1946 Gilbert Article
Memorandum Concerning the Characteristics of the Larger Mixed-Blood Racial Islands of the Eastern United States
Note from Webmaster: The following article contains several inconsistencies in style and citation which were found in the original publication, and have been reproduced here as accurately as web formatting will permit.
William Harlen Gilbert, Jr.
Library of Congress
published in Social Forces 21/4 (May 1946): 438-477.
In many of the eastern States of this country there are small pockets of people who are scattered here and there in different counties and who are complex mixtures in varying degrees of white, Indian, and Negro blood. These small local groups seem to develop especially where environmental circumstances such as forbidding swamps or inaccessible and barren mountain country favor their growth. Many are located along the tidewater of the Atlantic coast where swamps or islands and peninsulas have protected them and kept alive a portion of the aboriginal blood which greeted the first white settlers on these shores. Others are farther inland in the Piedmont area and are found with their backs up against the wall of the Blue Ridge or the Alleghenies. A few of these groups are to be found on the very top of the Blue Ridge and on the several ridges of the Appalachian Great Valley just beyond.
No satisfactory names has ever been invented to designate as a whole these mixed outcasts from both the white and Negro castes of America. However, their existence can be traced back practically to the beginning of settlement by whites in the various areas in which they occur. The early white settlers called these racial intermediates “free colored” or “free negroes” and considered them frequently as mere squatters rather than as legitimate settlers on the land. The laws were interpreted to the disadvantage of these folk and they were forbidden to testify in court. Acts were passed to prohibit their immigration from other States and they were considered as undesirables since they bridged the racial gap between free whites and slave Negroes.
After the Civil War these mixed folk were still classified as “colored” or as “mulattoes” but they were frequently encouraged to develop their own institutions and schools separate from the Negroes. In recent years there are some indications that the numbers of these intermediate mixed populations are growing rather rapidly and that they may total well over 50,000 persons at the present time.
There is little evidence for the supposition that they are being absorbed to any great extent into either the white or the Negro groups. Their native breeding grounds furnish a seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of population which periodically swarms into cities and industrial areas. The characteristics of illiteracy, poverty, and large families mark them as members of the more backward section of the American nation. Draft boards and the armed forces have found it difficult to classify them racially for military service. As a sizable native minority they certainly deserve more attention than the meager investigations which sociologists and anthropologists have hitherto made of their problems. A recognition of their existence by social scientists can hardly prejudice their social prospects since the vast majority cannot possibly hope to pass as “white” under the present social system. In the hope of enlisting the interest of scientific bodies and foundations in research on these mixed groups, then, the following brief memorandum outline of ten of these mixed “racial islands” is presented.
I. Brass Ankles and Allied Groups of South Carolina
Location: These peoples are located mainly on the coastal plain area of the State. They are called by a variety of names, depending on the county, but show a general resemblance to each other. They are termed Brass Ankles (possibly from the Spanish abrasado, toasted brown) in Dorchester, Colleton, Berkeley, Orangeburg, and Charleston counties; Croatans or Cros in Morlboro, Dillon, Marion, and Horry counties; Red Bones in Richland; Red Legs in Orangeburg; Turks in Sumter; Buckheads in Bamberg; Marlboro Blues in Chesterfield, and so on. Still other nicknames are “Greeks,” “Portuguese,” Clay-eaters, Yellow-hammers, Summerville Indians, or simply “those Yellow People.”
Numbers: Estimated to run from 5,000 to 10,000 in the State.
Organization: Family groups only. In some areas have own schools which are nominally white. Family names are Boone, Braveboy, Bunch, Chavis, Crock, Driggers, Goins, Harmon, Russell, Scott, Shavis, Swett, and Williams.
Environment and Economy: Originally lived in isolation in such areas as “Hell-hole Swamp” north of Charleston and in other swampy coast lands. Some were also isolated in the sand hills between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain where pine barrens predominate. Hunters, fishers, and cultivators.
Physique: Indian, white, and Negro types. Physical structure adapted to vigorous out-of-doors life.
In-Marriage: Tendency to pass over into white group noticeable. In-marriage marked.
Religion: Protestant. Attend white churches and also colored.
Schools: Certain schools, nominally white, are set aside for them. Teachers are difficult to get. Some go to white schools but this does not automatically give equal status.
Military draft: Apparently classified as white.
Voting and Civil Rights: Have voted for many years. All good Democrats.
Relief: WPA period helped to break down isolation of these groups.
Cultural Peculiarities: No data.
Social Status: Recognized as “near white.”
History: Many theories regarding their origin. Numerous Indian tribes were here such as Cusabo, Yasmassee, etc. Have only attracted attention of writers recently, although known locally at the Civil War period.
