Thomas Collins, Lost Melungeon Roots

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2021-09-01 00:44Z by Steven

Thomas Collins, Lost Melungeon Roots

Alicia M. Prater, Ph.D.

The Goins’, a Melungeon family in Graysville, Tennessee, in the 1920s. Source

Thomas Collins was born about 1785, presumably in Ashe, North Carolina. He was a Melungeon and noted as “Free Colored Person” (FCP) on the 1820 and 1830 U.S. censuses. Thomas married Nancy Williams, who was also denoted as a FCP, around 1800. They moved with their grown children to Perry Co., Kentucky, from Ashe, North Carolina, about 1835. Thomas was then denoted as “Free White Person” on the 1840 census, and the family has been White ever since.

Melungeons: The “free colored people” of Appalachia

The word “Melungeon” started as a racial slur but came to denote the insular communities of darker skinned Baptists, Portuguese, African, Native American, and possibly Romani or Jewish settlers in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina before the Revolutionary War. Today, it is considered to refer to a tri-racial isolate from the Southeastern United States

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