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 | 4 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

Naia – Oldest Native American Facial Reconstruction

Naia, named affectionately for the ancient water nymphs of Greek mythology is actually the face of the oldest Native American.  At least, the oldest one whose skull is complete and whose face we can reconstruct.  Naia was a teenager when she died between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago by falling into a cave in the Yukatan. In 2007, her remains were found in a submerged cavern, and history was about to be made, after waiting some 12,000+ years.

A scientific team would study her remains, sample her DNA and reconstruct her face.  The January 2015 issue of National Geographic magazine has an absolutely wonderful article and the online magazine version does as well.

nat geo naia

Start by reading the wonderful story, of course, but don’t miss the video about how they recovered the remains and the subsequent analysis.  There is also a photo gallery and several other links, across the top of the article – all worth seeing.

One of the unexpected findings was how different Naia looks than what we would have expected based on what Native people look like today.  She had a more African and Polynesian facial structure than later Native people, and she was much smaller.  Be sure to check out Nat Geo’s “clues to an ancient mystery.”

Naia’s mitochondrial DNA confirms that indeed, her matrilineal line originated in Asia, a common base haplogroup found in Native Americans todayhaplogroup D1.

The accompanying academic paper was published in the May 2014 issue of the Journal Science, titled “Late Pleistocene Human Skeleton and mtDNA Link Paleoamericans and Modern Native Americans” by James Chatters et al.

The article is behind a paywall, but the abstract is as follows:


Because of differences in craniofacial morphology and dentition between the earliest American skeletons and modern Native Americans, separate origins have been postulated for them, despite genetic evidence to the contrary. We describe a near-complete human skeleton with an intact cranium and preserved DNA found with extinct fauna in a submerged cave on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This skeleton dates to between 13,000 and 12,000 calendar years ago and has Paleoamerican craniofacial characteristics and a Beringian-derived mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup (D1). Thus, the differences between Paleoamericans and Native Americans probably resulted from in situ evolution rather than separate ancestry.

A second article, published in Science, also in May 2014, “Bones from a Watery “Black Hole” Confirm First American Origins” by Michael Balter discuss the fact that the earlier skeletons of Native people often don’t resemble contemporary Native people.

Also behind a paywall, the summary states:


Most researchers agree that the earliest Americans came over from Asia via the Bering Strait between Siberia and Alaska, beginning at least 15,000 years ago. But many have long puzzled over findings that some of the earliest known skeletons—with long skulls and prominent foreheads—do not resemble today’s Native Americans, who tend to have rounder skulls and flatter faces. Some have even suggested that at least two migrations into the Americas were involved, one earlier and one later. But the discovery of a nearly 13,000-year-old teenage girl in an underwater cave in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula argues against that hypothesis. The girl had the skull features of older skeletons, but the genetic profile of some of today’s Native Americans—suggesting that the anatomical differences were the result of evolutionary changes after the first Americans left Asia, rather than evidence of separate ancestry.

Of course, the fact that Naia was found so early in such a southern location has spurred continuing debate about migration waves and paths, land versus water arrivals.  Those questions won’t be resolved until we have a lot more data to work with – but they do make for lively debate.  Dienekes wrote a short article about this topic when the paper was first released, and the comments make for more interesting reading than the article.

Posted in Archaeology, Archaic Indians, DNA, Mexico | Leave a comment

Panis Indian Burials in Detroit, Michigan and Windsor and Amherstburg, Ontario

This map shows the metropolitan Detroit area that is relevant to the discussion of the Indian trading, slavery and burials in this article. The red balloon is Boblo Island in the river between Detroit and Windsor, on the Canadian side.

detroit region map

From the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, we find the following important contributions to understanding early Indian slavery in the Detroit River region, an important trading area.

To begin, Suzanne Boivin Sommerville writes about the Panis Indian burials at St. Anne Church in Detroit

I noticed that these 212 burials have Christianized first names, which surely were given during the Catholic baptism, but only a handful had surnames and those were generally children of Frenchmen and Native wives.  I asked if this was the norm and Suzanne replied with this example from her published works:

“The 1657 marriage record of Pierre and Marie is not, however, the first documented reference to Marie. Her baptism record, almost seven years earlier, survives in the registers of Nôtre Dame de Montréal. This text is also in Latin. Jean Quintal sent me a photocopy of the entry along with his Latin transcription and a French translation, which I here translate into English:

panis baptism

The symbol I represent with the Wingding for Taurus, is really a digraph used by the priests and other officials to represent a sound often “printed” as an /8/ and the sound is either /ou/ or English /w/ before a vowel.  PRDH transcribes it always as /ou/, so to continue from my article:

“Before her baptism, Marie had used another Indian name, KaKésiKKé, or KaKésiKouKoué; but, apparently following the Indian tradition of taking a new name at important moments in life, she adopted the name Mitéouamegoukoué, and accepted her godmother’s first name, Marie, as a Christian first name, thus adopting a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. Her daughter Isabelle would also adopt a new name, Madame Montour, at a crucial time in her life after the death of her brother, Louis Couc dit Montour. At Marie’s baptism, she was the wife of Asababich, also an Indian. She had at least two children by him, both of whom were baptised at Montréal and appear to have died before her marriage to Pierre Couc.”

