Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Regretfully, I feel compelled to respond to an open letter from Joanne Pezzullo on her blog concerning the Stony Creek Church records. Her motive is to diminish the importance of these church minutes, especially the 1813 date. because these minutes established an early date for the Core Melungeons.  This is just more of her continued attack on me, because the DNA project reveals her exotic theory is scientifically wrong.  “she hope’s to show her Melungeons originated in the PeeDee River area, as posted on her website: [From my research I hope to be able to show that the Malungeons were in fact Portuguese Adventurers who intermixed with the local  Indians in the Carolinas, I believe I can”.]  I will comment on her opinions on the Hamilton County Court case,  transcriptions, and DNA. Posted below is from her blog starting with the Stony Creek Church Minutes.
[When Penny posted to the Melungeon list on September 21, 2001 Jack is the one who found the word Melungeon in the Stony Creek Baptist Church records, no one else had ever noticed it. WHAT A FIND. " 

Did you correct her? Did you tell her no, I wasn't the first to find it, in fact I only looked at a transcription? No you didn't. In fact you went into a diatribe about where your GOINS came from and insinuated they were at the Stony Creek Church when in fact they were not.

In the reply to her your wrote; " I searched several old church records for his name including Stony Creek where I notice the word Melungin written in the 1813 minutes. "                                                 
Again insinuating you had searched the records, not a transcription in a book. Big difference isn't it. Why did you not tell Penny and the entire Melungeon list, including myself,  that you had only seen a transcription and Emory Hamilton was in fact the one that had 'noticed it first'. How are you going to spin this one? You deliberately let People think YOU had found that word in the Stony Creek Church records instead of in the transcription by Emory Hamilton until January of 2004. And that Jack, was when I quit PRAISING YOUR FIND.] 
 I reported what I found, when and where I found it, In the summer of 1992, and I will show by records that     Joanne Pezzullo fabricated this whole story because she knew where I found those minutes. I was a member of the Gowen Research foundation in1992, and almost all of my correspondence was by us mail. 1995 was the year AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe all showed up.  I wrote letters to several researchers in the Gowen research foundation informing them of these minutes, and wrote an article for their newsletter published November 1993 paragraph 5. I wrote: “ While searching in the public Library in Kingsport, Tennessee I found the minutes of Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church at Fort Blackmore Virginia, they contained some very interesting Melungeon references etc, etc”.

I found these church minutes 8 years before these emails were posted on the Melungeon Rootsweb list. I met Penny at a meeting in Vardy in the summer of 2001 where she purchased my book. Notice in Joanne blog she starts with Penny Ferguson post on September 1, 2001, conclusions drawn from that email does not prove Penny was mislead, I concluded in my response to Penny “I'm sure others had noticed this word but may have not known about the Melungeons, or was not researching Melungeons”. Joanne also purchased my book in 2002, and most likely looked at the reference page published in my book "Melungeon And Other Pioneer Families, printed in 2000, Reference #6, page 203 -"Stony Creek Church Minutes, copied August 1966, by Emory L. Hamilton, Wise, Virginia, from the original minutes, believed to be the first minutes of Stony Creek Church. A copy  is located in the Palmer Room at Kingsport Library, Kingsport, Tennessee".  Joanne also purchased my book  “Melungeons, Footprints from the Past, printed in 2009 and purchased by her in 2009.  Copied from page 80-“ In the first minutes of Stony Creek Church, the Thomas Gibson family, who joined in 1802, were excommunicated a few months later. Endnotes Chapter 2, page 87, footnotes 198- Stony Creek Church Minutes book one, Palmer Room, Kingsport, Library, Kingsport Tennessee.199 Ibid.

I will also use Pat Elder book to answer Joanne assertion that I lied about the minutes.
I told my friend Pat Elder about the Stony Creek church record, she checked it out, and published in her book, “Melungeon Examining an Appalachian Legend”, printed 1999, “on page 20, paragraph 2, spelled Melungins in 1813, Melungen in 1849, and Malungen in 1891, the Melungeon spelling was not in common usage until modern times, there is no documentation they ever called themselves Melungeons and the Stony Creek Church minutes imply the term was less than complimentary as early as 1813”.  footnote 15 at bottom of page 20 reads: ”The 1813 spelling is from a church book for Stony Creek Church, Nevel Waylan, Church Clerk p 37. Kingsport Public Library, typescript by Bobbie M. Baldwin, March 1970 from a copy Emory Hamilton made from the original. “The original Minutes are in possession of a local resident whose name is withheld by request”. Melungeon researchers owe a debt of gratitude to Jack H.Goins, 270 Holston View drive, Rogersville Tennessee. For documenting his find of the Stony Creek Church Record”.

