Saturday, April 20, 2013

Melungeons, a Multiethnic Population

The Huffington Post article is a little misleading (link above). They seemed to gloat a little that only African American and Caucasian DNA was reported, except for the small amout of American Indian DNA of a single family. Their report was forgot to research the records of the Eastern Siouan/Catawba and related tribes, and of the history of these “extinct” Eastern Siouan tribes. The best book I have seen on this topic is “The Indians’ New World – Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact Through the Era of Removal” by James H. Merrell, W. W. Norton and Company, © 1989 Univ. of North Carolina Press. I hope to cover more of this book as time goes on.
Huffington Post reported --
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For years, varied and sometimes wild claims have been made about the origins of a group of dark-skinned Appalachian residents once known derisively as the Melungeons. Some speculated they were descended from Portuguese explorers, or perhaps from Turkish slaves or Gypsies.
Now a new DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy attempts to separate truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking. The study found the truth to be somewhat less exotic: Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.
"There were a whole lot of people upset by this study," lead researcher Roberta Estes said. "They just knew they were Portuguese, or Native American."
But reading the article found at the link below – there is no real denial of American Indian ancestry, while there report DOES deny any Portuguese ancestry.
At the website below is an amazing article, that pretty much confirms things that I have been saying for many, many years.

Melungeons, A Multiethnic Population
Roberta J. Estes, Jack H. Goins, Penny Ferguson, Janet Lewis Crain
Melungeon is a term applied historically to a group of persons, probably multiethnic, found primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties, Tennessee, and in adjoining southern Lee County, Virginia.  In this article we define the Melungeon population study group, then review the evidence from historical sources and DNA testing--Y-chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA--to gain insight into the origin of this mysterious group. . . .
Formation of Melungeon DNA Project
The Core Melungeon DNA Project was formed at Family Tree DNA in July of 2005[3] with the goal of testing the Y-line and mitochondrial DNA of families identified as Melungeon.  The first step was to define which families were Melungeon and were eligible to be included. 
The popular press has extended the definition of Melungeon dramatically.  The project administrators researched various records to determine where the label of Melungeon was actually applied, and to whom.  They found the word first recorded in 1810 and used for the next 100 years or so, primarily in Hawkins and Hancock Counties in Tennessee, and slightly into neighboring counties where the Melungeon family community reached over county and state boundaries into Claiborne County, Tennessee, and Lee, Scott and Russell Counties in Virginia.  The project was subsequently broken into Y-line and mitochondrial DNA projects, and in 2010, a Melungeon Family project was added with the advent of the Family Finder product.
Parts of this paper seem to discuss parts of our family. The first two records of the word Melungeon, might have  referred to our family. From fhe first record, found in Baxter County, Arkansas, we have a reference to Batesville, Arkansas, a town only 20 miles from the hometown of our ancestor, and both might have been there in 1819, when my ancestor was named overseer to that place, and Jacob Mooney was said to go through Batesville in 1819. The second record of the Melungoens, was from the Minutes of Stony Creek Primitive Church. Our same Wayland’s nmaees are all over those minutes. From the study, we have quoted the following below --
First Records of Melungeon
The first recorded instance of any word resembling Melungeon is found surrounding an 1810 event in Arkansas.  In 1972, Baxter County, Arkansas published a Centennial edition of its history. In it they describe a Tennessean, Jacob Mooney, along with Jacob Wolf, reportedly of Hawkins County, Tn.,[4] who made numerous incursions into Arkansas for the purpose of trading livestock, etc.  The following passage describes Mooney's first trek to Baxter County in 1810.  
"The four men who had come with Mooney were men of Mystery, referred to by oldtimers who knew of them as "Lungeons." They were neither Negro or Indian and in later years Jacob Mooney was ostracized for living with these "foreigners" the time he moved to Arkansas for good, his former slaves and the "lungeon" men had died and most of their families had moved west with the Indians."[5]
The next written record of Melungeons is found in Russell County, Virginia in the Stony Creek[6] church minutes in 1813[7] when a reference was made to “harboring them Melungins.”[8]  From that point forward in time, we access historical documents to determine which families were originally considered to be Melungeon. 
