Stearns KY emerges out of the Big Survey

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 22, 2017

Louis Bryant and Justus Stearns needed each other, and it’s surely no accident that their worlds finally intersected. Bryant, a bright young mining engineer, had moved into what is today McCreary County, KY at the beginning of the 1890s to consolidate mineral and land holdings acquired there by his father.

But while the Bryant family had mining expertise and raw land, they lacked the financial depth to develop the surrounding regional infrastructure they needed to grow their business. And so Louis hit the road to do a little selling. In 1893, he took a one-ton, thirty-six-cubic-foot block of bituminous coal from his family’s Worley mine to the Chicago World’s Fair.

Justus Stearns in 1885. From 'The Story of Ludington,' by Paul S. Peterson.

Justus Stearns in 1885. From ‘The Story of Ludington,’ by Paul S. Peterson.

Justus Stearns by this time had made a fortune in the lumber business from his base in Ludington, MI. But virgin timber resources in that region were becoming depleted as the upper Midwest grew in population.

And so Stearns hired field agents scattered around the country looking for business opportunities. He had expanded the already extensive holdings of Stearns Salt & Lumber Co. in the Midwest to include properties in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes, New Orleans and Florida.

Kentucky was experiencing a lumber boom in the late 1890s, and Justus Stearns heard reports of vast tracts of virgin timber in the southern Kentucky counties of Pulaski, Wayne, and Whitley and Scott County just over the border in Tennessee.

In 1900, Stearns sent Michigan surveyor William Alfred Kinne to Kentucky to secure tracts to add to his timber holdings. Al Kinne traveled extensively through Kentucky and Tennessee, meeting up finally with Louis Bryant.

The two became friends, and Bryant later became a valuable associate of the Stearns Company, teaching them a great deal about coal mining.

the Sheriffs daughter in Stearns KY early 1900sPhoto caption reads: “Stearns; the Sheriff’s Daughter, 1900 – 1915″

By 1901, Kinne had negotiated a twenty-five-year lease with Bryant that called for the construction of a railroad and the opening up of mines in the area, and gave Stearns the right to harvest the timber in the area. Kinne secured 50,000 acres in what became known as “The Big Survey,” an area that included lands from the Kentucky & Tennessee counties mentioned earlier.

On May 22, 1902, Kinne and Nashville attorney E. E. Barthell rode horses three miles north from Pine Knot to a Cincinnati Southern siding known to the railroad crews as the Gum Tree Tie Yard. Acting as agents for the Stearns Salt & Lumber Company, the two men, using a briefcase as a desk under the big black gum’s boughs, signed documents which incorporated the Stearns Lumber Co., the Stearns Coal Co., and the Kentucky & Tennessee Railroad.

The old gum tree stood next to the site where the first company store in the brand new town of Stearns, KY would soon be constructed. The Stearns Company was the sole proprietor of its headquarters town, and would govern all aspects of daily life for the residents there.

The town site, one square mile purchased from the Bryant family, was uninhabited at the time but a fairly well known place in the region. Riley Sellars had owned a farm there, where General Ambrose Burnside’s troops had camped in September 1863 on their backcountry march to take Knoxville from the Confederates.

Stearns sat on the location of the old town of Hemlock, at the crossroads of the Somerset-Jacksboro Road and the east-west road from Williamsburg to Monticello.

1907 Stearns Coal & Lumber Company officeToday’s McCreary County Museum is located in the 1907 Stearns Coal & Lumber Company office building.

In 1903, Justus Stearns sent his only son, Robert L. Stearns, to reside in the small company town that bore his name so that he might oversee all the operations in the community.

Al Kinne lived in Stearns the rest of his life and was later a Kentucky state senator. Barthell moved his practice to Chicago, but remained the company’s general counsel until his death. An in-law of Rob Stearns, he was honored by having the first company mine camp named after him.

Sources: Lore & Legend, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 3, published by J. P. Thomas, Box 248, Stearns, KY 42657
Appalachian Folkways, by John B. Rehder, JHU Press, 2004

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The Guineas of West Virginia

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 19, 2017

In American culture, if you can’t prove you’re 100% white or ‘pass’ for such, you get lumped into the minority by default.  This is a cultural bias the Chestnut Ridge People (CRP) of West Virginia have been familiar with for several hundred years now.

“There is a clan of partly-colored people in Barbour County often called Guineas, under the erroneous presumption that they are Guinea negroes,” observed WV historian Hu Maxwell in the 1890s. “They vary in color from white to black, often have blue eyes and straight hair, and they are generally industrious. Their number in Barbour is estimated at one thousand.

“They have been a puzzle to the investigator; for their origin is not generally known. They are among the earliest settlers of Barbour. Prof. W.W. Male of Grafton, West Virginia, belongs to this clan, and after a thorough investigation, says ‘They originated from an Englishman named Male who came to America at the outbreak of the Revolution. From that one man have sprung about 700 of the same name, not to speak of the half-breeds.’ Thus it would seem that the family was only half-black at the beginning, and by the inter-mixtures since, many are now almost white.”

Indeed, Barbour County Courthouse records indicate that several of the CRP petitioned the courts (successfully) to be declared legally white during the Civil War era, and they undoubtedly would not have done so if being considered ‘West Hill Indians,’ ‘Maileys,’ ‘Cecil Indians,’ ‘G. and B. Indians,’ or ‘Guinea niggers’ offered any advantage.

