Von Graffenreid Declares Himself King, Saves Himself, 1711

Christoph von Graffenreid rather inadvertently saved himself after being captured by the Tuscarora Indians with John Lawson, who was subsequently executed. Whether by swift wit, Divine inspiration or sheer luck, von Graffenreid realized that by claiming his position as “king” or “governor,” he might be able to save his life. Indeed, the Indians did not know him, as he was with Lawson in order to procure land from the Indians. In his letter to Edward Hyde, the true Governor of North Carolina, he rather sheepishly confesses as to how he saved himself and why he called himself a king or governor. It’s due to the fact that he was spared that we obtained the information about John Lawson’s death, the manner of its occurrence and other cultural information about the Tuscarora contained in the letter.

As an interesting note, we often wonder how Indians adopt the names that they did.  One of the two primary Tuscarora Chief’s was named Chief Hancock.  He ruled over the southern Tuscarora villages who were the groups who chose to fight, as opposed to the northern groups led by Chief Tom Blunt or Blount a name he adopted from a white family.  In the letter below, a Mr. Hancock is accussed of taking a gun from an Indian.  This could be the man whose name Chief Hanock adopted, especially if had a close relationship with the Indians at one point.

Letter from Christoph von Graffenried to Edward Hyde [Extract]
Graffenried, Christoph von, Baron, 1661-1743
Volume 01, Pages 990-992
[Reprinted from Williamson’s History of North Carolina. Vol. 2. P. 283.]

I have many things to relate to you, but for want of time must delay them to a future day. At present I shall only inform you of the fate of Mr Lawson the Surveyor general.
We had both taken to my boat on the New1 River in order to discover what kind of land there was further on, and what distance any one might go on the same. To this I had the more readily consented, as Mr Lawson had assured me that the country on this side was not inhabited. But when we arrived at Corutra, a village about twelve miles by water from the town of Coram, with an intention to tarry there all night, we met with two Indians, whom presently after a great number joined, and who were armed. I told Mr Lawson that I did not like the appearances, and that we ought immediately to proceed on, which we accordingly did; but no sooner had we arrived at our boat, such a number of Indians pressed upon us, that it was impossible for us to keep them off. They took our arms, provisions and all we had.
There were upwards of sixty Indians all well armed, who compelled us to travel with them all night, and until we arrived at an Indian village, a considerable distance from the river, where we were delivered up to the king (or chief) of the village or town.
——————– page 991 ——————–
He called a council at which one of the Indians delivered a long speech with great vehemence, whereupon a question was put whether we should be bound, which was passed in the negative and the reason given was, because we had not yet been permitted to make our defence. The next morning we desired to know what they intended to do with us; their answer was that the king (or chief would that evening have a number of other kings at an entertainment, who must also be present at our examination, after which they would come to a decision. In the evening upwards of two hundred were collected, from which number about forty got to-gether who were considered as chiefs of the people. Before these we were examined very strictly concerning our intention and why we had come hither. Our answer was, that we were endeavoring to find out a shorter and better road to Virginia because the other road from our settlement was a very bad and difficult one, and that for that reason the Indians from thence could not as conveniently trade with us. Whereupon the Indians complained very much of the conduct of the English Colonies in Carolina, and particularly named Mr Lawson, charging him with being too severe, and that he was the man who sold their land.
They also said that Mr. Hancock had taken a gun from an Indian, and that Mr. Price also dealt too hard with the Indians. Nevertheless, they would consent to our being set at liberty and that we should return home on the day following. The next morning we were again examined, and we returned the same answer; but one Cor Thom being present, whom Mr. Lawson reprimanded for sundry things which had happened, gave a very unfavorable turn to our affairs. After the Council had broke up and the major part of the Indians had gone off, Mr Lawson and myself were talking to-gether on indifferent subjects an Indian who understood a little English informed the remaining Indians that we had spoken very disrespectfully of them, which however was totally groundless. Whereupon three or four of them fell on us in a furious manner, took us by the arms and forced us to set down on the ground before the whole of them that were then collected. They instantly took off our wigs and threw them into the fire and we were at once condemned to death. Mr Lawson indeed was sentenced to have his throat cut with his own razor, and I was to be put to death in another manner. On the day following we were taken to the great place of execution, where we were again tied and compelled to sit on the ground, being stripped of our surtouts. Before us a large fire was kindled, whilst some of them acted the part of conjurors, and others made a ring around us which they strewed with flowers. Behind us lay my innocent negro, who was also bound, and in
——————– page 992 ——————–
this miserable situation we remained that day and the subsequent night. On the morning of the next day at which we were to die, a large multitude was collected to see the execution. Behind us there was an armed party who acted as a guard, and around us sat the chiefs in two rows; behind them were the common people amounting to upwards of three hundred in number, who were jumping and dancing like so many devils, and cutting a variety of infernal and obscene capers. There were also present two executioners of wild and terrible aspect and two drummers. The council again deliberated in order to put an end to this dismal tragedy. I recommended my soul to my saviour Christ Jesus, and my thoughts were wholly employed with death.
At length however I recollected myself, and turning to the council or chiefs, asked them, whether no mercy could be shown to the innocent, and with what propriety they could put to death a king (for the Indians call a governor a king) and I was king of the Palatines. Thus God in his mercy heard my prayers and softened the hard hearts of the savages that they after much talk from an honest Indian altered my sentence of death as will appear from the treaty of peace. I was a short time before Mr Lawson’s execution set at liberty and afterwards conducted to the house of the Indian who had interested himself and spoken so much in my behalf, but my negro also suffered. I remained in captivity until the Sunday following when I was brought on horseback to Cor. From thence I had to foot it as above related, I should be very glad to have some conversation with you on this subject and to consider what measures ought to be taken against those people; but that must be deferred for the present. I shall however write more fully to you on the subject.

Thanks to Mavis for this document.

