#1
Old 04-18-2003, 04:14 PM
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Ask the Melungeon!

In this thread, I was asked by a couple of posters to do an "Ask the Melungeon" thread. I promised I would start one over Easter holiday, and here I am.

Every so often, a question or two will pop up on the SDMB asking about Melungeons, also called "Black Dutch", "Black Irish", and various other names. I don't claim to be an anthropologist, but I am of Melungeon descent, and I'll do my best to answer any and all questions that might be posed about Melungeons.

So, if you have any questions, fire away!

.:Nichol:.
#2
Old 04-18-2003, 04:20 PM
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What constitutes "Melungeon descent"? Is there, in fact, a recognizable and distinct ethnicity involved?

Is there any majority opinion among Melungeons where the name comes from? I've heard of the Turkish words for "doomed ones" being one theory; are there others?
#3
Old 04-18-2003, 04:27 PM
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Did you know that an anagram for Melungeon is "Lounge Men"?
#4
Old 04-18-2003, 04:27 PM
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Seems like the French word "melange" (if I've spelled it correct) would be the most likely source.

Isn't it likely that there are several soruces of "Melungeon" people? Some may be partly Native American, some may be partly African, and maybe others.
#5
Old 04-18-2003, 05:12 PM
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Where might be some pictures of Melungeons? In the site referenced in the other threads, I don't think I found any.
#6
Old 04-18-2003, 05:16 PM
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Discover Mag just did an article on that group last month. If they don't have any photos online, the hard copy has quite a few examples. Judging from those pictures, the ethnic "look" is very subtle.
#7
Old 04-19-2003, 01:50 PM
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ElvisL1ves -- Melungeons can be found primarily in Appalachia, in parts of Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and (this is where my ancestors hailed) Tennessee. Melungeons are NOT a race; that's absurd. We are instead a mixture of several races and ethnic groups. We're a pretty difficult bunch to peg because we don't neccesarily all look the same (colorations range from very dark to very pale, and everything in between) and we don't speak a unique language, like Amerindian tribes. We do, however, share a common identity as Melungeons and many carry recognizable Melungeon characteristics.

For instance, I myself possess the "shovel teeth", commonly found in Amerindian and Asian populations, along with the Anatolian bump and a head ridge. So far I've managed to avoid getting any diseases associated with Melungeons, such as Machado-Joseph's Disease or Mediterranean fever, but I'm always on the lookout for symptoms within my family.

There's a number of suggested origins for the word "Melungeon" -- it could be from Malange, a place in Angola; from "melange", as John Mace pointed out; from "Mullins", a common Melungeon surname; or derived somehow from Turkish. I personally think a French origin is probably correct, but take your pick.

John Mace -- As mentioned before, Melungeons are a mixture of several races and ethnicities. DNA work done on some Melungeons has shown 5% Amerindian genes, 5% African, and 90% Eurasian. The last is a VERY wide-ranging group, and one of the more unusual groups that Melungeons shared DNA with are the Siddhis from India. I think the article in Discover Magazine (which I read, by-the-way, it was pretty good) has more on this. Melungeons tend to be susceptible to diseases uncommon in the general population, such as Mediterranean fever, which is found mostly in Arabs, Armenians, Turks, and Jewish people from North Africa.

"Ethnic looks" vary wildly among Melungeon descendants; I've met people of Melungeon descent who were black as soot, and I'm pale and blonde myself. Some identifying characteristics include the "shovel teeth", Antolian bump, and head ridge, all of which I possess.

Hamlet -- No, I didn't know! I do like to lounge about, but I'm not a man. Oh well.

Best wishes!

.:Nichol:.
#8
Old 04-19-2003, 02:04 PM
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Have there been any movies featuring Melungeon characters or themes? I remember a play a long time ago called "The Dark of the Moon" (I could be misremembering) about some guy falling in love with a Melungeon girl.
#9
Old 04-19-2003, 03:48 PM
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Nichol:

It's really kind of misleading to say someone has "5% african genes". Since all humans are 99.x% genetically the same (you can argue whether "x" is 6 or 8 or 9, but doesn't really matter too much), and there haven't been any "racial genes" identified, the best you can say is something like this:

- 5% of this group have genetic markers common to people of African decent.

or

- This group typically shows some of the genetic markers common to people of African decent.

