The word almost always found describing Melungeons is 'mysterious' as if they landed in Appalachia on a space ship. Anyone taking the time to do some research, not copy and paste some things from articles and books that have been published, but real research, they would find they are not mysterious at all.
In 1848 when the journalist visited Newmans Ridge and was a guest at Vardy and Peggy [Gibson] Collins hotel he was told the "Legend of the Melungeons."(1) They were Portuguese who mixed with the Indians and with the whites and blacks when they got to Tennessee.
So let's start there. For years and probably still to this day this has been described as 'a cover story' as published on Jack Goins blog; (2)
"Most researchers have asserted that the Melungeons were tri-racial; that is, a mix of European, African, and Native American ancestry. Legend has speculated that the Melungeons descended from Portuguese explorers, which may have been a cover story to explain their dark skin."Common sense tells me if they said the were Portuguese Indians who mixed with the "blacks" they would would not have said they say they were Portuguese Indians to hide their 'black ancestry'? It makes no sense. How many books, articles, blogs, etc., have you read from researchers looking for their Portuguese Indian ancestors or of Melungeon families that have went to court and neighbors testified they were always known as Portuguese, like the Ivey, Hall, Bolton, Perkins, Shoemake, etc.
You needn't go to the rare book section at the library to find the Portuguese and Spanish Soldiers mixing with the Native tribes in the 1500s, just google it. (3)
There is no doubt if one would care to research it they would find the 'home of the Melungeons' was on the Pee Dee River, you need only to rely on testimonies of Hamilton McMillan (4) Judge Giles Leitch (5) Judge Lewis Shepherd (6) and other eyewitnesses to history from the 1870s-1890s.
A researcher might string together the many documents written in the late 1800s by Swan Burnett, Hamilton McMillan, McDonald Furman, James Mooney, Frederick Webb Hodge, Dr. C. A. Petersen, Stephen B. Weeks, Albert S. Gatschet, most, if not all worked for the Bureau of American Ethnology. How many books, blogs, articles, etc., have you seen with the research of these Smithsonian researchers from the 1890s. You can find some of their research by using the search engine at my "Melungeon Indians" website.
This is not a theory, it is exactly who the Melungeons said they were in 1848 with many documents and eyewitnesses to history to support it.
"In the month of April, of the year 1538, the adelantado (deSoto) delivered the ships over to the captains who were to go in them. He took a new and good sailing ship for himself and gave one to Andre de Vasconcelos, in which the Portuguese went" (Here)
The Portuguese definitely mixed with the Indians, just as Vardy Collins told the journalist in 1848. From the de Soto Journals (7)
- They captured a hundred head, among Indian men and women. Of the latter, there, as well as in any other part where forays were made, the captain selected one or two for the governor and the others were divided among themselves and those who went with them.
- As soon as the governor had crossed the stream, he found a village called Achese a short distance on. Although the Indians had never heard of Christians they plunged into a river. A few Indians, men and women, were seized,
- At the time of his departure, because of the importunity of some who wished more than was proper, he asked the cacique for thirty Indian women as slaves.....The Indians gave the governor thirty Indian women and the necessary tamemes [for DeSoto's men to wed then populate his planned settlement at Mobile Bay].
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