The Melungeons blog

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gypsies, Turks, Armenians, and East Indians on Our Early Shores:

An Update on Continually Emerging Ethnic “Surprises”

By Brent Kennedy


The Tip of the Archival Iceberg?

American archival evidence of Turkish, Armenian, Gypsy, Jewish and other Middle Eastern settlers now surfaces with regularity. The simple act of looking for it has generally been the key to finding it (along with the fortitude to not dismiss out of hand what is found). A few examples of easily verifiable documents should suffice to demonstrate that the whole story of our Nation's settlement is by no means known. Some examples:

From Jewels of the Third Plantation, Obadiah Oldpath, Lynn, Massachusetts: Thomas Herbert and James M. Munroe, 1862. Early American (Massachusetts) historical reports (pages 71-74):

“1647. Aug 8: There hath suddenlie come among vs a companie of strange people, wch bee neither Indjan nor Christian. And wee know not what to liken them vnto. Some will have it yt they bee Egyptians or Jypsjes, wandering thieves, jugglers and beggars...Never hearing yt any such people were in ye Dutch settlements or Virginia, I surmised yt hee did mean yt they came from ye Spanish settlements, thousands of leagues awaie...They doe use palmistry and other devilish arts and witchcrafts...”

"Could Gypsies have been present this early in North America? Around 1000 A.D., Gypsies, who had originated in India, migrated westward to Turkey where they still reside in significant numbers, and then fanned out again into the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and, finally northern Europe. They carried with them their own rich culture and this they blended with other cultures as they migrated and intermarried. As they moved into Europe they took with them bits and pieces of Ottoman/Turkish/Byzantine culture, folklore, linguistics, religion (Islam), and even genetics (for excellent historical background, see David M. Crowe's, A History of the Gypsies of Eastern Europe and Russia, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1996, pp.1-30). Much of this admixed Gypsy culture would eventually be carried into England by the early 1500s. Gypsy, or more properly, Romani scholars present an intriguing scenario of how Gypsy immigrants might have arrived in early America as slaves, servants, and even "English" settlers, complete with English surnames."

Labels: , , ,