I just don't want viewers of this thread to go off thinking there are such things as "African genes". That's a whole 'nother topic, but the only true statement we could make along those lines might be that ALL humans alive today have 99% or more African genes. But since that number is so high, it really doesn't mean anything other than 1) we all recently came out of African and 2) we're all REALLY very similar genetically.
#10
Old 04-19-2003, 04:16 PM
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John Mace -- You're right, of course, but I didn't want to try to explain everything in excrutiating detail. Not only does that clunkily interrupt the flow of a discussion, but I also consider the average reader of the SDMB literate enough to understand what I mean without having every term spelled out.

But, to put my previous entry in clearer terms: DNA analysis done on some Melungeons (members of an ethnic group hailing from American Appalachia) has shown they share 5% of their genetic markers with people of Amerindian (Native American) descent, 5% of their genetic markers with people of Sub-Saharan African descent, and 90% of their genetic markers with people of European and Asian descent.

There we go.

Krokodil -- I've never heard of that play, but now I'll have to go look it up! I'm unaware of any movies with Melungeon themes, but there are several recording artists like Shalacy who celebrate their Melungeon heritage in song.

.:Nichol:.
#11
Old 04-19-2003, 04:28 PM
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Nichol:

You are correct about the average reader of SDMB, but there have been lots of threads lately making some really wild claims about genetics and race.

BTW, your second version of the statistics was very well put.

Now a question or 2:

1. Are Melungeons pretty much self-identified?

2. Is there (still?) much social stigma associated with being Melungeon?

3. I'd guess that at least 99% of Americans outside Appalachia have never even heard the term. In the Appalachian regions, are there many people who also have never heard the term?

I realize #2 probably has no simple answer, but I'd be curious as to what your experiences have been.
#12
Old 04-19-2003, 08:21 PM
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John Mace -- Many Melungeon descendants have only recently begun to accept their roots, as being labeled Melungeon or "Black Dutch", etc. was considered very negative until recently. Due to the ambiguous racial status, many Melungeons preferred to be seen as white, and thusly there are many who have no idea that they're of Melungeon descent at all. Many only discovered their ancestry when they came down with some rare disease.

Slowly, more and more folks are acknowledging their ancestry, and you can find a number of genealogical websites and such if you check. There are Unions held biannually by the Melungeon Heritage Association. The discrimination is breaking down at last, a good thing for everyone.

Your second question is very good. Historically, Melungeons weren't well thought of, and as a consequence many concealed their origins and passed for white. I don't live in Appalachia, so I'm unsure of the exact climate there now. If anyone from the area could drop in and give the general perception of Melungeons in Appalachia, I'd appreciate it.

Outside Appalachia, I've met exactly one person who'd heard of the Melungeons, but then I don't exactly run around with a "Melungeon and proud of it!" T-shirt on or anything, so it's hardly a scientific sampling. On the rare occasions people bring up Melungeons, they usually ask if they exist at all -- as though they were some half-forgotten legend or mythical tribe. The few people I've mentioned my ancestry to are rather perplexed. One friend even felt the back of my head to check to see if I actually had a bump and a ridge, then checked her own and was astonished to discover that she didn't.

.:Nichol:.
#13
Old 04-19-2003, 09:36 PM
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By the way, the "Dutch" in "Black Dutch" is actually a reference to German ancestry, not Dutch. "Deutsch," meaning "German", has been mis-heard by English speakers over the years, and mangled into "Dutch". (Same deal with the so-called Pennsylvania Dutch, by the way.)

There was a large German community in western North Carolina in colonial times. They were in fact connected to the "Pennsylvania Dutch". (Most of the Germans who wound up in North Carolina arrived initially in Pennsylvania, and then migrated south, along the Great Wagon Road, which led down through western Virginia, and into the Carolinas.)

I'm not sure how the "Black Dutch" appellation got started, but I'm guessing that some of these Germans must have mingled with Cherokee, blacks, and/or others. Not surprising at all.
#14
Old 04-19-2003, 09:42 PM
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(And yes, it occurred to me to point out that "Black Dutch" is mostly an Appalachian appellation...)
#15
Old 04-19-2003, 10:42 PM
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Here's another question.

Other than the physical identification, are there any cultural nuances peculiar to Melungeons?