My direct line DID MOVE to Indian Territory, Oklahoma, from Arkansas. And we were attending that church in SW Virginia in 1813, when the reference to the “them Melungins” was made from its minutes. So I am very interested in the study of the Melungins.
My family story says we DO HAVE mixed Indian blood. My family story NEVER MENTIONS ANY Portuguese blood – NEVER! I do have an uncle who I recall saying something to me when I was a child. I was curious about our ancestry and I remember Uncle Andrew saying “Be careful. You might not like what you find.” Now we were never ashamed about having Indian blood, I don’t think – well, some of might have been. But to have Negro blood would have been taboo back then. He said this when I was a child, probably in the later part of the 1950s or the 1960s. I think this is what he was referring to. My autosomal DNA test did say we also had some sub-Sahara African ancestry.
I suspect we have NO reference to the Portuguese simply because we were living in a part of Arkansas where there was no immediate threat of being enslaved in the mid 19th century, as was the case in Eastern Tennessee and other places they wre termed “Portuguese”. Those people might have been termed runaway slaves, and they wanted to combat those accusations by saying their ancestors were Portuguese, not Black! My family had successfully assimilated – theirs had not.
They refer also to Lewis Jarvis article where he mentions the surnames of several Melungeon families, including “others not remembered” who have moved away from that place. That could include my Wayland’s. We did move away.
They add, still quoting Jarvis; "They settled here in 1804, possibly about the year 1795", obtained land grants and "were the friendly Indians who came with the whites as they moved west.  They came from Cumberland County and New River, Va., stopping at various points west of the Blue Ridge. 
Som of them stopped on Stony Creek, Scott County, Virginia, where Stony Creek runs into Clinch River.  The white immigrants with the friendly Indians erected a fort on the bank of a river and called it Fort Blackmore[23] and here yet many of these friendly Indians live in the mountains of Stony Creek, but they have married among the whites until the race has almost become extinct.  A few of the half bloods may be found - none darker - but they still retain the name of Collins and Gibson, &c.  From here they came to Newman's Ridge and Blackwater and many of them are here yet; but the amalgamations of the whites and Indians has about washed the red tawny from their appearance, the white faces predominating, so now you can scarcely find one of the original Indians; a few half-bloods and quarter-bloods balance white or past the third generation." 
Well the brother of the founder of Fort Blackmore, Joseph Blackmore, purchased land at Castlewood, near where Russell, Wise, and Scott counties come together. He was assignee of Nathaniel Gist! Not the famous Nathaniel Gist, but his first cousin, who lived many years in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Both DNA testing and genealogical records say that I am a direct his direct descentant. My Harriet Gist married David Brown, and their daughter Josephine Brown married married Jeffrey Richey, son of Sarah Ann Wayland, in Arkansas in 1872.
The report also tells us why they would NOT be Portuguese, yet claim Portuguese heritage. It says –
“If the Melungeons were not Portuguese, why would they have said that they were?  The answer to this question may be at least partially found in the 1834 Tennessee constitutional amendment, which went into effect in 1835, and meant significant changes for those citizens designated as "free persons of color."
 “Every free white man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the county wherein he may offer his vote, six months next preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for members of the general Assembly, and other civil officers, for the county or district in which he resides: provided, that no person shall be disqualified from voting in any election on account of color, who is now by the laws of this State, a competent witness in a court of Justice against a white man. All free men of color, shall be exempt from military duty in time of peace, and also from paying a free poll tax.”
          So we know why they said they were Portuguese in Tennessee, but not in Arkansas. The report continues --
          In October 1705 in Virginia, the following act was passed;
"Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grand child, or great grand child, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto."
This was followed by:
"That all male persons, of the age of sixteen years, and upwards, and all negro, mulatto, and Indian women, of the age of sixteen years, and upwards, not being free, shall be, and are hereby declared to be tithable, or chargeable." . . .
In Virginia in 1691, 1705 and 1753 and in North Carolina in 1715 and again in 1741, intermarriage was banned between whites and negroes, mulattoes or Indians, which obviously had the effect of encouraging intermarriage between blacks and Indians.  Another ban specifically against white-Indian intermarriage was found in Tennessee in 1821, where most states only banned black/white marriages.[29]  Dr. Ariela Gross contends that the "vanishing Indian" was a result in this timeframe of the reclassification to mulatto and negro and follows several examples forward through time.  The 1705 Virginia statue that declared that a Mulatto is "a child of an Indian" as well as "the child, grandchild, or great-grandchild of a negro" was not modified until 1785 when a "colored person" was defined as all persons with "one fourth-or more negro blood" and only those with "no negro blood" were allowed to be classified as Indians.
