Have you ever heard of Melungeons? Heather Andolina and her brothers Jacob and Andrew Gillen grew up hearing their grandmother suggest that the family had Cherokee ancestors. When a few of the family recently did DNA testing, they discovered that not only do they have Native American heritage, but also European, African American, Southeast Asian, and Iberian, among others. Research has revealed that they are members of a little-known ethnic group called Melungeons that developed in the Appalachian area of Tennesse, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia.

Descending from their great-great grandfather, Jesse Gibson, the siblings set out to learn more about this multi-racial group. With Heather's background in history, and her brothers' expertise in filmmaking, the result is a documentary that they are producing to tell the Melungeon Story. It is called Infamous Characters, Notorious Villains. The three will share this story at the Gastonia Main Public Library on Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 at 3pm.

Intertwined within their own personal story, they will be telling the history and stories of the Melungeon people. Where did they come from, what are typical Melungeon surnames, why was the Melungeon name synonymous with contempt and disdain, and how did racism and prejudice play a role in their decision to hide the truth of their ancestry?

We hope you can join us to hear this fascinating story.


  • Occurred Saturday, August 3rd, 2019 @ 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm


Gaston County Public Library

1555 East Garrison Boulevard
Gastonia, NC 28054