Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Melungeon physical traits

During his speech, Kennedy brings people to the front of the room to illustrate various Melungeon physical traits. Semitic noses. Central Asian cranial ridges. Shovel teeth. Asian eyefolds. All, he claims, genetic markers to support his theory that Melungeons are of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean origins.
He holds up his hands and reveals a faint scar on each hand. "You ever hear the story about the six-fingered Melungeons? Well, I'm living proof it's true." He had his extra digits, which are common among those of Spanish and Jewish heritage, removed as a young boy.
"Genes don't lie," he says.


In addition to the phenotypic evidence, Kennedy and others have compiled a long list of linguistic similarities between Appalachian and Turkish dialects to prove their assertion of Mediterranean presence in Appalachia.

"I hope other researchers continue the work I've started," he says. "Geneticists and linguists and historians, anthropologists, archeologists: It'll take all of these disciplines to fill in the gaps in the Melungeon story."

Kennedy finishes his speech with some provocative statements. "Why are we doing this? Why are we all here? We're not seeking justice for lost lands -- it's too late for restitution. We surrendered our claims to our land when we assimilated with the larger white culture. It's almost impossible to separate the perpetrators from the victims now.


Mysterious Melungeons

Larry Stroud
Published Jan. 10, 2007

In 1654, unless someone got the date mixed up, which is always a possibility, English explorers discovered in the Appalachian wilderness a people different from any they knew.

These people were definitely not American Indians, although they had apparently mixed with the native Indians.

They were brown-complexioned, supposed to be of Moorish descent and had European features, often had reddish hair and very distinctive green or blue-green eyes.

They lived in log cabins that had peculiar arched windows.

In April of 1673, James Needham, an Englishman, described the mysterious people as having (quote) a bell which is six foot over which they ring morning and evening and at that time a great number of people congregate together and talk in a language not English nor any Indian dialect.(unquote)

The mysterious people came to be called Melungeons.

These people claimed that they were descended from a group of Portugese who had been shipwrecked or abandoned on the Atlantic coast. Both could be true.

According to English historian David Beer Quinn, in 1586 Sir Francis Drake put ashore several hundred Turkish and Moorish sailors, liberated from the Spanish, on the coast of North Carolina. No trace was found of these people later by ships who stopped there.

Many of those were Sephardic Jews from Spain, Portugal and northern Africa who had converted to Catholicism and may have later converted to the Protestant faith.

And, a fleet of Portuguese ships is known to have wrecked off that same coast in the 1600s, raising the possibility that survivors may have reached shore and made their way inland.

When they first became known, most Melungeons lived in eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia.

I became aware of the Melungeons a couple of decades or so ago from an Associated Press article but never felt a need to research this (quote) lost race,(unquote) as some writers fancifully called them, until Dave Perkey and I recently found an unusual carving on a tombstone in a cemetery in a nearby county.

Actually, I had seen the tombstone once before but it was Perkey whose sharp eyes noticed an unusual thing about the carving; it shows a six-fingered hand (actually five fingers and a thumb) clasping a hand with the normal number of digits.

We agreed immediately that no stonecarver would make such a mistake by accident; that the six-fingered hand meant SOMETHING, perhaps a friendship between people predisposed to hexadactylism (having six fingers or six toes) and people with the normal number of fingers.

So I began researching six-fingered people.

Some Melungeons and their descendants, I learned, have six fingers or six toes and may be related to Turks from a specific area of Turkey who traditionally have the same genetic oddity. A family of people in Turkey actually has a surname that when translated into English comes out as Six Fingered Ones.

The mysterious Melungeons and their descendants also often have other physical characteristics that set them apart, including either an Anatolian bump or a ridge called a Central Asian Cranial Ridge on the back of the skull.

Apparently, no one knows what happened to that six foot over bell of 1673, but another characteristic of Melungeon culture is still around. Melungeons are known to have built little houses of stone over graves, and in the cemetery Perkey and I visited, skillfully built little houses made of stone covered three graves of children.

Other unusual physical characteristics are listed on various Web sites containing information on Melungeons; the same sites from which my information came. Just type the word Melungeons into any search engine to find the sites.

