Thursday, April 30, 2020

Melungeons & Croatans

  Were the Melungeons Croatans or were the Croatans Melungeons? Which came first the Chicken or the Egg?  These researchers, ethnologist, anthropologist and historians found they were of the same stock.
"The family names of the Croatans are the same as those of the settlers on Roanoke Island.  They were men from Devonshiren England and furthermore even the broad Devonshire pronunciation is found in certain words as used by the Croatans of today.
 "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 - the husband, by the way, of Mrs. Francis Hodgson Burnett, the novelist - has traced by family names the connection between the Melungeons and the Croatans.
 The name Melungeons is accounted for in this wise;  when the new settlers appeared among the mountaineers their unusual looks prompted inquiries as to what they were.  The answer was 'Melange" -- or a mixture -- and the mountaineers at once dubbed them Melungeons."
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July 17, 1890
Red Springs, North Carolina
Hamilton McMillan
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.''
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Red Springs, NC
Oct 12, 1889Mr 
McDonald Furman

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". ...........

I am yours trulyHamilton MCMillan


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Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology - Ethnology - 1907
page 365

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. Tenn. are found the so-called "Melungeons" (probably from French melangi', 'mixed') or "Portuguese," apparently an offshoot from the Croatan proper,

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The Melungeons 
 Paul Converse 
 Southern Collegian December 1912
This is quite a fine theory, but most people are more prosaic and hold the Melungeons to be a mixed race, having Indian, Negro, and Caucasian blood in their veins. This the word “Melungeon” itself would indicate and the Bureau of Ethnology at Washington classifies them as a branch or offshoot of the Croatan Indians of North Carolina, who are a people of obscure and mixed descent in whose veins Indian blood predominates. 

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AN INDIAN TO BE HANGED

Georgia Crotan to be Executed Next Month for Murder.

New York Times
February 28, 1897, Wednesday

ATLANTA, Ga., Feb. 27. -- For the first time in fifty years an Indian is under sentence of death in Georgia. He will be hanged in Glynn County next month.  Marcellus Lowry, the condemned man, is a Crotan Indian from the celebrated band in North Carolina, many of whom have drifted with the turpentine and timber men into Southern Georgia, where they are called "Melungeons."  Lowery and a white man named Patrick Burns were working in the woods together and Burns went to Lowery's camp and entered his shanty to get something to eat.  The Croatan Indians are a fierce, treacherous and vindictive race and once their anger is aroused they do not hesitate to commit murder.

The witnesses in the case testified on the trial that as Burns left the shanty Lowery shot him in the back, having concealed himself behind a tree.  As to the origin of the difficulty between them very little was brought out, but so far as can be ascertained it was simply the ungovernable temper of the Indian
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Atlanta Constitution

November 7, 1897



BILL ARP’S LETTER

It seems to me that I am haunted by Indians.  The other night as I came from Macon to Atlanta my friend, Judge Hall, introduced me to Dr. Peterson, of St. Louis, a very learned and cultured gentleman who was connected with the ethnological department of the government and was engaged in examining Indian mounds and in writing up the history of the Indian tribes, especially of the five tribes known as civilized. Viz. The Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws, Choctaws and Seminoles.  As these were our Indians, I became much interested in this discourse, for he had been careful and diligent in his research, and what he knew, he knew well.  We talked about DeSoto and how, with a handful of brave soldiers, he overran this country and took captive as many Indian girls as his men wanted.

“Why did not these Indians overwhelm DeSoto and his handful of followers and extinguish them?” I asked. “Because," said the doctor, “they were paralyzed with fear of this new and aggressive race of people just as the Peruvians were paralyzed by Pizarro, who overran and conquered Peru with less than a hundred men.”

The doctor had been to eastern North Carolina investigating the tribe of 4,000 Croatans over there. They were originally called Hatteras Indians but about three hundred years ago Sir Walter Raleigh planted a colony of English and Portuguese on Roanoke Island and put them in charge of Governor John White, a very practical and accomplished gentleman. A few days after landing, Governor White’s daughter Eleanor, who had married a Mr. Dare. Gave birth to a child and she was named Virginia and so Virginia Dare was the first English child born on American soil.  Let the boys and girls remember that.  But no man knows anything more about her.

Governor White and Sir Walter went back to England for supplies and farming tools for the colony and on their return trip got into a fight with some Spanish cruisers and lost their cargo and many of their men and had to go back to England, and it was several years before they made another venture and when they arrived at the island the colony was nowhere to be found and little Virginia has never been heard of.  The colony left some marks on a tree pointing to an Indian town called Croatan, but the town was deserted.

