Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Indian Ancestry of the Melungeons

The latest *project* of the Melungeon Historical Society appears to be another attempt at erasing the Indian ancestry of the Melungeon people.

The paper by Roberta Estes, *Board Member* of the Melungeon Historical Society according to the MHS Blog "references and uses data from several of these public projects, but particularly the Melungeon, Lumbee, Waccamaw, North Carolina Roots and Lost Colony projects".

''The first page of this introduction says; " The Melungeons, long held to be mixed European, African and Native show only one ancestral family with Native DNA.4 Clearly more testing would be advantageous in all of these projects.''

Footnote 4 says;

  • 4 The Melungeon DNA project, while initially included in this research, was subsequently removed from the report because of the lack of evidence of Native American ancestry and no direct connection to the Lost Colonists. The Lumbee may be connected to the Melungeons, but that remains unproven.
It would appear to me the MHS promoting this paper on its blog by a MHS Board Member while the Melungeons were *removed from the report for lack of evidence* clearly shows the intent of the MHS to stamp out any suggestion of the Indian ancestry of the Melungeons.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Newly Found Research

The person who has 'taken the wrong fork in the road' and who refuses to re-evaluate new evidence - clinging to their findings of 5-20 years ago and continues down the same path reminds me of the person who drives aimlessly, obviously lost, but refuses to stop and ask for directions or turn around and take another fork and is doomed to remain lost

In the past three or four years many books, newspapers, magazines, etc., have came online and shed new light on Melungeon research, records have been dug out of the old dusty courthouses and are lending new facts to this research that simply cannot be ignored.

The first record that put a dent in the 'old school' research was the trial in Hamilton County, Tennessee in the 1870s. Judge Lewis Shepherd had published his memoirs and was quoted quite often but it was never clear if these people in Hamilton County were actually called Melungeons at the time of the trial, or if Shepherd decided they were Melungeons after the Burnett and Dromgoole articles.

Reading the transcripts clearly shows these people in Hamilton County, the Perkins, Boltons, Shoemakes, Goins, Manley, etc., were called Melungeons in the 1850s by their neighbors. Research turned up a petition dated 1794 in Georgetown (Marion County) South Carolina with the names of these people later called Melungeons.

Further research shows some of these in the South Carolina group are genetically/genealogically linked to the Newman's Ridge group and expands the research area far beyond Louisa County, Virginia to Orange County, North Carolina. In fact if you research the migration patterns of the Saponi, Cheraw/Saura Cherokee and Catawba Indians you will find they traveled the same routes as the Gibson, Collins, Goins, Bunch etc.

Adding this to the newly found information in the dissertation of Sandra Keyes Ivey in which both Daniel Baird and Robert Ewing state a group of people living in Lebanon, Wilson Co., Tennessee were also called Malungeons as early as 1850 shows this word was found many times outside of Newmans Ridge.

Another important discovery is the widespread use of the word used to describe dark skinned people who were different than the Africans or Mulattoes in the 1850s. Especially used in and near Richmond, Virginia where some of the Indian Gibson family from Charles City County are found living after they were freed from slavery by proving their ancestry from an Indian woman, Jane Gibson.

Coincidentally, or not, their owner David Ross was the owner of the iron works in Hawkins/Sullivan County in Tennessee in the 1790s. It was left to his son, Frederick Ross in 1818 who brought some of the slaves there where he built Rotherwood -- Ross later freed these slaves as were many of the 400 at the Oxford Iron works owned by his father.

This is the same Frederick Ross who preached at Vardy's house. What a small word eh? [These slaves freed by Ross in Hawkins County are also the ancestors of Diana Ross of the Supremes.]

These newly found facts are showing the word was not exclusive to Newman's Ridge -- it neither started -- nor ended there. The 1870s trial shows there were Melungeons in Hamilton County in 1850 and they said they were Portuguese, ditto Wilson County, Tennessee and Newman's Ridge. There were Molungeons in Richmond in 1850s and Malunjins near Dothan, Albama before the Civil War and 'Lungens' in Arkansas.

