The 26th Annual Melungeon Heritage Association’s Union will be held June 24-25 in Martinsville.
The $12 registration for the event also includes price of admission into the Virginia Museum of Natural History on Saturday, June 25, during the lecture series.
A number of authors are participating in a book-signing event at the Parrish House. This will be a unique opportunity for residents of Martinsville and surrounding areas to meet with authors who have researched and brought to life our ancestral history as Melungeons (a little-known race of people who developed in the early days of America from the mixing of European, African and indigenous tribes). They were promptly shunned and hidden away in our beloved Appalachian Mountains.
Nixon’s book, “Our Side of the Mountain,” tells the story of the Watts family, recorded in the lives and traditions of months and seasons that served as an annual clock in pastoral and secluded Leatherwood holler, their ancestral family home in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
The Watts and their mountain neighbors were Melungeon, a people of mixed European, Turkish, African, and Native American roots. Their story goes back to America’s colonial times. Because of the evidence of their mixed roots, often showing dark coarse hair, tawny, sometimes too-easily tanned skin, and striking blue eyes, they stood out, and sometimes apart, from the white population of the colonies turned states in the new republic. Whether it was the pressure of white prejudice or simply a preference for the craggy mountainsides of the western frontier, many Melungeon families mostly hid from the rest of the world in the hills and hollows of Appalachia, developing their own customs, dialect, and religious practices such as “singing down the preacher.”
Author Darlene Nixon is of Melungeon descent and a direct descendant of American history’s “Indian princess,” Pocahontas Matoaka, daughter of the Powhatan Chief. Other characters of Melungeon descent in American history and culture include Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley, and actor George Clooney.
In Our Side of the Mountain, Nixon shares, through the eyes of a young girl, Allafair (Darlene’s mother), the history of her Melungeon roots and the story of her family leaving their secluded traditional ways and time-honored homeplace to join modern 20th Century American society.
Nixon, a former newspaper reporter, is the executive director for Hart County Habitat for Humanity. Our Side of the Mountain is Darlene’s third novel. Read more at https://www.truepotentialmedia.com/darlene-nixon.
For more information about the union, visit MHA on the web or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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