The ending “Koué” eventually evolved into “squaw” in English, and means woman.”

Suzanne goes on to provide some additional information on the naming practices of the Hurons and Wendats.

“From my Couc / Montour saga available on a CD on the FCHSM website:

The Jesuit Relations report these missionaries’ understanding about Indian names.  Since the Jesuits were educated linguists of some skill, as well as first-hand witnesses of Native traditions, it is worth quoting part of one of their relations at length, in this case concerning the Hurons / Wendats:


In this Country, there are no Names appropriated to Families, as in Europe. The Children do not bear their Father’s name, and there is no name that is common to the whole Family,- each one has his own different name. Nevertheless, it is so arranged that, if possible, no Name is ever lost; on the contrary when one of the Family dies all the relatives assemble, and consult together as to which among them shall bear the name of the deceased, giving [page 165] his own to some other relative. He who takes new name also assumes the Duties connected with it, and thus he becomes Captain if the deceased had been one. This done, they dry their tears, and cease to weep for the deceased. In this manner, they place him among the number of the living, saying that he is resuscitated, and has come to life in the person of him who has received his name, and has [121 i.e. 119] rendered him immortal. Thus it happens that Captain never has any other name than that of his predecessor, as formerly in Egypt all the Kings bore the name of Ptolemy.

Therefore, as this election of the Captains, or (as the Hurons say) the resurrection of the dead, is always celebrated with pomp and splendor, when it became necessary to bring back to life the brother of this new Christian,—that is, when new Captain had to be elected,—all the chief men of the Country were called together; and we also were invited, as to [sic] Ceremony in which the French were greatly interested because it was question of reviving the name of Atironta, he who had formerly been the first of the Hurons to go down to Kebec [sic], and to form friendship with the French. When the Nations were assembled, they conferred on us the honor of selecting him whom we wished to assume that name and the office of Captain. We deferred the choice to the discretion and prudence of the Relatives. “We therefore,” said they, “cast our eyes on that man,” pointing out Jean Baptiste to us; “and we do not wish his name [122 i.e. 120] to be any longer Aëoptahon but Atironta, since he brings him back to life. [1]”

The tradition of Native people changing their names at important times in their life is not restricted to the tribes near Detroit.  One of the first records we have of Native people in what would become the United States is Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony on Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina, beginning in 1584.  The 1587 Colony itself may have eventually been “lost,” the but the journals of the first military expeditions to the island remain and those men record that one of the Native men changed his name from Wingina to Pemisipan.

Search the links below for Native burial records transcribed by Gail Moreau-DesHarnais for the word “panis,” “mitis” and “sauvage” to find the Indian burials.

Ste. Anne’s (Detroit, Michigan):  Part I (1706 – 1751); Part II (1751 – 1766); Part III (1766 – 1776); Part IV (1776 – 1787); Part V (1787 – 1793); Part VI (1793 – 1799); Part VII (1800 – 1805)

St. Jean Baptiste (present-day Amherstburg, Ontario) and St. Pierre / Peter (present-day Tilbury, Ontario): Burials to 1805

L’Assomption-de-la-Pointe-de-Montréal-du-Detroit (Assumption in present-day Windsor, Ontario): Part 1 (1768 – 1784); Part 2 (1784 – 1792); Part 3 (1792 – 1800); Part 4 (1800 – 1805).

Many of these panis were young or newborn children, so they were obviously being born to a panis mother and a father who could have been Native or not. In some cases, there is no name for the child or the mother, only the owner.

In addition, the French Canadian Heritage Society provides a link to other Native American resources of the region.

Another valuable link is this one to French Canadian and Native Families.

In addition, there was a 1762 census of this region that includes information about Native people and slaves.

I had asked Suzanne about an entry within the burial records that referred to “rivierre Panisse,” as a place name.

Here’s what she found.

I found the reference I wanted for the riviere de la panisse:  Page 9 of Diane Sheppard’s article, Census and Land Records, shows the original Chaussegros de Léry Maps.  In the first one, point M is identified as riviere de la panisse. This is approximately just south on the Ontario side of the current Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit and Windsor.  The area near the Ontario side of the modern bridge was occupied by the Huron from 1748 on before they gifted the property to build Assumption Church.  The University of Windsor is now there also.  These Huron Petun who came to be called Wyandot had originally settled close to Fort Pontchartrain at the invitation of Cadillac, just downriver from it, on the North shore, until they moved to Isle aux Bois Blancs (Bob-lo Island) up to the point that the rebel Huron destroyed that settlement in 1747.