Posted in Tuscarora | Leave a comment

Tuscarora – The Ones That Stayed Behind

Tuscarora – The Ones That Stayed Behind

…and Followed the River for Days and Days and Days…

I think this is the most difficult introduction I have ever written, because it’s so hard to describe the sacred with mere human words.  Most Native tribes have a Storyteller or Sacred Memory Keeper, a sacred position and entrusted person to preserve and pass the history from the Ancestors to the youth – to assure that the lessons learned aren’t lost – and through those stories to connect the present and the future to the past. In Native culture, our Ancestors and our Stories are both Sacred.

The series of events in the past few days and months have come together to offer a wonderful opportunity to preserve the heritage of the Tuscarora people as a whole, with the dedication of a memorial at Fort Neoheroka, commemorating and honoring the Tuscarora who fell there 300 years ago.  But not all fell, and not all died.  Not all went north in the migration that spanned the next 90 years.  The stories of those who stayed are written in the blood of the people, their descendants, in the obscured records and in the stories, still maintained by those Sacred Memory Keepers who we all know and love as both distant and close family members today.

Stayed behind 1

Robert Chavis, a Tuscarora from North Carolina attended the Fort Neoheroka commemoration events and braved the briers to make his way to the creek, the approach shown above, that sacred creek that served as salvation for a few Tuscarora who managed to escape the massacre in the Fort.  Robert has graciously agreed to share his photos and they are used throughout this article.  Thank you Robert.  The Ancestors voices through Robert’s photographs combined with Pine Dove’s story are extremely moving and powerful.   Nyaweh to both!

A tunnel existed, between the Fort and the Creek, and a few fortunate Tuscarora made it out alive and avoided capture.

stayed behind 2

On the map above, Moore’s battle map, you can clearly see Captain Moore’s encampment to the right, and the Fort to the left.

Fort Neoheroka was an irregularly shaped enclosure of one and one-half acres contained within a palisaded wall. Along this wall, at strategically located points, were bastions and blockhouses. Within the enclosure were houses and caves. An enclosed passageway, or “waterway,” led to the nearby branch of Contentnea Creek.

When Moore arrived before this impressive fortification, he began careful preparations to destroy it. Three batteries were constructed nearby and from Moore’s Yamassee Indian Battery facing the fort, a zig-zag trench was dug to within a few yards of the front wall. This trench provided protective cover for men to approach and build a blockhouse and battery near the fort.  Both of these structures were higher than the walls of the fort so that the enemy within might be subjected to direct fire.

A tunnel also extended from the trench to the front wall so that it might be undermined with explosives.

stayed behind 3

To the left, above, you can clearly see the tunnel that leads from Fort Neoheroka to Conntentnea Creek.

The following photo, taken by Robert this past weekend, shows the entrance to the tunnel, the “waterway,” that led to the creek.

stayed behind 4

Below, the tunnel exit in the bank beside the creek along with Tuscarora returning home for the commemoration this past weekend.

stayed behind 5

Below, the Contentnea Creek below the tunnel exit.

stayed behind 6

“On the morning of March 20th, [1713] every man was at his post when a trumpet sounded the signal for the attack. Three days later Fort Neoheroka lay a smoldering ruin and the enemy acknowledged defeat. The Indian loss was 950, about half killed and the balance taken into slavery. Moore’s loss was fifty-seven killed and eighty-two wounded. With this one crushing blow, the power of the Tuscarora nation was broken.”

Well, that’s the official story, but it’s not the whole story, nor was the Tuscarora Nation broken.

DeGraffenried writes of the Tuscarora: …“The Savages showed themselves unspeakably brave, so much so that when our soldiers had become masters of the fort and wanted to take out the women and children who were under ground, where they were hidden along with their provisions, the wounded savages who were groaning on the ground still continued to fight.”

Not all died or were captured.  The remaining Tuscarora fled deep into the interior toward the Virginia border, many of them eventually going to New York where they joined the Five Nations.

The war was not over, however, for at the same time Moore was attacking Ft. Neoheroka, the Machapunga and Coree had been striking at settlements along the Pungo River.  Moore’s troops were requested to hunt them down.

Moore gathered the 120 or 130 of his Yamassee Indian forces who had not returned to South Carolina with plunder and captives, and marched to the Pamlico where, in June 1713, he attempted to crush these remaining Indians.  He was only partially successful, for as one contemporary account states, the trackless wilderness from which these Indians operated lay “between Matchapungo River and Roanoke Island which is about 100 miles in length and of considerable breadth, all in a manner lakes, quagmires, and cane swamps, and is . . . one of the greatest deserts in the world, where it is almost impossible for white men to follow them.”  In September 1713, Colonel Moore gave up and returned to South Carolina.

By the spring of 1714, one or two small bands of Indians were once more terrorizing the Bath County plantations. One account describing their activities explained that “they rove from place to place cut off two or three families today and within two or three days do the like a hundred miles off from the former. They are like deer — there is no finding them.”

There were originally thought to be about 50 “hostile” Indians left, but even after 30 Indian scalps were taken, additional Indians had joined to expand the band.  After a couple of years, the government finally gave up trying to exterminate them and concluded a peace with the surviving hostile Indians in January of 1715 and they were assigned to what would become the Mattamusukeet Indian reservation on Lake Mattamuskeet in present day Hyde County.  Several Tuscarora were among them.  In 1724, the Tuscarora, under Chief Blount were awarded their own reservation in Bertie County.

The Tuscarora were not gone, they had learned how to become invisible.  They lived in the swamps and traveled the creeks and rivers.  Many never joined their brethren on the reservations.  Although cast in the mists of time, their memory is not dead.

stayed behind 7With this, I would like to introduce to you, Pinedove the Younger, Keeper of Memories, Tuscarora Daughter of the Carolinas.  Pinedove was named honoring an earlier Keeper of Memories who carried the same name.  I want to thank her for sharing, in her own words, this most personal, sacred, family story, never told publicly until now, but passed from her ancestors lips for generations, ever since that fateful day.

Find a quiet place….


Tuscarora War


It is not lightly that I choose to share this most sacred legacy of memory that has been passed down through my family for more lifetimes than we know.  At this point in time this is what has been left to us, anything more now only heard through the whispers of the Refugee Ancestors or written in the Creator’s Hand…….

