Portingals, Portuguese, Melungeons, Creoles, Moors, Mulattoes and the Banjo


You just never know where a banjo is going to take you.

George Gibson wrote a very interesting article about his own Gibson genealogy research, spurred by his enduring interest in banjos and banjo-playing mountain men.

One of the areas where George’s ancestors were found is in the area near Cumberland Gap, just slightly east, on the Virginia/Tennessee border.  This area is where the Melungeons were first documented in 1813 at the Stony Creek Baptist Church in Russell County, Virginia.  Nearby is Big Stone Gap.

According to George, a song named “Big Stone Gap,” was popular around southwest Virginia and east Kentucky 75 to 100 years ago. Dr. Josiah Combs said the song was one
of many that came from African Americans after about 1880.   George plays the song in the video below.

Eventually, George’s search would lead him to Chesapeake Virginia and back to Africa, historically speaking.

These adventures led him to research various mixed race communities and people including the Melungeons, the Moors and other tri-racial isolates.   But George’s story is much more lively than my musings and quite well written, so take a look….


Hat tip to Don for this information.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Creoles, Melungeon, Moors, Portuguese. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Portingals, Portuguese, Melungeons, Creoles, Moors, Mulattoes and the Banjo

  1. Scott Sewell says:

    Reblogged this on Life On Mundane Lane and commented:
    hey man don’t leave us florida Dominickers outta the line up

  2. Anna Lima says:

    I just came across your post and that of Mr Gibson from 2002 where he wrote at the end that he concluded that the origins of the melungeons might have been from the areas off west Africa. I very much agree! My family is from Cape Verde- at that time was the seat of the Portuguese slave trade. My family has been there for hundreds of years but results of my DNA tests show that I am of “sub Saharan African and Eastern European” ancestry- just like the melungeons! Very Interesting!

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