Beaufort ~ Melungeon Heritage Talk

Event Details

Melungeon Heritage Talk
In recent years the interest in mixed ethnic peoples of the American South has been on the rise, most notably among those who are of Melungeon ancestry. Join us at Santa Elena History Center for a talk with the creators of “Infamous Characters, Notorious Villains”; a documentary on Melungeon heritage, a mixed ethnic group of people who settled in parts of Northeastern Tennessee, Southeastern Kentucky, parts of Western Virginia and Western North Carolina. Scholars identify them as “tri-racial isolates,” since they are believed to be descended from European, African, and Native American ancestors and lived in more isolated locations like the Appalachian and Blue Ridge mountains.
Historian Heather Andolina, along with her brothers, filmmakers Jacob and Andrew Gillen, have come together to tell the personal story of their Melungeon heritage through the art of film-making. Through recent DNA testing, lifelong suspicions of that heritage became all the more likely through their grandmother who was born and raised in Northeastern Tennessee. Their grandmother always had an interest in her family history borne from curiosity about her grandfather, Jesse Gibson. Research into Melungeon history revealed that not only was Gibson one of the core family surnames, but Jesse Gibson was born in Southeastern Kentucky, an area highly associated with Melungeon people.
Intertwined within their personal story, they will tell the history and stories of the Melungeon people’s origins, including:
  • Descendants of early enslaved Africans and European indentured servants in 1600’s Jamestown, VA and the Chesapeake area
  • Descendants of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, NC
  • Descendants of Native Americans (from early contact of Spanish/Portuguese with both the Hernando De Soto and Juan Pardo expeditions intermixing with Native peoples in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee)
Heather Andolina is an Historian with a Bachelor’s decree in History from Thomas More College and a Master’s degree in History from Winthrop University. She currently lives with her husband in Charlotte, NC and works at the Wells Fargo History Museum where she does historical presentations and gives tours.
Jacob Gillen is a Business Leader and Territory and District Media Lead (cinematography, social, and photography) for a communications company doing internal video work for over five years. Andrew Gillen served in the United States Air Force from 2004-2008 and was relieved of duty with an Honorable Discharge. He currently works as a Firefighter Engineer and Emergency Medical Technician. He took two years of classes at Full Sail University on Filmmaking and Directing and continues his education by taking classes from Master Class on-line courses. Both brothers live in Lexington, South Carolina with their wives and children.
They have been filming short documentaries and films for the last five years. Their production company is called Underbyte Productions. They have completed a mini-documentary about raising awareness about sexual abuse called, Unveiled: Memoirs of a Survivor. Andy was Director of Photography and Editor. They are working currently on a documentary called, Purple Haze: Migratory patterns of the Purple Martin about the migration patterns of the Martin bird species in South Carolina, which is due out later this year.
Programs at the Santa Elena History Center are offered at no cost to Annual Passholders. Others in attendance are asked to make a donation of their choice.
Please reserve your spot online:

Santa Elena History Center
1501 Bay St
Beaufort, SC 29902