Sections in this issue:
1) “The Origin of Name Melungeon, From Northern European People, or ElsewheWider World Views?;
2) Dear Cousins.
All Gowen Manuscript Pages and Newsletters: https://goyengoinggowengoyneandgone.com/gowen-research-foundation-pages-and-info/
Gowen Research Foundation
Volume 3 No. 9
1) “The Origin of Name Melungeon, From Northern European People, or ElsewheWider World Views?
There is no proof of the origin of the name Melungeon. Yet, most
authorities support the assumed term French Melange, meaning ‘mixture’,
as the most valid speculated origin. These same speculators’ demand
documented ‘paper’ proof from those who consider that a wider world view
may contribute to its origin. One hundred ten years after the first
speculation about this name appeared, it is time to seriously consider
this assumed origin is not the whole truth. There is a distinct
possibility that disenfranchised peoples came to America, by accident or
design who may have originated the name long before they got here. And,
long before it would be picked up and used by the Northern Europeans to
derogatorily describe their culturally ‘different’ neighbors in early
The defining of this name, and the origins of the early Tennessee
Melungeons was lost in history, because of racial identification
problems. Many nations in the old world had, and still hold caste systems
that result in discrimination. In Colonial America the black slave issue
would accelerate us into a caste system based on the color of skin. White
or black were the only choices. White Northern Europeans were assigned
the ‘superior’ class. All other ‘off white’ people, or anyone viewed to
be so, by the officials assigning the color, was officially Negro. Other
heritages in the World, who could not fit into this mold, would not be
considered a significant gene pool in the colonies. This situation was
bound to result in some lost ethnic identity.
So, these swarthy skinned Melungeons came to the hills of Tennessee from
the Carolinas and old Virginia without written history. They were slowly
deprived of any attempts to define themselves, right or wrong. Their
white neighbors, and later scholar scientists, would accept the racial
social mores of their society, and define them all to fit this mold.
Historians often accept oral history as a valid component helping to
establishing ethnic or cultural heritage among some peoples of the World,
of which we know little about. It would not be so with the early
Tennessee Melungeons, Croatans (now Lumbee Indians of North Carolina),
Redbones of South Carolina, Moors of Delmarva Peninsula, Delaware. Or,
later groups of any genes mix other than Northern European white.
The unscientific methods used by Northern European whites to classify
their racially ‘different’ neighbors were well expressed by Dr. Brewton
Berry, a mid 20th century Philosophy professor at Ohio State. “The
attitudes of whites toward Mestizos is a jumble of ignorance,
indifference, prejudices, suspicion, pity, fear, bewilderment, and above
all contradiction. Do we want this kind of scientific judgment to be the
judge of their names and their heritage? ” It would be in the 1990’s
before this is answered with determination. Berry’s fifteen plus years of
study of what he termed, the ‘Mestizos or racial orphans’ along the
southeastern coast, was extensive for his time. It resulted in a depth of
understanding achieved by few others. After summarizing a few of the
established speculated name origins, he stated, “truth is, no one has the
faintest idea where the name Melungeon came from.” Berry wrote several
articles from 1946 to the writing of his 1963 book, “Almost White’,
Publishers Collier Macmillian. Ldt., London.
Jack H. Goins of Rogersville, Tennessee, found what may be the first
reference to the name in print. The 1813 Minutes of the Stoney Creek
Primitive Baptist Church at Ft. Blackmore, Virginia. Page 37 contains a
reference to the ‘Melungins’ in their membership. It was spelled as it is
often pronounced. To judge how you believe the term was used by the
‘Melungin’ members, see the copy in the Palmer Room, Kingsport, Tennessee
The next printed article reference appears in footnotes, as “The
Imprudent Melungeon from Washington County,” The Whig Newspaper,
Jonesborough, Tennessee, Oct. 7, 1840 by William Barlow, Editor. I have
not seen the original copy spelling.
An internet copy of the March 1849, An article,” From Littell’s Living
Age #254-31, 1849 ” shows the title as,”The Melungens”
The first known reference to the French word melange was mentioned by
Dr. Swan Burnett. He read his, “Notes On The Melungeons,” before the
Society of American Anthropologists, Feb. 5, 1889, and published in, Oct.
