Wednesday, May 31, 2017


As administrator of the Core Melungeon DNA project with Family Tree DNA, we receive many join request from folks who have accepted many of the so called Melungeon traits, the knots and other physical handicaps and diseases, all of which is totally false.  

Melungeon was one of the Clans studied by Edward T. Price in 1950-53.
Geographic Analysis of White-Negro-Indian Racial Mixtures in Eastern United States.              

Edward T. Price, Los Angles State College 

1-The Melungeons -Centering in Hancock County, TN,  reached Newman Ridge and Blackwater Valley in then Hawkins County, now Hancock County in the 1790’s    2-Redbones- Louisana 3-Cajans-Alabama, Mississippi 4-Cereoles- Mississippi  5-Dominickers-Georgia  6-Brass Ankles- South Carolina 7- Croatans-North Carolina and South Carolina 8- Cubans -North Carolina 9-Browns Branch, Kentucky 10-Cubans,  11- Magoffin - Kentucky  12-Issues, Amherst County, Virginia 13- Irish Creek -Virginia 14- Carmel Indians-Ohio 15-Wesorts, Maryland 16-Darke Country, West Virginia 17-Guineas-West Virginia 18- Nanticokes, Maryland 19-Moors and Nanticokes, Maryland 20- Keating Mountain-Pennsylvania,  21-Pools, Pennsylvania  22- Jackson Whites, New York and New Jersey 23- Bushwhackers-New York 24-Slaughters- New York.

Dr Virginia DeMarce in her review wrote  "Melungeons thus becomes a catchall description for dark skinned individuals” The manner in which individuals are deduced to be Melungeon is troubling. By surmising a connection when it cannot be shown." and then she went on to write in the review that this belief is contrary to the historical facts:  "Tennessee Melungeons And Related Groups”- Dr. Virginia Easley DeMarce Historian Branch of Acknowledgement and Research, Burea Of Indian Affairs Washington DC.

" What is a social isolate? She writes; "The great majority of people in the United States who carry a mixed European, African and Native American genealogical heritage are not members of social Isolate groups." Continuing: DeMarce then uses professional geographer Edward T. Price description of a Social Isolate, ( survey complied in 1950.) (1)"The people must be racial mixtures of white and non-white groups, Indian and /or negro peoples presumably providing the latter blood in the absence of evidence to the contrary.(2) they must have a social status differing from the whites, Indians or Negroes in the area in such a way as to throw them generally together in their more personal social relationships;(3) they must exist in such numbers and concentration as to be recognized in their locality as such a group and usually to be identified by a distinguishing group name. " 

"Price emphasis on the existence of a group is fundamental to studying the genealogy of social isolate groups, as groups. In spite of the on going myth that one drop of African ancestry classified an individual or family as black, the historical fact is that this principle was nowhere a matter of law in the United States  prior to the early 20th century, whereas in most jurisdictions prior to the Civil War, free persons with less than 1/8 or 1/16 African Ancestry were, for legal purposes, classified as white."

" Fact. The actual, factual history of social isolate settlements are going to be written by genealogist and family historians: document by individual document, fact by painstaking fact. The function and duty of the individual historian and the genealogist is to demystify and to demythologize."  "When we know the origins of each individual Melungeon family, we will know the origins of the Melungeons. When we know the orgins of each family in 'other' social isolates, we will begin to understand their genesis and development." (End Dr Virginia DeMarce)

    The oldest written record of this term is recorded in the Stony Creek Church Minutes Sept 26, 1813 Church Sat in love, Brother Kilgore Moderator.Then came forward Sister Kitchen and complained to the church against Susanna Stallard for saying she harbored them Melungins. Sister Sook said she was hurt with her for believing her child and not believing her, and she want talk to her to get satisfaction, and both is “pigedish”,  one against the other. Sister Sook lays it down and the church forgives her. Then came forward Cox and relates to the church, that he went to the association and took the letter and they received the letter in fellowship. Dismissed. (This is recorded 26 September 1813, minutes of Stony Creek Church. Also note the previous and preceding minutes to Sept 1813 all exist in full, which is June, July, August  October, November and December. )

These Stony Creek minutes suggest by 1813 the Blackwater group was called Melungeon,  but in 1804 they may not have been known as Melungeons.

July 28, 1804 Church meeting held at Stony Creek, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper  be administered at our meeting to be held in September and every three months from the time to come. Bro. Charles Gibson is restored to his seat. Br. James Kitchens and Br. John Richmond appointed to cite Br. Thomas Alley to appear before this church next meeting . Ruben Gibson laid under censure till next meeting and that his mother cite him to appear. Thomas Gibson restored by a recantation. Dismissed in order. 

   “Sept  25, 1804 Ruben Gibson excluded from membership of this church, he lives down at Blackwater, and has our letter of (dismission) and keeps it, and has joined another church”  

There is a tradition that John Sevier encountered the Melungeons, some thought this happened when he was trying to establish the state of Franklin, but they were not in this area at this time. The date of this encounter was in 1802 when Sevier surveyed land boundaries for Hawkins County, Tennessee. 138 Excerpts from John Sevier’s diary suggest he may have later in life, made this reference after meeting these dark skin people and spending the night with one of them on the following 1802 survey.. Looney’s Gap was the main road from Rogersville, Tennessee, across Clinch Mountain and on to the Grainger County Line which was probably the route Sevier took to cross Newman Ridge and Powell Mountain to Mulberry Creek, which would be on the east side of Sneedville and west end of Vardy. The location of the old road from Sneedville to Blackwater Creek was a gap in the ridge and this gap can be seen today, at the foothill of said gap was Vardy Springs. Vardy Collins  boarding house would eventually be located near the spring. They stayed near this location at the home of a man named Gibson and then went across Powell Mountain to Mulberry Gap, probably near the location of the present road. Then notice the route taken on Sat. 27, 1802. Daniel Flanery was the owner of the area marked on today’s map as Flannery’s Ford on the Powell River. This area in Mulberry Gap, extending to and including land on the North side of Powell River, land was in Hawkins and adjoining Grainger County, Tennessee. Flannery’s Ford on Powell River can be located today on a map. It’s north of Mulberry Creek on the Powell River and west of Jonesville in Lee County, Virginia. Additions and corrections are in parenthesis by this author.
    “Mon. Nov. 1802 Mr. Fish went on to Hawkins C. H. Self and Genl. Rutledge crossed Clinch Mountain at Looneys Gap traveled down lower creek to Abs. Loone ys (* Absolem Looney) came up with the surveyors at Daws (*Doswell) Rogers plantation. The line crossing at Waddels ford on Clinch River near mouth of Shelby’’s Creek one mile above - lay there all night. Mr. Fish retd. brought with him $50 Recd from Nelson sheriff of Hawkins out of which I received 18 dollars. Wed. 24 lay here this day & night Genl. Martin & Majr. Taylor arrived. Thursday 25 Rained Lay at Roberts Fry. 26 Clear day. We all sit out from Robert's crossed Newman Ridge & lodged all night on black water creek at Gibsons .Mssrs? Fish and Taylor left us. Sat. 27 We stayed Crossed Powell mountain and lodged at Sanders mill 7 miles...Left the surveyors coming on from Blackwater. On our route today passed Daniel Flanarys on No.(North) side of Mulbery Gap. Mulberry Creek flows into Powel River between Powell Mountain and Waldens Ridge. Sun. 28 We measured the Cross line and found our course on quarter too far to the South- Lodged at same place.” 139  (MELUNGEONS- Footprints From The Past. Pages 69-70.)

