The Road Not Taken
While it has been reported for almost twenty years the word Melungen was first found in the Stony Creek Church records the fact is the only record that has been discovered to date is a transcription. Many a researcher has went down the wrong road because of a bad transcription, what looks like an *e* here could be a *c* and a blot on the paper could make Mclaglin/Mclaughlin look like Melungen or a variety of other M words found in the Russell/Scott County records at that time.
If the Collins and Gibsons who had attended the church for thirteen years being kicked out on a regular basis yet had never been referred to as Negroes, Indians, mulatto etc., why, in 1813 did they suddenly become Melungins? Furthermore if the word was used it clearly does not indicate who they Melungens were or where they went. They may have been the Portuguese settlers, later called Redbones and Lumbee, coming over the mountains from the Pee Dee River, just as Judge Lewis Shepherd proved in court.
No matter how many people have seen this *original*, or swear to the credibility of those who have, the fact remains the word is a transcription and as such is a huge problem. Jack Goins and Penny Ferguson were and are very well aware this is a problem. In 2004 when disussing on the Melungeon List Tim Hashaw and Paul Heinegg's 'bad transcription' of the Graweere/Geweaan case Penny pointed out we could not make a big deal out of it because we had the same problem with the Stony Creek Minutes.
The Melungeon Historical Society has promised to bring us acutal, factual documented research, yet they write with authority;
"First Use of the word Melungeon
The earliest known written use of the word "Melungeon" is in an 1813 Scott County, Virginia Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church record"
Not that it may have been, but it was. Without the 1813 record it leaves the first known written use of the word in 1840 by Parson Brownlow and he was speaking of one man in Washington D.C., not a group of people on Newman's Ridge. The next known written word was in 1848 and it does talk about the Melungeons living on Newman's Ridge, however there are at least two other settlements in Tennesse at that time, so the question is, ''Who were first called Melungeons''?
In 1874 Hamilton County, the Bolton Court Case was represented by Judge Shepherd Lewis. Another HUGE problem for the Melungeon Historical Society and Jack Goins because the problem is, his Melungeon client did not disperse from Newman/Ridge Blackwater area, he didn't help build Fort Blackmore, and he didn't come from Virginia but South Carolina, and his name wasn't Gibson, Collins, etc., which is in conflict with Jarvis' Melungeons.
"This court case changed my view on the originator of the word Melungeons as beginning on Newman Ridge per Jarvis. This testimony in South Carolina and 1874 was *before Dromgoole* and appears from this case the word Melungeon may have been widely known during this period."
"This case changed some of our arguments, such as "they were not called or known as Melungeons in other places where they migrated" and in Hamilton County a Justice of the Peace, said they were called Malungeon. If they were from Hawkins/Hancock this means they did retain the name Melungeon, or Malungeon, or they brought it with them. This being a sworn, under oath, court record makes it much more reliable record , in fact there were two witnesses who said the Bolton, Shoemake, Perkins, Menley, Goins etc, were called Malungeons."
"The bottom line is there are no neighbors in Hancock County pointing to any family and saying they are called Malungeon. It is hard to believe in the heart of Malungeon county there is not one record and YES it is a problem."