Berry, Brewton, “The Mestizos of South Carolina,” American Journal of Sociology, 51 (July 1945), pp. 34-41. (Dr. Berry is preparing a book on these folk after extensive research in the field)
Heyward, DuBose, Brass Ankle (a play), (New York, 1931).
Milling, C. J., Red Carolinians, (Chapel Hill, 1940). Pp. 3-4, 64.
“Note on the Brass Ankles,” American Speech (April 1943).
Shelby, G. and Stoney, S., Po’ Buckra (New York, 1930). (Fiction).
United States Writers Project. South Carolina, a Guide to the Palmetto State (New York, 1941), pp. 22, 286, 312.
Wallace, D. D., The History of South Carolina, (New York, 1934), 4 vols., v. II p. 508, v.III, p. 475
II. Cajans and Creoles of Alabama and Mississippi
Location: Cajans in the hilly areas of Washington, Mobile, and Clarke counties as well as adjoining parts of Mississippi. Creoles in Mobile and Baldwin counties around Mobile Bay in Alabama. Name “Cajan” derived from fanciful resmblence to the Louisiana Cajuns or Acadians. Creole name derived from “Creole colored” or “Creole mixed.”
Numbers: Cajans said to be “several thousands.” Creoles may be of similar number.
Organization: Cajans have family groups only. Chief family names are Byrd, Carter, Chestang, Johnson, Jones, Rivers, Smith, Sullivan, Terry, and Weaver. Creoles in Mobile had their own fire company and other organizations. Their chief family names (formerly indicated by special designation in the city directory) are Allen, Andry, Balasco, Ballariel, Battiste, Bernoudy, Cassino, Cato, Chastang or Chestang, Collins, Gomez, Hiner, Juzang, Lafargue, Laland, Laurendine, Laurent, Mazangue, Mifflin, Nicholas, Perez, Ponquinette, Pope, Reid, Taylor, and Trenier. The relationships between family names shared by Creoles and Cajans is not clear,
Environment and Economy: Cajans are a poor hill people of the wooded country who subsist by lumbering, turpentine extraction, and various odd jobs. Creoles are urban folk in the main and do oyster opening, cigar making, cotton sampling, and various other kinds of artisan work.
Physique: Creoles are a mixture of Latins, Negroes, etc. The Cajans are a mixture of white, Indian, and Negro types.
In-Marriage: No data.
Religion: Creoles are primarily Roman Catholic, while the Cajans are mostly Protestants (Baptist and Methodist).
Schools: Cajans have their own schools though the first 7 grades in the three counties where they live. Creole schools situation not known excepting that educational opportunities have been much better than among Cajans.
Military Draft Status: No data.
Voting and Civil Rights: No data.
Relief: The Cajans have been in need of relief.
Cultural Peculiarities: Cajans have individual patois and magical art. No data concerning Creoles.
Social Status: - Position of both groups is apparently between that of whites and negroes.
History: Legendary origin of Creoles is explained as due to union of Caribbean pirates with Indians and Negroes. Cajans have a similar tale. Family names shared by both occur in Mobile census lists of 1830 for free colored.
Bond, Horace M. “Two Racial Islands of Alabama,” American Journal of Sociology, XXXVI (Jan. 1931), 552-567.
Brannon, Peter A. “Cajans,” Dictionary of American History. 6 vols. (New York, 1940), vol. 1, p. 267.
Carmer, Carl. Stars Fell on Alabama (New York, 1931), pp. 255-269.
Frazier, E. Franklin. The Negro Family in the United States (Chicago, 1940), pp. 237-240.
Writers Program (U.S.) Alabama, a Guide to the Deep South. American Guide series (New York, 1941), pp. 367-368.
III. Croatans of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia
Location: Center in Robeson County, North Carolina around Lumberton. Are also found in neighboring counties of Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Macon, Hoke, and Sampson. In Person County, North Carolina are the allied group sometimes called “Cubans” or “Croatians” and these extend over into Halifax County, Virginia. In South Carolina, Croatans are found in Marlboro, Dillon, Marion, and Horry counties. Origin of the name “Croatan” attributed to “Croatoan” which was connected with Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony. Also these people have been termed “Cherokee Indians of Robeson County” and “Sioux Indians of Lumber River.”
Numbers: Were said to total 3,640 in 1890 and in Census of 1930 were numbered as over 13,000. Census of 1940 did not enumerate them separately. Apparently they are still increasing at a rapid rate.
Organization: Family groups and other institutions. Possess own churches, schools, etc. Family names are Allen, Bennett, Berry, Bridger, Brooks, Brown, Butler, Chapman, Chavis or Chaves, Coleman, Cooper, Dare, Gramme, Harrias, Harvie,Howe, Johnson, Jones, Lasie, Little, Locklear, Lowry, Lucas, Martyn, Oxendine, Paine, Patterson, Powell, Sampson, Scott, Smith, Stevens, Taylor, Viccars, White,Willes, Wilkinson, Wood, ands Wright.
