finding your roots

A Mystery People – The Melungeons

Karen Goodman April 30, 2012
Elizabeth Betts Goodman

Elizabeth Betts Goodman

The Melungeons are considered “one of world’s greatest anthropological mysteries”.

In 1690, French traders in America, found a colony of people living in Southern Appalachia, in a town that they had built of log cabins, which were all grouped together. They supposed them to be Moors, seeing their olive skin color and European features which looked much like the Mediterranean traders they had previously done business with.

In about 1784 John Sevier (Jean Xavier) entered what later to became Hancock County, Tennessee and found a “colony of dark-skinned, reddish-brown complexioned people” who had European features. They claimed to be Portuguese.They were neither “Indian nor Negro” but Sevier is said to have believed them to be of Moorish descent. [Coincidentally, I just saw where PBS will be showing what sounds like a documentary concerning John Sevier, in "The Mysterious Lost State of Franklin" next month.]

As the years passed, this people would find themselves terribly degraded, discriminated against, and misunderstood. By the time they had reached the isolated Newman’s Ridge in Tennessee, they were being called “Melungeons” by their neighbors. The term was used in a very derogatory manner.

On various censuses, this people have been categorized as White on one, Free Persons of Color, Mulatto, Indian, and even Portuguese on others. Many theories have been considered, concerning the race and origin of this olive skinned people. In the 1800′s, they were most often found in Hawkins and Hancock,Tennessee as well as in Lee and Scott Counties of Virginia and surrounding areas, including near places in Kentucky. Some have said that they were a tri-racial mixture of White, Black, and Indian (American); others say they were just what they said they were Porty-ghee (Portuguese), while others say they were of Indian and Portuguese mix. Concerning where they originated, some have said they were descendants of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, or early shipwrecked Portuguese, or one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, or that they were descendants of the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, among other theories.

An early known maternal Melungeon ancestor of mine is Obediah Goodman who married Aletha Richardson. They are my 4th great grandparents who lived on Newman’s Ridge in Tennessee in the early 1800′s. My mother’s sister took the mt DNA test and at # 1, she shows genetic relatives in the “Archipelago of the Azores” which is of Portugal. In my own DNA results (autosomal), my genetic matches show “Kentucky Blacks”, European, and Brazilian, along with “Michigan Indians”.

I hope one day that Mr Louis Henry Gates, Jr, will consider researching several Melungeon descendants (of different family lines) and hopefully he can help solve this great Melungeon mystery, once and for all. It would be a very interesting and exciting show to all. And … no, lol … I’m not fishing to be on, I couldn’t do it. There are many others out there, who are of Melungeon descent, who are anxious to learn more about their ancestors, who I’m sure would be happy to be on the show. It would be an exciting and very interesting presentation, no doubt.

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  • jc

    April 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    This is very interesting. Our family history claims that we descend from turks that lived in south carolina. It would be interesting to find out more. Who they were, where they came from and if this group had any connection to the melungeons in tennessee?

  • B. Otlaw

    April 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    DNA testing should resolve the questions.

  • B. Otlaw

    April 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    What does “Kentucky Blacks” actually mean?

  • garth tuttle

    April 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    just a note: I found “Melongeons and other Mestee groups” by Mike Nassau posted on line almost a decade ago. Unfortunately, it no longer seems to be available.
    It was from this source that I began to suspect that the “part Spanish ” in my family story is in fact Spanish Creole.

  • Elizabeth

    April 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Yeah, I think this is a great idea! Very intriguing.

  • May 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Hi Garth,

    I think I found the article you were talking about at
    There is a lot of interesting information there.

    Also concerning health, there are health issues known to effect people specifically from the Mediterranean region which has been found among those who are of Melungeon decent. Nancy Sparks Morrison is one of the most knowledgeable on the subject, you will find her website here,
    and if interested, you can also subscribe to “A NEW MELUNGEON MAILING List where you can search for Melungeon family connections in a family like, caring atmosphere of supportive members”, at this same website.

    Nancy also notes some interesting features, “Shovel shaped incisors display enhanced marginal ridges and present with a distinctive shovel-shaped appearance on the lingual aspect. They appear frequently in many persons of Asian origin, including many Native American Indians. They are especially prominent in Eskimo/Inuit who are descendants of Siberians about 4,000 years ago”.

    Another well documented website with good articles and historic information concerning the Melungeons is at , a website created by Joanne Pezzullo, also see

    Garth, my DNA also shows much Spanish, Latin, and Mestes mix as well. Check out the websites, you just never know what you might find. :)


  • May 1, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Hi Elizabeth,
    So glad you support the idea. A show about the Melungeons would definitely draw a good audience, with the “intrigue” and “mystery” which has surrounded and followed them for so many years, beginning as early as the 1500′s. I just listed some website addresses in my last comment that you will find more interesting information.

  • Karen

    May 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Hi B. Otlaw,

    The genetic match is to African Americans living in Kentucky. DNA Consultants web-page says the following, “The Black – Kentucky population data represent a group of DNA samples from 357 African-American The Black – Kentucky population data represent a group of DNA samples from 357 African-American”.

  • Karen

    May 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    JC, is a great place to learn so much. I’ve learned so much about my family on both sides, since being a member. Also found wonderful photos (as the one I posted here of my 3rd great grandfather John Calvin Green Goodman’s sister) … also found many interesting stories shared by other researchers, solved some family mysteries, and have met cousins. DNA testing is good. I’ve gone through several different companies but like DNA Consultants the best. They are the only DNA company, at this time, that will test for probably of Melungeon descent. If you test with DNA Consultants and they find you are a Melungeon descendant, they offer you a discount on any other testing you do – I think 10% and believe it is still ongoing.
    Regardless what your findings are, you will feel more fulfilled in learning who your ancestors were and where they originated, and learn about the lives they lived. It is an exciting journey. I’ve been researching since 1999, yet new and exciting family information just keeps coming.

  • Karen

    May 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    p.s. Forgive my typographical errors. I will try to be more careful.

  • garth tuttle

    May 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Karen (coincidently my middle sister’s name ): it may be ahile ere I am able to get a DNA test; thanks, though for the lead … it’s too bad my did have to hide their origins (on that particualr line ) .

  • May 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    I would LOVE to see a show on the Melungeons. My father’s side had always said that many on his side years ago would say they had “Black Dutch” blood–which was another way of saying they were Melungeon. I am not entirely certain which ancestors were Melungeon but I would love to see if my DNA would match this ancestral group.