In other words, say my family was from Appalachia on both sides, but only my mother was Melungeon. If I went to visit both sets of grandparents, would I be exposed to any differences? Would my maternal grandmother cook anything different from my paternal grandmother? Would either grandparent tell different stories or have different "sayings"?
#16
Old 04-20-2003, 06:13 AM
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Since I am not motivated to arque MENA things at present:

Well this is highly peculiar.

I have both the shovel teeth and the bump, insofar as I can tell from doing a bit of a search. Interesting indeed, for I have no Appalachian ancestry at all, coming from an old New England family. In that context, of course, it is not only possible but likelihood the family had ‘genetic inputs’ from non-northern European sources in the early years before racialism settled in, while fully excluding ‘Mulungeonness” per se.*

However, a question arises in my mind on a number of the characteristics asserted on the Mulungeon sites, to what extent are these “just so” assertions versus scientifically supported ones. For example the Anatolian bump, which I appear to have per the descriptions on the websites. What supports the assertion that this is a particularly Anatolian feature (or from whence it comes, nota bene, parts of Anatolia where settled by Celtic tribes in the late Hellenic period)? What supports the shovel teeth being particularly an Asiatic attribute? I ask out of real curiosity – I would hasten to add I would be insufferably pleased with myself to be able to claim some Turkish connexion as I am frequently mistaken for a Turk in this region – but also a high degree of skepticism as in my experience many of such claims are in fact ‘just so stories’ that do not withstand critical scrutiny.

I point, for example to this essay which appears modestly critical of the ‘scholarship’ of some research in re the group: http://geocities.com/ourmelungeons/feature.html.

Mind you all in all I rather like the idea of groups of Americans embracing historical mixedness. I recall being pleasantly surprised when my own father, an arch conservative and something of a polite gentlemanly racist in that old WASP mold (the man being well over 70 this is unsurprising) observing on the racial mixing in the early colonial period and allowing that certain family features might derive from there. Of course a good 350 years in the past, this is safe territory.

*: I can regrettably make such a statement as a large percentage of my family have an entirely unhealthy and in the end terribly tedious obsession with genealogy.
#17
Old 04-21-2003, 09:53 AM
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John Mace -- Melungeons did (and still do, in some communities) have traditions, foods, and sayings distinct from those of their neighbors. One tradition is building little wooden houses over their graves.

Collounsbury -- What does MENA stand for?

It's entirely possible that you got your characteristics from Indian ancestors somewhere down the line. Are you sure you have a bump? On me, if I press two fingers against the back of my neck where my spinal cord disappears into my skull, I'll find them trapped by a fairly deep ridge. Running my fingers up that ridge leads me to a large bulge on the top of which is a small knot about the size of a marble. It's like an outgrowth of my skull.

As for the rest of your question, I fear I am not of much use. As I said in the OP, I'm not an athropologist, and cannot be considered an expert on human phenotypes. I wish I could give you the answers, but my knowledge in this area is too limited.

.:Nichol:.
#18
Old 04-21-2003, 10:56 AM
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What are 'shovel teeth'?
#19
Old 04-21-2003, 12:44 PM
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I did some research and it looks like I have shovel teeth and the Anatolian bump. I've always thought come pretty much entirely from Scandanavians. My family does have a "kidnapped by Indians" legend. Perhaps there is some kind of truth to it.
#20
Old 04-21-2003, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JuanitaTech
What are 'shovel teeth'?
Their inner surface is curved like a shovel -- hence the name. There's also a ridge at the gum. If I place my fingernail behind my incisors on the gumline and press down, I'll hear a clicking sound as my nail scrapes against the bump. This site has a nice diagram to explain in more detail.

.:Nichol:.
#21
Old 04-21-2003, 02:22 PM
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I just want to thank you for posting this thread. I had never heard of Melungeons before. But it seems like I have every single one of these traits. I always knew there was something off about the explainations that my ancestry is ultra-nordic. For one thing, everyone in my family burns when they even think about going out in the sun. But I develop a really deep tan and never burn. Somehow I manange to have olive based skin despite being extremely pale. And I have really unusual cat eyes that I've never seen on anyone else. According to that website, my eyes have a bit of an Asian eyefold.

