Jul 06 2018

South Carolina’s “Turks” still a mystery

In South Carolina’s Sumter County, some longstanding darker-skinned residents are known as the Turks, but their origins are still shrouded in mystery, the New York Times said.

Some of them say that they descended from Joseph Benenhaley, a man from the Ottoman Empire who fought in America’s revolutionary war against the British.

There is speculation that Joseph’s original name might have been Yusuf Ben Ali, and indeed under U.S. race laws the group were listed as Caucasians of Arab descent.

Cynics have at times suggested that the story of Ben Ali might have been a convenient fiction to give “white” roots to a mixed-race family, the newspaper said.

Others in the group believe that they are native Americans, and in 2013 some gained official recognition as the Sumter tribe of Cheraw Indians.