Environment and Economy: Originally dwellers in the swamplands of the Lumber River, they became cultivators of cotton, tobacco, and corn over a wide area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Physique: Measurements by Dr. Carl Seltzer for the Office of Indian Affairs in 1936-1937 of a hundred or more individuals showed a definite minority of marked Indian type. The remainder are white and negroid. They are said to be malaria resistant.
In-Marriage: Law of the State of North Carolina does not permit intermarriage with Negroes nor, in effect, with whites.
Schools: Separate and special schools were organized for them in 1885. They now have their own school boards, teachers of their own race, and a special normal school.
Military Draft Status: No data.
Voting and Civil Rights: Disfranchised in 1835, they were again allowed to vote after the Civil War. Said to be Democrats.
Relief: No data.
Cultural Peculiarities: Folklore and dialectic traits.
Social Status: Between white and Negro.
History: First came to the attention of the public during the Civil War due to the exploits of the famous Henry berry Lowry. They have been derived by various authors from Raleigh’s Lost Colony, from Latin sailors shipwrecked in North Carolina, and from Croatia.
Baxter, James P. “Raleigh’s Lost Colony,” The New England Magazine (Jan. 1895), pp. 565-587.
Bellamy, John D. Remarks in the (U. S.) House of Representatives, Thursday, Feb. 1, 1900 (Wash. D.C., 1900)
Cobb, Collier. Early English Settlements on Hatteras Island, North Carolina Booklet (Oct. 1914), XIV,91-99.
Croatan, or Croatoan. Encyclopedia Americana (New York, 1944) Vol. 8, pp. 214-15.
Estabrook, A. H. and McDougle, I. E. Mongrel Virginians, the Win Tribe (Baltimore, 1926).
Fitch, Wm. E. “The First Founders of America with Facts to Prove that Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony Was Not Lost.” Paper read at meeting of New York Society of the Founders and Patriots of America held at Hotel Manhattan, Oct. 29, 1913 (New York, The Society, 1913).
Foster, Laurence. Negro-Indian Relationships in the Southeast (Phila., 1935), p. 16.
Frazier, E. Franklin. The Negro Family in the United States (Chicago, 1940), pp. 235-237.
Harper, Roland M. “The Most Prolific People in the United States,” Eugenical News, XXIII, No. 2 (March-April 1938), 29-31.
Harper, Roland M. “A Statistical Study of the Croatans,” Rural Sociology, 2, No 4 (Dec. 1937) pp. 444-456.
Hearn, W. E. et. al. Soil Survey of Robeson County, N. C. in U. S. Bureau of Soils. Field Operations with Report, 1908, pp. 294-295. (Also issued as Document No. 1569, 60th Cong., 2nd Sess.)
Johnson, Guy B. “Personality in White-Indian-Negro Community,” American Sociological Review, IV (1939), 516-523. (Dr. Johnson has a large amount of manuscript notes on the Croatans based on field work with this group and which he hopes to prepare for publication at a future date.)
Jurney, R. C. et.al. Soil Survey of Person County, N. C. 1933. Pub. No. 14. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, Series 1928, U. S. Dep’t Agri. p. 2.
Lawrence, Robert C. The Sons of Robeson (Lumberton, N. C., 1939), pp. 111-120.
Lucas, John P. Jr. and Groome, B. T. The King of Scuffleton, a Croatan Romance (Richmond, 1940).
McMillan, Hamilton. Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony (Wilson, N. C., 1888).
McNickle, D’Arcy. Indians of Robeson County, N.C. MSS.
Melton, Frances J. “Croatans: The Lost Colony of America,” Mid-Continent Magazine, VI (July 1885), pp. 195-202.
Mooney, James. Croatan. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 30, Vol, 1 (Handbook of American Indians).
Morgan, Ernest W. A Racial Comparison of Education in Robeson County N. C. M. A. Thesis MSS, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1940).
Norment, Mrs. Mary C. The Lowrie Hostory (Wilmington, N. C., 1873).
Parsons, E. C. “Folklore of the Cherokees of Robeson County, N. C.” Journal of American Folklore, 32 (1919) pp. 384-393.
Perry, Wm. S. “The First Christian Born in Virginia,” Iowa Churchman (Jan. and Feb., 1893).
Reuter, E. B. The Mulatto in the United States (Boston, 1918), p. 85.
Reports of Committees of the House of Representatives for the 2nd Session of the 42nd Congress, 1871-1872. Report No. 22, part 2. testimony taken to the Joint select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late insurrectionary States. North carolina (Washington, D.C., 1894) pp. 283-304.
Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not taxed in the United States at the 11th Census: 1890 (Wash. D. C., 1894). Croatan, pp. 499-500.