You learn something every day. But this is far far more interesting than what I learned yesterday (which was that my boyfriend was born without nipples)
#22
Old 04-21-2003, 02:37 PM
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Are there any non-physical distinctly Melungeon characteristics? For instance, speech patterns, vocabulary, style of dress. Are there surnames that are distinctly Melungeon (or that once upon time were)?
#23
Old 04-21-2003, 04:27 PM
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even sven -- You're very welcome; I try my best. Good luck looking up your genealogy -- your physical traits sound very like common Melungeon traits, but it may just be that you have some Amerindian ancestry (or that your great-great-grandma was friendly with the milkman!).

I'm very pale myself, but I don't burn. When I was a child, my daddy used to take me fishing all summer on his boat. By September, I'd be a deep black color all over, an odd contrast with my blonde hair and blue eyes. I've since stopped tanning to protect my skin and myself from cancer, so my melanin levels have dropped drastically since then. I don't have the epicanthic eye-fold, though.

TGWATY -- There are a number of surnames common in the Melungeon community. Please note that not all Melungeons possess these names, nor are all bearers of these surnames of Melungeon origin. Kinda like Korean Lees and English Lees. Same last name, different origins. My own ancestors were Tallys, Harveys, and Nicholses, among others. They hailed from Tennessee.

.:Nichol:.
#24
Old 04-21-2003, 05:42 PM
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Damn, you learn something new every day. My family had an "kidnapped by Indians myth" but there was no substantiation to it. We tend to tan very well (I burn at the beginning of summer but then tan to a pretty dark brown, my fairer skinned sister burns only on her face but tans every where else) though we tend to have blond to red hair. I realize that I have shovel teeth. They are slightly curved on the inside, particularly the incisors. There is also a little ridge at the gum line that will click when I scrape on it. I used to think that was tarter but I recently had my teeth cleaned. As for the the ridge, I have a small bump that is almost in the exact center of the back of my head. You can feel it when pressing against it, but it wasn't noticeable when I had my head shaved. Tarnations! My name is even on the common surname list from above. I wonder if that means that I am a Melungeon too?
#25
Old 04-21-2003, 06:04 PM
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dorkusmalorkusmafia -- If you have ancestors from Appalachia (specifically Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Tennessee) you have find that you are a Melungeon descendant. Check into your genealogy; you might be surprised.

Also, if you find that you are indeed of Melungeon ancestry, I'd suggest being on the lookout for certain illnesses that are found in some Melungeon descendants. There are cases of people being tragically misdiagnosed by doctors unaware of their heritage, who didn't think their patients could possibly be suffering from Mediterranean fever, for instance, because the patient doesn't look Arabic or Turkish or what-have-you. Very frightening.

.:Nichol:.
#26
Old 04-21-2003, 10:43 PM
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Well this is just spooky.

I've always had a bump and I've never really known what to think of it. But the "Anatolian bump" explanation makes as much sense as anything else seeing as I have some Turkish blood in me through the side of my family that came from Greece.

I also have "shovel teeth," though I didn't even realize that I did or that it was anything out of the ordinary until I checked out that site. The other side of my family is definitely Appalachian in origin. But geneology gets a little hazy after that, other than Scotch-Irish and German.

I'm not convinced, but it is certainly a plausible possibility. Bears further investigation anyway.
#27
Old 04-22-2003, 01:03 AM
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I checked out some records, and I do have some relatives with Melungeon-associated last name in the Appalachians. I havn't found anything to confirm that they were Melungeons, but I'll keep looking.
#28
Old 04-22-2003, 02:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nichol_storm
Collounsbury -- What does MENA stand for?
Middle East-North Africa. My area of speciality and where I work.

Quote:
It's entirely possible that you got your characteristics from Indian ancestors somewhere down the line. Are you sure you have a bump? On me, if I press two fingers against the back of my neck where my spinal cord disappears into my skull, I'll find them trapped by a fairly deep ridge. Running my fingers up that ridge leads me to a large bulge on the top of which is a small knot about the size of a marble. It's like an outgrowth of my skull.
Oh yes, I am quite sure about the bump, fits the description perfectly. As do the teeth.

However, I hate to rain on the parade, but I find the physical characteristics issue to be rather a bit suspicious.

On one hand, I had heard the shovel teeth being a North Amerind physical trait before -- although without substantiation, however the Anatolian bump is a new thing to me.

