Category Archives: Melungeons

Milly Ann Hash, Eastern Cherokee Application

From Eastern Cherokee Application of Milly Ann (Young) Hash, 7 Jan 1907:

  • Name: Milly Ann Hash
  • Birth: Grayson County, Virginia
  • Residence: Major, Grayson County, Virginia
  • Right to claim: “Ned Sizemore”
  • Spouse: Harvy Hash, age 60
  • Father: William Young, born Grayson County, Virginia, resided 1851 Grayson County, died Sep 1902
  • Mother: Catharine Hash, born Grayson County, Virginia, resided 1851 Grayson County, died 12 Aug 1887
  • Whether they were enrolled: “190[3?] for money.”
  • Siblings: Ezekiel Young, John Young, Floyd Young, Thomas J. Young, Alex Young
  • Grandparents on father’s side: Robert Hash
  • Grandparents on mother’s side: Marja Hash
  • Where they were born: “Ash” [sic; Ashe] County, North Carolina
  • Where they resided in 1851: Grayson County, Virginia
  • Names of their children: Mary Ann Hash, Ruthy Hash, Jane Hash, Nelly Nash, Betsy Hash, Beckey Hash, Sally Hash, Catharine Hash, “not Known though dead,” James Hash, Jno. Hash, “deead” [sic]
  • Whether application was enrolled: “In 1904 for money.”
  • Ancestry back to 1835: [blank]
  • Remarks: “my great Grand mother on my mothers side was a daughter of Ned Sizemore”
  • Signed: Milly Ann Hash, 7 Jan 1907
  • Witnesses: Henry Haga, Linville S. [or A.?] Anderson

Melungeon Query, 1898

From The Richmond Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, Sunday, September 25, 1898, p. 2:

Origin of Melungeons.
To the Editor of the Dispatch:

Tell us all you can about the ‘Melungeons,” please.
Blacksburg, Va.

The Melungeons are a class of people of uncertain origin and peculiar appearance, living in East Tennessee. They claim to be of Portuguese descent, but the claim is not established. The word Melungeon means, as applied to them, mixed.

Mahala Mullins, Melungeon

From The Climax, Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky, Wednesday, May 1, 1895, p. 4:

Death of Mahala Mullins.

Knoxville, Tenn., Sept. 19. – News has reached here of the death of Mahala Mullins, the famous fat woman and moonshiner of Hancock county. Mrs. Mullins weighted 560 pounds and lived on the top of a mountain, where she conducted a “still” in defiance of law. The officers were unable to apprehend her on account of her size, there being no way to get her down the mountain. Mrs. Mullins was one of the tribe of “Melungeons” whose origin has been a mystery to ethnological students for many years.

Another Melungeon Account: 1898

From The Sun, New York, NY, Sunday, February 20, 1898, Section 2, p. 6:

Identified as Descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Roanoke Colony.
From the Philadelphia Record.

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 13. – Former United States Senator Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi has always been classed as a negro. He was a tall, well-built man, with the chocolate skin and curly hair of an African and the devout bearing of his profession – the ministerial. He served during the reconstruction period, never being known as a prominent, but always as a representative, colored man. Revels was not a negro. Dr. C. A. Peterson of St. Louis, who has made a study of the lost Roanoke (Va.) colony, says that Revels is a descndant of that mystery-shrouded band that Sir Walter Raleigh sent to Roanoke Island in 1587.

“The historian has usually contented himself with dropping his investigations when he reached the point where Gov. John White returned from England and found his colony had disappeared from Roanoke Island,” said Dr. Peterson, “and you will find in about every history you pick up the statement that the colonists were probably killed by the Indians. The Roanoke colony consisted of 115 unmarried men and twenty who had families. They were sent out by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1587, in charge of John White, who was an appointed Governor. Ananias Dare, his son-in-law, was Vice-Governor, and during 1587 his wife gave birth to a daughter, the first white child born in America, and she was called Virginia Dare.

“During the summer a tribe of Croatan Indians, who lived some fifty miles away on the east shore of what is now North Carolina – the whole country was then called Virginia – visited the colony on Roanoke Island, and proposed to the settlers that they remove to the home of the Indians, intermarry, and become members of their tribe. The 115 unmarried men were very willing to accept the proposition, and it was only with difficulty that Gov. White induced them to remain. When everything was completed White returned to England and got provisions and reinforcements. Before going he instructed the colonists to leave some testimony if for any reason they should conclude to move during his absence.

“The next year, 1588, was the year of the Spanish Armada, and White’s boat and every other seagoing vessel was impressed into service. So it was impossible for Gov. White to set sail for America again until 1589. When he arrived at Roanoke he found the stockade and the houses there, but everybody had gone. On one tree he found the word ‘Croatan’ carved, and on one stockade post merely the beginning – ‘Croat.’ He was about to proceed in search of the Croatans, when a Hatteras storm came up, and, after beating about for some time, the crew mutinied and insisted on going down to the Spanish Main and engaging in privateering. So they captured a couple of richly laden Spanish vessels and returned to England comparatively wealthy.

“The next year Gov. White took another crew and landed at Roanoke Island. This time he found the fresh track of a boat’s keel on the island, and found that a chest he had buried three years before had been dug up and the contents ransacked. Again he started down the coast, and again his crew mutinied and went pirating on the Spanish Main.