On this, the 300th Anniversary of the fall of Ft. Neoheroka, I have been asked if I would share this story.  After listening to the Creator and viewing pictures of the miraculous opening in the ground and tunnel that led some of our People to safety I know this is the time I am meant to share this memory with other descendants…those that also carry the guardianship of this Place of Lasting Tears within their hearts.

stayed behind 8

So now it seems, the loving and right thing to do is to dedicate that enduring memorial within the Earth to all Tuscarora families whose ancestors lived this same journey, The Ones Who Stayed Behind.

I also sincerely ask and invite any children of Native Ancestors with similar stories, to add your own voice to the litany.  If you have family echoes of these unique and fleeting smoke-like words from your own Ancestor Mothers and Fathers, I urge you to come forward and share those Sacred Memories.

stayed behind 9

Based On the Memories of

Hattie Brigman Magee

1870 SC-1949 NC

Tuscarora Descendant of Wolf Pit,

Pee Dee River,

Richmond County, North Carolina

The story I record here lies in that thin misty veil of disappearing oral history.  It is a gift to the past generations that still had living memory of Great-grandmothers and Ancestors that will only be remembered to the rest of us through the breath of their words.

Women and men born near the eastern North Carolina and South Carolina border well toward the end of the nineteenth century. Their Daddies were farmers, soldiers, and Prisoners of War.  Grandfathers that were healers and herb doctors, tenant farmers, river rafters.  Legends of many repeated names within several connected families.  Men that lived out their lives often unrecorded, unseen, but in plain sight.

The story of Grannies, widows that peacefully Crossed Over in the 1930’s and 40’s not many miles from where they were born.  Grandmothers that wrapped their quiet spirits around beloved granddaughters.  Like fond warm sweaters their memories have been passed on…..

This is a tribute to the powerful oral tradition maintained generation after generation, even as the voices grow more dim.  The faithfulness through their lifetimes to understand shadowy answers searched for, but never found in this time and place….only found through the pieces and riddles left behind.  Stories repeated time and time again. Sometimes meaning almost faded, in words that must never be lost.

Thankfully they were spoken by many whispered voices often, always in the same melodic way, repeated over and over, fragments, phrases that would become imprinted on children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

These saved memories had to remain until such time that technology could assist in piecing together the clues the Old Ones left behind.  Until those words could eventually be tied to actual preserved records.

These Wolf Pit, Pee Dee family lines are ones of the early Carolina wilderness.  They are now recorded as ancestors of the ancient Tuscarora, survivor families of the Tuscarora War of 1711.

As these refugees arrived from Bertie and Halifax Counties, North Carolina, near Virginia, and the coast of NC, they were Indian and part Indian.  Many lived as Shadow People in the cultural and racial no-man’s-land of colonial times.

They settled along the Catawba Path, the Chawsaw Path and the Cheraw Path, part of that ancient set of trails that linked various lndian Nations.

One of these paths would eventually become Old Highway One connecting Rockingham, North Carolina to Cheraw, South Carolina along the Pee Dee River.  Within this area of the “Cheraw Old Fields” lies the settlement of Wolf Pit, early traditional homes of Native related families since the mid 1700’s.

Early immigrant and Native families came together here on the frontier.  Women of the Tuscarora, Pee Dee, and Cheraw Indian tribes.  Within these families were Strong Native women.

Mothers who have crossed the mystery of generations without last names, often identified in records only with distinctive first names.  But just as often, nothing is ever evident to be found as to Native or European names.  As these women reared daughters and sons, they taught them their own unique code of frontier survival and a cultural blend of Native ways.

Families that lived on the fringe of Indian, colonial, and established society, floating in and out between two cultures.

Numerous documents and official court records of the Revolutionary period attest to their independent and nonconformist ways. Richmond County, NC and Marlboro County, South Carolina records create a picture of free agents, Revolutionary War loyalists, War of 1812 guerilla scouts and patriots.  Later, Civil War conscriptees and POW’s: soldiers by necessity, not by design.

As the 1800’s unfolded, some moved away to other states trying to find a life that was easier.  Some at times, changed the spelling of their name.  Many remained private and silent, never speaking of their heritage of Native blood even to their own children and grandchildren.

As hardships dictated, often their heritage and identity was lost.  It would only be found again in obscure forgotten archive records, by a modern generation of great-great- grandchildren.  The old ones had created a kinder gentler cultural identity, but had left a mystery of family history and unspoken heritage to be unraveled.

This record celebrates the miracle of that shadowy oral history which managed to survive, finding that fragile ancient link back to the Ancestors and special gifts of the Spirit that came from them…..a strong survivor spirit in the face of immeasurable adversity.  A storytelling and preservation tradition more ancient than established written records.

In closing, this is a personal account that documents what is still unspoken and unrecorded in many respects.  It is a family history.  Our mothers’ faithful memories tell us to preserve what is left before it is lost to our own children and family yet to come…they, the next generation of Tuscarora descendants of The Tuscarora That Stayed Behind.

The Ancestors’ voices, repeated through the lips of many generations tell us that….

“We fled somewhere quickly in the middle of the night…..

We followed the River,

Sheltered by the River.

Always the River.”

stayed behind 10

The Mystery of Great Grannie Ghee’s Words

Repeated many times over many days, many years.

A puzzle she in her own life, never fully understood. But by faith as it had been taught to her as a child, repeated and passed it on…….

First told to her daughters Alena and Zula.  Then passed onto her granddaughter Naomi as she sat up late at night and listened…..

Who passed it on to her daughters and son. Who now tell their children. So they can grow up, remember the words and pass them on once more.



Tuscarora War


stayed behind poem

stayed behind 11

Oral History Supporting Resources:

BAE–Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, DC. [now part of National Anthropological Archives, Washington, DC]

Chavis , G.L. History and Oral Traditions of the Chavis Trading Post and Cheaves Mill, Tarr River, Granville Co., NC, Tuscarora of South Carolina, 2008.

