On October 11, 2003, Dr. Logoglu visited the people of Wise to
honor the growing friendship between Wise, Virginia and Cesme,
Turkey. The two cities, Cesme and Wise became sister cities in
mid-1995 through the successful program, Sister Cities
Dr. Osman Faruk Loğoğlu, is the world known Ambassador of
Turkey to the United States. He was appointed ambassador
in 2001. Ambassador Logoglu is the author of
Ismet Inonu and the Making of Modern Turkey , a book
about the life and times of the second president of the Turkish
Republic. Dr. Yucel Guclu, the Minister-Counselor at the Turkish
Embassy to the Holy See, wrote a wonderful book review on the
ambassador's book in the Journal of International Affairs also
for further reading read an article in the
Turkish Daily News.
Turkey is a large country in the shape of a rectangle - the only
country bordered by four seas: the Mediterranean, the Aegean,
the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara, the smallest sea in the
world. Packed with fish, the sea belongs solely to Turkey. The
sea is known as the "sweet sea.".
of Cesme Turkey
Cesme has a population of 65,000 plus 250,000 seasonal migrant
workers during the wine harvest. Cesme means "Fountain." Today
Cesme is second most popular resort city after Bodrum. Bodrum
was built on the ruins of the ancient Aegean Sea city of
Halicarnassus during the early 15th century. Over the centuries
twelve civilizations have taken root, each one building on the
previous civilization., Each one has left its mark giving shape
and origin to an immense culture of which we are all, at least
in part, children and heirs.
Cesme is located at the tip of a peninsula as a part of the Gulf
of Izmir. Since early times, Cesme has been well known around
the world for its overflowing therapeutic springs. Many Izmir
residents flock to their summer homes in Cesme in the summer
season. Izmir is about one hour's drive to Cesme. The mountain
paths are filled with the secrets of the past. The landscape
reveals the bits and pieces of past civilizations.
Many centuries ago the Agean sea village became a naval base and
a prime foothold for those who occupied her lands. Seafarers
came from all directions to trade their merchandise and heal at
Cesme. The land reveals that many diverse civilization have
passed through her territory over the past three thousand years
of human history. Christians can rediscover the origins of their
faith, the source of both the Tigris and Euphrates, the biblical
rivers of Paradise and the progenitors of humanity. In the
Ottoman age, Cesme was well known for her healing power. During
the fifteenth century the Ottoman Sultan Yildirim Beyazid seized
Cesme from local Anatolian tribal rule, but Timur gave it to the
Aydinogullari. After a short time Cesme was again back under
control of Ottoman.
Over two hundred people gathered at the University of Virginia's
College at Wise, Science Center to greet the Turkish ambassador.
Ambassador Logoglu talked about the growing friendship between
the United States and Turkey. He also talked about the
Melungeons and their roots and their interest in Turkey. He
said, "The Melungeons are very special and dear to us. "There's
a great bond between the people of Turkey and the Melungeons
here," he said. "This is very interesting to us, very important
for us - that a large group of people affiliates with Turkey. In
the Turkish language the Meluncan word sounds similar to our
Melungeon word, the "can" is pronounced as "Jun." The "c" is
like "j" in Turk language.
Mr. Caynor Smith, former mayor of Wise, gave Ambassador Logoglu
a lapel pin with the image of Wise, a medallion naming the
ambassador an honorary citizen of Wise, and a key to the town of
Wise. He also gave him a town of Wise baseball cap. The
ambassador said he would take these heart felt gifts back to
The Sister City Program was established forty-three years
ago (1956) when President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the
People-to-People Program. The goal of the People to People
Student Ambassador Program is to provide opportunities for grade
school, junior and senior high students to explore domestic and
foreign destinations, learning about the history, government,
economy and culture of the areas they visit. San Diego became
the first Sister City Agreement in 1957 with Yokohama, Japan.
Today, over 1,283 U.S. cities are united with over 2,022
international cities in 137 different countries. For further
reading visit, About SDISCC.
The interest in establishing a sister city kinship came into
being partly because of the interest and research of former Wise
College professor Brent Kennedy and the Melungeon Research Team.
Dr. Kennedy's fourteen years of research reveals that Turks,
Portuguese, and other people of Mediterranean descent existed in
the earliest settlements in the Appalachian mountains of
Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee, and
western North Carolina.
Since 1998, the
University of Virginia's College of Wise has maintained a
sister college connection with Turkey's oldest and largest
institution Istanbul University. The college also has a sister
institution agreement with Dumlupinar University. An agreement
was reached with
Dumlupinar University of Kutahya, Turkey in 1999.
Cooperative programs beneficial to the students and faculty of
the institutions will be developed, including mutual exchanges.
