Friday, May 29, 2020

Will Allen 1890

What Do You Know About The Melungeons?
Nashville Banner - August 3 1924
By Douglas Anderson

In the summer of 1890 "Will Allen" visited a settlement of "Malungeons" on Newman's Ridge, in Hancock County, and printed two articles in the American descriptive of the inhabitants and the way they lived.

Many of the Malungeons claimed Portugese and Cherokee descent. One man claimed to be the grandson of a Cherokee chief. The inhabitants were of all colors, and there was a black man who had a white wife, but escaped punishment by insisting upon his Portugese blood.

They all lived in rude huts; many were immoral and all were filthy. They grew tobacco, had orchards, and were much given to distilling. They had their herb doctors and charmers, and blood beads that would cure any disease of the blood. Collins, Mullins, and Garvin were the three family names represented in the settlement. During the Civil War, it was stated, this settlement was a terror to the women in "the valley", by reason of plundering and thieving expeditions.


"Will Allen's" first article was printed in the American of Aug. 31. It was followed by quite a discussion, which revealed the existence of other settlements of Malungeons in different sections of Tennessee, and afforded several correspondents an opportunity to express their opinion of the origin of the name and tribe, but added nothing of a positive nature to the knowledge of either subject.

Hon. J. A. Cartwright, later circuit judge, wrote of a settlement in the Twenty-fourth district of Davidson County, as follows; "These people have black hair, dark brown complexion, are readily distinguishable from the mulatto, being evidently of different origin, and have distinct features, quite similar to those described by Will Allen. They are illiterate, live in cabins and subsist by their labor, mainly by cultivating the soil in a small way.

"There is no social connection between them and their neighbors, either white or black, but they remain seperate, distinct and isolated. The citizens of that vicinity called them Portugese. "Some years ago when the county schools were organized and put into operation these people were sufficiently numerous to require of the school commisioners a seperate, distinct school for their children, and furnished as many as thirty pupils exclusively of their own race. This school was distinct from the schools of the district and was attended by the children of no other people. Is this strange unknown remnant of a tribe or race a part of the Malungeons?"


In the American of Sept.7, "Twenty-fourth district" insisted that the Malungeons were an admixture of the white, Indian, and Negro races. He protested against "coining a new name for these amalgamationists." (If the Malungeons had heard of this last word they would have thought a new word had been coined for them.) "Will Allen" need not have gone to East Tennessee to find these people, observed this correspondent. "They are here under the very dome of the capitol. We recognize them as mulattoes on account of the fusion of Negro blood in their veins. When the fusion is slight they set up a claim of superiority and call themselves Portege, but, as Will Allen says, it is a mystery where the Portugese comes in. This will remain a mystery until better ethnologists enter the lists than have yet appeared. The Negro blood can easily be traced, as also sometimes the Cherokee." The correspondent stated that "we have just a few of these mulattoes among us", and denied Cartwright's statement that they had demanded and obtained a seperate school.


In the American of Sept. 10, Cartwright answered "Twenty-fourth District", taking the position that "if there were no Portugese blood in them, as your correspondent denies, but Negro blood instead, then they are a mixture of Indian and Negro alone, and consequently we cannot 'recognize them as mulattoes'. So that any mixture which is not between the white and the Negro alone may well be called Malungeon, this word being apparently derived from the French Melanger, to mix, mingle.

Consequently the criticism on the coinage of a new word to represent a mixture otherwise than between white and Negro is not well taken." "I am reliably informed," Cartwright continued, "that there is or was a family of these people in the Twenty-fourth district whose name is Collins, and it is a significant fact that both the East Tennessee and Davidson County people repudiate the mulatto idea, and according to my information, keep themselves seperate and distinct from the Negro in their social relations."

As to the statement that a seperate school was at one time maintained for Malungeons in the Twenty-fourth district, Cartwright stated that he got the information from the man who was county superintendent of education in 1870-71. He adds that the seperate school had thirty pupils and was taught by a white man named "Oldham or Oldman".


In the American of Sept. 14, "C.H." wrote that he had heard of the Malungeons from his father's Negro slaves long "before the war", and he anxious to know if such people really existed or not; have thought perhaps it was only a myth hatched in (?) adds: "Since childhood I have been (?) the very fertile brain of our imaginative Negro nurse, who used to entertain us with stories of the Malungeons, ghosts, hobgoblins, Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox, etc.

They would frighten us by saying: 'If you don't behave the Malungeons will get you', and if angry with one another they would say: "You are as mean and low-lived as a Malungeon, and you are nothing but an Ish anyhow.' When we would ask who the Malungeons or Ishes were they said they were runaway Negroes who had married Indians and their children, and that the Negroes belonging to quality folks would not associate with them; that Negroes who belonged to poor white folks would sometimes visit them. Most of the Negroes, both blacks and mulattoes, held these Malungeons in great contempt. These things come back to me after forty years, when I heard the Negro slaves of my father tell stories of their meanness. They were always insulted if called a Malungeon".


