Walter Plecker Letter to Local Officials

Images of Letter

January 1943

Local Registrars, Physicians, Health
Officers, Nurses, School Superintendents,
and Clerks of the Courts

Dear Co-workers:

Our December 1942 letter to local registrars, also mailed to the clerks,
set forth the determined effort to escape from the negro race of groups of "free
issues," or descendants of the "free mulattoes" of early days, so listed prior to
1865 in the United States census and various types of State records, as distin-
guished from slave negroes.

Now that these people are playing up the advantages gained by being
permitted to give "Indian" as the race of the child's parents on birth certifi-
cates, we see the great mistake made in not stopping earlier the organized pro-
pagation of this racial falsehood. They have been using the advantage thus gained
as an aid to intermarriage into the white race and to attend white schools, and
now for some time they have been refusing to register with war draft boards as
negroes, as required by the boards which are faithfully performing their duties.
Three of these negroes from Caroline County were sentenced to prison on January 12
in the United States Court at Richmond for refusing to obey the draft law unless
permitted to classify themselves as "Indian."

Some of these mongrels, finding that they have been able to sneak in
their birth certificates unchallenged as Indians are now making a rush to register
as white. Upon investigation we find that a few local registrars have been per-
mitting such certificates to pass through their hands unquestioned and without
warning our office of the fraud. Those attempting this fraud should be warned
that they are liable to a penalty of one year in the penitentiary (Section 5099a
of the Code). Several clerks have likewise been actually granting them licenses
to marry whites, or at least to marry amongst themselves as Indian or white. The
danger of this error always confronts the clerk who does not inquire carefully as
to the residence of the woman when he does not have positive information. The
law is explicit that the license be issued by the clerk of the county or city in
which the woman resides.

To aid all of you in determining just which are the mixed families, we
have made a list of their surnames by counties and cities, as complete as possible
at this time. This list should be preserved by all, even by those in counties and
cities not included, as these people are moving around over the State and changing
race at the new place. A family has just been investigated which was always
recorded as negro around Glade Springs, Washington County, but which changed to
white and married as such in Roanoke County. This is going on constantly and can
be prevented only by care on the part of local registrars, clerks, doctors, health
workers, and school authorities.

Please report all known or suspicious cases to the Bureau of Vital
Statistics, giving names, ages, parents, and as much other information as possible.
All certificates of these people showing "Indian" or "white" are now being rejected
and returned to the physician or midwife, but local registrars hereafter must not
permit them to pass their hands uncorrected or unchallenged and without a note of
warning to us. One hundred and fifty thousand other mulattoes in Virginia are
watching eagerly the attempt of their pseudo-Indian brethren, ready to follow in
a rush when the first have made a break in the dike.

Very truly yours,

W. A. Plecker, M.D.
State Registrar of Vital Statistics

Page 2


Albemarle: Moon, Powell, Kidd, Pumphrey.

Amherst (Migrants to Alleghany and Campbell): Adcock (Adcox), Beverly (this family is now trying to evade the situation by adopting the name of Burch or Birch, which was the name of the white mother of the present adult generation), Branham, Duff, Floyd, Hamilton, Hartless, Hicks, Johns, Lawless, Nuckles (Knuckles), Painter, Ramsey, Redcross, Roberts, Southards (Suthards, Southerds, Southers), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Willis, Clark, Cash, Wood.

Bedford: McVey, Maxey, Branham, Burley. (See Amherst County)

Rockbridge (Migrants to Augusta): Cash, Clark, Coleman, Duff, Floyd, Hartless, Hicks, Mason, Mayse (Mays), Painters, Pultz, Ramsey, Southerds (Southers, Southards, Suthards), Sorrells, Terry, Tyree, Wood, Johns.

Charles City: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins.

King William: Collins, Dennis, Bradby, Howell, Langston, Stewart, Wynn, Custalow (Custaloe), Dungoe, Holmes, Miles, Page, Allmond, Adams, Hawkes, Suprlock, Doggett.

New Kent: Collins, Bradby, Stewart, Wynn, Adkins, Langston.

Henrico and Richmond City: See Charles City, New Kent, and King William.

Caroline: Byrd, Fortune, Nelson. (See Essex)

Essex and King and Queen: Nelson, Fortune, Byrd, Cooper, Tate, Hammond, Brooks, Boughton, Prince, Mitchell, Robinson.

Elizabeth City & Newport News: Stewart (descendants of the Charles City families).

Halifax: Epps (Eppes), Stewart (Stuart), Coleman, Johnson, Martin, Talley, Sheppard (Shepard), Young.

Norfolk County & Portsmouth: Sawyer, Bass, Weaver, Locklear (Locklair), King, Bright, Porter, Ingram.

Westmoreland: Sorrells, Worlds (or Worrell), Atwells, Gutridge, Oliff.

Greene: Shifflett, Shiflet.

Prince William: Tyson, Segar. (See Fauquier)

Fauquier: Hoffman (Huffman), Riley, Colvin, Phillips. (See Prince William)

Lancaster: Dorsey (Dawson).

Washington: Beverly, Barlow, Thomas, Hughes, Lethcoe, Worley.

Roanoke County: Beverly. (See Washington)

Lee and Smyth: Collins, Gibson (Gipson), Moore, Goins, Ramsey, Delph, Bunch, Freeman, Mise, Barlow, Bolden (Bolin), Mullins, Hawkins. -- Chiefly Tennessee "Melungeons."

Scott: Dingus. (See Lee County)

Russell: Keith, Castell, Stillwell, Meade, Proffitt. (See Lee & Tazewell)

Tazewell: Hammed, Duncan. (See Russell)

Wise: See Lee, Smyth, Scott, and Russell Counties.