  • KvGoodman

    May 4, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Hi Dara,
    I’m posting a list of common Melungeon names. I think many people are not yet aware of the Melungeon connections. I didn’t know of my own until just recently. Yes, a DNA test would help. Nice to know where you come from.=============

    Melungeon and Melungeon-related surnames
    (North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky)======

    ADAMS -
    BARKER -
    BARNES -
    BELL -
    BERRY -
    BIGGS -
    BOLEN -
    BOWLIN -
    BOWMAN -
    BROGAN -
    BURTON -
    BYRD -
    CARTER -
    CHAVIS -
    CLARK -
    COAL -
    COFFEY -
    COLE -
    COLES -
    COLLEY -
    COLYER -
    COUNTS -
    COX -
    COXE -
    CROW -
    CUMBA -
    CUMBO -
    CUMBOW -
    DAVIS -
    DENHAM -
    DORTON -
    DYE -
    ELY -
    EVANS -
    FIELDS -
    FRENCH -
    GANN -
    GIBSON -
    GIPSON -
    GOINS -
    GOINGS -
    GOWAN –
    GOWEN -
    GRAHAM -
    GWINN -
    HALL -
    HILL -
    KEITH -
    KISER -
    LAWSON -
    LOPES -
    LUCAS -
    MARTIN -
    MINER -
    MINOR -
    MIZER -
    MOORE -
    MORLEY -
    NASH -
    NOEL -
    ORR -
    OSBORN -
    PERRY -
    PHELPS -
    PHIPPS -
    POLLY -
    POWERS -
    PRUITT -
    RAMEY -
    REAVES -
    REEVES -
    SEXTON -
    SHORT -
    STEEL -
    TURNER -
    WATTS -
    WHITE -
    WHITED -
    WILLIS -
    WRIGHT -
    Brass Ankles
    (South Carolina)==

    BOONE –
    BUNCH -
    CHAVIS -
    CRIEL -
    GOINS -
    GOINGS -
    HARMON -
    SCOTT -
    SHAVIS -
    SWEAT -
    SWETT -
    Carmel Indians

    GIBSON -
    (North Carolina)==

    EPPS -
    MARTIN -
    TALLY -
    (West Virginia Melungeon)===

    ADAMS -
    DALTON -
    DORTON -
    MALE -
    MAYLE -
    MINARD -
    MINER -
    MINOR -
    NEWMAN -
    NORRIS -
    Lumbee/Croatan Indian
    (North and South Carolina)==
    ALLEN -
    BERRY -
    BRIGER -
    BROOKS -
    BROWN -
    BUTLER -
    CHAVIS -
    COLE -
    COOPER -
    CUMBA -
    CUMBO -
    CUMBOW -
    DARE -
    DIAL -
    GRAHAM -
    HARRIS -
    HARVIE -
    HARVEY -
    HOWE -
    JONES -
    LASIE -
    LOWRY -
    LUCAS -
    MARTIN -
    PAINE -
    POWELL -
    REVELS -
    SCOTT -
    SMITH -
    TAYLOR -
    VICARS -
    Pamunkey/Powhatan Indians

    ADAMS -
    ADKINS -
    BASS -
    BRADBY -
    CARTER -
    COTMAN -
    COOK(E) -
    DENNIS -
    GREEN(E) -
    HARMON -
    HAWKES -
    HOGGE -
    HOLMES -
    MAJOR -
    MARSH -
    MILES -
    MURSH -
    NELSON -
    OSBORN -
    PAGE -
    SAWYER -
    SWETT -
    WEAVER -
    WHITE -
    WISE -
    WYNN -

    (Louisiana via the Carolinas)=======

    BUXTON -
    CHAVIS -
    CLARK -
    CLOUD -
    DOYLE -
    DYESS -
    GIBBS -
    GOINS -
    HYATT -
    JAMES -
    MADDOX -
    NELSON -
    PINDER -
    SWEAT -
    WARE -
    WILLIS -
    WISBY -

  • KvGoodman

    May 4, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Hi Garth,
    Be easy to remember name then :) .
    Yes it is sad our family had to hide their origin. They suffered a lot for it. I can’t imagine having to hide who I am for fear of punishment for just being who I was born to be.

    You’re very welcome, hopefully you can get the DNA test in near future. I want to get another but can’t afford it at this time. Maybe soon, hopefully.

  • KvGoodman

    May 4, 2012 at 1:17 am

    That’s true, many did claim they were “Black Dutch”.

    I’ll post a link to a 2 minute trailer of a film called “Melungeon Voices”. In it, one woman states that her mother always referred to herself as a Black Dutch.

    When it comes to these ancestors, Brent Kennedy (a Melungeon descendant) says in the film clip, “It’s like hearing a cry from the grave, and then trying to decide whether to answer it.”

  • KvGoodman

    May 4, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Complaint from one church member against another for harboring Melungeons.

    Stony Creek Baptist Church Minute Books
    1801 – 1811
    1811 – 1814

    Fort Blackmore
    Scott County Virginia
    September the 26, 1813

    Church sat in love. Brother Kilgore, Moderator. Then came forward Sister
    Kitchen and complained to the church against Susanna Stallard for saying she
    harbored them Melungins (Melungeons). Sister Sook said she was hurt with her
    for believing her child and not believing her, and she won’t talk to her to
    get satisfaction, and both is “pigedish”, one against the other. Sister Sook
    lays it down and the church forgives her. Then came forward Cox and relates
    to the church that he went to the Association and took the letter and they
    received the letter in fellowship. Dismissed.

  • Lucille Lawson

    May 5, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I am also descended from ancestors from Newman Ridge in TN and VA. I have not done any of the DNA test but I did research into my ancestors. I descend from Captain James Moore and you can read about the Indian massacre of him and most of his family in Abb’s Valley. His son, James, was captured at the age of 14 by Black Wolfe and the Shawnee tribe. James was sold to a french trader by the Shawnees and they treated him like family. James ended up marrying Nancy Gipson or Gibson daughter of Charles Gipson or Gibson. James’s sister Mary married a minister with the last name of Brown.

  • Garth Tuttle

    May 5, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    - I forgot: Black Dutch is meant to designate Dutch, Belgians and Luxemburians who have Spanish ancestory (because Spain occupied the region for so long ) ; Black Irish refers to (mostly ) dark haired Irish – many of Danish descent ; However, either Tacitus or Julius Caesar commented that a tribe in Southern Wales ‘looked Spanish” – probably because there were settlers in the Brittish Isles (and Spain, naturally) from Nprth Africa during the Ice-age, when more land was available to cross … Oh, yes, Turks: they are mentioned in the same article I sited …

  • KvGoodman

    May 5, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I always wondered what Black Dutch met.

    Also wanted to tell you (and anyone interested in DNA testing) that has a beta $99 DNA test but for members only at this time. This I will be able to afford and am waiting on my invite.
    Good info here … … sounds like this is going to be the best!

  • Vickie

    May 7, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I agree – learning more about these people would be very interesting. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

  • Douglas Anderson

    May 7, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Amazing story. I, too, would like to know more.

  • garth tuttle

    May 7, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Just one further note : there are a few other Maroon societies which are not mentioned in the work by Mr. Nassau : my children’s maternal grandfather was a Black seminole from Brackettville, Texas; they also have relatives in Mexico. Also, there are the Genezarios, a group of Hispanosized mixed origin Urban “Indians” from the South West; I’d also read of a group of Chinese and Polynesians who jumped ship from Whalers and settled amongst the natives of the North West Coast …

  • KvGoodman

    May 8, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Hi Lucille,
    Don’t know how I missed your posting. What a sad but interesting story about your ancestor, Captain James Moore and his family’s massacre. Thankfully, though, James Jr was spared as a little boy being a Shawnee captive. Did your James and his wife Nancy Gipson [Gibson] Moore live on Newmans Ridge? What is your line?