In 1889 after Swan Burnett's piece -- but *before* Dromgoole's articles had been published, Lawrence Johnson born in SC but residing in Mississippi wrote to the editor of the Atlanta Journal about Burnett's article;

''His name Melungeons is a local designation for this small peculiar race. Their own claim to be Portuguese is more generally known. Their original site is on the Peedee river in South and North Carolina . They were once especially strong in Georgetown and Darlington districts of the latter. Though called Portuguese – this does not indicate their true origin. I have no doubt local traditions, and the records still to be found in the Charleston library will give the true account.''

How would Mr. Johnson have recognized the Melungeons of Newmans Ridge in Burnett's article as the people found on the Peedee River? He is clearly describing the Boltons, Perkins, Goins, Shoemakes etc.

In 1890 it was reported from Rogersville; "In Magoffin county, Kentucky, one of the wildest of the eastern subdivisions of the commonwealth there is a community or settlement of people, who claim to be descendants of Portuguese, and the resemblance is said to be striking and complete" --

And the hunt for the real story goes on. Unfortunately there are not many hunters.

Sources for the above can be found at


Or by using the search engine at this site



Friday, November 6, 2009

Early Contacts

The Settlement

'' In his travels Pardo took a side trip to Ylasi, which appears to have been the same as the Ilapi of the De Soto expedition''
The Forgotten centuries -Charles Hudson)

This 'Portuguese' settlement by deAyllon is on the Pee Dee River - Winyah Bay. A mere stone's throw from the 'mixt' settlement found there in 1725. It is hard to believe it is coincidence this settlement of deAyllon and visited by deSoto and his Portuguese Adventurers is in the same area that the *Portuguese families* of Boltons, Perkins, Goins, Ivey, etc., were living in the 1700s.

de Ayllon & de Soto 1526-1541

Lucas Vazquez de AyllonSan Miguel de Guadalupe "History records the first slave revolt in 1526 at de Ayllon's settlement San Miguel de Guadalupe somewhere in the vicinity of Winyah Bay and the Pedee River. It is not far from here that in 1754 there were reported to be 50 families a 'mixt crew' that were listed as Indians. There are several versions of just exactly who and how many colonists accompanied de Ayllon. Some report there were 500 men, women and children and 100 slaves while others report between 500 and 600 colonists, and while the extent of the revolt has not been recorded it is known that of the Spaniards and slaves with de Ayllon only 150 returned, and there indeed was a slave revolt."Few records from almost five hundred years ago have been recorded but I have found most historians, authors and researchers believe that at least some of these slaves that came with de Ayllon were left behind. It does not seem unlikely that some remained behind to mix with the native tribes, perhaps captured, perhaps by choice.

A few of these mentioned;

"The first settlement within the present borders of the United States to contain Negro slaves was the locale of the first slave revolt. A Spanish colonizer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon, founded, in the summer of 1526, a community whose probable location was at or near the mouth of the Pedee River in what is now South Carolina. The settlement consisted of about five hundred Spaniards and one hundred Negro slaves. Trouble soon beset it. Illness caused numerous deaths, carrying off in October, Ayllon himself. Internal dissension arose, and the Indians grew increasingly suspicious and hostile. Finally, probably in November, several of the slaves rebelled and fled to the Indians. The next month what was left of the adventurers, some one hundred and fifty souls, returned to Haiti, leaving the rebel Negroes with their Indian friends. (1)"

"The first African slaves arrived in present day United States as part of the San Miguel de Gualdape colony (most likely located in the Winyah Bay area of present-day South Carolina), founded by Spanish explorer Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón in 1526. The ill-fated colony was almost immediately disrupted by a fight over leadership, during which the slaves revolted and fled the colony to seek refuge among local Native Americans. De'Ayllón and many of the colonists died shortly afterwards of an epidemic, and the colony was abandoned, leaving the escaped slaves behind on North American soil." (2)

"Just as with De Soto's expedition, African slaves had accompanied de Ayllon's settlement colony on the Peedee River in 1526. When there was a crisis over leadership, the colony fell into disarray. In the midst of this crisis, a slave revolt further ripped the settlement apart. With the colony in shambles, many of the African slaves fled to live among the nearby native people. According to De Soto, these refugees must have lived among the
Cofitachiqui and taught them the craftwork of theEuropeans."(3)

There may have been several of these slaves left behind, there may have been a dozen or they might just as likely been the majority of them left to live among these South Carolina tribes in which case many of these Native tribes would be carrying the DNA of these early settlers for two hundred years before they mixed with the Portuguese Adventurers found living on Drowning Creek in 1754.

de Soto & Andre de Vasconcelos

As Luis de Moscoso passed through Elvas, Andre de Vasconcelos spoke with him, and requested him to speak to Don Hernando de Soto in his behalf, and gave him patents issued by the marques de Vilareal, conferring on him the captaincy of Ceuta, so that he might exhibit them. The adelantado saw these and found out who he [Vasconcelos] was and wrote him promising that he would favor him in every way and would give him men to command in Florida.

