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Appalachian Colonists from the Mediterranean Basin

Throughout the Southeastern United States can be found “old families” in rural areas whose appearance is not quite the same as the European or African peoples who colonized the region, but also not what a person with substantial indigenous ancestry looks like either. In earlier times they might have called themselves Cajun, Black Irish, Redbone, Black Dutch, Portughee, Old Spanish, Melungeon or Part Injun. In more recent years they are likely to say that their great-grandmother was a full blooded Choctaw, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Catawba, Shawnee or Blackfoot. She may have been, but that is not always the case. Many of these people have Mediterranean features, not Native American. One group of mestizos in the Southeast receives very little publicity. Their families have vague memories of either being Jewish or having some Jewish ancestors during the Colonial or Federal Periods. These families may even have Jewish surnames such as Abram, Alba, Amos, Bachman, Benjamin, Boone, Cowen, Hite, Luby, Cohen, David, Gabby, Hershey, Rich, Jacobs, Jordan, Kaufman, Lombard, Levy, Meyer, Shapiro, Spiker, Rosenberg, Sherman, Solomon, Oliver, etc. but they have been practicing Christians for so long that they don’t even realize that their names are of Jewish origin. There is usually no way of discerning these families’ Jewish heritage by physical appearance because Americans, by nature, are hybrids. In contrast, the mountain valleys of northeastern Tennessee, northwestern Virginia, southeastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and southern Virginia contain a mestizo population that has maintained a separate identity for 250 years. Some families called themselves Cherokees. Some families called themselves Portughee. More and more they now call themselves Melungeons.   All along, however, they...

Genealogy of Marion Marvin Spracklin

Marvin M. Spracklin, son of George Spracklin and Arloa Turner Minor, remained a resident of Shelby County, Illinois for the rest of his life. On October 13, 1870 he married Mary Elizabeth Deal, daughter of Elias and Francis Elizabeth Broyles Deal. In 1877 Marvin became “our new groceryman, (had) adopted for his motto ‘quick sales and small profits,’ in consequence of which together with his affable nature and genial smiles, he (had) already secured for himself his full share of ‘public patronage’.” In 1906 Marvin had another occasion to smile since he had entered the Shelbyville Democrat office “Tuesday noon wearing a broad smile ‘the which won’t come off.’ Another grandboy to trot on his knee. The youngster (had) arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Murray early Tuesday morning and (tipped) the beam at ten pounds.” By 1918 Marvin and his wife owned six acres in Section 20 Cowden Township. Shortly thereafter they moved to Shelbyville, Illinois. Toward their later years in life, a surprise birthday dinner was given for Mrs. Spracklin’s 75th birthday. “Sixty-four of her relatives and friends gathered at the Spracklin home at noon. Among those present were her two brothers and their wives, Mr. and Mrs. James Deal of Lakewood, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Deal and son Leon of St. Elmo; a sister, Mrs. Joseph Forsyth of Tower Hill. Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Spracklin of Tower Hill were present. A good time was reported by all and they departed wishing Mrs. Spracklin many more happy birthdays. Marvin M. Spracklin “passed away at his home in this city (Shelbyville) at 3:15 o’clock Friday...

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