Historical Articles & Clippings


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T
hese are excerpts from old newspapers and magazines.
 Click on the link at the end of the paragraph to read the entire article.


Gen. Combs, in his attempt to address the citizens of Sullivan County, on yesterday, was insulted, contradicted repeatedly, limited to one hour and a half, and most shamefully treated, and withall an effort was made, to get an impudent Malungeon.  
Brownlow's Whig 1840

You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, known hereabouts as 'black-water Springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. A hundred men could defend the pass against even a Xerxian army. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS. The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women.
Littell's Living Age 1848

We are free to confess that we have never heard of or read of the ‘Melungeons’ before this day, and all we know about them now is what we derive from the following imperfect description obtained in a letter from a travelling correspondent of the Louisville, Ky., Examiner.  The letter bears no date, but the site of the Melungen race appears to be somewhere in Kentucky.
Sheboygan Mercury  1848

''You have alluded, classically enough, to the "sable leader" of the Athens Synod, in this work of falsehood and     detraction. The fact of the copper color, the woolly head, and other similar appendages of the negro, which cling to this Rev. Malungeon, notwithstanding his Caucasian features, in the general, should be kept prominently before the proud, spirited, and high-minded Virginian. Let the distinction of color be kept up, and let our identity as a race of white men be preserved. Let the Presbyterians of Marion trample upon marriage relations, despise the distinction between white and colored people, and bid defiance to the powers of enlightened society, if they choose; but let us, my friends, have more self-respect than to imitate their example.'' 
The Great Iron Wheel Extracted -- Parson Brownlow - 1856


The platform of Feb 1856 which expunged and ignored the 12th section and in a letter which goes expressly for restoring the Missouri Compromise. The Mulungeons of Richmond endorsed the 'late convention' at Philadelphia too; but will any southern man-- a Stuart or an Imobdin even -- endorse this letter for the restoration of the Missouri Compromise.''

The names of his soldiers were sent in, but the scout and Bose Rouss (some called him Malungeon), who had killed a Federal detective, were not mentioned in the list.
The Molungeons  1856-1869

The principal localities visited were Newman's Ridge and Blackwater Valley, lying just south of Powell's mountain and 14 miles north of Rogersville, Tenessee. the inhabitants there, known by the local name of "Malunjins" are a mixture of whites, blacks and Indians,
Destruction of Illicit Distilleries  1873

It would not take him long to bring the last one of
those "crooked whisky" fellows to terms. He has straighted out
things in Hancock; now let him go over the line and give the Virginia
MOLUNGEONS a hitch.

Crooked Whiskey In the Mountains  1875

A settlement was also made at an early date at Mulberry Gap, where a little village sprang up. Newmans' Ridge, which runs through the county to the north of Sneedville, and parallel with Clinch river, is said to have taken its name from one of the first settlers upon it. It has since been occupied mainly by a people presenting a peculiar admixture of white and Indian blood.
 
Goodspeed's History of Tennessee-1886

It appears that the Melungeons originally came into east Tennessee from North Carolina, and the larger number settled in what was at that time Hawkins County, but which is now Hancock. I have not been able to hear of them in any of the lower counties of east Tennessee, and those I have seen myself were in Cocke county, bordering on North Carolina. At what time this emigration took place in not known, but it was certainly as long ago as seventy-five or eighty years.
A Note On The Melungeons  1889

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. Though called Portuguese – this does not indicate their true origin. I have no doubt local traditions, and the records still to be found in the Charleston library will give the true account. As dimly recollected, for I never made search with a purpose in view, it was thus in the primary colonial times of the Carolinas, Winyaw Bay was the best and most frequented harbor on the coast, and Georgetown more accessible, was more of a commercial town than old Charlestown., to that port British cruisers sometimes brought prizes.
Letter to  the  Editor  --
Atlanta Constitution--1889