    You know, my Obediah Goodman of Newman’s Ridge, TN is said to be the son of Joseph Goodman or John Moore … nothing has been proven yet. Joseph or John was said to have married a full blood Cherokee, Shawnee, and perhaps a Saponi Indian woman.

    Joseph Goodman or John Moore and Indian Elizabeth’s children were named “Goodman” but it has been suggested that his “Indian” wife’s surname may have been Goodman and the children were named after her since they were apparently not married., based on a document which says, “In the marriage bond of Enoch Goodman, son of Obediah and Aletha Richardson, Obediah gives permission for Enoch to marry Susannah Hale”. “The bond states that Obediah had no lawful father”.

    So really, at this point I am not sure who was my 3rd Great Grandfather’s “Pleasant Goodman’s real name [Enoch's brother]. Might you have any information which might unlock this mystery?

    Another thing, Pleasant’s son John Goodman, my 3rd great grandfather lived with a woman named Jemima Gipson [Gibson] after the Civil War and probably before … she had a child Nancy Gipson, who was a witness for his wife Ellen Riggs Goodman when she filed as a widow on his Military pension. Nancy Gipson gives testimony that her mother told her that her father was a man named “Stapleton”. The census says that he adopted her but in margin it says she was illegitimate. I often wondered if Nancy was born in Hawkins County as was John’s family. She was born Abt 1864 in Floyd, Kentucky .

    It is so interesting and could it be coincidental or might there be a connection to you Moore? Perhaps your Nancy Gipson?

    I found the book about your family’s massacre and James Moore Jr’s kidnapping.
    “The captives of Abb’s Valley: a legend of frontier life” written by James Moore Brown.
    Perhaps you have read but if not, you can read it online for free or download it at,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=1bbf370fbd10c88f&biw=1019&bih=540

  • KvGoodman

    May 8, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Vickie and Douglas, I’m more than happy to share . Thank you for posting your interest and if enough interest is shown, we could one day this exciting show on Mr Gates program. It would be a hit for sure, for the TV station, advertisers, but more importantly, it might be by Mr Gates and his researchers in depth study which may finally solve this near 500 year mystery. the mystery and go down in history.

  • KvGoodman

    May 8, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Garth, That is some interesting information that I never ran across before. I found the following info:

    “Native Americans, themselves retreating in the face of Anglo settlement into their homelands, already inhabited the North American backcountry. Florida and the Texas-Mexico border had several active communities, as did Louisiana, before its acquisition by the United States. In 1783, the Spanish governor of Florida offered freedom to slaves who escaped from the British colonies. Spain, fearful of British land claims, made this appeal to try and destabilize British colonies. After this edit, slaves ran away in groups to St. Augustine and nearby Florida villages. In response, slave-owners organized slave patrols over land and water. Many of the Florida village’s slaves escaped to also contained remnants of Southeastern Indian tribes, gathered together for survival. This group later became known as the Seminoles. ”

    More Here:

    Also interesting though very sad because only 30 people survived an attack against them at “Fort Negro”. Here’s an excerpt:
    “The two sides exchanged cannon fire, but the shots of the inexperienced black gunners failed to hit their targets. A “hot shot,” which is a cannonball heated to a red glow, from the U.S. forces entered the opening to the fort’s powder magazine, igniting an explosion that was heard more than 100 miles away, and it destroyed the fort, killing all but 30 of its 300 occupants. Garson and the Choctaw chief, among the few who survived the carnage, were handed over to the Creeks, who “scalped the Choctaw alive and then fatally stabbed him; Garson was shot in execution style.” Other survivors were returned to slavery.”

    I’m going to do more research on the other peoples you spoke of. Thanks for sharing.
    What truly difficult and horrifying experiences many of our people had in the past.

  • garth tuttle

    May 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Okey, I did say that was to be my last post. Bob Meigs told me Pensicola was a Chocktaw name. I spoke with Wiliam Loren Katz, who ttold me about Dr. Kevin Mulroy; we conversed several times, mostly about African names, and Europian names substituterd for African ones, such as Effie for Ife, and Alonzo for Alunze; we both also noticed numerous names begining with L, which he believes could have African sources (and they probalby do ).

  • KvGoodman

    May 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Garth,
    I just looked around and see what you were saying.

    “Pensacola, Florida was a fortress town in its beginning. Settled in the 16th Century, Pensacola, a Choctaw name supposedly meaning “long-haired people” after the Natives who lived in the area, Pensacola was an important settlement that was coveted by the big three military powers: Spain, France, and England”.

    “With everyone wanting a piece of Pensacola and with Spanish, English, and French at each others’ throats, protection was needed to protect the settlement and its people. A first and small fort built by the Spanish in the early 18th Century didn’t work, and Pensacola fell to the French in 1719. The Spanish fought back and re-took Pensacola in 1722 and built another fort, but Mother Nature had other ideas and Pensacola was once again wiped out by a hurricane in 1752. The settlers moved to another area near Pensacola, and the fort remained abandoned until the British came in 1763″.

    I see there is a book by Kevin Mulroy, sounds interesting. He says he found the Black descendants “to be caring, giving informants, who are concerned about their ancestry, history and identity, and who want the story told accurately.”

    The Seminole Freedmen: A History
    By Kevin Mulroy, $36.95, Hardcover,
    University of Oklahoma Press (November 2007),
    ISBN-10: 0806138653, ISBN-13: 978-0806138657, 446 pp

    In the book, he unequivocally argues that the groups are indeed separate peoples. The freedmen, including many who had freed themselves by running away from owners and many that Seminoles owned as slaves, maintained a culture apart from nearly everyone else, even other African-Americans, according to Mulroy.

    They are more properly considered “maroons” than Indian or African-American, he says. This term emerged as early as 1626 — for fugitives from slavery in the West Indies, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, and he admits he is not the first to apply the term to the Seminole freedmen.

    Wonder why their names would often begin with “L” … interesting.

    And last but not least here is a link to “LARGE SLAVEHOLDERS OF 1860
    by Tom Blake, 2001-2005

  • KvGoodman

    May 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Garth, Ooops forgot the link …
    by Tom Blake, 2001-2005

    [Glad to see so many resources nowadays.]

  • karen

    May 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    As someone who shares one of the “Melungeon names” I think it would be very interesting. Maybe he would talk to Brent Kennedy or Nancy Morrison Sparks (who has done a considerable amount of work in Melungeon research.”

  • kvgoodman

    May 9, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Hi Karen,
    Yes, contact Nancy Sparks Morrison … she is not only a wonderful sweet woman, like you said, she is very knowledgeable! Brent Kennedy had a stroke awhile back so we can’t talk to him yet, I don’t think though not only myself but many have been praying for him a great healing (in fact people of all faiths have been praying for the same).

    Here is Nancy’s web-page where you can contact her …

    Nancy will be thrilled to hear from you and will bend over backwards to help you find answers for you as she has she has not only me, but for many other seekers. Good luck in finding your ancestors.
    p.s. Here is a video with Nancy speaking at a meeting about “DNA and Genealogy”. –

    She is a sweetheart — I love her so much, like a sister, mother, aunt … all.

