Monday, November 5, 2018

Genealogical History of the Melungeon Families by Mark French Jr.

Genealogical History of the Melungeon Families by Mark French Jr. November 22, 1947.
By Mark French Jr. Of Clintwood, Virginia Paper Originally Written, November 22, 1947. Corrected Edition Written, February 20, 1964. 
Uncle Wash Osborne of Copper Ridge near Dungannon in Scott County gave me more information about the Melungeons than anyone else. Uncle Wash's full name is George Washington Osborne. From what I gathered from Uncle Wash, the Melungeons started coming to Wise and Scott Counties about 1820. These people came in about equal numbers from Kentucky from Newmans' Ridge and lower end of Lee County. 
A few came from North Carolina. The first Collins family, who came to Scott County from Newmans Ridge were white. From Kentucky came the following families; Collins, Gibsons, and Sextons. From Newman's Ridge; Collins, Littons and Bollings. Very few people with these names came from Newman's Ridge. From Blackwater, Tennessee came the Sweeneys, Adkins, Lucas, Bollings, Goins and Baldwins. Also the Melungeons came to Scott County from Letcher County, Kentucky near Whitesburg at a place called Lick Rock. These people lived in large numbers. Uncle Poke Gibson came to Scott from Letcher about 1820. He claimed to be Portuguese Indian. A few Littons came from Newman's Ridge who are member of the Melango Tribe. There are two groups of Littons members of the Melango Tribe who live in Scott County and the Littons of Wise County who are not members. The Littons of Wise are no relation to the Littons of Scott. The Bollings, who are numerous in Scott and Wise Counties, came from Newman's Ridge. 
The have all the features of the Indian race. Old Jack Bolling, the originator of this family, is believed to have come from a low life grade of Indian. He married a melungeon by the name of Collins or Sexton but this is the first and last crossbreed in the family. His people were strong and spoke half-broken English. He was pure bred Melango and had no other blood in him. In this case word Melango pertains to Indian blood only. The Baldwins came to Scott County from Blackwater, Tennessee. They came from an Indian tribe there and the first Baldwins here were full-blooded Indian but in this region mixed with Negro slaves and Gibson and Sextons which leaves a variously diluted blood. 
Most of this set of Baldwins live in Scott County. The present members of this name are one-third Indian, one-third Portuguese and one-third colored. Another group, the Coins, who are very near full Indian came from Blackwater, Tennessee. The Goins, a high-minded group of people, are believed to be mixed with white people. They settled among the white people of Scott County in the last one hundred and forty ears. The Sweeneys who came from Blackwater, are a fighting tribe when in anger; other wise, they are a peaceful group. They are not as dark as some of the other members from Blackwater. Nerve is one of their outstanding traits not being afraid of anything. Years ago Old man Nichols gave several of them a good beating and thence they scattered. A few settled in Russell, a few in Lee, a few in Wise, a few in the lower end of Scott, a few at Newman's Ridge and others went down to the home of their forebears Blackwater Swamp, Tennessee. The Adkins family of Indian origin came from Blackwater, Tennessee. Some of them have migrated from Scott County to Letcher and Pike County. A Kentucky family name which belongs to the Melango tribe is the "Lucas' facial features are large and massive with ruddy cheeks. It is believed they are descended from Portuguese Indians and Irish. The name Lucas is of Irish origin. 
Another family which originated from the melungeons is the Moores. The Moores came in to this county from Newman's Ridge about 1807. The originator of the Moores here was old Eth Moore. The family name of this forebears had the Irish prefix O and was spelled O'Moore. Eth Moore always said he was one-third Portuguese Indian. Of course the other two-thirds consisted of Irish and don't know what. The Moores of Wise County are descendants of Eth Moore. Eth Moore had tolerable dark skin, broad cheek bones, broad face, very pretty eyes black as a cat, a nose three inches long, very flat and wide as a opossums. He spoke with an indistinct tone since his words came through his nose. Eth Moore, a school teacher, a man of knowledge and brilliant mind, lived during the slave days but kept no slaves as he considered them too irresponsible to have onthe place. The name Eth was a shortening of the name Ethan. 
The Moore set of Scott County, who are descendants of old Eth Moore, are people oF good business sense. Usually the men and women are very good looking. Another name of the Melango tribe of this region is the Frenches. The Melungeons migrated to the Southern sections of this country such as Newman's Ridge and Wise and Scott Counties from the North. They migrated to Scott County in about equal numbers from Newman's Ridge and Letcher County, Kentucky. To Newman's Ridge the Indian tribe came from Blackwater Swamp, Tennessee and the Portuguese Indian element came from someplace in the North. They migrated down here from the North in all probability because it was very cold up there and were in need of blankets and warm houses and had not money to buy the blankets nor the industry to build warm houses. Therefore they migrated further south where no blankets and warm houses were needed. Of course, blankets and warm houses were needed during winter season of the year but winter season was of short duration.
 I have separated the Melango families into the different groups as follows: 1. Purebred Indian groups from Blackwater, Tennessee a. Coins b. Bollings c. Sweeneys d. Adkins e. Minor 2. Indian group from Blackwater who married in other Melango Tribes a. Baldwins 3. Melango groups from Kentucky a. Collins b. Sextons 4. Indians and whites from Newman's Ridge a. Bollings b. Collins 5. Portuguese Indian and white from Newman's Ridge a. Collins From Newman's Ridge a. Moore's—married Sextons and Gibson during first generation 6. Portuguese Indian from Kentucky a. Gibson Under the column Portuguese Indian and white are the few people who came from Newman's Ridge called Collins. In Scott County they married among the Sextons and Gibsons. By intermarrying among these other people their blood became variously diluted. We know definitely that the blood of the descendants of Collins of Newman's Ridge consists of Portuguese Indians and white. 
The first Collins from Newman's Ridge were reported to be white. Now the descendants of old Eth Moore in the generations since 1835 who married in families other than Melango have very little Melango blood in their veins. Of course, blood of the descendants of those who married the Melangoes in the last one hundred and twenty years in Scott County is variously diluted. Under the column Purebred Indian group from Blackwater are the Minors. The Minors, a fighting people, show more of the Indian than any other Indian group in Scott County. They claim to be Portuguese Indian stock. They are of large stature, tall of black complexion and very strong. 
I believe the Minors are of three-quarters Indian and on-quarter Portuguese. The are of the type of people whose word is their bond. In Scott County some of them own large stock farms and have prospered. The story of the Spanish ship wreck was verified by Samuel Sexton. It was repeated to him by Aunt Caroline Collins who heard it from her father, Johnny Sexton, who came to America on a ship which carried Spanish bullion. Johnny Sexton came to Stone Mountain from Eastern Virginia. His family was of Spanish descent. I do not have the Spanish shipwreck story readily was available to insert in this paper. I read an interesting article in the October 18 issue of the SATURDAY EVENING POST called "The Legend" written by Elizabeth Worden of Washington D.C. It gives different theories advanced by different people about the origin of the Melungeons of Blackwater Swamp and Newman's Ridge, Tennessee. I do not have a copy but gave it to Hamp Osborne who writes an article called "Hillbilly" in a Scott County newspaper.
 I meant to go down to Slant and talk to John Sallings about the Indians from Blackwater but failed to do so. Of course, I doubt if he could tell me anything about the mixed group of Melungeons. John Sallings is now deceased, dying two or three years ago. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Thomas Collins: grandfather of Carter W. Collins of Blair's Mills, Morgan co Ky.