Chestnut Ridge People, or Guineas,  Betsy Mayle“I believe each of our people has the name Male as an ancestor,” says genealogist Joanne Johnson Smith. This is Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Mayle, of Chestnut Ridge, in 1975/06.

By 1946, local courts treated the CRP as colored, regarding them as mulattoes. William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., of the Library of Congress, had more to say of the CRP that same year in ‘Social Forces’ magazine:

“They do not associate as a rule with Negroes or whites.

“Location: Primarily centered in Barbour and Taylor counties, West Virginia. Also, small scatterd families in Grant, Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Marion, Monongahela, and Braxton counties, West Virginia. Said to have originated in Hampshire County, West Virginia. A few occur in Garrett County, Maryland. Have recently migrated to Canton, Chillicothe, Zanesville, Akron, and Sandusky in Ohio and to Detroit, Michigan. Word Guinea said to be an epithet applied to anything of foreign or unknown origin.

“Numbers: Estimated to be from 8,000 to 9,000.

“Organization: Have own schools and churches in Barbour and Taylor counties. Have an annual fair at Phillippi, West Virginia. Family names are Adams, Collins, Croston, Dalton, Dorton, Kennedy, Male (Mayle, Mahle, Mail), Minard (Miner), Newman, Norris, and Pritchard.

“Environment and Economy: Many are coal miners, hill cultivators on sub-marginal lands, truck farmers and dairy farmers, domestic servants, and in cities industrial workers. Original habitat was inaccessible hilly area on a horseshoe bend of the Tygart River, the so-called Narrows. Live in compact settlements in this area.

“Physique: Sharp and angular features characteristic. Originally a mixture of white and Indian types to which Negro has been added. Deformities of the limbs and other congenital defects.

“In-Marriage: Has been pronounced in the past. Now said to intermarry with Italians who are also called Guineas in this area.

“Religion: Mainly Free Methodists in Barbour and Taylor counties.

“Schools: Have special schools classed locally as colored. Considerable tension over attendance at white schools in Taylor County. In Barbour County two schools have been burned down due to troubles.

“Military Draft Status: In Taylor County (Grafton and vicinity) have almost uniformly gone into the white status.

“Voting and Civil Rights: Have voted since organization of the State. Now hold balance of power in Barbour County.

“Relief: Received during the Depression.

“Cultural Peculiarities: Folklore, annual fair.

“History: Claim English descent from Revolutionary ancestors. Building of Tygert River Dam in 1937 scattered them in Taylor County due to flooding of original settlements.”

Today, widespread sharing of genealogical information via the internet has helped clarify much of the mystery and ‘otherness’ surrounding groups such as the CRP. “We would like you to keep an open mind as we, the Guineas, tell you about ourselves, since we know more about our heritage than anyone else,” said Joanne Johnson Smith & Florence Kennedy Barnett in a 1997 presentation at the First Union in Wise, VA., where about one thousand people converged on the College of Wise campus to reclaim their lost heritage. Their 20 years worth of combined research on Guinea bloodlines is available here.

Sources: The History of Barbour County, by Hu Maxweoo, (Morgantown, West Virginia, 1899) pp. 510-511.
Mixed Bloods of the Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia, by William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., Journal of the Washington Academy of the Sciences, 36, no. 1 (Jan. 15, 1946), pp. 1-13.
‘Memorandum Concerning the Characteristics of the Larger Mixed-Blood Racial Islands of the Eastern United States,’ by William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., Social Forces 21/4 (May 1946): 438-477

Chestnut+Ridge+People Guineas Philippi+WV Melungeons appalachia appalachian+history appalachian+mountains+history

55 Responses

  • Jim says:

    Myth and mystery always seems to follow mixed-race people in Appalachia. The ‘Guineas’ sound much like Tennessee’s ‘Melungeons,’ even some surnames are the same. My own family, the Hatfields of southern West Virginia, refer to themselves as ‘Black Dutch,’ a term that appears to be associated with mixed-race families.

  • darla blair says:

    My mother is a Mayle; both her mother and her father were Mayles. I am married to a caucasian man. I have 5 children, they do not look black, white, or Native American but peole ask them ALL the time, are you Portugese? Arabian, Jewish, one even has ice blue eyes. They are very beuatiful .

  • pam says:

    These are my family Norris, Mayle, Kennedy and Minards I am proud to count my early relatives as family. we are not Guinea
    but American indian

  • Kevin Pritt says:

    My family lived around Normantown, WV for 200 years or more. We still have our original family farm. I come from the Moore bloodline and Dooley bloodline. Then Pritt and I can’t remember the other side.

    My grandparents came to Grafton, OH to work along with thousands of other West Virginia people from that area. So I remember many years ago I heard great grandma Dooley say something about being called a guiniea when she was a kid. My great grandpa was dark skinned and black hair blue eyes.

    I’m brown and blue but I have a father who was Polish-German, so that’s what gave me the brown instead of black. Everybody else until my mom’s and aunt’s children had black hair. My girl cousin has black, but it could just be dyed—she’s young. Anyways it was nice to see this article; it explains a lot about my heritage.