An unknown journalist in Little Living age came to this same area on Blackwater in the 1840’s and forever sealed the existence of this Melungeon clan, including their mixture and firm location. “You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, and Mineral Springs in Vardy, Hancock County, Tennessee known hereabouts as 'black-water springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS. We stopped at 'Old Vardy's, the hostelries of the vicinage. Old Vardy is the 'chief cook and bottle-washer' of the Melungens, and is really a very clever fellow: but his hotel savors strongly of that peculiar perfume that one may find in the sleeping-rooms of our Negro servants, especially on a close, warm, summer evening. We arrived at Vardy's in time for supper, and thus despatched, we went to the spring, where were assembled several rude log huts, and a small sprinkling of 'the natives, together with a fiddle and other preparations for a dance. The dance was engaged in with right hearty good will.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 long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and  drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants after the advances of the whites into this part of the state with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens.”178

“There seems to be no reason for this writer to have invented this detail, “The Melungeons carefully preserved the “Legend of their history.” This “Legend” according to the writer, included an original descent from Portuguese adventures and later intermarriages with Indians, Negroes, and whites.179
    The visit to Vardy Valley in 1848 was revisited about 50 years later on Friday July 2, 1897.  C.H. Humble  returned to the same place as the writer in Littell’s Living age. This visit may have been to a mission house, because a New Presbyterian Church was completed in 1899.                   

On Friday forenoon, July 2, (1897) the writer and Rev. Joseph Hamilton, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, started in a hack from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee for Beatty Collins, chief of the Melungeons, in Blackwater.”  (MELUNGEONS Footprints From the Past pages 83-84
 211-Littell's Living Age, March, 1849 The Melungens, This was reprinted from the Knoxville Register September  6, 1848, quoting from the Louisville Examiner. This issue of the Knoxville Register has not been located. 
 212- Saundra Keyes Ivey comments on the correspondent in Littell’s Living Age,  Dissertation, Indiana University.                                                         ) 

This duragatory term was not spread to other localaties by migration because the Melungeons did migrate to western Tn.,Ky. Indiana and other places but those descendants were never told about this clan name. It was spread by politicians and Journalist such as in Littell’s Living Age article which was printed in most major newspapers during the mid 1800’s, so many dark skin people where given this name, or some other clan name by their white neighbors.                    

Ramps- Was a large group Price did not include in his study, this group   was a community primarily located between Fort Blackmore and Dungannon Virginia called Ramp Town and some of the dark complected people in some communities in Wise County, Virginia.   The above clan names and settlements were known to the local people who lived in those areas.  Lets go back to the 1950s those of us who lived in various communities around towns in this time frame remembers names of communities that are slowing being lost to history. Around Rogersville, Tennessee within a 10 mile radius as the crow flies we had Petersburg, Cave Ridge, Pinhook, Guntown, Ebbing Flowing Springs, McKinney, Gravel Town, Cuba, Straw, Persia, Rock Hill, Goulds Hill, Tarpine, Polecat, Kepler, Burem. Most of these communities had schools and churches.  Driving across Clinch Mountain on Hwy 70 where I was born, at the foot of the mountain is War Creek. Then  Edison, Pumpkin Valley, Copper Ridge. Crossing Clinch River was Kyles Ford, Flower Gap, Fishers Valley, Walnut Grove and Big Ridge. Coming back west is Indian Ridge, Blackwater, Panther Creek, Newman Ridge, Vardy, Snake Hollow, Mullberry Gap, which included the eastern section of what is Claiborne County today. People researching Melungeon history make a huge mistake if they accept some authors statements that Newman Ridge Blackwater Melungeon settlement was a small group, if you check them out, they have never researched this area which is the only recognized Melungeon community that can be sustained by history, people were later called Melungeon in other areas but this is where this clan name began.   

Captain Lewis Jarvis  names several Melungeons:  Vardy Collins, Shepard Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodman chiefs.  Jarvis later names James Collins, John Bolin and Mike Bolin and some others not remembered.  Obviously there are more not remembered than named, so the best we can do is search the census, tax and court records for this FPC label.  Jarvis also stated they were given this name Melungeon by their white neighbors who lived here among them because of the color of their skin. 

Although Lewis Jarvis referred to the Melungeon as the friendly Indians, he also stated they were not a tribe of Indians. “They have been derisively dubbed with the name Melungeons by the local white people who have lived here with them, its not a traditional name, or tribe of Indians” (Attorney Lewis Jarvis letter in 1903 Sneedville Times. And published in the 1994 book, Hancock County and It’s People.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


                WAR ON THE MALUNGEONS JULY 1877 

    Fifteen distilleries and thousand of dollars of whiskey destroyed ! That’s altogether too big a hoax ! Come down thirteen stills, and say one keg of whiskey, then you may be believed.      

   The United States Whiskey Heroes, hearing of the great war raging between Russia and Turkey (Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) .
got so powerfully excited that they couldn’t stand it any longer in peace, so they declared war against the Malungeons in Newman’s Ridge and made a raid over there. The boys were so fortunate as not to shoot themselves with those complicated butt loading rifles they so valiantly carried. That, after all, was the principal danger they incurred.

  On the last Sabbath morning (July 1) we noticed the streets of Rogersville full of armed men. Upon inquiry it was found that the squad of cavalry was a portion of a force recently sent by the United States Marshall at Knoxville into Newman’s Ridge, in Hancock County, for the purpose of breaking up illicit distilleries. These men said they had destroyed fourteen distilleries in the Ridge, but upon inquiry from other sources we learn that only two of these were captured. The other twelve being only sheds where stills had been heretofore operated, and the owners of which hearing of the raid had doubtless moved to safer quarters.

   By the way, where is the law to be found authorizing young men to be armed and ride through the country burning down cabins and destroying property? This is a new thing in the United States of America, and we are too far behind the times to understand it. The laws ought to be enforced of course, but it seems to us that those people in the Ridge might be managed without such a great show of rifles and pistols as were paraded on the streets last Sabbath morning.

