Sunday, August 2, 2009

The family Bunch

I researched the Bunch family of South Georgia and Florida for my Dad's cousin Hubert Horne about 4 years ago. His father's middle name was Bunch and his great grandmother was named Eleanor Marzenah Bunch.

Hubert had heard that she was a full blood Cherokee Indian and he wanted to know if this was true. I spent several months researching her family. I determined she may have had some Indian ancestor in her line but she was not full blooded and had more Caucasian blood than anything else.

While researching the family name I came across several references to the Bunch family name. The most interesting part was the Bunch family living in East Tennessee. As far as I can tell they aren't related to Hubert's family.

The East Tennessee Bunch family are part of the Melungeons. I never mentioned this to Hubert because although he wanted to find out about an Indian connection in his family line, a story about African relatives would not have gone over well.

The more I read about the Melungeons the more fascinating the story becomes. They are generally known as a mixed race group of people who live in East Tennessee and Western Virginia.

Some say they are descendants of early Portuguese explorers, some same they are the original Native Americans others say they came from slaves who were granted their freedom before the American Revolution.

They were called Mulatto on early census records but today are generally considered Caucasian. They were the subject of a organized hunt by Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics in the 1940s to weed out "mongrels" who were trying to pass as white.

There are a couple genealogist who are doing DNA testing on the family surnames so maybe the mystery will be solved soon as to where they came from.

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