The area on the USA side not far from the Ambassador Bridge had been occupied for many years by the Potawatomi, also invited to settle near Fort Pontchartrain.  They also gifted that land to French Canadians.

On the map below, the Ambassador bridge is the only surface link between Detroit and Windsor until you get to Port Huron, another hour north where a second bridge is located.  Ste. Anne’s Church in Detroit sits at the foot of the Ambassador bridge on the Detroit side.

Boblo map

I asked Suzanne about when slavery ended in this region.

She replied:

Wikipedia says ” Slavery remained legal, however, until the British Parliament’s Slavery Abolition Act finally abolished slavery in all parts of the British Empire effective August 1, 1834.”

See also

The abolition of slavery:

In the Louisiana region, slavery was not abolished until 1865, but the situation was entirely different in Canada where, by the 18th century, to the use of slaves was becoming increasingly infrequent. In 1793, Upper Canada (today, Ontario) legislated for the first time against the importation of slaves, thereby heralding the gradual elimination of slavery. The same year, Lower Canada (Quebec) also presented a bill to abolish slavery. Several members of the Legislative Assembly, themselves slave owners, opposed the legislation. Finally, it was the courts who sealed the fate of slavery in the province: in various cases concerning the arrest of slaves for having run away from the domicile of their master, judges ordered the liberation and manumission of the fugitives. In 1833, the official abolition of slavery in the British Empire simply confirmed the existing status that had already prevailed for several years in Canada. However, it is impossible to state with precision the date when slavery disappeared from the country.

I want to thank Suzanne for answering many questions during the preparation of this article and so willingly sharing her years of expertise.

Posted in Huron, Panis, Potawatomi, Wyandot | Leave a comment

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for the Native Heritage blog.  Given that I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested when I started this project, there have been an amazing number of views and subscribers.  Thank you everyone.  I hope we can continue to breath life into the lives and history of our ancestors.  If you find interesting documentation, please send it my way.  We’ve been blessed with many contributors.

And in the who’s counting category, this is the 602nd article on this blog, so there is certainly something for everyone.  Use the search function liberally!

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 230,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 10 days for that many people to see it.

Attractions in 2014

These are the posts that got the most views in 2014.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

James Logan Colbert of the Chickasaws and Allied Trader Families

The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Volume XX, No.2, May 1994, pg.82 contains an article titled “James Logan Colbert of the Chickasaw, The Man and the Myth.”  This article is reproduced at this link:

Colbert’s family history says that he was from Scotland and adopted as a child by the Chickasaw.  Documentation provides different information.  He was indeed raised among the Chickasaw and he did marry Native women.

The highlights relative to Native descendants and traders from the above article are extracted as follows:

During the early, mid, and late 1600s, African and West Indian slaves were sent to Virginia and bought by “white” Indian traders such as Charles HARMAR, Abraham WOOD, Benjamin HARRISON, and others.

On 7 January 1784 Alexander McGILLVRAY, the “half-breed” son of Lachlan McGILLIVRY and Sehoy MARCHAND of the Creek Indian Wind Clan, wrote a letter to Capt. Arturo O’NEIL (a French officer paid by the Spanish government to fight the Chickasaw Indians) that James COLBERT was dead:

“I had forgot to inform your Excellency in My last letter of the death of Capt. James COLBERT of the Chickasaw Nation who had been at St. Augustine, concerning demands that was made on him by the Governor of New Orleans for damages he did on the Mississippi.  He got full powers to Clear up that Complaint, & on his Way to the Chickasaw Nation three days after he left my house his horse threw him down and Killd him before his Servant could assist him.(4)”

In a secret letter written to General James WILKENSON, John DONNE described James Logan COLBERT in the following way:

“From his education and mode of life, being bred among the Indians from his infancy, it will naturally be supposed he is illiterate, which is the case, but possessed of strong natural parts. I should suppose some honorary appointment such as he had under the Crown being continued to him, would naturally lend him in our interest, and under (him) moreover an useful person to whoever might be appointed Superintendent in them Nations.”(5)

During the negotiations with DONNE and MARTIN, COLBERT asked DONNE to write a letter for him. It was written on 25 July 1783 and addressed to Governor HARRISON of Virginia. In it COLBERT reiterated his hatred of the Spanish and French and pledged his support to the Americans. His concern, he went on, was for the welfare of the Chickasaws. As for himself, he had no motives other than helping the “disturbed Condition of those people, and to serve the Country IN WHICH HE LIVES AND WAS BORN.(6)”

