Overnight Open Thread

Guanxi882/18/2010 7:51:06 am PST

re: #358 MandyManners

Where’d they get the blue eyes? Scots-Irish?

Gotta be. Striking-looking people, and only a very limited idea of how they came to be:

Melungeons are defined as having racially mixed ancestry; thus, they do not exhibit characteristics that can be classified incontrovertibly as being of a single racial phenotype. Most modern-day descendants of Appalachian families traditionally regarded as Melungeon are generally Caucasian in appearance, often, though not always, with dark hair and eyes, and a swarthy or olive complexion. Descriptions of Melungeons vary widely from observer to observer, from “Middle Eastern” to “Native American” to “light-skinned African American.”

A major factor in the wide variation in descriptions is the lack of a clear consensus on exactly who should be included under the term Melungeon. Almost every author on this subject gives a slightly different list of Melungeon-associated surnames, but the British surnames Collins and Gibson appear most frequently; genealogist Pat Elder calls them “core” surnames. Many researchers also include Bowling, Bunch, Goins, Goodman, Heard, Minor, Mise, Mullins, Wise, and several others (although not all families with these surnames are Melungeon). Not all of these families were necessarily of the same racial background, and each line must be examined individually. Ultimately, the answer to the question “Who or what are Melungeons?” depends largely on which families are included under that designation.