But more interesting to me is the list of illnesses to which Melungeons are predisposed; with most or all of these diseases stemming from the Mediterranean area. More on that in an upcoming column.

After the Civil War, when carpetbaggers overran the South, many people from Tennessee, Kentucky and other Melungeon strongholds moved west. When they found the Ozarks, they may have settled down in what was then almost a wilderness but which was similar in terrain to the homes they had just left.

It is not inconceivable that some of us in this area are of Melungeon descent.

Stay tuned.
Larry Stroud is the associate editor of the Batesville Daily Guard. He can be reached at larrydstroud@yahoo.com or at the Guard office at 793-2383

DNA Results Reported

This photo, too, is from Farris Cemetery near Onia in Stone County, Arkansas. Perhaps when St. Patrick ran the snakes out of Ireland, they did not ALL go to Ohio where the famous Serpent Mound and Serpent Relief Sculpture are located.

My research indicates the serpent/egg/water religion can be traced back to the Tower of Babel where Nimrod's mother was its author.

Does your research agree? –Larry
Larry Stroud
January 17, 2007

Dr. Brent Kennedy, author of The Melungeons, the Resurrection of a Proud People, learned about the Melungeons after he was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 1994. He wondered what a Southern man was doing developing a disease that has its roots in the Mediterranean area.

Since then, he has determined he is a Melungeon descendant.

See last week's column for more information about the Melungeons, or do your own research on the Internet. A good place to start is www.melungeons.com. A free downloadable book, American Indian Melungeons, is even available at the site.

Melungeons is the name given to a mysterious people first documented in 1654, when English explorers discovered them in the Appalachian wilderness. The people were not American Indians, although some had intermarried with Indians. They were brown-skinned, possibly of Moorish descent, had European features, and often had reddish hair and very distinctive green or blue-green eyes.

They lived in log cabins that had peculiar arched windows, spoke a language that was neither English nor any Indian dialect, and claimed to be, as they pronounced it, Phorty-gee.

Evidence is strong that in 1586 Sir Francis Drake deposited several hundred Turkish and Moorish sailors, liberated from the Spanish, on the coast of North Carolina at Roanoke Island. No trace was found of these people.

Some Melungeons following the early days of their discovery stated they were from a lost colony. That could very well be so, if little Virginia Dare and her people (from the colony of Sir Walter Raleigh) found some of these Turks and Moors who had married American Indian women. Evidence also suggests that some members of the lost Raleigh colony may already have had some Mediterranean ancestry.

It is known, too, that in those early days of American history, a Portuguese fleet wrecked off the coast of North Carolina, and survivors could have made their way inland.

Other possibilities listed in Mysteries of Ancient America (Readers Digest Association, 1986, 320 pages) include: they are descendants of Welsh explorer Prince Madoc, from a band that deserted the forces of Hernando de Soto (he did have Portuguese and people from the Greek Isles in his party), or from the lost tribes of Israel. I will add that they could also be related to Coptic Egyptians and other miners of native copper in Michigan hundreds of years ago, and/or the Norse, who visited the Northeast much more often and stayed much longer than mainstream scholars would have anyone believe.

The whole New England area was called Northumbra, meaning Northmans Land, when the (quote) first (unquote colonists arrived.

DNA tests on known Melungeon descendants, so far, have not completely solved the puzzle but show links with several peoples including some of those previously mentioned, as well as Sephardic Jews.

Sephardic Jews are members of the branch of European Jews who settled mainly in Spain, Portugal and northern Africa, although many of those had migrated to England, Ireland and Scotland and embraced the Christian faith before the English (or whatever passed for English) began colonizing what is known today as the United States.

DNA results reported in 2002 from known Melungeon descendants showed them to have 83 percent European genetic material, representing Europeans from north to south; 7 percent matching populations in Turkey, Syria and northern India; 5 percent American Indian; and 5 percent African.

In other words, the surviving genes from Middle Eastern and East Indian ancestors are in equal proportion to those of Native Americans and Africans. The original, seventeenth-century percentages of all three groups (African, Native American, and Middle Eastern/East Indian) were undoubtedly much higher in the past than what we are seeing today because those genetic traces have been diluted with continued intermarriage with surrounding populations.