In the mid 1820s, according to the family tradition, Chief George COLBERT of the Chickasaws offered Lunsford ASOBROOK “one of his four barrels of silver” if he would marry one of his daughters. According to Nina LEFTWICH’s book on the history of Colbert County, Alabama:

“There is in the ALSOBROOK family today a silver medal which George COLBERT gave to Lunsford ALSOBROOK as a token of esteem and friendship which he felt for him when the spirited daughter of the old chief refused to accept the attentions and proposal of Mr. ALSOBROOK, prompted as she thought by the offer of her father. The medal was presented to COLBERT by President JEFFERSON in 1801 as a mark of appreciation for services rendered by the Chief.(11)”

Historian Gilbert C. DIN wrote; “James Logan COLBERT, a Scotsman and trader, began residence among the Chickasaw before 1740, when he was about the age of twenty.”(13) In order to determine when COLBERT began living with the Chickasaws, it was necessary to seek corroborating evidence to verify DONNE’s statement. This evidence was discovered through the writings of James ADAIR, a former Chickasaw trader. In 1775. ADAIR wrote a book about his experiences with the Five Civilized Tribes. He called it A HISTORY of the NORTH-AMERICAN INDIANS,THEIR CUSTOMS, ETC. In his chapter on the Chickasaw he wrote: “Capt.J. C-l-b-rt who has lived among the Chikkasah from his childhood, and speaks their language even with more propriety than the english, desreves to be recorded…”(14)

COLBERT married three times and had eight known children:(16)

1)Sally (first by fullblood)

2)William (second by fullblood)

3)Joseph (second by fullblood)

4)Samuel (second by fullblood)

5)Levi (second by fullblood)

6)George (second by fullblood)

7)James (third by half-blood)

8)Susan (third by half-blood)

The DRAPER COLLECTION of MANUSCRIPTS proved very useful. In 1841 Lyman DRAPER interviewed Malcolm McGEE, a former Chickasaw trader and interpreter for the Chickasaw Nations. McGEE was present with James COLBERT in the summer of 1783 at Long Island on the Holston River during the Virginia-Chickasaw negotiations with DONNE and MARTIN. Like COLBERT, McGEE had moved to the Chickasaw Nations as a small boy. That was in 1767 when he was ten years old.(17) In addition, McGee was once married to Eizabeth OXBERRY HARRIS, daughter of Christpher OXBERRY and Molly COLBERT. During the interview, McGEE was asked to describe the Indian traders who lived with the Chickasaws in 1767. McGEE described the traders by their place of birth: ADAIR, Irish; BUBBY, English; BUCKLES, English; HIGHTOWER, Dutchman; COLBERT, Carolinian. All the traders, according to McGEE, had a Chickasaw wife except COLBERT who had three. McGee deduced that the above traders had lived with the Chickasaw for over twenty years because by 1767 all of them had fullgrown “half-breed” children.

One of the first Virginia Indian traders whose property was “confiscated” because of this act [SC Indian Trader act of 1702] was Robert HICKS[Sr.]of Virginia in 1707.(18)

Using the names of “Licensed Indian traders”, a list of Virginia, North and South Carolina traders was created. A partial list includes Robert LONG, Charles HICKS, John BROWN, William GILCHRIST, Abraham COLSON, James ANDERSON, William KEMP, James MOORE, Richard HYDE, John SIMS, William WILLIAMS, and John PETTYGREW.

One of James COLBERT’s ‘hirelings’ was Richard HYDE, listed above. His father, aslo known as Richard Hyde, had also been employed by COLBERT as a packhorseman. The elder HYDE was a former pirate and member of Blackbeard’s gang. HYDE quit his life of piracy when Edward TEACH(Blackbeard) was killed in 1718.(20)

Records show that Richard HYDE and his family lived along the Roanoke River at Hyde Island. This island is a few miles upstream from Plumbtree (Mush) Island and the Occoneechee Neck.

Further research revealed a number of Chickasaw Indian traders lived along the Pee Dee River during the “off-season” at a settlement called Sandy Bluff (in present day Marion County, South Carolina). According to Harvey Toliver COOK, several North Carolina and Virginia “squatters” had lived at Sandy Bluff since the early 1730s and a substantial community had evolved by 1734.(22)

William BYRD made reference to the Pee Dee River in his book HISTORY of the DIVIDING LINE when describing the Indian Trading Path which crossed the northwest section of present day Warren County in North Carolina on its way “to the Catawbas and other southern Indians.” According to BYRD, the Pee Dee was a place “where the traders commonly lie for some days, to recruit their horses’ flesh as well as to recover their own spirits.”

