There’s something mysterious about the people found living throughout the Appalachians. Who are they? Where did they come from? No one knows for sure and theories are a dime-a-dozen. Meet the Melungeons.
-In 1690 French traders stumbled upon an unknown settlement deep in the heart of the mountains. They had dark olive skin but had European features and lived in log cabins. They believed they found a colony of Moors.
-No other mention has been found of this group until 1784. John Sevier came across this group and when asked, they told him they were of Portuguese descent. Due to their dark skin, he didn’t believe them and concluded they were Moors also.
-By the 1800s, this group had spread out through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. They were greatly shunned due to their strange appearance and customs. Mothers would actually scare their children by telling them tales about the “dark people” from the mountain.
-The origins of this group are still disputed. Some say they came from pirates moving up and down the east coast, others say they’re Native American, descendants of The Lost Colony of Roanoke, shipwrecked Portuguese sailors, lost Phoenician sailors, and some even claim they are one of the tribes of Israel.
-In 1999, Dr. Brent Kennedy found evidence that suggested they are, in fact, some of the earliest settlers here in The Old World. He believes them to be Ottoman Turks left here by Sir Francis Drake after he captured them from the Spanish.
-Their name could come from the word Melunn-Jinn which means “cursed soul abandoned by God” in Arabic.