In the American of Sept. 14, "J.W.S." of Murfreesboro combated the idea that the Malungeons were merely mulattoes, saying in part that "a race of mulattoes cannot exist long like these Malungeons have. They go from mulattoes to quadroons and from these to octoroons. Then the race stops. Who ever heard of an octoroon woman bearing children? There is not a case on record, so that if these people are or were mulattoes, as these critics would have you believe, the race would have been extinct long ago, as no children have been born of women springing from mulattoes, beyond the quadroon mother, and it seems that some of these Malungeon women have as many as seventeen children, who, if they had come from mulatto parentage, would long ago have passed the octoroon stage.

This fact alone shows they do not descend from mulatto parents, and therefore they must be Malungeons or some other race besides mulattoes, "There are, no doubt, many citizens living in Tennessee now who remember that quadroon and octoroon women were not as ready sale, except for house servants (mostly on orders then), as the black women, and all on account of the fact that no children were ever born of an octoroon woman".


In the American of Sept. 15, 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.

"We need not go outside this county to prove that the Malungeons are, or were, up to the close of the war, a people distinct from and not allied by blood to either the white, Negro, or Indian races of this state. "It is a subject of no practical importance at this time, but it will interest many who have the leisure and opportunity for such investigation to trace the history and origin of this people. All that they seem to know of themselves is that they are Malungeons and of the Portugese descent. These two points have been agreed upon for more than three-fourths of a century, and it appears that anyone who undertakes to investigate the matter will be forced to accept them as established facts... " It is not a violent conjecture to suppose that many of these 'Mountain Negroes' may have been put ashore on the coast of North Carolina by the Portugese pirates who are known to have frequented those waters, and that their natural instincts would lead them to the mountains...At any rate, these people were first noticed in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina and they called themselves 'Malungeons' and claimed to be Portugese."


In 1879, a man named Bolling, or Bowling, lived with his large family of small children in a rude hut on the Rabbit Hollow lane, near Saundersville, whence he came or whither he went desponent saith not.

Possibly he was a fisherman. He was reputed to be a Malungeon, and he may have admitted that he was. He was certainly something out of the ordinary in the way of breeding, as shown by his dark brown complexion and long, stringy, shiny Indian-like hair. Bolling's peculiar features attracted much attention and comment, and in explaining to the uninformed what a Malungeon was, the wise ones said that he was a Portugese, or had Portugese blood in him. Perhaps it may have been said also that Bolling and other so-called Malungeons had Indian blood in them. "My recollection of Bolling is very clear, and from that recollection I would say that he would have little trouble borrowing a peck of meal in either an Indian or a Portugese camp. Judging from his name, he would probably have claimed descent from Pocahontas if he had ever heard if her.

The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee)

September 9, 1890


Will Allen Comes Back at Her Critics in Gallant Style

To the Editor of The American

Referring to the anonymous correspondence in Sunday's AMERICAN, I wish to say a word concerning the peculiar race of people occupying an isolated ridge in eastern Tennessee. The writer seems to think because he did not see the Malungeons they cannot exist.  I take it he has never seen Jesus Christ, yet we are reliably informed that he did and does exist.  As to the coinage of the name, it is not mine, and in an article sent to THE AMERICAN last Friday, and which has not yet appeared, I made mention of this fact. They do not exist, however "under the shadow of the capitol," in spite of the emphatic ignorance which (pardon slang) sits so crushingly down upon everybody else's opinion.

If the writer will take the cars to Chattanooga, Knoxville, Lone mountain, then get a horse to Mulberry Gap, then Sneedville and sit on the court-house step half an hour, he will soon discover whether or not the Malungeons are mulattos. In case he should decide affirmatively I should advise him not to make the announcement until he is well out of Hancock county.

If, as he says, the Malungeons are mulattos it is a blot upon the name of Tennessee; a disgrace so black that morality would hide her face, and, shrieking. leave the world forever, for these people have children of white mothers, fathers of white blood, and sons who would silence forever the tongue that dared to call them mulattos.

I send with this a picture of one of them, Calloway Collins, who declares his father was a full-blood Cherokee. Calloway is an Indian if ever one lived on Tennessee soil. The picture was drawn by Mr. Thos. M. Sharpe of Nashville, and is exceedingly well done.  Calloway was a soldier belong to the First Tennessee under Brownlow and Johnson, and today draws a pension for three bullet wounds.  His daughter Dorcas [one of Mr. Sharpe's drawing speaks for herself.  The family group is from life.  We visited this family with Mr. John Tyler, the brother of Hon. H.S. Tyler of Sneedville.  I send the pictures along with this, and my anonymous critic can see them by calling at THE AMERICAN office.

The Malungeons need no defense from me  They can speak for themselves, and all Hancock county can speak for them  I first saw the name in the New York World, and many old gentlemen of Hancock county have corroborated the existence of the people and the correctness of the name. And the fact that one croaker rises to dispute their existence because he has not seen them does not in the least alter the fact of their existence.

