|Roma||Traveller||Turks of Sumter Co., SC||SC Native Americans ("Indians")||Free Moors of SC||Melungeons|
Many of you ask about me, the web master, especially amongst the Gypsies and Travellers. My own "WASP" family has a Gypsy ancestor, oral traditions of several "Indian" (Native American) ancestors, and who knows what else! This is likely more typical than not. In researching these family members, I began to become more aware of a large number of small remnant peoples in the Southeast (my place of origin, although I have never lived in the state of South Carolina), many of whom had no web presence here in the U.S. (e.g. Gypsies, Travellers). I am "very white" with red hair and blue eyes. This particular web site contains ways to link with others of your ethnic group, lots of information, and some fascinating discussions and records of some of these people. I am a scientist, have a Ph.D. in astrophysics, maintain this site in my non-existent spare time. I am extremely grateful to all who have contributed to this web site (and the others that I oversee). Please continue contributions and corrections. Frank O. Clark. Last updated 7 Dec. 2014.
At the moment, with the exception of Roma and Travellers, who have no other fair web presence in this country, please keep submisstions limited to links to South Carolina.
Welcome to the road well travelled! There is a fine art to travelling, and a magnetism to some of us. There are many things that you miss when you stay rooted in one spot. Roma and Travellers have developed this to a fine art, yet maintain a strong sense of family, perhaps with even stronger family ties than Gadjo. - Latcho Drom!
So you thought all of your ancestors were blue eyed blonds from northern Europe, did you? Maybe you thought all Europeans were thus? Herein you will find just a smidgen of the ethnic diversity contained within these North American shores, and perhaps you will find clues to your elusive ancestor or family member. The one whispered about, or never talked about!
We have more ethnic diversity from the Colonial Era than you may have realized. There were Roma, or Gypsies as they are more commonly called by non-Gypsies, in the Americas along with the very earliest settlers. There are legends of the Portuguese "dumping" Gypsies at what is now Port Royal, SC, before the English came (see legends of the Cook family on the Hampton Co., SC web site - off site). This may be the origin of the Melungeons (who are probably not Roma, but may be.). Roma and Irish Travellers have been discriminated against to the point that they keep to themselves. Roma, or Gypsies, are from India, migrating to, and through, Europe in the Middle Ages. We here provide a gathering place for Gypsies and Irish Travellers in all of the Americas, for those of us with known or suspected blood connections, and for the so called "Turks of Sumter Co., SC," who actually may have been Native American Indians, and "Free Moors of SC." If you check the Ellis Island link below, be warned that there is no ethnic group in these records for Roma or Gypsy. None of the few that I can identify are flagged in any way. We welcome oral tradition! We welcome submissions from all of the Americas. I here emphasize the Americas because European Roma are generally well represented on the web sites mentioned herein (e.g. Patrin web site - off site).
Some of us have known or suspected bloodlines from Gypsies (Roma), Romanichals (English Roma), and Irish Travellers. In my family, our elusive (German Roma) ancestor was stated to be an (American) "Indian," perhaps because this was thought more "acceptable." Our main line in my family is (German) Herron, and the wagon in the upper right is an English Heron family wagon. Roma and Irish Travellers generally only marry within themselves, or, outsiders are brought into the Roma or Traveller family and made a part of it. Nonetheless, for various reasons, some of us have Roma bloodlines, and we often learn of them by accident. Often these lines result from Roma who find themselves isolated by disease or accident, and merge into the Gadjo background. We would otherwise be characterized as Gadjo - non-Gypsies, and are ignorant of this part of our heritage.
Mostly because of past and present persecutions and prejudice, despite that fact that they are nearly everywhere, Roma and Travellers prefer to remain anonymous and unrecognized, except to each other. They are your unsuspected neighbors. They are an unknown proud minority. These circumstances make it difficult for those with bloodlines to obtain information on their elusive ancestors. I shall try to keep this web site useful for Roma, Travellers, and non-Roma with known or suspected bloodlines. We mention the Melungeons, for clarity, and include the SC "Turks" and "Free Moors," who are not Roma, but otherwise have no web home.
Roma, or Gypsies, have clear origins in India, early characterized by Europeans as possessing dark skin and black hair. A thousand years of co-existence in Europe has resulted in some integration and today Roma may be found in all sizes, and with all shades of skin and hair. The Patrin web site (above) has excellent information primarily from a European perspective.
Irish Travellers, on the other hand, while often characterized as "Gypsy" by Gadjo (non-Gypsies), are from Ireland, and are Celts, or perhaps pre-Celt, according to their ancient lore. They tend to be very fair of complexion. Travellers Rest (off site) is an excellent starting place. Here are some pictures of a Settlement of Irish Travellers. There are, of course, Scottish Travellers as well, since the Scotti migrated from Ireland to what we now call Scotland c600 AD, around the time of King Arthur.
Free Moors of SC and Turks of Sumter Co., SC. South Carolina had significant ethnic diversity during colonial times. The "Free Moors" of SC had been sold into slavery in the Middle East, brought to north America as slaves from Africa, earned their freedom, and petitioned the legislature that they not be carried off again into slavery. The "Turks" of Sumter County were either pirates, or escaped from pirates, according to General Sumter and were present before the revolution. These families also are often reluctant to discuss what they know of their heritage. We are here slowly accumulating source documents on these people.
Melungeons are of unkown origin, but apparently may very well have been in the Southeast before the first English settlers. Linda Griggs describes them as: "olive complected, dark eyed, dark skinned people living in Appalachia," in her article, WAYFARING STRANGER. Modern genetic studies suggest kinship with the Middle East.
Tripod Counter supplied by
|Patrin web site (off site - outstanding!)|
|History of the Gypsies (Patrin web site)|
|Travellers Rest (off site - devoted to Irish)|
|Check the Ellis Island Records||Allendale Co., SC Home Page|
|The SC Information Highway|
Please submit information. Records preferred - oral tradition is most welcome - please identify the source, date, and location given (i.e. USA). I will modify the postings so that locations are suitably anonymous, to any level that you desire. Anyone with information on Gypsies, Travellers, Moors, or so called "Turks," in America, and especially in the South, please contact us. All genealogies welcome. All stories of coming to American, and survival here, are welcome, especially those that relate the exodus to these shores, the conditions in Europe that led to the long voyage, and conditions here now. Please comment or make suggestions to us.
Thanks to the generosity of SCIWay for hosting this web site!
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The wagon in the upper right belonged to a Heron in England. My own Herron family is from Germany (we think), resided in Branchville, SC.