But enough of them are there to still be traceable among the Melungeon descendants of today. The Mediterranean and Middle Eastern heritages are definitely there.

Further piquing my interest in Melungeons is that many other so-called tri-racial isolate populations exist in the eastern U.S. I am not making up any of these names: the Lumbee of North Carolina, Person County Indians also known as Cubans and Portuguese, of North Carolina, Goinstown Indians in North Carolina, Goins in eastern Tennessee, Monacan Indians also known as Issues, in Virginia; Magoffin County People of Kentucky; Carmel Indians of Ohio; Brown People of Kentucky; Guineas of West Virginia; Chestnut Ridge People of West Virginia; We-Sorts of Maryland; Nanticoke-Moors of Delaware; Turks and Brass Ankles of South Carolina; Redbones of South Carolina (not the same as Gulf States Redbones); Dead Lake People of Florida; Dominickers of Florida; and Ramapough Mountain Indians (Jackson Whites) of New York and New Jersey.

Illnesses or diseases to which Melungeon descendants have a tendency to contract include sarcoidosis, Bechets Syndrome, Josephs Disease, Mediterranean Familial Fever, thallasemia and related disorders.

To read more about these illnesses, visit the melungeon.com Web pages.

Some Web sites contain surnames of families whose members are likely to be descended from Melungeons.

Six Fingered clasp

The picture to the right is another grave marker for the people with six fingers.

So I can get Leary’s articles into this blog, I will be adding them in the following blog pages. Also, the following page after that, will add a description of the physical characteristics of the Melungeons and a link so you can read more.

Plus if you Google “Lumbee Surname Project” you will read that the Surnames of the “vanished” Roanoke colony are still being passed from generation to generation in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Hi, Lee and Myron

Charles Berry is working on smoothing our entry to the Chart Rock area, as well as working on the copper or bronze breastplate angle. The man who found the breastplate is dead and his now-elderly wife had possession of all his Indian artifacts. I think she went into an assisted living place and someone else is now in charge but the way I hear it the collection remains intact but boxed up.

I am working on that from two angles. A lady who works in a barber/beauty shop in Ash Flat knows the people involved and is willing to speak to them for us. I will see her Thursday if she is in the shop that day.

How many people may I invite to FAR? Charles Berry is a must, and so also is Steve Cargill who caused me to be able to be the one to find the DeSoto inscription.

A couple more people are going to be not too happy with me if they are not invited. I do not know whether either would be free to go along, at least all three days, but I like to keep my friends and like-minded friends (of ancient American history) happy.

Myron, the headstone I e-mailed the photo of (with the blue chalk on it) and which is pictured on the FAR blog is about six minutes from where we parked to walk in to Chart Rock. So we can go get a good look at it and probably spend no more than 40 minutes unless we just want to spend more time there.

That gravestone has a fish on it; a fish that looks sort of like a whale and which I took to mean a Christian is buried there. That inscription features something unique that you will not notice until you stand by it — something I have never seen done on a gravestone. It is a visual effect.

Also, not too far from Chart Rock is what appears to be a meteorite of several hundred pounds mostly buried in the earth. I took a sample of it to a talk on meteorites a few years ago and the geologist giving the talk said it could be a meteorite that has been there a long time and ground minerals leached into the material on its outer portion (including the sample I had). It is an interesting thing. I will inquire of the guy who took me there last time and see if he is still in charge of that property.

Looking forward to seeing everyone. —Larry

Our FAR headquarters will be at the Holiday Inn Express in Batesville. Lee, Joy, and I expect to arrive sometime in late afternoon on March 24, 2010. On Sunday Morning Lee will give me a ride to the Little Rock airport, March 28th, where I will catch an empty seat going to SFO.

I found out that the USGS maps can be downloaded FREE. I down loaded only Batesville. So far I have not looked at the map very close. I have Xeroxed most of the ancient script for America B. C. The check list helped me pick up the slack. The rest of the items appear to be on track.

I think we are on track for a good Trip to FAR.