Sorry, Obama, you’re not the first black president. You’re simply our first gay Muslim Arab president—and an illegal one to boot.
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, “The Great Emancipator,” was Melungeon.
The Legend of a Mountain Girl and her Baby
By Helen Campbell
I’ve listened to discussions, watched the History Channel on television and read books that claim the sixteenth president of the United States of America; Abraham Lincoln was of Melungeon ancestry.
It is generally accepted by most Melungeons researchers that Lincoln’s Melungeon ancestry comes through the linage [sic: lineage] of his mother, Nancy Hanks. He inherited a dark complexion, course, black hair, and grey eyes, all of which is [sic:are] consistent with the physical features of the Melungeons. Judging from a Picture of Nancy Hanks Lincoln (drawn by Lloyd Ostendorf), Lincoln does resemble his mother. Abraham Lincoln also inherited color blindness. One day he told his mother that he could not see things like other people.
The word Melungeon is a controversy in its self but the truth is finally emerging after centuries of silence by an oppressed people known as the Melungeons. Over the past two decades scholars such as archeologists, linguists, anthropologists, genealogist, historians and even scientists have taken on the task of piecing this unsolved Melungeon puzzle together. I know you are probably asking yourself, what on earth is a Melungeon? I’ve been there and asked that very same question too.
National Genealogy Society Newsletter
In 1996, I read in the National Genealogy Society Newsletter, about a newly acquired book named “The Melungeons: The Resurrection of a Proud People. An Untold Story of Ethnic Cleansing in America “by N. Brent Kennedy, Mercer University Press, First Edition, 1994. I borrowed the book through the National Genealogy Society’s Library loan service. Brent Kennedy, a man living in Wise, Virginia, was compelled to write a book after he became seriously ill in 1988, with a Mediterranean disease. He was told his ethnic origin was Scot Irishman and German. He wondered how a Mediterranean disease could afflict him, a white European man. Publishing his theories and family’s genealogy brought him unsympathetic criticism, from his family members, scholars and strangers too.
Brent Kennedy’s theories on the ethic origins of his people, the Melungeons, are that they are remnants from sixteenth century Turkish, Portuguese, Spanish, Arab and Jewish settlers, slaves, and captives that intermarried with the Native American Nations and lived throughout the Southeast. He wrote that his people, the Melungeons, were made to move off their lands, denied their rights to vote and was forced into isolation and almost exterminated. All these things gradually concealed his people’s very existence. After centuries of trying to blend in with their white neighbors, the Melungeons lost their heritage, culture, and even their religion. But his family’s distinct Melungeon physical features remained, along with the Mediterranean diseases. To learn more about the ethnic makeup of the Melungeons, read “Ties That Bind – Revisited,” by Brent Kennedy.
The Melungeon DNA Surname Project
The Melungeon DNA Surname Project by Dr. Elizabeth Hirschman and Dr. Donald Panther Yates state that Abraham Lincoln was of Jewish ancestry. Dr. Hirschman writes “The DNA sample we have came from a Berry male from Tennessee whose ancestors had arrived in Virginia. The marriage of Abraham Lincoln’s parents was performed in the home of a Berry (and not a church) suggesting that not only the Lincolns, but also the Berry’s were of Jewish descent. We believe that many of the very earliest settlers who came to North America from England were actually Sephardic Jews.”
Dr. Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman is a native of Kingsport, Tennessee. She is a graduate of Georgia and Georgia State University where she earned her BA, MBA and PHD degrees. Currently she is a Professor in the Business School at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and the author of quite a few academic articles, papers and books. Hirschman became intrigued with the Melungeons after stumbling across Brent Kennedy’s book about Melungeons while at the Atlanta airport. She soon discovered that she and Brent Kennedy are cousins. Dr. Hirschman learned more truth about her Melungeon ancestry after spending two and a half years reading over two-hundred books about history and religion.
Dr. Hirschman learned that she has Melungeon ancestors on both her maternal and paternal lines. Her passionate research led her through hundreds of genealogies and collecting DNA samples from over 20 people in her own ancestry. In August 2004 she presented all her conclusions to the Society for Crypto-Jewish Studies. The organization accepted her findings and also introduced her to the larger community of “lost” Sephardic Jews. Mercer University Press has recently released a book by Elizabeth Hirschman, Melungeons: The Last Lost Tribe in America.