    Newman Ridge is and always has been a  monstrous loyal country. The Malungeons “conquered the right” to make whiskey free, and they only laugh at such chaps as visted them last week.  (Morristown Gazette Wed July 4, 1877.- Hawkins County Department- L.L. Poats Editor, Rogersville Tennessee July 4, 1877)  

Notice in the newspaper article above that it was common knowledge in the Morristown, Rogersville area who the Melungeons were and where they lived. The core Melungeons originated  in the Newman Ridge area and spread to other localities by migration of the local settlers and the news media. 

#1-This raid reported in the newspaper article above was 13 years before Will Allen Dromgoole visit to Newman Ridge 1890.
#2-And 13 years before this July 17, 1890 Red Springs, North Carolina article  by Hamilton McMillan, making ridiculous undocumented claims about the East Tennessee Melungeon, “a name retained by them here”.
#3-And 13 years before a paper read by Dr. (Swan) Burnett before the Washington Anthropological Society on the Melungeons in the southern Alleghenies is a case in point. Annual report by Smithsonian Institution – 1890

To be continued.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


The Melungeon families came with and were part of the original pioneer settlers before they were labeled Melungeons. Arriving in East Tennessee on, or before 1790. The first U.S. census was conducted in 1790. Under the law the census takers were required to ascertain the number of inhabitants within their respective districts, omitting Indians not taxed, distinguishing free persons from all others, and noting the sex and color of all free persons. Tennessee, then known as the Southwest Territory, was included in this first census. The original forms filled out by the enumerators, were destroyed in a fire and only the totals are known. The territory had a population of 35, 691 persons, including 6,271 free white males 21 years and older, 10,277 free males under 21, 15,365 free white females, 3,417 slaves, and 361 "other free persons." The  other free persons enumerated in this census confirm that a free settlement of nonwhites was living in East Tennessee by 1790. Most of these "other free persons" were living in East Tennessee because as late as 1776 eastern Hawkins County was the western most settlement in Tennessee.(Heads of Families-North Carolina the first census  of the United States , taken 1790 the reprint company, Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1961. p 4, Price Henry)  

 Several were in the Revolutionary War and filed pension Applications in Hawkins County, such as Charles Gibson, Lewis Collins, William Going and Zephaniah Goins who was at the siege and surrender of Cornwallis. The above were enumerated free colored on U.S.census and old tax records, and the sad part is, none of these named received land grants for their service, most likely because of the color of their skin.

Another Melungeon book full of myths and opinions:  “Ancestors and Enemies; Essays on Melungeons.”DNA studies showed they were probably descended from Portuguese colonists and had connections with Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans and Romani (Gypsies).”

This book is repeating an old myth of six fingers and toes, and diseases, which is a slap in the face to proven Melungeon descendants and using an autosomal test to prove this is inconceivable because this test checks both your father and mothers line and it would be highly unlikely that both lines would be Melungeon. There is no Muslim DNA test, a Muslim can be any nationality.  Pork meat was one of the favorite foods of the Melungeon, who were Christians, as the 1801 Stony Creek Church minutes confirm. A court record (1846) in the Hawkins County archive shows two Melungeon Collins were sent to prison for stealing hogs. 

 *William Goings Pension claim filed in 1819, amended in 1820 contained an inventory of personal property, which consisted of*four hogs*, one pot, one oven, an old chair, one axe,one hoe, four forks, four knives, three tin plates, (for a family of 6) all of which was valued at $13.50*.   

The historical Melungeons were Protestant by faith and Baptist by demonination, minutes confirm they were members of several Baptist Churches along the Clinch River beginning 1800’s, these old church minute and court records eliminates Jews and Muslims as part of their heritage and culture. 

 Many Muslims are appalled at the sight of Christians freely eating pork. They are repulsed by the sight of a pig just as much as the early Children of Israel were under the Mosaic Law, which continues to affect the lives of millions of Jewish people still today. The pig was clearly forbidden in the Old Testament: ( 

The male Y-DNA for Romani (Gypsies) Is HM82, and the female mtDNA Haplogroup for Romani Gypsies is M. Neither of these haplogroups is found in the Core Melungeon  Y, or mtDNA test results. And none are found in the Melungeon Families group of 277 members. The Goins Y-DNA project has 175 members and none with the Romani (Gypsies)haplogroup.- . 

The Romani (Gypsies) HM82 haplogroup, doesn't show in the Bunch, Collins, and Gibson DNA project.                           
Hat tip to Don Collins

A story that Drake released Muslim Moor on the coast of NC has been proven false by documentation. In 1586, Sir Francis Drake freed about 200 Turks, 300 Indians, and 100 Negroes from the Spanish at either Santo Domingo, Cartagena or Saint Augustine. There is no record of the disposition of the Indians and the Negroes. However, the 200 Turks were returned to England.

    "Records in London Archives prove that some, if not all, of the Turks were aboard the Primrose, Martin Frobisher Captain. The Queen's Privy Council wrote a letter to a  merchant in London, who had dealings with Turkey, asking him to arrange for their return to Turkey."  "Dr. William S. Powell, Professor Emeritus of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, stated: "The Moorish prisoners, however, were eventually sent back to Turkey as a gesture of goodwill from Queen Elizabeth."

Varieties of R1b, a common Y-DNA haplogroup in western Europe, are found in abundance among Portuguese men. About 60 percent of Southern Portuguese and about 83 percent of Northern Portuguese belong to the subclade of R1b known as the Atlantic Modal Haplotype (AMH). There are some areas in Portugal where the AMH is found in about 90% of men.
The mtDNA haplogroups H, U, and L were found in substantial numbers in the population of Portugal in ancient times (including the Epipaleolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic eras) just as they are today.
( of mixed-race (white/black/Amerindian) descendants of Portuguese live in Brazil today. Some Portuguese of Portugal themselves have a small portion of black ancestry as well. This is true of the mainland, in part since African slaves were brought to southwestern Portugal's Alcácer do Sal region in the 1400s-1800s, but even more so for those from Madeira who often show Sub-Saharan African scores above 1 percent in 23andMe's ancestry composition reports, even as high as 4.8%. Also, some from Madeira are presented with estimates of 0.1% or 0.2% Amerindian admixture by 23andMe.

Some neighbors including county and state officials believed the Melungeons had Negro blood as this court case confirms. "Trouble started for Elijah Goin when his daughter married Billy Mayes May 23, 1853 in Clairborne County, TN. His brother  Sterling Mayes took exception to the marriage and started telling everyone that the whole Goin family were mulattoes and negroes. Elijah Goen was a school teacher and he finally filed a slander suit against Sterling Mayes requesting $5,000 damage. The case finally went to court. The verdict  Elijah  won his slander suit against Mayes but the jury only awarded him $50.00 far less than the $5,000 he sought.   Sterling Mayes appealed the case to the Tennessee Supreme Court at Knoxville, were the circuit court decision was reversed and remanded, Sterling won the appeal on the grounds that it had long been common Knowledge in the community that the Goen family was mixed blood.  Elijah Goen grandfather Thomas Goin a Rev. War soldier in 1788 sold his land 225 acres in Washington County,and moved 90 miles west to newly created Hawkins County, Tn from which Claiborne County was created. I find Thomas Goen descendants listed in the DNA Core Melungeon review (E1b1a).  

