Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Melungeon Indians


Last year my doctor told me I had to quit reading the post on James Nickens page or I was going to have a stroke.  Every once in awhile someone will send me one of his ridiculous post, I laugh and throw it away, however this last one cannot be ignored.

This man is supposed to be some sort of authority on Indians, and for him to make a remark that the Melungeons, especially the Melungeons of East Tennessee "are not Portuguese" and the Melungeons of Middle Tennesee are heavily descended from Indians but East Tennesee 'not so much' -- shows this man has done little or no research into the genealogy and ancestry of these families. 

In the first place the Middle Tennessee counties of Wilson, Sumner, Jackson, and Davidson, Franklin, and Humphries [ also Marion and Hamilton]  are of the same core families of the Melungeons of East Tennessee.  

In the second place the Indians these families 'heavily descend from' mixed with Portuguese explorers, which apparently pre-dates Nickens research.

It is unquestionable there were 450 men and women, Spanish, Africans, South Americans, etc., and who knows what other ethnicity, were left behind on the Pee Dee river in 1526 when the remaining 150 returned to Spain.  Some certainly died, but if even 10-20 Portuguese and/or Africans survived and lived amongst the Natives in Carolina, how many descendants of these Portuguese/African/Spanish, etc., would have left their DNA with the Carolina tribes by mid 1700s?  

"Just as with De Soto's expedition, African slaves had accompanied de Ayllon's settlement colony on the Pee dee River in 1526. When there was a crisis over leadership, the colony fell into disarray. In the midst of this crisis, a slave revolt further ripped the settlement apart. With the colony in shambles, many of the African slaves fled to live among the nearby native people. According to De Soto, these refugees must have lived among the Cofitachiqui and taught them the craftwork of the Europeans."  (Slavery in the Cherokee Nation By Patrick Neal Minges)

It is also unquestionable that  a shipload of Portuguese sailors came with deSoto in 1540. 

"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]

I wonder how many Portuguese sailors were on the sailing ship?  The Portuguese definitely mixed with the Indians, just as Vardy Collins told the journalist in 1848.  

  • They captured a hundred head, among Indian men and women. Of the latter, (the women) 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].


"In the months after Pardo’s departure in November 1567, however, relations between Fort San Juan and the people of Joara took a calamitous turn for the worse. By May 1568, news reached Santa Elena that Indians had attacked all of Pardo's forts and that all were destroyed. Several factors may have played a role in the aggressive action, but two stand out: the soldiers' demands for food and their improprieties with native women. At Fort Santiago, for example, Pardo ordered “that no one should dare bring any woman into the fort at night...under pain of being severely punished.”  ---> HERE

 It is a documented fact at least one of deSoto's men ran off and was last seen living as the husband to the "Lady of Cofitachequi."  When deSoto visited this Indian town with one of the gentleman who had accompanied deAyllon some years earlier it was recorded he recognized items from deAyllon's settlement. 
Ylasi/Ilapi on the Pee Dee River is a mere stones throw from the Portuguese/Indian settlement of Melungeons. 

These are not 'opinions' or 'hypotheticals' of Joanne Pezzullo.  These are real facts, documented hundreds of years ago.  

The Indians had mixed with the Portuguese/Spanish/Africans etc., long before Jamestown was even in a twinkle in someone's eye!


Here we have two Tennessee Historians with their 'eyewitness to history' account  of the MELUNGEONS of Wilson County, who were known to be PORTUGUESE in 1850. But we are to believe JAMES NICKENS that the Melungeons were NOT Portuguese and he knows that by osmosis. 

In the AMERICAN of Sept. 15, 1890  Dan W. Baird wrote of the Malungeons, in part, as follows:"Several families are still to be found in Smith, Wilson, Rutherford, and Davidson Counties. There is nothing in their family names to give the student of ethnology a clue to their origin. In a locality in Wilson County known forty years ago as 'Malungeon Town', the most common names were Richardson, Nickens, and Collins. In Rutherford County not far from Lavergne, the principal Malungeons were Archers, Lanterns, and Blackmans. One of the latter family has sold fish in the north end of the market house in this city (Nashville) for many years, and some of the same family reside a few miles out on the Nolensville Turnpike. "A pretty fair speciman of the Malungeon tribe is a young fellow named Bernice Richardson, now serving a life sentence in the state prison for self-confessed complicity in the murder of M.T. Bennet of Lebanon.From Saundra Keyes Ivey;''Baird expresses surprise that writers of recent article on the Melungeons had not 'referred to the state records or called on any of the many old citizens still living who are familiar with all that is known of the history of the people called Malungeons......