Collett, John,  et al A Compleat map of North-Carolina from an actual survey, S. Hooper, Ludgate Hill, London,1770

William P. Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps, Third Edition. Chapel Hill: University of NC Press, 1998. Map 394.;LC Maps of North America, 1750-1789, no.1500. Repository NC Collection Gallery, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

England, T. B. , Anson Co., NC, Land Grant Research , Grants, 26 Oct 1767

and 8 Dec 1770 Survey: No. 60. Thomas Brigman Location Terms: Marks Creek, Spring Branch, Chawsaw, Gum Branch, Chawsaw Road.

Feeley, Stephen D. Tuscarora Trails: Indian Migrations, War, and Constructions of Colonial Frontiers, Vol.1, page 259-260 , The College of William and Mary, 2007. Oral tradition of Tuscarora survivors [documented from 19th century memories] Escape across the river on rafts.

Mouzon, Henry “An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina With Their Indian Frontiers, Shewing in a distinct manner all the Mountains, Rivers, Swamps, Marshes, Bays, Creeks, Harbours, Sandbanks and Soundings on the Coasts, with The Roads and Indian Paths…by Henry Mouzon and Others, Published, The American Atlas John Bennett, Robert Sayer, London, England, 1775. Repository, North Carolina State Archives

Referenced from “Tuscaroras Leave N.C.” Gatschet after Adam Williams, 44 Tuscarora., ca. 16 Sept 1885. Free Rendering by A. [Anthony] F.C. Wallace, BAE Box 372b in Extracts BAE Tuscarora Collection, F.R. [Roy] Johnson Papers, NCSA. [NC State Archives]

Roberta Estes resources:




Contentna Creek photo journal graciously provided by Robert Chavis.

Posted in Tuscarora | 13 Comments

An Indian Named Pauwaw, 1672

In 1672, George Fox traveled the area between the Albemarle Sound and the border of Virginia.  Someplace between Edenton and Bonner’s Creek (possibly current Blount’s Creek), he visited with  an Indian named Pauwaw.

Mavis, the subscriber who brought this to my attention wondered if this could be the genesis of the work powwow, and in an indirect way it may well be.

According to Susan Braine, in her book, “Drumbeat… Heartbeat : A Celebration of the Powwow” (1995), the word powwow has been Anglicized from an Algonquian term “pau-wau” or “pauau” which referred to a gathering of medicine men of spiritual leaders.  With the document below, we see that individuals were also referenced by this word, which was probably more of a descriptive title than a name, per se.  This also suggests that this man was indeed Algonquian, not Tuscarora, who was the other Indian tribe living in this vicinity.

Journal of George Fox [Extract]

Fox, George, 1624-1691

November 08, 1672 – December 09, 1672

Volume 01, Pages 216-218


[Reprinted from Pages 458 and 459 of the Edition Published at Friends’ Book Store, Philadelphia.]

“After this, [eighth day of the ninth month] our way to Carolina grew worse, being much of it plashy, and pretty full of great bogs and swamps; so that we were commonly wet to the knees, and lay abroad a-nights in the woods by a fire: saving one of the nights we got to a poor house at Sommertown, and lay by the fire. The woman of the house had a sense of God upon her. The report of our travel had reached thither, and drawn some that lived beyond Sommertown to that house, in expectation to have seen and heard us; but they missed us.

“Next day, the twenty-first of the ninth month, having travelled hard through the woods and over many bogs and swamps, we reached Bonner’s Creek; there we lay that night by the fire-side, the woman lending us a mat to lie on.

“This was the first house we came to in Carolina: here we left our horses, over-wearied with travel. From hence we went down the creek

——————– page 217 ——————–

in a canoe to Macocomocock River, and came to Hugh Smith’s, where people of other professions came to see us (no Friends inhabiting that part of the country) and many of them received us gladly. Among others came Nathaniel Batts, who had been governor of Roan-oak. He went by the name of captain Batts, and had been a rude, desperate man. He asked me about a woman in Cumberland, who, he said, he was told, had been healed by our prayers and laying on of hands, after she had been long sick, and given over by the physicians: he desired to know the certainty of it. I told him, we did not glory in such things, but many such things had been done by the power of Christ.

“Not far from hence we had a meeting among the people, and they were taken with the truth; blessed be the Lord! Then passing down the river Maratick in canoe, we went down the bay Connie-oak, to a captain’s, who was loving to us, and lent us his boat, for we were much wetted in the canoe, the water flashing in upon us. With this boat we went to the governor’s; but the water in some places was so shallow, that the boat, being loaden, could not swim; so that we put off our shoes and stockings, and waded through the water a pretty way. The governor, with his wife, received us lovingly; but a doctor there would needs dispute with us. And truly his opposing us was of good service, giving occasion to the opening of many things to the people concerning the Light and Spirit of God, which he denied to be in every one; and affirmed it was not in the Indians. Whereupon I called an Indian to us, and asked him, `Whether or no, when he did lie, or do wrong to any one, there was not something in him, that did reprove him for it?’ He said `There was such a thing in him that did so reprove him; and he was ashamed when he had done wrong, or spoken wrong.’ So we shamed the doctor before the governor and people; insomuch that the poor man ran out so far that at length he would not own the Scriptures. We tarried at the governor’s that night; and next morning he very courteously walked with us himself about two miles through the woods, to a place whither he had sent our boat about to meet us. Taking leave of him, we entered our boat, and went about thirty miles to Joseph Scot’s, one of the representatives of the country. There we had a sound, precious meeting; the people were tender, and much desired after meetings. Wherefore at a house about four miles further, we had another meeting; to which the governor’s secretary came, who was chief secretary of the province, and had been formerly convinced.

“I went from this place among the Indians, and spoke to them by an interpreter, shewing them, `That God made all things in six days, and

——————– page 218 ——————–

made but one woman for one man; and that God did drown the old world because of their wickedness. Afterwards I spoke to them concerning Christ, shewing them, that he died for all men, for their sins, as well as for others; and had enlightened them as well as others; and that if they did that which was evil he would burn them; but if they did well they should not be burned.’ There was among them their young king and others of their chief men, who seemed to receive kindly what I said to them.