I search around a bit and could find nothing to substantiate either off of Mulungeon sites -- which largely seem to be composed of somewhat dodgy pseudo-anthropology.

Now, I am not calling into question Mulungeonness per se -- it rather strikes me as non-controversial the basic outlines of quasi-outcast mixed race group arising from early colonial contacts..

However some of the Turkish etc. connexions strike me as excessively wishfull thinking (and why not, I love the Turks personally, although their Raki will leave you wishing for hospital).

I wonder if anyone can make it their project to look into this Anatolian bump, for I find it bizarre that I would have such a thing. As I mentioned, my geneology is tediously well-documented for a rather tedious length of time, so I can exclude Appalachian connexions categorically. Early colonial intermarriage, that seems likely, but it leave the 'Turkish' angle rather obscure, however much it appeals to me emotionally.
#29
Old 04-22-2003, 03:03 PM
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Very interesting. My relatives stopped in Kentucky before they were on their way to Texas. The only ethnic groups in my family tree that I am currently aware of are British (Wales and England), German, and Russian. I don't think any of those groups are known to tan well. So there is likely something else in there. My eyes are green too. It seems that it may be something to look into with geneology. Very interesting thread. Thanks Nichol.
#30
Old 04-22-2003, 03:47 PM
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Collounsbury -- many thanks for explaining MENA.

As for the ethnic origins of Melungeons and the phenotypical indications thereof, I must state once again I am not an athropologist and therefore not qualified to pass judgment one way or the other on the matter. Traits such as head ridges, shovel teeth, Anatolian bumps, and epicanthic eye-folds are common among Melungeon descendants, and as a consequence are often used as indicators of descent -- note that this is NOT a hard-and-fast rule; some people possess none or only some of these traits but still have Melungeon ancestry.

I'm on the fence myself as far as the origins of the Melungeons go, mostly because all the literature I've seen on the subject seems to be written to support an agenda. Some claim that we are descendants of stranded Turks and Arabs; others say we're "mulattos" of Scots-Irish and African ancestry. I've seen everything from the Lost Colony of Roanoke to the Lost Tribe of Israel suggested as our origin.

DNA testing done on 100 women of Melungeon descent -- the men's results have yet to come back -- show 5% genetic markers in common with Amerindian populations, 5% genetic markers in common with African populations, and 90% genetic markers in common with Eurasian populations. In the latter group there is a 7% grouping of lines from Turkey, Syria, northern India, and Sephardic Jewish populations, suggesting that at least some of the Melungeon claims to Turk ancestry are in fact valid.

Dr. James Guthrie's 1969 gene frequency research on 177 samples of the blood of Melungeon descendants indicated no major differences between Melungeons and most of the North Africans, Libyans, Canary Islanders, Maltese, and Cyprians. Add to this the fact that we seem to be especially vulnerable to diseases found mainly in Mediterranean populations, and it seems clear enough that Melungeons are of Mediterranean (among other) descent. Beyond that, I get suspicious, as everyone seems to want us to be something, be it gypsies or descendants of sailors left by Sir Walter Raleigh.

Also -- for those who are interested in investigating their Melungeon ancestry, I suggest using the Genforum board along with hard copies of genealogical records in your search. There are a number of online resources and organizations devoted to assisting Melungeon descendants research their ancestry.

.:Nichol:.
#31
Old 04-22-2003, 03:57 PM
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Nichol, thanks very much for the enlightening information. It's gotta be a little frustrating to have just enough hard data to be tantalizing but not enough to be proof.
#32
Old 04-22-2003, 03:58 PM
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Have you read Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent? He mentions both the Melungeons and the rather curious reactions one gets in certain parts of Appalachia when one asks about them.
#33
Old 04-22-2003, 04:30 PM
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This is probably unrelated to "true Melungeons" (people from southern Appalachia), but years ago I read about an expedition of people from New Spain (what is now Texas/northern Mexico) to Louisiana and perhaps beyond in the 18th century. The went out from Nacogdoches, Texas (the northernmost Spanish settlement) and went east.

These people, mostly Spanish and mestizo Mexicans - with perhaps a few mixed African people - lost contact with Spanish authorities and supposedly spread out in parts of the south. Years later they came into contact with Anglo-American pioneers, and more or less absorbed these scattered settlers, and some people who are referred to as "Melungeons", "Redlegs" and other such names have these ancestors.