1889, Vol. 11, pp 347-349, “American Anthropologist Magazine.” Burnett
grew up hearing about the Hawkins (later Hancock) Co., Tennessee,
Melungeons. He became a medical doctor with a side interest in
anthropology. “He was assisted in this limited study by Dr. J. M. Pierce
of Hawkins Co., Tennessee and Dr. Gurley of the Smithsonian Institute.
These doctor’s observations were the first scientific notes I know of to
be penned by any professionals.
He wrote, “I trust my imperfect notes may cause a study of the
Melungeons by some one more competent than I. I do not know their origins
or the origin of their foreign sounding name. I have never seen the word
written, nor do I know the precise way of spelling it. The first thought
that would come to one on hearing it would be that it was a corruption of
the French word ‘melange-mixed’. The current belief was that they were a
mixture of white, Indian, and Negro. On what data that opinion was based
I have never been able to determine, but the very word Melungeon would
seem to indicate the idea of a mixed people in the minds of those who
first gave them the name. They resented the appellation name Melungeon as
given them by common consent by the whites, and proudly called themselves
Portuguese.” Some of Burnett’s speculations, and factual statements,
would be taken somewhat out of context by some later scholars to
gradually become accepted ‘fact.’
The next scholar was James Mooney, an anthropologist. He was a
specialist in Siouian Indian culture with the Bureau of Ethnology,
Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. The Bureau was formed in 1879 to
study the American aborigines and their language. Their two volume
publication, “Hodges Hand Book of American Indians North of Mexico” was
published in 1907. Mooney’s interest in the mixed bloods was sparked by
personal letters from Charles James McDonald Furman of Privateer
Township, Sumter Co., South Carolina. A collection of letters and
articles he wrote are in, “The Furman Collection, Manuscript Room, South
Caroliniana Library, USC, Columbia, South Carolina.
McDonald Furman was descended from Furman family education and
religious icons in South Carolina. In the 1880’s and 1890’s he
unsuccessfully tried to get officials in his state to do a scientific
study of his Redbone neighbors. His life time friendship and interest in
the Redbones, and Catawba Indian remnants in his neighborhood made him an
authority on them. James Mooney and other officials recognized his vast
South Carolina historical knowledge. Furman called the Redbones a
‘peculiar’ race separate from the Indian, Negro, or whites. He insisted
their true racial name was Redbone, not ‘old issues’ or late freed men as
their white neighbors called them. Redbone was not a derogatory name at
that time, though it has been generally accepted as a derogatory term
given them by their white neighbors. It would become so derogatory that
some descendants of these same few families would eventually migrate to
North Carolina and become known as the Smiling Indians. A term derived
from the surname Smiling. Redbone is not mentioned in, “The Smiling
Indians Study by Wesley White Jr.” (His papers in Box 92 Smithsonian
Institution National Anthropological Archives Center, Study of Man.”
James Mooney’s entry in the Smithsonian’s Hand Book describes the
Melungeons under the Negro and Indian title,( page 52 Vol II).
“Melungeons of Hancock Co, Tennessee, formerly of North Carolina are said
to be “a mixture of white, Indian and Negro.” His noted source “Am
Anthrop,” p 347, 1889, is from Burnett’s Notes. Mooney adds, “The
Redbones of South Carolina and Croatans of North Carolina seem to be the
same mixture.” Under the Croatan Indian title, p 365, Vol I, of The
Handbook, Mooney’s entry suggests, “the Croatan, Redbones, Delaware
Moors, Melungeons are of similar origin.” And, says, “the name Melungeon
is (probably from melange-mixed) or Portuguese.” This is also taken from
Webster Dictionaries and other major dictionaries list a description of
the Melungeon name and the people as accurate as the knowledge they had
at a given time. They often show confusion on the origins of both. Mostly
saying,”origin unknown, from French Melange.” This helped enforced
‘melange’ as the most accepted name origin.
As later scholars or writers picked up on this first assumption, some
would add, “the French gave them the name.” If there is a documented
source for that, I have not seen it. The French passed through much of
colonial America and Canada, leaving no other trace of the term melange
for other mixed blood populations. Melungeon has never been pronounced as
‘ lang” but as ” lunj’ sound. The Melungeons are a melange – mixture, and
rightly called so. But, was it the ‘only’ origin of the name we should
consider non mythical or exotic?
The next major evaluations of the Melungeons were the infamously
unscientific, yet often quoted writings of Miss Will Allen Droomgoole.