“Having visited the north part of Carolina, and made a little entrance for the truth among the people there, we began to return again towards Virginia, having several meetings in our way, wherein we had good service for the Lord, the people being generally tender and open; blessed be the Lord! We lay one night at the secretary’s, to which we had much ado to get; for the water being shallow, we could not bring our boat to shore. But the secretary’s wife, seeing our strait, came herself in a canoe, her husband being from home, and brought us to land. By next morning our boat was sunk, and full of water; but we got her up, mended her, and went away in her that day about twenty-four miles, the water being rough, and the winds high: but the great power of God was seen, in carrying us safe in that rotten boat. In our return we had a very precious meeting at Hugh Smith’s; praised be the Lord forever! The people were very tender, and very good service we had amongst them. There was at this meeting an Indian captain, who was very loving; and acknowledged it to be truth that was spoken. There was also one of the Indian priests, whom they call Pauwaw, who sat soberly among the people. The ninth of the tenth month we got back to Bonner’s Creek, where we had left our horses; having spent about eighteen days in north of Carolina.”


Hat tip to Mavis for this document.

Posted in Algonquian, North Carolina | 3 Comments

Fort Neoheroka 300 Years Later – Tuscarora Commemorative Monument

NooherookaThe Tuscarora War began in 1711, a result of European incursion onto Native lands and the capture and enslavement of Indian children, and ended in 1713 with the massacre of over 950 of the Tuscarora at Fort Neoheroka.  In total, over 2000 Tuscarora were killed or enslaved during the Tuscarora War.

After that, the remaining Tuscarora were eventually awarded a reservation in Bertie County, NC, but in the late 1700s, most of the Tuscarora sold the land and migrated north to join their Iroquoian brethren in New York, becoming the sixth of the Six Nations.  Not all left.  Some had intermarried and stayed, and although the Tuscarora Nation officially disowned them, their descendants still today carry the blood of their ancestors, whether they are officially recognized as Tuscarora or not.

This past weekend, in an event coordinated by ECU, the Tuscarora people, both northern and southern, were honored by a memorial commemorating their loss of life at Fort Neoheroka, 300 years ago, between March 21 and 23.



A number of Tuscarora from North Carolina were present.  Johnathan Chavis took this photo at the entrance of the new monument, with Timothy Jacobs on the left and Billy Oxendine at right.

neoheroka entrance

Chris Hardison, also Tuscarora, present at this weekends events and has kindly graced us with the gift of his photography and videos he took of the dedication.  His comments were that this event was a gift of bringing together of people who had been separated by miles, years and events beyond their control, but they were once again one.  Hopefully, the healing has begun and the rift will be no more.

After looking at Chris’s photos, below, please take a look at the video links.  Chris recorded the dedication, several songs and dances and some social time as well.   Thanks to Chris and Johnathan for so generously sharing.

Neoheroka momument

The monument before the dedication ceremony.  The stumps, according to the artist, symbolize the Iroquois Nation.

The dark bands are bronze engravings.

neoheroka engraving 1

This one shows the long house.  The one below shows a wampum belt.

Neoheroka engraving 2

neoheroka rock

This wedge rock behind the arch represented the bunkers behind the fort, according to the artist, but to some of the Tuscarora from North Carolina in attendance, it represented the splitting of the people that occurred beginning with the massacre in 1713 and was completed in 1802 with the final removal trip North, accompanying the stragglers to New York to resettle.  This was the wedge driven between the northern and southern Tuscarora, as anyone who remained in the south was no longer considered to be Tuscarora.

neoheroka area

This photo shows the area at Snow Hill where the fort stood.  It’s a field today.

neoheroka dedication

This photograph is of the dedication.  The arch symbolized the long house and walking under the arch symbolized the entry into the Six Nations.

Now, take a look at Chris’s videos of the event.  Keep in mind when you hear the dedication songs that the northern and southern Tuscarora have joined their voices together after more than 200 years apart and they have never sung these songs in unison before.  This is a heart warming, soulful event.  As Chris said, this is an important chapter in Tuscarora history, just being written today.


Nyaweh Chris!

There is even a group of Tuscarora youth walking back to New York from North Carolina, called the Tuscarora Migration Project.  Their mission is to raise awareness of indigenous survival, climate change and the need for human powered movement.  Take a look as these young people retrace the ancient steps of their ancestors on their 1300 miles, 70 day, relay event using bikes, canoes and walking.  You can follow their blog, their progress, and support them on their historic journey.

Tusc migration

Posted in Iroquois, New York, North Carolina, Six Nations, Tuscarora | 4 Comments

The Albemarle Insurrection of 1679

Did you know that Albemarle County, NC had an insurrection in 1679?  They did, and apparently the Indians were considered to be a part of the problem, along with Negroes.  It doesn’t say, but I suspect these are free negroes, not enslaved people, as those in bondage would be severely disciplined for their participation in an insurrection.

It’s interesting that in many of these documents, North Carolina with her rich swamps is often portrayed as a safe-haven for those who need to hide or to disappear.  Escaped slaves, Indians, debtors, etc.  After the Tuscarora War, the whites hunted for years for the Indians who were hiding in the swamps.  They weren’t hiding there, they were living there, outside the reach of the encroaching settlers.

Representation concerning the rebellion in Albemarle County

No Author


Volume 01, Pages 256-261

——————– page 256 ——————–

[B. P. R. O. Colonial Papers.]


It is humbly tendred to the consideration of the most Illustrious and Right Honorable the Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina.

That the Rebellion of the Inhabitants of the County of Albemarle was not accidentall or casually arose from any present or sudden provocation given, but rather the effect of a more mature or deliberate contrivance, which I humbly conceive will so appeare to your Lordships by the ensuing particulars as here circumstanced, the mane substance whereof can be clearly proved by the evidence of divers credible witnesses upon oath before any person or persons, your Honors shall think fit to empower to take cognizance of the premisses.

