Parker David Robbins – Chowanoke, Legislator, Inventor

parker david robbins

Parker David Robbins (1834-1917)

Second Regiment, United States Colored Cavalry

A Union Army veteran and delegate from Bertie County to North Carolina’s constitutional convention of 1868, Robbins represented the county for two terms in the N.C. House of Representatives as a Republican, elected by county voters in 1868 and 1870.  He later served as postmaster of Harrellsville, in Hertford County, for two years.

Yet his most enduring claim to fame was as inventor.  A carpenter and mechanic by trade, Robbins held U.S. patents for a cotton cultivator and a saw-sharpening machine, both granted to him in the mid-1870s.   Robbins also built houses in Duplin County, where he lived for the last four decades of his life, and where he built and piloted a steamboat for years along the Northeast Cape Fear River.

Born into a free, mixed-race family with Chowanoke Indian and mulatto ancestry, Robbins was the oldest son of John A. Robbins, a Bertie County farmer, and an unknown mother.  He and his younger brother Augustus—also a state legislator in the 1870s—were apparently educated privately, perhaps at a Gates County school for Indians, according to one family account.

Posted in Chowan | Leave a comment

Identifying Native Chromosome Segments

If you’ve been following along with “The Autosomal Me” series on the blog, the next segment, Part 7, “The Autosomal Me – Start, Stop, Go – Identifying Native Chromosome Segments” was just published today.

While this series is obviously focused on minority Native admixture, using my own Native admixture, contributed by both parents, as a working example, the same techniques work to identify majority admixture or minority admixture of any other ethnicity.  It’s especially interesting if you have the DNA of at least one parent, because you can visually see and compare your DNA to theirs.  This series shows you how to use the various tools available to do just that.  An example of my DNA (top row) compared to my mother’s (second row) on a Native segment of a chromosome is shown below.  The third row shows our matching DNA segments with the black indicating the part that doesn’t match, so the part that was contributed to me by my father.

step 7 - 7

In our upcoming segments, we’ll be applying all of this to genealogy.  Come along for the ride.  Not only is it fun and educational, it’s a very personal gift from your ancestors.

Posted in DNA | 3 Comments

Treaty with the Indians at Albany, NY 1664

The following treaty was made with the Indians by the English when they took New York from the Dutch.  There were scanning issues with the original document.  Where the correction was obvious, I made the correction.  There was an issue with the Indian’s signature name in the scan, but the index listed his name as Stephen, so I have listed it as such.  Reference to the original document might well show a native name that looked or resembled Stephen.

In the index, Ohgehando and Shanarage are listed as a Mohawk chiefs, although I don’t see where it says Mohawk in the document itself.  In the index, this treaty is also noted as a treaty with the Seneca Indians.  Anawweed, Aschanoondah, Tewasserany and Conkeeherat are listed as a Seneca Chiefs.  In the index, Conegehaugah is also listed as an Indian Chief on this page, but I don’t see the reference in the document unless part of it is missing.  It appears that items 2 and 3 may be missing.  Soachoenighta is noted as a Mohawk Chief as well.

Based on this document and the index, it stands to reason that the Maques are Mohawks and Synichs are Senecas.

University of the State of New York

State Library Bulletin


May 1899




[p-411] Treaty with the Indians at Albany

Articles made and agreed upon the 24 day of September 1664, in effort Albany betweene Ohgehando, Shanarage, Soachoenighta, Sachamackas of the

Maques; Anawweed, Conkeeh(»rat, Tewasserany, Aschanoondah, 8achamackas of the Synichs, on the one part; And Colonel George Cartwright in the behalfe of Colonel Richard Nicholls Governor under his Royall Highness the Duke of Yorke of all his territoryes in America, on the other part as followeth,


1. It is agreed That the Indyan Princes above named, and their Subjects, shall have all such wares and Comodityes from the English for the future, as heretofore they had from the Dutch.

