Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 20:56:28 -0400


Subject: Melungeons

The only recent article on Melungeons that I'm aware of is one by Glenn

Gilbert, published a few years ago in a collection of conference

papers--NWAVE? ADS? I don't have my copy handy; perhaps Glenn is on

line and can give us the citation. In that article, Glenn refers to

the tri-racial community in Maryland as "Wesorts," one of a number of

labels given to mixed White-Indian-Negro families in the eastern U.S.

over the past 200 years or more: "WINs" is one such term, Melungeons,

Guineas, Brass Ankles, Croatans, Moors, Red Bones, and Carmel

[Caramel?] Indians are a few others. The mix of history and legend is

long and complex, with early publications dating back at least to the

1920s. More recent studies were done by Brewton Berry in the '50s and

'60s; see _Almost White_ (NY: Macmillan, 1963). An M.A. thesis was

done in 1952, on "The Guineas of West Virginia," by John Burnell at

Ohio State. Athens County and surrounding southern Ohio counties have

a large population of descendants of the early "WINs" (about 2000,

according to the last census counting such distinctions), but the old

family names are found east to Maryland and the Carolinas and west at

least as far as southern Indiana and Illinois. (Are Walt Wolfram's

informants on Okracoke Island part of this same community of families?)

The name "Melungeon" (to return to Allan's question!) is, like

"Guinea," of uncertain origin; since one of the first mixed families

was formed by an Englishman who married the daughter of a Haitian slave

and a Cherokee Indian, the term may have come from the resulting

"melange." The dialect used today, as Glenn Gilbert points out, is

largely indistinguishable from the dominant variety of each local area;

in Athens County, for example, it is the "Southeast Ohio Appalachian"

variant of South Midland.

Beverly Flanigan

Ohio University