She used the spelling Malungeon in her only two articles. (“The
Malungeons”, Vol. 3 pp. 471-479 March 1891 and “The Malungeon Tree and
It’s Four Branches,” June 1891, 745-751, Boston MA.) She makes the first
reference I have seen to calling themselves Malungeons. Droomgoole, March
1891: ”When John Sevier attempted to organize a colony of dark skinned
reddish brown complected people supposed to be of Moorish descent who
called themselves Melungeons and claimed to be Portuguese, in Eastern
Tennessee.” This is often rejected as, it could never happen, since as
long as memory the people hated the name Melungeon. A Major Droomgoole
served with John Sevier. Was he an ancestor of Will Allen who told her
A reference to others outside early Tennessee calling themselves
‘Melungeans’ is found in the revised 1907 edition of the 1888 booklet,
“Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony.” It was written by North Carolina
State Senator, Hamilton McMillian, who was instrumental in passing the
1885 law giving a nameless tribe of Indians the name Croatan Indians.
See Chapter VI, Summary of the tradition of the Croatan Indians, p 41
for the quote: “Formerly these Indians called themselves “Melungeans,”
and some of their old people still adhere to that name.” The only
explanation given by a recent writer is that being a mixed race, the
early French colonists coming in contact with them called them Melange,
which means mixed and that the descendants of the Melange were called
Melan-geans or Melungeans, as these Indians pronounced it.” The ‘recent
writer’ may have been James Mooney’s 1907 quotes in “Hodges Hand Book of
American Indians North of Mexico.”
McMillian testified under oath in the, “North Carolina, Superior Court
Case, of Goins Families vs. the Board of Trustees Indian School Pembroke,
NC.” (March Term, 1915, State Court Records) The Goins Redbone families
had to prove they were Indian not Negro. Court questions to McMillian
regarding the Croatan Indians whom the school was formed for in 1885
included, “do these people here call themselves Croatans?” Answer: “No
sir they call themselves Malungeans.” The testimony of one of the Redbone
Indians, also under oath said, “his mothers side were Indian his fathers
side Malungeans.” Why would these people in 1915 pick up this so called
derogatory name supposedly applied only to a small group in Appalachia?
McMillian knew many of the Croatans since 1885. In 1915 they were no
longer calling themselves Croatan, as it had become the derogatory ‘Cro’.
In 1911 their leaders changed their name to “Indians of Robeson County.”
Shortly before the 1915 court case they were asking for the name
“Cherokee Indians of Robeson County.” (“The Lumbee Indians, An Annotated
Bibliography with Chronology and Index,” by Glen Ellen Starr, 1994). Was
Malungeans an old term dug up from memories past by some older ones to
briefly redefine their lost heritages? Had it been passed from neighbors
who had migrated years before to Appalachia, who may have used it before
it became a hated term to them? The ‘Malungeans’ name would not be
recognized by modern Lumbee historians as ever being used by their
There is a reference to ‘Lunjins’ in early Arkansas. Little seems to be
known of it’s origin there.
Attempts to identify their heritage were made by lawsuits, by social
scientist scholars, as well as by the curiosity of journalists of their
day. The intrigue surrounding the lack of proof positive identity would
result in many articles surfacing over the decades. Many were honest
attempts to identify them by the standards of their decade. Bonnie Ball’s
1969 “The Melungeons,” revised 1992, and Jean Patterson Bible’s 1974,
“The Melungeons Yesterday and Today,” mention varied theories for the
reader to consider. Both books are in print by, Over Mountain Press,
Johnson City Tennessee, P.O. Box 1216, 37605. And, Dogwood Press, Ph 409-
579-2184, HC 53 Box 345 Hemphill, Texas 75948 Jean Bible, pp 11-12, mentions the reported Melongo tribe, and the Melungo/Melango Portuguese word meaning shipmate or companion. Until the 1990’s this origin term has often been scoffed at. Greek melan meaning dark or black was mentioned. Bible also suggests that many early writers
used the spelling Malungeon. Melas spelling may also be used in Greek.
In 1990, Gowen Research Foundation founder Arlee Gowen, started a
renewed interest that seemed to develop every decade or two. In 1992,
Melungeon descendent, Dr. N. Brent Kennedy came into the public scene to
join this interest. His abilities encouraged more interest than in any
previous decade. The questions Dr. Brewton Berry posed several decades
ago, would be answered with determination. Scholars and researchers
willing to look past the narrow scope of the nationalities known to have
been in the early colonies, joined with Dr. Kennedy to take a wider look
for unanswered questions. What was happening in the World that could have
brought dark skinned peoples from the Middle East, Mediterranean,
Southern Europe to the colonies by accident or design?
