Melungeons: The Last Lost Tribe In America
Author: Elizabeth C. Hirschman
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Release Date: November 22, 2004
Most of us probably think of America as being settled by British, Protestant colonists who fought the Indians, tamed the wilderness, and brought "democracy"-or at least a representative republic-to North America. To the contrary, Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman's research indicates the earliest settlers were of Mediterranean extraction, and of a Jewish or Muslim religious persuasion. Sometimes called "Melungeons," these early settlers were among the earliest nonnative "Americans" to live in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. For fear of discrimination-since Muslims, Jews, "Indians," and other "persons of color" were often disenfranchised and abused-the Melungeons were reticent regarding their heritage. In fact, over time, many of the Melungeons themselves "forgot" where they came from. Hence, today, the Melungeons remain the "last lost tribe in America," even to themselves. Yet, Hirschman, supported by DNA testing, genealogies, and a variety of historical documents, suggests that the Melungeons included such notable early Americans as Daniel Boone, John Sevier, Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Andrew Jackson. Once lost, but now, forgotten no more.