Melungeon Account: 1894

From The Morning Call, San Francisco, CA, Sat., Feb. 10, 1894, p. 3:

The Tennessee Melungeons
St. Louis Globe-Democrat

‘There is a race of people in Hawkins County, Tenn., whose origin is a mystery, said G. L. Babbit. “They are called the Melungeons, and are found no place else. They have been traced back to North Carolina, but further than that nothing is known. They are not Indians, they are not negroes, they are certainly not of any known race of white people. But few of them can speak the English language, although they have lived here for over a century, and the language they do speak is an unknown one to the most accomplished linguist. They are dirty and degraded, but with a race pride about them that prevents their intermingling with the lower order of Americans or with the negroes. A Melungeon will work when he is hungry, but only under press of necessity. They avoid the towns, and cultivate small patches of corn on the most barren mountain sides, the rest of their scant living being obtained by hunting and fishing. Every attempt made as yet to better their condition has been a failure, and yet the race continues to exist independently of the white people, growing no smaller and changing none of its attributes.’

[Note: The inside quote has no ending quotation mark, unless it’s intended to coincide with the one at the end of the article.]


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