I know nothing of the people referred to as living in the 'twenty fourth district.  I had intended visiting Mr. Cartright and asking him something of them, but work and business have prevented.  And now since an anonymous critic has entered his "protest," I presume I had best be quiet concerning them.  The people in East Tennessee, however, I shall insist upon their existence and for them deny the mulatto theory.  They live alone, mixing with none, and asking little.  If my critic will go and see, or will kindly sign his name, I will be very glad for any information he can give concerning them.

Will Allen. 

Will Allen's stay at the home of Calloway Collins, mentions Jordan Collins, they called him "Soft Soul"


Articles and Newspaper Accounts

Will Allen's Articles

Monday, May 18, 2020

Mixed Families on Drowning Creek

50 Mixt Families

1754 Governor Dobbs requested reports from the militia commanders of North Carolina’s counties. The Bladen militia submitted the following: “Col. Rutherford’s Regimt. of Foot in Bladen County 441, a Troop of horse 36... Drowning Creek on the Head of Little Peedee, 50 families, a mixt Crew, a lawless People, filleth the Lands without patent or paying quit rents. Shot a surveyor for coming to view vacant lands being inclosed in great swamps. Quakers to attend musters or pay as in the Northern Counties. Fines not high enough to oblige the militia to attend musters. No arms stores or Indians in the county.” [Colonial Records of North Carolina, Vol. V, p161

These are some of the families reported by the Militia,  records show that these families who would later be called Lumbee, Melungeons, Redbones, etc., were, in fact, living on Drowning Creek - Pee Dee River area in 1754, many of them coming from Chippoakes Creek, Charles City County, Virginia.  

27 August 1753, John Johnson Jr. entered 100 acres in Bladen County, North Carolina on the north side of Pugh's marsh whereon John Oxendine was then living. (Bladen County Land Entries #805). In 1759 , he and two of his sons, John and Benjamin, lived in the Drowning Creek area of Bladen County, North Carolina which is the upper part of the Lumbee River area. [Oxendine later found on Newmans Ridge]

Moses Bass was living near "the drains of Drowning Creek" on 1 February 1754 when Robert Carver entered 100 acres there [Philbeck, Bladen County Land Entries, nos. 677, 934]

Thomas Ivey 300 acres on Drowning Creek where James Roberts formerly lived on 26 September 1755 [Philbeck, Bladen County Land Entries, nos. 974, 1048]. [Ivey found on Newmans Ridge]

Robert Sweat was granted 100 acres on Wilkerson Swamp near the Little Pee Dee River on 23 Dec 1754. This land adjoined the land of Joshua Perkins and was sold to Phillip Chavis.

Gilbert Sweat Case…21 Aug. 1829…St. Landry’s Parish LA… Testimony of Joshua Perkins – Gilbert Sweat was born about 1756 in what was then Marion Co. SC on the Pee Dee River. About the year 1777, Perkins helped Sweat run away with Frances Smith, the wife of J.B. Taylor. Sweat moved from SC to Tenn, to NC to Big Black River, Miss. And arrived in LA in 1804.

31 Mar 1753 Grant: To Daniel Willis, 300 acres in Bladen County on Saddletree Swamp adjacent Thomas Ivey [Colony of NC 1735-1764 Abstracts of Land Patents, Margaret M. Hofman, Vol. 1, p10, grant #111]

17 November 1753 Bladen County land which had been surveyed for Gideon Gibson in North Carolina on the north side of the Little Pee Dee River was mentioned in a Bladen County land entry [Philbeck, Land Entries: Bladen County, no. 904].

20 Feb 1754 Land Entry: Thomas Ivey enters 150 acres including his own improvements, on the 5 Mile Branch in Bladen County. [North Carolina Land Entries 1753-1756, A. B. Pruitt, Vol. 2, p127] (From BOB'S FILING CABINET)

Fayetteville, North Carolina --- Dec. 2, 1845 -- Extreme Old Age -- A writer in the Highland Messenger says he had just visited Spencer Bolton, a resident of Buncombe county, who is now almost one hundred and ten years of age! He was born (1735) on Big Pee Dee River, in South Carolina, and is still sound in mind and body. He was in several skirmishes under Marion in the Revolutionary war. Has been for 65 years a member of the Methodist Church. Health generally good. In early life, principal diet bread, rice, potatoes, and milk; slept on straw beds; generally up before day-light; and much accustomed to bathe in cold water. To the influence of these habits he ascribes his long life.

Spencer Bolton is father of Solomon Bolton who was identified as a Portuguese/Melungeon in 1874 court case.

