Laura Lu, Lay Leader of Lutherans

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 25, 2017

I am an average woman of the United States, a married women with two children and an income of—well, I’m not quite sure what it is, but I know it is not enough to live on as we ought to live. But, small as it is, our church has been trying to get me to budget (horrid word, isn’t it?). We have a person called by a disagreeable name, Stewardship Secretary, going around and giving lectures on how we ought to spend our money. It’s easy for her to talk about budgeting. She gets her money paid regularly, while I have to get mine in dribs, just as I can beg, scold, and wheedle it out of my husband.

I’m very economical, I can tell you that. I don’t keep account of every penny I spend. In the first place, you understand, we must have a roof over our heads, and rents are simply awful. It’s even worse if you try to own your own home and keep up insurance, repairs, and taxes and pay the interest on the money you borrowed to buy the house with. I cannot tell you offhand what we do pay for rent—sometimes more and sometimes less.

Then, there is food. We must have three meals a day, and you know how men are about food. I always say that none of my family shall ever be reported for being undernourished, with delicatessen shops so close. I can always send one of the children over at the last minute for anything I want. It’s hard to say exactly how much we spend on food—sometimes more and sometimes less—but I’m sure you can form a good idea from what I’ve told you as to just what we do spend.

Laura Lu Scherer CopenhaverAnd clothes! I’m a good manager, and I never expect to be a back number when it comes to styles. Cut off for clothes just about what most people spend, but remember that mighty few women get the good results I do for the money I put into clothes.

We spend practically nothing on amusements—nothing worth mentioning. The only thing we do is go to the movies, unless you’d call our trips in our car amusement. I think trips of that sort are a real necessity.

I am sure I give all the unaccounted-for part to the Church. The money goes somewhere, and I always give the children a penny or a nickel apiece for Sunday School—whenever we get up in time to start them off. You look as if you thought I ought to give more! Well, charity begins at home, I think.

—excerpt from ‘Short Pagaents for the Sunday School,’ by Laura Scherer Copenhaver, Doubleday, Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1929

Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (1868-1940) wrote fiction, poetry, and dozens of church pageants, many in collaboration with her younger sister, Katharine Killinger Scherer Cronk. One of Copenhaver’s poems, “Heralds of Christ,” became a well-known hymn.

Copenhaver taught at Marion Junior College in Smyth County, VA and assumed positions of leadership in the Lutheran church and on the Marion social scene. Her father, Dr. John Jacob Scherer Jr., had served as pastor of Marion’s Lutheran church before moving on to the First English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Richmond, presidency of the state synod, and a place on the Inner Missions Board of the national church.

At the 1922 meeting of the Women’s Missionary Society of the United Lutheran Church, Copenhaver presented an address titled “Mountain Folk in the South” which spurred the organization to create a mission school near the lumbering community of Konnarock.

The Konnarock Training School aimed “to tram the mountain children into true Christian womanhood and manhood,” and provided elementary-level academic and religious education for Smyth County children who did not have access to other public schools.

At the Smyth County Centennial on May 27, 1932, members of Marion College, county high schools, and local citizens presented a historical play written by Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver. Miss Smyth County, Eleanor Fairman, spun the wheel of time and scenes from local history were acted out.

sources: The human tradition in the New South, by James C. Klotter

Smyth County, by Kimberly Barr Byrd, Debra J. Williams

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The bootleg capital of Ohio

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 24, 2017

New Straitsville, OH was considered the Bootleg Capital of Ohio during the Depression. Its population of enterprising ex-coalminers concealed dozens of illegal moonshine stills in the area’s hollows and abandoned mineshafts, selling it to a nation desperate for a stiff drink.

Today, New Straitsville’s bootlegging tradition is honored with an annual Memorial Day weekend Moonshine Festival, one of those celebrations designed to attract customers and promote the community. Randy McNutt, while researching “Ghosts: Ohio’s Haunted Landscapes, Lost Arts, and Forgotten Places,” arrived in New Straitsville just in time to experience the Festival.

Unidentified saloon in New Straitsville, OH. No date.

From his book:

On an empty lot near the business district, an older man named Jim Thompson demonstrated a still. The black contraption wheezed and moaned, and Thompson wiped his wrinkled forehead and adjusted a couple of metal pipes. He said, “When my daughter was born, the doctor asked me, ‘Jim, what’ll I put on this birth certificate?’ I told him ‘bootlegger’ was good enough for me.”