  • Gregory Phillips says:

    I hope I can find some relatives through this site. I have listed my line below.

    Samuel Norris
    Sam “Fiddler” Norris
    William B. Norris
    Joseph “Joby” Norris
    William E Norris
    Fannie Leota Norris Phillips
    Edmond L. Phillips

    Email me at

  • Ol' Doc says:

    I lived and worked in Barbour County for 12 years. I love the people on the Ridge. Many of the Elders I knew have transitioned on, now. But, I have a silly-story to share about my first arriving in West Virginia. As I young man, I wanted to get acquainted and not be aloof like a “furriner.” So, I would chit-chat and schmooze the old geezers sitting around the courthouse waiting for King Coal to make a comeback.
    When I asked one of the residents about people I’d heard of in the region called “Guineas,” and what could he tell me about them? I guess he thought he’d pull my leg. He told me “the origin of them people is a genetic mutation created by John D. Rockefeller as a source of cheap labor in all of his industries! They were a poor set of people who became ….wait for it….”Guinea pigs!” I never found out if he was serious or not…but, I do know the Ridge Peopkle are eligible for grant money for college when they identify themselves as a member of a “tri-racial isolate” group. So, shove it, John D.! lol.

  • Karie Baker says:

    Hello, I am a descendant of Sam Norris & Pretty Hair. I am just looking for more information regarding my ancestors. From what I have found Pretty Hair was a Delaware (Lenape Tribe) Indian and Sam Norris was english descent. Further information would be greatly appreciated. I enjoy the history of it all and making new connections long lost.

  • Betty l. Croston says:

    We are called Melungeon or Guineas. We have a ridge behind our teeth and a bump on the back of the head. We came from Levels, West Virginia. Each generation a dark person shows up with blue eyes, dark skin, straight black hair, very nice looking. No negro features. Interracial Appalachian, Portuguese, sub-Saharan African.

    We came from one man, Gustavus Croston, who was friends with Male. Gustavus served in the Revolutionary War. Our history, by word of mouth, was that we were Spanish or Portugese. They have a reunion each spring at Levels, West Virginia. We met a man who said that pretty hair was his great great grand mother. Pretty hair was Indian.

    We just want to find out what color Gustavus was and who he married. His best friend Male married his freed slave, which in Virginia at that time was against the law. It is a wonderful mystery and we enjoy finding out any information. Our branch went to Maryland and passed as white; another son went to Phillipi and Chestnut Ridge.

    We are proud of who we are. Betty Croston

  • Jason Male says:

    Hello…Im just trying to find more of my family “Male”. I believe it goes like this:

    Jason (ME)> John Fitzgerald Male > Darrell Belmont Male > Soloman Taylor Male > John Randolph Male > James W Male III > Wilmore Male Jr. > Wilmore Male Sr.

    Anyone studied the family line that can verify that? At least from Wilmore to Solomon Taylor?

  • Crystal Hall patterson says:

    I am a descendant of Amy Adams from Chestnut Ridge…My Grandmother married a Hall and they lived in Grafton WV.

  • Crystal Hall patterson says:

    My Father was John Homer Hall from Grafton WV and he married Beulah Barnett from Preston County, Kingwood WV. I married Norman R. Patterson, Jr. from Brownsville, Pa. We live in Baltimore Maryland, but still have our parents home in Kingwood WV.

  • Edgar says:

    Have any of these people had DNA testing done??? What was the results?? Did any have strong indication of North Africa, Spain/Portugal, or Mediterranean link ??

  • Jody says:

    I have been trying to research on Dalton/Dorton, Croston, Male,(Pretty Hair) Norris, Mayle. My grandmother was a Mayle, her mother a Croston, and so on. My bio father was a Lipscomb. I want to know what our ancestrial background is. There are to many stories and almost no facts. I have olive colored skin, my hair is black ( I suffer from Alopecia a autoimmune disease that I have passed on to my oldest daughter.) and brown eyes. My older brother has light skin, black hair and blue eyes. I have been asked on one occasion if I was mixed or mexican. My daughters, are both fair, light haired, and light eyed. My son is black haired, dark skinned and brown eyes. I have talked to my brother and we have decided to have him take the ethnic DNA. He is getting it done this month. Hopefully, this will finally solve where my ancestors are from.

  • DS says:

    What is the first name of your Croston grandmother? I am a Croston doing research on Hamphshire County WV

  • carmen says:

    My mother is a Mayle. I am a descentant of James Franklin Male and George Washington Male. They were brothers and my family branches out from them.
    I have research a lot about my family and I have read all of the post on this website. We all share a concern and pride in our ancestors. The amazing thing is how someone can put labels on a group of people and bring attention to them in such a negative way. My family are all very hard working, good looking, and loving, praying people. But by labeling them under a name or a color, makes them not so good or second class??? What’s up with that way of thinking??

    This is something that has really bothered me that someone did not stand up and say stop.

    I had one relative tell me, she was dragged out of a 9th grade classroom because they found her mother’s name fell under the Guinea names.

    Well, someone did get some things changed through the years, but a lot of my people will not talk about it because it hurt so much. They are ashamed and don’t want their kids to know. We should not be ashamed—the people that practice these terrible prejudiced ways should be ashamed. A movie should be made and it would rank right up there with ‘Roots’! If I could write movies I would do it!!!

