The Melungeons blog

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sand Mountain Melungeon Families

by Donald Panther Yates


"Sand Mountain is a flat-topped extension of the Cumberland Plateau stretching over a hundred miles along the Tennessee River in the states of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Its twin, Lookout Mountain, lies across the valley, where Interstate 59 runs from Chattanooga, Tenn. to Fort Payne and Boaz, Alabama, near Blountsville. In ancient times, a mixture of Cherokee, Yuchi, Koasati, Creek and other Indian tribes inhabited the area, and the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto visited its towns in 1539/1540 (see map). In the census of 1950, Jackson County (which constituted the first white county formed in Alabama from the Cherokee Cession of 1816) had 70 persons identified as Melungeon, making it a notable location for this ethnic group. This article will survey the genealogies and ancestry of some of these families, based on the author’s own family tree, and incorporating research about to be published in a recent book titled When Scotland Was Jewish. Surnames include Adkins, Beam(er), Black, Blevins, Brown, Bunch, Bundren, Burke, Burns, Cooper, Davis, Fields, Gist, Gunter, Justice, Keys, Lackey, Lowrey, Redwine, Riley, Shankles, and Sizemore."