Melungeons

evilsprout

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Jul 27, 2001
Messages
1,220
Likes
19
Points
69
#1
... specualtion in FT a while back that Honest Abe wasn't pure-white, but of Melungeon (sp?) stock (the mysterious and rare American race with dark skin and Caucasian features, that doesn't fit looks for White, Black or Native Americans).
 
Last edited by a moderator:
A

Anonymous

Guest
#2
Not even getting into the KKK, but the Melungeons are Fortean enough in themselves - arent they supposed to be descended from pre-Colombian Turkish and/or Portuguese settlers in America?

Related to this I believe I read something in FT about the Alabama Indians speaking a language that had words in it derived from Turkish and from Arabic.

Might start a thread in Earth Mysteries.
 

beakboo1

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 20, 2001
Messages
2,313
Likes
25
Points
69
#3
Does anyone know which FT this Abe/Melungeon thing was in? Save me trawling through the lot of them.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#4
OK, maybe a bit of a "notes and queries" thread, but the topic is kind of related to the "first to discover America" thread so i'll put it here...

I recall reading in FT (maybe 1998/1999?) about the mysterious Melungeons, a group in the American South who included some ancestors of Abe Lincoln, who were obviously not "white" but had dark skin and Caucasian features, rather like Arabs or Indians (as in Delhi, India). I think they were originally thought to be mixed white/Native American, but the FT article argued that they were descended from both Portuguese and (more unlikely) Turkish or Arabic settlers in America.

These were supposed to have got there (i think) some time between 1400 and 1600 - not sure if it was before Columbus "officially" discovered America for Catholic Europe (probably later in the case of the Portuguese), but certainly long before the British colonised America.

The article then went on to argue that the language of the Alabama Indians had words in it derived from Turkish, and that oral history in that area described people with a monotheistic religion arriving from the east. I think the word Alabama itself was supposedly derived from "Allah" (which is of course Arabic not Turkish, but Turks are Muslim) and something meaning "graveyard".

Anyone know anything about this? I am particularly intrigued by the idea that Muslim/Ottoman people were in America around the same time as the earliest Europeans, and what their relationships with the Native Americans were (they seem to have integrated themselves with the Alabama to the extent that the name of the ethnic group was changed).
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#6
Weren't the Melungeons already speaking English before any British settlers showed up? That is strange. There was a big article here at the site about that, IIRC; however, the last time I tried it, the link was dead, unfortunately.
 

Mama_Kitty

Remembers when this was all fields
Joined
Apr 4, 2002
Messages
352
Likes
42
Points
59
Location
NY
#7
FT 106: 'Meet the Melungeons' by Ian Morphitt. Not sure of a page number though.

Ellie.
 

Mama_Kitty

Remembers when this was all fields
Joined
Apr 4, 2002
Messages
352
Likes
42
Points
59
Location
NY
#10
Meet the Melungeons FT106, January 1998. Not sure of the page number.

Ah, the hidden joys of being an idiot savant . . .

Ellie.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#11
Weren't the Melungeons speaking English before the first whites arrived on the continent?

Even if some words seem to derive from, say, Turkish, I'm not sure how much it matters. The reason I say that is that, f.ex., the numbers in both English and Spanish are similar; yet, neither are derived from the other. Weird things do happen, though--I think Finnish has more in common with slavic languages, as opposed to the more obvious scandinavian ones. Who knows how this stuff winds up how it does? Interesting to ponder, though.
 

liveinabin

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Oct 19, 2001
Messages
1,923
Likes
81
Points
79
#12
Weird tribe of America

A while ago I read in a (i think) Bill Bryson book about a strange group of people living in america in the early days of the frontier.
The story goes something like this.
A town was founded in the middle of nowere in the newly formed states. About a year or so after it was founded some people came to visit with supplies to find the town deserted. Assuming that towns people had not made it through the winter they wrote it in their history books and off they went.
a number of years later a tribe of 'Indians' where found living in the mountains near the town. They had unusually pale skin and their language was a form of English. However these people had no knowledge of their history at all. There were no stories of them having travelled from another town or land to live there and as far as they were concered they this was how the lives of their people had always been lived. And they are living there to this day.