Writer in the Atlanta Constitution looks for further information with respect to the "Melungeons,"  the supposed Portuguese colony and its descendants who dwelt chiefly on the Pee Dee river in North and South Carolina.  He ways that though called Portuguese, this designation does not correctly indicate their true origin.  He maintains, while not pretending to be strictly accurate, that "in the primary colonial times of the Carolinas, Winyaw Bay was the best and most frequented harbor on the coast, and Gerogetown, more accessible, was more of a commercial town than old Charlestown.  To that port British cruisers sometimes brought prizes.  Among these once was a Salee Rover, which was sold for the distribution of the proceeds as prize money.  The crew, consisting mostly of Moors, with a sprinkling of Arabs and negroes, were turned ashore free.  Their complexion and religion prevented immediate absorption by the white race, and they found wives among Indians, negroes and cast-off white women sold by immigrant ships for their passage money.  They became a peculiar people.  These were the free people of color of the Pee Dee region so true to Marion during our revolutionary struggle, and no other race in America retained such traditionary hatred of the British.  'Hamilton McMillan, Esq', in his little work on the identity of the Henry Berry Lowery people of the Pee Dee region with the lost tribe of Croatan Indians, makes the supposed Portuguese, the Lowery tribe and the Croatans one and the same mixed race of people, if we remember rightly.  Now here we have them "Moors, with a sprinkling of Arabs and negroes."  Who can throw further light on the 'Melungeons?"

THE NEWS AND OBSERVER  1889



'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.''
Hamilton McMillan Letter  1890


During a recent tour among the Malungeons, the mysterious mountain tribe whose origin has baffled research, I stayed at the cabin of one Gowens, says a special correspondent writing from Nashville, Tennessee to the New York World.  The polite prefix Mr. or Mrs. is unknown in that region.  A majority of the Malungeons live within five miles of Sneedville, the county seat of Hancock County, and their habitations are windowless log huts.  The march of progress since the war has reached the Malungeons in the ability to raise tobacco.  Otherwise they are as nearly savage as they were a quarter of a century ago.  Their orchards are the wonder of the country round and always have been.  But the fruit, as fruit, goes no further than the stillhouse.
The Mysterious Tribe Known as Melungeons 1890

Away up in an extreme corner of Tennessee I found them--them or it, for what I found is a remnant of a lost or forgotten race, huddled together in a sterile and isolated strip of land in one of the most inaccessible quarters of Tennessee.......The Malungeons are a most peculiar people. They occupy an isolated land except for horse or foot passengers, inaccessible territory, separated and alone, not mixing or caring to mix with the rest of the world.
Land of the Malungeons  1890

The owner was a full-blooded Indian, with keen, black eyes, straight black hair, high cheeks, and a hook nose. He played upon his violin with his fingers instead of a bow, and entertained us with a history of his grandfather, who was a Cherokee chief, and by singing some of the songs of his tribe.
 A Strange People   1890

The newspapers of the country are again wrangling with the 'Melungeons' or 'lungens' a peculiar race of people living along Newman's Ridge in Hancock county.  They are also scattered along Clinch mountain in Hawkins and Grainger in isolated settlements.  Even that bright and fascinating young writer, Miss Will Allen Dromgoole has taken it upon herself to journey all the way from nashville to the wilds of Hancock for the evident purpose of settling once and for all the much disp... (?) question of their origin.  Unfortunately she gleamed little information other than that already published.
A Peculiar Race of People Living in Hancock County  1890

Such are the remnants called Indians in some states where a pure-blooded Indian can hardly longer be found. In Tennessee such a group, popularly known as Melungeans, in addition to those still known as Cherokee.
Report of Indians - Taxed and not Taxed 1890

The lateness of these details (sent to tthe New York Sun from Sneedville, November 20) may make them acceptable to you in the above connection:
 
" The first inhabitants of Hancock county, or, to be accurate, of what is now called Hancock county, were the strangest, most mysterious people that have ever settled any part of this country since its discovery.  They are still there in greater numbers than ever before, and in as great mystery.  These people are called Malungeons.
American Notes and Queries 1891

First, I saw in an old newspaper some slight mention of them. With this tiny clue I followed their trail for three years. The paper merely stated that “somewhere in the mountains of Tennessee there existed a remnant of people called Malungeons, having a distinct color, characteristics, and dialect.” It seemed a very hopeless search, so utterly were the Malungeons forgotten, and I was laughed at — little for my “new crank.”
 The Malungeons  1891

