Thursday, May 23, 2013





By Gabe Gabehardt

What? You don't understand the four "C's," and why should you?  I agree, although we will still use it here, but to add some clarity, it stands for the "Chickasaw/Choctaw Citizenship Court."  I will however, further condense it to simply the "CC" with the understanding that we are speaking of the combined Chickasaw/Choctaw Court of the day.

So stand by, while I dig up all my records.  We will begin this series with what the Dawes Rolls were and how they affected our families in the late 1800's.  I will reproduce court records and sworn documents including cross examinations by the CC of a few of Jeremiah Goins' children.

Stay tuned............

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


By Gary J. Gabehart,

The following were talking points at the MHA 12th Union Meeting in Harogate, Tennessee.

JUNE 27TH & 28TH, 2008

Title: Drakes, Goins and Others. The reality of then and now -- Mulatto, Free People of Color, Redbones and Melungeons. Words for we really don't know!

1893 letter of Albert Rigmaiden to Furman reviewed.

Presented By Gary J. Gabehart[1]

If you are tracking your family history and swearing by census reports and observations of enumerators, scribe’s and poorly paid government workers who may have had a bias, you may find yourself in the wrong racial or ethnic hallway. Not everything in print is the truth.

In recent history, last twenty years or so, it has become fashionable to be of North American Indian Blood, African Blood and of late, even Turkish Blood.

Who’s who when it comes to racial makeup is on everyone’s mind. For ones ancestors to have been Redbone, Free Black, Melungeon, Mulatto, Free Person of Color, African or Colored Person can be a plus for some and of negative connotations for others.

The terms mentioned are generally meant to be “of mixed blood,” with of course; the exception of African, yet being African has its problems. Would you be West African, East African or South African or other African? See, without DNA testing, it is difficult.

The question I ask is, if “Free People of Color” were really African or mixed African, why were they not called mixed African?

If Redbone was another term for African Blood, why were they not called Black bone? Melungeon seems the same, why were they called Melungeon and not mixed African? Of course, the term Melungeon may have come from the French word Melange or the now archaic word Malengin [2], but I would not agree to argue the point.

The fact of the matter is (call it an opinion if you must) Redbones, Melungeons, and Free People of color were not tri-racial peoples (European, African and Indian) as a whole. If anything, they were Multi-ethnic people, and some were and some were not. In other words, not all held African Blood or Indian Blood, but I expect all carried European or Middle Eastern genes.

In Louisiana, where the Redbone issue is confronted, census records indicate three basic colors - White, African (slaves) and people of color or “free people of Color.[3] Indians, as in other areas of the country, at the that time were not classified, but often were included in the FPC class.

I maintain that “people of color,” in general, contained other than Freed Slaves, Creoles and actually contained “other” classifications. Some of these folks were not White, not Black or never slaved, and it became “we just cannot tell, so we will put them in the “other” coffee can of racial classification or colorization,” which happened to be FPC.

Most of the Louisiana Redbone families were listed at one time or the other as Free People of Color (FPC), and obviously, you could be viewed as Redbone by marriage or association bringing this to a Social, Economic Level, as well as, a colorization issue.

Same thing happened to Free People of Color. FPC sought out people of their own color upon arriving in town. They certainly were not going to be accepted by the White people in power and of status – that’s what I mean about Social, Economic Levels. FPC sought out like people and perhaps became clannish. Redbones sought out like peoples and ended up forming enclaves of what was called clannish peoples.

You get my point so I’m going to move on to my 5th and 4th great grandfathers, John Aaron Drake, Sr., and John Aaron Drake, Jr. First, to give you some background on this family, John Aaron Drake, Sr., was born about 1750 in Elizabeth Virginia and died about 1813 in St. Martinsville, Louisiana. Drake, Sr. was married to an Indian lady by the name of Elizabeth Charity Smith Chrieves. She was born about 1752 in Elizabeth, Virginia and died 10 Apr 1815. It is believed they had three children including John Aaron Drake, Jr.

Here is where it becomes interesting. Drake, Jr., along with his siblings, were known as “Free Mulatto’s” while their father was known as a White man. Now back in Virginia, a clarification of the laws and the definition of a Mulatto had been passed in October of 1705.[4] This statue said the following: “And for clearing all manner of doubts which hereafter may happen to arise upon the construction of this act, or any other act, who shall be accounted a mulatto, Be it enacted and declared, and it is hereby enacted and declared, That the child of an Indian and the child, grandchild, or great grandchild, of a negro shall be deemed, accounted, held and taken to be a mulatto." The term Mulatto, with respect to an Indian child, pretty much remained the same until it was modified again in 1866.[5]

On 18 May of 1800, John Aaron Drake, Jr. B. abt 1776, d. abt. 1828, marries Rosalie Abshire b. 15 Jan 1762 d, abt.1871, at Attakapas Post, Louisiana. Since John Jr. is known to be a free Mulatto, the church has to do an investigation to prove he is the child of an Indian and a White Man. This was necessary to marry within the Church.

Now I had some family members who when they saw the word "Mulatto" decided that we “had Black Blood” in the family. Why did they think that? They had not realized that the word had morphed over the ages and had meant something else back in the 18th & 19th century. They were headed down the Black hallway in search of their roots.

Redbone? At best a Multi-ethnic group, not of a tri-racial isolate. Not everyone in this group – Redbones – were the same when it came to National Origin. There were some mixed Indian, Asian Indians, Sub-Saharan, Middle Eastern, English, Scots, French – you name it.

One prominent name among the Redbone was Goin[g]s, another Ashworth. Ever heard of the Ashworth Act in Texas?[6] Let me tell ya! When the Ashworth’s left Louisiana they were called “Free People of Color” or Redbones. When they arrived in Texas they were called “Free Blacks.” After fighting in the Texas revolution, they were told that all Free Blacks had to leave Texas. To make a long story short, friends in government had an Act passed that allowed the Ashworth’s and others to stay in Texas.

Now for the rest of the story. Very recently I received an email from an Ashworth family member who had encouraged a male Ashworth to have his DNA tested. This is the text from that email:

“Our DNA was strongly from Armenia and Romania – Minimal amount of African and maybe a little more Native – it’s as if I don’t know who I am anymore. Maybe my DNA results answer the question about the ‘dark’ Ashworth’s with the straight hair. But they are also the Ashworth’s who lost their land in Texas along with their Nelson relatives for being ‘free black.’”

Need I say more? DNA is unraveling everything that we have thought in the past. Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana, parents were immigrants from the State of Punjab, North India. According to the US Census, there are about 10,000 South Asians or Asian Indians living in Louisiana.

I am not going to get into the Melungeon issues as there are far more experts on Melungeons here today, and having focused mainly on my Indian heritage and my Redbone relations, I am not the Melungeon expert.

So I’m going to close by taking a look at the Albert Rigmaiden[7] letter to Furman written in 1892-93. By the way, Albert Rigmaiden is my 2nd cousin, 5 times removed.

[1] Formerly with American Airlines, Commercial Airline pilot - Sundance Airways, President of Sundance Airways, Charter Pilot and Flight instructor, Certifications AMSEL-CFI-II, 9,500 hours or so.

Former Field Coordinator, Grant funded Study “Au Su Salud,” (Eagle Pass & Del Rio, Texas) University of Texas Health Science Center, Department of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, San Antonio, Texas.

Former Field Coordinator, Grant funded Study “Hispanic Women’s Health,”
University of Texas Health Science Center, Department of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology, San Antonio, Texas.

Former Field Coordinator, Texas legislature funded Study “Population living near Uranium mining areas,” Pana Maria, Hobson, Falls City and Kenedy, Texas, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Department of Community Health & Preventative Medicine, Division of Environmental Toxicology, Dr. Wm. Au.

Indian Activist, shut down streets in front of the Alamo out of respect of Alamo Graveyard; Former President San Antonio Council Native Americans; Former Board Member Save Texas Cemeteries; Current President Inter-Tribal Council American Indians; Board Member Redbone Heritage Foundation.

Writes for various Blogs. 2nd cousin of Albert Rigmaiden, Great Grandson of Jeremiah Goins and the John Aaron Drakes of Virginia and Louisiana. Certified Chickasaw Indian with relations in Choctaw, Cherokee (Chief John Ross), Kiowa Nations and an unknown tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy.

[2] The word Malengin as used by Edmund Spensor in his poem The Faerie Queenie to indicate an evil person or trickster.

[3] Frank Sweet, Two Color Lines, Three Endogamous Groups

[4] Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large, vol. 3, pp. 229-235. October 1705-CHAP. IV.

[5] From 1705 until 1866 the only legal definition applying to mixed Native Americans (excepting those having one-fourth or more African ancestry) was that of 1705.