  • kvgoodman

    May 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Hi Karen,

    Brent Kennedy had a stroke some years ago and has not really been able to communicate well but people from all religions have been praying for his recovery and trust he will once again be able to share his knowledge and he will continue the great research. I credit Brent on his research and the writing of his book, “The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People.” Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia, 1997 – for bringing the Melungeon name and its people into the public light. Hopefully he will soon be healed, he has so much more to offer. ——Yes, Nancy Sparks Morrison is a sweet woman and extremely knowledgeable and would be a good person to contact concerning possible Melungeon heritage –

  • fred Jones

    May 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    The lady in the picture is my great grandmother Elizabeth Goodman Morgan, her parents where Pleasant Goodman and Jane Patton Goodman. I believe they had 8 children. They lived in Floyd county Ky most of there lives. They moved to Wayne County W Va right after the civil war, wich has always been a puzzel to me unless they followed some of there kin. Can you shed any light on the move.

    Pleasant Goodman came into Ky with his parents Obediah and Althea Goodman around 1830 from Newmans Ridge Tenn.
    I believe that Obediah Goodmans parents where John Goodman and Cheeroke Woman, but it gets pretty fuzzy there.

    Thanks for your article and if it is possible maybe the Melungeon lore can be become fact.

    Fred Jones

  • Garth Tuttle

    May 23, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Now I have a question: Werer therre any Melongeons as far west as, say, Kansas City , Mo.? – it seems my oldest aunt – born out of wedlock, so I’m told, was Margaret A Goodman. I do know that is a common enough English name, like Cole, but …

  • kvgoodman

    May 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Fred,

    I think that would make us 2nd cousins, 2x’s removed. Great to meet you.

    Elizabeth Goodman Morgan is my great great aunt … my great great grandfather John Calvin Green Goodman’s sister. She was so beautiful. I have no pictures of my gg-grandpa John but imagine he and his sister may have looked similar.

    Pleasant and Jane Patton Goodman are my 3rd great grandparents. I have the following as their children:
    1. John Calvin Green * Goodman married Eleanor Rigg
    Your 2nd great grandfather
    Birth Abt 1836 in Coalton, Floyd County, Kentucky
    Death 6 Mar 1899 in Rush, Carter County, Kentucky

    2. Richard Hiram Goodman married Lucinda “Lucy” unk
    Birth About 1838 in Floyd County, Kentucky

    3. Elizabeth Betts Goodman married Reuben Salyer Morgan
    Birth About 1839 in Floyd County, Kentucky
    Death 3 Nov 1919 in Hindman, Knott, Kentucky

    4. Parthena Goodman
    Birth About 1841 in Floyd County, Kentucky

    5. Dolly Goodman
    Birth About 1843 in Floyd County, Kentucky

    6. Moses Goodman
    Birth 1846-1847 in Floyd County, Kentucky

    7. Dolly Goodman
    Birth About 1843 in Floyd County, Kentucky

    There may be another child or more … don’t know yet.

    My 2nd great grandfather John Calvin Green Goodman is found on the census living in Floyd, Kentucky until 1880 which shows him and his family living in Greenup, Ky … don’t think he ever went to Wayne, WV, though other Goodmans did. I can not find a date for Pleasant or his wife Jane Goodman after the 1860 Census where they were still living in Floyd. If I learn anything, I will share.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Thanks for sharing

  • kvgoodman

    May 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm


    By the way … yes, the family lore for our Goodman line being Melungeon IS true, as they lived on Newman’s Ridge in Tennessee in the early 1800′s maybe a little before. Early land transfer documents can be found. —-
    During these years, white folk who had settled in the valley below them, were calling them “Melungeons” but using it as a degrading term. These white parents would threaten their children into being good by saying “Better be good or the Melungeons will get you!” They were accused of every evil thing imaginable, which I believe was all created out of their fearful prejudice minds…fearing that which they did not understand.
    From A Defense of the Mountaineer – 1912 – “There are scattered among them, too, queer tribes of mixt-breed creatures like the gipsy-like ‘Melungians’ (the spelling is uncertain), who are to be found in the region of Virginia and North Carolina adjoining this very county of Carroll”
    From American Notes and Queries 1891 -
    ” The first inhabitants of Hancock county, or, to be accurate, of what is now called Hancock county, were the strangest, most mysterious people that have ever settled any part of this country since its discovery. They are still there in greater numbers than ever before, and in as great mystery. ” See source for more early articles at

    Obediah Goodman’s father was either Joseph Goodman or John Moore, perhaps … his wife is said to have been full blood Native American Indian, most say Cherokee but could have been other, like Saponi or Shawnee. It appears from early documentation that Obediah Goodman’s father and “Indian” mother were never married. Perhaps “Indian” mother went by the last name “Goodman” … making the kids father John or Joseph Moore? No evidence one way or another yet.

    I can’t find when they come to Floyd, Kentucky but the info I found says that Pleasant and Jane Patton Goodman (born at Floyd, KY) married about 1833 in Floyd, Kentucky.

    Jack Goins is a professional in the Melungeon genealogy and has a lot of good articles … ” Also in Floyd County in 1820 was Valentine Collins, Zachariah Gibson and Martin Gibson. It appears these Moore, Gibson and Collins families moved into Floyd County at about the same time. Soon afterwards members of the Bunch, Branham, Goodman and Mosley families moved into Floyd County and eastern Kentucky.” See Jack’s article with info concerning the Goodmans and Moores here

    Thanks for posting,

  • kvgoodman

    May 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Garth,
    I know some of the “Melungeons” went to Arkansas and died there … then some of their families moved “West” with the “Indians”. There is a good chances some of them could have settled in Montana, as I figure some tried to get as far away from the discriminating white as possible.If I find any of the Melungeons moving to Montana, I will post.
    Nice talking to you again. :)

  • Garth Tuttle

    May 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Mo: Missouri, not Montana – but if so – my aunt was born, insofar as I now, out of wedlock – she and my uncle, at least later, didn’t get along – her fault, really, BUT, IRONICALLY, she and my (older) half-brohter’s mother were close friends

  • kvgoodman

    May 25, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Oh yes, Montana is MT …and yes, some Melungeons did go to Missouri. A couple links below and a little info on a couple families. Gotta get to bed now. Have a nice day. – Karen

    Daniel Boone knew a “Melungeon” and was a friend to this man named Jordan Gibson from NC. Jordan’s son, Jim, later lived in Daniel Boone’s home in Kentucky and in Missouri.” See book page:

    Several Melungeon families left Tennessee between 1820 -30 for Indiana. There they took up grants on parcels of land but only stayed long enough to make improvements and sell it for a profit. Most of these families then migerated to Missouri. The David Collins 1750 line was one of those families.

    i. OLIVER DENHAM4 FUGATE, b. 1841; m. JULIA HARMON, January 05, 1865; b. Tennessee.
    Oliver and Julia had no known children. In the 1870 census they were living in Meremac Township, Crawford County, MO. They were listed as white race. He enlisted in the Union Army as Oliver Denham as served as sergent in the 9th and 10th Missouri Calvaries. He is also listed in the 1870 Tax Book for Crawford County, MO.