  • Donna says:

    My mother is Dorothy Mayle of Philippi. My grandparents were Floyd and Wyonia Mayle. My heritage is rich and beautiful just as my family in Philippi and surrounding areas!! Proud to be part of this wonderfully, God made family !!!!

  • Rufus Defibaugh says:

    Believe my mother’s side originates with these people. Her family were the Barker’s. I traced it down to Edwin (or Edmund) Barker, who married a woman either named Elizabeth or Elisa (last name not given) in the Appalachian Mountain range in Tennessee. Was hoping someone had any information on the Barker’s in particular.

  • DLS says:

    I also am searching information on Gustavus Croston from Hsmpshire County WV. I need a link to son named William anyone able to help?

  • Gary Coleman says:

    For Jason Male

    John Randolph and Sarah Evelyn are my grandparents

    My mother was Arizona Male sister to Solomon Taylor Male.

    I have that information and my cousin Elanor Grubbs Paull who is the daughter of Albert Nestor Male also has much mr information than I have.

  • Madison Minard (Miner) says:

    The Minards are Indians that came from Chestnut Ridge. Back then the Chestnut Ridge people were not allowed to go into town or anywhere near it. The Chestnut Ridge people were only allowed off Chestnut Ridge once a week. That was if they were lucky! I am Madison Minard from Phillipi, West Virginia.

  • sue england says:

    my people are riddles, Norris my riddle grandma is indian she has the dark skin an ice blue eyes, cold black hair. my grandpa Norris dark skin ,cold black hair.he is indian he had to call his self black irish to get long in cumb co ky. im light skin, to medium. ice blue eyes dark brown hair.

  • I have a family tree with all these names on it. It has over 30,000 so far and is still growing. I’d love all you ‘cousins’ to come see it and if your branch isn’t on, just let me know and I’ll gladly add it. You are welcome to use any of the information on it too for your research or family knowledge.

  • GABBY CARTER says:


  • Anita Hamer says:

    Georgeanna Male/Tippie>George E Male>Solomon Sampson Male>George Washington Male>George Male>Wilmore Male II.

    I would really love to get to know more of you folks that are posting here.

    What I would like even more is if we could all compile a list of our lineage that could be freely accessed or a group for our Male surname for the exchange of information.

    I am not a bit ashamed of my heritage and am so pleased to find the diversity of my lineage.

  • Sandy Czuba says:

    Gabby Carter, I also am a descent of Henry Dalton & Eleanor Russell. I would love to share my family”s history with you. Anita, the Dalton’s were part of Chestnut Ridge and I have a Mayle in my family linage which married a Dalton. I would love to exchange information. I am on facebook, NC.

  • linda says:

    Finding Our Roots Show by Henry Lois Gates Jr. Last episode spoke about these folks who originated bya white man named Mayle and a black woman who was his slave, but he freed her to be his wife- Nancy was her name- a lady who comes from them- Alex Finley researched this dna and paperwork proof

  • Jason Male says:

    Gary Coleman — I havent checked this website in a long time. I just now saw your message. Please email me any information at

    If you email me and would like to speak on the phone as well please mention it and I can email you my phone number as well.


    Jason Male

  • Keith Stokes says:

    I am also a direct descendant of Henry Levi Dalton through his son Nimrod Dalton. My paternal grandmother (Ellen Rose Dalton Stokes) was born in 1900 in Little Hocking, Washington County, Ohio. The family later moved to Short Creek, West Virginia.

  • Faith Brown says:

    I too watched the episode of Finding Your Roots. I was shocked when I saw the wedding picture of my Great Grand Parents, Bertie Mae Norris and Charles Hunter Reynolds. My niece bought the DVD of the program and played it for my mother. Mom recognized most of the names of the Chestnut Ridge people because she grew up on the Ridge. Anyone know When the Heritage Day Picnic will be this year?

  • chris harlow says:

    I too come from solomon sampson males…. we have a have family tree consisting of over 32k people…..on facebook friend me for info christine harlow in lexington park md

  • chris harlow says:

    Solomon took his family out of Phillippi or Baurbor Co…..they migrated to Ohio and worked the mines after he refused to let our ancestors attend ” colored ” schools….my fathers DNA shows the indian the Gunieas so desire….my grandmother was a daughter of Harry Curtis male one of solomons children…my granddmother margaret married a 100 % full blooded cherokee from NC….so my fathers DNA is strong with native american markers…..maybe now with the internets help we can come home…and our blood prove the native american link so many have longed for…..many of my forefathers were tried for adultery because they could fight as whites…but could not educate their children as white……or marry ” people of color ” so they were tried for ” adultery ” and yes we were listed as ” muletto’s ” until Solomon left Phillippi I have old pictures with names of tippie, sams, and norris, davis, and males………..I have tried everything to find the tippie branch :)

  • Cynthia Males Collins says:

    I also am a Descendent of Solomon Sampson Males. Grandparents Harry Curtis Males and Margaret Gertrude Cartwright. I am so proud of my WV roots. Our is a family history rich in tradition, for which my father related to his children proudly. I also would like to know when the Heritage Day Picnic will be. Would love to connect with relatives. :)

  • jacquelinecollinslindsay says:

    Hi I’m looking for any info about my family tree that anyone can help with. My grandmother was maude mayle and she married james collins. They had 2 children Ethel and monzel. I know some of grandma’s brothers were Artennis And sherman and

    I think her mom was Catherine and dad was Isaiah mayle. Thanks for any help.

