Letter to Tennessee Secretary of State re: Melungeon Classification

 August 5, 1942
Walter Plecker Letter to
Tennessee Secretary of State
Regarding Melungeon Classification


August 5, 1942
Secretary of State,
Nashville, Tennessee.

Dear Sir:

Our bureau is the only one in any State making an intensive study of the population of its citizens by race.

We have in some of the counties of southwestern Virginia a number of so-called Melungeons who came into that section from Newmans Ridge, Hancock County, Tennessee, and who are classified by us as of negro origin though they make various claims, such as Portugese, Indians, etc.

The law of Virginia says that any one with any ascertainable degree of negro is to be classified as colored and we are endeavoring to so classify those who apply for birth, death and marriage registrations.

We have a list of the free negroes, by counties, of the 1830 U. S. Census in which we find the racial origin of most of these Melungeons classified as mulattoes. In that period, 1830, we do not find the name of Hancock County, but presume that it was made up from portions of other counties, possible Grainger and Hawkins, where we find considerable numbers of these Melungeon families listed.

Will you please advise as to that point and particularly which of these original counties Newmans Ridge was in.

Thanking you in advance and with kindest regards, I am

Very truly yours,

W. A. Plecker, M. D.
State Registrar.




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