Thursday, August 9, 2012

Castles in the Sand

Once again we are being deluged with more propaganda from the Melungeon Historical Society, specifically Jack Goins, Roberta Estes, Wayne Winkler, and Janet Crain.  Penny Ferguson has been very quiet, hasn't had much to say on the subject, nothing at all publicly.

The article recently posted to their blog (apparently written by Roberta Estes) describing their recent event says the presentations were a culmination of decades of work and the icing on the cake was the DNA study which 'clarified the history of the Melungeon Core Families. They note later on they are continuing the study though, perhaps to further 'clarify' what they already wrote, but judging from their presentation it appears it will be just more of the old 'they were Sub Saharan men and white women.'

Even when the "Core" families they have identified, such as the Denham, Collins and Gibson, show European DNA, they continue to attempt to make these families 'African by Association.'  They have not one document to show their was any mixing of the Minor, Goins, or other 'Sub Saharan' men with the Denham, Collins or Gibson families but 'they know' their ancestry.  They can't even locate the female lines to test, so far they show six, and even though they protest they have REALLY, REALLY tried to find subjects, have you ever seen a post on a public board from any one of them they were looking?

They have no idea who the parents were of Vardy Collins or Buck Gibson, (the HEAD AND SOURCE of the Melungeons on Newman's Ridge), they don't know where they were born, they have no idea who their siblings were. All they have is R1a and R1b European DNA results that shows they had European ancestry. They also have the historical documents showing they were "friendly Indians" and Cherokee Indians."

Roberta writes that she is always caught up by Wayne Winkler's "spell that he weaves."  Interesting statement I think.  SPELL- definition; A form of words used as a magical charm or incantation. WEAVES - definition; Twist and turn from side to side while moving somewhere in order to avoid obstructions. 

Yesiree Bob, Winkler has been spinning and weaving for quite some time and Estes is right, he does have a magical charm he uses to convincingly 'weave' his stories. He spent close to ten years as President of the Melungeon Heritage Associtation weaving the tales of Turkish ancestors of the Melungeons.  There is a very nice picture of him on this page visiting 'Melungeon Mountain" in Turkey.

At the 5:20 point on this video Winkler talks about the 'majority of us who have ancestors from the old Ottoman Empire' -- long way from Africa. Here you can watch for yourself as Winkler uses his special powers to cast spells and weave his stories about the Melungeons Turkish ancesors. I think I hear strains of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody - annny waaay the wind blooows....

Goins presention gave this audience  the "core group" going back to Louisa county, funny it doesn't mention the "core group" that goes back to the Pee Dee River? As I posted here a few weeks ago back Jack Goins is well aware the 'core group' likely began on the Pee Dee River and while he listed their surnames in the Core Project he continues to ignore their history. 

Jack Goins must recognize that by not presenting the history of the Pee Dee Melungeon families he is not giving a 'true and honest' report of their history. His first book and many of his articles were written before 2005 when the Bolton trial transcripts were discovered. He knew this information shed a whole new light on the research but obviously he is not willing to admit he was wrong.

Roberta Estes presented the DNA, still harping that "there was no direct paternal or maternal Native American heritage found."  Seems like it would be impossible to find 'heritage' in the Y DNA samples but if they were looking for historical documents relating to the' Native American Heritage' when they found it they chose to ignore it.

Estes writes 'all the African lines except one are found in Louisa County, Virginia, but the Native lines weren't there.'  The Gibson family in Louisa County are from Charles City County, Virginia and the Gibsons in Charles City County are documented as Native Americans. All of these lines, the Bunch, Collins, Gibsons, Goodmans,  etc., are found in numerous historical documents as Cherokee/Indians.

Their DNA is European, not African, why does Estes call them 'African' when the DNA does not show 'African ancestry?'  They admit there are no documents that call these families Negro, African etc., no manumissions, runaway slave ads, nothing. Appears Winkler is not the only one that 'weaves' the tales.

Lastly Estes tops off this report with a quote from Jack Goins;
"Vardy Collins had paid the fine for illegal voting, instead of fighting the allegation, he knew in his heart that we would likely find African heritage." 
Why does Jack Goins desperately need to convince readers these families were African now when he has been convinced for the last 10 years or so they were not. There is no evidence Vardy was African, no oral history, no DNA and no eyewitnesses to history. 

Lewis Jarvis who knew him well said he was part of the 'friendly Indians' - a Chief!  Perhaps Vardy Collins knew in his heart they would prove he was Indian, after all the laws were the same for both the Native American and the African.  Maybe his color was reddish brown like that of the Cherokee?  Maybe Vardy had been called as a jurror in the past and been dismissed because of his Indianess? Or maybe like Jack wrote in his book it was dropped "probably due to sickness."

In 1897 Christopher Humble who was a relatively young man at the time described his trip to Newman's Ridge;
"On Friday forenoon, July 2, the writer and Rev. Joseph Hamilton, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, started in a hack from Cumberland Gap, Tenn., for Beatty Collins’, chief of the Melungeons, in Blackwater Valley, Hancock County, Tenn. The distance is thirty-five miles, but over such rough rocky mountain roads  that sundown found us still five miles away from our destination, without, however, any dislocated or broken bones, for which we were thankful. From either Lone Mountain or Rogersville, the road is shorter, being about thirty miles and not so rough. But by taking the longer route we passed a rare mountain cemetery, the sight of which paid us for our journey." 
 It is interesting that in MELUNGEONS AND OTHER PIONEER FAMILIES Jack Goins writes about the illegal voting trials. He writes on page 37;
"The nationality claimed by the Melungeons in the following court cases was probably their original race, before they mixed with the Indians, which should be examined by researchers as factual sworn evidence. The race the Melungeons claimed to be, always seemed to fall on deaf ears."
On page 42 Jack writes;
"This case was settled out of court by Vardy Collins son in law, probably due to sickness, the state dropped the charge against Vardy Collins.  Reading the small paragraph written by the court clerk, there is no mention of Vardy or an attorney being present on this day. The sentence reads: "On motion of the Attorney General a Nolli Prosequi is entered in this case......   ...... Vardy Collins was 83 years old in 1847. 
Throughout this book and for years afterwards Jack Goins has tried to prove the Melungeons, including his Goins and Minors, were Portuguese Indians. What documents have been discovered to doubt these claims now?  Did he find manumission papers? New documents uncovered? No, nothing more than DNA results. DNA is not going to prove they were Indians, it is not going to prove they were white and it is not going to prove they were African. Someone please tell Jack Goins DNA cannot prove race or ethnicity, tell him to ask Janet Crain, she knows it can't.

The very last sentence Estes writes;
"To want them to be something they were not is to dishonor who they were."
Really? Does that include the African along with the European and Native American? These four researchers have CREATED an ancestry, a heritage, for these families and like castles in the sand it will not stand.


  1. I've been off the scene for a few years but have ardently kept up with Melungeon happenings during that time. I commend Ms. Pezzullo for her foresight and persistence. In my view, she hit the nail on the head with this blog. Kudos to her. Sincerely, Pat Spurlock

  2. There is already a name for mixed - mulatto why would a new name need to be created - Melungeon? There was already a word to describe people of mixed ethnicity. Mel unjuns - Mel injuns. Who knows? There was a period in American history where American Indians were treated as badly as any other minorityin this country- other than white. But it seems people have overlooked that period of American history. I can see a slur being created for Mixed Indians.

    There seems to be this idea coming from Winkler I guess? This idea that mulatto is what's marketable to get people interested in buying books and DNA test. This falls under buyer beware of what they read on the internet.

    I don't have a problem with people selling DNA test and books, etc., it just wouldn't hurt to apply some ethics to their marketing, tell people what DNA can and can't prove. It's not a secret that YDNA test results cannot tell a person what the race or ethnicity was of their ancestors.


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