Somewhere in the eighteenth century, before the year 1797, there appeared in the eastern portion of Tennessee, at that time the Territory of North Carolina, two strange-looking men calling themselves "Collins" and "Gibson". They had a reddish brown complexion, long , straight , black hair, keen, black eyes, and sharp, clear-cut features. They spoke in broken English, a dialect distinct from anything ever heard in that section of the country.
 The Malungeon Tree and It's Four Branches  1891

Judge Lea addressed the society on the subject of the Melungeons. He outlined the early history of the settlement of North Carolina. A party under the protection of a friendly Indian chief had gone into the interior when the first settlers came to that coast and had been lost. No other settlers came till a century afterward, and they were told of a tribe who claimed a white ancestry, and among whom gray eyes were frequent. This people were traced to Buncomb and Robeson counties, where the same family and personal names were found as in the lost colonies.
Magazine of American History  1891

Will Allen Dromgoole in the March Arena, gives an entertaining account of a people called "Malungeons" a remnant of whom remains in the Tennessee mountains.  Whether the description is a true one we are not able to say, for the Malungeons are strangers to us.
The Malungeons - Dromgoole Review  1891

There is in Hancock county, Tennessee, a tribe of people known by the local name of Malungeons or Melungeons. Some say they are a branch of the Croatan tribe, others that they are of Portuguese stock.
The Lost Colony of Roanoke  1891

Who are these people?” has been asked thousands of times, doubtless by some passing traveler, who quickly noted their clean-cut, distinctive race features, speech and bearing.  The answer made invariably is “Melungeons”  - Our fathers who settled here along about 1790 to 1800, found them here, with another small settlement near Nashville’s present site.” This is all you can obtain in the way of information by casual inquiry.
Melungeons at the Worlds' Fair  1894

It is not generally known that in the mountains of eastern Tennessee there is a class of peculiar looking people whose origin is wrapped in mystery and who are called by the whites, Melungeons. They resent this appellation and proudly declare that they are Portuguese.    (This is the original 1848 article)
Some People In Eastern Tennessee  1894

There is a race of people in Hawkins County, Tenn., whose origin is a mystery," said G. L. Babbit. "They are called the Melungeons, and are found no place else. They have been traced back to North Carolina, but further than that nothing is known. They are not Indians, they are not negroes, they are certainly not of any known race of white people.
A Queer Tennessee People 1894

They have been classed with Negroes but it is easily demonstrated that they are not of negro origin. I mingled with them a great deal at one time, and was fortunate enough to obtain their confidence through an act of kindness to one of their number. A few relics of great age can be found in the pottery and implements. Some of these marked with rude imitations of the Maltese cross. They have a tradition that their ancestors in North Carolina are buried in mounds. Putting these points together, I believe that they are descendants of the Aztecs and of Portuguese sailors who landed upon the North Carolina coast.   
Descendants of Aztecs 1894

<>Talking about courts.  Walter Taylor tells a story on that grand old man and jurist, Judge Richard H. Clarke, so long upon our city court bench. That cock-eyed melungeon,  Levi Morrison, who was so long a perennial pest to the police, was arraigned before Judge Clarke for the larceny of a box of soap.
He Was Hungry    1895

"The genial-faced old gentleman who occasionally distributed a circular letter is Colonel Stewart, a candidate for the legislature.  He is well fed and good humored.  He is a 'Malungen."
Colonel Stewart   1895

As to the Melungeons I know of no book containing any history of them. They are a peculiar set of people, most of them are very dark, straight hair and high cheek bones resemble a Cherokee Indian.  Since the war they have become civilized and a great many of them are good citizens and good livers.  I knew old Sol Collins when I was a little boy and was well acquainted with two of his boys and one his girls.  I guess she is the largest woman in the State
Letter - Sheriff Buttery - Hancock County  1897