2. That if any English, Dutch or Indyans (under the protection of the English), doe any wrong. Injury, or violnice to any of the said Indyan princes or their subjects in any sort whatever, if

GENERAL ENTRIES, 1664-65 p 111

they complaine to ye Govennor at New Yorke, or to the official in cheife at Albany, If the person so offending can bee discovered that person shall receive condigne punishment, and all due satisfaction shall bee given and the like shall bee done for all other English plantations.

l. That if any Indyans belonging to any of the Sachims aforesaid, do any wrong, Injury or damage to the English Dutch or Indyans (under the protection of the English) If complaint bee made to the Sachims, and the person bee discovered who did the Injury, Then that person so offending shall bee punished and all just satisfaction shall be given to any of his Majesties subjects in any Colony, or other English Plantation in America.

4. The Indyans at Wamping and Eepachomy, and all below to the Manhatans, as also all such as have submitted themselves under the protection of his Majesty are included in these Articles of Agreement and peace; In Confirmation whereof, the partyes abovementioned have hereunto sett their hands the day and yeare abovewritten.

Signed & delivered in George Cartwright

the prescence of

Tho : Willett

John Manning

Tho: Breedon

Dan : Broadhead

Smith John

his marke

Stephen (an Indian)

his marke

These Articles following were likewise proposed by the same Indyan Princes, and consented to by Colonell Geo: Cartwright in behalfe of Colonel XicoUs [digitizing issue with the name] the 25 day of Sept. 1664.

1. That the English do not assist the that Nations of the Ondiahes, Pinnehoocks, and Pacamtehookes, who murdered one


of the Princes of the Maques, when hee brought Ransomes and presents to them, upon a Treaty of Peace.

2. That the English do make peace for the Indyan Princes with the Nations downe the River.

3. That they may have free Trade as formerly.

4. That they may bee lodged in houses as formerly.

5. That if they bee beaten by the three Nations, above mentioned, they may receive accomodation from the English.

Posted in Manhatan, Maques, Mohawk, New York, Ondiahjes, Pacamtehooks, Pinnehoock, Seneca, Synichs | 1 Comment

Indian Slavery in New York

University of the State of New York

State Library Bulletin


May 1899





Frequent reference is made in the colonial records and laws, not only of New York but also of other colonies, to Indians as slaves. Indian slavery in some form existed in all or nearly all of them. We know that the Indians of the West Indies, from an early period, were made slaves; that the Spaniards made slaves of captives from the continent to some extent; that the Indian tribes made slaves of their captives in war, and sometimes sold them to the whites.

In Massachusetts, in 1637 and after, many captive Indians taken in the Pequot war were made slaves, and were sent to the Bermudas and there sold. Hugh Peter wanted “some boyes for the Bermudas ” from these captives. Domestic Indian slavery existed at the same time, and the statutes of the colony made constant allusion to the fact.

In King Philip’s war, 1675-78, numerous Indian captives taken were disposed of as slaves. In 1675, 112 men, women and children of the Indians were, by the council of Plymouth, ordered sold, and they were accordingly sold. A little later, 57 more were sold. In all, in 1675-76, 188 were sold for £397 13s. The “Praying Indians” themselves did not escape the common fate of captive Indians. They all went, when captured, into West Indian slavery. The lawfulness of the slavery of both Indians and negroes was recognized by the “Code of 1650″ of the colony of Connecticut. Indian slaves were imported into Pennsylvania from Carolina and elsewhere.

In Virginia, by and act passed in 1676, all Indians taken in war were to be held and accounted slaves during life. In the same year it was enacted that Indian captives taken by soldiers in war should be the property of such captors. The Indian captives of neighboring Indians were sold to the whites as slaves; and this was made lawful by an act passed in 1862.


Turning to New York, the evidence is not conclusive that Indians were enslaved during the Dutch period, within the province at least. It is probable, however, that the Dutch sometimes made slaves of Indian prisoners.