The thing that I can't remember is the name of this tribe so I can look for any more information in line. Does anyone know what it is? And even if this story is true?
 

taras

Least Haunted
Joined
Oct 27, 2002
Messages
1,525
Likes
78
Points
79
Location
Edinburgh
#14
That is in either Bryson's Made In America or Mother Tongue... both of which are in Edinburgh, and I am currently not, so I can't check for you :rolleyes:

However, that would be the place to look.
 

liveinabin

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Oct 19, 2001
Messages
1,923
Likes
81
Points
79
#15
I have all his books, in fact if I streach I can just reach them. It's just that I can't be bothered to try and find it and I hoped that someone would beable to amaze me with their extensive knowledge of the subject.
 

Qestia

Junior Acolyte
Joined
Apr 10, 2003
Messages
29
Likes
1
Points
32
#16
They are the Melungeons, they were in "The Lost Continent." Let us know if you find out where they come from!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#18
Yep Melungeons



Who were the Melungeons?
Researchers have long struggled with the question of who were the Melungeons and where did they come from? In simple terms, the Melungeons were a group of dark-skinned people with European features found living in the mountains of Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia by explorers as early as the mid-1600's. These people were farmers living in cabins and speaking broken english. They were clearly not Native Americans nor black or white. They practiced Christian religion and when asked who they were they replied that they were 'Portyghee.' No one has proven where the term Melungeon originated, however, it was long speculated to be of French origin meaning melange or mixture. Recent linguistic experts have shown that phrases with similar pronounciation to Melungeon (me-lun-juhn) existed in old Turkish/Arabic meaning cursed soul or one who's luck has run out.

Over the years this mysterious group of people was pushed further west and higher up in the mountains as Scotch, Irish, English, and other settlers moved into the areas where the Melungeons had been living for years. During the struggle for land, the white settlers declared that the Melungeons were "Free Person of Color" or "mulatto." In many cases, this legal designation stripped the Melungeons of many of their rights including the right to vote, to send their children to school, and to defend themselves in a court of law. This led to the new settlers taking the land of the Melungeons. The loss of political rights and land caused many Melungeons to start over in new areas where no one knew them as Melungeons and they could "pass" for white and enjoy legal rights and education for their children. These families denied that they were Melungeons and told people they were "Black Dutch, Black Irish, Black Italian, etc." or Native American, ususally Cherokee, to account for their darker coloring or refused to talk about their ancestors at all. As generations passed, people accepted the stories that grandparents handed down about who their ancestors were and the term Melungeon came to be applied mainly to isolated groups in Hancock Co., TN, and Wise, Lee, and Dickenson Co., VA.

It was here that researchers found them in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and began speculating anew on their origins. The most popular traditional theories on the origins of the Melungeons were:

Survivors from the Lost Colony of Roanoke;
Tri-Racial Isolates (isolated groups of intermarried white, black, and Native American populations);
Survivors from Portuguese shipwrecks;
Descendants of the Welsh explorer "Madoc";
Descendants of one of the "lost tribes" of Israel; and
Descendants of early Carthaginian or Phoenician seamen.
Current popular theory suggests that the Melungeons were descendants of Spanish and Portuguese settlers who abandoned the Spanish settlement of Santa Elena in South Carolina during the late 16th century. These settlers eventually mingled with several Native American tribes including Powhatans, Pamunkeys, Creeks, Catawbas, Yuchis, and Cherokees. They may have also mingled with the survivors of several hundred Moorish and Turkish galley slaves and Portuguese and Spanish prisoners left on Roanoke Island (in modern North Carolina) by Sir Francis Drake in 1586.

