Rise and Fall of the Melungeons

blevinsFew people today actually claim to be Melungeons, rather perhaps Melungeon descendants. The reasons have more to do with the abortive Melungeon Movement and various dysfunctional online Melungeon discussion boards than with the fact that “Melungeon” is an ethnic or racial slur.

Just in time for Halloween, a new collection of Melungeon material has been published by Panther’s Lodge. The new book is titled Ancestors and Enemies:  Essays on Melungeons  and is written by Phyllis E. Starnes and Donald N. Yates. Read about the hopeful beginnings, cyberwars and inglorious petering out of Melungeon self-awareness in this new critical review of the subject.

Ancestors and Enemies will be of particular interest to customers who have received a Melungeon match on their autosomal DNA test results, as well as anyone who believes they may have ancestry from this fascinating Appalachian ethnic group. And of course, just because politically correct notions have appeared to wipe out the modern-day Melungeons doesn’t take away your Melungeon ancestry!

As the twentieth century was ending and the millennium approached, a new ethnic category was invented in the South. The Melungeons were born thrashing and squawling into the American consciousness. They were a tri-racial clan hidden away in the hills and hollers of Lower Appalachia with a genetic predisposition to six fingers and Mediterranean diseases and an unsavory reputation for moonshining, counterfeiting and secret cults. DNA studies showed they were probably descended from Portuguese colonists and had connections with Jews, Muslims, Africans, Native Americans and Romani (Gypsies). Were they the country’s oldest indigenous people? They soon got on the radar of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Recognition, which fought the nascent identity movement tooth and nail. This collection by two researchers involved in the explosive controversy tells the story of the Melungeon Movement in a coherent, chronological fashion for the first time. Fourteen original illlustrations, ranging from Granny Dollar, the last Cherokee Indian in Northeast Alabama, to Luis Gomez, builder of the oldest standing Jewish residence in the United States, add interest to the portrayal of this mysterious and exotic ethnic community.

It is available from Amazon in print and Kindle versions:

$14.23 Print edition
$9.99 Kindle edition

It is also available in a pdf download from Panther’s Lodge for $8.95.

About the Authors

Phyllis E. Starnes was born in Fort Blackmore, in Scott County, Virginia. She is a genealogist and works as an investigator for DNA Consultants. Her family belongs to the original Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church, where “them Melungeons” made their first appearance in history (now Pine Grove). Donald N. Yates is a native of Cedartown, Georgia. He earned a Ph.D. in classical studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel. His latest book is Old Souls in a New World: The Secret History of the Cherokee Indians.



  Comments: 2

  1. Renee Burchell Mueller

    What DNA ancestry group has a large enough Melungeon database that they can match you with ???. My mother in laws last name was Evans and her family lived where Melungeons did. When she grayed, she got the white stripe down the middle and back of her hair like Melungeons. Her grandson Andrew has the Anatolian bump and her son many years ago did a dna test w a small Dna company and his ancestry was Turkish. My mother in law also had a grandfather last name Evans who intermarried w Cherokee.
    Once I hear from you where my husband can get a dna test that could match him with Melungeon almost 15 years after his last test, we will get it done. Thank for your help . Renée Burchell Mueller

  2. My Oklahoma grandparents from Tennessee/Kentucky were in the Primitive Baptist Church…..and grandfather was an Elder….We had Cherokee Bibles….

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