In a communication of the “Eight Men”, from Manhattan, to the Amsterdam chamber of the West India company, in 1644, they say: “The captured Indians who might have been of considerable use to us as guides, have been given to the soldiers as presents, and allowed to go to Holland; the others have been sent off to the Bermudas as a present to the English governor,” presumably as slaves.

During the English period, there is frequent reference to Indian laves. “According to the Minutes of 1679, it was resolved that all Indians within the colony were free — nor could they be forced to be servants or slaves — and if they were brought hither as slaves, a residence of 6 months should entitle them to freedom.” But this rule did not prevail at a later period in the English colony, as is evident from both documents and laws.

In the narrative of grievances against Jacob Leisler, appears this: “The same night (Dec. 23, 1689) an Indian Slave belonging to Philip French was dragged to the Fort (New York) and there imprisoned.”

The colonial act of May 1, 1702, is the first act mentioning Indians as slaves. A tax is levied “upon every Negro or Indian Slave Imported in this Province from their own Countries.” The next is an act passed Oct. 21, 1706: “Whereas divers of her Maties good Subjects, Inhabitants of this Colony now are and have been willing that such Negro, Indian and Mulatto Slaves who belong to them and desire the same, should be baptized,” etc. The same act declared “That all and every Negro, Indian

Mulatto and Mestee Bastard Child & Children who is, are and shall be born of any Negro, Indian, Mulatto or Mestee, shall follow ye state and Condition of the Mother & be esteemed reputed taken & adjudged a slave & slaves to all intents and purposes whatsoever.” An act of Sep. 18, 1708 speaks of “Negro, Indian or other Slaves.”


Lord Cornbury wrote to the board of trade, Feb. 10, 1707-8, as has been said in a preceding chapter: ‘A most barbarous murder has been committed upon the family of one Hallett by an Indian Man Slave, and a Negro Woman, who have murdered their Master, Mistress and five children.’

In 1712, the Lords of trade, at Whitehall, recommended the reprieve of Hosea and John, ” Spanish Indians,” convicted of participation in the insurrection at New York in that year.

Among the slaves imported from the West Indies and Brazil, very probably, were Indian slaves of those countries. This of itself may be some explanation of the frequent reference in the acts of the colony to Indian slaves, but there were evidently other Indian slaves.

It is more than probable that some Indian slaves of the Indian tribes, made such by capture in war, were purchased by the colonists and held as slaves.

In 1702, in “Propositions made by 5 of the farr Indians,” the “Pani” (Pawnee) Indians are spoken of as “the Naudowassees by ye French called Pani, a nation of Indians that live to the Westward towards ye Spanyards,” with whom these “farr Indians” were at war. Schoolcraft, speaking of the “Pawnees (Pani)’ says: ‘The Pawnees were formerly a brave, warlike tribe, living on the Platte River in Nebraska. Their history, until a recent date, is one of almost constant warfare with the Dakotas.” It is pretty certain that these “Panis” were among

the Indian slaves of the colonists.

In “the Paris Documents,” of occurrences in Canada during the year 1747-48 the Journal, under date of Nov. 11, 1747, recites: “The

4 Negroes and a Panis, who were captured from the English during the war and had run away from Montreal, as mentioned in the entry of the 28th of October, in the preceding Journal, have been overtaken and brought in today; we intend to put them on board a small vessel bound to Martinico, the last in port; these slaves will be sold there for the benefit of the proprietors.”

In the entry of Oct. 28, it is said : “We learn from Montreal that 4 to 5 negroes, who had been taken from the English daring


the war, have deserted. . . It will be proper, henceforward, to send all these foreign negroes to the Island to be sold there’ The “Panis” was here included in the “4 to 5 negroes, who had been taken from the English during the war.”

The same journal, under date of Dec. 1, 1747, recites the finding of some “Dutchmen” among the Indians, who had been adopted, for which reason the Indians would not sell them for money,” but they will exchange them for Panis men or women. . . . We shall wait until the coming down of the Michilimakinac canoes to buy some prisoners at a lower figure than could be done now.”