Pat Elder read the minutes from the church book and wrote her conclusions on the minutes. Pat never questioned the accuracy of the transcriber, she went further and found out who had the original minutes. These record establishes that I reported what I found, when and where I found it.  Emory Hamilton made his copy from the original minutes in 1966. This was before the Outdoor Drama in Sneedville, Tennessee, when only a handful of people even knew about the Melungeons, so he had no agenda. These minutes prove that many of the families who became known as the Newman Ridge, Blackwater Melungeons were there before they migrated to Clinch River and Blackwater area of then Hawkins County, Tennessee. Minutes Dec 1801 Nancy Gibson received by letter, Valentine Collins received by experience and baptized. The following families joined Stony Creek Church in 1802, Thomas Gibson, George Gibson, Rubin Gibson, Charles Gibson and wife Mary. Sept 22, 1804, Rubin Gibson for persevering in wickedness such as cursing and swearing and getting drunk is excluded from membership of this church, he lives at Blackwater congregation and received a letter from this church and keeps it and has joined another church.   

These examples presented above show concrete evidence that Joanne Pezzullo knew where I found that Church record and has intentionally slandered me on her blog.  Emory Hamilton’s copies that were sent to the Clinch Valley Archives at Wise, Virginia is lost. I have been there twice and was told those records were misplaced when they moved from the old Library to the new. I was there again in 2014 and they could not locate Hamilton’s church records. I made several efforts to obtain the original minutes to have them microfilmed through the Hawkins County Archive, this service is offered free by the state. I am just as interested in finding Emory Hamilton copy, which begs this question. Did he copy those records by hand writing, or by Zerox ?, if he typed them, there would have been no reason for Bobbie Baldwin copy.   We have the Stony Creek Church Minutes at the Hawkins County Archive, copied from the original minutes by Emory Hamilton that includes both book 1 and book 2 . Book 2 is exactly the same as Baldwin copy of book two, this record was in Johnnie Rhea collection .

  Emory L. Hamilton (1913-1991) was a historian and educator in Wise County, Virginia “This copy of what is perhaps the first book of the Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church located on Stony Creek, near Fort Blackmore, Scott County, Virginia was in possession of Mr. Scott Boatwright of Colburn Virginia.  Copied August , 1966, by Emory L. Hamilton Wise, Virginia with a copy filed in the Archive of the Southwest Virginia Historical Society, at Clinch Valley College, Wise Virginia. Book 2 is a few faded pages with no covers. Book 2, starts with what seems to be part of the Minutes of the November meeting 1812. These minutes between July 1811 and November 1811 has apparently been torn off and lost. Book no 2, is in a very faded condition and very difficult to read. Copied from Hamilton copy in 1970 by Bobbie Baldwin. (on page 37 Sept 26, 1813 is the section that mentions Melungins. this book has 40 pages. on the last page is written; “copied from Emory L. Hamilton's copy, by Bobbie M. Baldwin, March 1970.”)

Joanne’s Pezzullo opinion that transcriptions are practically worthless, is probably why she took the wrong path in her research, because the famous Hamilton County Court case she is using is a *TRANSCRIPTION* of the original court record which was transcribed for the appeal to the State Supreme Court.  She obviously don’t know that the vast majority of court records are transcriptions of the original record, including all Deeds, the owner keeps the original, who takes it to the court recorder to have it registered, in the old days before the Xerox  in 1958, the clerks copied them by hand, then notarized them and gave the original back to the owner. When the copy machines came along in the 1950's the clerks registered a copy from the original.

  I was fortunate to have Dennis and Connie Powell from Utah Microfilming our court records, they started in the fall of 2005 and had just finished microfilming the Hamilton County Court records. I ask them about the trial and they remembered the beautiful well preserved strand of hair that was in the original record, so I sent for the microfilm, the hand writing in the microfilm was very poor compared to the very plain transcribed case I have. I made a picture of the hair from the microfilm and placed it in my article on the Hamilton County court case, page 128 in my book “Melungeons Footprints from the Past”.

