Saturday, October 18, 2014

Melungeons Redbones Croatans And Related Groups-Part One

This is the first part of a Series on the Melungeons and those groups known to be related to them, sometimes called 'Little Races.'

If you take the male Y DNA test or the female mtDNA test you can trace back thousands of years to where your ancestor originated.  This is ONE ancestor that lived thousands of years ago. In 10 generations we have some 1024 grandparents - in the grand scheme of things that one ancestor thousands of years ago is pretty insignificant in the search for your heritage. 

In a Council for Responsible Genetics article 'The Color of Our Genes' they write; " examining less than 1 percent of a person's genetic background, these companies often overstate their tests' ability to say anything significant about a person's heritage, giving the impression that social categories of race and ethnicity are somehow genetically verifiable."

What these tests can do is prove a relationship between two males or females who share the same DNA whether they share the same surname or not.  

They can also prove the Croatan/Lumbee, the Redbones, the Melungeons, Smiling Indians, Brass Ankles and other similar groups are related. Below are the works of anthropologists, ethnologists, historians, etc., many who worked with the Smithsonian in the late 1800s and early 1900s and later who seemed to have no doubt these "Little Races" were related.

"A hundred years ago a colony of Croatans settled in eastern Tennessee, on Newman's Ridge, in Hancock county.  They can't tell today where they came from, for tradition over 50 years isn't worth anything.  These are the people called Melungeons.  They are similar in racial characteristics to the Croatans, and Dr. Swan M. Burnett, a distinguished scholar and scientitst has traced by family names the connection between the Melungeons and the Croatans.  [1]

Red Springs, NC
Oct 12, 1889
Mr McDonald Furman

The name among them of Blanx or Blanc is French. The early Huguenot emigrants of that name came from the Department of the Mosell and those of the family who changed the Blanc to White, its English synonym, was designated as the 'Mosell" Whites and the name is now changed to Musslewhite. The French name of Bressi is now Bracy and Turbeville is now Troublefield. The Braceys and Troublefields live on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina and never intermarried with the Croatans or "Melange".

Henry Berry Lowrie takes his Christian name from Henry Berry one of the lost colonists of Roanoke as you will see by -------? to list in pamphlet. Many of the Lowrie's settled in Robeson - others went to the French Broad in Western N.C., and those in Robeson claim that David Lowrie Swain Ex Gov. and James Lowrie Robinson late Lt Gov of this State were of their stock. The tribe once stretched from Cape Fear to Pee Dee and the Redbones of your section are a part of the tribe as are the "Melungeons" of East Tennessee. The French immigrants callled the half breeds Melange or Mixed and the term evidently has been changed to "Melungeons".  [. [2]

Croatan Indians. The legal designation in North Carolina for a people evidently of mixed Indian and white blood, found in various e. sections of the state, but chiefly in Robeson co., and numbering approximately 5,000.  ...... Across the line in South Carolina are found a people, evidently of similar origin, designated "Red bones." In portions of w. N. C. and E. Temn. are found the so-called "Melungeons" (probably from French melangi', 'mixed') or "Portuguese," apparently an offshoot from the Croatan proper, and in Delaware are found the "Moors." All of these are local designations for peoples of mixed race with an Indian nucleus differing in no way from the present mixed-blood remnants known as Pamunkey, Chicka- hominy, and Nansemond Indians in Virginia, excepting in the more complete loss of their identity. In general, the physical features and complexion of the persons of this mixed stock incline more to the Indian than to the white or negro. See Mi-tis, Mixed bloods. [3]

The Croatan applied for recognition by the United States as Cherokee, but it was denied and the Cherokee acknowledge no relationship, having visited the Croatan country on a tour of inspection. There is a queer offshoot of the Croatan known as "Malungeons," in South Carolina, who went there from this state ; another the "Redbones," of Tennessee. Mr. Mooney has made a careful study of both of these branches also. [4]

Though these people principally reside in Robeson county there are settlements of them in both the Carolinas and in East Tennessee, where they are known as Melungeans, a corruption of the French Melange, or mixed, a  description of them given by the early French settlers.  [5]

There are some of these Croatoans on Newman’s ridge, in Tennessee.  [6] 

At one time the Croatans were known as 'Redbones,' and there is a street in Fayetteville so called because some of them once lived on it. They are known by this name in Sumpter County, S. C., where they are quiet and peaceable, and have a church of their own. They are proud and high-spirited, and caste is very strong among them. [7] 

There is in Hancock county, Tennessee, a tribe of people known by the local name of Malungeons or Melungeons. Some say they are a branch of the Croatan tribe, others that they are of Portuguese stock. [7] 