In the early 1760’s Indians, as families, began to move out of the Granville County area. Many went south into the region of Cumberland County, North Carolina around Fayetteville and then into present day Robeson County. (These were simply the first Indian settlers in Robeson County. They were later joined by the Hatteras from the coast and Cheraw from South Carolina. Robeson County became a refuge for “loose” Indians and Indian families from all over that region congregated there over the years.) Theses Granville County families who went south into Robeson County were the Chavis’, Locklears, Gibsons, Collins’, Goings’, etc. These are families that we are sure came from the area of Granville County, North Carolina. Some of these families may have been composed of a black or white man with an Indian wife, although there is fairly good evidence that Collins is a Saponi family name. The Gibsons moved on further south from Robeson County so that name is no longer found in Robeson County among the Indians there who are officially now called the Lumbees.

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.


Chippoakes Creek

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Portuguse Melungeons & Pee Dee

The Real Untold Story of the Melungeons

The Melungeons of the Pee Dee River

No matter what you've read, no matter where you read it, 
no matter what you have heard, no matter who has said it.  

There is but one documented case of Melungeons 

Swan Burnett who had been working with Doctor Gurley of the Smithsonian, and Doctor Pierce of Hawkins County, Tennessee read a paper before the Anthropological Society of Washington D.C on February 5,1889 on the Melungeons of Newmans Ridge which was published in numerous newspapers around the country.

On March 11th Mr. Lawrence Johnson of Meridian, Mississippi wrote to the editor of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. He recognized these people called Melungeons from his time in South Carolina, he was born 1821 and raised in Chester County, his grandfather had fought in the Revolution. He wrote;  
"Near a month ago an article appeared in The CONSTITUTION named Melungeons. I laid it aside in order to correspond with the writer, but the paper got destroyed and the name and address had not been noticed with care, and are forgotten. Excuse me then for addressing him through the same medium.
His name Melungeons is a local designation for this small peculiar race. Their own claim to be Portuguese is more generally known. Their original site is on the Pedee river in South and North Carolina . They were once especially strong in Georgetown and Darlington districts of the latter. 
Johnson doesn't mention Newman's Ridge, doesn't mention Hamilton County or even Wilson County but he had heard of the Melungeons, back when he lived in South Carolina.  
Dromgoole had had not been to Newman's Ridge, she had not written any articles on the Melungeons yet.  There had been a journalist in 1848, stayed at Vardy's Inn and wrote the Legend of the Melungeons of Newmans Ridge, the Portuguese Indians. And then there was the Solomon Bolton Case.
Spencer Bolton was the father of Solomon, born on the PEE DEE RIVER in 1735
Fayette Observer Fayetteville, North CarolinaNovember 22, 1845
Extreme Old Age -- A writer in the Highland Messenger says he had justvisited Spencer Bolton, a resident of Buncombe county, who is now almost onehundred and ten years of age! He was born on Big Pee Dee River, in SouthCarolina, and is still sound in mind and body. He was in severalskirmishes under Marion in the Rebolutionary war. Has been for 65 years a member of the Methodist Church. Health generally good. In early life, principaldiet bread, rice, potatoes, and milk; slept on straw beds; generally upbefore day-light; and much accustomed to bathe in cold water. To the influenceof these habits he ascribes his long life.
Hamilton County Tennessee 1874
Judge Lewis Shepherd defended descendants of 
Solomon Bolton, son of Spencer Bolton.
William McGill (Justice of the Peace, Hamilton County TN)
 Q. Was this character that of a white person or negro, or of what race did he have the character of being?
A. He was a mixed blooded man in some way, that was his character. We generally called them Malungeons when we talked about the Goins and them—the Goins that were mixed blooded. 
Rev. D. D. Scruggs
 Q. State to what race of people Bolton belonged, and state fully all the facts in connection with your acquaintance with him and his family?
A. He belonged to the Spanish race of people I think. I am positive that it was either Spanish or Portugese. I was Tax Collector in the District at one time and amongst other things I was required to levy a per capita tax on all Negroes and I recollect distinctly that it was not levied by me upon him. He, Bolton was a dark skinned man with very straight hair and long nosed, thin visaged man-At the time referred to when I was tax collector, some parties reported to me that Bolton was of mixed blood. Thereupon I proceeded to investigate the matter by calling in three citizens living in his neighborhood, among whom were a Mr. Young, Mr. Miles, and other to assist me in deciding the question; the decision was in favor of Bolton, to the effect he had no Negro blood in him. About the same time my attention was also called in an official capacity to a Mr. Dempsy who claimed to be a Portugese, and the decision in his case was that he was of mixed blood, but I gave him the right of appeal but he left the country. Bolton and Dempsey were not in any way connected.
Q. State whether or not you know of any of Bolton's family-- his father or other in the state of North Carolina or other place
A. I was in South Carolina once and saw his father. I knew most of his family. I was on business in South Carolina. His father, or a man claiming to be his father came to me to inquire after his son Solomon Bolton whom he said was living in this County
Q. State whether or not the father of Solomon Bolton was regarded and treated as a citizen of South Carolina, or as a colored man? You will also state his church relations-to what church he belonged and how he was received by society, so far as you were able to determine.
A. They told me there that he was a very respectable citizen there. I asked if he was not a colored man and they told me he was not, but was a Portagese. They told me that he was a member of Baptist Church there in good standing and was received in good society. I saw nothing to the contrary.