P 323- Deposition of  Elizabeth Bolton. Betsey was named by Judge Lewis Shepherd in his memoirs because most thought she was still in Illinois, but had returned and was living with Mr. Williams. She gave her age as 44, her father as Solomon Bolton and Grandfather Spencer Bolton.  Q-.What became of the infant daughter of Jerome & Jamima Simmerman after Jemima’s death, and where is she now?. A- I took her when she was 9 days old and lived with my father in Illinois until he died. She now lives with me on Mr. Williams’s farm.                                
Page 326 Q-What is the difference in the color of your skin and hair as your father.                     A.-There is very little difference, our hair is just alike.                                                                         
Q- Will you attach a lock of your hair to this deposition.                                                                  
A- I herewith attach a lock of my hair. 


Note- Hamilton County Chancery Court Records were microfilmed in 2004 by Dennis & Connie Powell of Utah, I noted from the microfilm this hair was in great condition to be 130 years old at the time of this film.

[“Joanne Pezzullo writes on her blog; You know this is a problem, your email to me shows this court case changed the direction of OUR research.”] 

There you go again, trying to drag me down the wrong path with you. This case added to my research I was surprised that some of the suggested Melungeons were Goins who were related to me, proven by Y-DNA test. This case further established that they did not call themselves Melungeon, they were called Melungeon by the witnesses in this trial.  The charges in this case by the Plaintiff was the Bolton’s were Negro and not entitled to Jerome C. Simmerman’ fortune. I knew they were called Melungeons in Hamilton County by their attorney. I wrote about this trial in my first book and this condensed version has the same results. See ,"Melungeons And Other Pioneer Families",  published in 2000 page 47 " If this flat foot information is true, this is even more evidence Attorney Lewis Shepherd of Chattanooga, Tennessee knew about these previous Melungeon trials in Rogersville on Illegal voting, and used some of the same arguments in his famous 1872 (1874) “Melungeon case”.  It is hard to believe that a young attorney like Lewis Shepherd would not have known about these Rogersville trials, but did claim to know much about the East Tennessee Melungeons.  He appeared to have first hand knowledge from this area. In that trial family members of the child’s father claimed that the child in the case could not inherit her father’s estate because her mother, a Bolton, was a Negro, and they were never legally married. They presented several witnesses who claimed the Boltons were Negro and had kinky hair. Shepherd argued they were Carthaginian or Phoenician origin just like the East Tennessee Melungeons, and the family of this woman was not Negro. He also used hair, and according to one source feet. The jury ruled in favor of the daughter who received her father’s fortune.

The article on my book published in 2009 show the same results, as the article in my book published in 2000. Attorney Lewis Shepherd confirmed the Melungeons began in East Tennessee “he wrote these people migrated from South Carolina to Hancock County, “the term Melungeon is an East Tennessee provincialism it was coined by the people of that county to apply to these people”. The bottom line is, the first group given this derogatory name Melungeon, was the Newman Ridge Blackwater group.    

[Joanne wrote: You know the problem with transcriptions as you clearly point out in the article "John Graweere or Geaween?"  written when Tim Hashaw claimed Paul Heinegg had seen the 'orignial' and Heinegg swore to it, only to find out he merely copied a transcription.]

This is not really compatible, in this case there was no original, Conway Robinson transcribed the court records before they were destroyed by a fire in Richmond. He transcribed the name twice both times as John Graweere, The reference Paul Heinegg used was The Virginia Magazine of History and Biology transcribed as Geaween, which he claimed was a variant for Gowen.  There was also a Surry County record of the same case and he was called John Gasheare. Of all the surnames mentioned in the transcriptions only Gashear is found at word connect as a surname.

 [Joanne on her blog wrote; Your argument that the DNA is the be all - end all is ridiculous. You tested the Y DNA of these men, only representing the male side and did NOT even attempt to include the female lines in your study, or the Pee Dee River families.]

Joanne has been a constant critic of the Core Melungeon DNA project, her first actuations was that I stacked the project with my Goins line who I knew were African. And now she claims it’s flawed because we didn’t include a lot of female lines in our project.  This project started with Y-DNA test, similar to the Sizemore DNA project. and other family projects. Most family projects continue to be a Y-DNA project because the maternal line is had to trace due the name changes. The number of descendants tested in a particular family line only confirms the accuracy of that ancestors DNA haplogroup, which in my case was Zephaniah Goins. When in fact there were five descendants tested in the Benjamin Collins line and in both lines their origin was African. There were three other Goins lines that tested African, but were not related to my Goins. The bottom line is, if you could document these African paternal lines back say 3000 years, both their parents would most likely be African. The mtDNA test were European, these families have an almost equal number of African & European male haplogroups. Thus the DNA test results genetically show the off-springs of the Historical Melungeons were of sub-Saharan African men and European women of northern or central European origin.  To put it in simple terms these two groups of African & European men on Newman Ridge were genetically related. This fact is further established by  the Family Finder DNA tests.