  • Roxanne Pyles says:

    I am a descendant of William Wilmore Male b.1714, and his son George Male(twice), his grt. grandchildren married each other. I also an a descendant of Henry Dalton b.1750 thru his son John Dalton. I havent been successful in finding any information on Henry’s mother, Ann Dalton. I found some data that said she might have been sent to the America’s from England as a prisoner. And that Henry was born on the ship on the journey. Anyone else got more detail?

  • Jolaine Walker says:

    I am a Mayle. My grandfather was James Harry Mayle whose parents were James Henry Mayle and Mary Barnett. My grandmother was Mary Redman Mayle whose parents were Frank Redman and Marhta Pritchard Redman. I have not been able to go back any farther than this. If anyone has more info I would appreciate it. Also, does anyone know when the Heritage Day for the Mayles is held and how I could get info on it? Thanks

  • Billie Mominey says:

    My great-grandfather was Isaiah Mayle. My grandfather was Artennis. My mother remembers Ethel and Monzel. I would be interested in talking to you!

  • Bhrenda Drakeford says:

    My mother had the blue eyes. Both her and I have the ridge in back of our teeth and the crown numb in the back of our heads. Father’s side of Indians are from New Martinsville WV

  • Sherrie didonato says:

    Looking for Dalton family. Cities I know are Morgantown, Grafton, East Canton ( oh).
    Some names are. Inus Dalton, Dewey Dalton, Dixie dalton Miller
    Any help appreciated.

  • wayne arnold says:

    My understanding was that many of these folk were descendants of Hessian soldiers, paid by the British during the Revolutionary war , but not returned to Germany/Austria thereafter. Hence, the blue eyes and oft blond hair.

  • Danielle Mayle says:

    My aunt and I are very interested in our family history. My Dad said his people were originally from Grafton WVA. All of my family lives in Canton, and Michigan now. My great grandparents were Jack, and Emma (Beanie) both Mayle, and the other set was Marcus, and Jaunita Mayle, her maiden name was Kennedy. Planning a trip for next summer. Would love to research more.

  • lee norris says:

    Karie Baker I have lots of info on Pretty Hair and Sam Norris. They are direct relatives of my family. Please e-mail me at leethehorseman@hotmail and we can trade information we have. I came across this site by accident. Thanks
    Lee Norris

  • Hello to all claiming a relation to Prettyhair NORRIS, please stand up for her husband Sam who was a halfbreed . Most never mention Sam, only Prettyhair. How does the Black get into my family? by marrying into !! My lineage comes straight from Sam and preetyhair norris as researched by the late Glenn Barnett from the Hackers Creek crew but on my fathers side comes in the Black side from Basil Norman who like The Crostons, Wilmore Male,Redmans, and more that I would like to connect with that defended our original rights by fighting in the Revolution

    Summation: Be very proud of your heritage as your names built the State and Country to which you are living and have defended.

  • Valerie Biagetti says:

    oh WOW!!! Everyone who has written on here is TRIPPING me out!!!
    My mother’s family suspected their father was always hiding something! He would go to visit his family but they never came to the house!! His family name?? MAYLE!!!
    From both of his parents: James and Dora Mayle(s) or Male(s). I have found that the spelling of the name, along with the addition or subtraction of the “S” has been a constant problem for me in tracing this family but I am still plowing forward! I can be contacted by

  • crystal hall Patterson says:

    My Grandmother was Amy Adams

  • John Mayle says:

    My great grandfather Joe Mayle came from that way.Grandpa Sidney Sr. is from father was P

  • John Mayle says:

    My grandpa was Sidney Mayle Sr…his dad was Joe Mayle…my dad was Paul Mayle,,,I am John Mayle and my son is Brandon Mayle

  • Shari Handley says:

    My husband’s mom was a Mayle, and I’ve traced his lineage back to Wilmore and the Philippi area known as “The Back End”. What a rich and fascinating heritage! His line includes Mayles, Kennedys, Pritchards, Crostons, Daltons … pretty much all of the CRP surnames. I’m really enjoying researching them all. If anyone comes up with info on the Heritage Day gathering for 2016, I’d love to know about it, too.

  • Mary Norris says:

    Hello, my name is Mary Norris, daughter of Leroy Norris and Granddaughter of William E. Norris. I am looking to find out who my family is and how we are all connected. Please feel free to contact me at

  • Louis Barnette says:

    Hello, my wife is from Grant County WV and is of light complexion and oral family tells of Native American ancestory.

    I see here that descendants migrated to Grant County WV. My Wife is from Petersburg / Grant County WV.

    My question is this… What last names are associated with Grant WV?

    Some of the sur names in her family who are of light complexion in her family tree are Hitt and Roby (Robey / Robi)

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • sheena jackson says:

    Hello I am a direct descendant of Alice Dalton daughter of Bethuel and Rachel Male would like to learn as much as I can due to us being mixed with African American and disowned and knowing nothing of this side of our family (which is my mother’s father he was a Jackson )

  • Tena says:

    I am a descendant of a Henry Dalton. I am new at this search, and stumbled upon this site. My Grandfather was Melve Dalton; his father was James (Jim) Dalton; and his father was Moses Dalton from Harts Creek WV in Lincoln (previously Logan) County. I was told our descendants came from Virginia. I traced a Henry Dalton that was a black man, a slave who fought in the Civil War.