Portuguese was considered white, although Portuguese were expected to look "dark", having Moorish blood.  Portuguese was claimed in other locations as well, possibly also to mask either Indian or negro heritage.[30]  DeMarce suggests that an obvious explanation is the perpetual wish for non-African ancestry, which had led to a plethora of myths.[31]  While Caucasians of Mediterranean descent were rare in British North America, they were counted as white and were, if willing to be naturalized and become Protestant, not subject to the legal disabilities imposed upon free mulattoes and Indians.
          The report then spends a lot of the report discussing about a dozen court cases where they had to prove they were not Negro. Portuguese were considered Caucasian, but were expected to be dark complected because of 800 years of Moorish rule ober their homeland, so they claimed they were Portuguese.
          Since we suspect our Keziah Wayland was a daughter of Thomas Gibson, I am interested in what the report ways about the Gibson’s. The DNA results for some Gibson’s came back African. Maybe that is OUR ancestor? I don’t know, but it is possible. Here is what the report ays about the Gibson’s and the part of their family that has an African origin:
          E1b1a – Ivory Coast, Guyana, Sierre Leone
          The report asks the question – Were the Melungeons? It answers this question in the following manner;
If the Melungeons carried Portuguese ancestry, it is not from any of the Y chromosomal lines that have been tested.  Denham does not appear to be Portuguese.  There is oral history to support the Portuguese claim, but no historical documents or genetic evidence have been discovered to prove Portuguese heritage for any of these families.”
As for African ancestry, they say;
Of the eight African Melungeon lines, all have Haplotree Matches along the slave and gold coasts . . .” Of the eight African Melungeon lines, all have Haplotree Matches along the slave and gold coasts. . .”  This is the same region of African mentioned above, as the origin of some of the Gibson’s.
The report also asks about the possibility of having Native American origins for the to the Melungeon families. It sasks;
Do the Melungeons have Native American Ancestry?
Then proceeds;
“Of the 15 primary Melungeon core surnames or their ancestral surnames, only one, Sizemore, has genetic Native ancestry on the paternal Y-line.  There is no genetic Native heritage on the maternal, mitochondrial lines.  One family, Riddle, has documented Native heritage in historical records, but does not carry that heritage through the Y-line.
How do we resolve the pervasive oral history of Native heritage with the overwhelming African and European haplogroups?
The social customs most dramatically affecting the eastern Indian populations of Virginia and North Carolina were the Native customs of hospitality which included providing a male traveler (there were few if any female travelers in the back country) with a bedmate for the night, trader marriages, Indian slavery practices and adoptions.[243]”.
Considering the Lumber, who are in reality are mixed with the the Pee Dee, Cheraw, and other Eastern Siouan groups,  most likely, the report says;
“ Given the known migration patterns of some of the Melungeon families to North and South Carolina, in particular, the Bertie County (NC) Tuscarora area (Gibson and Bunch) and the Pee Dee River area (Gibson, Collins, Bunch, Sizemore, Goins and Bolton) where other known Natives were living, it certainly would not be surprising to discover that some of the Lumbee and the Melungeon families share a common heritage.”
So several Lumbee Indian surnames are identical to the surnames of the Melungeons. Since my Nevil Wayland Sr’s wife is considered to have been a Gibson, and since he served in the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, this is of interest to me. Now we can not prove she was a Gibson, but I have tried to disprove it as well, and have found nothing to prove she was NOT a Gibson either. All we have is evidence, but not enough evidence to qualify as proof.
The report goes on to say there are NO Jewish, Middle Eastern, of Gypsy markers amongst the Melungeons, either.
There are still those who claim the Melungeons were part Cherokee. This report accurately states;
“There are no known Cherokee who lived on Newman's Ridge.  The Cherokee Nation was significantly further south prior to removal in 1835 . . .”
This is a wonderful report, with both observation and empirical data agreeing to say the Melungeons are NOT Portuguese, and NOT Cherokee. But they are sub-Sahara African, Caucasian, and there is some small admixture of American Indian as well.

1 comment:

  1. Great read thanks for all your hard work. Any idea on the Sizemores and what tribe they might have belonged to?