The Blackwater Valley lies between Mulberry and Newman’s Ridges, and is from half a mile to mile wide. Twenty years ago it was still a wilderness, but is now under good cultivation, and divided into small farms upon which are rather poor dwellings and outbuildings. In this valley and along Newman’s Ridge, reaching into Lee County, Virginia, are settled the people called Melungeons. Some have gone into Kentucky, chiefly into Pike County, others are scattered in adjacent territory.The first settlers here were the great grand parents, Varday Collins, Shephard Gibson, and Charley Williams, who came from Virginia it is said, though other say from North Carolina. They have marked Indians resemblances in color, feature, hair, carriage, and disposition.
A Visit To The Melungeons 1897

To The Editor of The State:
In east Tennessee there lives a very remarkable race of people known as Melungeons, a race which appear to be somewhat similar to the "old issues" or "Redbones" found scattered about in our State.
Peculiar Race of People in East T
ennessee 1897

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.
BILL ARP’S LETTER - 1897

I pointed to the cottage under Imboden Hill. The girl flushed slightly and turned her head away with a rather unhappy smile. Without a word, the mountaineer led the way towards town. A moment more and a half-breed Malungian passed me on the bridge and followed them.
Through the Gap  1897  (John Fox)

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. "
Indian To Be Hanged  1897

Before the war the Malungeons had a hard time in obtaining the right to vote and to send their children to the primitive public schools of that day. The white citizens declared they were negros, and the matter finally caused so much bickering and strife between the Malungeons and the whites that it was carried into the courts. In the trials which followed it was developed that the ancestors of these people had emigrated to America about 150 years ago from the interior of Portugal
A Peculiar People  1897

The Manchester correspondent of the New York Evening Post writes; A party of London writers and artists are now in the Tennessee mountains studying the peculiar race of people known as the Malungeons.  The Malungeons are probably the most mysterious race in America, and less is known of them than of any other people.  Whence they came to America or how they obtained their peculiar name is unknown.
A Strange People  1897

The Rev. Charles Kesterson is an odd Kentuckian who has been on both sides of the law. His father was one of the early pioneers of Hancock County, Tenn., and his mother was an Indian, being a member of the tribe of famous Malungeons.
An Odd Kentuckian 1898

It is known that for some time past other moonshiners in the Cumberland have been envious of the woman and of her ability to carry on her work in defiance of the law, and that she was poisoned. No investigation has been made and none can be. If she has been poisoned, the Melungeons know it and the mountains will witness bloodshed, for the tribe always avenges an injury to one of its members.
Was This Great Woman Murdered 1898

Mahala Mullins, a noted moonshiner of Hancock County, is dead, aged 75.  She was the mother of 18 children and weighed 550 pounds.  It is reported that she was poisoned by envious makers of illicit whiskey.  She had been arrested frequently but the officers could not remove her on account of her size and the isolated location of her home.
Mahala Mullins   1898

" though these people principally reside in Robeson county there are settlements of them in both the Carolinas and in East Tennessee, where they are known as Melungeans, a corruption of the French Melange, or mixed, a description of them given by the early French settlers.
Denver Evening Post - 1899


An edict has been issued by the Malungeon Indians, who live in the mountains of Hancock county, Tenn., sixty miles or more from Middlesboro, giving the maidens of the tribe the right to choose their husbands from the pale-faces.  Formerly this was a violation of one of the sacred laws of the tribe and the girl that married a white mans was banished from Indians society.
Can Wed Palefaces  1900

They had been distillers back in South Carolina and some of the earliest stills in Tennesse were brought by their ancestors--over the mountains from their original settlement. they killed revenue officers just as the other mountaineers did, for disturbing their stills. Of late years, however, the revenue men have been so persistent in the work of destroying the illicit traffic that the Malungeons have sold but small quantities of the whiskey openly.
The Melungeons of Tennessee and Their Portuguese Ancestry 1900

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
Descendant of Missing Colony 1901  (Hiram Revels)

North Carolina's Croatans, who claim to be descendants pf Raleigh's lost colony are not the only peculiar people among the red inhabitants of theseUnited States. The claim is not new it has been more or less exploited these thirty years, along with that of the still more curious Melungeons of East Tennessee.
Odds Thing About Indians 1901