The DeSoto Chronicles)

''The Portuguese left Elvas on the 15th of January. They reached Seville on St. Sebastian's eve and went to the governor's lodging. They entered the patio upon which looked some balconies where he was. He looked down and went to meet them at the stairs where they went up to the balconies. When they were up, he ordered chairs to be given them so that they might be seated. Andre de Vasconcelos told him who he and the other Portuguese were and how they had all come to accompany him and to serve him on his voyage. He [i.e. Soto] thanked him and appeared well pleased with their coming and proffer. The table being already laid, he invited them to eat; and while they were eating, he directed his majordomo to find lodgings for them near his inn. From Seville, the adelantado went to San Liicar with all the men that were to go with him. He ordered a muster to be held, to which the Portuguese went armed with very splendid arms, and the Castilians very elegantly, in silk over silk, and many plaits and slashes. As such finery was not pleasing to the governor on such an occasion, he ordered a muster to be held on the next day and for every man to appear with his armor. ''

''To this the Portuguese came as at first, armed with very excellent armor, and the governor set them in order near the standard borne by his alferez. Most of the Castilians wore poor and rusty coats of mail, and all [wore] helmets and carried worthless and poor lances. Some of them managed to get a place among the Portuguese. Thus they passed in review, and those who were to the liking of Soto and whom he wished were counted and enrolled and went with him to Florida. Those who went numbered in all six hundred men. He had already bought seven ships and had placed in them the provisions necessary, appointed captains, and assigned his ship to each captain, giving each one a list of the men he was to take.''


In the month of April, of the year 1538, the adelantado 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.

DeSoto & Cofitachiqui

Excerpts from
Matters of the Heart

...''As she approached the bank of the river, their eyes met for the first time. She, the Queen of Cofitachiqui, was borne on a royal vessel, seated upon pillows and accompanied in other canoes by her beloved men. He, a slave of Andre de Vasconcelos, was a follower of Hernando de Soto and the expedition to explore and exploit the natural resources of the American Southeast.

On the third day, the Queen disappeared; de Soto sent his guards to find her but she was not to be found (Bourne, 1904, p. 110). Taking advantage of her absence, he entered one of the ancient temple mounds that were scattered about the town of Talemico, the religious and political center of the people of Cofitachiqui. The temple mound was one hundred feet long and forty feet wide with massive doors. As he entered through the doors, he encountered paired rows of massive wooden statues with diamond-shaped heads bearing first batons, then broadswords, and then bows and arrows (Hudson, 1976, p. 111).

Like the ancient pyramids of Egypt, these temple mounds contained statues of notable persons of antiquity and chests filled with the remains of the elders. Scattered about the temples were bundles of fur, breastplates, and weapons -- tools for the next life -- covered with pearls, colored leather, and "something green like an emerald" (Bourne, p. 100). [paragraph 3]De Soto and his men plundered the ancient temple. Among the booty were items of a European make, "Biscayan axes or iron and rosaries with their crosses" (Bourne, 1904, p. 100).

De Soto and his men determined that these materials were the remnants of an earlier expedition led by Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon. He and his men had settled on the coast of the Carolinas near on the Peedee River in 1526. African slaves were members of Ayllon's colony; when there was a crisis over leadership, the colony fell into disarray. In this crisis, there was a slave revolt. When the colony crumbled, many of the African slaves fled to live among the nearby Native Americans (Wright, 1902, pp. 217-228).

As they were on their journey, the Lady of Cofitachiqui "left the road, with the excuse of going in the thicket, where, deceiving them, she so concealed herself that for all their search she could not be found." De Soto, frustrated in his quest to find her, moved on to Guaxule (Jameson, 1907, p. 176).

