Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Melungeon Myth"

Janet Crain has posted to both rootsweb and to the 'historical' Melungeon website about the "Melungeon Myth." I am posting this to you all and it will be on my website shortly.

You will also find some research notes on the promising inclusion of the CROATS amongst the Melungeons and the possible connection to Colonial Williamsburg/Jamestown below the following article.

My own personal opinion is that more research needs to be done and that Janet has failed to meet the requirements to prove her proposal.

Janet wrote:

"A persistant rumor has spread all over the Internet that Melungeons descend from the some 300 to 600 Turks and other nationalities said to have been left on Roanoke Island in 1586 by Sir Francis Drake. In truth, there is NO evidence there were any left, much less several hundred."

Brent Kennedy had a THEORY. He never called it a fact. BUT, Brent said he had FOUND such evidence. I have not seen it and Brent is no longer able to reply to posts such as these. And there is NO 'evidence/proof' that they were not left.

Janet wrote:
"Drake was returning home from the sacking of Cartagena when he decided to visit Roanoke and dispose of some of the freed prisoners and Maroons he had acquired during his adventures. He was carrying a human cargo of several hundred. He is said by Ivor Noel Hume in "Virginia Adventures" to have highly inflated the numbers."

I know that Hume became chief archeologist of Colonial Williamsburg in 1957, and has subsequently become the director of the Williamsburg Department of Archeology.

But what I need to know is HOW did Hume KNOW this? What source did he give for this information, what data he has he found in his work or perhaps was it just his OPINION? I would want to respect that opinion, but I need more information to do so.

You said:
"This voyage is of great interest to Melungeon researchers because this voyage in 1586 is the basis of the Turkish connection first started by Brent Kennedy's book; Melungeons; an Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing. It is, in fact, the keystone of the Turkish Connection Theory. Remove it and the rest crumbles. That is what I propose to do."

I am glad you called it a THEORY. If you have not written MORE than what I have read here your proposal has failed. You are basing YOUR OPINION on something from one man perhaps two, as far as I can see and you list no other sources of data to support your proposal. What on site research have you done? And no I haven't done any either, other than visiting there.

History tells us that MOST of what you continued to write in this article is true.

And we do know that the Turks, 'known to have been with Drake, were apparently better safeguarded. They were valuable as trade for English prisoners languishing in Ottoman prisons. Some 100 Turks were, in fact, ransomed to their homeland.'

You said: "So, just who might have gone ashore before the storm hit? Many people have a hard time visualizing the scene at Roanoke."

I have been there and done that and while it may have been "laborious offloading of men and supplies to shore boats and threading through the one pass, Fernando Pass, and the treacherous shoals and currents made worse at times by Northwestern winds blowing directly into the Bay," that is NOT enough to stop some of those folks from 'offloading.' We read what the conditions were like. And I know that with those storms, I personally would have found some way to go ashore, supplies or no, rather than to take my chance of going down. Just a personal opinion here.

You wrote: "I am saying this to lay to rest the idea of a huge number of the passengers dis-embarquing and perhaps being caught off guard by the storms and staying behind. Hume and David Beers Quinn are the authorities on this period and both say there were no Turks left. Hume says no one else, Quinn, at most a very few."

First I do not know of ANYONE who has said that there were HUGE NUMBERS disembarking and Quinn's 'very few' would have been enough to leave quite a few genes behind.

You asked:
"Left with no supplies on the Outer Banks what would they have found to eat? If the Indians had not killed them, they would have starved."

In situations of starvation we have plenty of evidence that they well MIGHT have eaten each other! I personally do NOT believe that happened, but my supposition is just as valid as yours that they would have starved or been killed.

AND re the following statement:
"It should be noted that the Native Americans communicated by a"grapevine" so efficient that Indians in Canada knew of happenings in the Virginias. No mention of any dumped off passengers was ever made."

HOW do you know this? There was no written Native American language at that time!

"Additionally, there was plenty of room for these passengers to sail with Drake. Hundreds had died in the battles in Florida, from fevers, and in the hurricane. Drake was returning with more ships than he left with, having captured many. And they would have furnished badly needed labor to sail these ships back to England."

Yes, they MIGHT have but you do not have any PROOF of this statement.

etc..... " it is highly unlikely Drake would have taken such actions."

In your OPINION.

Ivor Noel Hume says:

"Thus the hurricane of June 1586 may have ripped away the first page from the history of blacks in English America."

PLEASE note Hume's use of the word MAY - Hume did not say this is EXACTLY what happened because he did not have any data to support this other than his opinion, which I do respect but EACH of us is capable of error.

You wrote:
"A cruel and terrible fate for these forgotten people that historians of the time did not consider important enough to even record their fate."

And yes, indeed, for SOME of them this was likely a terrible fate.. But the fact that these people were UNIMPORTANT, and their fate wasn't recorded, leads me to believe there is still more left to be discovered, whether it be records or DNA or archaeological artifacts. All research is NOT done and your proposal has FAILED to meet the proof needed that would make your OPINION a true fact.

I appreciate theories. They help me think. I have many theories. It is the FACTS that are important. I keep trying to gather facts.

Continue scrolling down for the information on the CROATS and the Melungeons.
Love and health in family ties,