I believe the name of the explorer was Ybarra or Ybarba, and over time it was corrupted to "Ebarb", which still may be some people's surname. I haven't seen this online anywhere, this was mainly a footnote in the history of the Spanish in Texas and Florida.

**********************************************

I can relate to some of the genealogical information over the Melungeons. My mother's family is from Northern New Mexico. For ages, it was merely assumed that her people were descended from the old Spanish settlers. Lately though there has been some discussion that many of these people are in fact the long lost descendants of Jewish "conversos".

As with the Melungeons, there is tantalising evidence - but no 'hard proof' that would rewrite a lot of conventional history books.


http://theatlantic.com/issues/2000/12/ferry.htm
#34
Old 04-23-2003, 10:38 PM
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Nichol_storm, the migration trail that you have described is the same as mine and my great-grandmother was an Orr. The female lines of my genealogy have been lost -- as often happens.

Some of the surnames were of particular interest to me: Wilson, Williamson, White, Coffey, Jackson, Perry, Gibson, Stewart and Robertson are all counties in Tennessee. There may be other counties in that list that I missed.

I have none of the characteristics often associated with the Melungeons, but I have been fascinated by their presence in my state. Yet I have never met anyone who claimed to be Melungeon. You also cleared up some of the stereotypes for me. I thought that all Mulungeons had black hair and that they generally separated themselves from the rest of society.

I will be doing a little research to see if I can find a connection for me.

Thank you so much for providing answers for the questions that have interested me for 35 years. (That is when I first learned of this group. I was asked to collaborate on writing an opera about the Melungeons and I didn't know anything about them. Writing the libretto for an opera was a very far-fetched idea to me anyway.)

And thanks for the links and suggestions.
#35
Old 04-23-2003, 10:47 PM
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Just wondering--if "shovel teeth" are not a normal trait, then what are "normal" teeth shaped like? Because I seem to have "shovel teeth," and I always assumned I had normal teeth.
#36
Old 04-24-2003, 06:37 AM
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Very Very intresting thread. Thanks for posting it.I've never herd of the meleguenos before, however being from the south I have heard of "Redbones" (prehaps what syncro was mentioning) Intrestingy enough, I've only heard of (and possibile seen) Redbone women, and we actullay considered them no more than light skinned (or prehaps albino) blacks. Somtime the word pops up when describing a "thick" (not fat, but big in some "good" areas) black woman who has almost asian or tanned white skin color but black facial features.

As for meleungeons, I tried to find a few picutres and such, but nothing really came up. The one pic I did see seemd to appear almost Turkish (Arab feautres, but not tanned skinned) but nothing darker. Prehaps similar to Gyspies.

I am curious,what form of the Christian religion is practiced among meleguenos. Also is there any particualr way they tend to vote poitically. I know not one particualr enthic group of people always vote the same,however religious communities (like Mormons) tend to.
#37
Old 04-30-2003, 03:43 PM
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Sagasumono -- I've heard of Redbones from black friends of mine, who described them as being light-skinned blacks. There seems to be two separate definitions of the term -- Redbones who are light-skinned blacks, and a Mestee group called the Redbones who live primarily in Louisianna.

Melungeons.com has a few pictures of Melungeons for you to see. I also have a picture up on my profile at Teeming Millions.

I asked my friend Nancy Sparks Morrison from Melungeon Health about religious affliations. I have to thank her for her prompt and enlightening response -- as so often happens, she said it better than I could. According to her:

Quote:
From the research that I have done it looks like the Melungeons joined whatever churches were available to them. In the areas that they lived in, the first churches were what we call today the OLD HARD-SHELL United Baptist churches or the Primitive Baptists. Only slightly later - 1800-1840, the Methodist-Episcopal - North Churches began sending ministers into the area from Cincinnati, OH where they were based. There is no longer a Meth./Episcopal church as it became the United Methodist some years back. The Presbyterian Church established a mission school in Vardy, TN 1892-1973 which provided an education for Melungeon children when they were not allowed to attend white schools.
She also invites anyone interested to join the Melungeon list at [email protected]

Mirror Image egamI rorriM -- Teeth are supposed to have straight, flat inner surfaces. Shovel teeth curve inward and have bumps near the gumline.