3.  Thomas2 Collins (???) was born Abt. 1780 in Wilkes Co., NC, and died March 15, 1846 in Knott Co., KY.  He married Nancy Williams Abt. 1800 in , NC.  She was born Abt. 1780 in , NC, and died in Letcher Co., KY.

Notes for Thomas Collins:
BIRTH: Based on the 1810 census, male 26-45, with 4 children under 10; if Thomas was 20 when married and had 4 children, figure about 2 years apart, a reasonable date of birth would be about 1780.
DEATH:  Wilson Collins made an affidavit on 9/21/1886, for Thomas Collins, Jr. wherein he stated his grandfather was deceased on 3/15/1846.  However, his daughter, Margaret, and her husband inherited 50 acres of land at his death and this is listed in 1844.
MARRIAGE:  name found in census records.

In a book on the Caudills of Wilkes County and Eastern Kentucky by Samuel E. Sebastian Sr., he states that James Caudill and Stephen migrated to eastern KY with the Adams, Crafts, Williamses, Hammonds, Collinses, Webbs, Holbrooks, and others, about the year 1803.  That the Caudills left part of their children in Wilkes Co.   Since we know that Thomas did not leave until about 1835, one might conclude that his father's brothers or other family members left and Thomas' side of the family stayed for whatever reasons they may have had.

{Thomas and Nancy moved with their adult children. All but the youngest, Thomas J, were married when they arrived in Perry now Letcher Co Ky.abt 1835.  Likewise, Carter (son of Briant) and Maryann did not leave Letcher co until their children were grown}

Children of Thomas and Nancy Williams Collins

Even though these many Collins families are listed below as living in the same counties, there has never been any proof as to how they may have been related. Only guess work.
Following Census are Wilkes County:

In 1796, 4th David, Valentine and Griffin Collins each have 1 poll, David has 100 acres; In 11th John Banks has 1 poll, in 13th Vardie, Merida and Lewis have 1 poll each, Verdie has 100 acres.

In 1797 11th Nathaniel Banks and John  each have 1 poll, Nathaniel has 100 acres; In 13th Vardy, Valentine and Aaron Collins have 1 poll each, Valentine has 50 acres.

None found in 1798.

In 1799, 13th Dist, Ambrose and Elisha Collins each have 1 poll, Elisha has 50 acres; 4th Dist. Capt. Johnson's, Lewis, Griffin and Aaron Collins have 1 poll each, Griffin has 50 acres.  Dist. 4, Thomas Collins, 70 acres, 1 poll.


Jan. 9, 1779, John Livingston enters 140 acres, headwaters Beaver Creek, joining Thomas Collins land and Thomas Collens line including his improvements., Wilkes Co.

In 1782, tax, list, John Dist., was Samuel Collins with 100 acres.

In 1784, Nat Banks, John Banks each 1 poll, Nat had 50 acres, John had 100 acres.  George and Ambrose Collins each had 1 poll.

In 1785, #10,  Nat. and Wm. Banks each had 1 poll and 50 acres.  In #4, Samuel and Ambrose Collins each had 1 poll and 0 acres.  George had 1 poll, 0 acres;

In 1786, Nall Dist, the following are listed:  George Collins, Ambrose Collins, Samuel Collins, all with 1 poll.  In #10, Browns Dist. William, Nat and John Banks, Jr. each have 1 poll, William and Nat. both have 50 acres.

In 1787 Ambrose, Samuel and George Collins were found with 1 poll. John, William and Nat. Banks found 1 poll, John and Wm. with 50 acres, Nat. with 100.

In 1788, Ambrose, Valentine, George, Martin, Martin Collins 1 poll. William, John and Nat Banks, 1 poll.  Wm. had 50 acres, Nat 150 acres.