Q. How many different families in this County or adjoining Counties did you know of the same race or character of people -name them?
A. I don't now how many- several - but the Perkins- the Goins, Mornings, Shumakes, Menleys &other
Q. State whether or not you know a preacher named Dyke?  If so, where did he live, how was he related to Solomon Bolton, and what race of people did he belong to?  How was he treated and recognized in this and Hamilton County?
A. I knew the preacher Dyke, have heard him preach.  He lived some where about Kelly's Ferry Marion County.  I do not know the relation he sustained to Solomon Bolton.  I have heard he was a cousin, but don't know of my own knowledge how that is.  He claimed to be of the same race of people that Solomon Bolton claimed to be - Portuguese and Spaniard perhpas, I do not remember positively.
Arch Brown
Q. Describe the size, build, complexion and general appearance of Solomon Bolton?
A. He was a common sized man-rather chunky. He was dark complexioned, some said he was part negro, and some said one thing and some another, but he said he was a Portugese.
Q. Describe the complexion and general appearance of Bolton, the color of his hair, eyes and skin, and then state what race of people he belonged to, to the best of your opinion?
A. Bolton had dark hair-He was common sized man. He had dark skin. I cannot say I have an opinion as to his race. It was talked in the neighborhood that he was part negro, but he claimed he was Portugese.
Judge Lewis Shepherd won this case and it was upheld on appeal. Shepherd, when telling the story 'of his clients' he wrote;

  • In truth, these people belonged to a peculiar race which settled in East Tennessee at an early day and in the vernacular of that country, they were known as “Melungeons, 
  • South Carolina had a law taxing free Negroes so much per capita, and a determined effort was made to collect this of them.  But it was shown in evidence on the trial of this case that they always successfully resisted the payment of this tax, as they proved that they were not Negroes.  Because of their treatment, they left South Carolina at an early day and wandered across the mountains to Hancock county, East Tennessee; in fact, the majority of the people of that country are “Melungeons,:” or allied to them in some way. 
Many of these families living on the Pee Dee River in 1754 when they were identified as '50 mixt families' by the Militia had removed from Chippoakes Creek in Charles City/Surry County, Virginia. The Ivey, Collins, Gibson, Goins, Sweat, Chavis etc., are all found on Chippoakes Creek, Indian traders, trappers, packmen etc. The Core family of Gibsons, Melungeons of Newman's Ridge are kin to the Gibsons of the Pee Dee, proven by DNA. 

Tobias Gibson 
Tobias was born in 1771 to Jordan Gibson and Mary Middleton who lived on the Pee Dee River, brother of Gideon Gibson of the Pee Dee, removed to Natchez in 1781. These two have been confused with the older set of Jordan and Gideon brothers, the Regulator. 
 “His circuit embraced all the settlements on Watauga, Nollichucky, and Holston Rivers, including those in what is now Greene, Washington, Carter, Johnson, Sullivan, and Hawkins Counties, Tenn., and Washington, Smyth, Russell, and perhaps Scott and Lee Counties, Va., with one or two appointments on the head waters of New River, in Grayson County, Va., and Ashe County, N. C.” (Holston Methodism from 1783 to 1788, p. 94.

These families came over the mountains from South Carolina to East Tennessee, probably the same route the families had taken almost 30 years before on their way to Natchez .

Rev. John G. Jones-1867
...from memory and a few scraps of memoranda, what little I know of these three leading Gibson families. First; the parents of Rev. Randall Gibson came to the Natchez county (as it was then called), about 1781. In order to avoid the hostile Indians in what is now Western Georgia and Eastern Alabama, immigrants from the Carolinas traveled over land to the Holston River in East Tennessee, where they built family boats and descended the Holston and Tennessee Rivers, etc. Randall Gibson was then about fifteen years old, and I have heard him relate this fact in connection with an attack made on their boat by hostile Cherokee Indians.

These Gibsons were in East Tennessee on the Holston before their kinfolk were in Wilkes County. Note Tobias circuit the Watagua, Nolichucky,  and Ashe County, formed 1799 from Wilkes.  Tobias' cousin John Gibson, Indian trader, son in law of the Chickasaw trader and author of  The History of the American Indians was in Wilkes County in 1774 on the tax list of Benjamin Cleveland. 

