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)


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