[6] Ashworth Act # 13, BY Gary J. Gabehart,

[7] Albert Rigmaiden, Treasurer of Calcasieu Parish


Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


By Gary J. Gabehart,

The very important issue with the Furman/ Rigmaiden letter is that the people known as Redbone were considered, even in those days, to be separate people from White's or Blacks.
Newspaper articles of the day referred to rioting Redbones -- not rioting Indians, Blacks or Whites -- it was Redbones!

Redbones lived apart from White and Black society in Louisiana within a number of small to medium enclaves -- Starks, Sulphur, Pitkin, Oakdale, Bearhead Creek and other Redbone communities. Census data indicated that they were "Free People of Color," another class for certainly not White, but not exactly Black either.

Among these folks were the Ashworths. The Ashworths were known as "Free People of Color" and Redbones in Louisiana. When they migrated across the border into Texas, they were known as "Free Blacks," another term for not exactly White nor Black. They were dark in color and to many people, they were Black -- maybe African, but it was just too complicated to worry with.

After the Texas Revolution, laws were passed to put all these folks out of Texas which included William Goyens (Goings, Goins, Gohens), Perkins and others. However, the Ashworths had strong friends in the Texas Legislature and the Ashworth Act was passed which allowed all these FPC, Free Blacks to remain in Texas.

It would seem that we are straying far from the Furman / Rigmaiden letters, but 171 years later in 2008, a Ashworth male descendant does a DNA test that indicates far less than 1% (.016) of African Genes and not much more for North American Indian blood. The results were Armenian, Romanian, Asian Indian (India) and other mixes. The Ashworths, at least this line, had been unfairly labeled Black for over 171 years or more.

From this DNA report, it would appear that the Rigmaiden and Furman letters were right on when it came to at least the Ashworth Redbones. They were neither White nor Black!

How many Blacks today have grown up being Black for generation after generation when they were really something else?

The Redbone community was never Tri-Racial, that's more of a racist term coined by old Southern Racists. The term for Redbones today is Multi-Ethnic, and I quote:

"In 1950, the UNESCO statement The Race Question, signed by some of the internationally renowned scholars of the time (including Ashley Montagu, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Gunnar Myrdal, Julian Huxley, etc.), suggested that: "National, religious, geographic, linguistic and cultural groups do not necessarily coincide with racial groups: and the cultural traits of such groups have no demonstrated genetic connection with racial traits. Because serious errors of this kind are habitually committed when the term 'race' is used in popular parlance, it would be better when speaking of human races to drop the term 'race' altogether and speak of 'ethnic groups'."

So, where do we go from here? Smart thing to do when researching these Redbone families is to understand that "some were and some were not, or some may have been and may not have been." Ask yourself where all these Asian Indians who entered the United States went? Where did the Turks, Armenians, Romanians and others go? Obviously, they were shoved into the FPC can.


Gary J, Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)


Monday, June 2, 2008


By Gary J. Gabehart

In a letter from Albert Rigmaiden, Calcasieu Parish Treasurer, written May 6, 1893, to McDonald Furman in the Carolinas. Rigmaiden writes the following:

Lake Charles, La., May 6, 1893

Mr. McDonald Furman


Dear Sir,

In reply to yours of April 22nd. I will state I am unable to tell you how the name Redbone originated for the people called Redbones, but I think the Negroes were the first to give them that name as they (the Negroes) has no use or love for them & they do not like the Negroes any better. I suppose you know the kind of people called Redbones, they are neither white nor black & as well as I can find out, the oldest ones came from S.C. many years ago. There are a great many of them in this Parish & in Rappides & Vernan Parish & some in other Parishes in this State & a good many in Texas too. Some of these people are as good citizens as any body & some are rascally & treacherous but you will find that among any People, but I think these are the most treacherous when they take a dislike to any one. I will give you the names of some of the principal & oldest families that I know of. They are -- Ashworth -- Goins -- Perkins -- Drake -- Hoozer -- Sweat -- Buxton -- Doil or Dial -- Johnson -- Esclavant -- these people keep pretty well together & Marry amongst themselves mostly, but occasionally a White man or Woman Marries among them, but if they do it is generally a low class of White people. It is a very unpleasant (situation?) to live about these people for this reason, they are not looked on as being -- Negroes -- Indian nor White people & as this is a White Peoples Country, they (the White People) don't put themselves on equality, socially, with any other people except White People. Although some of these People are perfect gentlemen & ladies & well educated. I think they get along exceedingly well and peaceably, considering all these of these drawbacks. I have given you as near the facts as I am trusting it will give you the desired information.

