The Melungeons blog

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

TN Encyclopedia: MELUNGEONS By Ann Toplovich , Tennessee Historical Society

The University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, Tennessee.


"The most well-known location for Melungeons in the state is in the Clinch River area of Hancock and Hawkins Counties. Other groups of people called Melungeon can be found in the Graysville area of Rhea and Hamilton Counties and in Davidson and Wilson Counties in Tennessee, as well as in the states of Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana. One estimate is that approximately forty nonwhite/nonblack communities similar to the Hancock County Melungeons live in the South."

Another Excerpt:

"A major phenomenon in the Melungeon lore of the 1990s and early 2000s was a revival of interest in the possible Portuguese lineage of the group, spurred in large part by college administrator Brent Kennedy's 1994 book The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People. In this work, Kennedy gleans from his own family's history a theory that the Melungeons originated as Islamic Moors from Iberia, Turkey, and North Africa, refugees from Spanish and English activities on the Atlantic coast in the 1500s. Masking themselves as Christian Portuguese to avoid possible ethnic cleansing, he asserts, the men made their way inland, intermarried to a limited degree with Native Americans, and created the people called Melungeons. Research into this theory is centered at the University of Virginia branch campus at Wise, and the Muslim-Portuguese account can be found at several Web sites devoted to Melungeons."