    142. Sarah4 Collins (Floyd3, Elizabeth2 Mullins, James1) was born Abt. 1872. She married Milton Cruise.
    Notes for Sarah Collins:
    Sarah moved West with her husband Milton, but had to come back for her health. Lived with her half sister, Getty Collins, and her husband Freddy Mullins in Missouri.
    Child of Sarah Collins and Milton Cruise is:
    322 i. Pauline5 Cruise.
    Notes for Shirly Jean Dahlman:
    Alvin ran for county clerk twice. The first time, he was appointed by the Missouri governor. He was unsuccessful both times.

  • kvgoodman

    May 25, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Quick note – since recent DNA testing was completed, it is suggested that those of us who claim Portuguese and /or Native American or Gypsy as part of our Melungeon heritage are wrong, that we are denying our African ancestors, but this is not true. I for one claim ALL my people and having my DNA done by three separate companies prove ALL are my family.

    It has been said for us to claim Portuguese and/ or Native American Indian as our Melungeon heritage we are making “wild claims”.

    It is suggested that the Melungeons are simply white people mixed with African slaves and American Indian, denying all our other ancestors of colors including but not limited to Portuguese (mine are of the Azores of Portugal), Turks, and Arabs (which shows strong matches in my DNA results).

    Have a great day all ~ Karen

  • kvgoodman

    May 25, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Correction – the claims made since the recent DNA testing is that Melungeons were “offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin ” alone, denying our Portuguese and Native American people. Many of us have had our DNA done and show mixtures of many colors. See below for quotes from article:

    “There were a whole lot of people upset by this study,’ lead researcher Roberta Estes said, noting that many preferred their assumed origins. ” “They just knew they were Portuguese, or Native American.”

  • kvgoodman

    May 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Hi Fred – Here’s some transcribed information from documentation concerning our mutual Obediah GOODMAN and family, which begs to question the GOODMAN name; was Obediah’s father a GOODMAN or was his mother Elizabeth (full-blood American Indian ) surnamed GOODMAN? – Karen

    “The following children sold land that they heir in, as heirs of Obediah GOODMAN.

    6-26-1839 Enoch GOODMAN of Floyd Co. KY., Hawkins Co. KY. Deed Book 17:28-29
    6-29-1839 Priscilla GOODMAN, Polly GOODMAN, Elizabeth GOODMAN, Hawkins Co. KY. Deed Book 7:45-46 to Joseph GOODMAN or Joseph JONES of Hawkins Co. KY., $200.00, land north wide of Clinch Mountain in Hawkins Co. formerly belonging to Obediah GOODMAN. Witnessed by Pleasant GOODMAN, E.S. GOODMAN and proved on the oaths of Pleasant GOODMAN and Edward GOODMAN.
    3-25-1840 Priscilla, Polly, Elizabeth, Enoch GOODMAN, Hawkins Co. KY. Deed Book 17:59-60 to Peter Lawson, 25 Feb 1840, registered 6 March 1840, they of Floyd Co. KY., a claim on Land descended from their “ancestor” Obediah GOODMAN, formerly of Hawkins County. Witnessed by Joseph GOODMAN and William MOSELY.

    In the marriage bond of Enoch GOODMAN, son of Obediah and Aletha RICHARDSON GOODMAN, Obediah gives permission for Enoch to marry Susannah HALE. The bond states that Obediah had NO LAWFUL FATHER. What compounds the problem is the fact that folks who lived in Melungeon communities tended to use either the mother’s maiden name or the father’s surname without seeming to have any reason for choosing either one.

    Burial: Hawkins Co. TN.

    Aletha “Ally” “Jendo” Richardson is also known as Jendo and is said to have been nearly 6 feet tall and have walked with a very upright stance.”

  • Garth Tuttle

    May 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Not dismissing any known ancestry, especially by DNA test, I remember that I read an account of someone encountering a “Portuguese Negro” – which might mean Angolan. Which in turn might mean a mix of Bantu, “Pygmy” and Bushmen – the later of which have what some might call “Chinese” eyes – thus making some of their descendants look “Indian”

  • kvgoodman

    May 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Garth, I didn’t find anything in reference to a person encountering a “Portuguese Negro” in relationship to the Melungeons. Could it have rather been a derogatory term used instead of “Negro” as seen below? You could be right, though. Surely there was mixing of different races along the way, even if one Melungeon family line may show a different blending than another. Sure be nice to learn the one single race that each and every Melungeon descendant has in common with the other, then perhaps, the origin of the American people named Melungeons might be discovered.

    See excerpts from an article written March 1891 by Will Dromgoole article for “The Arena”. Incidentally … from everything I have read of hers, it sounds like she was prejudice not only against persons of color but poor people as well. From much of what I’ve read, it seems those who did happen to see “Melungeon” folk with their own eyes in the earliest years, identified their look as unique and not looking like any other race they had ever seen before. ~ Karen

    March 1891 by Will Dromgoole article for “The Arena”.
    “I pounced on him the moment his speech was completed. “Senator,” I said, “what is a Malungeon?”
    “A dirty Indian sneak,” said he. “Go over yonder and ask Senator _____; they live in his district.” I went at once.

    “Senator, what is a Malungeon?” I asked again.
    “A Portuguese n—–r,” was the reply. “Representative T____ can tell you all about them, they live in his county.”

    From “district” to “county” was quick traveling. And into the House of Representatives I went, fast upon the lost trail of the forgotten Malungeons.
    “Mr. ____,” said I, “please tell me what is a Malungeon?”
    “A Malungeon,: said he, “isn’t a n—-r, and he isn’t an Indian, and he isn’t a white man. God only knows what he is. I should call him a Democrat, only he always votes the Republican ticket.” I merely mention all this to show how the Malungeons to-day are regarded, and to show show I tracked them to Newman’s Ridge in Hancock County, where within four miles of one of the prettiest county towns in Tennessee, may be found all that remains of that outcast race whose descent is a riddle the historian has never solved. In appearance they bear a striking resemblance to the Cherokees, and they are believed by the people round about to be a kind of half-breed Indian.

    Their complexion is a reddish brown, totally unlike the mulatto. The men are very tall and straight, with small, sharp eyes, high cheek bones, and straight black hair, worn rather long. The women are small, below the average height, coal black hair and eyes, high cheek bones, and the same red-brown complexion. The hands of the Malungeon women are quite shapely and pretty. Also their feet, despite the fact that they travel the sharp mountain trails barefoot, are short and shapely. Their features are wholly unlike those of the negro, except in cases where the two races have cohabited, as is sometimes the fact. These instances can be readily detected, as can those of cohabitation with the mountaineer; for the pure Malungeons present a characteristic and individual appearance. On the Ridge proper, one finds only pure Malungeons; it is in the unsavory limits of Black Water Swamp and on Big Sycamore Creek,lying at the foot of the Ridge between it and Powell’s Mountain, that the mixed races dwell.”

  • kvgoodman

    May 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    In the words of the transcriber of this article, I agree completely. “I find this article to be extremely offensive on several levels. It certainly must be viewed in the historical context and whatever information of value can be extracted from that. Reading it leaves absolutely no question as to the attitudes toward the Melungeons in 1849 and why some people may have chosen to hide that heritage.”