NEXT - The Families of the Pee Dee

Celebrated Melungeon Case - The Petition  The Trial  The Story & Solomon Bolton

Saturday, May 9, 2020


Charged with a 'person of color' marrying a 'white woman'
Petition and Memorial for Cherokee Indian Citizenship:
To the Hon. Daws Commission.
"Your petitioners John P. Waters, Mark M. Waters, H. C. Waters, Albert G. Waters, Louis N. Waters, Mary Waters, Martha Waters, Louisa Waters, and Ada Waters -- Equally and respectfully represent that they are One Eighth (1/8) Cherokee Indian by blood (on one side of the family) deriving the same from their lineal ancestor William P. Waters who was a son of Elizabeth Cullin (whose husband was John P. Waters) a half blood Cherokee Indian as shown by evidence.
Your petitioners state further that they are further related by blood to the Cherokees through their mother deriving the same from their linenal ancestor, the late Ned Sizemore through their mother Zilpha Waters whose maiden name was Zilpha Thompson who was daughter of Mary Thompson whose maiden name was Mary Blevins who was a daughter of Lydia Blevins whose maiden name was Lydia Sizemore who was a daughter of Owin Sizemore who was a son of Ned Sizemore a full blood Cherokee Indian. Your petitioners therefore submit to your honors the ___ above statements of facts as ground for applying for Cherokee Indian citizenship as aforesaid in the Cherokee Nation and asks for full and complete investigation of these claims and if the same is found to be valid and correct so herein stated that they be allowed all the rights, privileges and and immunities of he Citizens of said nation Petitions full view are as above stated.
_____ of H. C. Waters, A. J. _____, Galena ____
____ of Witnesses R. A. Bailey
W. Z. Bailey
State of Tennessee
County of Cherokee
Personally appeared before me _____ a Justice for said County in the State for said H. C. Waters______ in the above petition for Cherokee Indian Citizenship in the Cherokee Nation Indian Territory USA who after being duly sworn according to law state that the facts set forth in this said petition above are true as stated therein this day of 1876.
signed H. C. Waters
Attesting Witnesses
Albert Burriss (Seal)
Chas. ___ (Seal)


The declarations of the grandmother of one, who is charged to be a person of June 1843 color, that his mother was the offspring of a white man and herself, are not admissible evidence upon that question. The act, prohibiting marriages between white persons and " persons of color," includes in the latter class all who are descended from negro ancestors to the fourth generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person.

Appeal from the Superior Court of Law of Ashe county, at Spring Term, 1843, his Honor Judge Dick presiding.

This was an indictment for a libel, a copy of which is as follows, viz:

Notice. A man called Isaac Tinsley on the first day of this month in a suit wherein the State was plaintiff and myself and wife were defendants, swear a willful lie and I can prove it. October 15th, 1841. (Signed) WILLIAM P. WATTERS."

The defendant pleaded not guilty and justification. The State proved that the libel was written and published by the defendant. The defendant relied on the truth of the charge as a justification. The facts of the case as disclosed by the testimony were as follows: The defendant and one Zilpha Thompson were indicted in Ashe County Court in the year 1841. for fornication and adultery. The defendants, on the trial, proved that they had been married. The State alleged that the defendant, Wm. P. Watters, was a man of color, and that his marriage, therefore, with a white woman was void.

The defendant, William P. Watters, contended that he was descended from Portuguese, and not from Negro or Indian  ancestors. The State examined one Isaac Tinsly, as a witness on the said trial, who swore that he knew the grandfather and grandmother of the said William P. Watters, and they were coal black negroes. There was a difference in the testimony as to what Tinsly said on that trial about the color of the mother of the defendant. The defendant and Zilpha Thompson were convicted and punished under that indictment.

On the trial of this case, the defendant examined witnesses, who swore that they knew the mother of the defendant that she was a bright mulatto, with coarse straight hair that her name was Elizabeth Cullom, and that she lived with a man by the name of John P. Watters, who was a white man, but of dark complexion for a white man and that the said John P. Watters was the reputed father of the present defendant. The same witnesses swore that they were acquainted with Mary Wooten, the mother of Elizabeth Cullom and the grandmother of the defendant that Mary Wooten was not as black as some negroes they had seen, and had thin lips. A witness on the part of the State swore that he knew Mary Wooten, that she was black, with thin lips and sharp features. The defendant then proposed to prove, that Mary Wooten in her lifetime had stated to one of the witnesses, that the father of Elizabeth Cullom was a white man. This evidence was rejected by the court.

The jury found the defendant guilty, and, after a motion for a new trial which was disallowed, judgment being rendered against the defendant, he appealed to the Supreme Court.

Attorney General for the State.
Boyden  for the defendant.

If the evidence had been heard, it could have availed nothing ; and for that reason the verdict should not be disturbed. The oath of the prosecutor was, on the former trial, that the grand-father and grand-mother of the defendant were coal black negroes. In that we must understand him to mean the reputed grand-father, as no marriage is stated. Now, that is not contradicted by the declaration of the grand-mother, even if true, that the natural father of her daughter was a white man ; for it is not suggested that the prosecutor knew thereof, or, even that there was such a reputation in the neighborhood, or among the kindred of the defendant. But admit that the defendant's grand-father was white, and the grand-mother only half African—of which last there is no evidence, still the defendant would have been within the degree prohibited from contracting marriage with a white woman. We say, prohibited degree, because, although the act which annuls marriages between the two races, uses the words " persons of color" generally, we are of Opinion, that expression must be construed in reference to other disabilities imposed, for reasons of a similar nature, upon persons of mixed blood. The act of 1777, c. 115, s. 42, the Rev. Stat. ch. Ill, s. 74, and the Constitution, article 1st, s. 3, besides other laws, designate such persons as those descended from negro ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person. And thus restricted,, the act includes the defendant, who, at most, was only the third generation from a full negro.

