The Portuguese ancestry of the Melungeons took a 'big hit' this past April when the paper Melungeons, A Multiethnic Population by Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson, Janet Lewis Crain, was published. It wasn't so much what they wrote but what they didn't write.
They quoted? James Mooney
In 1902, James Mooney addressed the issue of Portuguese oral history:
"Wherever these people are found, there always will be the traveler or investigator passing through their region, who will encounter their tradition of Portuguese descent, and in view of their ignorance, will wonder how these people ever came to know of the nation of Portugal.”What James Mooney actually wrote was;
"Wherever these people are found there also will the traveler or investigator passing through their region encounter the tradition of Portuguese blood or descent, and many have often wondered how these people came to have such a tradition or, in view of their ignorance, how they came to even know of the name of Portugal or the Portuguese."The next sentence of paragraph two which they completely omitted:
"The explanation is, however, far simpler than one might imagine. In the first place, the Portuguese have always been a seagoing people, and according to Mr. Mooney, who has looked up the subject, the early records of Virginia and the Carolinas contain notices of Portuguese ships having gone to wreck on the coasts of these States and of the crews settling down and marrying in with Indians and mulattoes."Mooney 'addressed' the oral history of the Portuguese ancestry. It certainly seems to me the way I read this that he explained there was no reason to doubt their oral history.
The Portuguese were a seagoing people, and apparently there are documented records in Virginia and the Carolinas of Portuguese shipwrecks and the crews intermixing with the Natives. So why did these four authors choose to leave out this most important revelation by James Mooney? Why is a quote not a "quote?"
This paper uses Virginia DeMarce as a source twenty one times but you will not find this quote included either.... but then again I don't think they were attempting to prove the Melungeon families may have been telling the truth about their heritage.
Virginia Easley DeMarce
Looking at Legends-Lumbee and Melungeon: Applied genealogy and the Origins of Tri-racial Isolate Settlements, National Genealogical Society Quarterly 81 (March 1993): 24-45. Page 37
"The fact that the Portuguese were noted seafarers for centuries. Portuguese laborers--particularly sailors, fisherman, and tradesmen such as net menders and sail menders--were common in towns and harbors throughout the western world, including England and her colonies; and English ships used some Portuguese sailors. In early America, references to them appear in colonial records from New France [Canada] to New England, to the Gulf. There is no reason to doubt that they also sailed into Virginia's ports, and their extensive contact with the English shipping trade might well explain their apparently rapid acquisition of the English language and their quick acculturation in Virginia."Documented Sources
The authors of this paper writes there is one documented source as a possible link to the Melungeons Portuguese ancestry. The men who came with Juan Pardo.
"One possible documented source of Portuguese ancestry may be from Juan Pardo’s men who were abandoned at various forts in present day North Carolina, one perhaps as far north and west as Morgantown, North Carolina. Some of Pardo's men may have been Portuguese. These men, if they survived, would have had to have assimilated into the Native population and have taken Native wives, as there were no European women available in 1566. However, the core Melungeon family group is not originally found in western North Carolina, but in eastern Virginia."The authors would like you to believe it is impossible for these sources to have been ancestors of the CORE Melungeons because the CORE Melungeons have their roots in Virginia? This paper and the CORE Melungeon DNA project includes the families of Bolton, Perkins, Shoemake etc., that were NOT originally found in eastern Virginia but in North and South Carolina.
Thomas Collins appears in Louisa County in 1743, where did he come from? By 1743 we already have Paul Bunch, John Bunch (1718), Gideon, Hubbard and John Gibson living in the Carolinas and we know as fact Gideon Gibson's DNA matches that of the Louisa County, Gibsons.
How do they KNOW that Thomas and George Gibson were not part of the Indian trader families that had moved to the Carolinas and mixed with these "Portuguese Indians?"
"A significant amount of oral history regarding Portuguese heritage exists, but no historical, genealogical or genetic evidence has been discovered to corroborate the oral history. Some historical information refutes the oral history."No historical evidence? Court records are not historical? These authors have included the Perkins, Shoemake, and Bolton families in the CORE group and the trial transcripts of the Perkins and Bolton contain testimonials they were Portuguese. I believe Wayne Winkler made a statement in one of his radio interviews that court records aren't really evidence.
It seems a hundred and some years after the fact these researchers have decided to play JUDGE AND JURY. The outcome of the Perkins trial does not exist but the Bolton case was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Giles Leitch, Senator from Robeson County, testified, under oath, before the Joint Senate and House Committe in 1871.
In this paper these four authors, quoting Ariela Gross, writes; Giles Leitch was the "Attorney who had defended militia members who killed several Lumbee in Robeson Co."