    Another interesting early article, from 31 March, 1849 named THE MELUNGENS, found in a magazine entitled Littel’s Living Age, which took note of the Melungeons. ~ Karen
    “You must know that within ten miles of this owl’s nest, there is a watering-place, known hereabouts as ‘black-water Springs.’ It is situated in a narrow gorge, scarcely half a mile wide, between Powell’s Mountain and the Copper Ridge, and is, as you may suppose, almost inaccessible. A hundred men could defend the pass against even a Xerxian army. ”
    “Now this gorge and the tops and sides of the adjoining mountains are inhabited by a SINGULAR SPECIES OF THE HUMAN ANIMAL CALLED MELUNGENS.”
    “The legend of their history, which they carefully preserve, is this. A great many years ago, these mountains were settled by a society of Portuguese Adventurers, men and women–who came from the long-shore parts of Virginia, that they might be freed from the restraints and drawbacks imposed on them by any form of government. ”
    These people made themselves friendly with the Indians and freed, as they were from every kind of social government, they uprooted all conventional forms of society and lived in a delightful Utopia of their own creation, trampling on the marriage relation, despising all forms of religion, and subsisting upon corn (the only possible product of the soil) and wild game of the woods.”
    Complete article:

  • Terry Swope

    May 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Black Reds is another name for Mulagens I to am from Northwest Kentucky with family all the way to the Southwestern part of Kentucky help us we fill like a lost civilaztion. Allen,Turners,Ross,Mclure,Dixon,Swope,Wilson,Handy,Hunt,and Munkaster. We have oral,cultural,traditions of indian,black and white .

  • Garth Tuttle

    May 30, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Racial identity, especially when made by an outside party, or, like my father, pure specualtion, can be very confusing, and misleading – as several people noted, in various posts, Natives were sometimes called “Colored” or even “Negroe ” – or Mulato. Two Black Seminole, husband and wife, are, in the census labled Indian, though the wife’s mother, in an interview (I do hope I remember correctly ) said that they, the Black Seminole, were “Black” – while the other Seminole were the Indians; meanwhile, a woman whose mother was Biloxi, is labled Black … Spanish is used for Spanish – pesking persons, regardless, and so forth.
    also, many ethnicities, like the Melungeons, while they have a history in common, don’t all share the same ancestries – thus, what might be true for one family, might not for another, and may even be true of another local ethnic group .

  • kvgoodman

    June 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Hi Terry,

    That is interesting that another name for Melungeons is Black Reds. Is there anywhere online I can read about their being called that? I would love to read.
    Below is a list of surnames I share with you, along with the number of individuals
    I have in my family trees (so far) with locations where various family members were born.

    Allen 112 (born in NY, KY, VA, TN, GA, MA)
    -Turner 6 (born in IL, KY, VA)
    -Ross 13 (born in KY and TN)
    -Dixon 19 (born in Georgia, WV, and KY)
    -Wilson 21 (born in KY, VA, IL, MO, NC, Ire.)
    -Hunt 9 (all from KY)

  • kvgoodman

    June 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Hi Garth, You are right about that. Family who shared who they descend from, race-wise, has often lead to confusion. I had heard that my great grandmother was full blood Cherokee, but recently my mother’s sister says she was actually half Cherokee. Now I learn from this same family side, we descend from Black and Melungeon folk. I can understand why families would deny and attempt to hide their Black race way back then. They knew to fess up, they and their children would suffer, even though I think some of the descendants doings the denying really didn’t know the truth. Sad so sad. No way do I believe most of these folks were against Blacks, only the penalty for admitting
    they were of Black ancestry or might be, would be terrible for all their family.
    True, race was often subscribed by the census takers, according to what they personally thought the family looked like or what they believed their race to be or if they didn’t like the people, they could assign a race which they hoped to cause them harm. True, one time a family would be named White, another time Black or Mulatto and on another occasion Melungeon or Portuguese would be written in because there was
    no category for “other”.
    Interesting that you mentioned Seminole Indians. I had just been reading about this interesting tribe. Here’s some
    excerpts from nice article:
    “The ‘Black Seminoles’ were escaped slaves, who waged the longest and fiercest struggle against slavery in American history.”
    “But not all the Gullah slaves remained on the plantations. Some escaped south into Florida which, in the 1700s, was virtually an empty tropical wilderness. Although the Spanish claimed Florida at that period, they exerted almost no political control.”
    “As American settlement moved south, there was a series of skirmishes with the Seminoles, culminating in a full-scale war from 1835 to 1842. ”
    “The term Seminole is of Spanish origin. Cimarron (wild and untamed) referred to hostile nonwhites — Indians and Africans — whom the Spaniards had to contend with on their frontiers throughout the New World. ”
    In addition to Indian slaves, one also found African slaves among the Muscogulges, and in the decades before the Trail of Tears, African slaves were more numerous and conspicuous than Indian. Some Negro slaves were the offspring of Africans and Indians (zambos), and both zambos and pure Africans lived in Indian villages. In the early nineteenth century separate or autonomous Negro communities emerged in the Indian country, and with some justification whites looked upon them as havens for runaway slaves or maroon settlements.”

  • garth tuttle

    June 3, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    I believe the sourse you quoted on the ‘”Muscogles” – i.e. Muscogee (the dominant groups of Creeks ) – came from a book ; I not only read about the group – I think I mentioned this – I spoke with two authors , William Loren Katz, and Dr. Kevin Mulroy; ,y x ‘s father was Black Seminole, from Texas – some had gone into Mexico along with Wildcat and his band , others (Black Creeks ) werer there already ….
    Someone in another post mentioend Mohawk and Dutch ancestry, which reminded me that some Dutch traiders – and pershaps even settlers, used Native girls as prostitutes … it might be one source of the miss – nmaed Black Dutch .

  • Karen

    June 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    I just wanted to add that the Azores were settled as a colony of Portugal and they imported slaves there…. Most of the Slaves, to Brazil and other Portugese colonies were imported from the Portugese colony of Angola. In the 1600s, in Virginia there were indentured servants from Angola. They are by historical record and DNA record the founders of many of the Melungeons families. They mixed with other blacks and with Europeans. Creating a mixed race that was often light enough to pass for Indian or some other group other than African. I think if you have MIT DNA from the Azores it is likely from African slaves. Unless there is another match in Portugal proper. The Azores are a mix much like the Melungeons. I think there may be some mix with Portugese either in Angola or later during captivity among the Angolans in the new world, hence some Melungeons DNA explained. The Portugese themselves are a Mediterranean mix but I find it interesting they only matched you with the Azores, maybe that was the extent of their data base.

  • June 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Hi. I am an Appalachian woman born and bred and a genealogist/family historian who can trace my roots back to Ireland in the 1400s and to Germany back to the 1600s. My people were by the 1700′s. Yet, I cannot find a paper trail as to “other” heritage. But although there is no paper documentation, there is no doubt that there is some other heritage in my background. All I have to do is look in the mirror. The evidence is literally staring me in the face. My dad told me he was Native American on his grandmother’s side. My mother said that her grandmother Coleman “was Dutch”. My one brother and I are dark eyed, dark haired, dark-skinned people, and yet my brother’s twin and my younger sister are fair haired and blue eyed. No tribe will accept us because no ancestor’s name appears on a “roll” (which I think is biased); but there can be no doubt that we do have Native American DNA. I consider myself first an American, and next an Appalachian, but would love to also have my Native American ancestory recognized. I hope someday to do so.