Swanton, John R. “Probable Identity of the Croatan Indians” Mimeographed Report to the Office of Indian Affairs (Wash. D. C., 1933).
Townsend, George A. The Swampy Outlaws: or the North Carolina Bandits (New York, 1872).
U. S. Congress. House Committee on Indian Affairs. School for Indians of Robeson County, N. C. Hearings, Feb.14, 1913.
U. S. Congress. House Comittee on Indian Affairs. School for Indians of Robeson County, N. C. Hearings, April 5, 1912.
U. S. Department of the Interior. Indians of North Carolina. Letter from the Secretary of the Interior transmiting...a Report...by O. M. McPherson (Wash. 1915), Sen. Doc. 677, 63rd Cong., 3rd Sess. (An inclusive series of documents on Croatans).
Webb, Mack. An Echo from Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony. Read, Vol. 16, No. 4 (April 1944) pp. 116-117.
Weeks, S. B. “The Lost Colony of Roanoke: Its Fate and Survival,” Papers of the American Historical Association (1891). V, pp. 239-480.
Wilson, E. V. “Lost Colony of Roanoke.” Canadian Magazine (April, 1895). IV, pp. 500-504.
Writers Project (U .S.), North Carolina, a Guide to the Old North State (Chapel Hill, 1939), pp. 27-28, 537.
IV. Guineas of West Virginia and Maryland
Location: Primarily centered in Barbour and Taylor counties, West Virginia. Also, small scatterd families in Grant, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Marion, Monongahela, and Braxton counties, West Virginia. Said to have originated in Hampshire County, West Virginia. A few occur in Garrett County, Maryland. Have recently migrated to canton, Chillicothe, Zanesville, Akron, and Sandusky in Ohio and to Detroit, Michigan. Word “guinea” said to be an epithet applied to anything of foreign or unknown origin. Other names applied locally are “West Hill” Indians, Maileys, “Cecil” Indians, “G. and B.” Indians, and “Guinea niggers.”
Numbers: Estimated to be from 8,000 to 9,000.
Organization: Have own schools and churches in Barbour and Taylor counties. Have an annual fair at Phillippi, West Virginia. Family names are Adams, Collins, Croston, Dalton, Dorton, Kennedy, Male (Mayle, Mahle, Mail), Minard (Miner), Newman, Norris, and Pritchard.
Environment and Economy: Many are coal miners, hill cultivators on sub-marginal lands, truck farmers and dairy farmers, domestic servants, and in cities industrial workers. Original habitat was inaccessible hilly area on a horseshoe bend of the Tygart River, the so-called “Narrows.” Live in compact settlements in this area.
Physique: Sharp and angular features characteristic. Originally a mixture of white and Indian types to which Negro has been added. Deformities of the limbs and other congenital defects.
In-Marriage: Has been pronounced in the past. Now said to intermarry with Italians who are also called “Guineas” in this area.
Religion: Mainly “Free Methodists” in Barbour and Taylor counties.
Schools: Have special schools classed locally as “colored.” Considerable tension over attendance at white schools in Taylor County. In Barbour County two schools have been burned down due to troubles.
Military Draft Status: In Taylor County (Grafton and vicinity) have almost uniformly gone into the white status.
Voting and Civil Rights: Have voted since organization of the State. Now hold balance of power in Barbour County.
Relief: Received during the Depression.
Cultural Peculiarities: Folklore, annual fair.
Social Status: Courts have pronounced them “colored.” Regarded as mulattoes. Do not associate as a rule with Negroes or whites.
History: Claim English descent from Revolutionary ancestors. Building of Tygert River Dam in 1937 scattered them in Taylor County due to flooding of original settlements.
Maxwell, Hu. The History of Barbour County (Morgantown, West Virginia, 1899) pp. 510-511.
Gilbert, Wm. H. Jr. “Mixed Bloods of theUpper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia,” Journal of the Washington Academyof the Sciences, 36, no. 1 (Jan. 15, 1946), pp. 1-13.
V. Issues of Virginia
Locations: Amherst and Rockbridge Counties. Name is derived from the term applied to free Negroes prior to the Civil War.
Numbers: Said to be about 500 in 1926.
Organization: Family groups only. Chief family names are Adcox, Branham, Johns, Redcross, and Willis.
Environment and Economy: A highlands fold of the Blue Ridge foothills they are mostly renters who cultivate tobacco in shares. Chief stronghold on Tobacco Row Mountain.
Physique: A mixture of white, Indian, and Negro types.
In-Marriage: Has been characteristic of the group.
Religion: Protestants. Episcopal mission has been maintained at Bear Mountain for many years. Has a school center for these people.
Schools: No organization aside from Mission.
Military Draft Status: No data as to color classification.
Voting and Civil Rights: No data.
Relief: No data.
Cultural Peculiarities: Traditions of Indian descent. Folklore not studied.
