Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"to the extent of buying arms and ammunition and other supplies"


Peculiar Customs of Mountineers Who Are
Descendant of Portuguese Immigrants.

   HARLAN COURT HOUSE, Ky. Feb. 10.--Just across the Kentucky line In Tennessee live a peculiar people. They are known as the Malungeons. They are copper colored, with high check bones, straight noses, black hair rather coarse and straight, black eyes, and more intelligence than the ordinary mountaineers.

   Their color and their customs have caused them a great deal of trouble. They number between 200 and 400. They live on Black Water Creek, in Hancock county, and they have lived in this section for more than 100 years. The records of Hancock county show that their ancestors came to Powell's Valley as early as 1789, when they took up lands on Black Water. Tradition says that they held aloof from the white settlers and spoke a strange language which none of the pioneers understood. Some of them could speak broken English, and by this means communicated with the white merchants to the extent of buying arms and ammunition and other supplies which they could not procure in the valleys of their mountain homes.

   Before the war the Malungeons had a hard time in obtaining the right to vote and to send their children to the public schools. The white citizens declared they were negroes, and the matter was finally carried into the courts. It was developed that the ancestors of these people emigrated to America about 150 years ago from the interior of Portugal, and had spent some time In South Carolina before going to Tennessee. They declared on the witness stand that there was not a drop of negro blood in their veins, and after long and tedious litigation they were allowed to vote and to send their children to the schools....

[The Sun, New York, Saturday, February 20, 1897. Vol. LXIV.--No. 173. Pg. 6]

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