All along the southern coast there are scattered here and there bands of curious people, whose appearance, color,
and hair seem to indicate a cross or mixture of the Indian, the white, and the negro. Such, for example, are the Pamunkeys of Virginia, the Croatan Indians of the Carolinas, the Malungeons of Tennessee
James Mooney Investigates Early Portugueses Settlements  1902

I have lived here at the base of Newman's Ridge, Blackwater, being on the opposite side, for the last 71 years and well know the history of these people on Newman's Ridge and Blackwater enquired about as Melungeons. These people were friendly to the Cherokees who came west with the white imigration from New River and Cumberland, Virginia, about the year 1790...The name Melungeon was given them on account of their color.
The Melungeons   1903  (Lewis Jarvis)


T WOULDN'T 'a' keered so I much ef you had 'a' told me. The very idy of you weddin' a gal out o' that thar Melungeon tribe, an' fetchin' her home hyer without namin' a word to me! Hit'll kill me! .......  Such was the home-coming of Pheenie Gaither, Gordon Hightower's bride from over beyond the Far Cove. The big fellow stood, half-smiling, half-abashed, attempting to explain to his vixenish little mother that, while he and Pheenie had kept company ever since he went into the Far Cove neighborhood six months back to haul saw- logs, they did not mean to wed so soon, but that her people were moving to Texas. Pheenie herself looked quietly on at the antics of her mother-in-law. She was of outlandish blood—the Melungeons claim to be of Portuguese descent, a claim which seems warranted by the beautiful dark eyes, graceful movements, slim, finely-formed hands and feet among them, and which, in a measure, sets them apart from the other mountaineers.
Out of Nazareth - A Melungeon Love Story - 1906

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. Temn. are found the so-called "Melungeons" (probably from French melangi', 'mixed') or "Portuguese," apparently an offshoot from the Croatan proper
Croatan Indians  1907

On Newman's ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee, overlooking the beautiful Clinch River Valley, lives one of the most mysterios people in America.  Through their Anglo-Saxon neighbors or through writers of romance the name "Malungeon" has been given them, a name that the better element resents.  They resemble in feature the Cherokee Indians, and yet have a strong, Caucasian cast of countenance that makes their claim to Portuguese descent seem probable.
Peculiar Peoples In America  1907

Your letter of yesterday received. I happen to have the information you seek. The Nashville American of  June 26, 1910 (since consolidated with the Nashville Tennessean) published a paper of about 10 pages in celebration of its 98th anniversary and in this paper is the true story of a small number of people to be found in a few counties of East Tennessee, as in other sections of the Appalachian region, called Melungeons or Malungeons. I have traveled horse-back before, during and since the Civil War, in the counties where these people live, and have seen them in their cabin homes and from information received independently of what Judge Shepherd says, I am satisfled his statement is to be relied upon.
The Remnant of an Indian Race  1911


There are scattered among them, too, queer tribes of mixt-breed creatures like the gipsy-like 'Melungians' (the spelling is uncertain), who are to be found in the region of Virginia and North Carolina adjoining this very county of Carroll
A Defense of the Mountaineer - 1912

The origin of these peculiar people is an unsolved mystery, although many have tried to trace their ancestry back to some definite race or locality. Some say that they are the remnant of Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colony and others that they are the descendents of some ancient colony of refugees fro Venice, Servia, or Portugal. Some of the Melungeons themselves claim such an origin.
The Melungeons  1912

I have been trying for some weeks to get some information as to who or what  the MELUNGEONS were. This forced me to write to different parts of the State, and to examine old newspaper files. At last I learned that they are a
queer race of people living in the mountains of East Tennessee, South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky – not one colony but several.
Matters and Things   1912

They have lived their simple pastoral life and for more than a hundred years so quietly and obscurely that their name is unknown to many.” They are the Melungeons -their very name is a corruption of some fooreign word unknown to them or to the few have given them any study. They have had no poet or seer to preserve their history. The Melungeons have a tradition of a Portuguese ship mutiny, with the successful mutineer beaching the vessel on the North Carolina coast, then their retreat towards the mountains.
The Melungeons   1912   Eliza  Heiskell

