The Melungeon Manipulation

This entry is part 6 of 14 in the series Melungeons

manipulationBeing an original Melungeon must’ve been a difficult life. The overwhelming majority of the media held you in utter contempt. You knew where you came from, but no one believed you. Any attempt to clarify to those who could help was often met with yellow journalistic manipulation. You had to take the matter to court, just to prove what you and your ancestors had claimed all along.

As a result, lazy reporters and writers talked to a family or two and then made sweeping generalizations about you and hundreds of your neighbors. Ultimately, the skewed manipulation had many negative consequences. There were conflicting statements in most reports. The people depicted as lazy and useless, but at the same time, accounts stated they held above-average intelligence.

The general public marveled at this community for a variety of reasons. They couldn’t believe such a large community remained so primitive and isolated. Another contrived puzzle was the men adamantly and absolutely refused to work. They only worked if an emergency arose and only until the issue resolved itself. They found their food through hunting, farming and fishing. The women were most often portrayed as the helpless workhorses who were forced to do all the work.

They were also equated with Irish peasantry. They fought more amongst themselves than with others. They had a keen love of storytelling and tales of adventure. They were superstitious and told numerous tales of ghosts and haunts.

The early accounts claimed they had no skills at all, but several obscure historic accounts mention early counterfeiting. The Mullins family was believed to be the greatest silver counterfeiters before the American Revolution. Their coins were of better quality, and purer metal, than those produced by the British. One history account mentions “desperate vagrants” in Tennessee had been caught counterfeiting the British Empire coinage in 1775. The article made no mention of the culprits being African or Native American.

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