In 1789, 4th Dist. Valentine, Samuel and Benjamin Collins have 1 poll each, Samuel has 100 acres.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

CAUTION: Dangerous Invasive Plants in your neighborhood

CBS LOCAL) — A noxious, alien and invasive plant that looks like Queen Anne’s lace on steroids – giant hogweed — is causing some concerns after being found in multiple states, including Michigan.
 In addition to Pennsylvania, giant hogweed can be found in New York, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Hogweed is in the carrot family and can grow 14 feet or taller. The toxic plant has thick leaves stretching five feet wide and large clusters of white flowers on the top in an umbrella pattern. Its stems are green with purple blotches and white hairs.
Giant hogweed originates from the Caucasus Mountains between the Black and Caspian seas by Russia – but it made its way to the U.S. by the early 20th century.


                                                  wild parsnip 

Beware of the wild parsnipDon't be tempted to pick these pretty yellow flowers. Contact with the plant, which is found throughout North America, can cause a painful light-sensitve rash similar to that of the Wild Hogweed. 

Wild parsnip is most irritating while flowering.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


See the guy standing on the car in the water?

There is no fix for stupidityYour day Should look pretty good after seeing this!    
Up comes the car

Coming up...coming...coming

Coming...almost there! oh no>!!!!

OOPS !!!I could have sworn I hit the brake pedal!

Coming back up...coming...coming

Coming...almost there!

Time to get a Bigger Wrecker!

Ok, we got the car...
let's get the other wrecker out now!

                                OMG !!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Asheville, Ashe co and Haywood

  1. Hey  guess I better get this out..

  2. Our earliest known proven Collins ancestor was Thomas Collins born abt 1770 in Wilkes/ Ashe NC..It was all Wilkes co until 1795..He married a Nancy Williams there who was born abt 1785. They had 10 children and all but one or two were married when they moved to Perry/Letcher co Ky abt 1835. Many families left Va and the Carolina's in the early 1800's due to more expensive land, higher taxes, intrusion by new settlers and the pressure on Indians to vacate their land for white settlers. Several families of Collins were back and forth across the Va/NC state line (which was moved more than once) with children born in both states..Ok  so here is a map showing Samuel Collins almost dead center. that should be somewhere arond Jefferson now I think..Far to the right in Allegheny co is a Charles then George Collins cabin. Samuel is who we're interested in..
    From 1807 to 1913, the county went through numerous boundary changes. In 1849, to form Watauga County, the southwestern part of Ashe County was combined with parts of Caldwell CountyWilkes County, and Yancey County.[citation needed] Ten years later in 1859, the eastern part of the remainder of Ashe County became Alleghany County.[3]
  3. here is a Wilkes/Ashe map

Samuel would be on the south fork of the New river (I don't know why I got center spacing and I can't seem to fix it  lol)  

this Thomas below is "old" Thomas Collins b 1710 ,and is possible he is father  of Samuel b. 1734 who I think (but no one can prove) is the father of our Thomas b.1770.Regardless of parentage you can see pretty close where they lived.

Jan. 9, 1779, John Livingston enters 140 acres, headwaters Beaver Creek, joining Thomas Collins land and Thomas Collens line including his improvements., Wilkes Co.

Jan. 2, 1779, Benjamin Cleveland enters 200 acres southside south fork of New River where Reuben Stringer and Samuel Collens now lives.

Jan. 2, 1779, Benjamin Harden enters 600 acres on Dogg Creek of New River near Rattlesnake Den on Dugout, including two old cabbins formerly belonging to George Collins.

settler map

present day Ashe co


But you're not going to Ashe NC I don't're going to Asheville.!!..or more specifically Waynesville. that brings us to another one of your grandfathers,William Caldwell who was married in Haywood co NC in 1810 ..exactly where you're going.

 William Caldwell married Nancy Agnes Black (Nancy Agnes Blackfox Chippewa)

County Court Records at Waynesville, NC & Family H

North Carolina, Marriage Collection, 1741-2004 about William Caldwell

William Caldwell
Nancy Black
Marriage Date:
22 Sep 1810
Marriage County:
Marriage State:
North Carolina

Name:William Caldwell
Spouse:Nancy Black
Spouse Gender:Female
Bond Date:22 Sep 1810
Bond #:000065040
Level Info:North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868
Record #:01 014
Bondsman:John Battle

Agnes was youngest dau of Bob Benge the Chicamauga Cherokee war chief by his 3rd wife Nancy Blackfox Chippewa (formatting really gone to hell.) Benge's 1st family was burned to death in an attack by John Seiver and his men..they could not marry in Va due to the anti-miscegenation laws and Ky had large penalties if you married outside your "race".Haywood is right across the mountains from Harlan co Ky where they lived the rest of their lives. Later on some Caldwell's moved to Magoffin co then on to Ashland
Haywood is also part of the Qualla boundry read abt that here

This I believe is the father of Nancy Benge/Black Caldwell

This petition concerns a spoliation claim made against the United States by Black Fox, dated September 15, 1838. Black Fox is seeking compensation for improvements that he made to his property before U.S. authorities removed him. The case was referred through Chief John Ross to Major General Scott for settlement.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Breaks of Sandy Melungeon Tales 2017

                            In search of the Lost Tribe in Ohio...

                           They lived near the Great Serpent Mound

                            In search of the Lost Tribe in Ohio


2) Capt'n Tobias Thorne -the only ever mythical melungeon sea captain

The word "Melungeon" itself is a derogatory, inflammatory term. It has been used through the years to create anger, dissension, and discrimination, indicating a lower type of human being. In fact Melungeons are American Indians who graciously have accepted others into their families.