A curious race of people, who called themselves Malungeons. were among the original Franklanders. They were supposed to be of Moorish descent. They affiliated neither with whites nor blacks, were never classed with Indians or negroes, and claimed to be Portuguese.
State of Franklin  1913

There is a queer offshoot of the Croatan known as "Malungeons," in South Carolina, who went there from this state ; another the "Redbones," of Tennessee. Mr. Mooney has made a careful study of both of these branches also.
North Carolina Indians  1916

It is remarkable that Tennessee history is silent on the subject since by the census taken in 1795 the Melungeons must have been numbered with the 973 “free person” other than the whites. There could hardly have been so many free negroes within the bounds of the present state only about twenty-five years after the first settlement. That of itself should have received notice. Moreover, the Melungeons’ votes, as well as those of the free negroes, had something to do with the politicians making such a radical change in the constitution of 1834.
The Melungeons of East Tennessee  1923

In the mountains of East Tennessee live a distinct race of people, a race as different from all others on the Western Hemisphere as the negro is different from the American Indian. Moreover this species of the human family is found nowhere else in America. It is the sinister race of the Melungeons, a mysterious race, few in numbers, whose origin is open to speculation, historians say. For many years they were thought to be Indians or a mixture of Indians and white people, whence probably originated their name, Melungeon, which means a mixture, according to the view held by those who have studied them.
Distinct Race of People  1923


Hancock was one of the first counties in the state to establish a system of public schools, for which its people have always responded generously, says the early history of the county written by the officials in the state division of history. This is the county where the large majority of the Melungeons, a mysterious and sinister race of dark-skinned people whose origin has never been definitely determined, dwell.
Hancock County Settled by People From Virginia and North Carolina   1923

"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?" .
What Do You Know About The Melungeons 1924

The Melungeons, a race of people said to be living in the mountains of east Tennessee, are supposed to be an offshoot of the so-called "Croatan Indians" of North Carolina.
People of Mixed Blood   1927


<>The Melungeons of East Tennessee are not a mixed race.  They are descendants of some ancient Phoenicians who removed from Carthage to a place near Camden, South Carolina and from there to Hancock County, Tennessee.  They have no facial resemblance to Indians or Negroes.  They have none of the characteristics of either negroes or Indians.  The fact is there is no negroid or Indian blood, but a pure distinct race.
Phoenicians 1928  J. Patton Gibson

Now the Melungeons. When the settlers came into the mountains of what is today East Tennessee they found a curious tribe of people there. They were obviously not Nordics as the settlers were. Neither did they seem to be Latins. They had no negroid characteristics though they were dark and swarthy and they certainly were not of Indian descent.
Little Journeys in Americann 1929

Melungeons are a distinct race of people living in the mountains of eastern Tennessee. They are about the color of mulattoes but have straight hair.
 Nevada State Journal ~Small Item ~ 1935

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;
A Romance of the Melungeons 1936

This distinct race of people living in eastern Tennessee are said to be direct descendants of the Aztecs.
How It Began 1936

There is little authentic knowledge of the Melungeons, a people found in certain parts of Tennessee and Virginia. They are about the same color as mulattoes with no other discernible Negro traits. According to their own tradition they are of Moorish descent, probably descendants of the ancient Phoenicians. They settled in Portugal and later crossed the Atlantic before the Revolutionary war, settling in South Carolina, due to discriminatory taxes and ostracism they emigrated in a body and settled in Hancock County, Tennessee.
Answers to Questions 1939

He had heard his father use the word “Melungeons.”  His father had come from old “James county,” now a part of Hamilton–they were from Rhea county orginally, or perhaps McMinn.  The tradition was that the Goins family had come to Tennessee from Virginia–but of that he was not sure.   
Ancestry of Melungeon Ferry Pilot 1941 - Arthur Goins 

