ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > ROOTS > 1999-12 > 123233
From: Les Buckalew <>
Subject: Black Dutch
Date: Thu, 2 Dec 1999 09:16:41 -0600
Thanks to everyone who responded to my "Black Dutch" query. Here
are the responses that I received:
There are so many theories and "family lore" out there on this that you
won't get one answer. In short, nobody really knows how the term came
1. Germans "Deutsch" from the black forest region
2. Germans whose skin was darker than most typical germans.
3. Intermarriage children
4. etc etc etc
The only contact I have had with "Black Dutch" was in Germany. It was a
certain part of Germany and Germans as the "Black Forrest". Same as the
different dialects of of the German language. I will be interested to see
what any one else knows. My memory is from so long ago.
From: "djweber" <>
You will get a whole bunch of answers from American Indian to
Jewish. Most of them will be wild rumors which have been accepted
by others. Take a web search on your own; don't believe anyone
else. Use a powerful search engine such as <
< http://www.alltheweb.com >, < http://www.dogpile.com > or
< http://www.northernlight.com >
I think most of the stories about "Black Dutch" are just stories
and the truth would end up with "Black Dutch" being an old
neighborhood insult just like "Shanty Irish" and other nationality
About a year and a half ago, Ancestry through their Myra
Vanderpool Gormley compiled an article which debunked most of the
wild claims about Black Dutch. It might still be in the Ancestry
my daddy sez(said) one of my bloods was Black Dutch -
without explanation. My bakers hung around the Choctaws
since 1827 AL days. and all the litature I've read points
to this - Black Dutch is an Indians way of saying who he/she
was without having the White Man look down on them and
forbading them anything...
...this askjeeves url will answer your black dutch question scroll down to
black dutch; or copy and paste this then scroll
My Mom being Black Dutch told me, that the expression icomes from the mixture
of Spanish from Spain and the Dutch girls, they jumped ship and married or
whatever during the period of time (1500's) when Spain sent it's Armada to
crush England, Ireland , Holland and any other country they could. Well God
took exception to this and sent a tremendous storm, Sent ships floudering all
over the seas, crashing on the beaches, and so forth. The Spanish sailors
being poor,and Spain not the best country to live in at that time ,Well,
these boys didn't want to go home. So they didn;'t. They stayed and made
familes ...Black Dutch,,Black Irish. etc.My mom had skin that looked tanned
all year and hair black as night. Grandmother said there was always one
throwback in the family ,they rest of the family were light brown to blond
hair ,eyes were hazel or blue or green, my Mom's black as sin, (My Pop used
And in Moms kids, the baby girl was the one, Only in reverse. Three are black
hair, black eyes and tan skin. Then there is the baby with blond hair, hazel
eyes and fair skin. We used to make her cry telling her she was the iceman
kid. Kids are cruel .
Maybe this well help. It's also in the history books.
I recently asked about the black Norwegians on the Norway list. I was
referred to a wealth of information at rootsweb archives for the Norway-L
list. You may want to check that out. Also check it out if there is a Dutch
list, just type in black.
Many of the questions can be answered by looking in the archives first. As
a newbie I am learning the benefit of these archived roots lists.
As a result of my investigation of the term "Black Irish" a whole discussion
of the use of an initial cap "Black" before an ethnic name description,
erupted on ROOTS-L. It was very interesting and as is often the case, the
probable truth came out. There are a number of steps to realize to fully
appreciate the meaning, or confusion, caused by the use of "Black" to
describe any peoples other than those with African origins.
1. The use of "Black" before an ethnic people is a FOLK term. It is NOT
precise. It is NOT a term used by purist genealogists. Rather, it is used
by average people who are trying to describe a people who are somehow
different from the main group. Thus Black Dutch are members of the Dutch
and/or German community that have some distinguishing feature.
2. Probably the best understanding is that it is used as a euphemism to both
set apart a group without casting them out.
3. It is not used to describe those of mixed blood with African Americans.
There are other terms used to describe those with mixed black and white
heritage (such as malotto).
4. In PA it was common to use Black Dutch to describe German's/Dutch with
skin somewhat darker or a different shade from the rest of the group. The
evidence is that these folks were of mixed European/American Indian blood.
Rather than call them "half-breeds" which is a pejorative term, they were
simply referred to as Black Dutch. A relative of mine sez that when someone
is referred to as Black Dutch, the polite person looks to their shoes (this
is called a "shoe question") and moves on in the conversation. The Black
Dutch were accepted on those terms.
5. There are other societies of German and Dutch people that used the term as
As far as I know, Black Dutch is not used in Europe at all.
6. In Appalachia, there are a group of people with serious inherited,
life-threatening diseases. These people are of many mixed peoples but seem
to always include those with some Portuguese or Mediterranean folks plus
Celts, Dutch and/or German. The proclivity to these diseases is so great
that there are several web pages geared to searching them out to inform them.
These disease, I'm told, are controllable if caught in time. So if you have
any relatives from Kentucky, TN, etc., etc., you should to a search on the
term - Melodeons. (Melugeons?)
Another major use of "Black" is Black Irish. In the Boston area, amongst
devote Roman Catholics this means Irish who are Protestants. This is true in
Ireland as well. This is not a complement but it does not incite riots
either. However, there is a bigger use of this to describe Irish who do not
fit the very false stereotype of fair skin, blonde/red hair, blue eyed
Irishman. So a brown haired/eyed and/or a black haired, blue eyed Irish
person would often be called Black Irish, especially in the Northeast US (I
can't speak for other areas).
A popular legend has it that certain Spanish ships were wrecked off the coast
of Ireland and survivors intermarried. This lead to the brown hair/eyed
Irish. The facts show that at best, 12 Spanish sailors survived from an
Armada wreck, hardly enough to result in the millions of brown haired/eyed
Irish. Their has to be another explanation since MOST Irish are NOT fair
We know that the rules that govern popular usage are as correct as the people
want them to be. Nevertheless, Black Irish is misapplied in most cases. The
peoples that predominated in Ireland and Northern Spain, were medium skinned,
brown haired and brown eyed people. The fairer complexioned folks in Ireland
come from the Vikings presence and they actually are in the minority in
Ireland and certainly in the US. Perhaps they stand out all the more.
For information on the term Black Dutch please see the FAQs on the PA Dutch
Not Positive but Black Irish were Irish that had Spanish in their blood line.
When the Spanish armada was defeated by the English some of the Spanish
sailors landed on Irish soil and stayed. Could this have happen to the Dutch
From: Deanna M Forler <>
I just read something yesterday about the Black Dutch. This article
claimed that the gypsies in Germany were
referred to as "Black Dutch."
Thanks again to all who responded!