Matthews Café is the most well-known establishment in town. Until 1933, it served moonshine at the bar. The bartender always asked, “Do you want imported or Straitsville Special?” Most of the other small towns in the area brewed their own, too, but New Straitsville’s reputation as the bootlegging capital of Ohio was unsurpassed.

Thompson said the miners turned to making liquor in the little towns of Perry County. He said the moonshiners never filled their barrels to the top because they were afraid that rats would fall in. “Rats loved moonshine,” he said. “They liked to sit on barrel rims and dip their paws into the stuff. If it’d leak onto the floor, the rats’d come out and start lickin’ the mash. At first, they was scared of us, and they’d run off. The next time we came back, they’d just sit there, lickin’. We could pick ‘em up and that didn’t even bother ‘em. They didn’t even know where they was.”

State liquor agents raided the hills every few months, but the moonshiners usually heard of their activity and hid the brew. Thompson was much more concerned about the federals.

Sandra Mitchell-Quinn, former OHGenWeb state coordinator, says “this article was found folded up in the bible of one of my ancestor grandmothers. Original caption reads: “State Liquor Agent C.J. Gerard pauses in the ‘doorway’ of the pig house which hid the entrance to the Buchtel distillery, which was raided on Friday. The bootleg plant was beneath the hillside, which can be seen back of the pig house.” Courtesy OHGenWeb.

Sandra Mitchell-Quinn, former OHGenWeb state coordinator, says “this article was found folded up in the bible of one of my ancestor grandmothers. Original caption reads: “State Liquor Agent C.J. Gerard pauses in the ‘doorway’ of the pig house which hid the entrance to the Buchtel distillery, which was raided on Friday. The bootleg plant was beneath the hillside, which can be seen back of the pig house.” Courtesy OHGenWeb.

“Henry Spencer got caught deliverin’ whiskey down in Nelsonville, and he made a deal with a fed named Bush,” Thompson said. “If Bush would let him go, Spencer promised to show where to find four other guys who were brewin’ liquor. Spencer, that dirty son-of-a-gun, was workin’ with us. Well, late one night we saw a car comin’ but we figured it was Spencer comin’ down to check on his mash. We didn’t pay much attention.

“Come six o’clock the next mornin’, the feds come to my door. We had hid our kegs under the chicken coop, see, and they found ‘em and poured ‘em out-three ten-gallon kegs of it. They kept the fourth one. Old Henry Spencer sure was somethin’–told on his own brother and brother-in-law and lost a barrel of his own mash just to save his skin.”

sources:  Ghosts: Ohio’s Haunted Landscapes, Lost Arts, and Forgotten Places, by Randy McNutt, Orange Frazer Press, Wilmington OH, 1996


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He jumped on the bed, held his wife down and shot her through the head

Posted by Dave Tabler | May 23, 2017

State’s evidence portion of ‘Beck vs. State of Georgia,’ before Judge Estes, Rabun Superior Court, September Term 1885

In this partial court transcript, Eugene W. Beck is indicted for the murder of his wife, Ella Beck. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. He was convicted for life at the state penitentiary, where he later died of blood poisoning while working in the coal mines as a convict in May, 1890.

On October 28, 1881, Eugene Beck went to the jail, and while there talked to the town marshal about some hogs belonging to one Wall that kept getting into his lot. He stated also that the dogs kept getting into his kitchen and asked the marshal to lend him his pistol, saying that he wanted to shoot some of the dogs.

Smith & Wesson 1880 .44 Russian Revolver.

Smith & Wesson 1880 .44 Russian Revolver. The court transcript never indicates what kind of pistol Beck used, but this Smith & Wesson was in common use at the time and could well have been the type of pistol available to Beck.

The marshal said he did not want to lend his pistol, that he might need it. Beck stated that the marshal could lend it to him for that night, and this was done.