An exchange student treaty has brought over 25 Turkish students
to study at University Of Virginia College of Wise. For further
information visit, Sister Schools of San Diego.
When a catastrophic earthquake shook Turkey in 1999 the people
of Wise felt the pain of their Turk brothers and sisters who
were far away from their beloved homeland. The people of Wise
and surrounding areas raised funds to send help to their Turk
brothers and sisters.
Shalacy Manderson, a twelve year old Melungeon singer living in
Alabama had a fund raising event to help. Shalacy donated
proceeds from her cassette's she sold to help the children who
survived the earthquake. Shalacy had the honor of meeting
Singers at the Melungeon Heritage Association's Third Union.
The Union gathering was held at the campus of the University of
Virginia's College at Wise in 2000.
As a symbol and tribute to their sister city relationship, the
city of Wise put up a permanent sign at the entrance to Wise to
honor its "sister city" in Turkey. Cesme, in return, has renamed
its main street "Wise
Avenue." The mountain overlooking Cesme has been renamed "Melungeon
Mountain." Cesme and Wise are an ocean apart but both are
located in mountainous areas of the world. As a tribute both
cities have a sister cities signs to symbolize legacy between
Cesme, Turkey and
In 1997, the
sister cities of Wise and Cesme were selected to receive the
inspiring Diverse Community Award at the 35th Annual Awards
Program of Sister City International's Annual Conference in San
Diego (photos). The Diverse Community Award distinguishes sister
city programs that best promote international understanding and
long-term partnerships through community activities which
involve participants that reflect the diversity of the
The Turkish Times News
The following article appeared in the newspaper, Turkish Times.
Ankara - Melungeons, an ethnic group in the United States
searching for their origins, will hold their first congress in
the city of Wise to gather together all the information relating
to their roots, the Anatolia news agency reported. The congress,
organized through the efforts of the Melungeons spokesperson
Brent Kennedy, will be held between July 25-27. Scientists will
put forward all the information as to the origins of Melungeons,
believed to be of Turkish provenance, and try to learn more of
the group's obscure past. 2,000 Melungeons are expected to
attend the congress.
following month the United States will be presenting an award to
the city of Wise where there is a large Melungeon population and
to its sister city Cesme in Turkey. The U.S. organization Sister
City International, whose honorary chairman is U.S. President
Bill Clinton, decided to give their Different Cities award to
Wise and Cesme for their exemplary relations this year. Mayor
Nuri Ertan of the Aegean city of Cesme will be leaving for the
United States on July 29 to receive the award on behalf of his
city's people. The award ceremony will be held in San Diego on
August 12 where Wise Mayor Caynor Smith will also be present.
Preserved writings in Turkey bring to light the fact that
Ottoman sailors from Cesme came across the Atlantic ocean over
five hundred years ago. In 1570, the Crusaders in the Inebahtin
war destroyed a large part of the Turkish fleet and Sir Francis
Drake captured several hundred Turkish sailors in the same war.
The sailors were rescued from slavery in South America and put
on the coast of Roanoke Island by Francis Drake in the late
The word Melungeon has
both Arabic and Turkish roots, meaning, "cursed soul, according
to Mehmet Cakir's research. Mehmet Cakir, a former Turk student
in Colorado discovered that:
"The English word Melungeon has both Arabic and Turkish
roots, meaning "cursed soul." Also in Portuguese, "Melungo"
means shipmate. In the Turkish language Melungeons are
called Melun-can, "Melun" being a borrowed word from Arabic
meaning one that carries bad luck and ill omen. And "can,"
which is Turkish, means soul. Meluncan then means a person
whose soul is a born loser (Melungeons'
Home Page). This term was in common usage among
sixteenth-century Ottoman Turks, Arabs, and Muslim converts
to Christianity in Spain and Portugal, and is still
understood by modern Turks as a self-deprecating term by a
Muslim who feels abandoned by God.
In the Turkish language Melungeons are called Melun-can,
"Melun" being a borrowed word from Arabic meaning, one that
carries bad luck and ill omen. And "can," which is Turkish,
means soul. Meluncan then means a person whose soul is a
born loser. In Spain and Portugal the word Meluncan was used
between sixteenth-century Ottoman Turks, Arabs, and Muslim
converts to Christianity. In modern times Turks use the word
Meluncan to describe self-doubting Muslims who believe their
very essence has been forever cast away by God.