Dr. Hirschman and Dr. Yates announced at the 2004 Melungeon Heritage Association’s Fourth Union Gathering, that some Melungeons are descended from Sephardic Jews. Through DNA testing Dr. Yates and Dr. Hirschman learned they had a common ancestor making them distant cousins. Dr. Yates can trace his ancestry to Choctaw-Cherokee Indians. To learn more about this fascinating Jewish American Indians revelation please refer to “You Will Never Find the Truth,”
While a college professor at Georgia Southern University Dr. Yates founded the first custom DNA ancestry report company. DNA Consulting is the only commercial ancestry company staffed by professional historians and owned and operated by American Indians. In September 2004 he moved DNA Consulting to Sante [sic] Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Yates is quoted as saying “DNA testing is a great way to get past brick walls, to verify oral traditions like crypto-Judaic family roots or to explore Native American ancestry and tribal affiliation.”
Theodore Roosevelt Connection to Lincoln’s DNA
The coffin itself has been opened 5 times: December 21, 1865, September 19, 1871, October 9, 1874, April 14, 1887, and September 26, 1901. In 1876 thieves tried to steal the remains and hold them for ransom. Abraham Lincoln’s coffin has been moved 17 times, mostly due to numerous reconstructions of the Lincoln Tomb and fears for the safety of the President’s remains. In 1900 Lincoln’s coffin was buried in a huge cage 10 feet deep and then encased in four thousand pounds of concrete to prevent another attempt to rob the grave. (SOURCE: p. 61 of the Abraham Lincoln Fact Book and Teacher’s Guide by Gerald Sanders).
All this was done at the request of Robert Lincoln the son of President Lincoln. No doubt he had much anxiety over the safety of his father’s remains. Today the remains of Lincoln are within a huge solid block of concrete, thus we can never exhume Abraham Lincoln’s remains for DNA analysis. However sealed away in a ring is a lock of President Lincoln’s course black hair. President Theodore Roosevelt wore a ring containing a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair when he was inaugurated in 1905. Sealed within this tiny lock of hair is the maternal DNA of President Abraham Lincoln. Where this ring survives today is not known to me?
Bennett Greenspan is the founder and CEO of Family Tree DNA, the company that is involved with the Melungeon DNA Surname Project. Family Tree DNA has Hanks DNA Surname Project and a Lincoln DNA Surname Project. I asked Mr. Greenspan if the hair in the ring could be used to trace Lincoln’s maternal ancestry. This is what is told me:
“Anything old suffers from DNA degrading. Also contamination is the biggest issue…worse then the prior point.”
“For those two reasons we don’t test anything that has been laying around we have tried but bitter failure has convinced me that it just doesn’t work when someone has been dead for any length of time unless you have a bone (like from the hip) and we probably can’t get one of those!”
Can Nancy Hanks Melungeon Ancestry Be Proved or Disproved?
I have spent the last five months researching Nancy Hanks and have found thousands of web pages and books devoted to the ancestry of Nancy Hanks Lincoln. One accepted fact about Nancy Hanks Lincoln is she passed away in Illinois when she was about thirty-five in the year 1818. Her life was short and tragic. Yet at the same time, she left behind a great gift that changed the world. One common theory suggests that Nancy was orphaned at an early age and went to live with different relatives during her childhood. Some writings read that Nancy’s father was killed by Indians in Virginia one year after her mother passed away. I read a couple of web sites that the parents of Nancy Hanks were cousins and the noble gentleman was a ruse to hide the fact.
Nancy Hanks and Tom Lincoln’s marriage bond states that Richard Berry was the legal guardian of Nancy Hanks. They were married in Washington County, Kentucky at the Berry home. What amazes me is the fact that it appears that Nancy Hanks Lincoln’s ancestry is still a mystery that can not be proved nor disproved to this very day. However, I am presenting the following extracts from two different sources. Perhaps there is a paper trail somewhere out there waiting to be found. Only time and careful study will reveal the unanswered questions about President Abraham Lincoln’s maternal ancestry.