Kennedy started by following the long held oral claim of Portuguese
ancestry. He called the Portuguese embassy and asked if they had heard
of Melungeons or the Afro Portuguese word Melungo/Malungo. He was told,
it is pronounced Melunzhawn in Portuguese, a common word the early
Arab/Berbers and some others used to describe themselves as white people
of Portugal. Portuguese diplomat Louis de Sousa added to Kennedy’s
research saying, “West Africans used the word Mulango to refer to white
people. They would mean people from Portugal, as Portuguese were the
first white people they saw.” It was never an approved Portuguese word.
The term was used in many nationalities with various spellings, but
similar pronunciation. This included the Portuguese, Berber, Arabic,
Turkish, West Africa, and among the Spanish/Moors. It developed into
meaning shipmates to these disenfranchised people. Some were captured, or
of the lower classes sent from their homelands to battle or to colonize
other lands. Mulungo is seen in Spanish folk stories according to Eloy
Gallegoes, Spanish historian.
Dr. James Guills author of the book, “Azores Islands, A History,” 1993,
told me that, the Portuguese word “Mulungo’s for shipmate was used by all
the families sent to the Azores. And, to all other places they went to
colonize. All the people on board the ships sent to the Azores were
Malungos and would identity themselves as such to anyone one they might
meet. Or, to anyone they might encounter later in their new location.”
It was suggested to Kennedy that the sea travel of the Ottoman Turks
should be looked at. They certainly conscripted a variety of
nationalities into their vast Empire. People moving throughout the world
in the 15th-18th centuries would be revisited. He learned from Turkish
scholars, the term ‘Melun can’ among the Turkish Levant Ottoman soldiers
was pronounced the same as Melunjun. Meaning lost or cursed soul. Arabic
Melun jinn meant cursed spirit. Melungeon, with various spellings and
similar sound, was used by the Turks, Moors, Arabs, and Portuguese. Was
Melungeon perhaps used by others who considered themselves
disenfranchised ethnic mixed peoples of ‘fringe’ tribes from the
Caribbean, West Indies or elsewhere? Perhaps some sent to colonize, to
battle, or as marauding lost traders, never to return to their home
lands. Mulungo / Melunzhawn / Melun can / Melunjinn / Melungeons were all
terms for disenfranchised people. It is very likely none were ever
considered proper words in their respective countries, just as Melungeon
was not a legitimate ethnic term our country.
Linguistics specialists say, written language is difficult to define.
Words can sound similar in various language with different and similar
meanings. This may slow the modern day scholar’s linguistics findings.
Yet, the similarity of the meaning of this word is found in various
Middle East, Mediterranean, or Southern European languages. They all mean
the same, disenfranchised people. What an interesting coincidence!
Dr. Burnett, in 1889, mentioned assumptions and speculations regarding
the name origin. Through the generations many people would gradually
assume them to be almost fact. No basis for truth has surfaced in over
one hundred years for the French ‘melange- mixture’ origin. No other
words are proven that it could be corrupted from. We now have some
factual early world events surrounding the foreign word Melungeon /
‘Melun can / Melunshawn / etc. The term Melungeon was also used by people
outside of Appalachia whose tentacles join each other in some
similarities. Continued scholarly studies may reveal new meaning for our
disenfranchised Melungeons. Is a lost key to the heritage of the
Melungeons to be found in this definite world view of their name?
By Evelyn McKinley Orr,
Source: GC-Charlton Co. Ga Queries Forum
Subject: James Gowen
2) Dear Cousins.
Surname: Gowen, Christy
I am searching for information on James Gowen. He is listed on the 1900
census as being the (adopted son) of Thomas Chrestie (Christy). This may
have been my father, as they had the same birth date and my Grand-fathers
name was Thomas Albert Christy. Please provide any information that anyone
has to help me solve this mystery. If this was my Dad, he never mentioned
that he was adopted, and this information could change the direction that
my ancestor search would turn. If this information is correct,I may still
have some living relations that I am not aware of. Thanking everyone in
The Family History Society of Arizona will host an Annual
Seminar on October 27 and 28, 2000. Guest speaker will be
Kellee Blake, Director, National Archives, Mid-Atlantic
Region. The seminar will be held at Arizona State University
Memorial Union. For information, see FHSA website
I am trying to do research on my paternal family. My Father’s Mother’s
maiden name was Goen. She was a daughter of Charles Henry Goens from
Jefferson County, W V/Va.