Minor, John vs Bloomer, James  
   This case involving an abduction reached the courts of Hawkins County and later the  Tennessee Supreme Court. Wilson Minor a free man of color (as Melungeons were referred to) abducted the niece of James Bloomer in 1852, for the purpose of marring her. Minor apparently anticipating trouble secretly dispatched his brother John for fast horse to Rogersville for a marriage license to make everything legal.  According to this case Minor secured the license and was stopped in the road on his return and commanded Minor to dismount and hand over the license, but denied he had the license, with knife in hand demanded Minor to give him the license. Where upon Minor took the license from his pocket and surrendered it. (Wilson Minor had purchased a Marriage Bond in Claiborne County,TN.- W.Minor and J. Bloomer, dated 11 Dec 1852 (Jane daughter of Joseph Bloomer) and most likely John Minor gave James Bloomer the bond,  because no marriage record was recorded for Wilson Minor in Hawkins County) The State charged James Bloomer with assault. Defendant offered to prove that John Minor was the brother of Wilson Minor, who had abducted the niece of the defendant for the purpose of marrying her, and that the Minors were free persons of color within the degrees prohibited by the statute from intermarrying with white persons, and that the young lady abducted was white an infant of tender years. Upon objection made by the attorney general, this proof was rejected by the court and jury found a verdict of guilty Jan term 1855 before J Paterson,  charged James Bloomer with assault. The Jury found the defendant guilty. A motions for a new trial and arrest in Judgement were made, and overruled by the court, and a judgment for a fine of one cent, and costs, were rendered by the court, The case was appealed to the state supreme court who ruled. We do not think the court erred in rejecting the evidence offered by the defendant.(Supreme Court of Tennessee, Sneeds report volume 3 pages 40,41 and 42-Copy in Hawkins County Archives ) John and Wilson Minor were sons of John Minor Sr and Susan Goins, John Jr was in the Civil War. Wilson disappeared from History shortly after this trial. 

   The Melungeons right to vote was certain to be challenged, especially by an unsuccessful candidate who felt his loss was due, at least in part, to the votes of "free men of color." 
“State of Tennessee, Hawkins County. I do certify that a popular election was held according to law at the respective election places in all the districts in Hawkins County on the seventh day of August 1845 for a member to Congress. Andrew Johnson received fourteen hundred and thirteen (1413) votes and  William G. Brownlow received nine hundred & seventy six (976) votes. This the 8th day of August 1845,  Jacob Miller Sheriff of Hawkins County.” From this election sprang the illegal voting trials in Hawkins County, Tennessee.  the defendants were Melungeon patriarch Vardy Collins, Solomon Collins, Ezekial Collins, Levi Collins, Andrew Collins, Wiatt Collins,  Zachariah and Lewis Minor, all posted bond for $250.

 In the grand jury trial the state  used the term colored leaving no doubt the state must prove negro blood back to and including the 3rd generation. The outcome of Vardy Collins case was not clear he paid the cost, during this time Vardy was visited by an unidentified correspondent in Littel's Living age identified him as the owner of a hotel and mineral springs. Also, chief cook and bottle washer of the Melungeons. The other cases were tried by two separate Juries who found them not guilty, John Netherland was their attorney and his argument was Portuguese, according to Swan Burnett the physical trait of flat-feet to prove African ancestry was used, one was found sufficiently flat-footed to be found guilty.  They were not lying about their Portuguese ancestors, most had migrated from countries such as Angola and other small African nations at that time under the control of Portugal.   
The term Melungeon is a local word that appeared to be in common usage by 1813(Stony Creek Church Record). It was used with derogatory connotations to describe mixed blood neighbors and is not a recognizable English word.   Every clan in the eastern United States had a beginning point and this point is proven by the oldest written records that are mentioned in this article . You are a known Melungeon descendant, which means that your ancestor belonged to one of the known Melungeon families and a member of your ancestor’s family at some time lived between Powell Mountain (on the north side of Newman’s Ridge) and Copper Ridge (running along the Clinch River) This land boundary extends into the western part of Claiborne and Grainger Counties and the extreme western part of Lee and Scott County, Virginia. This location has been identified by the unknown Jounalist in Littell’s Living Age (1849—quoting from the Louisville Examiner [1848]) as the Melungeon area. Some of these families moved to other states and localities, family genealogy and now DNA is locating many of those families. 

“You must know that within ten miles of this owl's nest, there is a watering-place, and Mineral Springs in Vardy, Hancock County, Tennessee known hereabouts as 'black-water springs.' It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell's Mountain and the  Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a singular species of the human animal called MELUNGENS. We stopped at 'Old Vardy's, the hostelries of the vicinage. Old Vardy is the 'chief cook and bottle-washer' of the Melungens, and is really a very clever fellow: but his hotel savors strongly of that peculiar perfume that one may find in the sleeping-rooms of our Negro servants, especially on a close, warm, summer evening. We arrived at Vardy's in time for supper, and thus dispatched, we went to the spring, where were assembled several rude log huts, and a small sprinkling of 'the natives, together with a fiddle and other preparations for a dance. The dance was engaged in with right hearty good will.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 long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and  drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants after the advances of the whites into this part of the state with the negros and the whites, thus forming the present race of Melungens.”  

 “Beatty Collins grandson of Vardy was interviewed by C. H.  Humble in 1897, when Humble ask the school teacher, Beatty’s son  about the Melungeons he strongly resented  its application to his people and replied “ We are a Pure Blood”. (Home Mission of the Presbyterian Church USA a visit to the Melungeons  C.H. Humble  July 2, 1897)

Anyone who has made an honest study on the Melungeons should not be suprised at the announcement of a high persentage of African DNA in the core paternal line.  Tax, census and court records agrees with the DNA findings of these descendants, as recorded in the peer review article in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy.

This history begs the following question. If I can document my family back to a core Melungeon say Vardy Collins or Zachariah Minor, What percent of ethnic makeup, as shown by DNA would I have, born say 1940-50? This author has asked permission to use the follow data copyright 2011 by Roberta  Estes.

