Pamunkey Petition 1893

From “Pamunkey Indians of Virginia” (1894), John G. Pollard (Online):



The Pamunkey, as a tribe, are neither handsome nor homely, long nor short, stout nor slim, in fact they differ among themselves in these respects to the same degree found among the members of a white community of the same size.

They are not particularly strong and robust, and their average longevity is lower than that of their neighbors. These facts are perhaps in a measure attriutable to the frequent marriages between near relatives.

The average intelligence of these Indians is higher than that of the Virginia negro. With a few exceptions the adults among them can read and write. In view of their limited advantages they are strickingly well informed. A copy of one their State paper will serve to give an idea of the maximum intelligence of the tribe. It reads as follows:

We, the last descendants of the Powhatan tribe of Indians, now situated on a small reservation on the Pamunkey river, 24 miles from Richmond, Va., and one mile east of the historic White House, where Gen. George Washington was married to his lovely bride in the St. Peter’s Church. We are now known as the Pamunkey tribe of Indians, following the customs of our forefathers, hunting and fishing, partly with our dugout canoes.

We hereby authorize Terrill Bradby to visit the Indian Bureau in Washington and in all other Department and Indian tribes, and also fo visit the Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

We the undersigned, request that whenever this petition is presented, the holder may meet with the favorable approbation of the public generally.

C.S Bradby, Chief
J.T. Dennis
W.G. Sweat
R.L. Sampson
T. Bradby

R.W. Miles
Town Clerk

Jas. H. Johnson
W.T. Neal
B. Richards, MD

W.R. Allmond
A.J. Page
G.M. Cooke
W.A. Bradby
T.T. Dennis
Members of the Tribe

Hat tip to Jennifer Martin for this information.

Posted in Pamunkey | 1 Comment

Certain Aboriginal Mounds of the Georgia Coast

mounds 2

You can read this book online or download it free at:

 mounds 1


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Indian Slaves, New Kent County, VA 1722-1726

St. Peter’s Parish was located in New Kent County, Virginia.  Parish records exist from 1680-1787 and in those records, three Indians were mentioned.

Page 52 – Indian Will a slave belonging to Mr. Ebener Adams dyed October 18, 1723

Page 64 – Charles an Indian belonging to Capt. Goodrich Lightfoot died October 9, 1722

Page 66 – Enoss Indian dyed at Robert Moore’s Dec. 15, 1726


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New Native American Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup, A4, Discovered

The genetic community continues to learn more about the genesis of our Native ancestors.  A couple of years ago, I suspected that a maternal DNA haplogroup, or clan, that had previously been designated as Asian was found both in European and Native American populations as subgroups.

We have enough participation in DNA projects now to work with these kinds of questions.

The results were not quite what I expected.  The group I thought was going to be Native, was not, but instead we found another group that was.  There are still a couple of other subgroups that are likely Native as well.  A very interesting picture of haplogroup A4 has emerged.

For those interested, I published the results in the article, “Haplogroup A4 Unpeeled – European, Jewish, Asian and Native American.”

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Chiskoyack Indians of Goucester County, VA

A reader sent these two images of a 1655 transaction in Goucester Co. VA – one of which is transcribed.  Interestingly, I have never run across this tribe or the reference to the Chiskoyack before.



Hat tip to Tommy for this information.

Posted in Chiskoyack, Virginia | 5 Comments

Sophia Williams Estes (1849-1928) – Native American Woman

Sophia Williams Estes

Sophia Williams Estes

In 2006, Onor Goin was a critically ill man, on dialysis, when the Dallas morning news wrote a story about Onor, known as Bouncer, and his family.

Bouncer’s family was typical of a Native American family whose members had “married white” and tried to leave their Native heritage behind, not because they wanted to, but as a matter of self-preservation.

Bouncer’s family lost its heritage and lived under a false identity, that of being white.  But Bouncer found his family’s heritage, literally, under the floor boards of the old home place, and started putting the secrets back together again.  Not, I might add, without problems from the older family members who remembered all too clearly how bad it was to be “Indian.”  As Bouncer put it, “to say you were Indian was material for the shotgun.”

John Williams and Eliza Wood were Cherokee and born in Georgia.  Their daughter, Sophia would marry Thomas G. I. Estes in Alabama in 1868.  From there, Sophia and her family would become white, as a way of protecting themselves and their children.

Sophia’s sister, Eliza Wood Williams would marry George Washington Goin,  Bouncer’s ancestor.

According to Bouncer, the unofficial historian of Northeastern Denton County, some of the Cherokee broke from the exiled tribe as the Trail of Tears progressed though Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Others bolted south for Mexico and called themselves “Black Dutch,” a name he says held an “empty heritage dug from the blood and dirt and death along the Trail of Tears.”