That the Principalls and Heads of this Rebellion were not only prompted thereunto by ambition and envy or the private pekes and particular disgusts they had to those Gentlemen your Honors thought fit to entrust with the Government, but alsoe more especially those personall and particular crimes they knew themselves guilty of and accountable for whenever a Governor should come.

That this was a deliberate design of no sudden growth may be proved by their generall charge wherein all their former actions seem to have a naturall tendency to this their last and horrid end, At first their severall times disturbing the Courts, subverting the Government, dissolving Parliaments, Their industrious labor to be popular and continued making of factions and parties.

Their poysoning the peoples eares, unsetling and disquieting their minds, by diffusing and dropping abroad, by their Agents false and dangerous Reports tending much to the indignity of your Honors and reproach of your Government, and among divers others, that your Honors intended to raise the Quitrents to two pence and from two pence to six pence per acre. Now what they have done since is so notorious and obvious to every eye, as the imprisoning your Lordships’ Deputies, putting the President who was likewise his Majesty’s Collector into Irons, their Generall arming on the first appearance of Gilham’s shipp in Pascotanke

——————– page 257 ——————–

River, their seizing and carrying away the Records, Lastly their arrogating and assuming to themselves the supreme and sovereign power, by first dissolving then erecting Courts of Judicature, convening Parliaments without Writs, and as if they had the sovereign and absolute power they put out make New Officers not only in Courts and other publick services of the Country, but even where The King is more immediately concerned, turning out His Majesty’s Collectors, putting in others, clearing and discharging Ships, but last of all their most horrid treasonable and tyrannicall actings in erecting a Court for tryall of life and death without the Lords Deputies or Commission of Oyer and Terminer or any other colour or pretence of Authority, either from His sacred Majty or your Lordships, and particularly in the cases of Mr Thomas Miller and Mr Timothy Biggs.

But their speciall, particular and respective crimes are here annexed to their severall names here in the margin in the order following (vizt)

Capt Valentine Bird. He being appointed by the Country to be Collector of His Majesty’s Duty of the penny per pound, for all Tobacco not exported for England, did without power from or the privity or consent of either my Lord High Treasurar or his Majesty’s Commissioners of the Customs suffer the New England Traders to load and carry away the Tobacco of the Country without paying the said Duties, by which meanes they are now run in arreare to His Majesty one hundred and fifty thousand weight of Tobacco, and finding the hazard he had run in case another Collector should be sent he with above one hundred more, most whereof were Pastotankians, which after led the other Precincts into Rebellion there, with him subscribing a Paper against the payment of the said Duty, but after hearing by the report of Crawford that Mr Eastchurch was coming Governor and Mr Miller Collector, Bird and the rest of the subscribers were the first that took armes and opposed Miller at his first landing fearing they should be questioned for what they had done so, as soone as ever Gilham arrived they again take armes and by their Agents invite the other three Precincts to joyne with them, and till the generall elaps of the Country they were only in this defection and Bird was their Leader and drew the first sword, encouraged hereunto by Captain Zackery Gilham who supplied them with many fire armes and other weapons of War, came with some of his Seamen armed to Captain Crawford’s house, where the President and two other of the Deputies were taken prisoners.

George Durant. hath several times before not only contemned but opposed the authority established by your Honors, and in the head of a

——————– page 258 ——————–

Rebell rout by force subverted the Government turning out and placing in whom he and they thought fit at pleasure, and openly threatning that, if ever Mr Thomas Eastchurch came in Governor, he would turn Rebell. And as if these were too small crimes, he hath viciated a Record of Court by adding, razing and other wayes altering the verdict of a jury, and as foreman giving it in contrary to what the whole Jury had returned upon oath, particularly in case of Mr Thomas Miller. And in fine hath all along when at home beene one of the most violent, active and the most outrageous of all the Conspirators and Insurrectors.

Capt. William Crawford hath formerly as well as now industriously made it his business to be popular, make factions and then head them and very subtily though clandestinely and underhand, will be found one of the chief contrivers as well as acters in this Rebellion, but (besides) his particular crime, in the imbezling and taking of the file of the Records, a gratious grant of your Lordships to the Country. And having formerly got the Records into his Custody, divers of them are since not to be found: and this he did, as may be judged; (since he could make no private advantage thereby) purposely to keep the people ignorant of your Honors good intentions to this Country and might find fitter occasions thereby to insence them against your Lordships and the government.

Capt: John Willoughby He is a person that runs himself into many errors and premuniries through his extra-judiciall and arbitrary proceedings in the Courts of Judicature, and for instance in the case of Mr Thomas Eastchurch, who by reason of their tyranny and injustice to himwards would have appealed to your Lordships, but was thus answered by Willoughby That they were the Court of Courts and Jury of Juries. He is a person that through a naturall habit of pride or ambition hath been alwaies imperious amongst his equals, courteous to his inferiours, because factious and would be popular; stubborne and disobedient to superiors, evidenced by his scornfull and peremptory refusing obedience to the summons of the Palatine’s Court and his beating the sworn Officer that served the same: and for this and other scornes and contempts put upon the Court, and continuing still obstinate, he was outlawed: The next Parliament approving of the proceedings against him, set a fine on his head for his said contempt. And hereupon he disavowes your Government by addressing his complaints to the Governor and Councill of Virginia, and notwithstanding the discountenance he met with there, yet he returns not homewards till he heard the Country was up in armes.

——————– page 259 ——————–

Capt: Thomas Cullum frequently sells powder, shot and fire-armes, as well to those Indian nations that are not as those that are in amity with the English, expresly contrary to the Laws of all the English Provinces which make it death to sell either to our enemies. And on notice given to the Magistrates of Virginia, Warrants were there issued out for apprehending him, and if he had there been taken (although in another Government) he must have stood a tryall for his Life for the same or like fact there committed.

