Thursday, August 8, 2013


Zephaniah Goins Fought In Yorktown Campaign Zephaniah Goins, son of John Going and Elizabeth Going, and my seventh-generation grandfather, was born about 1758 in Halifax County, Virginia. He enlisted in the Virginia troops during the American Revolution and was present at the Battle of Yorktown when Cornwallis surrendered in October 1781. Zephaniah Goins, a Melungeon, was married to Elizabeth Thompson June 20, 1790 by Rev. Joseph Anthony of Henry County, Virginia. She was the daughter of William Thompson and Mary Estes Thompson. "Zephaniah Going" was a resident of Rockingham County, North Carolina in 1795. He appeared as the head of a household in the 1810 census of the county. Soon afterward he removed to Tennessee. Learning that Zephaniah Goins had joined Blackwater Primitive Baptist Church by dismission letter from another church which was unnamed, I began trying to locate this church. In the Blackwater minutes, 1816 to 1834, I found four seventh-generation grandfathers who served in the Revolutionary War: Thomas Bledsoe, Henry Fisher, John England and Zephaniah Goins.<>

 <> While searching in the public library in Kingsport, Tennessee, I found the minutes of neighboring Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church at Ft. Blackmore, Virginia, just across the state line. They contained some very interesting Melungeon references in the minutes recorded in 1813. The term "Melungeon" was probably in common usage long before then, but this is the first time I have found it recorded. Ft. Blackmore was built at Stony Creek, in Washington County, Virginia before the Revolutionary War by Capt. John Blackmore to protect the settlers from Indian attacks.<>

 <> Ft. Blackmore was located about eight miles southwest of present day Dungannon, Virginia in Scott County. In 1780 Capt. Blackmore's militiamen participated in the victory over the Cherokees in the Battle of Boyd's Creek. While driving through this small town trying to form a picture of what this place looked like 200 years ago, I stopped at a church called Pine Grove Primitive Baptist Church. Residents told me that this site was where old Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church had been located. I learned that the old building had been washed away in a flood. I was told the old fort was about where Stony Creek flows into the Clinch River and tried to visualize this place where my forebears were stationed during the Revolutionary War.<>

 <> Grandfather Thomas Bledsoe was in Capt. Blackmore's command. He filed his Revolutionary War pension application in Hawkins County April 24, 1834. He was born in March 1760 in North Carolina and moved with his parents to the new territory, about seven miles from Long Islands of the Holston River, on Reedy Creek. It is now the site of present day Kingsport, Tennessee. After the Battle of Kings Mountain, peace returned to the Clinch River valley briefly. John Murray Lord Dunmore, the Earl of Dunmore, was appointed governor of Virginia in 1771, and an Indian war erupted during the third year of his tenure which was thereafter called Lord Dunmore's War. A band of white marauders led by a desperado named Greathouse attacked an Indian village and killed several of the tribesmen.<>

 <> An Indian chieftain, John Logan, known to the tribe as Tahgahjute, took to the warpath to avenge the death of his sister and other kinsmen in the raid. John Logan, son of Shikellamy, was born in 1725. Shikellamy was a white man who had been captured by the Cuyugas while a child. He grew up in the tribe, married an Indian woman and became a chief. Believing that the troops of Capt. Michael Cresap were responsible for the raid and the murders, John Logan sent him a declaration of hostilities. This was the begining of Lord Dunmore's War which saw the frontier become a blazing battleground. Gov. Dunmore did his utmost to restore peace and was able to bring the Shawnee Chief Cornstalk to a parley after the Battle of Point Pleasant, but Logan shunned the peace talks and continued the fighting which was a prelude to the Revolutionary War. When the Revolution began, Logan served the British cause and wreaked havoc on the frontier settlements. In addition to Cuyugas, the Mingoes, Cherokees, Shawnees, Chickasaws, Creeks and Chickamaugas went on the warpath from time to time, all supplied and encouraged by the British. During the Revolution, Logan led a charmed life and did not receive a scratch, but was killed in 1780 near Lake Erie by a nephew that he had attacked. Lord Dunmore fared little better. In April 1775 Patrick Henry at the head of the Hanover Minute Men forced Dunmore to flee his office and take refuge on a British war vessel lying off Yorktown. In retaliation, Dunmore ordered Norfolk, the largest town in Virginia at that time, to be burned. This outrage united the Virginians in their resolve, and the British quickly order Dunmore out of the colony in 1776.<>

 <> Lord Dunmore's War was not the last time that John Sevier was associated with the Melungeons. He was born in New Market, Virginia in Rockingham County in 1745. In 1776, he was one of the first to settle on the Watauga River west of the Appalachians when Tennessee was opened for settlement. Melungeons on the Watauga were then his neighbors. Col. Sevier was one of the commanders in the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780, and Melungeon militiamen were included in his command. Later in that year, Col. Sevier led an expedition against the Cherokee Indians. Included in his command was the militia company of Capt. Blackmore and its Melungeons. He helped to organize the Free State of Franklin [which embraced the Melungeons] and became its governor in 1784. Feeling that he was leading an insurrection, the officials of North Carolina arrested Sevier and convicted him of high treason. Later he was pardoned. Ten years later he was elected the first governor of Tennessee.<>