Sandy Bluff was farther down the Pee Dee that the “usual” rest stop for traders. At first, it was occupied by only a few of the Chickasaw woodsmen before they proceeded to Virginia and North Carolina. Most, if not all, of these woodsmen had Indian wives and half-breed children in the Chickasaw towns they traded in. Geographically, Sandy Bluff was remote from any of the major Indian paths or large towns in South Carolina. It was considered “out-of-the-way”. In all respects, Sandy Bluff was a “self-contained isolate community”.

Richard TURBEVILLE’s will was witnessed by John HOGG, Richard CURETON, and John HATCHER. All three lived on the Roanoke River near Occoneechee Neck and Plumbtree Island. John HATCHER was a descendant of a Virginian Indian trading family. The HOGGs and CURETONs had ties with the COLBERTs.

Virginia records show that Jacob COLSON had been an Indian trader since the late 1600s. Abraham’s father, Joseph COLSON, had been a Chickasaw trader since 1721.

Four years earlier Joseph COLSON was one of the woodsmen who accompanied Major MUMFORD[MUNFORD] and William BYRD II on the expedition to THE LAND OF EDEN.

Like his grandfather and father, Abraham COLSON lived and traded among the various Indian tribes. In February of 1740, Abraham submitted two bills to the House of Commons of South Carolina for payment.

“An Account of the said Mr. Abraham COLLSON amounting to L25, it being for a Steer, and 2 Quarters of Beef & for the Use of the Indians in July 1738. Which Account having been also read to the House it was ordered that the same be referred to the Consideration of the Committee on Petitions and Accounts.(27)

“another Account of the said Mr. Abraham COLLSON amounting to the Sum of L6 for 2 Quarters of Beef for the Chactaw Indians on their traveling to Charles Town.”

As Chickasaw traders, the COLSONs and TURBEVILLESs had the means and opportunity to take James Logan COLBERT to the Chickasaw Nations as a small boy. What is more compelling, however, is that both families lived next door to the COLBERTs in North Carolina during the 1720s and 1730s.

Several settlements were granted patents or grants by the South Carolina government during the 1730s near Sandy Bluff. Queensboro was surveyed in 1733 and in 1736 a colony of Welsh Baptists from Pennsylvania was established. Unfortunately, the settlers at Sandy Bluff did not get along with their neighbors.

“In 1739 one of the petitions of the Welsh complained ‘That several Out Laws and Fugitives from the Colonies of Virginia and North Carolina most of whom are Mullatoes or of a Mixed Blood’ had thrust themselves among them, paying no taxes nor quit rents, ‘and are a Pest and Nuisance to the adjacent Inhabitants.’ They were a part of a band of robbers sought by the Virginia government, and had, so the Welsh suspected, the sympathy of some of their neighbors.”(29)

The outlaw community of mulattoes and mixedbloods continued to plague the Welsh settlements with robberies to such an extent that the governor brought out the militia. In 1746, two settlers petitioned to have their grants moved to a different location. One complained that the “robbers reduced his stock of hogs from twenty-five to six.”

In 1747, George HICKS, son of Robert HICKS, Jr., moved to the Pee Dee River near Sandy Bluff. According to the Reverend Mr. GREGG:

“In the latter part of the year previous came George HICKS, from Virginia. The family was of English descent. Being a man of means and influence, Mr. HICKS induced a number of his own relatives and others also to come with him. He became head of a large connexion on the Pee Dee. The first record of his name is in a grant of land, in the Welsh tract, January 22nd, 1747.”(30)

In 1750 the governor of South Carolina appointed George HICKS and James CRAWFORD as justices of the peace because some of the Sandy Bluff settlers were “Living very Riotous”. The problem did not subside, however, and two years later, Justice of the Peace James CRAWFORD and sixty other settlers asked the governor for permission to move to another district. By then, the mulattoes and mixed bloods had taken control of the district.

In addition to the TURBEVILLEs and COLSONs, many other families that had previously lived on the Roanoke River moved to Sandy Bluff. Among them were the GIBSONs, CHAVIS[CHAVERS], Goins[GOINGS], and SWEETs[SWEAT]. According to GREGG, Gideon GIBSON was one of the wealthiest men at Sandy Bluff. He was also a “Free Man of Color”.(31) So were the CHAVIS, GOINS and SWEAT families. All four families were related by marriage.(32)

The TUBEVILLEs were also related to the Sweat family by marriage. In 1763, William SWEAT, the son-n-law of John TURBEVILLE, was named executor of his estate. John TURBEVILLE was born in North Carolina at either Plumbtree Island or the Occoneechee Neck and was a grandson of Richard TURBEVILLE. In his will dated 3 August 1763 and probated in Charleston, South Carolina, John TURBEVILLE made provisions for his daughter Lucy SWEAT and grandson Nathan SWEAT as well as other members of his family.(33)

The GOINS family had originally come from Virginia before migrating to North and South Carolina. (Goins Island is located at Lake Gaston on the Roanoke River a few miles upriver from Hyde Island and Plumbtree Island.) CHAVIS [Chavers], on the other hand, lived on the Quankey Creek, which is below Plumbtree Island.