Yours Truly

Signed : A Rigmaiden

Do these two letters, Rigmaiden and Furman put a new slant on The Redbones of Louisiana, by Don Marler? You make the decision on that -- read the book.


Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

Thursday, May 15, 2008


By Gary J. Gabehart

The following is a transcript of a letter written by Researcher McDonald Furman in 1897. The letter mentioned as being received by him in 1893 was from the Treasurer of Calcasieu Parish, Albert Rigmaiden. This transcribed letter was provided by Stacy Webb.

Ramsey, Privateer Township, April 29,1897

A Family Name Found about in the United States and Borne by Mixed Race People.

To the editor of the News and Courier:

Among that isolated and mixed breed people of Privateer Township who are classed as colored but who should properly be known as "Redbones" is found the name Goins. The founder of this family, so I have been told, was a "yellow man" whose wife was a mixed breed Indian.

Vicey Goins, the daughter-in-law of this couple lived to a great age, and died in 1887. Her son, Wade Goins is one of the people among the Privateer Redbones, and his features are copper-colored skin show the presence of Indian blood in his veins.

Another descendant of the Goins couple is Tom Gibbes, pastor of the little church in Southeastern Privateer, which is attended by the Redbone people, and which, I might remark, is a member of the Colored Wateree Baptist Association. lower division. I think Gibbes, shows his Indian blood. He and "Uncle Wade" are both honest, and worthy men. While it would greatly puzzle an ethnologist to determine what per cent of white, negro and Indian blood flows through in their veins I think they are at least a sixth part Indian, if not more.

It is interesting to see over what a large area the name Goins is found. This name is (or was) found among that peculiar people, the Croatans of North Carolins, which unique race is believed by historical investigators to be the descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh's famous "lost colony." Henry Berry Lowrie, so celebrated in the post bellum annals of North Carolina as a bold and daring outlaw, was of the Croatan race. It is evident the the "old issues" or, properly speaking, "Redbones" who are found in South Carolina, are in part a branch of the Croatans.

"Redbones" are found in Louisiana. In the spring of 1893 I wrote to one of the parish officials inquiring about them, and I received an interesting letter in reply. Among the Redbone family names mentioned it was that of Goins.

In a short magazine article last summer Mr James Mooney, one of the leading ethnological writers in the United States, gave an account of two Goins brothers he formerly knew in Indiana, "who, although associating by necessity with Negroes, always insisted that they were not of that race or of slave ancestry. They had the physical appearance of half-blood Indians." There are Goins in Georgia, who are a branch of the Privateer Stock.

McDonald Furman

The reference to Goins may or my not refer to the Goins of Louisiana as they referred to themseves as Goings in the mid to late 1700's. However, my family seems to be mostly copper colored. Not all Smith's and Jones' are related.


Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

Thursday, May 1, 2008


By Gary J. Gabehart

Might be a little confusing, but there are two Melungeon organizations with similar sounding names. Melungeon Heritage Association (MHA) and Melungeon Heritage Society (MHS). Both organization are from the same area of nearby Newman's ridge.

This writer wishes both organizations well in their future endeavors and future research projects.

Best Wishes,

Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Melungeon Historical Society

By Wayne Winkler

On Saturday, April 19, 2008, the Melungeon Historical Society held its first meeting in Rogersville, Tennessee. The organization was formed by a group of Melungeon researchers and descendents to collect and preserve historical records that pertain to the Melungeons and/or their kinfolks and descendents. MHS will use documented family genealogy, documented historical research and documented DNA research conforming to recognized professional and scholarly standards to compile and prepare records, to establish and maintain a website and/or blog to keep members informed, and to sponsor and encourage educational meetings, gatherings, lectures, and activities in genealogy and history. The Melungeon Historical Society will be a membership organization, and those interested in joining should contact Becky Nelson at:

We look forward to a new era in Melungeon research and welcome all who share our desire to preserve our Melungeon heritage.

Wayne Winkler, President
Jack Goins, Vice-president, Heritage
Penny Ferguson, Vice-president, Research
Becky Nelson – Secretary/Treasurer

Board of Directors:

Tari Adams
Don Collins
Janet Crain
Roberta Estes
Dr. Harold B. Houser
Kathy James
Joy King
Dr. Kathy Lyday-Lee
Dennis Maggard
Kevin Mullins
Evelyn Orr
Joanne Pezzullo
Cleland Thorpe
Beverly Walker


Wayne Winkler