Social Status: Said to be below that of whites.
History: Ancestors of these people were in this area as far back as 1790. Local genealogical records very complete. Issues seem to have attracted little save local notice.
Estabrook, A. H. and McGouble, I. E. Mongrel Virginians, the Win Tribe (Baltimore, 1926) pp. 13-181.
Frazier, E. Franklin. The Negro Family in the United States (Chicago, 1940), pp. 240-242.
Gray, Rev. A. P. “A Virginia Tribe of Indians,” Southern Churchman LXXII, No. 53 (Jan. 4, 1908), p. 6.
Sams, Conway W. The Conquest of Virginia, The Forest Primaeval (New York, 1916), pp. 395-396.
VI. Jackson Whites of New Jersey and New York
Locations: Orange and Rockland Counties in New York; Bergen, Morris, and Passaic Counties, New Jersey. Name said to be derived from term “Jackson and White” which are common surnames. Another derivation is from “Jacks” and “Whites,” the terms for Negroes and Caucasians. Still another idea is that Jackson was a man who imported some of the ancestors of these people during the Revolutionary war. In one part of this area are the so-called “blue-eyed Negroes” who are said to be a race apart from the rest.
Numbers: Estimated to be upwards of 5,000.
Organization: Family groups only. Family names are Casalony, Cisco, De Groat, De Vries, Mann, Van Dunk, etc.
Environment and Economy: These are mainly a hill people of the Ramapo Hills. They raise a few crops at favorable spots and do hunting. Many have migrated to the lowlands and to industrial and mining areas.
Physique: In some areas apparently pure white types are found while in others negroid types dominate. Inn still other areas Indian mixed types seem to predominate. Albinism and deformities have been indicated.
In-Marriage: Due to environmental limitations this has been marked.
Religion: Protestant in the main. Presbyterians have had a mission among these people.
Schools: In New jersey, white schools have been attended. No data on New York. Tend to concentrate in a few schools.
Military Draft Status: No data.
Voting and Civil Rights: No data.
Relief: No data.
Cultural Peculiarities: Dialectic peculiarities, home-made utensils, folklore.
Social Status: Regarded as “colored” by white neighbors.
History: Traditionally derived from Tuscarora and Munsee Indians, Hessians, English, Negroes from West Indies, etc. First described by Speck in 1911.
Beck, Henry C. Fare to Midlands: Forgotten Towns of New Jersey (New York, 1939), pp. 73-89.
Donoghue, Frank L. “Jackson Whites Tribal Reserve Broken By War,” New York Journal American (March 24, 1942), pp. 226-229.
Frazier, E. Franklin, The Negro Family in the United States (Chicag, 1940), pp. 226-229.
“The Jackson Whites,” Eugenical News, XVI, No. 12 (Dec., 1931), p. 218.
“Native Sons,” Letters, Time, Inc. Vol. II, No. 15 (July 22, 1935), p. 1-2.
The Negro in New Jersey. Report of a Survey by the Interracial Committee of the New Jersey Conference on Social Work in Cooperation with the State department of institutions and Agencies (Dec., 1932), p. 22.
Speck, Frank G. “The Jackson Whites,” The Southern Workman (Feb., 1911) pp. 104-107.
Storms, J. G. Origin of the Jackson Whites of the Ramapo Mountains (Park Ridge, N.J., 1936), MSS.
Swital, Chet. “In the Ramapos.” Letters. Time, Inc. Vol. II, No. 15 (July 22, 1935), pp. 1-2.
Terhune, Albert Payson. treasure (New York, 1926).
“Twelve toes race of People Bred in North Jersey’s ‘Lost Colony,’” Philadelphia Record, June 6, 1940, p. 1.
U. S. Federal Writers Project. New jersey: a Guide to the Present and Past. (New York, 1939), pp. 124, 505.
U. S. Writers Program, New Jersey. Bergen County Panorama (Hackensack, New Jersey, 1941), pp. 179-180, 305.
“Who are the Jackson Whites?” The Pathfinder (Sept. 5, 1931), p. 20.
VII. Melungeons of the Southern Appalachians
Locations: Original center of dispersal was said to be Newman’s Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee. From thence are said to have spread into other counties such as Cocke, Davidson (Nashville), Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton (Chattanooga), Hawkins, Knox (Knoxville), Marion, Meigs, Morgan, Overton, Rhea, Roane, Sullivan, White, Wilson, Bledsoe, and Van Buren. In southwest Virginia they are known also as Ramps and occur in the counties of Giles, Lee, Russell, Scott, Washington, and Wise. Some are said to have migrated to southeastern Kentucky and a few went to Blountstown, Florida, just west of Tallahassee. One of two writers mention that they have gone westward to the Ozarks. The name is said to be derived from the French “Melange,” mixed or from the Greek “Melan,” black.