                             O them melungeons, they'll get you too

The Hellboy cartoon below illustrates how Melungeons have been portrayed in popular culture.The defamation lives on.

This is a US Government Document, clearly states the 'Melungeans" were a branch of the Croatan/Lumbee Indians.

Indians of North Carolina. Letter from the Secretary of the Interior transmitting, in response to a Senate resolution of June 30, 1914, a report on the condition and tribal rights of the Indians of Robeson and adjoining counties of North Carolina. January 5, 1915. -- Referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs and ordered to be printed. January 13, 1915. -- Accompanying illustrations ordered printed.

             Melungeans were a branch of the Croatan-Lumbee Indians--govt doc


San Miguel de Gualdape Slave Rebellion of 1526

San Miguel de Gualdape was the first European settlement in
what is now the continental United States, founded by Spaniard
Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1526. It was to last only
three months of winter before being abandoned in early 1527.


Records show that in 1521, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón
a wealthy sugar planter of Santo Domingo, had sent
Francisco Gordillo northward to explore the continent. 
Upon reaching the Bahamas, he ran into his cousin,
slave trader Pedro de Quexos (Pedro de Quejo), and the two of
them set out together. They landed at the “River of St. John the
Baptist”, possibly the Pee Dee River, where they kidnapped 70
natives to sell in Hispaniola, including one, given the name
Francisco de Chicora, who provided some ethnological
information about his province, Chicora, and the neighboring
provinces. Chicora was evidently one of several Carolina Siouan
territories subject to their king, Datha of Duahe (Duarhe).
The Siouan captives were described as white, dressed in skins,
and larger than the average Spaniard.

The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake:
By Samuel Bawlf

"So, on October 7, 1568, Hawkins ordered ashore those of his
men "such as were willing to land" and sailed for England with
those who "were moft desirous to goe homewardes." Aiming to
reach the French Huguenot colony in Florida, about thirty of
those left behind banded together and set off on the 1,500-mile
walk around the Gulf of Mexico. Five months later they
reached Florida but were unable to find the French colonists
because they had been massacred by the Spaniards three years
The sailors turned north, following Indian trails from one tribal
territory to another, invariably being greeted hospitably.
As more of them elected to remain with their native hosts,
the party steadily diminished. Those who chose not to stay in
New Spain dispersed themselves in many directions.
Many were never heard from again.

Those who chose to follow the lead of David Ingram, Richard
Brown and Richard Twide, marched northward hoping to
find passage home on English or French fishing vessels that
frequented the coast of New England and New Brunswick.
For the next 11 months of 1568-69, Ingram, Brown and Twide
stayed together and walked more than 3,000 miles up the
east coast of America, passing through Maine, to their eventual
destination in St. John, New Brunswick. Once in St. John,
Ingram persuaded a French fishing boat captain, Captain
Champlaine, to give him passage to France aboard the ship
Gargarine. Sailing from St. John, the Gargarine made France
in only twenty days, and Ingram found himself back in England
near the end of September in 1569."


Douglas Summers Brown
The Catawba Indians:
The People of the River

No one knows what became of the men and the fortifications
along Pardo's thousand-mile trail. Henry Savage says ,
"Some men were killed, some drifted back down the trail
when the captain failed to return."

Others, including a fifer with his wife and children, stayed
and threw in their lot with their Indian hosts. Boyana himself
returned to Santa Elena only to be tomahawked by an
Edisto Indian.

In the Holston Valley of southwestern Virginia and of eastern
Tennessee, just across the mountains from the region of Old Fort and
Marion, North Carolina, is an ethnic group whose origins have
aroused much speculation but who stoutly insist that they are
Portuguese. They are called "Melungeons," (also
Melungeans, Malungeons,") a term whose meaning is

Local historians believe they are the descendants of mixed
marriages between Indian women and the Spaniards who
had a post near Old Fort, North Carolina. (19) .

(19) - Information came from my father, historian *Lewis
Preston Summers (See below). This group has been
described, though somewhat inaccurately, by W.L. Worden,
"Sons of the Legend," The Saturday Evening Post,
Oct. 18, 1947; also, in "The Melungeons, the Mystery People
of Tennessee,"
The Tennessee Conservationist, August, 1959.

These articles were called to my attention by W. P. Grohse of
Sneedville, Tenn., a student of the Melungeons' origin. A
connection between these people and the "Turks" near
Sumter, S.C. who may or may not have Catawba blood, has
been suggested. The Melungeons are said by some to have
stopped over in South Carolina enroute to Tennessee.

*Lewis Preston Summers b.1868 d.1943 m. in 1897 Annie

Katherine Barbee. Lewis was the author of "Summers
History of Southwest Virginia." Lewis was the Abingdon Post
Master from 1890-1894. He began his legal practice in 1895.
He was appointed U.S. district attorney by President
Harding in 1922. He was a member of the Virginia State Bar
Association and the Presbyterian Church. Summers was
also chairman of the Walnut Grove Cemetery Association,
Washington Co., VA. The land for this cemetery was
originally owned by Robert Preston, Sr., whose wife
Margaret Rhea Preston, and mother, Eleanor Fairman
Preston, established the cemetery. Lewis and Annie had
7 children.

Will Allen Dromgoole wrote in 1890:

"Old Jim Mullins, the father of the branch, was an
Englishman, a trader, it is supposed, with Indians. He was
of a roving, daring disposition, and rather fond of the free
abandon which characterized the Indian. He was much
given to sports, and was always "cheek to fowl" with the
Cherokees and other Indian tribes he like to mingle. What
brought him to Newman's Ridge must have been, as it is
said, his love for freedom and sport, and that careless
existence known only to the Indians.