  • July 4, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I have been involved in Melungeon Research, both genealogy and DNA, for about 10 years. The results the author describes for her maternal aunt’s test do not fit that of an mtDNA test. It sounds more like the results of a popular so called “Melungeon” test which tests certain markers and compares them to various people in the data base.

    Please go here to read about the recent DNA study completed using Y chromosomes and mtDNA.

    I too hope that Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr. will consider doing a show about the Melungeons, a wonderful American mystery deserving a lot more attention.

  • kvgoodman

    August 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Hello Janet,
    I am the author of the article, and yes, I see where I mistakenly posted that my maternal aunt’s “mtDNA” showed Azores as a # 1 genetic match where in fact it was actually the “autosomal DNA” test that she took through DNATribes which shows the Azores Archipelago as her her #1 match in the “High Resolution Global Population Match Results”. So, it was not done by the company who you imply, disparagingly referring to their one test as the “so called Melungeon test”. I did, in fact, take this one with the results showing a high probability that I of descend from a “Melungeon” ancestor – it just confirms what I already knew to be true..

    I have much confidence in Donald N. Yates, PhD and his DNA testings, including the “Melungeon Test” found at

    Mr Yates has been in related genealogy research and studies for many years of his life. At Donald Panther Yates website “Panther’s Lodge” Don states, “since 1984″.


  • kvgoodman

    August 23, 2012 at 1:44 am

    It might interest some … so if interested, visit these two extremely interesting and informative websites which address the subject at hand with many documented sources.

    and here:

  • MH

    September 2, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    On an 1840 Floyd Co Ky census are:Jane Goodman 50-60. There is a male same age in the household along with six younger females.
    There is also three male households: Calvin 20-30, Enoch 29-30 and Plasount 30-40. My 3rd g grandfather ws Rev John Moore m Sally Goodman. Hope this info helps.

  • September 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Looking for family members Gypsies…surnames of Cook, Murphy, Sullivan. There is a Betts connection.

  • Larry E. Baker

    September 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    My wife was born in Floyd Co., KY and descends from Obediah Goodman to Enoch Goodman to William Kenas “Keene” Goodman to Susan Ann (Goodman) Ousley, my wife’s G-GM. In a 1903 article by a man named JARVIS…mentions several Melungeon families and THE GOODMAN CHIEFS. As hard as I’ve tried I could never find Obediah mentioned as a melungeon or FPC. I did find Jordan and Edmund Goodman mentioned as FPC. Great site..keep up the good work.

  • kvgoodman

    October 7, 2012 at 1:09 am


    Thank you for sharing. I see where Jane GOODMAN is on this census and thought she may be my 3rd great grandmother but after looking at the children in the household and their birth years, I’m not too sure now. I need to do some more research.

    So far, those I show as *Pleasant and Jane Patton GOODMAN’s children are the following:
    *John Calvin Green Goodman: born abt 1836
    Richard Hiram Goodman : born about 1838
    Elizabeth Betts Goodman: born about 1839
    Parthena Goodman: born about 1841
    Dolly Goodman: born about1 843
    Moses Goodman: born about 1847
    Susan Goodman: born about 1850

    I think the following may be your line? Here’s what I have: Calvin Henry GOODMAN (1816-1893) was brother to my 3rd great-grandpa, *Pleasant GOODMAN (1806-1860). Their parents were *Obediah GOODMAN (1770-1864) and *Aletha (Ally) RICHARDSON (1791 – 1873).

    Calvin GOODMAN married Elizabeth Sarah Lydia MOORE (1823-1875) who was daughter of Obediah MOORE (1797-1859) and Mary Polly CASTEEL (1803–1855). I show Obediah MOORE was the son of John MOORE (Rev Soldier) (1758–1836) and Sarah “Sally” GOODMAN (1760-1840). I’m not sure of Sally’s parents and grandparents.

    Thanks again for sharing. We just might be cousins, after all. :)

  • Robbin

    October 19, 2012 at 1:15 am

    I have long been looking for my ancestor Joe Coffey. My gr. gr. grandmother told me to never forget that her father Joe Coffey is the result of an Indian raid on a covered wagon in Virginia. There was her grandmother who was captured and thus bore Joe Coffey. That is all I know. I cannot find anything. Her family did settle in Corbin,KY and I believe some roots in Harlan KY (heart of the Appalachians). So now that i have found this blog site and have read much – i wonder? is this what my gr.grandmother – a descendant of Joe Coffey’s meant when she told me we are “Black Irish?” I thought she meant of Irish decent that was part Spanish. I just don’t know.

  • tammy cox

    October 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I was told that my mothers mother was referred to as black-dutch, not really sure what that means .

  • kvgoodman

    November 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Tammy, I found some different interesting information and meanings for the term BLACK DUTCH. See excerpts and links to those source below.


    Excerpts Below are from: “BLACK DUTCH by Mike Nassau”

    “Groups, forms or uses of ‘Black Dutch’”

    “There are at least eight quite different groups of people described as “Black Dutch”. If you have been told you are Black Dutch or part Black Dutch, you must find out what the name of the German, Dutch or Flemish immigrant was (if there was one), where he or she came from, what their religion was, if any, etc., before you can figure out to which group they belonged.”

    1. ‘Melungeons sometimes call themselves Black Dutch, Black Irish or Black German to hide their mixed race origin while explaining their being darker than most Whites.”

    2. “Another Mestee group, the Ramapo Mountain People or Ramapough Indians, are sometimes called Black Dutch.”

    3. “Schwarze Deutsche or Black Germans, found along the Danube River in Austria and Germany, in the Black Forest and, to a lesser extent, along the Rhine River, have dark hair and eyes, unlike the fairer people both north and south of them. Their descendants in America may be called either Black Dutch or Black German. The origin of their dark coloration is ancient, from the Roman army in the third and fourth centuries, C.E. ”

    4. “Tziganes or, more commonly (but erroneously), Gypsies, are another group called Black Dutch in America. A Tzigane from Germany, who could speak German, could be accepted much better by saying he was Black Dutch than if he admitted to being Gypsy. Tziganes were called Gypsies because of the mistaken belief they came from Egypt.”

    5. “Dutch and Belgian Jews were sometimes called Black Dutch in America because they spoke Dutch or Flemish and were darker than the other Dutch and Flemish. They had only recently moved to the Netherlands and Belgium (then Spanish Netherlands) from Iberia (Portugal and Spain). When Spain annexed Portugal for a while, many Portuguese Jews fled to Spanish Flanders to escape the Inquisition …”

    6. “Mulattos, Quadroons, Octaroons and other mixed children of German, Dutch or Flemish fathers who appeared mostly White, but were too dark, would use the term in order to live in White society. Of course, they frequently learned the term from one of the other types of Black Dutch and then would sieze it as their own.”

    7. “‘ … Black Dutch in America’. This group seems to mostly be Native American or part Native American whose ancestors said they were Black Dutch in order to be accepted as White at a time when people were denied their rights and rejected for being part Indian.”

