Bunch Families of Cumberland Kentucky
By Russ Klicker
JOIN THE CORE MELUNGEON DNA PROJECT!
Bunch DNA is being collected by Jack Goins as a Family Tree DNA sponsored project. Use the links at the bottom of the page or the link to Jack's we site to the left to see how you can participate. Right now based on only a hand-full of Bunch samples, there are at least two paternal lines from our Cumberland Bunches. Of particular interest to me is the Dow Bunch/James Bunch family so if you are a descendent of Dow or James, please join our project. DNA can augment our oral histories & genealogy to help us trace our ancestry.
The Bunch families that migrated into the Barren, Cumberland & Adair counties of Kentucky around 1800 came from southwest Virginia / northwest North Carolina. They came from the Clinch River and Powell Valley areas where the Cherokee, Shawnee, Saponi, etc. lived with, traded with and often fought against the pioneer families as settlements sprang up and competition over land increased.
It's in that Powell Valley region during the mid to late 1700's that our Bunch Cherokee heritage connects with a group of people referred to as Melungeons. "Melungeon" was a term used to describe the dark-skinned people who lived in that area before settlers began migrating west through the Appalachians. Researchers and archeologists have recently been surfacing information that suggests the Melungeon people may have originally descended from remnants of the first Spanish explorations into North America as early as the 1500's. Penny Ferguson has created a timeline showing key historical events related to this. Jack Goins is an archivist in Rogersville, TN who has lived near the Powell Valley all his life. It's where his family is from. He is studying the families, including his Goins and our Bunch family, that were the earliest recorded Melungeons - the "Core" Melungeons.
Here is an excerpt from Jack Goins' website that lists some of the core Melungeon families via an article written by Lewis M Jarvis, an attorney born in 1829 that lived in area with the Melungeons:
“Vardy Collins, Shepherd Gibson, Benjamin Collins, Solomon Collins, Paul Bunch and the Goodmans, chiefs and the rest of them settled here about the year 1804, possibly about the year 1795, but all these men above named, who are called Melungeons, obtained land grants and muniments of title to the land they settled on and they were the friendly Indians who came with the whites as they moved west. They came from the Cumberland County and New River, Va., stopping at various points west of the Blue Ridge. Some of them stopped on Stony Creek, Scott County, and Virginia, where Stony Creek runs into Clinch River. --- The old pure blood were finer featured, straight and erect in form, more so than the whites and when mixed with whites made beautiful women and the men very fair looking men. These Indians came to Newman’s Ridge and Blackwater. Some of them went into the War of 1812 whose names are here given; James Collins, John Bolin and Mike Bolin and some others not remembered; those were quite full blooded."
Lewis M. Jarvis interview 1903 Hancock County Times.
About My Family
My family goes back to Lorenzo Dow Bunch, often referred to by folks down home in Kentucky as the "Big Indian". Dow was born sometime between 1810 & 1820. The earliest record I can find on him is 1836 where he paid taxes on land near Albany, KY. It is believed that Dow's father might have been Joseph Bunch who stayed in the Cumberland area after Micajah (King of the Melungeons) & the others either died or moved on.
Dow Bunch's Cherokee & "Melungeon" Connections:
For more information, visit the links on the left side of this page.