But we are of opinion that the evidence was properly rejected, independent of the above ground. It was hearsay ; and does not fall within any of the established exceptions to the general rule, which excludes such evidence. The Legislature has not prescribed the mode in which, in cases of birth out of wedlock, it is to be ascertained whether one of the ancestors was a white person ; and we should, perhaps, be at some loss to lay down a rule. But certainly if this is to be viewed as an attempt to prove a pedigree by the reputation in the family, and the declarations of deceased members of it, there is a signal failure. The declaration of the grand-mother assigns the paternity of her child to no man in particular, but only to some white man ; and would be the loosest proof of pedigree that ever established one. But if she had mentioned the father by name, and nothing more appeared, such as a recognition of the child by the designated person, or the appearance in point of color of the child or the like, it would have amounted to nothing. It could not be admitted under that class of cases, in which entries or declarations of third persons, with peculiar means of knowledge have been received. For in those cases the entry or declaration was cotemporaneous with the fact; and was also made by one under no motive to pervert the truth.

It does not appear, that this declaration was at or about the birth of her child ; nor when it was. And, besides, it is well known that persons, of the description of this woman, have a strong bias in their minds to induce the declaration from them, and, it possible, the impression on others, that their illegitimate child is the issue of a white man : if not to gratify a personal vanity in themselves, for the reason, that it removes their offspring one degree from the humbled caste in which he is placed by the law, whereby he is excluded from the elective franchise, and from competency as a witness between white persons, and prohibited from intermarrying with them.

PER CURIAM. Judgment affirmed.

The Life and Adventures of WILBURN WATERS
The Famous Hunter and Trapper of White Top Mountain
Embracing Early History of Southwestern Virginia
Sufferings of the Pioneers, Etc., Etc.

By Charles B. Coale
For Thirty-three years editor of the Abingdon Virginian.
Richmond 1878

Chapter II
Birth, Parentage, Nativity and Early Orphanage of Wilburn Waters
Wilburn Waters was born on what is called Ready's river, a branch of the Yadkin, in Wilkes county, North Carolina, on the 20th day of November, 1812. From the best information that can now be had, his father, John P. Waters, was a French Huguenot, who emigrated to America in early life, about the beginning of the present century, and settled in South Carolina. He was a man of some education and liberal acquirements, of strong prejudices and passions, restless, reckless and fond of adventure. Being remarkably stout, fearless and passionate, he was considered dangerous when excited or laboring under a sense of injury, and was supposed by those with whom he communicated most freely, to have been a refugee from South Carolina, if not from France, from some cause he never revealed to others. He settled down, without any apparent calling, among the simple and obscure people on Ready's river, where, after a time, he married his wife the mother of Wilburn, who was a half-breed of the Catawba Indian.

From what little history we have of the Catawbas, they were a small portion of the tribe that inhabited Roanoke Island when Lord Raleigh took possession of it about the middle of the sixteenth century, and being dissatisfied with the encroachments and exactions of their new and powerful neighbors, they sought a new home among the mountains on the western boundary of the colony, where game was abundant, and the clear, bold streams afforded a plentiful supply of trout and other excellent varieties of fish.

It is not known whether or not there were other Indians there at the time, but they had occupied there quiet retreat but a few years before the whites began to settle near and even among them, and at the time John P. Waters found a home among them they mostly half-breeds and quarteroons, with very few full-bloods, and the latter the aged members of the community. It is said they originally bore the name of Chowans, but after finding their way into the mountains they took the name of Catawba, the name by which one of the principal streams in that region was known.

Wilburn's mother was one of these people, and was, as before stated, a half-breed. He is, therefore, what is termed a quarteroon. She was said to have been very handsome, tall and straight, with nearly all the characteristics of a full Indian, except that she was unusually amiable in her disposition, and fond of quiet, domestic life. She had some education, was pious and affectionate, and was very anxious that her children should have pious instruction and the best education their limited means and opportunities would allow. She was the mother of five children--four sons and one daughter--of whom Wilburn was the youngest. She died when he was between two and three years old, and the only recollection he has of her is, that she had long, glossy black hair, which she wore loose, and reached nearly to the floor when she stood erect. She died young, and her death was a terrible blow to her husband, who was warmly attached to her, and whose turbulent nature she could control with a word. Notwithstanding this attachment, and his apparently unsubdued grief, he soon married another woman, left the community and his children among their relatives, and was never after heard from by his family.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Eyewitness to History

This follows the connection of the Croatan/Lumbee 
and the Melungeons

These are 'eyewitnesses to history' - Hamilton McMillan, McDonald Furman, Dr. Gurley, C. A. Peterson, James Mooney and Swan Burnett, all with connections to the Smithsonian Institute as early as 1889, they interviewed people who were born early 1800s whose parents born in the late 1700s surely knew more about the history of these people than armchair researchers in the 1990s whose research is still being used to sell books, magazines, newspapers, and click bait, etc. 