Gideon GIBSON had lived near the Occoneechee Neck adjacent to land owned by Arthur KAVANAUGH, Ralph MASON, and Richard TURBEVILLE before buying land on Quankey Creek from Robert LONG[LANG], a Chickasaw and Cherokee Indian trader. LONG also owned land at Elk Marsh and Plumbtree Island. LONG had received his land patents at Quankey Creek and Plumbtree Island on 1 March 1719/1720.(34)

Robert LONG and Gideon GIBSON were not the only woodsmen who lived at Quankey Creek in North Carolina. Joseph SIMS and James MOORE also lived there. Like the COLSONs and TURBEVILLEs of Plumbtree Island, these woodsmen traded with the Chickasaws. During the off-season they often rested at Sandy Bluff before returning to North Carolina. In 1732 Joseph SIMS and James MOORE witnessed the selling of land between two men from Albemarle County, North Carolina, at Quankey Creek. A third witness was James LOGAN.

“…Thomas MATTHEWS of the north west parish of Edge. Prect. in the Co. of Albermarle, planter to Joseph BREWER of Edge. Prect….16 Mar.1732 10 pounds current money of VA. 200 acres in north west parish on the south side of the Moratock river and the south side of Great Quankey Creek whereon the sd. MATTHEWS now lives, joining Peter JONES, other lands of sd. MATTHEWS, the land formerly owned by Robert WOOD and the creek part of a tract granted to William WILLIAMS for 340 acres 17 May 1730 Wit: Joseph SIMS, James LOGAN, James MOORE…”(36)

William WILLIAMS, a former owner mentioned in the above sale, had traded with the Chickasaw Nations since the early 1720s. Peter JONES had accompanied Joseph COLSON, Robert HICKS, Major MUMFORD, and William BYRD II during the survey of “Eden”.

According to COLBERT family tradition, a man named “James LOGAN” was the grandfather of James COLBERT. Given the similarity of names, plus the fact that Chickasaw traders lived at Quankey Creek, Occoneechee Neck and on Plumbtree Island, circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that this James LOGAN was indeed the grandfather of James Logan COLBERT.

Additional information on James LOGAN comes from F.B.KEGLEY in his book KEGLEY’S VIRGINIA FRONTIER. In it he describes some of the earliest settlers on “the southwest frontier below the mountains” in Virginia.

“On the south side of the James below the mountains the frontier at this time was represented by the Welsh settlement on the Mcherrin; Col.BYRD’s improvements on the Roanoke above Sandy Creek, including the three charming islands, Sapponi, Occoneechee and Totero; Major MUNFORD’s Quarter near-by; Col. BYRD’s Land of Eden on the Dan and Major MAYO’s Survey adjoining; Richard and William KENNON’s grant on Cub Creek which supplied farmsteads for John CALDWELL’s Presbyterian Colony…

“On the South eastern creeks were…Joseph COLSON at Major MUMFORD’s…and Peter MITCHELL, the highest inhabitant on Roanoke River, about six miles above the fork. Among the first to become settled on Cub Creek were John and William CALDWELL, James LOGAN…”(37)

The CALDWELLs and LOGANs had originally come from Pennsylvania before migrating to Virginia and North Carolina. In addition to settling a Presbyterian colony, several of the CALDWELLs were also Chickasaw traders. When Bernard ROMANS visited the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians in 1775, he wrote of his accounts of an Indian trader named CALDWELL:

“One CALDWELL has the greatest stock[of cattle]; and OPAYA MINGO LUXI went in 1771 to complain of it, but CALDWELL, knowing that no savage can withstand the words of a white man, took advantage thereof, and so intimidated the savage, by his mere presence at Pensacola, when in the Superintendent’s hall, in order to lodge his information, and make his complaint that OPAYA MINGO LUXI himself said he had nothing against him…”(38)

While investigating the TURBEVILLEs, COLSONs, and LONGs, it was discovered that the family of Joseph CALVERT (pronounced kahl/vert) also lived on Plumbtree Island and owned property on the Occoneechee Neck. Deed records strongly suggest that Joseph CALVERT and Joseph COLSON were either partners and/or related to one another. On 20 March 1721 both bought property on the Morattuck River from Thomas WHITMELL, an Indian trader.(39)

Further research revealed that the TURBEVILLEs, COLSONs, and CALVERTs worked for Major Robert MUMFORD of Brunswick County, Virginia, and with Thomas WHITMELL. Major MUMFORD was a large land speculator and the descendant of an Indian trading family. The MUMFORDs had traded alongside men like Abraham WOOD, Benjamin HARRISON, Robert BOLLING, William BYRD I, Peter POYTHRESS, and Robert HICKS since the late 1600s.(42)

