"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.And so it went for the next hundred years, anyone who came and asked were told "they were Portuguese Indians." In 1918 Joseph G. Rhea, wrote to his niece, Martha Collins;
"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 - he settled on Black water Creek and owned Vardy Mineral Spring-I was at his home often with other boys, his grandsons...."
Were the Portuguese with deSoto? Yes, one entire ship was given to the Portuguese sailors. Did they mix with the Indians? Yes. Every town they went to they 'chose a number of Native ladies to accompany them' and I'm sure it wasn't just to cook and clean for them. These Native women who accompanied the Portuguese and the Spanish, Genoans, slaves, etc., in 1540 bore sons with European DNA and yet with this knowledge today we have 'studies' showing DNA PROVES they were Jewish, DNA that PROVES they were from the Middle East and the latest DNA study that PROVES they were African men who mated with English women, and they can't possibly be Indians because they don't have the Native DNA. This last study I know personally the researchers had knowledge of this pre-contact It isn't a maybe, might have been or a theory. It is a fact the Portuguese were here in 1540 with deSoto and mixed with the Indians.
FROM THE DESOTO JOURNALS
- The Portuguese left Elvas on the 15th of January. They reached Seville on St. Sebastian's eve and went to the governor's lodging. They entered the patio upon which looked some balconies where he was. He looked down and went to meet them at the stairs where they went up to the balconies. When they were up, he ordered chairs to be given them so that they might be seated. Andre de Vasconcelos told him who he and the other Portuguese were and how they had all come to accompany him and to serve him on his voyage......
- In the month of April, of the year 1538, the adelantado 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.
- 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].
Here we are a hundred years after Vardy Collins told the journalist the "Legend of the Melungeons" and the "Melungeons remain a Tennessee Mystery" -- why -- because they cannot possibly be Portuguese? In another twenty plus years it will be two hundred years that any researcher, amateur or professional, WILL find there has never been a mystery --- It was told in the journal of "A Gentleman of Elvas," a Portuguese officer with Hernando de Soto, wrote about DeSoto's Expedition in 1557 found here
( The Forgotten Centuries - Charles Hudson) "At Aracuchi, Pardo decided to divide his force, sending half on to Cofitachequi, while the other half traveled to Ylasi. Ylasi is clearly the same town as deSoto's Ilapi."