M. Varin, in a letter to M. Bigot, from Montreal, July 24, 1754, in giving an account of a battle with the English, and of the losses of the Canadians, says: “Mr. Pean’s Panis has been also killed”. This was at Fort Necessity, Fayette co. Pa,

In the articles of capitulation for the surrender of Canada, between Gen. Amherst, commander in chief of the British forces, and the Marquis de Vaudreuil, governor and lieutenant general for the king in Canada, Montreal, Sep. 8, 1760, art. 47 as proposed by the French, recited:

“The Negroes and Panis of both sexes shall remain in their quality of slaves, in the possession of the French and Canadians to whom they belong; they shall be at liberty to keep them in their service in the colony, or to sell them ; and they shall also continue to bring them up in the Roman religion.”

The British general wrote opposite the proposition: “Granted; except those who shall have been made prisoners.” Those, we may assume, were carried off as spoils of war, “Panis” as well as “Negroes.”

If farther proof were needed of the fact that the British kept Panis Indians as slaves, we have it in the “Articles of Peace between Sir William Johnson and the Huron Indians, made at Niagara, July 18, 1764″. They contain the following:

“Article 2nd. That any English who may be prisoners or deserters, and any Negroes, Panis, or other Slaves, who are British property, shall be delivered up, within one month, to the commandent


of the Detroit, and that the Hurons use all possible endeavors to get those who are in the hands of the neighboring Nations; engaging never to entertain any deserters, fugitives or slaves; but should any such fly to them for protection, they are to deliver them up to the next commanding officer.”

Judge Matthews, of Louisiana, in the case of Seville vs Chretien, in which an Indian sought ” to recover his liberty,” says:

“It is an admitted principle, that slavery has been permitted and tolerated in all the colonies established in America by the mother

country. Not only of Africans, but also of Indians.”

In The State (New Jersey) vs Waggoner, April term, 1797, the court says:

“They [Indians] have so long been recognized as slaves in our law, that it would be as great a violation of the rights of property to establish a contrary decision at the present day, as it would in the case of the Africans, and as useless to investigate the manner in which they originally lost their freedom.”

Judge Matthews, in the Louisiana case above cited, says that the permission to introduce negroes “was intended as a means of enabling the planters to dispense with the slavery of the Indians by their European conquerers.”

He says farther:

“About twenty years after, [the introduction of slaves into Virginia by the Dutch], slaves were introduced into New England, and it is believed that Indians were at the same time, or before, held in bondage.”

The first Act of the legislature of the Province of Virginia on the subject of the slavery of the Indians was passed in 1670, and one of its provisions, according to Judge Tucker, prohibits free or manumitted Indians from purchasing Christian servants. The words free or manumitted are useless and absurd, if there did not exist Indians who had been slaves and had been manumitted, before and at the time this Act was passed.

In the case of Gomez vs Boneval, in Louisiana, 1819, the court said:

“But the descendants of Africans are not the only subjects of American slavery. The native Indians have also been enslaved, and their descendants are still in slavery.”


These citations, it is true, do not conclusively prove that Indians were ever held as slaves in New York; but do show that it was a common custom in the colonies to hold them as such.  Presumably, the same custom prevailed in New York.

Aaron Schuyler, of New York, in 1693, gave to his daughters.

Eve and Cornelia, by his will, two houses and lots on Broadway,

New York, with an Indian slave woman to each. (W. B. Melius)

Mr Melius, of Albany N. Y. who has made this subject a matter of fipecial study, says:

“I do not believe the pure Indian was sold as a slave. There are cases on record wherein Indian women would bind themselves to white men and become their servants. I know of no case where they were afterwards sold as chattel, and believe the Indian who was the slave was not without mixture.”