Melungeons, Minority Ancestry and DNA Roberta Estes, copyright 2011 

“The most common inquiry I receive is from people wanting to find their Native ancestry. Everyone in Appalachia has a story someplace in their family about having Native heritage. This really isn't surprising given that most everyone whose ancestors settled in the Appalachian region came through Virginia and North Carolina, and they didn't just fly in from the coast. Most families migrated over several generations from the coastal areas, to the piedmont, to the frontier lands, into the mountains, then finally, arriving on the other side or settling in an isolated valley. If a genealogical generation is 25 years, then each of us today that was born in 1950 has 10 generations between us and the year 1700. If our ancestors arrived in Jamestown, then it's 14 generations, give or take a bit. Remembering that the number of our ancestors doubles with every generation (you have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, etc.), 10 generations gives us 1024 ancestors and 14 generations gives us 16,384 ancestors. If these ancestors are mostly in the US, it's probably more likely that we DO have Native ancestors than we don't. Having said this, if we have one full blooded native ancestor in 1800 at the 6th generation, they would contribute only 1.56% of our total DNA. At the 10th generation, in 1700, one full blooded native ancestor would contribute .1%, so one tenth of one percent of our total DNA and at the 14th generation, in 1600, less than one one hundredth of one percent (.01%) of our DNA. It's no wonder we seek these ancestors but seldom find them. They are the proverbial needle in the haystack. The most direct route we have to indentifying a Native ancestor is either Y-line, paternal, or mitochondrial, maternal DNA testing. Regardless of how far back in time, the Y-line and the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups which are what we use to identify Native ancestry is unchanged because neither the Y chromosome nor mitochondrial DNA is mixed with any DNA from the other parent. Let's look at an example. One of John Doe's ancestors was among the Melungeon people who were identified in documented records as Melungeon, and they carry the oral history of having Native heritage. Pretty much all Melungeon families carry this oral history, and if they don't individually, certainly they do as a group. John very much wants to recover his Native heritage and learn about his Native genealogy. Although John himself can't test, because his paternal (surname) line is Doe, and his maternal line is Smith, and neither are Melungeon, he finds a paternal line descendant of his Melungeon line. Let's say he is a descendant of Zachariah Minor and Aggy Sizemore. I have chosen this couple because we have the Y-line DNA of Zachariah and the mitochondrial DNA of Aggy. Zachariah Minor and Aggy Sizemore are 6 generations removed from John Doe, and sure enough, just like our model that suggests this generation would occur 47 about the year 1800, Zachariah Minor was born in 1799. John Doe carries about 1.56% of the DNA from Zachariah Minor and about 1.56% from Aggy Sizemore. John Doe is just positive that this family is Native and is desperate to prove that heritage, so he asks a male Minor descended from Zachariah to test. Zachariah's haplogroup from his DNA testing is determined to be E1b1a, African. Thinking that maybe the Native heritage comes through Aggy Sizemore, John finds a descendant (through all females) of Aggy Sizemore to test, and her haplogroup is H, European. So far, nothing that suggests Native. Now John just knows that his ancestors would never claim Native heritage if it wasn't true, and he just knows that in the 200 years and several generations between 1800 and 2000, that none of those ancestors would have expanded on a story or misremembered something. He is utterly convinced that they are Native, so his interpretation of the DNA results is that because he is convinced that his ancestor are Native, the DNA results must be wrong - and that haplogroup E1b1a which is confirmed in scientific literature to be African must indeed really be Native, and the same with haplogroup H. In fact, he surmises, so MANY people who are convinced that they have Native heritage are showing up with European or African haplogroups, as opposed to Native, that the entire scientific community must be wrong. While John's tenacity must be admired, especially his quest to find descendants to test, his logic is flawed by his strong desire to be Native. However, John isn't entirely wrong - his ancestor's ARE Native - but he's focused in the wrong place. The Y-line and mitochodrial DNA only has the ability to test one line, and only one line. The beauty of it is that it doesn't matter how many generations back your "Native" or "African" or "European" ancestor lived, their DNA is still there to tell you their story, undiluted by subsequent generations. But this means that of your 64 ancestors in 1800, the Y-line and mtDNA can only report on the Y-line for the paternal line and the mtDNA for the maternal line - just those two lines - and tells you absolutely nothing about any of the rest of your ancestors. To find out about the rest of those ancestors, the best thing to do is to find "proxy" individuals from those lines to test and build yourself a DNA pedigree chart of all of your ancestors. In John Doe's case, as luck would have it, he found a Sizemore male that was descended from Aggy Sizemore's father, George Sizemore, who agreed to test. Lo and behold, George Sizemore's descendant came back with results in haplogroup Q1a3a, Native American.  Furthermore they aren't Melungeon, but they are ANCESTORS of Melungeons, or at least this Melungeon family. It stands to reason that Aggy might well retain the oral history of her Native ancestor. We know that Aggy was born in 1804, and we can track the Sizemore family back another 3 generations or so to Edward, "old Ned", born about 1725. He is Aggy's great-grandfather and given that we know he unquestionably had a Native ancestor, that "full blooded" ancestor had to have been born sometime between 1600 and 1700. From John Doe, the oldest Sizemore in that line, Edward, is 9 generations, and John Doe carries only .20% or two tenths of one percent of his DNA - but the 48 Sizemore males that are alive today who descend from Edward - several of whom have now DNA tested, all carry 100% of his Y-line DNA - so that story of Native ancestry is crystal clear. It's equally as crystal clear that Aggy Sizemore's mother, while she was admixed Native from her father's side, her mitochondrial DNA from her mother, haplogroup H, is European. Just because Aggy is admixed Native from her father's side, does not make haplogroup H Native. The male children of Zachariah Minor and Aggy Sizemore carry lots of different DNA. Their Y-line is African, E1b1a, their mitochondrial DNA is H, European, but their ancestors who are not represented by either the Y-line or mitochondrial DNA are Native, haplogroup Q1a3a. This doesn't make DNA testing "wrong", but necessitates that the individuals interpreting the results understand how to correctly apply DNA results to genealogy. John Doe today carries parts of all of these ancestors, no matter how miniscule. So what does that make John Doe? How John Doe self-identifies is up to him. Some people choose to select that one twentieth of one percent of their heritage and claim it above all others - in this case Native. Some choose to identify with their paternal haplogroup - in his case Doe - which hasn't even been discussed here. Some identify with their maternal haplogroup. Some people complete a DNA pedigree chart and idenfiy with all of their ancestors. In John Doe's case, we know he's a small amount Native, at least part African, but based on how he looks and the majority of his ancestors as proven by both DNA and genealogy, he's primarily European. Many people self-identify with their primary phenotype or the cultural heritage with which they were raised. No one but John Doe can determine how he self-identifies. What we can say is that science has provided him with a window into his miniscule amount of Native heritage (less than 1%), his undetermined amount of African heritage, although it too is likely abut 1% based on the genealogy, that would have never been confirmed or available to him without the science of genetic genealogy. The more lines that John Doe tests (via proxy), the more he will know about all of his ancestors. The Melungeon DNA projects are attempting to do just that, gather the genealogy and test all of the Y-line and mitochondrial lines of the Melungeon people and their ancestors. An important part of the heritage of the Melungeons as a people and as individual families is held in the secrets revealed by DNA testing.” 