The Croatan tribe lives principaly in Robeson county, North Carolina, though there is quite a number of them settle in counties adjoining in North and South Carolina. In Sumter county, South Carolina, there is a branch of the tribe, and also in east Tennessee. In Macon county, North Carolina, there is another branch, settled there long ago. those living in east Tennessee are called "Melungeons", a name also retained by them here, which is corruption of 'Melange', a name given them by early settlers (French), which means mixed.''  [8] 

In 1897, Mr. Mooney wrote to Charles McDonald Furman that, "He felt that the Croatans, Redbones, Melungeons, Moors, and Portuguese were all local names for mixed Indian races along the Atlantic seaboard, with westward drift into the mountains." And stated, "It would be worth while of local investigators to go into the subject systematically. I think possibly the Indian remnants may have married with the convict apprentice importation of early colony days as well as with the free Negro element." [9] 

Since the above communications was read before the Society I have received from several sources valuable information in regard to the Melungeons; but the most important contribution bearing on the subject, as I believe, is the little pamphlet published by Hamilton Mc Millan, A. M., on “Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony” (Wilson, N.C., 1888). Mc Millan claims that the Croatan Indians are the direct descendant of this colony. What connection I consider to exist between the Melungeons and the Croatan Indians, as well as other material I have accumulated in regard to the Melungeons, will be made the subject of another communication which is now in preparation.    * *Read before the Society at its regular meeting, February 5, 1889.   [10] 

All these above families not only settled in Robeson County but also scattered further south and west through central South Carolina. In fact, in central South Carolina some names show up from that original northern center in Granville County which one does not find in Cumberland and Robeson Counties in that period. I presume that they came directly from Granville County into South Carolina. These are families like Taylor, Hicks, Bunch, and Strickland. Many of these northern migrants married into the Cheraw and Peedee and almost absorbed these native South Carolina tribes. Later in South Carolina other family names show up - Willis, Ware, Dial - who appear to be Indians of this same “northern” stock. However, we cannot find these family names in the north. These family names may have originated with blacks, whites, or native Indians who married into these scattered Indian Families.
is migration did not stop Georgia and Florida but continued west and in census records in the 1830’s in western Louisiana you begin to see names of Indian families from South Carolina.  As far as I can tell, most of these families moved on further west into east Texas. The Bass’, Dials, Wares, Willis’, etc., particularly, tarried awhile in western Louisiana and then moved on to east Texas. However, while they were in Louisiana they intermarried quite heavily with a group of Indians who were the remnants of small tribes from the Mobile, Alabama area - Chatot, Bayagoula, and others; that is to say, individuals from these South Carolina families married native Indians to form what is known by whites in that area as the “Redbones” of western Louisiana. This is quite a prolific group. I do not know how this group of people refers to themselves. I simply know that local nickname for them. I have heard that some of them identify as Choctaws and some as Spanish, but I cannot verify this. I do know that Indians coming in from South Carolina married into this local group and then moved on west leaving members of their families there in western Louisiana. Some of these same South Carolina Indians - Hicks, Strickland, Bunch, etc. – moved northwest into east Tennessee in the 1830’s and 1840’s. There they joined another stream of Indian pioneer of this same Granville County, North Carolina stock moving south from Newman’s Ridge on the Tennessee - Virginia border.   [11]


This case involved the Goins from Sumpter County - known as 'Smiling Indians' after James Smiling who were related to this  Goins family
who moved up to Robeson County. 

"I, LI Parrott, clerk of the court for Sumter County, said state, do hereby
certify that the families of Smilings and Goins of this county have been
known as "Red Bones"
ever since I have been acquainted with the people
. Mr. McDonald Furman, now deceased, took a great deal of trouble several years ago to establish the fact that they were...of the Indian race...they are looked upon as a separate race, neither white nor negro."

"I know William Goins, father of these parties. I visited them in South Carolina once about 6 years ago. The general reputation I got down there was  that they were Indian people. They were supposed to be Indians. I have lived in Robeson county all my life and I am perfectly familiar with the Indian people up here. From my association, being in the home of old man Goins and his family and from the investigation I have made of the people there, my opinion is that on the mother's side plaintiffs are Indians and on the father's side Malungeans. The Rev William Goins is not a typical Indian by feature, he is a mixture between white and Indian."