He supposedly was a son of Lawson Goens and Sallie Hart Goens. Any
information you have on this family will be greatly appreciated. Thank.
28 October 2000. St. Louis Genealogical Society fall one-day
Guest Speaker Series seminar: Immigration and Naturalization
with featured speaker John Philip Colletta, Ph.D., will be held
on Saturday, 28 Oct 2000 8:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at Creve
Coeur Country Club, 988 E. Rue de la Banque, Creve Coeur,
Missouri 63141. Registration limited to 300 participants. Fees
for registration and lunch are $30 (members); $35 (non-members).
Details at: http://www.rootsweb.com/~mostlogs/stgstspkr.htm
I wrote to the gentlemen, whose name you gave me. So far, I did not hear back from him.
Since we have no idea of prices of doing such a thing, we have delayed.
Question: There are two grandsons of William Zachariah Goings born 1854 Ark, son of Pleasant L. Goins/Goings. There getting up there in age. If I asked them to give me a hair sample (I assume root and all) and perhaps fingernail clippings and maybe even a blood sample, could I keep these in a regular small plastic bag from the grocery store until such time we get to this point?
Both of them are borderline diabetics and have test on a regular basis. Would I be “nutty” sounding to ask for such?
Shirley A. Goings-Lindsey
28 October 2000. HOUSTON GENEALOGICAL FORUM FALL SEMINAR with
featured speaker Michael Jon Neill, M.S. Topics will be Clues
Contained in Probate Records, Post-Death Court Records Other
than Probate, Searching and Making Effective Use of Probate
Records, and Where Do I Go from Here? Registration fee for
members is $25 or with lunch $32; for non-members $27 or with
lunch $34. Make checks payable to Houston Genealogical Forum
and mail to Houston Genealogical Forum, P. O. Box 271466,
Houston, TX 77277-1466
3-5 November 2000. AFRICAN-AMERICAN LEGACY SYMPOSIUM, “Viewing
the Past Through Different Lenses: The African-American Legacy
in the Lower Brazos Valley,” sponsored by the Texas Historical
Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Varner-Hogg
Plantation State Historical Park, will be held at the Lake
Jackson Civic Center in Lake Jackson, Brazoria County, Texas.
The fee for the three-day symposium is $20, and the three
workshops on oral history, genealogy, and cemetery research
are $5 each. For more information, visit The Texas Parks and
Wildlife Web site: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/lenses/index.htm
or contact the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historical Park,
P. O. Box 696, West Columbia, Texas 77486 or e-mail
email@example.com or telephone 979-345-4656.
10-11 November 2000. FLORIDA STATE GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY (FSGS)
24th ANNUAL CONFERENCE will be held in Jacksonville, Florida at
the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel. Speakers will be Paula Stuart
Warren and Jim Warren; Beth Gay; Ann Bergelt; Ann Osisek;
Rhonda McClure; Florida Pioneer Descendants Committee; and
Florida State Archives Staff. For a registration brochure,
contact A. Staley, P. O. Box 441364, Jacksonville, FL 32222;
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, or
firstname.lastname@example.org; or go to http://www.rootsweb.com/~flsgs/
NOTE: The above information produced by the Gowen Research Foundation (GRF), and parts of the “Gowen Manuscript” they worked on producing. It has tons of information – much of it is correct, but be careful, some of it is not correct – so check their sources and logic. I’ve copied some of their information in the past researching my own family, only to find out there were some clear mistakes. So be sure to check the information to verify if it is right before citing the source and believing the person who researched it before was 100% correct. Most of the information I found there seems to be correct, but some is not.
Their website is: Internet: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~gowenrf
There does not seem to be anyone “manning the ship” at the Gowen Research Foundation, or Gowen Manuscript site any longer, and there is no way to contact anyone about any errors. The pages themselves don’t have a mechanism to leave a note for others to see any “new information” that you may have that shows when you find info that shows something is wrong, or when something has been verified.
Feel free to leave messages about any new information found, or errors in these pages, or information that has been verified that those who wrote these pages may not have known about.