S.J. Arthur and Anthony L. Kirk, both of whom call Logan County home, have been doing volunteer work which has led them to international friendships and activities.
A resident of Frankfort, Ky., S.J. is the daughter of Eliza Topping Arthur and the late James Arthur. She still has a brother, James Jr., and a sister, JoAnn Farmer, who also live in Logan county.
Anthony still lives in Logan County with his wife, Robin, and children, Justin and Taylor.
Both S. J. and Toney have long had a keen interest in family stories and genealogy which is so tied to growing up in West Virginia. This interest led to them both attending the first gathering of Melungeons in Wise, Va., 10 years ago. They subsequently met and realized the local connections and same family lines.
Over the last 10 years, both have been involved in working on the board of the Melungeon Heritage Association. S.J. is the president and Toney is the secretary. The group has one annual gathering which is part reunion and part academic conference. These gatherings started in 1997 as a result or the interest raised in Melungeon heritage by the publication of a book by Brent Kennedy. Prior to the publication of this book, the heritage was often viewed by others negatively and families often hid the heritage when, in the past, being darker or different could result in the loss of education, voting or both.
Toney and S. J. each knew stories of Indian heritage in their families, but have spent the last decade learning that many of us have a much more complex heritage that goes back to the very early history of the nation.
The Melungeons, a phrase not familiar to most in West Virginia, are often referred to as Appalachia’s