  • Kim Mayle says:

    My last name is Mayle and none of my family has any deformaties or any limbs missing and we are not inbreds or guineas that is a BIRD omg lol what is wrong with you ppl. Indians definatly but Guineas no omg smdh

  • Tammy Story says:

    My birth father’s surname was Croston. His mother’s surname was Pritchard. His family was from the section of Preston county bordering Barbour which means they were less than half an hour from Chestnut Ridge. Using birth, death, marriage and census records I have been able to make some tenuous ties between my grandfather John Croston who lived in Newbury, Preston County and the CRP group. But I haven’t been able to find anything definitive as I can not find his birth cert.

    I am interested in genetic genealogy but have found no matches that I can identify through than at this point. I am wondering if anyone here who knows they are connected to the CRP and especially the Croston’s or Pritchard has done any testing? Or, if anyone would be interested? I could supply some kits for testing at FTDNA for a few people if it appears there is a chance of a match.

    My email is

  • Does anyone know of Maxine Kennedy or Juanita Mayle, who their parents were?

  • Pat Thompson says:

    I descend from William Turner and Jane C. Evans, through their daughter Gracie who married Truman Upole. In 1880 Wm. Turner (white, servant) & Jane C. Evans (mulatto, servant), and Jane C. three daughters, all listed as mulatto are living in Grant Co. WV with Jane’s widowed father Abraham. The EVANs line looks much like the Male/Mayles family I knew as a child living in Garrett Co. MD. My Upole grandmother told me we have “Indian blood”.

    My DNA results show I am 2% African, which I translate to black or mulatto. Am I correct?

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Her editor published her work for several years before realizing she wasn’t a man

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 18, 2017

“The clouds were blowing away from a densely instarred sky; the moon was hardly more than a crescent and dipping low in the west, but he could see the sombre outline of the opposite mountain, and the white mists that shifted in a ghostly and elusive fashion along the summit. The night was still, save for a late katydid, spared by the frost, and piping shrilly.

“He experienced a terrible shock of surprise when a sudden voice—a voice he had never heard before—cried out sharply, ‘Hello there! Help! help!’

“As he pressed tremulously forward, he beheld a sight which made him ask himself if it were possible that Alf Coggin had sent for him to join in some nefarious work which had ended in leaving a man—a stranger—bound to the old lightning-scathed tree.

“Even in the uncertain light Tom could see that he was pallid and panting, evidently exhausted in some desperate struggle: there was blood on his face, his clothes were torn, and by all odds he was the angriest man that was ever waylaid and robbed.

“‘Ter-morrer he’ll be jes’ a-swoopin’!’ thought Tom, tremulously untying the complicated knots, and listening to his threats of vengeance on the unknown robbers, ‘an’ every critter on the mounting will git a clutch from his claws.’

“And in fact, it was hardly daybreak before the constable of the district, who lived hard by in the valley, was informed of all the details of the affair, so far as known to Tom or the Traveler,—for thus the mountaineers designated him, as if he were the only one in the world.”

—from The Young Mountaineers / Short Stories, by Charles Egbert Craddock, with illustrations by Malcolm Fraser, 1897

Tennessee author Mary Noailles Murfree (1850-1922), better known as Charles Egbert Craddock, was born in Murfreesboro, TN. For fifteen years she spent her summers in the Tennessee mountains among the people of whom she writes.

“Miss Seawell might have written her stories from anywhere, but that is not true of the greatest woman writer in the South, Miss Mary Murfree,” commented Anna Leach in Literary Workers of the South (1895).

“It is her delineations of mountain character, and her descriptions of mountain scenery, that have placed her work in the place it holds. Her style is bold, full of humor, and yet as delicate as a bit of lace. To Mary Wilkins’ gift of giving exact pictures of homely life, Miss Murfree unites great power of plot and a keen wit. The little old woman who sits on the edge of a chair in one of her novels, has added stores to America’s proverbs. ‘There ain’t nothin’ so becomin’ to a fool as a shet mouth,’ has taken its place with its older kindred.”

“Her work was published by a well known Boston editor for several years before he discovered that she was not a man. Her handwriting is very heavy and black, and it was Mr. Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s joke to say, ‘I wonder if Craddock has taken in his winter supply of ink, and can let me have a serial.’

“One day a card came to Mr. Aldrich bearing the well known name in the well known writing, and the editor rushed out to greet his old contributor, expecting to see a sturdy Tennessee mountaineer. When a slight, delicate little woman arose to answer his greeting, it is said that Mr. Aldrich put his hands before his face, and simply spun around without a word, absolutely bewildered by astonishment.”

Charles Egbert Craddock“The sensation in the Atlantic office spread everywhere and gave tremendous vogue not only to the book but to the type of short story that it represented,” observed the Cambridge History of English and American Literature in retrospect. “No one had gone quite so far before: the dialect was pressed to an extreme that made it almost unintelligible; grotesque localisms in manners and point of view were made central; and all was displayed before a curtain of mountains splashed with broad colours.”