 The Core Melungeon DNA project answered  the age old question of their dark skin which caused them generations of discrimination and persecutions by their white neighbors, and the courts. Having a g, g, great- grandfather tried for illegal voting gives me the authority to express my opinion and to show my gratitude to all those Melungeon descendants who contributed a DNA sample, and to all of those who helped me administer this project, and to the Genetic Genealogy Review Board who correctly established we had done it right. And the Associated Press for publishing our results around the world. I don’t think this incredible journey of these families has really dawned on this generation yet, but in time as DNA continues to show we are all one people, this will be realized as one of the greatest true story every told.    
See DNA Review Article, Melungeons, A Multi-Ethnic Population-

When one views the Sizemore DNA project  it is loaded with Q haplogroups-Big Y DNA Results Divide and Unite Haplogroup Q Native Americans
When one views the  core Melungeons, its loaded with African haplogroups- first there was E1b1a now Em2-Am31,Eu174 all African.
Two historical groups with a total different end result, with no complaints on the Sizemore results, but on the Melungeon group certain people find all kinds of problems.

A g,g great Sizemore grandson from my 6th generation grandfather George Sizemore gave a DNA sample, the results was Q  -From genealogy I found  a female cousin whose maternal line from her mothers mothers, to Lydia  Sizemore wife of George Sizemore, Lydia mother was Elizabeth Bingham, wife of Owen Sizemore who was a cousin to George. Elizabeth DNA was European. These Sizemore claimed to be descendants  of ole Ned and filed over 2000 Cherokee Indian Applications beginning in 1905, they were rejected because they were not Cherokee. George Sizemore’s most distant paternal ancestor was probably living near Jamestown when this line of Sizemore’s  began with a female Sizemore’s son and a Native father.  In my opinion it would be almost impossible to document a direct maternal line to this Jamestown Sizemore family.     

Comenting on Joanne Pezzullo website post: “From my research I hope to be able to show that the Malungeons were in fact Portuguese Adventurers who intermixed with the local  Indians in the Carolinas, I believe I can. 

This statement posted sometime after Joanne changed her website in 2008, is not about genealogy because she has no Melungeon family connections, to me this is illusory and unattainable, like a mirage. And suggest there must be a difference between the DNA of a Portuguese Adventurer and just a plain Portuguese.   Those Early dates on the Newman Ridge Melungeons of 1813 and 1848 and DNA tests from those descendants stands as a reminder to her that she is on the wrong side of history and science.  James Mooney (1861-1921) was a notable Anthropologist who investigated the settlements that claimed to be Portuguese. He described their appearance as a cross or mixture of Indian, white and Negro. This included the Pamunkeys of Virginia, the Croatan Indians of the Carolinas, the Melungeons of Tennessee. According to Mooney, the explanation was simple, in view of the colonial records, where all the Portuguese ships wrecked and many other accounts suggest they were telling the truth.

The Portuguese Connection-Twenty two adults in my immediate family, 17 who have proven Melungeon heritage including g,g, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were listed as Portuguese on the 1880 US census of Hancock County, Tennessee. No records exist that any of these people were former slaves.  This gives me the authority to address the Portuguese claim using genealogy, DNA and family history. I agree somewhat with Mooney, but I also believe these families had an oral history from living in areas, such as Angola which was then under the control of Portugal and they actually thought of themselves as Portuguese. In all the cases tried where the defendants claimed Portuguese, DNA tests from their descendants was African, case in point was the Illegal Voting Trials 1845-1848 Hawkins County, The Perkins Trial, The Shepherd case, although no DNA tests were involved, the charges was the Bolton’s were African who claimed to be Portuguese. In all cases I am familiar with Portuguese was used in response to the mulatto and free persons of color labels.  
      In closing, I don’t like controversy and If Joanne will stop her continuing attack on me personally and remove her blog article, I will remove this article.

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