If you descend from a Melungeon family, or know those who do, please considering DNA testing. Anyone who is interested in autosomal DNA tests should check the market and compare prices. Ancestry is $99, Family Tree, Family Finder test is $99.00. FTDNA also offer the male y and maternal mtDNA test.  All these test results mentioned can be put on GEDmatch. If you have taken a DNA test that you cannot use on GEDmatch it is most likely outdated. My advice is to get a second opinion. I have tested with Family Tree, 23andme and some of the old Print an autosomal tests that are now obsolete. Plus one Y-DNA test was done by a lab in England. With the same results E1B1A as my FTDNA Y-test. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016



*This paper was originally presented at the November, 1974, meeting of the Tennessee Folklore Society.

            by Saundra Keyes Ivey
            Fisk University

   The Moonshiners, published in 1895, described a well-known seller of Tennessee home brew as follows:

   Betsy is a moonshineress, and despite the vigilance and the bravery of Uncle Sam's gallant army of revenue officers, she will remain a moonshineress, no doubt, so long as she is able to pour a drop of liquor out of a keg or a demijohn and count the price of it.

   She keeps open house all the year round, and extends to the officers as well as other people a cordial invitation to visit her whenever it suits their convenience....She could not be taken out of the house without taking the roof off and hoisting her out with a derrick; and a derrick could not be taken there for the purpose, for she lives way up on Newman's Ridge, more than three miles from the nearest spot at all accessible with team and wagon....During the greater number of her waking hours, she sits upon a low bed, resting her feet upon the floor, a cask of the "contraband" always in reach from which she supplies the necessities of any who honor her with their patronage.She once sent her compliments to the judge, with the information that she would like to be arrested and taken to court, so that she might see him and something of the world before dying.
   This gross woman (six hundred pounds gross) whose body measures nine feet in circumference, whose manners are as coarse as her physical organism; who violates law, defies officers, makes daily traffic of the "dark beverage of hell," is not without a spark of sentiment, a trace of those finer human impulses and aspirations which reach out toward the divine. Once every year, she causes her huge bulk to be transported to the cabin window, from which can be seen the graves of her five sons, every one of whom died tragically, and from this spot she watches the decoration of those graves with extravagance of beautiful wild flowers.[1]

  This passage is quoted at length for two reasons: first because it describes a Tennessee folk character of genuine interest, and secondly because it contains the seeds of much that has been written about its subject, Mahala Mullins, and about her people, the Melungeons of Hancock County, Tennessee.[2]

  "Aunt Haley," as she is known in Hancock County, was one of fourteen children born to Solomon Collins and Gincie Goins. Born about 1824, Mahala married Johnnie Mullins and became the mother of about 20 children, some of whom died as infants. An examination of the available genealogy for the Mullins family reveals a possible reason for Mahala's being erroneously reffered to as "Betsy" in the preceding passage and in a number of saubsequent publications. Mahala's husband Johnnie hasd a sister , Betsy, who married Alford Collins. In the days of extremely-close family ties, an outsider might possibly have confused the sisters-in-law's names and therefore spoken of "Betsy Mullins."[3] Whatever the reason for outsiders' references to "Betsey," Aunt Mahala is well known to and always correctly identified by Hancock County residents.
   In the folklore of Hancock County, Mahala is commemorated for two things: the quality of her moonshine, said to be excellent, and the estimate of her weight, which range from 300 to 600-plus pounds. While the cycle of anecdotes about Mahala always revolves around these two items, several different motifs have grown out of the concern with her brew and her weight. In an anecdote collected for a 1966 M.A. Thesis, for example, we learn that

   Aunt Mahala Mullins was known in her neighborhood for two reasons - - she was a “bootlegger” and the biggest women (sic) in that section since she weighed almost 350 pounds. The federal authorities had tried to arrest her but found it impossible to do so because they couldn't get her down the mountain if they got her from the house. Her cabin was built on the Tennessee - Virginia State line and when the officers from one state came to arrest her, she merely moved to another part of the house which was located in the opposite state.
   When Aunt Mahalie finally died the neighbors had to knock the chimney out of the house in order to remove her body for burial.[4]

   Inaccuracies in the anecdote are immediately obvious. I have visted and photographed the site of Aunt Mahala's log house, and it is not located on the Tennessee-Virginia line(although Newman's Ridge is fairly close to the state line). And even if the house were so located, the anecdote itself contains the inconsistancy of state jurisdiction's limiting federal officers. It is perhaps for these reasons that Hancock County stories about Aunt Mahala do not often feature the “state line” motif.
   The anecdotes do, however, refer to Aunt Mahala's weight, the amount of which varies according to the informant. In the course of my own feildwork, such comments as the following were collected.

   My mother knew Aunt Mahala. She visited her. She saw her. That's first hand information.... And she said that...she weighed over 500 pounds. Uh, there's been guesses, and ...I doubt if they knew, because there wouldn't be any scales or anything. (Collected from a male informant, age aproximately 65, in July, 1973.)

   Her weight was exaggerated. Did you get somewhere about 500? I can't be exact; but my aunt told me, who was Aunt Mahala's niece, that she would have weighed about 300 pounds. (Collected from a female informant, age aproximately 80, in August, 1973.)

   As the phrases “Her weight was exaggerated” and “That's first hand information” indicate, there is a concern in Hancock County that the facts about Aunt Mahala be reported accurately - even though these facts may vary from informant to informant within the county.
   The concern for the “truth” of Aunt Mahala's story stems not so much from a reverence for historical fidelity as from a desire that outsiders not misrepresent the county. Both as the home of the Melungeons and as part of Appalachia, Hancock County has long been linked by outside writers with slovenliness, violence, and the hillbilly stereotype in which mmonshine plays a prominent part. The initial quotation referred to in this paper, with its reference to “a spark of sentiment” in the “gross woman” erroneously referred to as Betsy, is an example of the negative asprsions which have been cast upon Hancock County by many writers.
   Some of these writers remain, happily, unknown in Hancock County, but the name of Will Allen Dromgoole, a Tennessee poetess who visited the county in the late nineteenth century, is still remembered with biterness. In an 1891 article describing her visit to Hancock County, Dromgoole characterized the Melungeons as “filthy ... natural, 'born rogues', 'close, suspicious, inhospitable, untruthful, cowardly, and to use their own word, sneaky.” She concluded the essay with her judgment that “The most that can be said of one of them is 'He is a Malungeon,' a synonym for all that is doubtful and mysterious - and unclean.” [5]
   A natural resentment of such stereotyped distortions (and Dromgoole's article is only the first in a long series of these) has developed in Hancock County. This resentment is compounded by the fact that some of the most inaccurate and negative reports of Hancock County life have been published by writers who, like Dromgoole, have done fieldwork or interviewing in the course of their research. Unfortunately, some of the published materials labeled “folklore” are among the worst offenders in this regard.
   In a 1937 Nashville Banner feature, “Lost Tribes of Tennessee's Mountains,” James Aswell wrote about the Melungeons and what he called “their legends.” According to Aswell, “one of the most striking bits of Melungeon folksay is the story of big Betsy Mullins, who from her cabin atop a razorback ridge defied the law of state and nation for twenty years.”[6] At this point, Aswell is indeed referring to Hancock County folklore, but the validity of his article declines steadily as he goes on to explain that