Alimamos, a horseman of de Soto who "got lost," somehow wandered upon the refugee slaves. He "labored with the slaves to make leave of their evil designs" but only two of the refugees returned to de Soto. When Alimamos arrived back at the camp with the refugees who had decided to return, "the Governor wished to hang them" (Jameson, p. 177). [paragraph 6]However, the horseman also made another report. He stated that "The Cacica remained in Xualla, with a slave of Andre de Vasconcelas,(the Portuguese jp) who would not come with him (Alimamos), and that it was very sure that they lived together as man and wife, and were to go together to Cutafichiqui" (Jameson, p. 177).

Another detailed account of de Ayllon and his failed settlement;
Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors John Reed Swanton.

"A location within the Santee River system is also compatible with Paul Quattlebaum’s persuasive argument that the attempted Allyon settlement was in the vicinity of Winyah Bay[88A] and with the statement by Elvas that “...the [Cofitachiqui] Indians said [it] had been in the port two days’ journey thence..., and that Allyon had died there.” [88B] The Cofitachiqui had Spanish armor, axes, a rosary, and other material, and a Spaniard who had been with Allyon and was with DeSoto had no doubt that these artifacts had come from the attempted settlement."

American Negro Slave Revolts 1943 By Herbert Aptheker Page 163
Slavery in the colonial United States From Wikipedi
Slavery in the Cherokee Nation By Patrick Neal Minges

Documenting the Melungeons


The Melungeons - Sizemores & Cherokee

If the families who were dubbed with the name Melungeons were Indians and were traveling together for decades - would you not assume they descended from the same 'tribe'? There was probably very little mixing with the *white folks* and if these Indians were living next door to Indians, is it not likely they were mixing among themselves?

The Sizemores --

I posed a question on one of the lists that since over 2000 Sizemores filed Cherokee applications and the Gibsons, Collins, Coles, Lawsons, and other Melungeon families also filed Cherokee applications it seems the Sizemores would be considered Melungeons.

They are associated with these early Melungeon families back to the 1600s and are living side by side over the years. These families, including the Sizemores are found in the area of Wilkesboro, North Carolina, an old Cherokee Indian town also known as Mulberry Fields and Keowee. And where did they go when they left North Carolina? The Cherokee lands on Newmans Ridge. But according to Joy King they were NOT Cherokee or Melungeons.

Joy does not know who Ned Sizemore's parents or grandparents were -- but she *knows* they weren't Melungeons or Cherokee, I guess she received this information via osmosis. In 2004 Joy wrote; "I doubt we'll ever know exactly which tribe this ancestry actually came from."


Interesting -- she *knows* it wasn't Cherokee but she doubts we will ever know the tribe? The first Sizemore that I found so far was Martha Sizemore living with [apparently a housekeeper] of the Rev. Alexander Whitaker who converted Pocahontas to Christianity. After Pocahontas was captured she was placed in the home of Rev. Whitaker and his housekeeper Martha Sizemore.

Although Joy King does not mention this most intriguing connection on her Sizemore History website she claims she has had the information for many years and promises she will update sometime in the future.I have to wonder why in the world a researcher would not share this valuable piece of history? Apparently she never shared it with fellow Sizemore descendant and researcher Jack Goins as he doesn't mention it in his book. Nor can I find where she has posted it on any of the discussion lists although she is a frequent poster -- definitely makes you go hmmm.

After posting this on the Melungeon list the only feedback was from Joy King - however the Melungeon Historical Society must have thought it important as they quickly added the item to their blog claiming the "authorities" do not recognize Sizemores as Melungeons. I'd like to know who these "authorities" are -- I've never seen the "authorities" name the Bolton, Perkins, Shoemakes, Nickens, etc., Melungeons either. There are a lot of "authorities" on the Melungeons and very few agree on anything.

Many "authorities" still believe they were a 'mysterious tribe' found only on Newman's Ridge.

Check out Documenting the Melungeons


Melungeons at Fort Blackmore

    THE MELUNGEONS  & FORT BLACKMORE SOME NOTES Attorney Lewis Jarvis was born 1829 in Scott County, Virginia and lived in the area and ...