Hamilton McMillan, witness for the defendants: 
"I am a resident of Robeson County; I am now 78 years of age. I represented Robeson County in the state legislature in 1885 and 1887. I am familiar with the Act of 1885 designating certain indians of Robeson as Croatan Indians; I introduced the bill myself. I was acquainted with the Indians of Robeson County at the time the Act of 1885 was passsed designating them as croatan indians. I had been investigating their history for several years before that. I have them the designation of croatan indians in the Act. I wanted to give them some designation. There was a tribe known as croatan tribe on croatan island, it was an honorable name and it was a complete designation...The indians designated as croatan indians were living in Robeson County...none of them lived in sumter sc as far as i know. I had the Act of 1887 passed to establish a normal school for the croatan indians of Robeson County..."Question by the court to McMillan: Do these people here call themselves Croatans?Answer: No sir, they call themselves malungeans. [12]

By Professor Stephen B. Weeks, Ph.D., Trinity College, North Carolina. Page 28-29

At one time the Croatans were known as 'Redbones,' and there is a street in Fayetteville so called because some of them once lived on it. They are known by this name in Sumpter County, S. C., where they are quiet and peaceable, and have a church of their own. They are proud and high-spirited, and caste is very strong among them.

There is in Hancock county, Tennessee, a tribe of people known by the local name of Malungeons or Melungeons. Some say they are a branch of the Croatan tribe, others that they are of Portuguese stock. They differ radically, however, in manners and customs from the accounts which we have received of the Croatans. Four articles in The Arena for the current year, by Miss Will Allen Domgoole on "The Malungeons, a Forgotten People," "The Malungeon Family Tree," "The Disfranchisement of the Malungeons," and "Malungeon Music." [13] 

The Brass Ankles appear to have been a name given to these people near Hell Hole Swamp and Monck's Corners in South Carolina, much later than Redbone, Croatan, Melungeon and others. The Broadway play by Dubose Heyward; BRASS ANKLE in 1930  seems to be the first times it is found in print. 

Book Review 

Findlay Morning Republican July 13, 1931
"Many witnessed and were thrilled at the presentation of "Brass Ankle" a drama by Dubose Heyward on the New York stage last winter. Alice Brady headed the cast for this drama, which was a tragedy, which is a different treatment of the race problem.  "Brass Ankle" has been published by Farrar & Rinehart, and those not fortunate in traveling to New York to witness it may read it as they sit by their firesides. One understands the "Brass Ankle" a little better after reading what Dr. Wainwright, one of the characters of the drama says: "I suppose there is no more tragic, no more complex social problem in America today than that of the Brass Ankle."

"No one really know exactly what they are except that there is no doubt but that they have Negro blood. They won't let them in the white schools; they are too proud to go to the Negro, so they gave them a little school of their own. .....My father was on the board and helped arrange it. When the children registered, he brought their cards home to show us. In the space for race, they had all written 'Indian'.  "Tragic wasn't it?  Some of them have Indian blood and the copper cast gave the tribe their name, but we've poured white and black in on top of it.  We've made the mongrels -- and denied them even a race."

American Speech      Vol. 18, No. 2, Apr., 1943     Miscellaneous Notes ...

"Of Professor Farr's list of Tennessee expressions (American Speech, 15; 446-448 )several are quite common in South Carolina.  Brass ankle, for 'mulatto,' is very often used by the older generation, though less often by younger speakers.  My father thinks that the term originated in the neighborhood of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, where the descendants of a Portuguese colony who had intermarried with Negroes and afterwards married largely within their own group were noted for their brass bracelets and anklets.  To this group the white and Negro settlers in the neighborhood applied the name brass ankle, which was later extended to any mulatto.

Bennettsville May 17, 1893
Mr. McDonald Furman (Excerpted)

My Dear Sir

Yours of 13th inst is before me and in reply let me say that I not only appreciate your laudable desire to rescue the traditions of an obscure race, sometimes wronged, from oblivion, but to call the public mind to a number of important facts of our brief history, both secular and religious, which in the eager haste of this fast age, our people are liable to forget......

....The question now upon your mind, of which you write me is not unworthy your research. And I wish that I were able to give you more information than I can. Of course the people of "mixed breed," that we have among us in Marlborough are not known as "Redbones," and not until recently have they been called "Croatans," a name which some of them are now adopting. 

For generations, they have claimed to have been of "Portuguese" extraction, while commonly the white people have thought them mulattos.
J.A.W. Thomas

[1] Secret of the Croatan Tribe-- St. Louis Dispatch  

[2] Red Springs, NC Oct 12, 1889   Hamilton McMillan  

[3] Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology - Ethnology - 1907  page 365   [Also Published: Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico - by Frederick Webb Hodge - Indians of North America - 1911]

[4]  The North Carolina Booklet: Great Events in North Carolina History  General Society of the Daughters of the Revolution North Carolina Society. 1916

[5]  The Denver Evening Post, (Denver, CO) Tuesday, October 10, 1899  -- The Croatans A Class of People about Whom Even the Dictionary Knows Nothing

[6]  Atlanta Constitution November 7, 1897  - Bill Arp

[7]  HE LOST COLONY OF ROANOKE: ITS FATE AND SURVIVAL. (Reprinted from Papers Am. Hist. Asso., Vol. iv., No. 4., 1891.)   By Professor Stephen B. Weeks, Ph.D., Trinity College, North Carolina.

