Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Melungeons


The picture above is of the Goins family one of the family names associated with the group.
I just finished reading a book called Kinfolks, Falling Off the Family Tree by Lisa Alther that tells of the author growing up in Kingsport, Tenn and her search to uncover the story of her Melungeon (or not) heritage. Most of the places in the book are places that I know well, so this makes it more interesting to me.
Lots of theories and legends about the Melungeons ranging from the survivors of the Lost Colony to Turkish slaves dropped off by Francis Drake. The mixing of Indians and African Americans and Sephardic Jews are also part of the legend/theories.
Recent DNA testing of some claiming a Melungeon ancestry show some evidence of Turkish ancestors. What this says to me is that so much of what we know as history leaves out so much of people's real lives, their movements in the world and the pairings they make and also that the people who settled and lived in these mountains were much more complex and diverse than we think.
Here is a website about the Melungeons.

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