Atlanta Constitution
March 15, 1891



The Malungeons

Will Allen Dromgoole in the March Arena, gives an entertaining account of a people called "Malungeons" a remnant of whom remains in the Tennessee mountains.  Whether the description is a true one we are not able to say, for the Malungeons are strangers to us.

They are supposed by some to be of the Moorish blood, by others to be a hybrid of Indians and negroes, and by others to be of Portuguese extraction.  Their racial distinction is evident from the fact that they live apart from the mountaineers and are to al intents and purposes Ishmaelites.  They are located on Newman's Ridge in Hancock county and the following description of them is given in  The Arena article;


"In appearance they bear a striking resemblance to the Cherokees, and they are believed by the people round about to be a kind of half-breed Indian.

Their complexion is a reddish brown, totally unlike the mulatto. The men are very tall and straight, with small sharp eyes, high cheek bones, and straight black hair, worn rather long. The women are small, below the average height, coal black hair and eyes, high cheek bones, and the same red-brown complexion. The hands of the Malungeon women are quite shapely and pretty. Also their feet, despite the fact that they travel the sharp mountain trails barefoot, are short and shapely. Theor features are wholly unlike those of the negro, except in cases where the two races have cohabited, as is sometimes the fact. These instances can be readily detected, as can those of cohabitation with the mountaineer; for the pure Malungeons present a characteristic and individual appearance. On the Ridge proper, one finds only the Pure Malungeons; it is in the unsavory limits of Black Water swamp and on Big Sycamore Creek, lying at the foot of the Ridge between it and Powell’s Mountain, that the mixed races dwell.

In Western and Middle Tennessee the Malungeons are forgotten long ago. And indeed, so nearly complete has been the extinction of the race that in but few counties of Eastern Tennessee is it known. In Hancock you may hear them and see them almost the instant your cross into the county line. There they are distinguished as the Ridgemanites or “pure Malungeons.” Those among whom the white or negro blood has entered are called the Black Waters.” The Ridge is admirably adapted to the purpose of wildcat distilling, being crossed by but one road and crowned with jungles of  chinquapin , cedar and wahoo.

Of very recent years the dogs of the law have proved too sharp-eyed and bold even for the lawless Malungeons, so that such of the furnace fires as have not been extinguished are built underground.

They are a great nuisance to the people of the county seat, where, on any public day, and especially on election days, they may be seen squatted about the streets, great strapping men, or little brown women baking themselves in the sun like mud figures set to dry.

Of very recent years the dogs of the law have proved too sharp-eyed and bold even for the lawless Malungeons, so that such of the furnace fires as have not been extinguished are built underground.

They are a great nuisance to the people of the county seat, where, on any public day, and especially on election days, they may be seen squatted about the streets, great strapping men, or little brown women baking themselves in the sun like mud figures set to dry.

The first five paragraphs appear to be missing from this article -- Original article here



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