This journalist called Vardy the 'chief cook and bottlewasher of the Melungeons' and it was no doubt Vardy and Peggy Collins who told him the "Legend of the Melungeons."
"The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women--who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These people made themselves friendly with the Indians and freed, as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a delightful Utopia of their own creation ....... These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants (after the advances of the whites into this part of the state) with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens."Ok so where is the SECRET? Exactly what was it they were 'afraid to tell' the journalist? Where was their "self-preservation" in 1848? Why would they create this 'legend' if it were not true and exactly what secret could they be hiding? They said they were Portuguese adventurers who mixed with the Indians. It was no more dangerous to be an 'Indian' than it was to be African, both would have been enslaved or marched off to the reservation. Just a few generations before this the Indians were capturing and cooking the pioneers.
They said they mixed with whites and BLACKS when they got to Tennessee! What was the SECRET, what were they hiding, what did they forget on purpose?
These people were hardy pioneers who had lived in the mountains, fought in the Revolution, fought off Indians, the tax man, etc. They were probably forced off their lands in Louisa County in the 1740s and many of them came from the Indian trading families. Some were at Jamestown in early 1600s. And people expect us to believe they were AFRAID to tell who they really were?
"Now about the Collins boys, I knew when I was a boy Navarrh, or as he was called, "Vardy" Collins was a fine old patriarch, said to be of Portuguese Nationality coming to this country with De Soto
How could it be that "we can't go back far enough" to validate the Portuguese mixed with the Indians when the deSoto journals are full of stories of the Portuguese [and Spanish and Genoans] mixing with the Indians? "We can't go back far enough" to find how they got here? The deSoto journals tell exactly how they got here, how Andre de Vasconcelos received a ship for his Portuguese sailors from deSoto.
"In the month of April, of the year 1538, the adelantado (deSoto) 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" (Here)
The Portuguese definitely mixed with the Indians, just as Vardy Collins told the journalis in 1848. From the de Soto Journals (Found Here)
- They captured a hundred head, among Indian men and women. Of the latter, there, as well as in any other part where forays were made, the captain selected one or two for the governor and the others were divided among themselves and those who went with them.
- As soon as the governor had crossed the stream, he found a village called Achese a short distance on. Although the Indians had never heard of Christians they plunged into a river. A few Indians, men and women, were seized,
- At the time of his departure, because of the importunity of some who wished more than was proper, he asked the cacique for thirty Indian women as slaves.....The Indians gave the governor thirty Indian women and the necessary tamemes [for DeSoto's men to wed then populate his planned settlement at Mobile Bay].
And this piece wants us to believe they 'forgot on purpose' who they were when they told the journalist in 1848 exactly who they were, they didn't forget anything.
Fifteen years before deSoto there was Lucian deAyllon who brought 600 colonist and 100 slaves to Winyah Bah and the Pee Dee River, most researchers agree some of these people, including the slaves went off to live with the Indians along the Pee Dee River, only 150 people returned to Spain. (Early Contacts)
Twenty six years after deSoto Juan Pardo explored the same area of the Pee Dee River as deAyllon and deSoto. There are many articles of Pardo's soldiers "indiscretions" with Indian women and at least two marriages between soldiers and the Indian women.
Is it really a leap to believe the Melungeons are descendants of these Portugese and Indian men and women? To date the only court documented case of Melungeons was in Hamilton Co., Tennessee and it is reported and documented they were on the Pee Dee River in early 1700s. (The Famous Melungeon Case)
They told this same story to Will Allen Dromgoole who published The Four Branches in 1890, The Gibson and Collins were Indians, the Goins were African and the Denham were Portuguese. This is the exact "legend' told to the journalist 50 years before. (The Melungeon Tree and It's Four Branches)
Again in 1897 the legend was repeated to Rev. C. H. Humble, in an article "A Visit to the Melungeons.
"The first settlers here were the great grand parents, Varday Collins, Shephard Gibson, and Charley Williams, who came from Virginia it is said, though other say from North Carolina. They have marked Indians resemblances in color, feature, hair, carriage, and disposition.
The second settlers were from North Carolina; they were the Goans, Miners, and Bells; they were charged with having negro blood in them and, before the war, were prosecuted on this ground for illegal voting, but were acquitted. They explained their peculiarities by claiming a Portuguese origin.
Later Came Jim Mullens, an Englishman, who married a Collins, and whose son John married Mehala Collins, to be referred to again. Jim Moore, a British sailor, also settled here, and married a daughter of old Charley Gibson,"
Lacking the Portuguese Denham this is the same 'legend' they told in Dromgoole- The Indians, Africans, Portuguese and English, just as they had told the journalist in 1848.
This is not one of those "theories of origin" - this is exactly who they said they were and where they came from. There is no SECRET there is no MYSTERY!
These myths that 'they said they were Portuguese to hide African ancestry is a joke. They told journalists every chance they got exactly who they were, they said they mixed with blacks in 1848 they were NOT covering up nothing! The only mystery is why are these people in Vardy/Newman's Ridge allowing this so called mystery to carry on, promoting secrets and lies? Yes, lies, because if they don't believe the 1848 Legend of the Melungeons, as told by Vardy Collins, or the history told to Dromgoole by Calloway Collins or Beatty Collins who gave the information to C.H. Humble then yes, they are reducing their ancestors to a bunch of deceitful, lying pioneers hiding their African ancestry!