Numbers: Estimated to run from 5,000 to 10,000. Birthrate high.
Organization: Family groups only. Original family names were Collins, Gibson or Gipson, Goins, Mullins or Mellons. Other names mentioned are Bolen, Denhan, Freeman, Gann, Gorvens, Graham, Noel, Piniore, Sexton,Wright.
Environment and Economy: Originally pioneer cultivators in the Appalachian Valley lowlands they were said to be driven to the ridge by the white settlers. Newman’s Ridge, Clinch Mountain, Copper Ridge, and the Cumberland Range in eastern Tennessee were their chief habitats. Their means of living originally included hunting, fishing, ginseng root gathering, herb gathering, charcoal burning, and in the very earliest times river boat carriage and cattle driving.
Physique: Characteristics range between Indian, white, and occasional negroid types. Stoic endurance of out-of-doors life notable.
In-Marriage: Considerable intermarriage with whites in recent times. Originally married only within the group.
Religion: .Presbyterians have had missions among them for many years at Vardy and Sycamore (Sneedville P. O.) in Tennessee. Some are Baptists. Hymns peculiar to mountain folk sung.
Schools: Attend white schools in Franklin, Marion, and Rhea counties in Tennessee after winning lawsuits regarding their racial classification. In southwest Virginia attend white school when they go at all. Most are said to be illiterate.
Military Draft Status: Illiteracy is said to be a bar to their military service in some places.
Voting and Civil Rights: Disfranchised in Tennessee by Constitution of 1834. Have voted since the Civil War. Republican in politics.
Relief: Were given food and clothing in Virginia during the Depression of the 1930’s.
Cultural Peculiarities: Magic and folklore said to be important. Funeral rites formerly involved building a small house over a fresh grave.
Social Status: Said to approximate the white level in many areas today.
History: Several theories or origin. Some derive from the Croatans, some from Portuguese, Negro, and Indian ancestry. Appeared in east Tennessee shortly after the American revolution. First modern notice under the name “Melungeon” in 1889.
Addington, L. F. “Mountain Melungeons Let the World Go By,” Sunday Sun, Baltimore, July 29, 1945, Section A, p. 3, cols. 3-6.
Aswell, Jas. R., E. E. Miller, et. al. God Bless the Devil: Liar’s Bench tales (Chapel Hill, N. C., 1940), pp. 207-243.
Ball, Mrs. Bonnie S. America’s Mysterious race. Read vol. 16 (May 1944), pp. 64-67.
Ball, Mrs. Bonnie S. “Mystery Men of the Mountains,” Negro Digest 3 (Jan., 1945), pp. 64-67.
Ball, Mrs. Bonnie S. “Virginia’s Mystery race,” Virginia State Highway Bulletin 2, no. 6 (April 1945), pp. 5-7.
Ball, Mrs. Bonnie S. “Who Are the Melungeon?” Southern Literary Messenger 3, no. 2 (June 1945), pp. 5-7.
Burnett, Swan M. “A Note on the Melungeon,” American Anthropologist 2 (Oct., 1889), pp. 347-349.
Caldwell, Joshua W. Studies in the Constitutional History of Tennessee. 2nd ed. (Cincinnati, 1907), pp. 115, 185, 213.
Century Dictionary and Encyclopedia. (New York, 1906), “Melungeon” defined, vol. 5, p. 3702.
Converse, Paul D. “The Melungeons,” Southern Collegian (Dec., 1912), pp. 59-69.
Converse, Paul D. “The Melungeons,” Dictionary of American History (New York, 1940), pp. 371-372.
Crawford, Bruce. “Letters to the editor.” Coalfield Progress (Norton, Va. July 11, 1940).
Crawford, Bruce. “Hills of Home” (fiction), Southern Literary Messenger, 2,no. 5 (May 1940) pp. 302-313.
Dromgoole, Miss Will Allen. “The Malungeons,” The Arena, 3 (March 1891), pp. 470-479.
Dromgoole, Miss Will Allen. “The Malungeon Tree and Its Branches,” The Arena, 3 (May, 1891), pp. 745-775.
Hale, W. T. and Merritt, D. L. A History of Tennessee and Tennesseeans (2 vols,. Chicago, 1913), 1, chapt. 16, “The Melungeons of East Tennessee,” pp. 179-196.
Haun, Mildred. The Hawk’s Done Gone. (New York, 1940), pp. 15-16, 145-166.
Heiskell, Mrs. Eliza N. “Strange People of East Tennessee, “ Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock, Jan. 14, 1912), p. 11, cols. 3-7.
Journal of the Convention of the State of Tennessee convened for the purpose of amending the Constitution thereof. Held at Nashville (Nashville, Tenn., 1834), pp. 88-89.
King, Lucy S. V. Article in the Nashville American, 98th Anniversary Number, 37, no. 12717 (Nashville, June 26, 1910).
