Saturday, April 13, 2013

The "Lungeons" of Baxter County, Arkansas

From History of Baxter County, Arkansas
by Mary Ann Messick
Chapter II; Indian Days and Early Settlers
p. 4. In this chapter, the author lists several Indian tribes that at one time lived in Baxter County, and lists several that are not tribes at all. Others NEVER lived in Baxter County, or if they did it was long before contact with Europeans. Some tribes that were there are Osage, Delaware, Shawnee, Kickapoo, and Cherokee, the last four arriving early in the 19th century. And she does list them.
p. 5. She mentions that while Arkansas was still claimed by Spain, the Spanish encouraged the displaced American Tribes to settle on their lands in Missouri and Arkansas. She speaks of the Cherokees living along the White River. Now these displaced tribes settled on what the Osages had considered their hunting grounds, and so warfare erupted between them and the emigrant tribes. After a few years this became American soil. She speaks of a Major Jacob Wolfe who in 1810 established a Trading Post and Indian Agency in Baxter County, and is called the father of Baxter County.
p. 6. Now we come to the pages that mention the “Lungeons”. She says “ . . . another Jacob came up White River in search of fortune and adventure. He was a son of Old Erin (Ireland), lately of McMinnville, Tennessee. He and a man named McDonald, four slaves, and four other men poled a flat boat up White River until they found a spot to their liking. The exact spot of their first trading post has been lost.” Then the author states “in the unpublished manuscript of my late father, Herbert A. Messick, he writes this concerning his great grandfather Herbert A. Mooney . . .”
          So we now know the origin of this source. A man was telling family stories, passed down from earlier generations.
In the next paragraph she continues; “By the fall they had constructed one log building, for the store and two cabins for living quarters. The four men who had come with Mooney were men of Mystery, referred to by old timers who knew of them as “Lungeons”. They were neither Negro nor Indian and in later years Jacob Mooney was ostracized for living with these “foreigners.”
I so wish the author had given her father’s exact words from his unpublished manuscript. One can easily twist the meaning by changing a word or two, something the person paraphrased that can be taken in a different light than intended. She places the word “foreigner” in parenthesis. She assumes them of Mediterranean heritage, saying; “Could these men have been Melungeons – the mysterious people of the hills of Tennessee who have recently been identified as being Mediterranean’s possibly of Jewish lineage, and who lived in America prior to Columbus’s discovery of the “New World”? Of course to suggest they came to American before Columbus is now considered silly, but once upon a time wild theories were often considered possible. Today thank God, we know better.
She continues with Mooney and McDonald (one of the items they took with them to Arkansas was a Whiskey still – moonshine is also indigenous to Arkansas) creating their own whiskeys and wines from local ingredients. They soon returning to Tennessee. Both men later joined Ol’ Hickory (Andrew Jackson) during the War of 1812, serving near New Orleans. She says that after nine years, Mooney returned to Arkansas with a wife and four children.
At the bottom of page 4, she speaks of Mooney’s return to a place now called “Mooney’s Landing”. She mentions going up White River to a place called “Bates Town”. That’s got to be Batesville, in Independence County. In the record of my William Wayland, it mentions him being an overseer to a road in 1819 going to White River --
            Friday, November 26, 1819, William Wayland is appointed overseer of the second road of said township . . . [note: it is talking about Strawberry River Township -- about 20 miles from Batesville. Batesville is on the banks of the White River]. . .
         Tuesday, January 15th, 1822 -- P 13, Samuel Crow is appointed overseer of the road leading from Donaldsvile to White River [note: there is no Donaldsville in that area -- must have been a short lived community] . . . in place of William Wayland. . . . 
          Since the events of this chapter of that book occurred in 1810, and it says he was gone 9 years, it seems to be saying he returned to Batesville about 1819 as well. So my William Wayland and this Jacob Mooney might well have bumped into one another near White River, near Batesville, but who can say?
p. 7. Things get even more interesting. She says “ . . . Wolfe had performed several weddings for Mooney’s men and Quapaw Indian maidens.” Well, four of Mooney’s men were “Lungeons”. Had these “Lungeon” men married into the Quapaw Tribe? The Quapaw are a small indigenous Arkansas tribe north of the Caddo, west of the Chickasaw, and south of the Osage. They now reside in Northeastern Oklahoma.
Here is the second reference she makes to the “Lungeons”. She says “Mooney continued to commute between his wife in Tennessee and his trading post in Arkansas until his death in 1832. By 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 other Indians. . . . later, Jacob Mooney had lived near the Whiteville Church, and is buried there. When the cemetery was fenced, Mooney’s grave and the graves of the mixed bloods who lived with him were left outside.”
Interesting it says the families of the Lungen men moved west with the other Indians. Are the "Lungens" the mixed bloods whose graves were left outside the fenced in cemetery? It sounds as if these Lungeon med had married those Quapaw women, and their descndants moved west with them. It might be interesting to research Quapaw genealogy. As I often discover however, about 90 precent of my research is NOT imediately productive, so I won't get my hopes up . . .

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