The Changing Story of Race in America & in Our Family


In my efforts to find out when and how the Boling family came to the infamous Ely’s Foard Road property in Spotsylvania County, Fredericksburg, VA, I was merging individual family timelines into one to identify the earliest beginnings of the family name at this residence. As always in research, one thing leads to another and I happened upon General Robert E. Lee’s use of Widow Tapp’s farm, of the Wilderness Battle Fame, as his headquarters. [The Battle of the Wilderness was fought on May 5-6, 1864. It was the beginning of the Overland Campaign, the bloodiest campaign in American history and the turning point in the Civil War in the Eastern Theatre.] And who was Widow Tapp to me? She was my 3rd paternal great grandmother and wife of Vincent Tapp. It was their daughter Sarah Elizabeth Tapp who married my 2nd great grandfather Lawrence T. “Larl” Boling in 1868.

Continuing on with my original research, I next stumbled upon a 2002 email posted online that identified my 3rd great grandmother as native american, connected with the Taptico and Wicocomico Indian Nation. This of course, I filed away along with my earlier research that already confirmed Powhatan Princess Pocahontas as my 10th great grandmother. So what’s the big deal–we know that the story of race in America is changing, and so is the way many of us identify ourselves. Anyone who has researched their family histories and gone back hundreds of years can see how people whose lives come together in community, at church, at work, or in social settings get to know each other and often form life long relationships, including inter-racial marriages. So, I reached out to the author of the email for help and was notified that the email address and the website reference no longer existed. Searching further to the person the writer was communicating with led me to a DNA Study on Melungeons. By definition Melungeons are of mixed Indian, White, and Black ancestry.

Bare naked baby butts

Butt…aren’t they just the cutest!

In a 2001 article written by Helen Campbell, Melungeon Researcher, The Powhatan Remnants, she details the coming together of European settlers, Powhatan Indians, and black people sold into slavery for tobacco farming. And, among the melungeon surnames below, you can see “Bolen,” “Bowlin,” and “Bowling.” And, note that the research into the Melungeon peoples has been going on for years and even with the recent release of the DNA studies some families are still questioning or disowning the results. As for me, I am honored to have people like Pocahontas and Widow Tapp among my ever growing list of ancestors.

And finally, below is the list of surnames from among several states whose heritage has been described as Melungeon. And, as for my original research as to how the Bolings came to Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, and Ely’s Foard Road…my search continues.

Melungeon and Melungeon-related surnames (North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky)

      ADAMS ADKINS
      BARKER BARNES BECKLER BELL BENNETT BERRY BIGGS BOLEN BOWLIN BOWLING BOWMAN BRANHAM BROGAN BULLION BURTON BYRD
      CAMPBELL CARRICO CARTER CASTEEL CAUDILL CHAVIS CLARK COAL COFFEY COLE COLEMAN COLES COLLEY COLLIER COLLINS COLLINSWORTH COLYER COUNTS COX COXE CROW CUMBA CUMBO CUMBOW CURRY
      DAVIS DENHAM DORTON DYE
      ELY EVANS
      FIELDS FREEMAN FRENCH
      GANN GARLAND GIBSON GIPSON GOINS GOINGS GORVENS GOWAN GOWEN GRAHAM GWINN
      HALL HAMMOND HENDRICKS HENDRIX HILL HILLMAN HOPKINS
      JACKSON
      KEITH KENNEDY KISER
      LAWSON LOPES LUCAS
      MAGGARD MALONEY MARTIN MINER MINOR MIZER MOORE MORLEY MULLINS
      NASH NICCANS NOEL
      ORR OSBORN OSBORNE
      PERRY PHELPS PHIPPS POLLY POWERS PRUITT
      RAMEY RASNICK REAVES REEVES ROBERSON ROBERTSON ROBINSON
      SEXTON SHEPHARD SHORT SIZEMORE STALLARD STANLEY STEEL SWINDALL
      TOLLIVER TURNER
      VANOVER

One thought on “The Changing Story of Race in America & in Our Family

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s