I hope this information is useful!

Best wishes,

.:Nichol:.
#38
Old 04-30-2003, 04:18 PM
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I am skeptical of some of the wilder claims regarding "Melungeon" ancestry. What seems most likely to me is that there was some mixing of Cherokee, European, and to a lesser extent African going on in the "hollers" of Appalachia, which accounts for the dark skin sometimes seen. (I say "to a lesser extent African" simply because there were very few slaves in Appalachia.)

This business of Ottoman slaves or the lost colony of Roanoke coming into the mix seems pretty far-fetched.

Also, I want to introduce a poll to this thread, to test a hypothesis of mine:

Is there anyone reading this thread who doesn't have "shovel teeth," as described herein? (I'm starting to wonder if shovel teeth may be the norm rather than the exception, based on some of the thread responses.)
#39
Old 05-06-2003, 11:34 AM
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Nichol, this is a very interesting thread you've started.

Is the Anatolian bump the same thing as the inion? I've not found any references that tie the two terms together, but their definitions seem to describe the same thing. If they are, consider the following: It is my understanding that all humans have inions, though there is variation in size. I know many people who can't feel theirs, but mine is very pronounced. Men's inions are generally more pronounced than women's. Maybe Anatolian bumps are larger-than-average inions.

The only reference I've found to a correlation between inion size and ethnicity was on a website describing the details forensic anthropologists consider in determining a person's race based on his or her skull. Apparently, pronounced inions are more common among people of European descent. I've not found anything about Turks or any other specific local population being especially gifted in the inion department. That is, of course, except for the sites that call it an Anatolian bump (assuming they are the same thing). This is a little troubling since the use of that name might indicate a prejudice on the matter. However, I've only made a brief search for an ethnic connection and I don't claim to know the truth of the matter. It is an interesting thing to read about, though.
#40
Old 05-06-2003, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Is there anyone reading this thread who doesn't have "shovel teeth," as described herein? (I'm starting to wonder if shovel teeth may be the norm rather than the exception, based on some of the thread responses.)
I have both the shovel teeth and the anatolian bump. My grandfather was Greek so there may have been some Turkish blood in the family way back when.
#41
Old 10-18-2003, 04:15 AM
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Well, according to a google search, this woman has "typical" Melungeon features.
#42
Old 10-18-2003, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by spoke-
Is there anyone reading this thread who doesn't have "shovel teeth," as described herein? (I'm starting to wonder if shovel teeth may be the norm rather than the exception, based on some of the thread responses.)
Well, my husband is said to have American Indian ancestry, while there is no known history of that in my family. When I first read about shovel teeth, I felt my teeth and thought I felt a curve. Then I went and felt his teeth. His teeth have a very distinctive curve; I knew then that I did not have shovel teeth. I think only comparison can really show the difference.
#43
Old 10-18-2003, 11:32 AM
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Holy crap. I think my family may be Melungeon. My grandmother's family has always been referred to as "Black Irish," and I have the head ridge and the shovel teeth. I also look a bit like that picture: http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/380000...lungeon150.jpg

and one of my grandmothers does even more so. There were always rumors of African-American and proof of Native American heritage in my family.

And my family traces back to Virginia.
#44
Old 10-18-2003, 11:39 AM
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My friend who grew up in Wise County, Virginia showed me a photo of his great-great-great-grandfather: he had very strong African facial characteristics (strong cheekbones, wide nose bridge, dark skin tone etc), pale eyes, and curly white hair.

My friend and his siblings are all in their 40s; they are intrigued with their Melungeon ancestry. Their parents, however, don't freely admit to Melungeon roots. My friend says many people, especially of older generations, do not take kindly to the suggestion that they are part African or Cherokee. In years past many of your personal freedoms were determined by what color the authorities thought your granddaddy was.

I think a big part of the fascination is that families would keep it hush-hush if they had Melungeon background. People researching their geneology will run into some dicrepancies and missing records, then dig up some old family secrets. That gets exciting.
#45
Old 10-18-2003, 02:09 PM
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Ask the linguist

The supposed Turkish etymology is melun can, 'accursed soul'. Pronounced "melloon John." Derived from Arabic mal‘űn 'accursed', from la‘ana 'to curse' + Persian jân 'soul'. (The Ottoman Turkish language used a lot of Arabic and Persian loanwords. In modern Turkish spelling, they use the letter c to represent the sound of j.)

