The Melungeons blog

Friday, August 21, 2009


Benjamin P. Cosand, Jeremiah A. Grin nell, David Bowles, Jas. F. Beals, Dr. J. D Garner, Wm. P. Hastings, John P. Morris S. 8. Grinnell, and F. Elliott, met in Friend meeting-house, Maryville, Blount County Tenn., 10th month llth, 1872, and formet themselves into an association for the purpos of laboring for the religious, moral, and intellectual improvement of the poor white people in eastern Tennessee and the adjacent arts of North Carolina and Georgia, and to eceive and distribute donations of books, racts, ;ui(l money for that purpose. The association to be known as " The East Tennesee Christian Association of Friends."

Dr. Jeptha D. Garner gives the following ccount of the inhabitants of some parts of Cast Tennessee, in a letter to J. Dennis, Jr., f Washington, D. C., dated Tenth month 4th:

In practising medicine in this and the adjoining counties, I found in the valleys be- ween the mountains, called coves, there was a very poor population, exclusively white, and grossly ignorant, very few of whom could ead or write, as they never had any schools amongst them, and they appear to have been rejected by all religious denominations, and jolporteurs of the Bible, Tract, and Missionary Societies. They inhabit a large tract of country south of Maryville, eighty miles wide, nd two hundred long, in eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and the northern part of Georgia, which is too sparsely populated and the people too poor to pay a teacher or support a school. About one-fourth of them ive in houses or cabins, with no floor but the earth, and their average intelligence is below that of the colored people, because they have lad less intercourse with intelligent white people, and far leas opportunities to attend any kind of religious services. And having ittle or no money, not even enough to pay their taxes, they have not excited the cupidity of the Roman Catholics. They raise their own food, and the material of most of their clothing, which is manufactured by themselves. Much of their country is mountainous, without roads upon which an ordinary carriage can travel, being only suited to ox or mule teams with very little load. As they produce no surplus of anything lhat will pay for carrying to market, they do not feel the want of roads. These " poor whites," or " poor white trash " as they are called by the colored people, are one of the results of slavery, and are as much the objects of benevolent efforts aa the colored people."

"Dr. Garner has been actively engaged in travelling among these people, lecturing to them upon " education, Sabbath schools, agriculture, temperance and tobacco," and distributing tracts. Were means afforded him to keep his three daughters in school until they are competent to become teachers, he would willingly devote all his time to the continuance of his missionary work. His supply of books and tracts is nearly exhausted ; and be particularly needs Testaments in large print for unskilled readers."


Friends' review: a religious, literary and miscellaneous journal, Volume 26 edited by Samuel Rhoads, Enoch Lewis
Published date 1872-1873 pages 189-190.