Lieut: Col: John Jenkins being some time made Governor by the appointment of Cartwright was after for severall misdemeanours displaced and imprisoned; yet although never legaly discharged, raiseth a party of riotous persons in armes, and these with some others vote him Generalissime, neither he or they pretending to any other right or authority than what he derived from this Rebell Rout, these turne out the Palatines Court, dissolve the Assembly, place and displace whom he and they pleased by an arbitrary power and force. But yet although Jenkins had the title yet in fact Durant governed and used Jenkins but as his property, for of all the factious persons in the Country he was the most active and uncontrolable.

John Culpeper, a person that never is in his element but whilst fishing in troubled waters, he was forced to fly from Ashley River for his turbulent and factious carriage there. He both here and in New England with some of the discontented Traders plotted there and underhand here incouraged the hot headed people to this rash and ill-advised Rebellion. Culpeper being their Secretary or Register and one of their Caball or Grand Councill in matter of advise, this being the second disturbance he hath made here, besides what he hath done in Ashley River, New England and Virginia and therefore a man they much hearken to for his experience sake.

Patrick White is one that with Willoughby applyed himself to the Governor of Virginia, that beate Mr Miller when he landed, and an active man in this Rebellion, and hath formerly been a disturber of the Government.

Capt: James Blount, although one of the Great Councill or Assistant to the Deputies is one of the chief persons amongst the Insurrectors, and although I wrote to him, the speaker and rest of the Burgesses of Chowan Precinct, yet when the Sheriffe or Chief Martiall came with my letter and endeavoured to raise Posse Comitatis for keeping the peace and securing of that your Lordships Country, he the said Blount with one Captain John Vernham took the Martiall and his men Prisoners and raised forces against the Government.

——————– page 260 ——————–

Bonner and Slocum two other of the Burgesses joyne with Cullum, Blunt and Vernham. So that all the five Burgesses of Chowan, although contrary to their Oathes of Allegiance and Obedience, and to their proceedings in Parliament, are in this defection and by their bad example have drawn in the Country people. There are besides these about eighty or an hundred which may be ranked in a second Classe differing no more from the former than second rates from first. And all or most of these have been guilty of former insurrections with some of their Leaders above named, especially such as live in Pascotanke, vizt Lieutenant Wells, Seares, Jennings, Ellis, Bonesby and his two sons, Cotes, with divers others of the Precinct.

Now the rest of the people may rather be reputed newtrall, for if they have complyed (as many of them have done) it is only through want of Courage that they have sacrificed their faith to their fears, and for the same reason will on the first appearance of a party from your Honors although but 60 or 70 men on pardon published and examplary justice done on the Ring-leaders who do overawe them, they will then gladly returne to their duties, their necessities also constreighning them, for they cannot subsist without planting of Corne and Tobacco, well knowing that without these two (having made them their sole dependence) they must perish by hunger or want of cloathing, unless the Chief leaders build Capers and imploy them to rob the Merchants to supply their wants as they come into the Capes of Virginia which is not above 20 or 30 leagues from this Inlet; and they are apt enough to tell them, that in respect of the openness of the Road, shallowness of the Inlet, fastness of the Country, and by reason of the woods, swamps, rivers, creeks and runs, this Country being no waies accessible by Land but to the northward from Virginia, and that but by three passes or avenues, by which meanes they may possibly be persuaded they may be as safe from His Majesty’s Frigates as if they were in Sally.

I mention not this to discourage your Honors, but do likewise assure you that they are as inconsiderable, as rash and disobedient: the whole number I do not say of men but Tythables that is of working hands consist of about 1400 persons, a third part whereof at least being Indians, Negros and women will, the rest once being declared Rebells, quickly desert them and come in in hope either of liberty or better usage. So that in fine I can no way bring the number of Rebells that may be expected in armes to amount to 100 men, and these by reason of the several rivers and creeks which run north and south, and divide the severall Precincts, so that they cannot suddenly joyne. If therefore a Ship

——————– page 261 ——————–

from England with goods and servants which I am confident would answer the charge, two or three Sloopes prest from Virginia, all man’d with about 60 or 70 men divided into two parties, one whereof might run up to Chowan up the Sound in a night, and there I am sure they would meet with many Loyall and lusty young men, who would immediately joyne with them and on notice divers who fled to Virginia would return for Pasquimans, there were but 3 or 4 noted Rebells as Jenkins, Durant, Sherrell, Greene, Pricklove and Lininton, most of the rest being Quakers, who stand firme in their obedience although they will not fight, the archest Rebells and greatest number being in Paccotanke. And although it is easy to reduce them either by the way above proposed or by those soldiers as are yet behind in Virginia or by Volunteers from thence, near two hundred having promised Mr Eastchurch to march in with him as soone as he should obteine Licence from the Governor there, but his death prevented his designe, the Governor assuring him by his messingers that nothing should be wanting on his part wherein he might serve him, they there and also in Maryland being exceeding sensible of the dangerous consequences of this Rebellion, as that if they be not suddenly subdued hundreds of idle debters, theeves, Negros, Indians and English servants will fly into them & from thence make Inroads and dayly Incursions, whence great mischief may follow which may better be foreseene and prevented than after remedied, for considering the vast coast and wild woods of the backside of Virginia they may come from Maryland & the Wilderness between Virginia and Albemarle extending one hundred miles without one Inhabitant they may and some already do go into them in defiance of all the care the Governor and Magistrates there take for prevention.


Hat tip to Mavis for this document.

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Thomas Merrett, an Indian or Not?

Whoever thought a comma could make such a difference.  One of our subscribers, Mavis, sent me this document for the Native Names project, thinking that Thomas Merrett was an Indian.  At first glance, I thought so to, and then I took another look.

Caleb Calloway is entering head rights.  This means he gets credit, generally free land, or free except the surveying and associated filing fees, for each person he imports into the colony.  The word “imports” is also often misunderstood.  It can mean from across the seas, the British Isles, or elsewhere, but it can also mean from Virginia, which is just up the coast a bit, or another state.  The idea of course is that these people will be coming to what was then Carolina to live, to homestead, to work, etc.

The record we are interested in is at the end of this document. I left the irrelevant parts because as with all old records, you often need to look at the rest of the records to get an idea of context.  So, take a look at the use of commas, or lack thereof, and then read the last record.