He stumbled upon the Ridge settlement, fell in with the
Ridgemanites, and never left them. He took for a wife
one of their women, a descendant of old Sol Collins, and
reared a family known as the MULLINS tribe. This is
said to be the first white blood that mingled with the blood of
the dusky Ridgemanites."


"Callaway Collins is an Indian~~"

 reprinted from the Knoxville Register September 6, 1848 quoting from the Louisville Examiner~~ The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women--who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. These people made themselves friendly with the Indians and freed, as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a delightful Utopia of their own creation, trampling on the marriage relation, despising all forms of religion, and subsisting upon corn (the only possible product of the soil) and wild game of the woods.

These intermixed with the Indians, and subsequently their descendants~~~

 They are privileged voters in the state in which they live and thus, you will perceive, are accredited citizens of the commonwealth. They are brave, but quarrelsome; and are hospitable and generous to strangers. They have no preachers among them and are almost without any knowledge of a Supreme Being. They are married by the established forms, but husband and wife separate at pleasure, without meeting any reproach or disgrace from their friends. They are remarkably unchaste, and want of chastity on the part of females is no bar to their marrying. They have but little association with their neighbors, carefully preserving their race, or class, or whatever you may call it: and are in every respect, save they are under the state government, a separate and distinct people. Now this is no traveller's story.

They are really what I tell you, without abating or setting down in aught in malice. They are behind their neighbors in the arts. They use oxen instead of horses in their agricultural attempts, and their implements of husbandry are chiefly made by themselves of wood. They are, without exception, poor and ignorant, but apparently happy. Having thus given you a correct geographical and scientific history of the people, I will proceed with my own adventures.


Court deposition - 3/9/1887, Rockhouse, Letcher Co Ky

“He also stated there was a large family of Collins on Colly, generally illiterate and weak minded and contrary to the theory of {Cotton}Mathers? they hold undisputed sway in the Valley of Colley. They are below their surrounding neighbors in social standing and hence, there is but little commingling in a social way.”

The Malungeons According to Joanne

The Malungeons were in fact Portuguese Adventurers
who intermixed with the local Indians in the Carolinas.
These families were reported along the Pee Dee River
as early as 1725, they may have joined Christian Priber's
'Paradice', his Utiopa in the Cherokee Indian Town. They
were likely ejected after his arrest in 1743 when Chief
Attacullaculla signed an agreement in Charleston to
trade only with the British, return runaway slaves and
expel Non-English whites from their territory. In return
they received guns, ammunition, and red paint.

From court records found in North Carolina, Arkansas,Tennessee,
Indiana, Missouri, Illinois:
These families from the Pee Dee declared they were
Portuguese and in most cases they succeeded. The Ivey,
Halls, Chavis, Shoemake, Bolton, Perkins, Goins, Collins,
Nickens, Dungee, and others have all been identified as
Portuguese in courts, county histories, etc.

In 1848 a journalist from Louisville, Kentucky visited
Newman's Ridge where he stayed at the Vardy Inn
and wrote the 'legend of their history' -- and it would
appear that Vardy Collins and/or his wife 'Spanish Peggy
Gibson' were possibly the source. Most researchers
assume Vardy was giving the history of his Collins family
but it is likely his ancestors were merely Indians as were
many of the other early settlers on Newman's Ridge. The
little Portuguese community on the border of the Carolinas
appears to have started breaking up around 1800 and many
had moved west after the War of 1812.

The Lowery of the Lumbee families according to history have
Portuguese ancestors and Tobias Gibson, son of Jordan is
also said to have had Portuguese ancestry. It seems
fairly clear to me that the Portuguese settlers who
intermixed with one tribe, most likely the Cheraw or
Saura, became the 'Lumbee' while just across the line
those same families who intermixed with the other tribes, possibly
the Catawba, Pee Dee, etc., became known as Redbones. As
they moved intoTennessee and intermixed with the
Saponi-Occaneechi families of Gibsons, Collins, etc., they became what was
described in 1848 as the 'present race of Melungens.'

