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turks in america

THE GYPSY AND THE TURTLE #AAAA “The Turks of South Carolina were a group of people who lived in the general area of Sumter County, South Carolina from the 19th century. In the early 20th century, it was believed these people come from a primarily Native American background with some admixture of Middle Eastern Turkish.[1][2] They have been mistakenly connected to a family of “Free Moors” who resided in Charleston (see Free Moors of South Carolina). The tax collector of Sumter sent an inquiry dated December 7, 1858 to the South Carolina Committee on the Colored Population, inquiring as to whether the “descendants of Egyptians and Indians” who resided in Sumter should be taxed under the bracket of “Free Blacks, mulattoes and mestizos, or as whites.”[3]” “The ancestors of this group of mixed-blood people are often referred to as having served as “scouts” under General Thomas Sumter; however, the only references made as to Sumter’s Scouts were that he often employed Catawba Indians for that purpose. He was “often visited” by those Indians he had formerly employed.[4] After the American Revolution, General Thomas Sumter gave land to Scott and Joseph Benenhaley (the original surname is believed to have been Ben Ali) near his plantation.[4] In the 1850s and 1860s, several members of the “Turk” community filed affidavits of Indian descent with the Sumter County Clerk of Court claiming they were of Catawba descent.[5] In the late 1880s McDonald Furman, an avid local historian, published numerous articles regarding the mixed-blood families of Sumter. Furman described their ancestry as “a large amount of Indian blood” and said that the ancestors of the group originated from the “Catawba Indians.”[6] The Turks of South Carolina today include surnames such as Benenhaley, Oxendine, Scott, Hood, Buckner, Lowery, Goins, and Ray. Some of these surnames also appear among mixed-race people known as Melungeons and Brass Ankles.[7] Genealogy records show that several of their ancestors married Native Americans. There has been no comprehensive DNA genetic testing of the core families, which would clear up some questions. The tens of families participating in the Melungeon DNA Project have learned that their paternal ancestry is mostly European and African in the direct male lines, and European in the direct female lines of individuals tested. Only one family showed Native American ancestry in the paternal line. These findings are consistent with the conclusions by Paul Heinegg in his Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware (1995-2003), based on a variety of records from the colonial and early federal period.” -Wikipedia

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