MD Genealogical Society Bulletin, Vol. 35, No. 2, Departments : Letters to the Editor, Page 305
“Conrad and Joseph dies in Frederick, but Jacob moved to Hampshire County, Virginia where he died in 1798, this in a log cabin and on land purchased from a money lender [sic] from Washington County, Maryland. The previous owner of the property, Joe Hanks, had lost it on a mortgage to the seller. While living in the cabin an unmarried daughter, Lucy Hanks, gave birth to a baby girl named Nancy. Joe Hanks took his family to Kentucky where the girl Nancy grew up. She married Tom Lincoln and they became the parents of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President. The cabin and land stayed in the possession of Jacob Doll’s descendants for 100 years. The State of West Virginia has erected a replica of the original cabin together with the history as related above. It stands in a State Park. Thought the above might be a matter of interest. Charles E. Doll, 703 Shore Club Drive, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080
A Mountain Girl and her Baby
I located an interesting book at the at the Historic Pittsburgh digital library. The name of the book is Not far from Pittsburgh : places and personalities in the history of the land beyond the Alleghenies by Clarence E. Macartney. The book has a chapter about Lucy Hanks, the maternal grandmother of Abraham Lincoln. The essay was originally published in Pittsburgh, Pa.: The Gibson Press in 1936.
The Historic Pittsburgh digital library is a great website that permits access to historic material held by the University of Pittsburgh’s University Library System, the Library & Archives of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center, and the Carnegie Museum of Art.
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A Mountain Girl and her Baby
By Clarence Edward Noble, 1879-1957
Frostburg, Maryland, is one hundred miles from Pittsburgh. That was far away one hundred years ago, but it is not far now. At Frostburg, leave the National Road and go with me southward into West Virginia. Soon we find ourselves in a sequestered, well-water country called the Patterson Creek Valley. Repeated inundations have laid down a rich soil, and flouring farms are to be found in the bottom lands near the river. The houses are not so lordly as those on the east side of the mountains in the far-famed Valley of Virginia; but here and there is a house of distinction, brick or stone, with sloping lawns and umbrageous maples and elms which witness to coolness and peace.
We leave this valley and pursue our journey over the hills to the west until we come to Antioch, a tiny hamlet which sprang up long, long ago, where the road turns sharply southward to cross a murmuring brook. Antioch looks as if it had been trying to die for a long time. No doubt it was a church of the wilderness probably Baptist, which gave these unpainted crossroads houses and stores the name of the once golden and glorious city on the far-off Orontes, where the “disciples were first called Christians,” and where the golden-mouthed Chrysostom stirred the multitudes with his apocalyptic preaching. Three miles beyond Antioch we come to another little stream, and crossing it we turn to the north, passing now through a wooded glen, where cool gray rocks jut out from among the trees on the hillside. Now the road leaves the forest ravine, and we come to a farm which lies along the hillside. We shall open this gate and follow the lane as it winds along the shoulder of the hill.
The lane brings us to another farm where an old man and his wife are milking in the barnyard and we can hear as we pass the music of the milk as it is drawn from the swelling udders into the bucket. An impudent little black-nosed lamb comes prancing and frisking at us as we go up by the house to a little knoll where a huge millstone lies on the grass. Sit down now by my side on this millstone, and as we breathe in the cool, clean air and look off toward the Gap, through which we can see far away the dim line that marks the rampart of the Blue Ridge, the eastern wall of the Valley of Virginia, let me tell you the sad, but wonderful story of a mountain girl and her baby.
About the year 1782, a Virginia farmer settled in the Patterson Creek region, and when he had made a clearing on the mountain side built a log cabin for his wife Nancy Shipley, and their eight children. The names of the four daughters were Betsy, Polly, Nancy, and Lucy. Lucy is the one about whom I want to tell you.
Lucy then a girl of nineteen, full-breasted and lissome, and with magic in her eyes, did the usual work that fell to the frontier girl. She milked the cows, churned, stirred the apple butter, dipped the tallow, dried the fruit, smoked the hams, and spun the wheel, and all the while womanhood was running at the flood in her veins. She was well past the age at which most mountain girls married; but suitors were few, and those few were not to Lucy’s liking.
