Wednesday, March 25, 2015

'A Typical Malungeon'

If anyone has done research on the people who were called 'Melungins', they have probably come across this 'sketch'. shown on the left.

The caption reads "A Typical Malungeon' , Drawn from a photograph taken by Will Allen Dromgoole". To me this sketch is more of a caricature, than an accurate depiction of a 'typical malungeon'

I was never comfortable with this sketch, to me, it didn't fit the time period that Ms. Dromgoole was around Hancock County, TN. 

I've never seen the photograph this 'sketch' was based on, and I have looked. I also don't know who made this sketch, Was it drawn by Ms. Dromgoole or by a third party? I'm surprised there is no name to go along with it. So where is the original photo ?

Ms. Dromgoole was no friend to these mountain people. She wrote a series of articles about them, published in the Nashville Daily American (1890) and the Boston Arena (1891).  Her derogatory comments about them, while based more on hearsay than fact, expressed the biases about mountain people typical of her society and the period in which she was writing. Shame on her and her 'society'.

Below are two photographs that were taken in the same time frame of Ms. Dromgoole's trip to Newman Ridge. Both photographs are of descendents of Vardy Collins. I'm not sure if these are 'typical' malungins or not. Exactly what does a 'typical malungeon' look like ?

The photograph to the left is of Batey Collins and family. Mr. Collins was the son of  Alfred Collins (son of Vardy Collins and Peggy Gibson) and Elizabeth Betsy Mullins (daughter of James Mullins, also known as "Irish Jim", or "Harelip Jim" and Clara Martin, some think Clara Martin could have been a Collins or Gibson).

Batey Collins married Cynthia Bunch/Collins/Goins? (thats a long story)

To the left, Howard Collins and daughter Docia Collins, Mr. Collins is the son of Simeon Collins (son of Vardy Collins and Peggy Gibson) and Frances 'Frankie' Bunch (daughter of old Benjamin Bunch and Mary Dotson Thanks Libby).
Howard married Jane Mullins (daughter of John Mullins, son of Irish James Mullins and Clara Martin) and Mahalia Collins (daughter of  Solomon Collins and Gincie Goins) .

I think it's safe to say that these 2 old photographs give you a good idea what the people of Hancock County, TN, who were called Melungeons, looked like.

I see no resemblance to the Dromgoole caricature, none what so ever. Why some 'researchers' use this sketch as an image of what them old timers looked like, is beyond me. I would think using old photos is a better way to go. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Ms. Dromgooles sketch is worth a short sentence, if that. "Typical Malungeon", I think not.

That's my 2 cents....

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