The final chapter on the Melungeons has not yet been written and the theories have not been proven so we invite you to join us in the search for our ancestors and the origins of the Melungeons.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#19
I stayed in a town called Chickashaw [sic] in Oklahoma in 1983, and the natives there, I believe they are know as "Wyandots" have some pretty bizarre legends about a race of "Silver People" whom they had met when they were living on the East coast of the US. They followed these strange people West, many smaller tribes splitting off along the way to settle new areas.
The Wyandots had been told to be wary of any whites that would follow after them, as they would be there to pillage and murder.

Does anyone have any other info along these lines?
I would appreciate hearing from you!

Trace Mann
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#20
FT had an article on the Melungeons about 5-6 years ago. Don't know what number it was but it was the Christmas edition. Very interesting. Though no one had mentioned it it struck me that a lot of the Melungeon surnames were also Irish - 'Collins', 'Brogan' and others.
 

stu neville

Commissioner.
Staff member
Joined
Mar 9, 2002
Messages
11,297
Likes
3,885
Points
234
#21
Qestia said:
They are the Melungeons, they were in "The Lost Continent." Let us know if you find out where they come from!
"A Walk in the Woods", too IIRC - he went looking for them and was..ahem...dissuaded by the local white populace in a sub-Deliverance type scenario ("Folk don't round these parts much..")

[edit] Nope, Qestia was right, it was just in "The Lost Continent". In "A Walk in the Woods" he was dissuaded from asking about the activities of a Zinc mine.[/edit]
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#22
I'm very interested in the melungeons as it seems my great-grandfather may have been one!

Oh connections...

Incidentally his name was Frances Martin

I'm going to start a query thread on him as he was involved in a major hoax - look out for a title "Cunani"
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#23
I note that no-one has mentioned a rather more obvious European-like ethnic grouping, with shovel teeth, Anatolian bumps and the terminology 'black dutch' - gypsies -

http://foclark.tripod.com/gypsy/Patrin1.htm

When the gypsies first arrived in europe, in order to negotiate their way in, they cleverly claimed to be coptic EGYPtian christians - even though they were nothing of the sort. It would not be surprising to see them grabbing the opportunity of the new world earlier than most historians would expect - nor to see them, faced with land hungry settlers, opting for some plausible white nationality - such as Portugese - to try and fend them off.

As for the Turkish - well, Romani is a language which picks up many 'loaners' - and Turkey, and the slavic/turkic regions have been the source of many of these.

My guess would be that Melungeons are early gypsy settlers, who had managed to get across to the new world with the Spanish or early German settlers, then tried to strike out on their own, perhaps finally thinking they could found some early version of Romanestan. Naturally, this wasn't going to be allowed to happen...
 

Leaferne

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Feb 7, 2004
Messages
2,733
Likes
51
Points
64
#25
From this page:
A Melungeon (during the formative period from about 1700 to 1860) was someone who was free but thought not to be pure White in the area where the word was used - northern North Carolina, southern and western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, southern Ohio, western Louisiana, the eastern edge of Texas, the panhandle of Florida, and northern Alabama. The person might actually be White, but of a darker strain like a Greek or Portuguese. The person might be mixed White and Black, White and Indian or all three. The White might be northern European or Mediterranean or both. A few people may have been of other races, such as South Asian (Tzigane, Asian Indian, etc.).
No one really knows who they were or where they came from.

Another link

Main page
 

Vitrius

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 11, 2004
Messages
197
Likes
2
Points
34
#27
Genes get moved around so much (it's the very nature of genes), that I find it difficult to see how they can pinpoint the whole man in such a way. Almost all American blacks will have east African descent, but even then, those tribes intermarried, and there's even bound to be some European blood surrepticiously Strom Thurmond-ed in there.

The Tennesseean Melungeons come up as either Greek, Turkish, northern (Asian) Indian, Portuguese, or Arab. But that's because all those peoples share common background through trade, travel, and invasion. They're most likely just Portuguese (who are about 90% genetically "Arab").

Still, they CAN tie a single school teacher in Chedder to one of the oldest skeletons in Britain, so maybe it's not as complicated as it looks to me.
 