"His name Melungeons is a local designation for this small peculiar race. 
Their own claim to be Portuguese is more generally known. 
Their original site is on the Pedee river in South and North Carolina ." 
Lawrence Johnson 1889 Holly Springs, Mississippi 


In order to avoid the hostile Indians in what is now Western Georgia and Eastern Alabama, immigrants from the Carolinas traveled over land to the Holston River in East Tennessee, where they built family boats and descended the Holston and Tennessee Rivers, etc. Randall Gibson was then about fifteen years old, and I have heard him relate this fact in connection with an attack made on their boat by hostile Cherokee Indians.  [Randall Gibson was the son of Gideon Gibson of the Pee Dee River] 

1871 - Judge Giles Leitch

Member of the Philanthropic Society University of North Carolina -Graduate 1849 Senator from Robeson County 1862 Born 1827

Excerpt from the 1871 North Carolina Joint Senate and House Committee as they interviewed Robeson County Judge Giles Leitch about the ‘free persons of color’ living within his county:

Leitch: Yes Sir; half of the colored population of Robeson County were never slaves at all…

Senate: What are they; are they Negroes?

Leitch: Well sir, I desire to tell you the truth as near as I can; but I really do not know what they are; I think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian…


New York Herald
Saturday, March 09, 1872
Wilmington, N.C.
February 29, 1872
I do not know what these mulattoes of Scuffletown are. 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"


The Celebrated Bolton Case
Solomon Bolton of the Pee Dee River

A. B. Beeson
Page 174
Q. were you well acquainted with Solomon Bolton, the grandfather of Martha, complainant in the Cross Bill, and, if so, state what race of people he was or appeared to be. Also give a description of his person and complexion and appearance.
A. I was. He was called a Malungeon. He was a small spare made man, with low, flat head, had a dark complexion, rather a flat nose, turned up at the end. He wore his hair short, and it was always inclined to curl or kink.
Q. In the neighborhood in which he lived did he associate with white men or free negroes as his equals?
A. His general association was with the Malungeons-his own people. I never saw him associate with whites except when he had business.
Q. How many different families in this County or adjoining Counties did you know of the same race or character of people -name them?
A. I don't now how many- several - but the Perkins- the Goins, Mornings, Shumakes, Menleys & others.

Judge Lewis Shepherd - Attorney who defended the Bolton Family - Hamilton County, Tennessee in 1874
About the time of our Revolutionary war, a considerable body of these people crossed the Atlantic and settled on the coast of South Carolina, near the North Carolina line, and they lived among the people of Carolina for a number of years.  At length the people of Carolina began to suspect that they were mulattoes or free Negroes and denied them the privileges usually accorded to white people. They refused to associate with them on equal terms and would not allow them to send their children to school with white children, and would only admit them to join their churches on the footing of Negroes.
South Carolina had a law taxing free Negroes so much per capita, and a determined effort was made to collect this of them.  But it was shown in evidence on the trial of this case that they always successfully resisted the payment of this tax, as they proved that they were not Negroes.  Because of their treatment, they left South Carolina at an early day and wandered across the mountains to Hancock county, East Tennessee; in fact, the majority of the people of that country are “Melungeons,:” or allied to them in some way.  A few families of them drifted away from Hancock into the other counties of east Tennessee  

Ocotber 1889

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".

Dr. Swan Burnett's article was published in which he wrote that since his reading in February he had been in contact with Hamilton McMillan and now believed the origin of the Melungeons was the Drowning Creek - Pee Dee River area where the 'Croatan and Redbones' were found. Dr. Burnett mentions he will publish his findings at a later date but none have been found as yet. Dr. C. A. Petersen mentioned this work of Burnett's when he wrote; "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    

There are over 100 residents of Lumberton, Robeson County, North Carolina on the 1900 census, their parents born in the 1700s.

Atlanta Constitution
March 11, 1889
The Melungeons

Meridian, Miss.,
March 11– Editors Constitution

Near a month ago an article appeared in The CONSTITUTION named Melungeons. I laid it aside in order to correspond with the writer, but the paper got destroyed and the name and address had not been noticed with care, and are forgotten. Excuse me then for addressing him through the same medium.

His name Melungeons is a local designation for this small peculiar race. Their own claim to be Portuguese is more generally known. Their original site is on the Pedee river in South and North Carolina . They were once especially strong in Georgetown and Darlington districts of the latter.


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.''


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 ...