    8 “… to the U.S. government, “Black Dutch” means people from the Dutch West Indies (also called the Netherlands Antilles). This is almost totally irrelevant to American or Canadian individuals trying to find out what some ancestor meant by describing himself as “Black Dutch”, of course.”


    Excerpts from:
    “So They Say You Are Black Dutch…?” By Takatoka

    On the Museum wall of The Oakville Mounds Park & Museum” in Moulton, Alabama: “Before the Indian Removal Act in 1830, many of Lawrence County’s Cherokee people were already mixed with white settlers and stayed in the country of the Warrior Mountains. They denied their ancestry and basically lived much of their lives in fear of being sent West. Full bloods claimed to be Black Irish or Black Dutch, thus denying their rightful Indian blood.

    In my research of trying to find out just what a Black Dutch or Black Irish was, I found that some have associated them with the Melungeon. The Melungeons live mostly in the Appalachian Mountains. They are people whose ancestry has been shrouded in mystery. They are most likely the descendants of the late 16th century Turks and Portuguese stranded on the Carolina shores. Sir Francis Drake liberated some 200 young Turks on the North Carolina coast.

    They later intermarried with Powhatan, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, and Catawba Indians. These two groups combined later, settled in the Appalachians, and with further intermarriages with the Cherokees. The word Melungeon is both Portuguese and Turkish, and meaning “cursed soul.” Today, Melungeon descendants can be found among all racial and ethnic groups. Like the Cherokee, these people were not out to advertise the fact that they were Melungeon, rather they were trying their best to hide it. There are also many Melungeon roots in southeastern Kentucky families.

    Melungeon families had to hide their heritage. “Free Persons of Color” laws, were used to take their land and bar them from courts and schools. There are family stories of being Black Dutch, and being Cherokee. Many of these families just seem to show up with no past.

    According to Hornbeck, “…Some say that the term “Black Dutch” refers to Sephardic Jews who married Dutch protestants to escape the Inquisition, many of their descendants later moving to the Americas, the “black” referring to their dark hair and complexions; perhaps rarely, German immigrants from the Black Forest region, e.g.,

    After the Cherokee lost their homes to the Treaty of 1828, the John Moore family moved to Oregon and Lawrence County Missouri but returned to Arkansas before 1850. Fearful of discrimination they returned to Arkansas reborn as Black Dutch.


    Various meanings of “Black Dutch”.

  • kvgoodman

    November 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    I looked around a little to see if I could find anything about your Joe Coffey and family but really didn’t have enough information. If you can send me a little more info, I will see what I can find for you. Below are some articles pertaining to COFFEY families.
    – Karen


    COFFEY COUSINS, North Side of Clinch Mountain, Tennessee and Beyond
    by Bennie Lou Coffey Loftin

    ” Rose, also, told the story about two Irish Coffey boys married two Cherokee Indian girls.”

    ” He is not the Jesse T. Coffey that married Lettie Collins on December 14, 1838 in Grainger County TN. Lettie’s Collins family was recorded as being “free colored” in the early census, as were most people of dark complexion, which included Indians and Melungeons.”

    Here there is a photo along with some info about Coffey family — “This is the Joe Francis Coffey family in 1920 in Whitley City, McCreary County, Kentucky. All are deceased except for little girl on the left in the front row. She is my grandmother, Gertie Coffey Swain, and is now 90 years old.”


    Lots of interesting Coffey family info along with some pictures.

    Pertaining to BLACK IRISH go to
    more practical definitions for many of our ancestors

    Historical information for more of the earlier BLACK IRISH definitions go to


    AND more likely the way the term BLACK IRISH was used by many of our families, early on, in America.

    “Who are the Black Irish?”
    “People differ in their opinions on who the Black Irish are. If you have been told that you have Black Irish in your ancestry, it might not mean what you think it does.”

    “Though some people insist that the Black Irish is a unique and particularly ethnic group, there are too many interpretations to really nail it down. Generally, the term applies to any dark-haired people of Irish descent, whether they are a mix of Irish/Spanish, Irish/Italian, Irish/Native American or any other racial blending.”

    More info at–a8663

  • kvgoodman

    November 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Robin and Tammy, Sorry, I just dropped back in and saw the postings I made to you, is not showing up. Don’t know what happened? Anyway, will try again.

    I do know that Coffey is considered one of the Melungeon names. Black Irish and Black Dutch was supposed to mean dark skin Irish or Dutch, depending on the ethnicity referred to. But it seems, these descriptions were more often used by American Indians, African Americans, Melungeons and a mixture, as to hide and cover for their darker skin, so that they and their children would not suffer the consequences for not being “white” back in the day. If you google “Black Irish” and “Black Dutch” you will see this. In another search, if you use the same keywords, adding the word Melungeon, and you will get more info concerning the use of these descriptions, as a cover.
    — Karen

    p.s I have heard the story about “Coffey” capture by Native American Indians; interesting subject, must do more research.

  • kvgoodman

    November 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Robin and Tammy, lol … I just checked to make sure the brief post I just made, showed up and there I saw it did, along with the earlier ones. Don’t know how that happened, but glad it did.
    Take care and good luck in your research.
    – Karen

  • Karen

    November 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I am the 4th generation granddaughter of Mahala Mullins, my family names are Collins, Moore, Mullins, Goins, Taylor, Gibson. I grew up in Lee co. Va not more than a few miles from Vardy Tn, My mother always told me that my grandmother would tell her as a child that we were cursed and maybe in one sense we are because of the treatement our people have been given over the years. I am now the mother of two and I am also proud of Melungeon roots. I have met with racisim but I will not back down from people with closed minds such as that. I want to learn all I can about who I am and where I came from.

  • MJ

    November 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Before last month I had never before heard the word Melungeon. While on vacation we stopped into the East Tennessee Historical Center in Knoxville in hopes of finding possible clues on who my ancestors were. More specifically my 3rd great-grandparents Nathan & Jemima (Mays/Mayes) Collins of Claiborne & Union counties, TN. Researchers there told me to check into the Melungeons of that region, based on census records, marriage, records, physical description from Civil War pension files & the Collins surname. Although I still have more questions than answers, I have found this to be a fascinating journey of self discovery. Now, to find a male Collins cousin willing to submit DNA, perhaps then I will find some ancestors. P.s. I really enjoy Finding Your Roots. Great show! Thanks PBS.

  • fred Jones

    May 27, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    this is my great grandmother Elizabeth Betts Goodman Morgan. She was daughter of Pleasant and Jane Patton. Jane was a Patton and was Scott Irish, Pleasant Goodman was son of Obediah Goodman who I believe was full blood Cherokee

  • kvgoodman

    August 18, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Hi Fred,

    Your beautiful great grandmother Elizabeth Betts Goodman Morgan (pictured above) , was my 2nd great grandfather John Calvin Green Goodman’s sister, making us cousins; such a small world.

    My 2nd g-grandparents John Goodman (1836 – 1899) and Eleanor “Ellen” Riggs Goodman (1838 – 1927), had my great grandmother Electa Nancy Riggs Goodman (1867 – 1954) who married John Colley (1844 – 1925), who had my grandmother Virginia Colley (1896 – 1969) who married grandpa George Washington Falin (1891 – 1942).


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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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