The marshal testified that about a week or ten days (or perhaps two or three weeks or a month) before the shooting, there had been dogs around Beck’s place; that Beck borrowed his pistol to shoot them; that the marshal heard a shot in the yard, and Beck said he had shot a dog; and that he returned the pistol the next day; that when Beck borrowed the pistol the last time the marshal thought him sober; that he had been drinking “right smart” for a month or so—kept pretty tight all the time—that is, drinking every day; that he did not see Beck drink but knew he was drinking; that there never was anything particularly wrong about him that the witness could see, and he did not know anything to the contrary of Beck’s transacting his business as any other business man would; that he talked pretty sensibly about the Wall difficulty, his conversation being connected, as witness thought; that when he talked about dogs his conversation was connected and sensible; that the witness saw nothing irrational about him and thought him perfectly sane; that he was getting considerably sobered up and all right and the witness would not have loaned him the pistol if he had not thought so; and that the impression on the witness’ mind when Beck was talking about the Wall difficulty was that he believed the witness had some charge against him, but such was not the case witness being after other parties concerned in it.

That night, Beck sat in his wife’s room and talked to her for some two hours about his mother’s having shot at a lady; nothing else was talked of. Miss Bailey, the sister of Mrs. Beck, was then in the parlor talking to a young man. Beck’s wife told him to go to bed. He said no, that he was going to the jail to see the marshal. He then sat down, pulled off his boots, lay on the bed “and went to sleep, or pretended to be asleep; he was snoring; his coat was off,” (as stated by a servant in the house who was a witness.)

Shortly after he retired, he waked up and said, “I wish you would not do so much talking,” and then went to sleep again, “or looked like he was asleep.” Mrs. Beck made no reply but worked on for a while; then undressed, said her prayers and went to bed.

In about ten or fifteen minutes after Mrs. Beck retired, Miss Bailey came in. She went to bed with her sister, the defendant being on her bed. She said, “Brother Gene (the defendant) is not asleep; he is looking at me.”

About fifteen or twenty minutes afterwards, Beck got up, put on his coat and boots, walked to the lamp, which was near the bed where the two women were, and turned it down. Mrs. Beck said, “Please, Eugene, turn up the lamp.” He turned the lamp so high, “it looked like the house was afire;” then jumped on the bed, held his wife down and shot her through the head, killing her.

He then turned to shoot the servant who had lain down, but had not gone to sleep, and who ran out of the door, but the pistol snapped. He then held the cover with his left hand; and with his right shot Miss Bailey, her head being under the cover, the ball entering her back and coming out at her breast, causing death.

He then ran out of the door jumped off the piazza and went to the jail. He ran into the room where the marshal was and said, “Captain, they have run in on me, and I have shot two of them.”

The marshal told Beck to give him the pistol, which the latter did. He said, “Don’t let them hurt me.” Hearing continued screaming, the marshal went out and learned that Beck had killed his wife and sister in law. Returning, he said to Beck, “Gene, you have killed your wife and sister-in-law!”

Beck replied, “Well, I have killed the best friend I have got.” In about fifteen minutes the sheriff came and locked him up. He did not resist. He had a little half pint bottle about half full of whiskey.

The servant testified that the defendant talked sensibly the night of the shooting; that she never heard any fuss between the husband and wife; that the latter taught school all summer and he worked on the turnpike a part of the time; that she was a good woman and “easy to get along with;” that about a month before the shooting she told her husband that if he did not quit drinking she was going home to stay with her father until he did quit, to which he made no reply; that Mrs. Beck and her sister had not packed their trunks preparatory to leaving—“there wasn’t a thing packed until that night that they was both lying there corpses.”

The two slain daughters of Dr. & Mrs. Samuel Bailey, of Forsyth County GA, were buried at Cumming Historic Cemetery, whose entry gates are shown here. Later, the parents were buried next to their two daughters.

The two slain daughters of Dr. & Mrs. Samuel Bailey, of Forsyth County GA, were buried at Cumming Historic Cemetery, whose entry gates are shown here. Later, the parents were buried next to their two daughters.

The servant stated also that at the time of the homicide, “he put on all his clothes, ready to run out, before he done anything at all.” Another witness, a doctor, testified that about ten days or two weeks before the shooting Beck told him about some dogs that had been bothering him, having got into his kitchen; that the witness let him have some strychnine for the purpose of poisoning them; that after the homicide he was present on the night of October 30 at a conversation between Dr. Bailey and Beck. The former asked the latter what was his motive for killing his wife and he replied that he did not know that he had the tremens.

Published in “Reports of Cases in Law and Equity Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Georgia, at Atlanta, Parts of October Term, 1885 and March Term, 1886, Vol. LXXVI,” by J.H. Lumpkin, reporter, The Franklin Publishing House, Atlanta,1888 Full court transcript here.

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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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