“Melungeons, The” Boston Traveller (April 13, 1889), p. 6, cols. 5, 6.
Moore, J. T. and Foster, A. P., eds. Tennessee, the Volunteer State, 1769-1923 (5 vols,, Chicago, 1923), I, pp. 790-791.
Mynders, A. D. “Next to the News” Chattanooga Times (June 17, 1945), Sect. 2, p. 10. col. 3.
Report on Indians Taxed and Indians not Taxed in the United States at the 11th Census, 1890 (Wash. D.C., Dep’t of the Interior, Census Office, 1894), p. 391
Shepherd, Judge Lewis. Romantic Account of the Celebrated Melungeon Case. Reproduced typewritten copy of article in Chattanooga Times, 1914. Said to be part of a small book of memoirs of the author.
United States Writers Project. Tennessee, a guide to the State (New York, 1939), “Melungeons in Oakdale, Tennessee,” p. 362.
Weeks, S. B. “Lost Colony of Roanoke,” Papers of the American Historical Association, 5 (1891), footnote pp. 132-133.
Wilson, Goodridge. “The Southwest Corner,” Roanoke Times (Feb. 25, 1934).
Wilson, Samuel T. The Southern Mountaineers (New York, 1906), p. 11
VIII. Moors and Nanticokes of Delaware and New Jersey
Location: Nanticokes are around Millsboro in Sussex County, Delaware. Moors are centered in Chesterwold, Kent County, Delaware, and at Bridgeton, Cumberland County in southern New Jersey. Name “Moor” traditionally derived from shiwrecked Moorish sailors.
Numbers: Moors about 500 in Delaware, Nanticokes about 700.
Organizations: Nanticokes are incorporated. Moors have no organization other than the family. Moor family names are Carney or Corney, Carter, Carver, Cioker, Dean, Durham, Hansley or Hansor, Hughes, Morgan, Mosley, Munce, Reed,.Ridgeway, Sammon, and Seeny. Nanticoke family names are Bumberry, Burke, Burton, Clarke, Cormeans, Coursey, Davis, Drain, Hansor, Harmon, Hill, Jackson, Johnson, Kimmey, Layton, Miller, Morris, Moseley, Newton, Norwood, Reed, Ridgeway, Rogers, Sockum, Street, Thomas, Thompson, Walker, and Wright.
Environment and Economy: Originally both groups may have been swamp hunters and fishers. Now are truck farmers.
Physique: Indian, white, and negro types occur. Drooped eyelids inherited in the family strain.
Religion: Protestants. Some sections among Nanticokes have own churches.
Schools: Moors attend colored schools. Nanticokes have own school with teacher paid by the state.
Military Draft Status: No data.
Voting and Civil Rights: No data.
Cultural peculiarities: Utensils and implements formerly made locally by the Nanticokes. These people also have their own medicine and folklore.
Relief: Not needed apparently.
Social Status: Uncertain.
History: Nanticokes first noticed about 1889, Moors about 1895.
Babcock, Wm. H. “The Nanticoke Indians of Indian River, Delaware,” The American Anthropologist, I (1889), pp. 277-82.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edit., 1910-11, v. 7, p. 948, article “Delaware.”
Fisher, George P. “The So-Called Moors of Delaware,” Milford (Del.) , June 15, 1895.
Frazier, E. Franklin. The Negro Family in the United States (Chicago, 1940), pp. 229-231.
Negro in New Jersey, The. Trenton 1932. Section on Moors, p. 21.
Speck, Frank G. Indians of the Eastern Shore of Maryland (1922), n.p.
Weslager, C. A. Delaware’s Forgotten Folk (New York, 1943).
IX. Red Bones of Louisiana
Location: The parishes of Natchitoches, Vernon, Calcasieu, Terrebonne, La Fourche, and St. Tammany. The term “Red Bone” is derived from the French Os Rouge for persons partly of Indian blood. As called “Houmas” along the Coast and “Sabines” farther west. In Natchitoches are the “Cane River Mulattoes.”
Numbers: Considerably over 3,000 and with a tendency to rapid increase.
Organization: Family groups and settlements. There are a limited number of French family names.
Environment and Economy: The coastal groups are farmers, sugar cane workers, cattle raisers, hunters and fishers. Those on the inland prairies are farmers raising corn and other crops. The groups at Slidell north of Lake Pontchartrain seem to merge gradually into the Cajans of southern Mississippi.
Physique: Mixed French, Indian, Anglo-Saxon, and Negro.
In-Marriage: Tendency to marry within the group has long been marked.
Religion: Mainly Roman Catholic. Some Baptists.
Schools: Colored or special.
Miltiary Draft: No data on classification by color.
Voting and Civil Rights: No data.
Relief: No data.