No Author
Volume 05, Pages 161-163
[From MSS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
Abstracts of returns from the several counties in
response to circular from Governor Dobbs. [See ante,
page 144.—Editor.]
~~~ Drowning Creek on the head of Little Pedee, 50
families a mixt Crew, a lawless People, possess the
Lands without patent or paying quit rents; shot a
Surveyor for coming to view vacant lands being inclosed in
great swamps, Quakers to attend musters or pay as in
the Northern Counties; fines not high enough to oblige
the Militia to attend musters

When this mixed race was first observed by the early
settlers of the upper Cape Fear [2] about 1735, it is said
that they spoke English, cultivated land, lived in
substantial houses, and otherwise practised the arts of
civilized life, being in these respects different from any
Indians tribe. [3]

A 1725 map by John Herbert shows the Cheraw/Sarah
tribe on the Pedee River not far from Drowning Creek
where these settlers were recorded ten years later. Also
in the South Carolina Gazette October 3, 1771 it was
reported that one Winsler Drigger had been captured
near Drowning Creek in the Charraw settlement.’‘
The above records show that there were people living in
this area as early as 1725 and as late as 1771 identified
as Cheraw/Saura Indians yet in 1754 they were called a
mixed crew’ and not marked down as Indians?
Did the Portuguese arrive in the twenty years between
1725 and 1754, mixing with this tribe and living as white
people and speaking English?


Robert K Thomas

Around 1750, several tribes further east --- the Nansemond,
Yeopin, and Poroskite --- lost their lands and began to
fragment into individual family groups. These Indian families
began to migrate to the frontier and settle near the Saponi.
In 1760, Eaton died and the frontier had
The Saponi lost their land base then and also began to
fragment into individual families, and move west. In 1760’s,
I can pick up the Collins in Orange County, on the frontier,
west of Hendersonville, N.C.

                  1755 Edition of the Fry-Jefferson map shows the location of  Occaneechi

By 1790, many of these Indian families, including the Collinses, had “bunched up”
 in the counties of extreme northeastern North Carolina. Then in the 1790’s, they spread all over Northeastern Tennessee, Southwestern Virginia, and over into 
what is now Letcher and Knott Counties, Kentucky. Many of them , like the 
Bollings of Wise Wise County, became prominent families in their areas.

Then, in the 1830s, Virginia became one of the more
consciously racist and deliberately elitist states in the Union.
First, most poor whites were disenfranchised by a property
value requirement; most Virginians west of the Blue Ridge,
as well as the poor further east, could not legally vote in
Virginia. Further, a new legal category included citizen
Indians, free blacks, and all non-whites. These “free colored”
could not vote, bear arms, travel freely, etc. In southwest
Virginia and neighboring parts of Tennessee, the more
established Indian families “weathered the storm”.

The Bollings in Wise County redefined their status as being
descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, thus escaping
the free colored category. Other families who were less
wealthy, darker, and concentrated in one area, got caught
in the free colored category; and, thus the Melungeons of
southern Wise County came into existence.

By 1840, the situation became intolerable for some Indians
in Southwest Virginia, and they began to head for Kentucky,
a less repressive social and legal atmosphere. In the 1840s,
three Collins families moved into into Perry (became)
Letcher County, Kentucky.

In the 1850s, two Collins families moved to Johnson County,
just south of Paintsville (Grandpap William Collins and
brother). {Frankie’s Blackburn note here: This is where my
2nd great grandparents Griffin and Rachael Collins went
also, and were listed as Mulatto on Johnson County census
These Collinses were very Indian looking and dark.
They must have been almost full-blood Indians.

Not all the Collinses headed west in 1760 after Colonel
Eaton died. Some few went south to what is now Robeson
County, North Carolina, and became part of the modern
Lumbee Indians in that region. The history of the Collins
family is both remarkable and fascinating. They are almost
an “ethnic group” all by themselves. There are Seneca
Cayuga Collinses in New York [Again we need to find these
Collins families], White and Melungeon Collinses in east
Tennessee and Southeast Virginia, part-Indian Collinses all
down the Big Sandy and into Southern Ohio, Lumbee Indian
Collinses in North Carolina --- all, at least distantly, related, and 
all descended from two or three households of Saponi Indians in 1740.


The Martha Simmerman story: Her family was Portuguese
and English and Native American. The Supreme Court ruled
in HER FAVOR; so did the state court. The Bolton' DNA
haplogroups are not African, they are the same haplogroups
found in Spain and Portugal. The courts stated she never

Excerpt From:
Pioneer Families

Bolton Was A Melungeon Who Farmed Moccasin Bend Land 
Byline: John Wilson

Solomon Bolton was a Melungeon, a people who were a mixture of Indian, black and white ancestry, and was a soldier in the War of 1812. His lovely daughter, Jemima, had a tragic story. Another Bolton pioneer in Hamilton County was Robert Bolton, whose father was among the state's earliest settlers.  Solomon Bolton was born in North Carolina just before 1800 and was living in South Carolina when he enlisted for the War of 1812. His wife, Rachel, was from South Carolina.  They moved to Tennessee at Blount County, then at Marion County prior to moving to Hamilton County in the 1840s. Solomon Bolton was a tenant on the large farm of the Simmermans at Moccasin Bend. 

 The Bolton children included Elizabeth, Sarah, Hiram, Solomon Jr., Eliza and Martha, in addition to Jemima. The latter daughter "was famed for her beauty, her grace of manner and modesty. She was a dark brunette. She had a suit of black hair, which was coveted by all the girls who knew her. Her form was petite, and yet, withal was so plump and so well developed as to make her an irresistibly charming young woman. 

She was most beautiful of face, and had a rich black eye, in whose depths the sunbeams seemed to gather. When she loosed her locks, they fell almost reaching the ground, and shone in the sunlight, or quivered like the glamour which the full moon throws on the placid water. She was the essence of grace and loveliness."  One of the young Simmermans, Jerome C., fell in love with Jemima. His Bivans step-mother and step-sisters opposed the marriage, fearing to lose a share of the large Simmerman estate.  With the aid of Ab Carroll and John Cummings, Jerome and Jemima made their way across the river and eloped to Trenton, Ga. That marriage occurred June 14, 1856. 

