The Melungeon Race
Harriman Man Recalls a Family
of Twenty-Nine Members
To The Editor of The
February 16, 1941
I have read the article
of Melungeon Ferry Pilot" printed in the Daily Times of Feb.
10. It was very interesting to me. My knowledge of the
Melungeon race is limited. They did come from Phoenicia, when
Carthage fell to the Romans, and settled in North Carolina. I
once looked up this history when I wrote an article for the Times about
the Melungeons along the Foothills of Walden’s Ridge. They are
inhabitants of Rhea, Roane, Anderson, Campbell and a few in Knox
counties. The live along the foot of Walden’s Ridge on the waters
of he the Clinch and Powell Rivers and their tributaries.
The families in this part of the country are known as the Goins and
The family of Cochrans has a
little history that should be in Believe It Or Not. Uncle Dave
and Aunt Polly Cochran lived on the south side of Walden’s Ridge, near
Harriman. Their family consisted of twenty-seven children, twenty-four
still living,. When Aunt Polly was 70 years old, she walked
four miles six days in the week and did washing for people in Oakdale.,
and walked back home at night. I once came by Oakdale with some
men from Waynesburg, Pa., and saw Aunt Polly over the wash-tub.
There were six of us. I said to her, “ Aunt Polly, how many
children have you?” She said to me, “Twenty seven, and twenty
four still living.” One of the men said, “My God, what a
family.” And I said, “She is a Melungeon.”
There is an iron ore vein
along the foot of Walden’s Ridge, through Rhea, Roane, Anderson and
Campbell Counties, and many people believe that the copper color of the
Melungeons comes from living along near this iron ore. They are
as a rule, honest, good workers, but never attained much property,
lived by hard work and are reliable in all their promises. There
are the Goins, Cochrans, Johnsons, Bazzles, and some other families
whose names I do not now recall. They originally came to this
country from North Carolina, so I am told by the old residents. I
have known them and while now and then are in this country, mixed with
the Indians and Negroes, they are classed with the Negro race.
But I am sure the facts stated are true from actual investigation and
my knowledge of the people.
John H. Hatfield.
Melungeon Race " Chattanooga Times March 5, 1941 - John M.