Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Historical Documents ~ Melungeon Indians

Historical Documents on the Melungeons

63D CONGRESS 3d Session 
JANUARY 5, 1915.--Referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs and ordered to be printed 

Exhibit B7.


RED SPRINGS, N. C., July 17, 1890.T. J. MORGAN, Esq., Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Washington.
        MY DEAR SIR: Your letter of July 14 ultimo just to hand. The communication and report from the Bureau of Ethnology to which you refer were never received, and your letter just received conveys the first intimation of their having been sent. Had they been received I would have responded with pleasure.
        I inclose to you to-day a copy of a pamphlet containing much of interest in this connection. The pamphlet was written very hastily nearly two years ago in order to give the North Carolina Legislature some information, as the Croatans were asking some legislation in their behalf.
        The Croatan Tribe lives principally in Robeson County, N. C., though there are quite a number of them settled in counties adjoining in North and South Carolina. In Sumter County, S. C., there is a branch of the tribe and also in East Tennessee. In Lincoln County, N. C., there is another branch, settled there long ago. Those living in East Tennessee are called "Melungeans," a name also retained  by them here, which is a corruption of Melange, a name given them by early settlers (French), which means mixed. The pamphlet sent you will outline their history as far as it can be discovered from their traditions. In regard to their exodus from Roanoke Islandtheir traditions are confirmed by maps recently discovered in Europe by Prof. Alexander Brown, member of the Royal Historical Society of England. These maps are dated in 1608 and 1610, and give the reports of the Croatans to Raleigh's ships, which visited our coast in those years. These maps will be lithographed and published in a book, now being prepared by Prof. Brown. The particulars of the exodus preserved by tradition here are strangely and strongly corroborated by these maps. There can be little doubt of the fact that the Croatans in Robeson County and elsewhere are the descendants of the Croatans of Raleigh's day. In 1885 I got the North Carolina Legislature to recognize them as Croatans and give them separate public schools. In 1887 I got $500 a year from the State for a normal school for them for two years. In 1889 the appropriation was extended two years longer.
        Their normal school needs help--at least $500 more is needed. The appropriation to the public schools amounts to less than a dollar a head per annum.
        If you can aid them in the way desired we would be glad. They are citizens of the United States and entitled to the educational privileges enjoyed by other citizens, but those advanatges are not much.
Respectfully,Hamilton McMillan

Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico
edited by Frederick Webb Hodge. In two parts. Part 1. [Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30.]
Date: 1906-01-01;  Publication: Serial Set Vol. No.5001;  Report: H.Doc. 926 pt. 1;

"Across the line in South Carolina are found a people, evidently of similar origin , designated "Redbones." In portions of w. N.C. and E. Tenn. are found the so-called "Melungeons" (probably from French Melange, 'mixed') or "Portuguese" apparently an offshoot form the Croatan proper.....All of these are local designations for people of mixed race with an Indian nucleus differing in no way from the present mixed-blood remnants known as Pamunkey, Chickahominy, and Nansemond Indians in Virginia, excepting in the more complete loss of their identity.  In general the physical features and complexion of the person of this mixed stock incline more to the Indian than to the white or Negro."
Annual report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution showing the operations, expenditures, and condition of the institution for the year ended June 30, 1948

Smithsonian Institution, 
Washington December 10, 1948. 
To the Congress of the United States : 

In accordance with section 5593 of the Revised Statutes of the 
United States, I have the honor, in behalf of the Board of Regents, 
to submit to Congress the annual report of the operations, expendi- tures, and condition of the Smithsonian Institution for the year ended June 30, 
1948. I have the honor to be, 
Respectfully, A. Wetmore, Secretary,

"Melungeons or Ramps - In the counties located in the extreme western corner of Virginia  are to be found scattered groups of mixed-bloods called Melungeons or Ramps.  These people roam the mountain regions of Virginia, southern West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and originally claimed Portuguese descent.  The Virginia Melungeons are found on the mountains ridges such as Copper Ridge, clinch Ridge, and Powell Valley in Lee and Scott Counties, in the vicinity of Coeburn and Norton in Wise county, near Damascus in Washington County, and in the western Dismal area of Giles County. .... They show dark skins with straight or curly black hair and high cheek bones. ... The chief family names of Melungeons in this area are Bolen, Collins, Gibson or Gipson, Freeman, Goins, and Sexton." (Note FREEMAN DNA shows them to carry Native American Q, they are part of the Core Melungeon project but were omitted from the study recently published.)
24. Tennessee 

The Indians of Tennessee numbered 161 in 1930, Of these, 0.6 percent were full-blood, 26.1 percent mixed-blood, and 73.3 percent not recorded. These were probably either mixed- blood people such as the Melungeons, or the purer-blooded Cherokees. The Cherokees are very few and are probably located exclusively in the eastern mountain counties. The census figure is thought to be an understatement.  

Melungeons. — This interesting minority comprises several thousand persons who were originally centered in Hawkins County (now Hancock County) on Newman's Ridge in the extreme northeast of the State. They have also been reported from various other counties in the Appalachian Great Valley area, especially Rhea and Hamilton Counties, and also in the Nashville area. The chief family names in Tennessee are Collins, Fields, Freeman, Gann, Gibson, Goins, Gorvens, Graham, Lawson, Maloney, Mullins or Melons, Noel, Piniore, Sexton, and Wright. 
Originally ridge cultivators, they have had to resort to additional means of living in recent times, including basketmaking, cooperage, chair-making, and charcoal burning. Their manner of life is emphatically out- of-doors in character. Their physical type shows the usual range of mixed- blood between lighter and darker types. Indian, white, and especially Portuguese blood are said to be prominent. 
Socially they have been recognized as white in the courts and now attend white schools. Illiteracy is widespread however. They have no separate organizations except churches, and they are gradually merging with the remainder of the population
Report with respect to the  House resolution authorizing the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs to conduct an investigation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Pursuant to H. Res 698 (82d Cong.) December 15, 1952

"Siouans of the East (see also Catawba) A term applied to certain of the tribes located in early colonial times in the Piedmont area of Virginia and of North and South carolina. The names of these groups have mostly vanished but it seems likely that their blood survives in a number of mixed blood communities of this area such as; ..... Croatan of Robeson county, N.C.,  ...... and the remoter westerly groups such as the Melungeons of southwestern Va., and northeastern Tenn.,...."

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