“In 1607 Capt. John Smith, who had been saved by Pocahontas, started an expedition from Jamestown to see if he couldn’t discover the whereabouts of the missing colonists. Instead of going by boat they started overland. They proceeded about 100 miles, got tired, went back, and this was the last effort to find them, and here history, as it is generally recorded, ceases.

“Now for the facts which the historians have generally so singularly overlooked. In 1710, when the Huguenots and cavaliers started to penetrate the interior of North Carolina, they found, some seventy-five miles from the coast, in what is now Robeson county, N. C., a colony of English-speaking people, many of whom had blue eyes and light hair. They inquired where they came from, and they replied, ‘From Croatan.’ ‘How does it come that you speak English?’ ‘Our fathers were English.’

“They wrote one letter back about their discovery, a letter which, by the way, is in the archives of the Board of Trade of London. It is evident that a number of the Huguenots remained in the colony and intermarried, as there are a great many names of undoubted French origin to be found among the Croatan names of the present day.

“These people have always been called Croatans. There are some 4,000 of them living in Robeson county, N. C., at the present time,. but they have scattered all over the South and West[.] I have found Croatan names among all the five civilized tribes living in the Indian Territory.

“The Croatans have distinct racial characteristics. They are as dark as Portuguese, and are different in appearance from either Indians, negroes, or Caucasians. In some instances there has evidently been a mixture with negro blood, and on this account when, in 1835, North Carolina and Tennessee disfranchised the negroes, they included the Croatans.

“When the war broke out the Croatans were between two fires. Those who did not enlist in the Southern army were liable to be impressed as negroes for work on fortifications, &c. From this custom came the cause of the depredations of the Lowry gang, which for years spread terror in North Carolina. Old man Lowry resisted impressment, declaring that there was nothing but English and Indian blood in his veins and that he was as much of an American freeman and had as good blood in him as the Harrisons, the Randolphs or any of the descendants of the proudest colonial families. For this stubborn stand he was shot dead.

“When his son, Henry Berry Lowry, reached manhood, he took his gun, organized a band of sympathizers and started out on a mission of extermination. Every man suspected of having had any connection with his father’s death was waylaid and killed. The gang was finally broken up, but not until it had collected bloody interest on old Lowry’s death.

“The most eminent of the Croatans was United States Senator Revels, who was elected from Mississippi during the reconstruction days. He was classed as a negro, but he was in reality a Croatan, one of those with a Huguenot name and ancestry.

“The family names of the Croatans are the same as those of the settlers on Roanoke Island. They were men from Devonshire, England, and, furthermore, even the broad Devonshire pronunciation is found in certain words as used by the Croatans, to-day.

“A hundred years ago a colony of Croatans settled in eastern Tennessee, on Newman’s Ridge, Hancock county. They can’t tell to-day where they came from, for tradition over fifty years old isn’t worth anything. These are the people called Melungeons. They are similar in racial characteristics to the Croatans, and Dr. Swan M. Burnett, a distinguished scholar and scientist, has traced, by family names, the connection between the Melungeons and the Croatans.

“The name Melungeons is accounted for in this wise. When the new settlers appeared among the mountaineers their unusual looks prompted inquiries as to what they were. The answer was ‘Melange’ – or a mixture – and the mountaineers dubbed them Melungeons.”

Another 1895 Melungeon Account

From The Climax, Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky, Wednesday, May 1, 1895, p. 4:


“I believe that the Melungeons of east Tennessee are the only living lineal descendants of the ancient Aztecs,” said R. C. Borden of Asheville. “The Melungeons have always been a mystery, and few facts are known about them. They came to east Tennessee from North Carolina more than a century ago. They have mixed with no other race and have always been filthy and ignorant. A few of them have grown wealthy, but when they do no effort is made to associate with Americans. They have no traditions as to when or how or whence they came, except as to their ancestors in North Carolina. Their names are of Portuguese origin, and their appearance suggests an admixture of Portuguese and Indian blood. They have been classed with negroes, but it is easily demonstrated that they are not of negro origin. I mingled with them a great deal at one time and was fortunate enough to obtain their confidence through an act of kindness to one of their number. A few relics of great age can be found in the hands of the better class in the shape of pottery and implements. Some of these are of the stone period; others are marked with rude imitations of the Maltese cross. They have a tradition that their dead ancestors in North Carolina are buried in mounds. Putting these points together, I believe that they are descendants of the Aztecs and of Portuguese sailors who landed upon the North Carolina coast.” – Cincinnati Enquirer.

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.]

Melungeon Account: 1895

From The Islander, Friday Harbor, San Juan County, Washington, Thursday, February 28, 1895, p. 4:

Some People in Eastern Tennessee.

It is not generally known that in the mountains of eastern Tennessee there lives a class of peculiar looking people whose origin is wrapped in mystery and who are called by the whites Melungeons. They resent this appellation and proudly declare that they are Portuguese.

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 shore of Virginia that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed upon them by any form of government.

They made themselves friendly with the Indians, and, freed as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a kind of delightful Utopia of their own creation, despising all forms of religion and subsisting upon corn – the only product of the soil – and the game of the great forests. They intermixed with the Indians and subsequently with the negroes, and thus formed the present race of Melungeons.

They are tall, straight, well formed people, of a dark copper color, but with Circassian features. They were privileged voters in the old slave days and accredited citizens. They are brave, but quarrelsome, and are hospitable to strangers. They have no preachers among them and are almost any knowledge of a supreme being – New York Recorder.