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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Last Stand

Saturday, February 27, 1926 
Richmond Times Dispatch

The Last Stand

The necessity for race integrity legislation in Virginia as shown by an ethnological survey of the State by congressional districts
By John Powell [writing circa 1923 in support of the Virginia Racial Integrity Act of 1924]
Ninth Congressional District
This district consists of the city of Bristol and thirteen counties.  The character of the region is wild and mountainous, peopled by the most characteristic type  of the pure South Appalachian mountaineer.  In the hills, illiteracy and poverty are the rule although incalculable mineral wealth, for the most part as yet undeveloped is concealed in the earth.  In Tazewell we have the great Pocahontas coal fields but in the other counties, with few exceptions, the resources remained unexploited.  A wonderful future lies before this section.   Here too, are to be found the rich blue grass lands, but owing to the conformation of the terrain, farming on  a large scale is impracticable. Hence the institution of slavery was never widely extended in this district.  Consequently its negro population is at a minimum.  Several of the counties make the proud boast of being 100 per cent white.  Here, if anywhere, we should expect to find freedom from racial amalgamation.
Pregnant With Danger
And yet, despite the apparent security - or rather, because of it - the situation is pregnant with grave danger.  These counties suffered little during the reconstruction period.  Negro domination was unknown” there were not enough negroes to dominate.  Union sentiment was strong.  This accounts for the strength of the republican party in this region.  All these circumstances have deflected the mind of the population from the racial problem, both in its political and its biological aspects.  Although no district in the State excells the Ninth in zeal for racial integrity the infrequency of the danger has resulted in a proportionate relaxation of watchfulness in guarding the color line.  Hence negroid near-whites from West Virginia and Kentucky and negroid mixed Indians from Tennessee and North Carolina, seeking an outlet for social ambitions.  Thwarted in their native localities have found in this district easy access to the status of whites and have mixed almost unhindered with the unsuspecting population. 
“Melungeons” from Tennessee. “Redbones” and self-styled “Cherokees” from North Carolina have easily succeeded in “passing.”  A similar situation exists along practically the whole southern border of the State: but, although the invasions of the Second, Fourth and Fifth districts have been more numerous, they have met with correspondingly greater opposition.  We have seen already how rapidly mix-breed descendants of one individual can multiply and how easily and widely they may be distributed.  These phenomena are again met within the Ninth District, where their potentiality of danger is magnified by a false sense of security.
In Russell and Tazewell
Case No..1. Russell and Tazewell counties.  (On file in the State records)
A.O. moved to Russell County shortly after the Civil War and settled on Orchard Ridge.  He came from North Carolina.  His wife had had an illegitimate child before her marriage by a negro.  This girl grew up and was married to E. R. a white man.  They had seven children of whom six married white people  The seventh, Perlita, was not married but bore four or five  illegitimate children. Another daughter, D., married C. G. and bore him eight children, all of whom married into white families.  One of these children, R., marries K. S. under circumstances which will be related below.  Forty-three of the descendants of E. R. and his mulatto wife are listed in the State records.  The total number is far greater.  These people are treated was white, attend white churches and their children go to white schools.  Some of them live in Russell County, but many have crossed into Tazewell, where the majority now reside.  Exclusion of these negroid children from the white schools would incur great, difficulty and even greater danger.  Human  life is  lightly held in these counties and the mix breeds would not balk at any extreme in wreaking vengeance on any who opposed their pretensions, as the following quotation will show;  “If they should learn that I am the informant, I would have to leave the community or live in fear and dread as I know my life would be in danger.”
Case No. 2. Tazewell County (On file in the State records)
The clerk of Tazewell refused to issue a license for the marriage of the above-mentioned  R. G. to K. S.  The couple went over into Tennessee, where they obtained a license and were married, returning immediately to Tazewell County where they now reside. The facts were presented to the grand jury by the Commonwealth’ Attorney, but the witnesses who were summoned were afraid to give evidence and no indictment was found.
Lee County Case
Case No. 3. Lee County (On file in the State records).
A birth certificate from this county has the father listed as white, the mother as questionable.  She is a member of a negroid family which moved into Patrick County from North Carolina whence she removed to Lee.
Case No. IV.  Lee County (on file in the State records).
This case was also brought to the attention of the Vital Statistics Bureau through a birth certificate on which both mother and father were recorded as doubtful: Both were from Tennessee.  This case shows the difficulties in determining the proper racial status of the above-mentioned “Melungeons” and other mixed groups, claiming Indian extraction.
Case No V. Lee County (on file in the State records). Lee County (on file in the State records)
On another birth certificate sent in to Richmond the father, a native Virginian is recorded as white: the mother born in Tennessee, as doubtful: another “Melungeon” case.
Case No. VI  Scott County (on file in the State Records)
This case will be presented by quoting from a letter from a local registrar:  “There is here in Scott County a considerable number of people who go by various names such as “Melungeons,” “Gawhans,”  “Malingoes.” They are a mixed race, not looked upon as Caucasian, although to my knowledge several have married whites.  They object to being called negroes, but some of them claim to be part Indian.  They have Indian traits, keep dogs and hunt and love wild meat. I have no way of knowing what race they belong to  except by general appearance. Some of them are fairly white, while others of the same family are dark with kinky hair.  I do not believe that they should be allowed to pose as white.”
Case No. VII. City of Bristol (on file in the State records)
The State Registrar received the following letter: “Will you kindly send me right away a copy of the birth certificate of F------ W------- as per enclosed card.  The reason for asking is that he is attending the public school here, and there is some question as to whether he is white or colored.”  The birth certificate of this child was examined. Both parents were white; both were natives of Tennessee Melungeons?
Washington County
Case No VIII Washington County (on file in the State records)
In this county there is an extended group of dubious race being the same family names whose racial derivation seems well nigh indeterminable.  Investigation of the records shows that of eighteen marriages of people bearing this name nine were performed on white and nine on colored licenses.  Some of the members of the group claim to be of Indian extraction, but some of their neighbors insist they are colored. The difficulties of a definitive investigation seems insuperable.  Meanwhile their dubious blood continues to be disseminated among whites.  One of those families migrated to Goochland County where they entered their children in a white school.  The negroid appearance of these children aroused protest against their attendance.  The superintendent of the school wrote to the father requesting that he establish the right of his children to attend the school.  The superintendent reported to the State registrar:  “I never received a reply from the letter. But the children have never come back to school except to get their books.”
The cases in this district do not show the sordid degradation found in the other districts. However, the situation is none the less critical.  The tide of amalgamation has risen even to the mountain tops, and the very isolation of the population has only made them the more helpless against the incursion.