I'm skeptical of this proposed etymology. On the one hand, there is a loose match between the shape of the Turkish phrase and the name Melungeon. However, it seems a bit farfetched. It might be true, but I tend to doubt it.

I have my own theory: Melungeon comes from Italian. It's because they tend to be a bit darker in skin color than the Anglo and Celtic Americans around them. In Italian slang, a black person is called melangiani, which is southern Italian dialect for melanzane, 'eggplant', because of the eggplant's dark skin. Melangiani is pronounced "Melon Johnny." This is closer in sound to the word Melungeon.

The Italian word melanzane is influenced by the Greek word melan melan- 'black, dark-colored'. But it actually derives from the same origin as French aubergine, Portuguese beringela, Arabic and Persian bâdinjân, Sanskrit vâtingâna, originally from the Dravidian language family of south India.
#46
Old 10-18-2003, 02:16 PM
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I think I may be one too.

I thought bumps on the teeth were normal. Then one day I had DH feel my bumps and he went "EWWWWWWW! How do you stand that?!!" I felt my daughter's teeth and she doesn't have them either.

Plus my family's from east KY and my maiden name is supposedly a common Melungeon name.

Weird, though. I'm white as a lily and I don't have any Mediterranean diseases.
#47
Old 10-19-2003, 12:45 AM
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Posted by Krokodil:

Quote:
Have there been any movies featuring Melungeon characters or themes? I remember a play a long time ago called "The Dark of the Moon" (I could be misremembering) about some guy falling in love with a Melungeon girl.
I was in a college production of that play. It is about a "witch-boy" -- a supernatural being -- who falls in love with a human girl. She and her family and all the human characters are clearly hillbillies, but the word "Melungeon" is never mentioned, nor is there anything to suggest the characters are anything other than ordinary white Highland Southerners of the Appalachians or the Ozarks.
#48
Old 10-30-2003, 05:36 PM
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Wow! I thought this thread had petered out. Seeing as it has been revitalized, I figure I best drop in. I've heard of the claim of "Melungeon" being derived from Turkish (along with "allegheny" and "shenandoah", among other words) but somehow I'm not convinced. Like I said earlier, I'm skeptical of most literature written on the Melungeons, because when we're not portrayed as some freaky mongrels living in the backwoods, then we're used as a "lost race" to advance someone's pet agenda or theory.

As for my family, we've always known what we were, though some of the older members prefer not to remark on it. In fact, when I was born, I was so small and dark that it was thought I was a reversion to "type" and fretting ensued, but much to my mother's relief my hair and skin lightened as I grew older.
#49
Old 10-31-2003, 10:25 AM
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Are Melungeons generally short then?
#50
Old 03-05-2016, 01:43 PM
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With reference to the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island, it was one of my favorite stories from my elementary school history book. It appears that Captain White was under Sir Walter Raleigh and took some colonists to this island off what is now North Carolina. He went back home to get more provisions. His ship was commandeered by England to fight the Spanish. He did not get it back for two years. When he arrived back at Roanoke Island, there was no trace of the colonists. The first English child born in the Americas was Virginia Dare and his granddaughter so you know he looked long and hard. All they found was a tree with the word "Crotan" carved on it. I have always wondered about that word, especially since there is a European group of Croatians. I was surprised above to see one of the lists of cultures that influenced the melungeons to be "Croatians". Surely it is not the same European group. As we know, many of the Indian tribes are known by various names--their own, what their enemies called them, and various English, Spanish or French names. Now comes the strange part. My history book ended with Captain White not finding them. Later, I read something about the first U. S. Census in 1781. A census taker on horseback went to a tribe in North Carolina known as the Halifax Indians (which I think were also called the Lumbee). The name "Lumbee" may raise a flag for you as a name of one group of supposed melungeons. The census taker was astonished not only to find that some of these Indians had blue eyes but that they spoke--get this-Elizabethan English. So when the Lost Colony ran out of food, could the Lumbees/Halifax/Croatans made friends with them? And eventually they all intermarried and shared cultures and languages? It is comforting to believe that that baby girl and her family did not die of starvation.
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