At the beginning of her career, Betsy is said to have tipped he scales to a neat 600 pounds. Some versions of the story state, in addition, that she towered seven and a half feet into the thin mountain air and that she could “heft” a yearling bull over her head with all ease. When sahe sat to a light meal, she commonly downed a whole pig, hide hoofs (sic), and all. She could tear a firm-rooted pine from the earth with one hand and could splinter a two-inch oaken plank with her bare fist. Around her arm, she could bend a forged iron crowbar as an ordinary woman might wrap a length of silk ribbon. In a word, Betsy Mullins would have been a fitting match for that Heracles of the American lumber camps, Paul Bunyan.[7]

   The fact that I did not collect such information in the course of my 1973-74 fieldwork does not mean that the material should not be called folklore; even the beginning student is taught that folk traditions may decline or die out of communities in which they once circulated. Folklore likewise exhibits variation as one of its defining characteristics; therefore, the fact that Aswell presents ideas unreported by my informants might be explained by his having collected the material outside Hancock County, the site of my research. In fact, in fairness to Aswell it should be noted that he writes “Just where Betsy lived is a moot question. It is claimed that she was a Rhea Countian. It is also said that she was a native of Hancock, of Marion, or a half a dozen other counties. Even the name of Betsy's ridge citadel is a matter for hot argument.”[8]

   This quotation certainly implies a collection of more than one version of the anecdote, and I would be willing to concede that the differences in Aswell's information and my own reflect simply variations in time and space were it not for the tone of Aswell's material. So many phrases in his article sound more like a Paul Bunyan brochure than like any descriptions collected from any folk group whatsoever that I am forced to use the term fakelore, in it's most negative sense, to describe them.

   These fakeloric phrases multiply in one of Aswell's contributions to the 1940 publication of the Tennessee Writer's Project, God Bless the Devil! Liars Bench Tales. In "Six Hundred Honest Pounds,"[9] Aswell introduces the reader to Betsy at a political barbecue, where she wrestles (and defeats) four men at once. As her prize, Betsy requests that she be allowed to sell gourds without interference from the law. The gourds are, of course, filled with whiskey, and the stage is set for Aswell's narration of Betsy's furthur adventures with the law.

  Several new elements enter this 1940 version of Betsy's story. Besides being introduced as a female "wrastler," during the course of this narrative she is allowed to grow from 300 to 600 pounds, and to progress from a mere seven husbands at the time of her initial appearance to 33 at the time of her death. Missing from this version is the erroneous 1937 report that Betsey's relatives managed to bury her by "wrapping her in great thicknesses of quilts and rolling her, inch at a time, down the ridge."[10] In 1940, Aswell describes Betsy's being wrapped in quilts and blankets, but this time she is lowered into her grave by means of a block and tackle that had been constructed by revenue agents in a vain attempt to bring her to justice. (The lowering of Betsy's body is accomplished, in this version, by her 33 husbands and assorted kinfolks.)

   To object to such fakelore is not simply to indulge in scholarly name calling or intellectual fastidiousness, for the material is objectionable on several very practical grounds. It is not just that fakelore presents erroneous information; folklore contains innaccuracies as well, as the widely divergent estimates of Aunt Mahala's weight make clear. However, the particular type of misinformation presented by Aswell serves not only to obscure history, but also to encourage sensationalism of the most misleading sort. If "Kolklore is a key to understanding a way of life,"[11] as the preface to God Bless the Devil! asserts, it simply should not be distorted in this way.
   It is the distortions of Mahala's story which cause irritation and create a concern for accuracy within Hancock County. Outside writers' persistent reports that either a chimney or a cabin wall was knocked out for Mahala's burial were denied by several informants. One of Mahala's descendants explained:

   The house had a chimney built here on this end [draws diagram] which has partly fallen down now. You saw that, didn't you? And at the other end of the house, when she died, the chimney had not been built. It wasn't built. But an opening was left for the chimney. And this opening was boarded over to prevent weather exposure. Then when they moved her body out, they did take the opening out, but the chimney was not built when she died. [Emphatically] So the chimney was not torn down. (Collected from a female informant, age approximately 80, in August, 1973)

   The same informant took pains to deny the erroneous statement, frequently attributed to her in newspaper articles, that when Mahala died, relatives "wrapped her in quilts and gently rolled her down the hill to be buried."[12]

   No, they carried her out....They did not have a coffin. She was on a four poster bed....They sawed the post off and boarded up the top of it, and that was her casket. In other words, they just made a box out of the bed, the top part of the bed.

   My informants were not neccessarily angered by the failures of outside writers to report specific details correctly. The facts that writers often do not agree on Mahala's weight, often do not correctly describe her burial, and often do not mention that her excessive weight was due to elephantiasis may be overlooked, though it is felt by many people that such errors of reporting are perpetuated by writers' borrowing from previous articles rather than checking for correct information within Hancock County. (This opinion is given weight by the number of misleading published reports concerning the Melungeons which may be traced directly to the publications of Miss Dromgoole, but that is the subject for another paper.) However, such publications as those which mate Mahala with 33 husbands, or which refer to her as "Big Betsy, the she-devil moonshine queen"[13] are regarded with scorn.

   An ambivalent attitude about the telling of Aunt Mahala anecdotes has therefore developed in Hancock County. On the one hand, there is pride in relating unique tales from the county's past, and the story of law enforcement officials' reporting that Mahala was "ketcable but not fetchable" is told with gusto. In fact, during a community improvement project several years ago, county school children made a sign bearing that slogan and placed it for the view of tourists attending "walk Towards the Sunset," an outdoor drama based on the Melungeon story.
   On the other hand, there is a justifiable wariness that the outsider may misrepresent the anecdote. While there is no sense of shame attached to Mahala's profession of bootlegging-- a picture of her seated next to a container of whiskey with a dripping gourd in her hand was shown me by a number of persons-- there is a desire that this fact be understood on the county's terms. Most of my informants sensibly recognized that moonshining represented one of the few viable economic alternatives open to Mahala Mullins and others like her; all they ask is that outsiders share this recognition and not use stories about Mahala to stereotype Hancock County as a moonshiner's haven.