[8] July 17, 1890  --Red Springs, North Carolina Hamilton McMillan

[9]   James Mooney, The Bureau of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institute 1897

[10]  A NOTE ON THE MELUNGEONS   By Swan M. Burnett, M. D., Washington   October 1889

[11] Cherokee Communities of the South  - Robert K. Thomas

[12] Smiling Indians

[13] The lost colony of Roanoke : its fate and survival

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Portuguese - Not a Cover Story

Over the years many researchers, authors, speakers, etc., have reported the Portuguese ancestry of the Melungeons was a cover story made up by these people called Melungeons to hide their African ancestry.  Recently I received a comment to this blog by one of these author/speakers regarding the 1848 publication of their 'Legend" - he wrote;
“The article was published shortly after the illegal voting trials in Tennessee…” That fact alone provides ample reason for the Melungeons to “hide their identity” or to claim an ancestry other than their own. "   
While he went on to say he wasn't saying they did but -- "they had reason to deny African ancestry,....  for fear of being enslaved." 

What did the Melungeons tell the reporter of the "Present race of Melungeons"? 

''These Portuguese people intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants (after the advances of the whites into this part of the state) with the negroes and the whites..."
So are we to believe that Vardy Collins, or perhaps his wife, made up a story about their ancestry because they were afraid they would be enslaved? Yet in the next breath said 'our children did intermix with the Africans'  -- we must presume Vardy Collins, his wife, or whoever 'made up this cover story' didn't give two hoots whether someone came along and enslaved their children?  SMH  ---Seriously?

They do not take into account these people who were charged with illegal voting had the charges dropped, convincing their accusers they were of Portuguese ancestry and not African. Why would they be afraid of being enslaved a few months later?

There are court records spread over the 19th century in many counties and states across the nation that questioned the ancestry of these people who were called Melungeons. In early 1800 the Hagan who married into the Ivey family proved by neighbors they were called Portuguese since the time of the Revolution. 

In 1871 Judge Giles Leitch testified before  1871 North Carolina Joint Senate and House Committee on the ancestry of the people of Robeson County  (known as a branch of the South Carolina and East Tennessee families) and what did he say?  

"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 thecolored 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 researchers, authors, speakers, etc.,  of today are not claiming this 'cover story' to 'hide their real ancestry' for a lack of evidence of the Portuguese/Spanish people inhabiting Virginia and the Carolinas in the early days of this country, there are numerous documents.   They are apparently making this claim to further their own *theories* as to the origin of the Melungeons for personal reasons. 

I've not found one article from the late 1800s to early 1900s who claim the Melungeons were nothing but a group of African men and white women, quite the contrary -- almost all of the published reports stated they showed, Portuguese, Indian, and sometimes African ancestry.

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.   Excerpt;  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 acquisiton of the English language and their quick acculturaton in Virginia."

Washington Post  1902     PHASE IN ETHNOLOGY

Mr. James Mooney Investigates Early Portuguese Settlements.

Mr. James Mooney, who has just returned from Indian Territory, where he has been making a study of the Kiowa tribe for the Bureau of Ethnology, has also during his career as an anthropologist done considerable work in the way of investigating the Portuguese settlements along the Atlantic coast of the United States, a subject about which less is known than most any other phase of the modern ethnology of America. All along the southern coast there are scattered here and there bands of curious people, whose appearance, color, and hair seem to indicate a cross or mixture of the Indian, the white, and the negro. Such, for example, are the Pamunkeys of Virginia, the Croatan Indians of the Carolinas, the Malungeons of Tennessee, and numerous other
peoples who in the days of slavery were regarded as free negroes and were
frequently hunted down and enslaved. Since the war they have tried hard by act of legislature and other wise to establish their Indian ancestry.

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 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.

Moreover, there are records of Portuguese ships having sailed into Jamestown Bay as early as 1655, and since then there has been more or less settlement of Portuguese fishermen and sailors from Maine to Florida. Now it has been the history of the Portuguese race that wherever they settled they mixed in with the darker peoples forming the aboriginal populations of the countries  occupied by Portuguese settlers, and this is the reason and cause of the Portuguese admixture among the tribes along the coast of the United States.

In further proof of this he calls attention to the case of a colony of
Portuguese fishermen who settled on the coast of Massachusetts a few years ago. These settlers have nothing whatever to do with the white or Yankee population around them, but are intermarrying and intermixing among and with the small remnant of the Narragansett Indians who have survived down to the present day. In short, it has been the history of the Portuguese that wherever they settled along the Atlantic coast they have intermixed and intermarried among the remnants of the Indian tribes that were once the sole
proprietors of that region.

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 ...