The doctor’s investigations have satisfied him that the colony did not perish nor were they killed but that the men wanted wives and went into the interior and co-habited with the Croatans- for it was found a hundred years after that, these Indians were of mixed colors and many of them spoke broken or mixed English and Portuguese, although they had no intercourse with white people until the colony came nor for a hundred years after.  He believes that Virginia Dare probably grew up with those Indians and her descendants are now of mixed blood.
It seems that these Croatans were never Americanized until the last civil war when many of them came to the front with their guns and said they wanted to fight some.  They were accepted and enrolled and did fight for the confederacy.  During the war there was an election held in a county where some of them lived. And they were persuaded by an ambitious candidate to go to the polls and vote for him.  Their votes were challenged by the other fellow upon the ground they had some Negro blood in their veins.  They were very indignant and said, “When you want us to fight for you, we are same as white folks, when we want to vote, you say we are negurs.”  And so a committee of four doctors was appointed to examine them and say what they were.  The committee took them out to a sandy place in the road and had them take off their shoes and make tracks barefooted.  Five of them made very fair Anglo-Saxon tracks and were accepted, but of the other two the report was that the hollow of their feet made holes in the ground and they were rejected.  There are some of these Croatoans on Newman’s ridge, in Tennessee.
 I remember that, some years ago, a party of us were riding in the Negro car on the state road, and when we reached Kingston a colored convention of preachers got aboard and claimed the car.  Sanford Bell ordered us out, and we retired, of course, but one man did not move.  He was a dark, cadaverous individual with black eyes and black hair.  “What are you” said Sanford, “are you a white man or a Negro:   He smile and said; ‘Mine fader a Portugee, mine mudder a negur.”  Sanford looked perplexed and turning to one of the colored preachers, said “What must I do with him?” And he said “Let him alone I reckon.”  I learned afterwards that he was a Croatoan.

[This ends the part of the article dealing with Croatan and Newman's Ridge.]





A DESCENDANT OF MISSING COLONY
 
Secret of the Croatan Tribe-- The Famous
Roanoke Settlers Were Not Massacred,
But affiliated With a Friendly and Powerful
Nation of Indians
 
St. Louis Dispatch
 
Former United States Senator Hiram R. Revels, of Mississippi, has always been classed as a negro.  He was a tall, well-built man, with the chocolate skin and curly hair of the African and the devout bearing of his profession the ministerial.  He served during the reconstruction period, never being known as prominent, but always as a representative colored man.  Revels was not a negro.  Dr. C. A. Peterson of St. Louis, who had made a study of the lost Roanoke (Va.) colony says that Revels is a descendant of that mystery-shrouded band that Sir Walter Raleigh sent to Roanoke Island in 1587.
 
..... Now for the facts which the historians have generally so singularly overlooked. In 1710 when the Huguenots and Cavaliers started to penetrate the interior of North Carolina, they found some seventy-five miles from the coast in what is now Robeson,  N.C.,  a colony of English speaking people,  many of whom had blue eyes and light hair.  They inquired where they came from and they replied.  "From Croatan' How does it come that your speak English!' 'Our fathers were English'
 
"They wrote one letter about their discovery, a letter by the way, is in the archives of the board of trade of London.
 
It is evident that a number of the Huguenots remained in a colony and intermarried, as there are a great many names of undoubted French origin to be found among the Croatan names of the present day.
 
"these people have always been called Croatans.  There are some 4,000 of them living in Robeson county, N. C. at the present time, but they have scattered all over the South and West.  I have found Croatan names among all the civilized tribes living in the Indian Territory.
 
"The Croatans have distinct racial characteristics. They are as black as Portuguese and are different in appearance from either Indians, negroes or Caucasians.  In some instances there has evidently been a mixture with negro blood, and on this account when in 1833 North Carolina and Tennessee disfranchised the negroes, they included the Croatans.
 
When the war broke out the Croatans were between two fires.  Those who did not enlist in the Southern army were liable to be impressed as negroes for work on fortifications, etc.  From this custom came the cause of the depredations of the Lowry gang which for years spread terror in North Carolina.
 
"Old man Lowry resisted impressment, declaring that there was nothing but English and Indian blood in his veins and that he was as much an American freeman, and had as good blood in him as the Harrisons, the Randolphs, or any of the descendants of the proudest colonial families.  For this stubborn stand he was shot dead.
 
"When his son, Henry Berry Lowry reached his manhood he took his gun, organized a band of sympathizers and started out on a mission of extermination.  every man suspected of having had any connection with his father's death was waylaid and killed.  the gang was finally broke up, but not until it had collect bloody interest on old many Lowry's death.
 
"The most eminent of the Croatans was United States senator Revels, who was elected from Mississippi during the reconstruction days.  he was classed as a negro, but he was in reality a Croatan, one of those with a Huguenot name and ancestry.
 
"The family names of the Croatans are the same as those of the settlers on Roanoke Island.  They were men from Devonshire England and furthermore even the broad Devonshire pronunciation is found in certain words as used by the Croatans of today.
 
"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 scientist - the husband, by the way, of Mrs. Francis Hodgson Burnett, the novelist - has traced by family names the connection between the Melungeons and the Croatans.
 
The name Melungeons is accounted for in this wise;  when the new settlers appeared among the mountaineers their unusual looks prompted inquiries as to what they were.  The answer was 'Melange" -- or a mixture -- and the mountaineers at once dubbed them Melungeons."

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