I found this suggestion composed by Larry Keels at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/melungeonsorredbonesorrenegades and thought you might find it of interest:
While many genealogy researchers still seem convinced that
such a thing as a "redbone" or a "melungeon" or a "moor" does (or at
least did) exist, none have ever proven it other than from the
perspective of an individual of the dominant "white" caste. In fact,
researcher often present the historicly confirmed usages of these
epithets and then proceed into the same theoretical speculations
about mysterious ethnicities which were conjured by those who
historicly used the epithets. In an effort to define these terms
BASED ON THE REALITY OF THEIR USAGE, I suggest this:
"Redbone" is seemingly a term common in the Neutral Zone and East
Texas among pre-Civil War era Euro-Americans and African Americans
who thought they were referenceing people of multi-ethnic genetics.
Later generations of these two ethnicities seemingly continued to
reference the descendants of these racially obscure people to the
extent that some of these descendants seemingly began to think of
themselves as "redbone." A usage is also claimed for an isolated
enclave in South Carolina whose complexions confounded their
neighbors. Close scrutiny reveals only vaguely distinct differences
between the culture of the referenced people and the culture of the
dominant Euro-Americans surrounding them wherever the epithet is used.
"Melungeon" is simply another epithet seemingly used in similar
fashion with evidenced history to about the same era which produced
the terms "redbone", "moor", "brass ankle", etc. All these terms
have been associated with many of the same surnames. The
term "melungeon" was seemingly common among "whites" in
Tennessee and Kentucky before its usages was recently expanded
through tourism promotions and genealogy marketers.
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