speed his grief against his enemies.

After four hours' fighting the Jones crowd was so badly crippled that it was forced to withdraw. The slightly wounded carried those who could not move. This feud is still on, and will be raging as soon as enough Greens and Joneses can be got together to make a fight. But the Sutton-Barnard feud is the most exciting and also the most brutal of any in the history of this county. Henry Sutton was formerly a revenue officer, but settled down a few years ago to the manufacture of whisky. He had three pretty daughters, who formed a sort of inside set in Sneedville society. Christmas, 1889, these girls got permission of their father to give a dance at the distillery. The result was a combination dance and spree such as Hancock county society had not had the pleasure of attending in years. The men got exceedingly drunk. Some of them amused themselves with a boar hunt, in which half a dozen of Henry Sutton's hogs were stabbed.

The morning after the dance Sutton found the bodies strewn about the yard of his distillery. He at once decided that Big John Barnard and his brothers had done the work. He was led to this belief by the fact that the Barnards, although outwardly friendly, were known to be ready at any time to open a feud. Henry Sutton's father had got drunk one day, and, quarreling with Capt. Hence Barnard, had killed him with the pole of an axe. When an officer tried to arrest the elder Sutton he had resisted so threateningly that the officer had been compelled to kill him. But the Barnards felt that unless one of them killed a Sutton the grudge would not be wiped out.

So Henry Sutton decided that Big John Barnard and his four brothers were the slayers of his hogs. He sent the Barnards word that there was going to be trouble, and a day or two later ran out into the road with a pistol, which he aimed at a man whom he mistook in the dusk for Big John. A few days after New Year's 1889, Big John and his four brothers hid themselves behind some felled trees about a mile from Sutton's distillery. They had not waited more than an hour before they espied Henry Sutton and his gauger at the distillery coming up the road. Sutton had a Winchester across the pommel of his saddle. As the two riders got opposite the logs five shots rang out. Sutton's horse jumped; Sutton rolled from the saddle to the road. As he lay there the five Barnards leaped forth and riddled the body with bullets.

The gauger clapped spurs to his horse and fled. The Barnards were arrested, and, Sutton's family being influential, a conviction and sentence of death were got against the five. After haggling about the matter for over a year all five were pardoned by Governor Taylor. They returned home and began to make trouble. Henry Sutton had left a widow, two grown sons, Tilman and Hence, and the three pretty daughters mentioned before. Tilman Sutton had married a daughter of Big Bud Rains, and had one child. Sutton was disposed to let the matter of his father's death pass for the time. But Big John Barnard said that he intended to wipe the male line of Suttons from the face of the earth. And every time he met Tilman Sutton he would stare at him in a fixed, threatening and annoying way. Tilman Sutton stood this silently for over a year, nor did he pay any attention to the threats of Big John and his brothers.

One Sunday last September there was a meeting in the Baptist Church, eight miles from Sneedville. All the mountain people went, the young men riding horseback beside their sweethearts. Tilman Sutton, his brother Hence and his brother in law Mac Rains were riding along together. Big John Barnard and his best girl came up behind them. Big John burst into a loud, jeering laugh, and made some remark about Tilman Sutton. As Big John rode by, Tilman Sutton turned in his saddle and stared him fiercely in the face. "By G----," said he, "this has got to stop!" Big John continued his laughter and rode on. Sutton's face flushed. He drew his pistol, spurred his horse and, when he was close enough to fire without endangering the girl, he put three shots into Big John's back.

This was near the meeting house and many people were soon close at hand. Big John's head fell forward upon his horse's head for a moment. Then he recovered himself and drew his pistol, jumped to the ground and braced himself for a fight. His sweetheart reined up her frightened horse and remained to 'see the fun.' Meanwhile Big John's cousin, Shad Barnard, who was behind the Suttons, spurred forward, and, drawing his pistol, shot Tilman Sutton in the back before he had lowered his revolver from shooting Big John. Tilman Sutton rolled from his horse to the road, lifted himself, staggered, tried to lift his pistol to an aim, then fell against a tree, his head rolling from side to side. Big John aimed at him and fired four times.
"Look out, John!" said his sweetheart "Here comes Mac Rains!" But she spoke to late. Before John could turn Rains had avenged his brother in law. He fired into Big John four times. John was just standing over Sutton, who had fallen, and was firing into his head. When Rains shot he fell upon Sutton's body. By this time other men rushed in, the women got around the two dead bodies, and the feud was suspended.

There is in Sneedville a little girl whose ancestors for three generations one side and for two generations on the other had died by feud violence. She is the little daughter of Tilman Sutton, who married a daughter of Big Bud Rains. Her father, Tilman Sutton; her grandfather, Henry Sutton, and his father, Sam Sutton, her mother's father, Bud Rains, and his father before him, all died violent deaths. This is only one instance in a score of Hancock county families a similar state of affair may be found, while there is hardly a family of note that has not lost one or more of its members by violence.

Then, aside from these feuds, are the murders which follow the stills about the country—the murders which arise from long years of disregard for human life. For instance, a lot of men were waylaying an enemy of one of them. They got tired of waiting for him. An inoffensive person came jogging by the old church where they were concealed. One of the waiters fired at the man and killed him. As he rolled from his horse and lay writhing upon the ground, one of the party said to the murderer: "What fur did ye do that?" "Jes to see him drop," laughed the murderer. The sentence of death was commuted to imprisonment for life, and his friends have hope of his pardon.

A short time ago Jep Wolf, his little boy and Wiley Carpenter were riding along astride of one horse. Mack Bray, who had quarreled with Wolf a few hours before in Sneedville, came up behind, aimed his gun and fired. The first bullet killed Wolf, the second went through the little boy's body and killed Carpenter. The little boy got well. Bray is not as yet punished, and as he is of the Rhea family, may get off altogether.

They say that the peaceful part of Hancock county's people - and they now include the formerly boisterous Malungeons - are getting tired of this everlasting murdering, and that there will be some lynching before long. But the feud spirit is so strong and the corn whisky so bad that those who talk peace now may be in the thick of a feud tomorrow.