"A special force of twenty-five mounted men,
with several deputy marshals and collectors, and a United States Commissioner
(under command of Major Jacob Wagner, from Arlington, Virginia) made an
extensive raid on illicit distillers in the mountains on the Tennessee and
western Virginia border last week. The principle localities visited were
Newman's Ridge and Blackwater Valley, lying just south of Powell's mountain and
14 miles north of Rogersville, Tennessee. The inhabitants there, known by
the local name of 'Malunjins' are a mixture of whites, blacks, and Indians.
They were 'bushwhackers' for plunder during the war and are now engaged in
illicit distilling and other lawless pursuits. It was supposed they would
fight, as on several former occasions revenue officers were driven off by them.
The force was armed with Springfield breech loaders and made a clean sweep
completely destroying sixteen distilleries with contents of large quantities of
mash, beer, low wines, and whisky. Eight distillers armed with carbines,
muskets, and rifles were surprised at the distillery of a desperate character,
named Mullins, and arrested before they could use their weapons. Recent
heavy rains rendered it necessary for the force to swim the large streams."
*From THE REPUBLIC: a monthly magazine
devoted to the dissemination of political information-1873
Newman's Ridge extends a total distance of about 28 miles, in
which the eastern part extends about 7 miles into Lee County, Virginia.
When the old authors and historians wrote about Newman's Ridge Melungeons they
did not mean to infer they all lived ON the ridge. They were describing an
area which includes Kyle's Ford, Fisher's Valley, Flower Gap, Panther Creek (old
name was Buffalo Creek), the north fork of Blackwater Creek in which most of it
was in Lee County, the south fork of Blackwater Creek which extended into Vardy
Valley, and part of Snake Hollow.
Micager Bunch was recognized by Historian William Groshe and
others as one of the first Melungeons in the area in 1789. His land entry
was near Kyle's Ford in Tennessee but he signed the petition in 1793 to form Lee
County, VA. Also, Shepard "Old Buck" Gibson's first land entry was in
Blackwater in Lee County, Virginia very near the Tennessee/Virginia state line.
These folks were next door neighbors although they lived in different states.
This was not a small area, neither was it a small group and some left early to
travel into Kentucky such as Micager Bunch who was believed to have migrated to
Cumberland County, Kentucky in 1799.
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