Tri-Cities TN/VA: Overcast, 39.2 °F
Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, and Vardy Community Historical Society Museum, Vardy, TN
For over two centuries, the mysterious people known as Melungeons have been a part of Appalachian folklore. They’ve also presented a puzzle for researchers and families with connections to the group. “Claiming Kin: Mapping Melungeons and Related Groups” is the theme of the 14th annual gathering of the Melungeon Heritage Association. MHA, researchers, and interested individuals will meet on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee and in Vardy, Tennessee on June 23 through 26.
Since the early 19th century, the mysterious multi-ethnic people known as Melungeons have been the subject of folklore, speculation, and occasional scientific inquiry in the southern Appalachian region. In some places, Melungeons faced stigma,both legal and social, because they did not fit into America’s accepted racial categories. Historical accounts of the Melungeons maintain that they claimed Portuguese and Indian ancestry. Melungeon family tree branches connect with the wide array of ethnicgroups in early colonial America, including Native American tribes, colonists from all parts of Europe, free people of color, and African slaves.
MHA has expanded their gathering to three days to allow an entire day for celebrating and exploring the historic Melungeon community of Vardy, in Hancock County, Tennessee, a traditional stronghold of Melungeon families. About an hour away is the scenic and historic campus of LMU, about 55 miles north of Knoxville in the Cumberland Gap, just across the state line from Middlesboro, Kentucky. The public is invited to join in this celebration; registration is $40 for the entire conference or $15 for one day. Pre-registration is available by contacting Phyllis and Jim Morefield at 540-984-9756. Walk-in registration is also welcome on any day of the conference.
This year MHA will have available inexpensive dining and limited on-campus housing for attendees. Preregistration is required by June 7 for housing and/or dining. Meal tickets are available with or without lodging on campus but must be ordered by June 10.