Save an occasional quilting party, a funeral, a barn raising, or the Sabbath day services at Antioch Church, Lucy and her sisters saw little of what lay beyond their farm. They were not far off the traveled way, and few ever turned aside to visit the mountain farm. But one evening, on a late September day, a stranger got down from his horse before the cabin and asked if he might spend the night. Lucy’s father made him welcome, put up his horse in the barn, and after he had washed at the spring invited him up to sit down to supper with the family.
That night as they lay on their cornhusk mattresses in the loft, Lucy and her sisters, who had never seen a Virginia gentleman before, talked eager whispers about the fine-looking stranger who was sleeping so near to them on the other side of the loft partition.
The stranger’s business kept him in the neighborhood for several days. He had not failed to note the attractive, dreamy face of Lucy and her beautifully molded body as she drew water out of the deep well, with the September sun glinting in her light brown hair, or sat on the stool to milk, with her brow pressed deep into the soft flank of the cow. One night as they sat about the table eating the fragrant bacon, the corn-bread, and the fried apples, there was a strange light, of sadness, mystery, and dread, in Lucy’s eyes, as if she has tasted deeply of both the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life.
The next morning when breakfast was over, the stranger’s horse was brought up from the barn, and he swung himself gracefully into the saddle and was off down the lane, homeward bound. Just before the crimsoning forest swallowed him up, he turned and waved a farewell. The family went back to their tasks, the sisters to the cabin, the men to the barn and the fields, but Lucy stood gazing toward the Gap which opened to the southeast, and on her heart and on her lips was the unspoken question, Will he ever return? Late September now. When the laurel bloomed in May, that would be the time, But would he ever come?
As the first weeks and months passed, Lucy tried her best to hide what soon could not be hid. Had he been some mountain yokel, it might have gone hard with Lucy; but since he was an aristocratic Virginia planter, though none knew his name, Lucy’s distress was mitigated by the feeling that her association with the tidewater gentleman has, in a way, conferred distinction upon her family.
At the interval between the morning and afternoon sermons at the Antioch church, at the corn husking, the barn raising, and the funeral, the country folk whispered to one another. But who the father was save that he was a Virginia gentleman none knew. While the neighbors talked and whispered about Lucy pondered it all in her heart. Perhaps, she often said to herself, before the baby comes, he will return. But the autumn days faded into winter; the trees were stark and stripped, and snow lay on the ridge, and the valley stream was covered with ice, and the cold wind came howling up the Gap; winter passed into spring; the Judas trees were in bloom on the hillside, their red flowers contrasting with the white and pink of the apple trees, and the birds came back from the Southland; but Lucy’s lover did not come.
While Lucy waited and hoped against hope, nature went steadily forward with her mysterious creation. There were two places where Lucy liked best to be, and where she found the most comfort. One was the barnyard, where she pressed her lovely head into the lank of the cow as she drew milk from the udders into the pail. The other was the knoll back of the cabin, where she could sit and gaze through the Gap toward that unknown world whence her lover has come and into which he had vanished again. Sometimes she would go there to watch the sun rise, and when the moon was at full of yearning, passion, and compassion.
It was a lovely morning in late May, 1783, and the mountain laurel was in bloom, and the brook in the meadow was running at the flood, when Lucy lay down for her great hour. In a day or two, as was the habit of the mountain women, she was up again and at her old tasks in the cabin or at the barn, but often turning from her work to look down with sad, dreaming, yet happy, eyes upon the babe where she lay in her chestnut cradle, She was called Nancy after Lucy’s mother. Just another baby, and that by nature’s back door. But, Lucy, guard carefully and tenderly that babe of thine, for Destiny hath put its hand upon her brow!
Lucy’s Nancy was now a girl of seven years when the family took the Wilderness Trail for Kentucky. There Lucy, her charms increased, rather than diminished by maternity, married. It would have been awkward for a bride to bring a little girl of her own to her husband’s home and Nancy was sent off to live with her aunt Betsy Sparrow.
By and by, the baby girl Nancy, was a young woman. A kind-hearted, roving carpenter, whom they knew as Tom, took a liking to Nancy, with her corn silk hair and her blue eyes, and her quiet meditative ways, and asked her to marry him. They were married on June 12, 1806, by Deacon Jesse Head, and after the rough and lewd celebrations which then accompanied frontier marriage, and the “infare,” they went into housekeeping in Elizabeth, known as “E-town.” The next February Nancy gave birth to her first child, whom she named Sarah. In 1808 Nancy and her husband and her babe removed to the cabin on Sinking Creek.