The TURBEVILLEs learned of the Occoneechee Neck on the Roanoke through their association with Arthur KAVANAUGH and Major Robert MUMFORD. By 1712 both KAVANAUGH and MUMFORD were large landowners in Virginia and North Carolina. KAVANAUGH began selling his North Carolina patents in 1713 and MUMFORD acted as his attorney. Thomas WHITMELL, the Indian trader, bought six hundred acres from KAVANAUGH on the north side of the Morattuck River in 1715.(43)

Before moving to North Carolina, the TURBEVILLEs sold land they owned in Prince George County, Virginia, to Peter MITCHELL, an Indian trader and land speculator. (MITCHELL lived high on the Roanoke River near the CALDWELLs and James LOGAN.) Major MUMFORD acted as Mary TURBEVILLE’s power of attorney and it was witnessed by Arthur KAVANAUGH and John ANDERSON.(44)

ANDERSON was also an Indian trader and land speculator who worked with MUMFORD. Prior to 1722, ANDERSON lived with his family on the Occoneechee Neck of the Roanoke River. Before moving to the Roanoke River and the Occoneechee, ANDERSON had lived in Prince George County, Virginia.


Posted in Catawba, Chickasaw, Choctaw | 4 Comments

Haplogroup C3* – Previously Believed East Asian Haplogroup is Proven Native American

In a paper just released, “Insights into the origin of rare haplogroup C3* Y chromosomes in South America from high-density autosomal SNP genotyping,” by Mezzavilla et al,  research shows that haplogroup C3* (M217, P44, Z1453), previously believed to be exclusively East Asian, is indeed, Native American.

Subgroup C-P39 (formerly C3b) was previously proven to be Native and is found primarily in the eastern US and Canada although it was also reported among the Na-Dene in the 2004 paper by Zegura et all titled “High-resolution SNPs and microsatellite haplotypes point to a single recent entry of Native American Y chromosomes into the Americas.”

The discovery of C3* as Native is great news, as it more fully defines the indigenous American Y chromosome landscape.  It also is encouraging in that several mitochondrial haplogroups, including variants of M, have also been found in Central and South America, also not previously found in North America and also only previously found in Asia, Polynesia and even as far away as Madagascar.  They too had to come from someplace and desperately need additional research of this type.  There is a great deal that we don’t know today that remains to be discovered.  As in the past, what is thought to be fact doesn’t always hold water under the weight of new discoveries – so it’s never wise to drive a stake too far in the ground in the emerging world of genetics.  It’s likely to get moved!

You can view the Y DNA projects for C-M217 here, C-P39 here, and the main C project here.  Please note that on the latest version of the ISOGG tree, M217, P44 and Z1453 are now listed as C2, not C3.  Also note that I added the SNP names in this article.  The Mezzavilla paper references the earlier C3 type naming convention which I have used in discussing their article to avoid confusion.

In the Messavilla study, fourteen individuals from the Kichwa and Waorani populations of South America were discovered to carry haplogroup C3*.  Most of the individuals within these populations carry variants of expected haplogroup Q, with the balance of 26% of the Kichwa samples and 7.5% of the Waorani samples carrying C3*.  MRCA estimates between the groups are estimated to be between 5.0-6.2 KYA, or years before present.

Other than one C3* individual in Alaska, C3* is unknown in the rest of the Native world including all of North American and the balance of Central and South America, but is common and widespread in East Asia.

In the paper, the authors state that:

We set out to test whether or not the haplogroup C3* Y chromosomes found at a mean frequency of 17% in two Ecuadorian populations could have been introduced by migration from East Asia, where this haplogroup is common. We considered recent admixture in the last few generations and, based on an archaeological link between the middle Jōmon culture in Japan and the Valdivia culture in Ecuador, a specific example of ancient admixture between Japan and Ecuador 6 Kya.

In a paper, written by Estrada et all, titled “Possible Transpacific Contact on the Cost of Ecuador”, Estrada states that the earliest pottery-producing culture on the coast of Ecuador, the Valdivia culture, shows many striking similarities in decoration and vessel shape to pottery of eastern Asia. In Japan, resemblances are closest to the Middle Jomon period. Both early Valdivia and Middle Jomon are dated between 2000 and 3000 B.C. A transpacific contact from Asia to Ecuador during this time is postulated.

This of course, opens the door for Asian haplogroups not found elsewhere to be found in Ecuador.