MrRING

Antediluvian
Joined
Aug 7, 2002
Messages
5,013
Likes
1,153
Points
234
#28
They've got a FAQ on their page:

http://www.melungeon.org/?BISKIT=2844048147&CONTEXT=cat&cat=10006

That says the following:

1. Who Are the Melungeons?

The Melungeons are a group of mixed ethnic ancestry first documented in northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia in the early 19th century. As a group, the Melungeons were considered by outsiders to have a mixture of European, Native American, and African ancestry. Researchers have referred to the Melungeons and similar groups as “tri-racial isolates,” and the Melungeons have faced discrimination, both legal and social, because they did not fit into America’s accepted racial categories.

9. Where did the Melungeons originate?

That is the million-dollar question, the one that has fueled the imagination of journalists since the mid-19th century. Until recently, most scientists studying the Melungeons believed them to be – like most of the other tri-racial groups – the product of intermarriage between Anglo/Celtic Americans, Indians, and free African-Americans along the American frontier. The early Melungeons claimed to be of Indian and Portuguese ancestry. While most whites discounted the claim of Portuguese ancestry, believing it to be a means of denying African ancestry, generations of feature writers tapped into folklore and their own imaginations to develop theories to explain the origins of the Melungeons. Various writers suggested they were descendants of the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke Island, descendants of deserters from Hernando de Soto’s expedition, one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, descendants of shipwrecked pirates, or descendants of Carthaginian sailors. In each of these suggested scenarios, these overseas visitors intermarried with Indians and moved inland.

Genetic studies have shown that Melungeons share genetic traits with populations in the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as with northern Europeans, Native Americans, and African-Americans. Not all Melungeons share all these genetic traits; every family has its own unique ethnic history. These studies do not answer all of the questions about the origins of the Melungeons, of course. We cannot tell when these various ethnic components entered a particular family line. However, these findings do open the door to further speculation and study; the Melungeons’ origins are almost certainly more complex than originally thought.
 

TheQuixote

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Sep 25, 2003
Messages
3,297
Likes
27
Points
69
#29
There are numerous theories as to the Melungeon's apparent Turkish genealogical and etymological features, a Google search will come back with hundreds of hits.

There is one theory that Sir Francis Drake left Ottoman slaves at Roanoke, went back to England and on his return to the New World, discovered the Ottomans had *vanished*. Possibly having intermarried with local Native American tribes.

This link describes it in a little detail and other theories too:
http://www.colorado.edu/iec/FALL299RW/can.html

One source that I have read upon Melungeons states that in the late 19th C, a family when asked about their origins referred to themselves as Portyghee or Portuguese. Although as the Melungeon FAQ in Mr R.I.N.G.'s post says

Not all Melungeons share all these genetic traits; every family has its own unique ethnic history.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
#30
New Melungeon info....
-------------------------------------

Searching for the truth - Mystery of the Melungeons takes a very interesting turn


For more than 200 hundred years the mysterious origins of the Melungeons has mystified many who were searching for facts.

Recent research compiled by the Melungeon Research Committee (MRS) reveals the most probable theory thus far.

N. Brent Kennedy is the founder of the MRC, and author of "The Melungeons, The Resurrection of a Proud People."

Kennedy's search for his heritage led to the conception of
MRC in 1992 and the in-depth research performed internationally by the MRC team. Many members of this team, including Kennedy, are Melungeon.

Hancock County Historian Dr. Scott Collins is a member of MRC.

Kennedy consulted frequently with Collins when writing his book.

According to information obtained from Collins, the research committee has discovered that Melungeons most likely descend from 16th century settlers, Portuguese and Spanish, who were abandoned or cutoff when the English overran the Santa Elena Colony, presently known as Beaufort, S.C., in 1587.

The MRC believes these settlers came to the coast of South Carolina in 1567 under the leadership of a Spanish captain, Juan Pardo. The settlers consisted of approximately 250 soldiers, their wives and children.

"Several forts were built around the borders of South Carolina and Georgia, and one near Chattanooga," Collins' information states. The settlers lived in and around these forts 20 years, "until the English arrived and ran them out of the area."