Cultural Peculiarities: Many old Indian customs and traits preserved.
Social Status: Once treated as full social equals by the French, they have long since fallen into the status of Mulattoes in some parts, of Indians in other places.
History: Derive from early border conflicts of authority and the banishment of mixed race persons from Texas. Intermarriage of French and Indians a marked feature of colonial period.
Saxon, Lyle. (a Novel), (Boston, Houghton Miflin, 1937).
Shugg, Roger W. Origin of the Class Struggle in Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1939), pp. 43-45.
U.S. Writers Program of the WPA, Louisiana, a Guide to the State (1941), pp. 80, 638.
X. Wesorts of Southern Maryland
Location: Most of these people are in Charles and Prince Georges counties, Maryland. A few have migrated to Washington, D. C. and the Phildalphia metropolitan area.
Numbers:Evidence available seems to indicate from 3,000 to 5,000. They have a high birth rate.
Organization: None beyond family groups. Family names are Butler, Harley, Linkins, Mason, Newman, Proctor, Queen, Savoy, Swan, and Thompson.
Environment and Economy: Are primarily tenant farmers or small landowners growing tobacco and other crops. Near the city they are truck farmers and in town are artisans, petty traders, and repairmen. Originally located near the Zekiah and other swamps many are still excellent fishermen.
Physique: Characteristically white and Indian with occasional marked Negroid types. Albinism, short teeth, hereditary deafness, and nervous disorders occur in some strains.
In-Marriage: A marked characteristic for many years.
Religion: Manly Roman Catholic as are the whites and Negroes who adjoin them.
Schools: Attend negro schools but in one or two neighborhoods a majority of school attendance is made up of children from this group.
Military Draft Status: Some are classified as white, others as Negroes.
Voting and Civil Rights: - Appear to have voted freely for a long period. Formerly Democrats they have tended to be Republican for the last 50 years.
Relief: Not much given to them.
Cultural Peculiarities: Folk medicines and herbalism, animal nicknames, annual festival on August 15th.
Social Status: Somewhat above that of the Negro but below the white.
History: Appear to be in part descended from several small Indian tribes of colonial times. The name originated about 1890. Romantic legends of Spanish shipwrecked sailors, French-Canadian traders, etc. Family names connected with the “free colored” or “free mulatto” names of 1790.
Anonymous. “Wesorts, Strange Clan in Maryland,” New York Times (Mar. 19, 1940).
Dodsen, Linda S. and Woolley, Jane. “Community Organization in Charles County, Maryland,” Md. Agric. Exp. Sta. Bull. No. A21 (College Park, Maryland, Jan. 1943), p. 297 et al.
Footner, Hulbert. Maryland and the Eastern Shore (New York, 1942), p. 357.
Gilbert, Wm. H. Jr. “The Wesorts of Southern Maryland, An Outcasted Group,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, 35, no. 8 (Aug. 15, 1945), pp. 237-246
Hodge, F. W. 35th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1913-14 (Wash. D. C., 1921), p. 17.
Maynard, Theodore. The Story of American Catholicism (New York, 1941), p. 76.
Semmes, Raphael. Captains and Mariners of Early Maryland (Baltimore, 1937), p. 303.
Warner, Eugene. “Upper Marlboro is Proud of Its Old Charming Homes,” Washington Times-Herald (Aug. 28, 1939), p. 11.
White, Roxana. “They Stand Alone: The Wesorts of Charles County,” The Sun (Baltiimore, Nov. 12, 1939), sec. 1, p. 2.
Besides the major minority groups characterized in this memorandum there are many other mixed Indian peoples in the eastern United states no less worthy of notice. A Partial list of these follows:
Massachusetts: Mashpee, Pequot, Wampanoag
Rhode Island: Narragansetts
Connecticut: Mohegan, Pequot
New York: Shinnecock, Poosepatuck
Virginia: Adamstown Indians, Chickahominy, Issues, Mattapony, Nansemond, Rappahannock, Skeetertown Indians, etc.
North Carolina: Machepunga
Louisiana: Houma, Chitimacha, Choctaw, Coushatta
These groups, together with those already scetched in this memorandum would, if thoroughly studied, provide the answer to a number of questions. For one thing they should demonstrate how detribalization affects Indians and what becomes of Indians presumably “freed” from the supervision of the Federal Government or never really under its jurisdiction. These examples show how outcast or pariah peoples come into existence and provide a ready parallel to the Untouchables of India and the Eta of Japan.
It is extremely urgent that a program be devised as soon as possible for the assimilation and betterment of the condition of these native American backward minorities. It is true that much good work along those lines has already been done religious bodies and private agents but the real solution of the problem must await public recognition and government. A local, State, and Federal policy will have to be developed after the public conscience has been awakened to the need. And this awakening rests on a thorough investigation and widespread public knowledge concerning these groups.