Monday, July 2, 2007

# 29 MELUNGEONS -- 1898

Since some Redbones carry the same surname as Melungeon people of Eastern Tennessee, I found this story to be quite interesting. It was published recently on the RanDs research site which is a Goins think tank which -- has grown to encompass allied families and more.
Westward migration patterns were certainly involved and people being who they are came and went all the time. Such were the Melungeon and Redbone families.
Here we find a newspaper article dated 1898, and I might add that earlier newspapers are just hard to find these days which may indicate earlier commentary about these "so called" strange people.
The article:
The Melungeons

Newspaper Source: The Daily Herald (Delphos, OH) Mar 25, 1898

Peculiar People Who Live in East Tennessee Legend of History.

It is not generally known that in the mountains of Eastern Tennessee there lives 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. 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, who came from the shore of Virginia that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed upon them by any form of government. They made theyselves friendly with the Indians, and freed as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society, and lived in a kind of delightful Utopia of their own creation, trampling upon the marriage relation, despising all forms of religion, and subsisting upon corn the only possible produce of the soil and the game of the great forests. They intermixed with the Indians and subsequently with the negroes and thus formed the present race of Melungeons.

They are tall, straight, well-formed people, of a dark copper color, but with Circassia features. They were privileged voters in the old slave days and accredited citizens. They are brave, but quarrelsome, and are hospitable to strangers. They have no preacher among them, and are almost without any knowledge of a Supreme Being. They marry by established forms, but husband and wife can separate at pleasure without meeting with any reproach or disgrace from their friends.

They have but little association with their neighbors, and are in every respect, said that they are members the jurisdiction of the State government, a separate and distinct people.
The above article uses archaic wording in some cases but is an easy read.
By the way, my position on the word Melungeon and Redbone is that there is no one definition for either of them and there never will be. Why you say? Simply because Melungeons and Redbones were individually, different people.
To characterise the life style of one did not apply to all. So to attempt it, is blowing against the wind and you must ask yourself, "who am I to blow against the wind?"
Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

No comments: