Saturday, June 7, 2014

Jump Start...Pine Knots...Changing Direction

Jump Start
I got my 'Jump Start' in 1999 when my first cousin Juanita Lawson nee Christy, mailed me a few old family photos and genealogy notes from my first cousins once removed, Ralph and Dewey Collins Jr's. research, done in the Pre-Internet days. They never got past our families Pre-Kentucky era, only getting as far back as David Collins and Mary (Polly) Collins nee Dale. Never the less, these notes and names/dates opened a door for my family research.
A photo of my uncle Noel Collins (left) and his cousin Ralph Collins, standing on a bridge in Lewis County. Kentucky, near Garrison, date unknown, but probably in the early 1940's......

Lucky for me, when I started on my path to find my Collins family history, Google had just dropped it’s Beta label, and now was a full fledged search engine. This was a great help in my ability to do online research. It’s still a 'tool' I use to this day.

My first exiting find was my third Great-grandfather, David Collins listed on the 1870 Johnson Co. Ky U.S. Census as 'Indian', as well as all my other kin. Actually this was no a surprise to me, as I had grown up hearing our Collins' 'were once Indians'.

Then things got a little confusing, in 1880 on the same Counties census records, all my kin are listed as 'Mulatto's'. I also found out my Collins' line was associated with the people called Melungeons of East Tennessee, Salyersville Indians, The Brown People of Magoffin County and the Carmel Indians of Highland County, Ohio.
I have no reason to believe my folks ever heard of these 'nicknames' or self identified as such. I eventually found out what this was all about, I will discuss all that in a future post.

Pine Knots

I ran across an interesting blog post , written by Blogger Betty Cloer Wallace, "Hillbilly stereotypes: picking up pine knots, going to war".

I agree with her assessment 100 %.

She states "Why can we not pick up our pine knots and go to war against this blatant, insidious destruction of our culture? It will not take care of itself, and no one else is going to do it for us."

"It becomes increasingly harder to identify real native mountaineers, and within a few more generations our real culture, like that of the Melungeons, may fade into oblivion long before the stereotypes disappear. Our centuries-old physical characteristics will be gone, along with our language, values, customs, ethics, and morals; and that is why it is important for writers and storytellers and videographers to work overtime now to record our rapidly vanishing culture, to record who we are."

I’m not sure I would separate the 'Melungeon Culture' from 'Appalachian Culture', maybe a sub-culture.

She is so right about 'outsiders' (from the German word Ausländer) rewriting both the history of Appalachian culture and it’s sub-cultured mixed blood groups.

Changing Direction

My late friend Reuben Snake was known to say :

"If we don’t change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed."
Reuben was a 'defender' of both his people and their culture, and was/is a great inspiration to those who knew him.

As for this Collins, I’m picken' up some pine knots, and changing my direction.........

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