In the sixteen hundreds, according to the legacy, several
Ottoman ships departed for the Atlantic coast from the Agean
city of Cesme, Turkey. Records indicate that three hundred
Levents (Turkish sailors) were taken prisoner by the
Portuguese ships at sea. The Portuguese used these captives
as galley slaves and had thoughts to sell them as slaves in
Brazil. But the Portuguese's journey to South American was
foiled when they came upon British warships. A battle
between the enemies resulted and the British warships
overpowered the Portuguese vessels. The British liberated
the captives from a life of slavery. Because of the large
number of men, Sir Francis Drake could only take back a few
liberated captives to the Old World. Several hundred Turkish
Levents had to remain on Roanoke Island to fend for
themselves in the hostile surroundings.
After some time the liberated Levants gave up all hope of
returning to their beloved families in their homeland.
During this same era the British possessed a naval base in
Virginia where some of the captives stayed. Those who
survived intermarried with the American Southeastern Indian
tribes including Powhatan, Pamukey, Chickahominy, and
A Letter to the Melungeon Society
Dr. Brent Kennedy recently wrote this statement to the
Brent Kennedy recently wrote a statement to the Melungeon
that there is a "Turkish" connection to at least some of our
folks who were designated or claimed/claim to be
"Melungeon." DNA comparisons were indeed made to Turks and
other related groups. There were a variety of ways that this
could have happened. These genes could have arrived via
pre-1600s southeastern European settlements, as we know both
the Spanish and the English were using Armenian and Turkish
indentured servants, as well as East Indian laborers. Other
Ottoman people were set off or otherwise discarded by the
English, Spanish and French as they roamed our shores. In
this respect, Nabil Matar's recent book, Turks, Moors and
Englishmen in the Age of Discovery is an excellent resource,
revealing a lot of information that until recently was
"archived" (for example, England's and Turkey's secret
sixteenth-century military pact to work together to defeat
the French and Spanish in the Mediterranean)."
"Also fascinating, the fact that hundreds of Turkish
prisoners of war were held in Ireland until after the pact
was signed, giving them the "option" of leaving or staying
once the agreement had been reached. And the significant
numbers of "Turks" who set sail with the English on English
ships for ports all over the sixteenth-century world. These
and similar circumstances set the stage for Turks to be just
about anywhere in the world. The key is discovering the
links between these various people and their possible
descendants in the New World today. DNA is certainly one
way, but good solid genealogical/historical work is another.
But finding those documented sources in America prior to the
1600s is tough (but not impossible). I still suspect that
lots of "good Englishmen." and lots of "good Spaniards"
were, in fact, originally Ottoman peoples (i.e., true ethnic
Turks, Greeks, Berbers, Croatians, Jews, east Indians, etc.
nearly all of whom were referred to as "Turks" in that time
period if they originated from the Ottoman Empire). So the
answer to the true ethnicity of some of these early settlers
often lies in the archives overseas, not on what was written
at the port of entry. By the way, the Bektashi Turks - the
predominant religious order of the Levants (Turkish sailors)
of that time period, used the Star of David as their motif.
The flag they sailed under (Flag of Barbarossa) contained
the Christian Cross, the Star of David, and the Crescent
Moon representing the religious backgrounds of all the
various "Turks" that served in the Ottoman navy."
"Over the next five or six years I think we'll see more
evidence emerging that will either strengthen or weaken this
theory, but I suspect it will be strengthened. Then coupled
with the sound genealogical work that is occurring
make even more progress."
Descendants of Ottoman Sailors
Dr. N. Brent Kennedy III, president of the
Wellmont Foundation in Bristol, Tennessee, was born and
raised in the Appalachian Mountain area of Wise, Virginia, the
very town where Ambassador Logoglu was warmly greeted. Dr.
Kennedy's ethnic and cultural birthright became lost over the
centuries in America's history. The account of his people, the
American "Melungeon" or Turkey's "Meluncan" became obscured over
the centuries. When the Meluncan, (Ottoman sailor), arrived on
America's Atlantic coast, there was no one to document their
arrival. The American Indians did not keep written records. The
Elders are the keepers of oral traditions. But, clues to the
"Meluncan" presence can be found in linguistics, fashions,
music, and in the genes of thousands of people living across the
United States of America.
the Melungeons descendants of 16th century Turkish and
Portuguese sailors who intermarried with diverse Indian tribes,
Africans and later, with Northern European settlers, and settled
in the Appalachian Mountains?
Modern day ingenuity has changed the world of genealogy and has
brought to light the kinship of mankind. The current trend in
genealogy is to have DNA testing as a method to determine a
person's heritage. The Melungeons' oral history has for ever
proclaimed that they are the descendants of 16th century Turkish
and Portuguese sea voyagers. Now with the technology of DNA
testing many who suspect Melungeon heritage can begin to unravel
their ancestor's migrations to the New World. To read more about
the Melungeon DNA study by Dr. Kevin Jones read, "The
World really was their home," by Stephen Phelps.