 I have read the article headed “Ancestry of Melungeon Ferry Pilot" printed in the Daily Times of Feb. 10.  It was very interesting to me.  My knowledge of the Melungeon race is limited.  They did come from Phoenicia, when Carthage fell to the Romans, and settled in North Carolina.  I once looked up this history when I wrote an article for the Times about the Melungeons along the Foothills of Walden’s Ridge
The Melungeon Race  1941


I bought vegetables and eggs from a Melungeon woman.  She was intelligent and of rather pleasing personality.  Her account of the history of her people was that the were descended from Portuguese sailors who, fleeing from an enemy. Left their boats and escaped into the mountains of North Carolina.
Melungeons Recalled  1941

One tribe of Indians and a community of mixed breed Indians were unmolested by the whites.These were the Uchees or Emassees, kinsman of the Seminoles or Creeks, who lived at the mouth of the Emassee or O'Mussee or Mercer creek near Columbia, and the Malunjins, a mixed breed community residing some three to six miles northeast of Dothan toward Webb even as late as 1865.
The Emassees and Malunjins  1942

Surrounded by mystery and fantastic legends, the Malungeons live on Newman’s Ridge, deep in the Tennessee mountains. The story of a colony whose background is lost in antiquity...... About the people of Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater Swamp just one fact is indisputable: There are such strange people. Beyond that, fact gives way to legendary mystery, and written history is supplanted by garbled stories told a long time ago and half forgotten. .
Sons of the Legend 1947

On Newman's ridge in Northeastern Tennesee live an unknown people. Only one fact about them is undisputable, that they are strange people.  From there fact turns to legend. These people are called Malungeons. their characteristics are like those of the Indian in many ways -- an olive colored skin, straight black hair, small hands and feet, and high cheek bones.
Mysterious People 1947


Uncle Wash Osborne of Copper Ridge near Dungannon in Scott County gave me more information about the Melungeons than anyone else. Uncle Wash’s full name is George Washington Osborne.

From what I gathered from Uncle Wash, the Melungeons started coming to Wise and Scott Counties about 1820. These people came in about equal numbers from Kentucky from Newmans’ Ridge and lower end of Lee County. A few came from North Carolina.
Genealogical History of the Melungeons -1947



Who are the Melungeons—the “mystery race” tucked away between giant ridges of East Tennessee mountains long before the first white explorer arrived? What exotic tale of shipwreck or mutiny lies in the dark eyes of the red-brown people already in Hancock County before Daniel Boone cut a trail? What story of explorers’ strayed from DeSoto’s party 400 years ago or of Portuguese sailors stranded on the North Carolina coast stares out in their steady gaze?
 The Mystery of the Melungeons 1964

But whatever their origin, the group eventually settled in Hancock County, along Newman’s Ridge and in settlements known as Blackwater, Snake Hollow and Vardy. There is evidence that two patriarchs of the clan lived on the ridge before 1790. Far from being savages, their acquiring of land, making wills, owning slaves and securing marriage license, paying taxes are on record in Rogersville in various historical documents.
The Melungeons Are Coming Out in the Open 1968


When the cold season comes, the wind bites and howls along Newman's Ridge in east Tennessee, nudging the snow across silent, ancient graveyards and against sturdy cabins fashioned from monstrous hand hewn poplar logs. Only the wind knows the origin of the dark-complexioned and handsome people who settled on the ridge.
The Mystery of Newman's Ridge 1970

It has been nearly a century since the first Melungeons walked out of the hills around Sneedville and mingled with the white farm families of the Clinch River Valley in East Tennessee. Now only a few descendants of the swarthy mountaineers continue to live high up on the brow of Newman’s Ridge or in the shadowy pocket of Snake Hollow. Mysterious Hill Folk Vanishing 1971

Melungeons have been angered for almost two centuries about two things: Strangers who call them by that name, so the Melungeons think, allude to "mixture" as having Negro blood. And writers of sensational Melungeon stories at times have ridiculed a sensitive, peaceful people.
Melungeon Ways Are Passing 1972 


The Melungeon, who called their leaders "king" instead of "chief," intermarried with the Cherokee Indians and were considered a branch of the tribe. Micajah Bunch was part Melungeon and part Cherokee
Micajah Bunch1991

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