As stressed earlier in this article series, there are no definite or concrete records for Melungeon researchers. Even if we allow them the Portuguese ancestry they claimed for centuries, there are an impressive number of theories and legends regarding their arrival in Newman’s Ridge.
It’s easy to see how uneducated mountaineers might have classified people who were Italian, Greek, Latino or Portuguese, as coming from African roots due to their darker colors. Two hundred years ago, education was a luxury in a life of bare survival.
There are a number of other topics and tidbits to consider. Here are several:
“A New Race.” Daily Public Ledger [Maysville, KY] 23 Jan.
No series on Melungeons is complete without discussion on the individuals who kept history aware of them. This article covers a woman who is perhaps the strangest, most exploitative, and inconsistent writer on the matter:
Dromgoole didn’t start writing until after her mother died in 1884. Her first book was The Sunny Side of the Cumberland, which was published in 1886.
Aside from the ridiculous racism and bigotry exhibited in her non-fiction works, there are many issues with Dromgoole’s material on both Melungeons and the mountain people. Most of the Melungeon articles come from the same original body of work.
1. The Writer, Volume 6.
The Melungeons emerged into common knowledge as a group of isolationists in Northeastern Tennessee. Their primary home was in Hancock County, in a place called Newman’s Ridge.