All Blog Posts (41)

18th Union Registrations by State

107 individuals from 14 states attended 18th Union. Friday's free events at the Vardy Community Historical Society and Mountain Empire Community College did not require registration but VCHS counted 60 in attendance through the day Friday.  36 attended the Friday evening reception at  MECC. The pie chart…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on July 3, 2014 at 9:00am — No Comments

Stability Despite Controversy

The latest data from Google Trends shows that online searches for the term Melungeon have been fairly stable over the last five years. (The one exception is a spike in searches in spring 2012 inspired by the AP story about a DNA study.) This indicates that public interest in Melungeons has neither increased or decreased during this time frame, which is reflected in comparable stability in Union attendance and MHA membership and finances. There has been considerable online commentary and…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on June 8, 2014 at 9:00am — No Comments

Shepherd/Shepard/Sheppard family


My maternal ggrandfather was George Henry Shepherd, born Feb 1842 in Christian Co, KY, and died 7 April 1927.  He married Eugenia "Denie" Hopson in 1867.  I have not been able to connect any heritage further back than George with any confidence.  The area also had another George Shepherd and this confuses information.  I was told that having a…


Added by Linda Townsend on May 28, 2014 at 6:05pm — 2 Comments

Seeking Roots in Shifting Ground-- Dr. Laura Tugman's topic for 18th Union, June 28

Dr. Laura Tugman will discuss her doctoral dissertation, entitled Seeking Roots in Shifting Ground: Ethnic Identity Development and the Melungeons of Southern Appalachia. Her research examined the experience of Melungeon ethnic identity development through ethnographic interviews with Melungeon individuals in Southern Appalachia. Her study concluded that the identity development process and group dynamics occurring within the Melungeons present challenges to the current multicultural…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on May 20, 2014 at 4:54pm — No Comments

Abijah Alley of Long Hollow-- 18th Union Presentation by Nancy Gray Schoonmaker, Ph.D.

As MHA returns this year to the Melungeon heartland, we welcome a presentation on a unique and little-known figure in the history of far Southwest Virginia, whose family belonged to the same small church as the first recorded Melungeons, in Scott County.

Abijah Alley of Long Hollow

Abijah Alley spent several weeks in heaven conversing with angels in the early 1840s. Back home in Long Hollow, he wrote a book about it. The Alleys were deeply…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on May 1, 2014 at 5:30am — No Comments

"The Melungeons of Vardy Valley" lecture and screening featuring MHA Board Member Todd Beckham 2/27/2014

MHA Board member Todd Beckham was guest lecturer on mixed race ancestry on February 27, 2014 at  Woods Hole, MA at the Marine Biology Laboratory …

Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on March 15, 2014 at 6:30am — No Comments

Appalachian Voice Online story by Kimber Ray, "Handing Off and Holding On: Melungeon Identity in Appalachia"

This new article from the online journal sponsored by Appalachian Voices features photographs from researcher Tammy Stachowicz and her mother Sylvia Ray, who participated in 16th Union in Big Stone Gap, and whose subsequent discoveries will be of great interest to those who attend 18th Union there this summer.

Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on February 20, 2014 at 6:31pm — No Comments

Dates for 18th Union??

Do we have dates for 18th Union ?? Have someone who is interested...

Thanks, Lynda

Added by Lynda Logan on October 15, 2013 at 12:26pm — 2 Comments

Becoming Melungeon: Making an Ethnic Identity in the Appalachian South by Melissa Schrift published today

The University of Nebraska Press has just published a new study that I hope many of us will be reading and discussing in the weeks ahead.  Melissa Schrift is an associate professor of anthropology at East…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on May 1, 2013 at 8:00pm — 1 Comment

State Rankings in Google searches for `Melungeon'

As of November 21, 2013, the search volume for six states and the District of Columbia registered on Google Trends as follows. Tennessee as highest-ranking is assigned 100, then Kentucky's search volume is 93% of Tennessee's etc.



Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on April 30, 2013 at 10:30pm — No Comments

NYU graduate student in search of recipes from Melungeon communities and families

Justin Kennedy, formerly of Abingdon, VA, is a student at New York University whose current research involves Melungeon history. This flyer provides contact information and details.…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on October 4, 2012 at 1:11pm — No Comments

MHA board consultant Dr. Arwin Smallwood's new article, "A History Long Forgotten"

Those of us who have been fortunate to hear Dr. Smallwood's presentations at Melungeon Unions will find much familiar material in this article published by Oklahoma Humanities this summer, "A History Long Forgotten: Intersections of Race in Early America."  The events calendar has been update to include Dr. Smallwood's June 2013 trip to Canada as…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on October 2, 2012 at 11:25am — No Comments

2002 and 2010 DNA studies confirmed tri-racial roots of Melungeons

In 2002, Brent Kennedy issued a statement about the first Melungeon DNA study. Excerpt:

The long-awaited DNA results are in and as many of us have maintained, the Melungeons are indeed a mixture of all races and many ethnic groups.…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on July 25, 2012 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Google Books Ngram shows a tenfold increase in book mentions of Melungeon 1995-2005

The vast database of Google Books allows for tracing the appearance of different words over time in literature.  The Ngram program as applied to Melungeon for the period from 1970 through 2008 shows a dramatic increase beginning in the mid-1990s.…


Added by K. Paul Johnson on June 11, 2012 at 6:38pm — No Comments

Finding my Melungeon Heritage

Years ago, I was reading a Parade Magazine article about Melungeons.  The writer was Brent Kennedy from Wise, Va.  I am from Grundy, Va originally.  I was fascinated about this.  Sometime later, I was browsing in a bookstore in Middlesboro, KY and came across the book "The Melungeons:  The Resurrection of a Proud People."  As I perused the book, I came across Brent's Osborne genealogy.  The names sure looked familiar; we were distant cousins.…


Added by Sharon Osborne Riley on June 10, 2012 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

"Plecker list" of Virginia mixed-ancestry surnames

For Virginians wondering whether they might have a connection to Melungeon heritage, it is worth noting that in 1943 Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics Director Walter Plecker issued a list of surnames suspected of being  mulattoes trying to "pass" as white or Indian.  He estimated "One hundred and fifty thousand other mulattoes in Virginia are watching eagerly the attempt of their pseudo-Indian brethren, ready to follow in…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on May 30, 2012 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

An unspeakable name that was never put in writing


Proving I’m a Pell Meller descendant is impossible, by the standards some would apply to the word Melungeon.

Both of my father’s parents were born in central Bertie County, the area around present-day Askewville, traditionally known as the Pell Mell Pocosin.  My Johnsons, Dunlows, Whites, Hugheses, Millers, Willifords, and many other lines, all traceable to colonial times as living in that area.  The written record is abundant about where they lived, and the place name…


Added by K. Paul Johnson on May 27, 2012 at 7:30am — No Comments

DNA Study seeks origin of Appalachia's Melungeons

In today's article, Travis Loller of the Associated Press interviewed Roberta Estes and Jack Goins, two of the coauthors of the study's report, and Wayne Winkler, who will appear at this year's 16th Union. 


comment by K. Paul Johnson:

Having attended the last four Unions and met almost all MHA members, I can report that the African roots of Melungeons…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on May 24, 2012 at 10:30pm — 1 Comment

New clues to Lost Colony found in 16th century maps, discussed at UNC conference

Questions about the Lost Colony continue to intrigue historians and archaeologists.  A conference this week in Chapel Hill explored newly discovered clues in a 16th century map.  Beginning in 2009, Arwin Smallwood has shared his research at MHA Unions, and suggested his native Bertie County as the likeliest place for the Lost Colonists to have resettled.  My own family research in Bertie County…


Added by K. Paul Johnson on May 4, 2012 at 7:37am — No Comments

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MECC Announces Donations, Creation of Center for Melungeon Research

This exciting news was a highlight of the closing portion of 18th Union in Big Stone Gap, a true milestone moment for Melungeon studies.  The MECC announcement opens with these words:Big Stone Gap, VA -- Mountain Empire Community College is pleased…Continue

Started by Melungeon Heritage Association in Melungeon Unions Jul 1.

Researchers Discuss Origins of Melungeon Heritage at Annual Event (June 28, 2014)

Thanks to Wayne Winkler, Lisa Alther, and Arwin Smallwood for providing facts and insights for the viewers of this Bristol-Kingsport-Johnson City NBC affiliate seen on channel 5. Olivia Caridi deserves full credit for living up to the station's…Continue

Tags: Winkler, Smallwood, Alther

Started by Melungeon Heritage Association in Melungeon Unions Jun 30.

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