All Blog Posts (37)

"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

Recommended Facebook groups

Several Facebook groups deal with Melungeon issues, but only two have MHA members as administrators. The groups are mutually compatible and many people belong to both, as they are different in focus. The recently created Multi Ethnic Historical Research group  is moderated by Paul Johnson, Stacy Webb, and Dennis Maggard and is devoted to "history, genealogy, and genetic study of American mixed ancestry groups."…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on March 3, 2014 at 6:30pm — 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

16th Union, "Home to the Hills: Melungeon Heritage and Appalachian Communities" June 28-30

Preregistration is not required and onsite registration is $10 for the conference itself, with a free Friday afternoon preconference from 1 to 5 pm.  The Friday keynote address will be at 7 pm.  Saturday presentations will be from 9 am to 4 pm.  Other evening and Thursday event details are being finalized. Speaker order will be as follows:


1 pm Johnnie Rhea, 2 pm Phyllis…


Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on May 1, 2012 at 10:00am — 12 Comments

Pew Research Center releases "The Rise of Intermarriage"

This study, released February 16, has generated a considerable amount of news coverage, which is justified by the major changes it reports.  Of special interest to readers in the Upper South is this finding: "And the top states for white/black intermarried couples are Virginia (3.3%), North Carolina (3.2%) and Kansas (3.0%)."

The first paragraph of the Executive Summary gives a thumbnail…


Added by K. Paul Johnson on February 17, 2012 at 10:03am — No Comments

Lisa Alther interviewed by Frank Stasio about Washed in the Blood (North Carolina Public Radio's The State of Things)

Frank Stasio interiewed Lisa Alther for The State of Things yesterday, February 1, and the interview is now up on the WUNC website:

Added by Melungeon Heritage Association on February 2, 2012 at 3:46pm — No Comments

Looking Forward

A lot has changed since our little listserv started back in the 90's.  I think the last Union I attended was at Berea.  Since then a lot has happened with my health, but I did return to graduate school and finished my PhD.  My dissertation

Transcultural Transformation: African American and Native American Relations does not deal directly with Melungeons as my…


Added by Barbara Tracy on January 23, 2012 at 5:52pm — 3 Comments

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Frequently Asked Questions about Melungeons are answered in the Information about MHA forum. Information on Melungeon history and research and annual Unions is posted here by members of the Melungeon Heritage Association. Members may join or renew by mail, printing the downloadable membership application and sending with a check for $12 annual dues. Memberships may also be handled online paying dues through PayPal (see BUY NOW button), and sending the downloadable membership form to the email address provided.


Arwin D. Smallwood, Ph.D. returns to North Carolina 1 Reply

Started by Melungeon Heritage Association in Melungeon Unions. Last reply by Jeanne Marie Bornefeld Feb 26.

Johnnie's Story 1 Reply

Started by Melungeon Heritage Association in Melungeon Unions. Last reply by Jeanne Marie Bornefeld Feb 26.

Tributes to Johnnie Rhea from members and friends of MHA 5 Replies

Started by Melungeon Heritage Association in Melungeon Unions. Last reply by Melungeon Heritage Association Jan 23.

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