We find that Sarah Robinson, an Indian woman and native of New York, landed at Southampton and came into the possession of Robert Waters, and was sent as a slave to Madeira and there returned by the English council to New York. I believe this not to be a pure Indian woman, but amalgamated. . . In 1717, complaint was made that slaves ran away and were secreted by the Minieinke, and they intermarried with the Indian women.

On all the evidence on the subject, however, it is safe to say that Indian slaves were owned in the colony of New York. At one period, they were, probably, Indians imported from the West Indies and Brazil. At another period “Panis” Indians were slaves. Some Indians, specially Indian women, voluntarily became “servants” or slaves. The children of free Indians and slave mothers of African blood were slaves, following the condition of the mother. It is highly probable that Indian slave captives of the adjacent warlike tribes were purchased from these tribes by the English, and remained slaves. It is not improbable that some of the weaker tribes contributed in various ways to the number of Indian slaves.

It is improbable that any of the stronger tribes, like the proud

and warlike Six Nations, were ever made slaves.

That Indian slavery in some of these forms existed in New York is reasonably certain. The statutes for a long period repeated


the phrase “Indian slaves,” which is a clear recognition of an existing fact. And the fact that Indian slavery existed in all the surrounding colonies leads to the same conclusion.

It is noticeable that “Indian” slaves are not mentioned in the acts of the legislature of the state, though the colonial laws, down to the end of the colonial period, speak, in almost every statute relating to slavery, of “Negro and Indian slaves.”

The anti-slavery movement began in earnest in New York in 1808 and is increasingly reflected in legislation beginning from that date.

The fourth day of July 1827, was the day when, according to the law of 1817, every slave in this state born before July 4, 1799, became free. All children of slaves born after this latter date were free but remained servants till a certain age. Slavery, as such, had come to an end. Various laws and resolutions, however, were passed by the legislature, from time to time, in the interests, and for the protection, of former slaves and other colored persons within the state, and in regard to the general question of slavery elsewhere in the United States.

Posted in Bermuda, Dakota, Huron, New York, Pawnee, West Indies | 1 Comment

Thomas Senequam, an Indian

University of the State of New York

State Library Bulletin


May 1899






Order to the scout, burgomasters and schepens of New York to summon a court to hear the case of Charles Bridges and his wife Sarah against William Newman and Thomas Senequam, an Indian.

Posted in New York | 1 Comment

DNA – What Came From Who??

In part 6 of “The Autosomal Me” series, titled “The Autosomal Me – DNA Analysis – Splitting Up” we talk about figuring out which part of your Native genetic heritage came from which parent.  In my case, both African and Native ancestry are several generations back in time, and come from both of my parents.  My Mom’s line is pretty straightforward, as these things go, as her heritage is Acadian.  My Dad’s however, is lost in the swamps of North Carolina and Virginia, with only whispers and hints to light the way – until DNA.

We’ll see in this series that these steps are building upon each other and in the end, will help identify which lines are Native, potentially which ancestors were Native and hopefully when combined with the history of the region, will shed light on which tribes may have been involved.  Of course, we know that the tribes themselves moved a great deal, assimilated with each other, as well as with both white and black communities.  But one thing is for sure, we’ll know more at the end of this process than we did at the beginning.

Join me for the continuing journey of discovering minority Native admixture using genetic genealogy tools.

Posted in Acadian, DNA, North Carolina, Virginia | Leave a comment

Petitions Involving Indians to Carolina Courts 1775-1867

A Guide to the Microfilm Edition of Black Studies Research Sources, Microfilms from Major Archival and Manuscript Collections, General Editor: John H. Bracey, Jr.

Race, Slavery and Free Blacks, Series II, Petitions to Southern County Courts, 1775-1867, Part D: NC (1775-1867) and SC (1784-1867)

I have extracted the records pertaining to Native people which are listed below.

P 27 – 1782

0077 (Accession # 21278201). Perquimans County, North Carolina. A group of Perquimans County citizens ask that a manumitted “Servant Man Named Peter (Whose Mother was an Indian & Father a Negroe)” be permitted to “remain Free & unmolested as long as he behaves himself well.”