 The couple had a son, who died as an infant. Then a daughter, Martha, was born in the latter part of 1858. Eight days later, Jemima Bolton Simmerman died. That event "was such an overpowering shock to the father that he went violently insane, and had to be taken into custody and kept under guard for a long time." 

 The Bivans family later filed suit seeking the inheritance. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bolton secreted young Martha Simmerman away for her safekeeping. The suit claimed the marriage was void because a Tennessee law prohibited the marriage of a white person with a person of Negro blood to the sixth degree.  

The Jerome Simmerman side finally won the suit after it was proven the Boltons were Melungeons. It was pointed out that Solomon Bolton could not have served in the War of 1812 had he been a Negro or mulatto. He proved his service because he was still able to recall the roll of his company from the captain down to the last private on the list.  The exact date of the marriage was also proven during the trial. Joel Cross said he could remember it because also that day a Baptist preacher leading a revival in Dade County got drunk, some horses broke loose and tore up several acres of his corn, and he had a baby girl born.  When Elizabeth Bolton died at the age of 78 in 1908, she was living in North Chattanooga with her niece, Martha, who had married James M. Carter.

Love without borders:
The Martha Simmerman story


Avoiding Pitfalls in Melungeon Research
by Pat Spurlock Part 2

As you research, you may have to settle for the fact that
perhaps your family really isn't Melungeon. I like to tell
folks that if anyone ever wanted to be a Melungeon I do,
but I have never found a direct ancestor who qualifies.
My maiden name is Spurlock. My father's paternal
ancestry is traditionally French and Indian, and
specifically Algonquin and Cherokee. I can trace the
Spurlock family back to New Kent County, Virginia--
which was the wrong side of the tracks in the 1600s.
In addition, their land there adjoined the Saponi Indians.
My greatest pleasure is in knowing my maiden name made 
W.A.Plecker's "Mongrel" list. Unfortunately, all this doesn't 
make me a Melungeon although I wish it did. I just can't prove my
connection and to my knowledge, my family was never
considered Melungeon. The key is that something made
certain families uniquely Melungeon while others were
not. It's our job to discover those differences.


Collins from Reed Island
Joanne Pezzullo
Herald and Tribune (Jonesborough, Tennessee)
27 Jan 1876, Thu Page 2

Sneedville is situated not far from Clinch River, in a beautiful valley at the foot of Newmans Ridge. It contains a population of about one hundred and fifty souls, one log church, one Academy, a Court House and Jail. The original name of the place was "Greasy Rock," so called because on a certain hedge of flat rocks near the town, the Indians are said to have skinned their bears. Hancock county was organized from a part of Hawkins County in 1848. It contains some very good farming lands, though most of the county is very rough and mountainous. It is by nature well adapted to the growing of the grasses, and could be made one of the best counties for raising sheep and cattle in the State. But the people grow mostly corn, oats and wheat and boat their surplus down the Clinch River to Chattanooga in flat-boats. The county has a varied population-- a great many of the people are industrious, enterprising and intelligent, while some are groveling, vicious and indigent. A race of people mostly by the name of Collins and Mullins live on the top, and along the spurs of Newmans Ridge, and some of them in a fertile valley called "Blackwater," "history tells not of their origin," but as far as I can learn from the oldest ones among them, their ancestors came there from "Reed Island"about the beginning of the present century. They claim to be of Welsh extraction some of them are quite dark in complexion others of a deep copper color. They all have straight hair, generally dark eyes, sharp noses, thin lips, and some of them very peculiar physiognomies. They have none of the peculiar marks of the African about them, and I have no idea that they have any African blood in them. The lands cleared out and cultivated by them on Newman's Ridge are said to be rich and productive. These people were all loyal to the Unites States Government in the late war and many of them served in the Union army and made good soldiers. ..................


Rogersville, Tenn. January 1876
Fincastle County 1773 Delinquent Tax Lists:
David Collens, Elisha Collens, Ambrus Collens, Samuel Collens, John Collens, Lewis Collens, John Collens Junr., George Collens, Charles Collens. On James McGavock's List of Delinquents. At a Court held for Fincastle Decr 6 1774 "This List of delinquents on New River & Reed Creek was received by the Court containing 213 Tithables and is that ought to be Received by the Vestry of the Parish of Botetourt. W. Ingles"

October 27, 1993 the federal government recognizes the Collins, Austins, and Gibsons who moved to the Catawba reservation as Native Americans: The following is the final base membership roll of the Catawba Indian Nation of South Carolina and is final for purposes of the distribution of funds from the Per Capita Trust Fund established under Section 11(h) of the Act of October 27, 1993 (Pub. L. 103116; 107 Stat. 1124).


The Blackwater Valley lies between Mulberry and Newman’s Ridges, and is from half a mile to mile wide. Twenty years ago it was still a wilderness, but is now under good cultivation, and divided into small farms upon which are rather poor dwellings and outbuildings. In this valley and along Newman’s Ridge, reaching into Lee County, Virginia, are settled the people called Melungeons. Some have gone into Kentucky, chiefly into Pike County, others are scattered in adjacent territory.The first settlers here were the great grand parents, Varday Collins, Shephard Gibson, and Charley Williams, who came from Virginia it is said, though other say from North Carolina. They have marked Indians resemblances in color, feature, hair, carriage, and disposition. 
A Visit To The Melungeons 1897


James H. Nickens Reconsidered:
The Indian Ancestry of Melungeons

The ethnic identity and origins of the Melungeon people have perplexed investigators of every stripe for more than a century. Imaginative theories have suggested Phoenician, Carthaginian, Portuguese, Turkish, and early Welsh origins. Others believed the Melungeons were a lost tribe of Israel or survivors of the Roanoke Colony. Speculation grew that Melungeons were descended from Spanish explorers, shipwrecked Portuguese sailors, or Turkish Pirates.

Court cases established Melungeon as a distinct yet problematic racial identity - that of a relatively darker people classified as white, then Free People of Color but later reclassified as white or “Portuguese”. By the end of the 19th century the entire population of the Bell’s Bend people had “White” stricken in the census and “Portuguese” inserted. Melungeons thus became the stuff of legend.