 <> The Stony Creek minutes are complete from 1801 to 1811. Then from 1811 to 1814 there are intermittent skips. The first minutes dated November 14, 1801 reveal that it was an existing church and adding new members rapidly. Meetings were held on the second Saturday of each month. The minutes reveal that the congregation was composed of whites, Melungeons, free Negroes and slaves. During the next four years, 88 new members were added; 33 of these were persons bearing familiar Melungeon names: Gibson, Collins, More [Moore], Bolin, Bolling, Sexton, Osborne, Maner and Minor. According to the minutes, by 1807 most Melungeon families were gone; eight had received letters of dismission, and five others had been excommunicated for various unrepented sins. The word "Melungins" was recorded in the minutes of the church dated September 26, 1813 and is the oldest written reference to them that I have found:<>

 <> "September 26, 1813. Church sat in love. Bro. Kilgore, Moderator. Then came forward Sis. Kitchen and complained to the Church against Susanna Stallard for saying she harbored them Melungins. Sis. Sook said she was hurt with her for believing her child and not believing her, and she won't talk to her to get satisfaction, and both is pigedish [pig-headedish] one against the other. Sister Sook lays it down and the church forgives her." Sister Susanna Kitchen was provoked with Susanna "Sookie" Stallard for reporting that the Melungeons were visiting in her home. Sister Susan "Sook" Kitchens joined the church September 26, 1812. Her child told Susanna Stallard the Melungeons had been staying there. The church forgave her upon her repentance, but the furor appeared to continue at the next meeting. <>

<> Stony Creek was happy to see the Melungeons remove to Tennessee, and some were chagrinned to have them return on visits to Virginia. Some did not request dismissions, but simply returned to Stony Creek to worship upon occasions. The closest ones lived near Kyle's Ford, Tennessee 40 miles downstream on the Clinch. With their primitive roads it would be impossible for them to attend services at Stony Creek and return in one day. Someone had to be "harboring" them for perhaps for more than one night at a time. Some members of Stony Creek sought a resolution to keep the Melungeons attending church in Tennessee:<>

 <> "October 23, 1813. Church sat and found in love. Bro. Cox puts a question to the Church: 'Whether it is in order to live in the bounds of one church and to belong to another church.' The assembly determined 'it not good to bind any member in such cases.'" Several blacks were members at Stony Creek, Rhoda [Cox's black], William George and his two blacks; Luke Stallard's black." "Feb. 26, 1809, 'Can blacks testify against whites?' The church voted 'yes.'<>

 <> Concerning the use of the word Melungeon in these minutes, it appears to a common word well known to this community. From the minutes, the following were the first people to join Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church bearing Melungeon related names: "December 1801 "Nancy Gibson, received by letter. Valentine Collins received by experience and baptised. May the 22nd day 1802: Church meeting held at Stony Creek. Received by experance Nancy Brikey, Riley Collins, Mary Large. Rachel Gibson, Thomas Gibson, Beter Gibson, George Gibson, John Stuart and baptised." Three members of Stony Creek are on the 1755 tax list of Orange County, North Carolina. Listed were "mulattoes" Thomas Gibson, George Gibson and Charles Gibson. Four members of Stony Creek reappeared on the 1810 tax list of Hawkins County, Tennessee: Thomas Gibson, George Gibson, Charles Gibson and Valentine Collins.<>

 <> Using the minutes of Stony Creek, you can note when Valentine Collins and Charles Gibson left for Hawkins County. "April the 21 day 1803, Bro. Valentine Collins and wife to receive a letter of dismission, also Bro. Charles Gibson and wife." Blackwater Primitive Baptist Church was located at Kyles Ford, Tennessee in Hawkins County [present day Hancock County] on the bank of the Clinch River. Organized in 1801, it was the first church established in this section. The earliest minutes found begin in 1816. We know by the minutes of Stoney Creek who some of its members were. "February the 26th day 1802. Thomas Gibson Excommunicated. Sis. Vina Gibson obtained a letter of dismission by letter of recommendation from Blackwater Church. Sister Mary Gibson obtained a letter of dismission. Clary More received by experiance and baptised. Dismissed in order." Charles Gibson, born in Virginia, moved to North Carolina and later joined Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church June 26, 1802, then removed to Blackwater Primitive Baptist Church. "Charles Gibson and wife, Rubin Gibson and wife, and Valentine Collins and wife" received dismission to go down to Blackwater Church.<>

<>  The earliest minutes found there begin in 1816, but none of these people are found in them, probably because Greasy Rock Primitive Baptist Church had been subsequently established at Sneedville, Tennessee. Churches other than Blackwater mentioned in the minutes of Stony Creek include, Glade Hollow Primitive Baptist Church, Deep Springs Primitive Baptist Church at 3 forks of the Powell River mentioned Aug. 1806 probably near Jonesville, Virginia and Moccasin Primitive Baptist Church. When the minutes of these sister congregations are found, they may contain additional information about the Melungeons. <>

 <> "Zephaniah Goans, free person of color" was recorded as the head of a "free colored" household in the 1830 census of Roane County, Tennessee, page 47. In 1834, "Zephaniah Going" moved back to Hawkins County, Tennessee, He filed his Revolutionary pension application there December 18, 1834. Without any embellishment, my Melungeon grandfather simply declared, "I was at the siege and present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown." (Written by Jack Goins published in the Gowen Research Foundation Newsletter Oct 1993 . In January 2010 I learned that Garnell Marshall of St. Paul, Va had transcribed 4 of the Stony Creek Minute books which included book two and the minutes reads the same in regard to “Melungins”) Jack Goins

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