Murfree’s critical reputation has not fared well more recently. “Her fiction has been consistently criticized for its stereotyping of the mountaineer and for its overblown, highly romanticized descriptions of the landscape,” says Allison Ensor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “Almost every reader notices the wide gap between the tone and vocabulary of the narrator and the mountain dialect of her characters. Like many other local color writers, she felt it necessary to provide as narrator a cultured, sophisticated intermediary, someone like the reader she hoped to reach.”

Literary Workers of the South, by Anna Leach, Munsey’s, 1895 at
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21) VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

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They were a people called Welsh and they had crossed the Great Water

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 17, 2017

In 1170 A.D., a certain Welsh prince, Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd, sailed away from his homeland, which was filled with war and strife and battles between his brothers. Yearning to be away from the feuds and quarrels, he took his ships and headed west, seeking a better place. He returned to Wales brimming with tales of the new land he found–warm and golden and fair. His tales convinced more than a few of his fellow countrymen, and many left with him to return to this wondrous new land, far across the sea.

Dolwyddelan Castle in Gwynedd, Wales

Dolwyddelan Castle in Gwynedd, Wales; the birthplace of Madoc.

This wondrous new land is believed to be what is now Mobile Bay, Alabama. The choice of Mobile Bay as Madoc’s landfall and the starting point for his colonists is grounded in two main areas. One is the logical assumption that the ocean currents would have carried him into the Gulf of Mexico. Once there and seeking a landing site, he would have been attracted to the perfect harbor offered in Mobile Bay, as were later explorers Ponce de Leon, Alonzo de Pineda, Hernando de Soto, and Amerigo Vespucci.

The second, and more convincing reason, is a series of pre-Columbian forts built up the Alabama River, and the tradition handed down by the Cherokee Indians of the “White People” who built them. Testimony includes a letter dated 1810 from Governor John Sevier of Tennessee in response to an inquiry by Major Amos Stoddard. The letter, a copy of which is on file at the Georgia Historical Commission, recounts a 1782 conversation Sevier had with then 90-year-old Oconostota, a Cherokee, who had been the ruling chief of the Cherokee Nation for nearly sixty years. Sevier had asked the Chief about the people who had left the “fortifications” in his country.

Oconostota, Cherokee chief

Cunne Shote, also known as Oconostota, painted by Francis Parsons in 1762.

The chief told him: “they were a people called Welsh and they had crossed the Great Water.” He called their leader “Modok.” If true, this fits with the known history of 12th century Welsh Prince Madoc. He further related: “It is handed down by the Forefathers that the works had been made by the White people who had formerly inhabited the country. . .” and gave him a brief history of the “Whites.” When asked if he had ever heard what nation these Whites had belonged to, Oconostota told Sevier that he “. . .had heard his grandfather and father say they were a people called Welsh, and that they had crossed the Great Water and landed first near the mouth of the Alabama River near Mobile. . ..”

Three major forts, completely unlike any known Indian structure, were constructed along the route settlers arriving at Mobile Bay would have taken up the Alabama and Coosa rivers to the Chattanooga area. Archaeologists have testified that the forts are of pre-Columbian origin, and most agree they date several hundred years before 1492. All are believed to have been built by the same group of people within the period of a single generation, and all bear striking similarities to the ancient fortifications of Wales.

The first fort, erected on top of Lookout Mountain, near DeSoto Falls, Alabama, was found to be nearly identical in setting, layout, and method of construction, to Dolwyddelan Castle.

DeSoto Falls, AL

DeSoto Falls, Alabama.

The situation of the forts, blended with the accounts given by the Indians of the area, has led to a plausible reconstruction of the trail of Madoc’s colonists. The settlers would have traveled up the Alabama River and secured themselves at the Lookout Mountain site, which took months, maybe even years to complete. It is presumed the hostility of the Indians forced them to move on up the Coosa River, where the next stronghold was established at Fort Mountain, Georgia. Situated atop a 3,000 foot mountain, this structure had a main defensive wall 855 feet long, and appears to be more hastily constructed than the previous fort.

Having retreated from Fort Mountain, the settlers then built a series of minor fortifications in the Chatanooga area, before moving north to the forks of the Duck River (near what is now Manchester, Tennessee), and their final fortress, Old Stone Fort. Formed by high bluffs and twenty-foot walls of stone, Old Stone Fort’s fifty acres was also protected by a moat twelve hundred feet long. Like the other two major defense works, Old Stone Fort exhibits engineering proficiency well beyond the skills of the Indians.

A section of the ancient wall at Fort Mountain, GA.

The trail of the settlers becomes more speculative with the desertion of Old Stone Fort. Chief Oconostota, in relating his tribal history, tells of the war that had existed for years between the White people who had built the forts and the Cherokee. Eventually a treaty was reached in which the Whites agreed to leave the area and never return. According to Oconostota, the Whites followed the Tennessee River down to the Ohio, up the Ohio to the Missouri, then up the Missouri “. . .for a great distance. . .but they are no more White people; they are now all become Indians….”

Chief Oconostota’s testimony has been very thoroughly followed up by later historians, and several points have been corroborated with other reports of “bearded Indians” and their trek upriver in retreat from hostile natives. Throughout the years “. . .there was abundant evidence. . .that travelers and administrators had met Indians who not only claimed ancestry with the Welsh, but spoke a language remarkably like it.”