Early on the cold morning of February 12, 1809, Carpenter Tom left the cabin on Sinking Creek and walked two miles up the road to the Sparrows cabin. When the door opened, Tom said in his slow drawl, “Betsy Sparrow, Nancy’s got a boy baby!” Betsy went at once to Tom’s cabin, where she found Nancy and her babe lying on the mattress. She washed the babe, wrapped it in a yellow flannel petticoat, cooked dried berries and wild honey for Nancy, straightened things up about the cabin, and went home again. That was all the nursing Nancy and her baby had. It was all she expected.
Carpenter Tom decided that he could better his lit, and in 1816 migrated across the Ohio to Indiana and settled on the Pigeon Creek, where afterward arose the village of Gentreyville [sic]. But times were hard there, too, and the cabin on Pigeon Creek was just as plain and bare and comfortless as the cabin on Sinking Creek. On October, in 1818, when the leaves of the forest had turned to red and gold, Nancy, down with “milk sick” which was ravaging the settlement, called her two children to her bedside, and putting her hand on the head of the youngest, now in an awkward, homely lad of nine years, said, “Abraham, I’m going on a long journey, and I will not return. I want you to remember what I have taught you. Be a good boy; be kind to your father and Sarah and love God.” The faded, worn, thin-breasted Nancy, having done all for her children she could, closed her eyes on a world which she had entered thirty-five years before on the mountain farm at Antioch, Va., and where she had known little but toil and sorrow. Carpenter Tom, his boy helping him, cut down a tree, hollowed out a coffin, folded Nancy’s hands over her breast in the coffin, and buried her on a little knoll under a shade of some oak trees. Today, if you visit that grave under the oak trees on the knoll near Pigeon Creek in southern Indiana, you can read on the headstone of a grave these words:
Mother of President Lincoln
Died Oct 5th, A. D. 1818
Aged 35 years
Erected By A Friend of Her Martyred Son 1879″That, patient listener, is the sad but wonderful tale of the mountain girl of Antioch who, out of wedlock [sic], brought into this world a baby whom she named Nancy. It was through this very Gap yonder that Lucy, as she waited for her babe, used to sit and gaze and dream and hope.Abraham Lincoln was familiar with the story of his mother’s birth. In his brief Autobiography Lincoln spoke with reserve of his mother. All that he says of her is this:
“My mother was of a family of the name of Hanks, some of whom reside in Adams, some in Macon County, Illinois.”
But once in 1850 in a buggy with Herndon, his law partner, to plead a case in the Menard County Court which touched upon hereditary traits, Lincoln told Herndon that his mother was the daughter of Lucy Hanks and a well-bred but obscure Virginia planter. He argued that from this last source, his unknown Grandfather on his mother’s side, Lucy Hanks’ lover, came his power of analysis, his logic, his mental activity, his ambition, and all the qualities that distinguished him from the other members and descendants on the Hanks family.
But, now patient friend, let us be going, lest night overtake us on this lonely mountain side. But before we go, look again through yonder Gap, where the Blue Ridge is beginning to fade from view as night comes down. That was where Lucy Hanks, mother of Lincoln’s mother, used to gaze with Destiny stirring in her womb.
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Abraham Lincoln’s Parents – This page provides information on the lives of Abraham Lincoln’s parents: Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Thomas Lincoln, and Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln. This site includes pictures of Nancy Hanks Lincoln (drawn by Lloyd Ostendorf), Thomas Lincoln, and Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln.
Biography of Abraham Lincoln The White House
The Emancipation Proclamation – Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit…
Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb – The tomb of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, with photos and description of its history.
Lincoln’s Body Exhumed – This web page tells the eerie story of Abraham Lincoln’s exhumation in 1901
Abraham Lincoln Institute of the Mid – How did Abraham Lincoln develop his fabled forbearance? How did he manage to rise from such humble origins? How vast and varied was his prairie practice, and how did it serve his political ambitions?
The Gettysburg Address (Library of Congress Exhibition) – Of the five known manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address, the Library of Congress has two. President Lincoln gave one of these to each of his two private secretaries,…
President Abraham Lincoln: Medical History – Medical history of President Abraham Lincoln