P 27 – 1785

0092 (Accession # 21278502). Bertie County, North Carolina. Jenney Ash claims she is the free born daughter of an Indian and asserts that she and her two children are being illegally held as slaves by John Gardner [also spelled Gardiner] who plans to “to prevent them from making their Personal appearance before your Worships at the next Court” by taking them to Virginia, perhaps South Carolina. She asks the court to issue a subpoena to prevent Gardner from taking her and her children out of the state; she also seeks freedom for herself and her family.

P 28 – 1788

0125 (Accession # 21278801). Perquimans County, North Carolina. Accused of being a slave and currently in jail, Dick maintains that he is a free man, the grandson of an Indian woman, free “by the laws of Nature.” He reasons that he has been mistaken for “the property of John Smith one of the people called Quakers and illegally liberated by him.” He asks for his freedom.

P 28 – 1791

0128 (Accession # 21279101). Craven County, North Carolina. New Bern merchant Peter Thomjeux asks to free his mustee slave Marshall as a reward for “faithful services.” Marshall attended him during various illnesses, Thomjeux explains, and sometimes took care of the store with its “large quantities of goods & often sums of money.”

P164 – 1818 – 0097 (Accession # 21381815). Charleston District, South Carolina. Henry Mathews asks that the county tax collector and sheriff “be compelled by a perpetual Injunction from Enforcing any assessment of capitation tax against your orator.” Mathews asserts that his maternal grandmother, “who being a free Indian In amity with this State transmitted to her posterity the same Rights, priviledges & exemptions as are or ought for right to be claimed & used by the White Citizens of this State.” The petitioner complains that he has been assessed a tax (Reel 10 South Carolina 165) pursuant to an 1817 law, which “enacted ‘that seventy five cents per Head shall be levied upon all Slaves of all ages & descriptions and the sum of two Dollars per head upon all free Negroes, mulattoes & mestizoes.’ “ Noting that he refused to pay said tax, Mathews informs the court that the sheriff is now authorized to make said assessment “of the Goods & Chattels of your orator & in default thereof to take his Body.” He thus prays “this Honb Court to restrain the said Tax Collector and Sheriff and all other officers & magistrates from proceeding to collect or Levy the

said Tax.”

P 259 – 1828

0850 (Accession # 21382810). Charleston District, South Carolina. Eleanor Hornby Tew, Thomas R. Tew, and Caroline M. Tew, “Infant Children of Charles Tew deceased,” ask that their mother, Eleanor Tew, be appointed their trustee “in lieu of” their late father. Their maternal grandmother, Ann Carr, conveyed to the children in trust “a Mustee Slave named Jim, or James aged about nineteen years.” Carr empowered the trustee to “dispose of” the slave and to vest the proceeds “in the same species of property either male or female.” Charles Tew’s death left “the said Slave undisposed of.”

P 548-549 – 1858

0496 (Accession # 21385860). Charleston District, South Carolina. The petitioners ask for an account and partition of the property of their deceased sister. Susan Johnston Matthews, “a free (Reel 24 South Carolina 549) woman of Indian descent,” died intestate leaving her husband and siblings as her sole heirs. In 1841 Alexander Black “by deed duly executed and delivered” several tracts of land to Susan to be held in trust by William Miller. Upon the death of Susan, the land was to be sold and the trustee was to “divide the proceeds issueing from such sale between and among the heirs at Law.” The petitioners are now “desirous of obtaining a division of the property.” However, one William Miller has “permitted the said John B Matthews [Susan’s husband] to have hold occupy and enjoy the said premises” and refuses to comply with the petitioners’ requests. They therefore pray for an accounting of Susan’s land and a full disclosure of her estate. They also ask for a division of the proceeds accrued from the sale of any of her estate.

Hat tip to Sharron for finding this document.

Posted in Laws, Slaves | 2 Comments