The introduction of the Mezzabilla paper states:

The consensus view of the peopling of the Americas, incorporating archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence, proposes colonization by a small founder population from Northeast Asia via Beringia 15–20 Kya (thousand years ago), followed by one or two additional migrations also via Alaska, contributing only to the gene pools of North Americans, and little subsequent migration into the Americas south of the Arctic Circle before the voyages from Europe initiated by Columbus in 1492.

In the most detailed genetic analysis thus far, for example, Reich and colleagues identified three sources of Native American ancestry: a ‘First American’ stream contributing to all Native populations, a second stream contributing only to Eskimo-Aleut-speaking Arctic populations, and a third stream contributing only to a Na-Dene-speaking North American population.

Nevertheless, there is strong evidence for additional long-distance contacts between the Americas and other continents between these initial migrations and 1492. Norse explorers reached North America around 1000 CE and established a short-lived colony, documented in the Vinland Sagas and supported by archaeological excavations. The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) was domesticated in South America (probably Peru), but combined genetic and historical analyses demonstrate that it was transported from South America to Polynesia before 1000–1100 CE. Some inhabitants of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) carry HLA alleles characteristic of South America, most readily explained by gene flow after the colonization of the island around 1200 CE but before European contact in 1722. In Brazil, two nineteenth-century Botocudo skulls carrying the mtDNA Polynesian motif have been reported, and a Pre-Columbian date for entry of this motif into the Americas discussed, although a more recent date was considered more likely. Thus South America was in two-way contact with other continental regions in prehistoric times, but there is currently no unequivocal evidence for outside gene flow into South America between the initial colonization by the ‘First American’ stream and European contact.

The researchers originally felt that the drift concept, which means that the line was simply lost to time in other American locations outside of Ecuador, was not likely because the populations of North and Central America have in general experienced less drift and retained more diversity than those in South America.

The paper abstract states:

The colonization of Americas is thought to have occurred 15–20 thousand years ago (Kya), with little or no subsequent migration into South America until the European expansions beginning 0.5 Kya. Recently, however, haplogroup C3* Y chromosomes were discovered in two nearby Native American populations from Ecuador. Since this haplogroup is otherwise nearly absent from the Americas but is common in East Asia, and an archaeological link between Ecuador and Japan is known from 6 Kya, an additional migration 6 Kya was suggested.

Here, we have generated high-density autosomal SNP genotypes from the Ecuadorian populations and compared them with genotypes from East Asia and elsewhere to evaluate three hypotheses: a recent migration from Japan, a single pulse of migration from Japan 6 Kya, and no migration after the First Americans.

First, using forward-time simulations and an appropriate demographic model, we investigated our power to detect both ancient and recent gene flow at different levels. Second, we analyzed 207,321 single nucleotide polymorphisms from 16 Ecuadorian individuals, comparing them with populations from the HGDP panel using descriptive and formal tests for admixture. Our simulations revealed good power to detect recent admixture, and that ≥5% admixture 6 Kya ago could be detected.

However, in the experimental data we saw no evidence of gene flow from Japan to Ecuador. In summary, we can exclude recent migration and probably admixture 6 Kya as the source of the C3* Y chromosomes in Ecuador, and thus suggest that they represent a rare founding lineage lost by drift elsewhere.

This graphic from the paper, shows the three hypothesis that were being tested, with recent admixture being ruled out entirely, and admixture 6000 years ago most likely being ruled out as well by utilizing autosomal DNA.

Mezzavilla Map crop

The conclusions from the paper states that:

Three different hypotheses to explain the presence of C3* Y chromosomes in Ecuador but not elsewhere in the Americas were tested: recent admixture, ancient admixture ∼6 Kya, or entry as a founder haplogroup 15–20 Kya with subsequent loss by drift elsewhere. We can convincingly exclude the recent admixture model, and find no support for the ancient admixture scenario, although cannot completely exclude it. Overall, our analyses support the hypothesis that C3* Y chromosomes were present in the “First American” ancestral population, and have been lost by drift from most modern populations except the Ecuadorians.

It will be interesting as additional people are tested and more ancient DNA is discovered and processed to see what other haplogroups will be found in Native people and remains that were previously thought to be exclusively Asian, or perhaps even African or European.

This discovery also begs a different sort of question that will eventually need to be answered.  Clearly, we classify the descendants of people who arrived with the original Beringian and subsequent wave migrants as Native American, Indigenous American or First Nations.  However, how would we classify these individuals if they had arrived 6000 years ago, or 2000 years ago – still before Columbus or significant European or African admixture – but not with the first wave of Asian founders?  If found today in South Americans, could they be taken as evidence of Native American heritage?  Clearly, in this context, yes – as opposed to African or European.  Would they still be considered only Asian or both Asian and Native American in certain contexts – as is now the case for haplogroup C3* (M217)?  This scenario could easily and probably will happen with other haplogroups as well.

Posted in DNA, South America | Leave a comment