It must be assumed that the remaining settlers were eventually assimilated by Indians, and that by the early eighteenth century very few traces of their Welsh ancestry remained.

source: “A Consideration: Was America Discovered In 1170 by Prince Madoc Ab Owain Gwynedd Of Wales?” by Jayne Wanner, Barstow Community College, Barstow, CA, 1999
online at

6 Responses

  • Joan says:

    Dave, I have long been fascinated by the pre-Columbian forts — tho I am not sure that I had heard the theory that they were built by the Welsh. Me thinks, I may want to do some reading here. Thanks for the nudge.

  • Jack Glasser says:

    Am reading a very interesting novel by author Pat Winter
    Bantam Books February 1990

    Thank you for info on the web.

    Keep up the search for positive proof of Madoc discovery.

  • Yes, various groups have come and gone, stayed and married, lived and died, but Cherokee Empire remains in various ways. Many of the newcomers to Indian America did not understand the native world view. This continues to this day. Madoc is not well known in history, but his story set the stage for Columbus. Let it be written also that Poland and Danish arrrivals in the Maritimes of America before Columbs are also real. Poland helped “discover” America much like Madoc. cherokee

  • Fascinating writeup, thanks Dave. I’m a natural skeptic, but that includes the “official” history that Columbus discovered America also!

  • The Spanyards also had forts around the South. Are some of these forts in the Conquest era of Appalachia Spanish? Yes. There was also a Spanish town near King Powhatan’s ruling town in present day Virginia.

  • huw Williams says:

    I remember my father telling me stories of Prince Madoc and Welsh Indians before we emigrated from North Wales to Canada many decades ago. All these years I thought the legends a little far fetched, but now hearing of the Welsh breast plates and stone fortresses much like those found in North Wales makes me want to learn much more. Is it possible Madoc saw the future plight of Cymru (Wales) as the English began to lust for Wales as well? As he was a great seafarer it would make sense for him to set sail away from a Wales that had been at war for centuries with no end in sight. It’s time for historians to revisit both Madoc and Irish Saint Brendan’s voyages as well.

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No stop-leak for the dripping radiator? Dump in a handful of cornmeal!

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 16, 2017

Relatives of the gone-away families often visited if they owned a car or could get a ride with someone who did have one. Susan’s son Henry Hampton (by a former marriage) and wife Mint lived with their children in the Carcassonne community.

Henry worked in the mines and owned a car of what age, make or model I am not sure. I do know there were no late models in the community until many years later. We did the maintenance on our old models, tied them together with baling wire, cleaned the spark plugs and breaker points regularly, took up the slack in the adjustable tie rod ends so the driver need not give the steering wheel more than a full turn on the curves.

Before starting on a trip the trunk or back seat of the car should contain a water pail, hand tire pump, jack, tube patches and glue, three quarts of motor oil, a gas can, assorted tools, wrenches, hammers and screwdrivers. In the absence of stop-leak for the dripping radiator, dump in a handful of cornmeal which is sure to stop the leak and maybe the whole circulation system.

The motor gets hot. Can’t hardly see the road for the steam boiling up. “You hear that noise out there? What is it? Sounds like a loose rod to me. I just tightened them all up last week. Guess I had better pull off to the side of the road, drop the oil pan and take out a few shims, it won’t take long and we will save the oil to put back in when we get done.”

cars on Pine Mountain in Letcher County KYOriginal caption reads: Letcher County, Kentucky. A road scene near foot of Pine Mountain.

Flat tires, motor overhauls and other repairs were common sights along our few winding and narrow highways of those days. Today’s motorist would probably take a dim view of such modes of travel. But to those of us who owned one of these ancient vehicles, the door was opened to the outer world.

We could go to Whitesburg or Hazard and return the same day or even a hundred or more miles to visit gone-away relatives or friends. I have made trips to Tennessee and Ohio in trucks at that time that I would now not trust to get to Blackey and back – a distance of five miles each way.

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s the route by car from Letcher County to Pulaski County was from Whitesburg across Pine Mountain and down the Cumberland River to Pineville on 119 which was a graveled road at that time. Highway 25 was blacktopped and led to the Bluegrass region.

On the outskirts of Pineville the Hamptons pulled into a small filling station for gas from the hand operated pump. As Henry pulled away from the station with a full tank of 17 cent-per-gallon gas, Mint leaned from the open car window and above the roar of the motor issued this invitation to the startled attendant, “Come and go with us, we are going to Pulaski County to see Henry’s ma.”

In the 1920’s Uncle Tom Dixon, a brother of grandfather Wilburn, owned the part of Dixon Mountain which was across the road and opposite the cemetery.

In summertime anyone traveling along the rough and rutted dirt road through Dixon Mountain would most always come upon Uncle Tom seated by the roadside, leaning back against a huge chestnut tree, a big pile of shavings was around his feet – the result of much whittling as he eagerly awaited the next traveler. Uncle Tom was a great storyteller and philosopher and a firm believer in an unhurried lifestyle. A theory that I fully support.

source: Eastern Kentucky Mountain Memories, by Clifton Caudill, published by s.n., 1996; this excerpt from article in ‘The Mountain Eagle,’ at

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