The Melungeon Heritage Association formed over 11 years ago to research and celebrate not only Melungeon Heritage, but also the rich diversity of heritage and culture that is Appalachia. During the 11 years, several books and films have been completed addressing various aspects of the group sometimes referred to as the ‘Mysterious Melungeons’. Depending upon time and place the Melungeon people, as well as many other mixed ancestry groups, faced discrimination and often hid their heritage even from their own families.
Many of the older families in the Logan area have oral traditions of Indian ancestry and thus, may find the stories of the Melungeons very similar. Some will also find their own family names mentioned in the documents. Logan county families of all ethnicities and races could find stories and connections to the Melungeons in these many books as the Melungeons are linked, not only to Indian ancestry, but also to early explorers to this continent. Oral history claims links Melungeons to the Native Americans, Lost Colony people as well as groups like the Portuguese sailors, Spanish explorers, Ottoman Turks, African and Romani peoples as well as Northern European and Celts.
The MHA, in conjunction with the Logan County Genealogical Society, is holding their annual Union this year at Chief Logan Conference Center the last week end of June. There will be a variety of presenters exploring Melungeon heritage as well as other mixed ancestry groups and local heritage. There will also be entertainment. All are welcome to attend; there is a small registration fee.
S.J. Arthur, President of MHA, describes these Unions as ‘part academic research and part family reunion.’ Anthony L. ‘Toney’ Kirk, vice president of MHA and local genealogist, explains that MHA chose Logan as this year’s site as research shows many Melungeon linked families settled in this area. The additional interest is the diversity that Logan County has proudly established over the years as so many families of widely diverse backgrounds found a place here in these mountains to call home and raise families. Some of those groups will be asked to bring their unique stories to this year’s Union so we may all celebrate the diversity of heritage and culture that is Appalachia.
For further information on the Melungeons, please go the library and check out the books upon this subject. Many of the authors will be presenting at this year’s Union. For further information on the event go to www.melungeon.org or contact the Logan County Genealogical Society now housed at the local library.