Many and varied physical descriptions have been recorded of the Melungeons. Among those recorded descriptions are “Indian “, “not as dark as the Indian “, “a race of light skinned Indians”, and an “Indian-like people”.

Nevertheless, the recurrent theme in Malungeon Town lore has been that of Indian ancestry. It is this aspect of the Melungeons which commands the attention of the Virginia Indian Heritage Association.

The uninformed assumption was made that these populations were some ill-defined mixture of the three perceived races, presumably Indian, white and Negro.The conclusions of the Tri-Racial Isolate theorists are marred in four critical areas:

1. Lack of sufficient knowledge of Indian

2. Lack of familiarity with Indian genealogy

3. Failure to identify Indian people outside of a
historical tribal context

4. A paradigm driven by a pathological
fascination with perceived racial constructs
rather than ethnicity.

In short – Insufficient Research layered upon a misguided and erroneous foundation.


Walter Ashby Plecker:
the first registrar of Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics, starting in 1912, forced Indians to classify themselves as black. The tribes, he said, had become a “mongrel” mixture.

"I thought Plecker was a devil," she says. "Still do."

Walter Ashby Plecker was the first registrar of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics, which records births, marriages and deaths. He accepted the job in 1912. For the next 34 years, he led the effort to purify the white race in Virginia by forcing Indians and other nonwhites to classify themselves as blacks. It amounted to bureaucratic genocide.
He worked with a vengeance.

Plecker was a white supremacist and a zealous advocate of eugenics - a now discredited movement to preserve the integrity of white blood by preventing interracial breeding. "Unless this can be done," he once wrote, "we have little to hope for, but may expect in the future decline or complete destruction of our civilization."
Plecker's icy efficiency as racial gatekeeper drew international attention, including that of Nazi Germany. In 1943, he boasted: "Hitler's genealogical study of the Jews is not more complete."

Plecker retired in 1946 at the age of 85 and died the following year. The damage lives on.~~ Plecker was a devout Presbyterian. He helped establish churches around the state and supported fundamentalist missionaries. Plecker belonged to a conservative Southern branch of the church that believed the Bible was infallible and condone d segregation. Members of Plecker's branch maintained that God flooded the earth and destroyed Sodom to express his anger at racial interbreeding.
"Let us turn a deaf ear to those who would interpret Christian brotherhood as racial equality," Plecker wrote in a 1925 essay.~~

The term "eugenics" was coined in 1883 by English scientist Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, a year after Darwin's death. Galton defined it as the science of "race improvement." It was viewed as a practical application of Darwin's theories of evolution and natural selection.

The early aim of Galton and his followers was to promote selective marriages to eliminate hereditary disorders. It wasn't long, however, before they focused on perpetuating a superior class of humans.

As the science swept across the Atlantic, it picked up more ominous tones. Eugenicists began espousing mandatory sterilization of "wicked" and mentally retarded people to eliminate their bloodlines.
All the major colleges, including the University of Virginia, taught the science. It was embraced by such great minds as Alexander Graham Bell, George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. Margaret Sanger won support for legalizing contraception by arguing it would lower the birth rate of undesirables. Winston Churchill unsuccessfully proposed sterilization laws for Great Britain in 1910. As governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson signed that state's first sterilization law in 1911. The next year, he was elected president.

Virginia's gentry embraced the fad. Eugenics was the perfect way to deal with race and the underclass.

The Racial Integrity Act essentially narrowed race classifications on birth and marriage certificates to two choices: "white person" or "colored." The law defined a white as one with no trace of black blood. A white person could have no more than a
1/16th trace of Indian blood - an exception, much to Plecker's regret, legislators made to appease the descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, who were considered among Virginia's first families.
The act forbade interracial marriage and lying about race on registration forms. Violators faced felony convictions and a year in prison.

Plecker strongly supported sterilization laws, arguing that feeble-minded whites were prone to mate with Indians and blacks


"While DNA can prove direct ancestry or lineage,

it can’t prove race or ethnicity.

The reason for this is that human beings are so much

alike, and have had genetic mixtures for so long even

the most defining racial or ethnic traits are found in

almost every human family. Skin color, facial structure,

hair and eye color, all things that are used to define race

or ethnicity lose definition when traced as part of a

DNA analysis. There is no gene that can accurately

define an American Indian for instance, many of the

so-called defining characteristics are genetically

identical to many Asians and African Americans."

---Written by Charles Grimmett - © 2002 Pagewise


Deborah A. Bolnick PhD is a Geneticist of the University of Texas at Austin

The Legitimacy of Genetic Ancestry Tests”

Bolnick et al. also allege that genomic ancestry panels
present a biased picture of nonneutral mutations, which is
not the case (2, 3). They then imply that genomic ancestry
methods rely on imperfect—i.e., insufficiently large—
databases and thus produce misleading results. However,
the onus on the database developer is not to build a perfect
database, but rather to quantify how imperfect the
database is.

Generalizing about individuals on group membership in this
way is the intellectual equivalent of bigotry. Bolnick et al.
believe that anyone who says they belong to a group should
belong to that group—regardless of whether or not their
deep ancestors (as reported by DNA tests) were part of the
parental population associated with that group. The irony is
that we do not disagree. In some cases, genetic testing is
simply not relevant—not because it is flawed, but because it
reports only one aspect of “race” or “ethnicity.” Genomic
ancestry tests demonstrate that admixture is the rule rather
than the exception and hence support that idea that human-
derived notions of “race” are based on the subjective and
ever-changing concepts of social and political identity.”



Cherokee Grandsons of Valentine Collins 

Indian roll Application
Benjamin---Fieldon Collins brother cert of Benjamin Collins
Eastern Cherokee App.
Sons of John Collins- Louisa Cole,


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