Mixed bloods of the Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Media Archive, Tri-Racial Isolates, United States on 2013-04-22 00:46Z by Steven

Mixed bloods of the Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia

Washington Academy of Sciences
Volume 36, Number 1 (1946-01-15)
pages 1-13
Source: Biodiversity Heritage Library

William Harlen Gilbert, Jr.
Library of Congress

We are accustomed to think of West Virginia as a racially homogeneous State populated by Old Americans of English, Scotch, and Scotch-Irish descent with an additional contingent in recent years of Poles and Italians in the mining areas. It may come as somewhat of a surprise to many to learn that there exists in the northern counties of the State a racial island of mixed bloods, known locally as “Guineas,” numbering several thousand persons. The origin of this mixed race is unrecorded, and the relative proportion of white, Negro, and Indian blood entering into its makeup is difficult to ascertain. The main seat of this people is in northern Barbour County and southern Taylor County, but small groups are to be found in over half a dozen adjoining counties and in Garrett County, Md. From their homes in the hill country many have gone in recent years to the factory cities of West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan in search of economic opportunity and social betterment.

It is difficult to find a completely acceptable term to designate these mixed people. Stigmatized by white public opinion as a sort of outcast group, they dislike and resent any designation used by outsiders for themselves. They especially resent the terms “Guinea” or “Guinea Nigger,” which are most generally applied to them by their white neighbors. There are several possibilities in explaining the origin of this sobriquet.

An educated member of this group is said to have worked out a genealogy for them several years ago in which he claimed that an English nobleman went to the Guinea coast of Africa in the early days (possibly as a remittance man), married a native Negro woman, and produced a large family of crossbreeds. Later some of these descendants came to America and became the ancestors of the “Guineas.” Hu Maxwell, in his History of Barbour County (pp. 310-311), asserts that the mixed bloods of that county are called “Guineas” under the mistaken notion that they are Guinea Negroes. They are said, however, to have claimed for many years a descent from one of the Guineas (British, French, or Portuguese) in Africa or from one of the Guianas (British, French, or Dutch) in South America, and that their blood was native Negro or Indian…

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