Some Cherokees who were headed for Mexico settled in North Texas, the area surrounding Tarrant among them, in particular, the city of Watauga.  They called this community, “Unega” the Cherokee word for “white.”  On the deeds, it was spelled Onega.  In 1880, the town no longer wanted an Indian sounding name, so they drew slips of paper for a new name and it became Aubrey.

However, when the Cherokee families originally settled here, it was an untamed frontier, perfect for people who didn’t want to be found, according to Richard McCaslin, a history professor at the University of North Texas.

The photo above is of Sophia Williams Estes, the sister of Eliza Wood Williams Goins, having just arrived from the reservation in Oklahoma.  After that, she became a Black Dutch transformation, according to Bouncer.

The next picture is a large family photo take in 1885 in Aubrey.  Everyone was dressed entirely in “white apparel” with no hint at all of Nativeness.

Another 55 years later, Bouncer was crawling under his grandmother’s porch retrieving potatoes from where they were kept, where it was cool, when he overheard relatives talking about the Indians and his grandparents would talk in a language he did not understand.

When he asked about the word Indian, once, his mother slapped him across the mouth.

His uncle chopped wood and chanted to the sky.  Him mother told him to stay away from that uncle, that he was crazy.

The family quietly practiced Native medicine, but it was never called that.

And the family made moonshine, Bouncer’s grandmother in particular.  When his grandmother, Granny Laura, was elderly, Bouncer would sneak her a bit of moonshine, since she was living in her tee-totaler daughter’s house, and Granny Laura would tell him about smoke signals between her husband and the Comanches.  He heard the stories of old Georgia, how the houses were invaded by solders, the violence and the death along the Trail to Oklahoma and Texas – and more.

In 1953 while Bouncer was in the service, Granny Laura died, and she left her house to Bouncer.  He came home, ready to settle down, got married and began to remodel his grandmother’s house.

He pulled up the old linoleum.  Underneath he found some old newspapers, dating as far back as the 1820s, and some were marriages, births and obituaries, with names and words underlined.  He gathered them all up to throw away, but his wife advised against it.  In time, Bouncer came to realize that these old clippings held the secret to his family’s past and he began a scrapbook, and began talking about his finds.

A few months later, an aunt came into the hardware store that Bouncer bought from his father and warned him to stop, pleaded with him to leave the secrets alone.  She told him that he was “gonna dig deep enough that he would uncover something he would wish he hadn’t.”

Realizing the significance of the story, he began to tie it together with official documents, census records and historical documents of the region.

Finally, in 1999, Bouncer began to write about his family history, and his other historical finds, publicly for the Aubrey newspaper in a column called “Talk Under the Tipi.”  He was no longer willing to keep the secret and felt compelled to share the gift his grandmother had left to him.

Bouncer joined his grandmother on July 24, 2009, but not before he preserved the story of his family and ancestors.  You can read his columns today and about his heritage at

Posted in Cherokee | 5 Comments

The Sycamore Tree and the Indian Legend of Notre Dame University

My friend, Suzanne dropped me a most interesting note.  She attended Notre Dame University in the early 1960s and developed a special relationship with a unique tree.

Suzanne oak 1963

Recently she went back to visit.

“While in the area in 2010, I took a sentimental journey to my other alma mater, Notre Dame University, including a visit to the sycamore tree where I often sat 48 and 47 years ago to read beside the lake on campus. The intersection of branches that formed my perch has grown as high as I am tall.  Its branches form an open hand stretched upward. Estimated to be about 200 years old, it is said to mark the spot where an innocent Potawatomi who lived near the lake was murdered for a crime committed by another; and, according to tradition, the tree represents the hand of God, who offers protection and proclaims, “Vengeance is mine.”

Suzanne Oak 2010

Thank you Suzanne, for providing your story, sharing your photos and for the links below to the rest of the story….

Notre Dame

On the Notre Dame University campus in South Bend, Indiana, stands a large Sycamore tree.  Legend has it that this Sycamore sprung from the place on the ground where the blood of an Indian was spilled.

Dorothy Corson spent quite a bit of time and effort researching the early Native Americans in the region and the relationships between the early Potawatomi and Miami Indians, pre-removal, and whites, both settlers and missionaries, associated with what would eventually become Notre Dame.

Is the legend true?  It might be.  Read what Dorothy has to say…

Please visit this link for additional chapters in the book, “A Cave of Candles.”

Posted in Miami, Potawatomi | 1 Comment