23rd Union Report from MHA President Heather Andolina

The 23rd MHA Union was a fun and insightful three day long weekend (June 20, 21, and 22), in Wytheville, Virginia. It was kicked off on Thursday, with a very informative tour of the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum located in downtown Wytheville.

On Friday we took a road trip over to Tazewell, Virginia, where we first had a lovely and delicious lunch at the Grate Escape restaurant before continuing on our journey. Terry Mullins and Stephanie Musick were our illustrious tour guides into what is referred to as “God’s Thumbprint,” or better known as Burke’s Garden. It was definitely a highlight for everyone.

Friday night we had our reception at the Bolling Wilson Hotel and we would like to thank Jessica Mullins Dunsmore for accommodating and organizing the event for us.

Saturday was a full day of exciting, but enlightening presentations. The President Emeritus, S. J. Arthur welcomed everyone and Brennan McDaniel introduced Katie Vande Brake to start off the presentations. Katie took an interesting look at female Melungeon characters in Appalachian fiction. She was followed by the Melungeon Women’s Panel which was monitored by Dr. Terry Mullins and included April Mullins Mela and Lauren Magnussen. Between April’s extensive research on Melungeon heritage and Lauren’s concentrated work on Appalachian society, it made for a very robust discussion.

After lunch we had a wonderful presentation by Lynda Davis-Logan and Stephanie Musick on Melungeon Mitochondrial DNA. Dr. Edward Davis was able to present via video conferencing to give us a history about his Goins family, through his grandmother. Last, but certainly not least, Wayne Winkler captivated us with his very illuminating presentation on Walter Plecker.

In the general meeting we discussed future MHA Union locations and passed out surveys for attendees to tell us what they liked about this year’s Union, and to offer suggestions on things we can make better. We want to give a big thank you to the presenters, MHA board members and Consultants, and to each and every MHA member and future members for making this all possible. I would also like to give a special thank you to Scott Withrow. Scott has decided to retire as President. He served five years as MHA president and during his time the MHA has grown in memberships and expanded its reach. Thank you Scott for all of your hard work and dedication to the MHA. We couldn’t have had such a successful 23rd Union without you. We’ll see you and everyone else at next year’s 24th Union!