Month: November 2018

Melungeon Dawn

Noah Denton (center) Annie Mae Thacker (left) Unknown (right)

These photos are a testament to what it was to be Melungeon in Western North Carolina early in the 20th century.  In the photo above is my great great great grandfather Noah Denton on his left is his granddaughter and my great Grandmother Annie Mae Thacker. Her father was George Thacker. If we are to believe census records Noah Denton is white, his granddaughter is also white.       

George Thacker on wedding day with wife Jane Denton

This is a photo of George Thacker with Jane Denton on their wedding day in 1910.  George is listed in the census as mulatto. Later in life, George would be listed as white on the census.  In the Appalachian mountains race was not always about the color of your skin many times it was about cultural perceptions.  From all accounts Noah Denton was white. It is claimed in the family that he was Native American and my own DNA test suggests that may have been true. I have much more NA DNA than African although I do have both. It is likely George Thacker was also Native American, his father’s family had been labeled mulatto by Virginia during a period when the state labeled anyone of mixed race Native or African as mulatto. I also have Iberian DNA. Which suggests that the stories of the Melungeons having Portugeuse ancestry may have some truth to it.

       The interesting thing about this is how secretive this information was for so many years. I did not know any of this information about my ancestry until I took a DNA test.  My generation and my mother’s generation had not been informed of our heritage. It was a secret I suspect that many would have taken to their grave. That secrecy is changing. My mother’s family is beginning to embrace their heritage. They are becoming more open about who and what they are. Some of the stigma is falling away. Are we seeing a new start, a dawning of Melungeon consciousness? I will be writing more about Melungeons in the coming months as I learn more of the secrets surrounding them. It is time we find out more about these mysterious mountain people.