........... And it is then that Baird writes of the Sevier letter and cites the speech of McKinney:
He goes on to write; "All they seem to know of themselves is that they are 'Malungeons' and of Portuguese descent. These two points have been agreed upon for more than three-fourths of a century, and it appears that any one who undertakes to investigate the matter will be forced to accept them as established facts. "

Dan Baird was founder of the  SOUTHERN LUMBERMAN in 1881 in Lebanon, Tennessee and later moved to Nashville,  in connection with publishing the magazine. 

In a later exchange  written by R. M. Ewing to the Editor;
DAILY AMERICAN Sept 21, 1890 p. 4.R. M. Ewing, wrote that when he attended law school at Lebanon Tennessee, in 1851: 

" there was a colony of people residing within a few miles of Lebanon who were locally, and so far as I know generally, called Malungeons. They seemed to be a hard working, harmless, inoffensive people, a dark red or copper color, and jet black, straight hair... these people claimed to be of Portuguese descent.The  1850 census shows R. M. Ewing in the  Ninth Civil District of Williamson County, Tennessee -- Student at Law. The Cumberland University School of Law was located in Lebanon, Tennessee.

In 1830 Wilson County census  James and Permelia Nickens, John Brown, George and Elisha  Collins, Gideon Goins,  Jacob and Hezekiah Archy or Achy family appear as  Free Colored Persons.   Shadrack Goins and members of the Gibson family are also residing in Wilson County but their families are listed as white for that census. 

There can be no doubt there were Portuguese people on the the Pee Dee River, as well as Africans and Spaniards in the 1500s.  There is also no doubt the Ivey, Gibsons, etc., and those associated with them were Trappers and Indian Traders 1600-1700s.   There is no doubt in late 1800 early 1900, according to most ethnologist, anthropologists, and historians, the Melungeons were a branch of the Croatan/Lumbee Tribe.  For someone to say the Melungeons were NOT Portuguese OR heavily descended from Indians clearly shows they have not researched these families of Gibson, Bunch, Ivey, Collins, Sweat, Chavis etc., who lived on Chippoakes Creek, Virginia, one branch going  to Bertie Co., North Carolina, to the Pee Dee River, and another branch  to Louisa Co., Virginia, to Orange and Wilkes County, North Carolina to East Tennesee.  

Each of these settlements were either on the Trading Paths, Old Indian Villages, Indian lands, etc... 

Someone please tell James Nickens he need not look far to find court records and historical documents that declare Ivey, Bolton, Perkins, Shoemake, Goins, Ashworth, Collins, Gibson, Mitchell, Chavis, etc., were Portuguese. 

On Newman's Ridge in East Tennessee were Sizemore, Lawson, Freeman, and Hiltons with the Native American Q DNA. The "head'' of the Melungeons, the Gibsons, kinsmen freed from slavery as they proved they descended from an Indian woman, Jane Gibson, born 1640 in Charles City County. 


  1. I agree with Joanne because I'm one off these people and have known DNA links to several areas this James seems to know everything about us but really knows nothing but the trash he is spewing.
    My Gibson's have links to all known
    Melungean areas including the most recent Links to ALABAMA.
    Mr. David Gibson

  2. As from what my DNA shows almost all of these various groups of Melungeans link up one of the most recent groups I'm matching to are in Alabama, my DNA also connects to louisa Co, Charles City and the
    Pee Dee River area.....

  3. David Gibson,
    My Gibsons lived in Macon Co, NC. Have documented to Nathan Gibson 1770-1860. Am looking to find his father. Major Gibson? I know that Major had one Isaac Gibson. Would like to correspond with you. Donna


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