In addition, the research committee has reason to believe several hundred Turks and other Muslim sailors were put off ships at Roanoke Island, N.C. in 1586 by Sir Frances Drake.

"The evidence indicates that both (groups of settlers) intermarried with Native Americans, primarily Cherokees, Creeks, Catawba and Pamunkey," the information states, "and that the resultant populations were eventually pushed together in the mountains of western North Carolina and upper South Carolina where they merged."

Members of this community would later make claims of Portuguese, Moorish, Turkish and Native American descent to disbelieving Anglo-Saxons.

The term "Melungeon," is spelled based on how it sounded to the earliest Anglo settlers, Collins said. It most likely originated from the Turkish term "Melun can," pronounced the same way.

Melun can means "cursed soul," or "one who has been abandoned by God."

The Melungeons could not be classified as white, black, mulatto or Indian and were categorized as free persons of color. "Their significant land holdings were confiscated, they were denied right to education, voting and judicial process, and driven either westward or higher into the mountains of the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia," according to information supplied by Collins.

There are many more interesting theories and facts MRC has discovered. Kennedy's book goes to great length discussing each one in detail. Some of the more disturbing details chronicle the racism Melungeons have been forced to endure through the years, including the horror of a census that would not recognize their heritage.

Updates on MRC research reveal DNA and genetic research that links at least some of the current Melungeon population to the Mediterranean and Middle East through diseases they have acquired which are specific to those areas.

Some of these people live in East Tennessee and have never traveled overseas.

Speaking of East Tennessee, it would simply be unacceptable to discuss the Melungeons and make no mention of the legendary Mahalia Mullins, also known as "Big Haley."

In the mid-1800s, Mullins lived in a cabin on Newman's Ridge in Sneedville. It was widely known that she made and sold some of the best moonshine in those parts.

Many stories have been told through the years focusing on this particular aspect of her life. Had Mullins' size not been an issue, she almost certainly would not have earned such an infamous place in most history written about Melungeons.

Mullins was obese, weighing an estimated 500 or more pounds.

When a young deputy, who had been sent to arrest Mullins for selling illegal alcohol, appeared before the judge without her in tow, he was said to have told the judge in a most serious manner, "She's catchable, but not
fetchable."

Apparently, when the deputy went to Mullins' cabin she was, by all accounts, most amicable. She did not refuse to give herself up. They simply could not get her out of the cabin-Mullins was too large to fit through the narrow cabin door.

She spent the rest of her life under house arrest inside of her cabin. They most likely weren't too concerned about her being a flight risk.

Besides, Mullins was not a thief or a murderer. She was a widow and mother trying to support her children. Making moonshine was a common occupation, albeit illegal, for many mountain folks back then.

There just weren't a lot of employment opportunities available, especially for a Melungeon, Kennedy said in his book.

When Mullins passed away, they had to tear down the chimney in order to make a passage wide enough to remove her from the cabin. Because she was too large to fit into a standard casket, a makeshift coffin was built around her bed before she was carried out and buried in the woods only a few hundred feet from her home.

Mullins' gravesite, forgotten through the years, was discovered less than 10 years ago.

Collins was a member of the group of researchers who found Mullins' grave marker buried under a foot of soil and entangled in the roots of a tree next to her grave.

Collins and Kennedy are descendants of Mullins.

Of course, most people associate Melungeons with Hancock County. This is not a lesser-known piece of historical information. Still, we may never know for certain how the Melungeons came to be in America.

At least we know who are they are.

Kennedy dedicated his book to them.

"To all people of Melungeon descent who are living evidence of the human will to survive, standing tall among their neighbors as teachers, farmers, doctors, and miners," Kennedy said, "all bearing witness to the indomitable spirit of their early American heritage."

According to information at the Hancock County Historical and Genealogical Society, an estimated 500 Melungeon descendants still live where their ancestors settled in
northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia.

©Citizen Tribune 2005

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?news ... 9368&rfi=6
------------------------------------

sureshot
 
Top