Then they go on to write there is no 'historical' evidence that has been discovered? Are they suggesting because Leitch defended the men who killed the father of the Lowerys he lied under oath and instead of testifying they were 'Negroes' he said he thought they were Portguguese Indians? Seriously?
Senate: What are they; are they Negroes?
Leitch: Well sir, I desire to tell you the truth as near as I can; but I really do not know what they are; I think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian…
Senate: You think they are mixed Negroes and Indians?
Leitch: I do not think that in that class of population there is much Negro blood at all; of that half of the colored population that I have attempted to describe all have always been free…They are called ‘mulattoes’ that is the name they are known by, as contradistinguished from Negroes…I think they are of Indian origin.
Senate: I understand you to say that these seven or eight hundred persons that you designate as mulattoes are not Negroes but are a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, white blood and Indian blood, you think they are not generally Negroes?
Leitch: I do not think the Negro blood predominates.
Early the next year Leitch is quoted in the New York Herald:
"I think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and Indian; about half of them have straight black hair, and many of the characteristics of the Cherokee Indians in our State; then, as they amalgamate and mix, the hair becomes curly and kinky, and from that down to real woollen hair; I think they are mixed Portuguese, Spaniard and Indians; I mean to class the Spaniards and Portuguese as one class, and the Indians as another class; I do not think that in class of population there is much negro blood at all; of that half of the colored population that I have attempted to describe all have been always free; I was born among them, and I reckon that I know them perfectly well."
The Ivey, Graham, Chavis, Lowery, Oxendine and Gibsons, all reported to be Portuguese. There is overwhelming evidence these families living along the Pee Dee River were thought to be Portuguese. Court cases, local histories etc., are evidence of Portuguese ancestry.
Court records in Indiana reports the REEDS in Wilkes County, North Carolina who married into the Collins family were Portuguese. The Dickey Diaries of the 1890s say the ROARKS who intermarried into the Melungeon families were Portuguese.
The Second Documented Portuguese Case
This 'slave' whether African or Portuguese (or both) --- went to live with the Natives in 1540.
"The governor, in order not to cause her unhappiness in everything, left them, intending to ask them from her at Guaxule, when he should give her leave to return. She took it and went to stop at Xualla with three slaves who bad escaped from the camp and with a horseman who remained behind, for being sick with fever he wandered from the road and was lost. This man, named Alimamos tried to have the slaves abandon their evil intention and go with him to the Christians - which two of them did. Alimamos and they overtook the governor fifty leagues from there in a province called Chiaha . They related how the cacica had remained in Xualla with a slave of Andre de Vasconcellos (from Portugal) who refused to come with them; and it was very certain that they held communication as husband and wife, and that both had made up their minds to go to Cutifachiqui .
These four authors have done a fine job however of discrediting the Portuguese ancestry, simply because they refuse to acknowledge the Pee Dee Families as CORE Melungeons.
Wayne Winkler thinks the Portuguese ancestry is a 'cover story' and is quoted in the AP article by Travis Loller as saying; "It's sometimes embarrassing to see the lengths your ancestors went to hide their African heritage" which led to his radio interview; "For centuries the Melungeon people of Appalachia believed they were of Portuguese descent. Turns out, their direct lineage is more African than anything else."
In my opinion Wayne Winkler, Roberta Estes, Jack Goins, Janet Crain, and Penny Ferguson are directly responisble for the numerous derisive comments and articles circulating the internet now as a result of their inaccurate and misleading research and comments.
A Few Examples
Melungeons Take a Hit
"In their new communities they were still referred to as “free people of color” but by then they had invented a cover story that they were descendants of early Portuguese explorers who had come to Appalachia and settled long before other whites did." http://www.blackdigest.com/?p=260This ridiculous post made on ancestry.com
"I was just happy these tests didn't confirm those idiotic notions tha Melungeons were Portuguese, Turks, or Gypsies, or some other crazy notion. That's all I meant to be agreeing to. Many of those Portuguese origin people were ashamed of having a little African blood, and that is why I was happy about proof of a little African blood. I know they will say they weren't trying to discover an alternative to sub-Sahara African blood -- BUT THEY WERE! If you believe that I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'll sell you for pennies on the dollar . . . :)
Anything BUT African! Applachia’s Melungeon People Upset To Learn Their Real Roots Aren’t Portuguese, Turkish Or Gypsy - Read the Ugly Story Here
“There were a whole lot of people upset by this study,” lead researcher Roberta Estes said. “They just knew they were Portuguese, or Native American.”
And if you think this DNA project ruled out Portuguese ancestry than you should check out the Portuguese DNA project - very similar to the Melungeons - lots of E1ba, R1b, like Buck Gibson, some I's, like the Denhams, and even some R1a like Vardy Collins!