   There is a desire both to correct erroneously published information and to add to the record the information of "eye witnesses" and/or relatives of Aunt Mahala. One informant told me;

   My mother talked to her ...and even felt of her hands and saw her feet and so on...She told me she was one of the most beautiful women as far as her complexion. Her hands were so smooth, and they were very small and her feet were very small...And she said that she laughed and said "I make our living this way and they're welcome to come and get me." And they would go up and arrest  her, you see, and over there on that sign [the sign previously referred to] there used to be "gettable but not fetchable." She was gettable all right, but they couldn't get her out the door, you see. (Collected from a male informant, age approximately 65, in July, 1973.)

   A descendant spoke of meeting a woman who had, as a child, often visited Aunt Mahala.

She said "Aunt Haley was a very, very sweet old lady." And she said "She would give us gingerbread and something to drink"-- uh, not whiskey, milk [laughs]; milk or whatever she had.  They always expected something to eat when they went to her house. (Collected from a female informant, age approximately 80, in August, 1973.)

   From such reports we learn that Mahala Mullins, a kindly woman who suffered from a most uncomfortable illness, was neither the gross, insensitive creature depicted in 1895, nor the female Paul Bunyan of 1937, nor the "she-devil" of more recent journalists. As a true folk character, she remains the subject of anecdote and legend. She has found her way not only into newspaper features (for better or worse), but also into the fiction of at least two authors.
   Mildred Haun's The Hawk's Done Gone begins with a reference to "Letitia Edes' Mountain." Haun's narrator remembers:

When I was a youngon folks would tell me tales about that mountain, how Letitia Edes wanted, worse than a hungry dog wants a rabbit, to grow bigger than any mountain she ever saw. She growed so big that when she died they couldn't get her out of the house to bury her. They had to climb up on the hills around the house and shovel the dirt on top of it.[14]

   Since Miss Haun grew up in Cocke County, Tennessee, and since she includes references to both Hancock County and the Melungeons in her work, it seems reasonable too suggest that Mahala Mullins was the inspiriation for this passage.
   A more clear-cut use of Mahala's story is found in Jesse Stuatrt's novel Daughter of the Legend. Even if it were not known that Stuart had visited Hancock County during the period of his attendance at Lincoln Memorial University, it would be obvious that he has based his character Sylvania on Mahala Mullins. Sylvania lives on Sanctuary Mountain, Stuart's name for Newman's Ridge, where she makes her living selling moonshine. Another character explains that:

Sheriff can arrest Sylvania all he please....But he couldn't get her outen the shack. Skinny said his wife hadn't been outside his shcak for twenty years. Said she couldn't get through the door.[15]

   Like the real Mahala, Sylvania is complimented on the quality of her brew. According to one of her fictional customers:

When she sold you a gallon of moonshine you got a gallon of unadulterated moonshine and not two quarts of moonshine with a quart of water and a quart of carbide all stirred up well and shook before drinking.[16]

   Stuart deviates from Hancock County's version of the facts in several particulars, such as having Sylvania buried in an immense coffin built especially for her funeral. Despite such changes, Daughter of the Legend clearly represents Mahala Mullins' most extended appearance in print.
   The consideration of printed and orally transmitted references to Aunt Mahala is significant for several reasons. First, these references perpetuate the memory of a colorful Tennessee folk character. More importantly, however, they provide a unique illustration of the complex relationships between print and oral tradition. The Mahala Mullins folklore found today in Hancock County derives not only from the traditions which surrounded Mahala during her life and shortly after her death, but also from the re-shapings of these traditions by outside writers. This folklore bears the stamp of such re-shapings in two ways. In some cases, erroneous phrases such as "They wrapped her in quilts and rolled her gently down the hill" have entered the narrations of Hancock Countians in an almost formulaic way. In other, more frequent cases, the incorrect information is not included, and such phrases as "This is a first hand account," or "So and so can tell you the real truth" have become equally formulaic. In both instances, the folk tradition supports one writer's assertion that "Death did not put an end to Betsy Mullins' phenomenal growth."[17] Though the name is wrong, the ephitet is correct.

[1]Henry M. Wiltse, The Moonshiners (Chattanooga, 1895), quoted in Joseph Earl Dabney, Mountain Spirits: A Chronicle of Corn Whiskey from King James' Ulster Plantation to America's Appalachians and the Moonshine Life (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1974), pp.138-39.
[2]The Melungeons are a dark-skinned people, neither Black nor Indian, whose origins have been the object of both scholarship and romantic conjecture for nearly two hundred years. The best brief introduction to the Hancock County Melungeons is Henry Price, Melungeons: The Vanishing Colony of Newman's Ridge (Sneedville, Tenn., 1971).
[3]  In the 1850 census records, Mahala's age is given as 25, which would make her birth 1825. In the 1880 census, however, her age is given as 56, which would make her date of birth 1824. Mr. William P. Grohse, the unofficial and very well informed historian of Hancock County, informs me that the 1860 census gives Mahala's age as 36, while the 1870 census lists her as 45. Mr. Goins has been most generous in sharing his information about the Collins and Mullins genealogy.
[4]   Phyllis Cox Barr, “The Melungeons of Newman's Ridge” (unpublished M.A. Thesis, East Tennessee State University, 1965), pp. 18-19. In a 1974 interview, Ms. Barr (now Mrs. Gibson) told me that the folklore included in her thesis had been collected from oral tradition. She gave no information about her informants because she had promised them not to reveal their identities.
[5]   Dromgoole's findings were published in “The Malungeons,” Arena, 3 (March, 1891), 470-79, and in “The Malungeon Tree and Its Four Branches,” Arena, 3 (May, 1891), 745-51. Passages quoted are from “The Malungeons,” 474; 479.
[6]   Magazine Section, August 22, 1937, p.5
[7]   Ibid.
[8]   Ibid.
[9]   James R. Aswell, ed., God Bless the Devil! Liars Bench Tales (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1940), pp. 226-43.
[10]   Aswell, “Lost Tribes,” p. 5.
[11]   p.v. The “Preface” was written by William R. McDaniel, Supervisor of the Tennessee Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration.
[12]   John Fetterman, “The Melungeons, “ The Courier Journal and Times Magazine, March 30, 1969, p. 9
[13]   William Endicott, “Mystery of the Melungeons,” San Francisco Examniner, November 15, 1970.
[14]   Mildred Haun, The Hawk's Done Gone and Other Stories, ed. Herschel Gower (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1968), p.5.
[15]   Jess Stuart, Daughter of the Legend (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), p.33.
[16]   Ibid., pp.203-204.
[17]   Aswell, “Lost Tribes,” p. 5.