My thoughts are that Thomas Merrett was one of the 4 headrights, as were Daniel Pembrooke and Arthur Long.  The fourth was an Indian boy without an English name, so he was just referred to as an Indian boy.  His name was not important to this transaction, but the fact that he was “imported” means money to Caleb Calloway.

Why would an Indian boy be being imported on a boat with white people in 1693?  Indians typically transported themselves wherever they wanted to go.  The exception, of course, was people who were enslaved or apprenticed.  This Native boy was probably not in control of his own destiny, whether by virtue of slavery, apprenticeship or because he was an orphan.  It would be interesting to follow these three white men to see if any of them had slaves, and if so, if we would be lucky enough to find another description someplace indicating one of them was an Indian.

If Thomas Merrett was the name of the Indian boy, he is not known to have been mentioned later.  The only further mention in the Colonial Records of Thomas Merrett was in 1766 as a jailer in Edgecombe County, so not likely to be the same Thomas Merrett.


Minutes of the Perquimans Precinct Court

North Carolina. Precinct Court (Perquimans Precinct)

February 05, 1694

Volume 01, Pages 392-396

[Records of Perquimans Precinct Court.]



Alexandr Lillington Esqr

Caleb Calloway Esqr

John Barrow Esqr

Thomas Lepper Esqr

Wilkesons Vers Lillington & Hartley

A Judgmto Confest by Major Lillington & Mrs Susanna Hartly as Attorneys to Capt George Clarke for £35: s19: wth Cost alias Execution: Ordered that Major Alexander Lillington & Mrs Susanna Hartly in their Capacityes aforesaid doe pay unto Colloll Wm Wilkeson ye Sume of £35: 19 Cost as aforesaid

Wilkeson Exer to Jno Davis Vers Lillington Att to Holland

A Judgmte confest by Major Lillington as Attorney to John Holland of Virginia for ye Sume of £4: s2: d6. due to ye sd Wilkeson Executor to Mr John Davis disceas: Ordered yt Major Lillington in his capacity aforesaid pay unto Collll Wilkeson ye Sume of £4: s2: d6. wth Cost Alias Execution.

Mason vers White

In an action of ye Cace referred to ye Jury following Mr John Philpott Mr Patrick Henly Mr Richard Smith Mr John ffendall Mr John Tweegar Mr Timo Clare Mr Wm Butler Mr Richard Chested Mr Thomas Horton Mr Roger Snell Mr Robert Beasley Mr Cornelious Lerry: Ordered

——————– page 393 ——————–

that the defendt pay unto the plantt: s17: d6: wth Cost alias Execution

Philpott vers Nowell

Mr John Philpott wthdrawes the action agt Rich Nowell.

Mr Tho Lepper has proved Ten rights whose names are as followeth Tho. Kent Ann Kent Sarah Kent Rebecca Kent Ann Kent John Thomas Wm Brown Wm Brickstone Tho Lepper Nicholas Robeson

Caleb Calloway enters ffoure Rights: Danll Pembrooke Tho Merrett an Indian Boy in all ffoure. Arthur Long

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Yawpim Indian Town in Currituck County, NC

When Kay Lynn Sheppard sent me the extracted Currituck court notes, I found four records that spoke directly to an Indian Town or Indian line.

5 Mar 1778 – John Standley of Currituck County enters 100 acres.  Borders on the east side of Richard Standley’s land, on James Dary’s land, widow Fenton’s land, & on the Indian line.  Ordered for survey.

14 Mar 1778 – James Ryan of Currituck County enters 400 acres of swamp land in Currituck County near the Great Swamp Bridge leading to Indian Town.  Borders the back of said Ryan’s plantation, John Thomson’s line & Joshua Campbel.  Entered before Ashel Simmons, JP at May Court.  Said entry was duly done in open court.  /s/ Solo. Perkins

31 Dec 1778 – Robert Barnit of Currituck County enters 100 acres bordering the SW side of said Barnit’s land, North River on the South, the Indian line on the South & East, & Hugh’s place.  /s/ Jas. Ryan, E.T.

14 Oct 1784 – Mr. Samuel Ferebee enters 250 acres of land & swamp in Currituck County near the Great Swamp Road from Indian Town to Coenjock Bay, which swamp leads from North River and borders a corner in Francis Williamson’s patent.  Ordered for survey.  /s/ John Simmons, E.T.

Of course, I wanted to know where this Indian Town was located.  Kay Lynn was most helpful there as well, locating it on two old maps.  On the 1808 Price-Strothers map, you can see it listed as Indian Town.


currituck 1

On the earlier, 1733 Mosley map, it’s actually called Yawpim, reflecting the name of the tribe whose village and reservation were located there.

currituck 2

It’s worth noting on this map that the Poteskite Indians are also shown not far from the Yawpim, as are the Mattamuskeet and the Hatteras on the south side of Albemarle Sound.

currituck 3


This land for the Yawpim Indians was set forth as a reservation in 1704.
(Original in Court House at Edenton, N. C.)

Att a Councill held att the House of Captn John Heckleford in Little River Aprill ye 12th 1704. Prsent the Lords Deputyes.
Ordered that the Surveyr Generall or Deputy Shall (with what Expedition is possible) Upon Complaint of the Yawpim Indians Lay out for the sd Indians (where they now live) four miles Square of Land or the Quantity not injoining any of the old Settlements which was made before the Order of Councill bearing Date in October 1697, And Mr. John Hawkins, Mr. Thomas Taylor, Mr. Robert Morgan & Mr. John Relfe or any three of them are hereby required to attend the Surveyr or Deputy etc to be directed to Captn Tho: Relfe to Execute with speed and make returnes.”

Source: North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, by J. R. B. Hathaway, Genealogical Publishing Company Inc., Baltimore Co MD, 1965, 1970-71, 1979; Clearfield Company Inc., Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore Co MD, 1998, 2002, volume 3, page 73-74

This was followed on the next two pages by a very similar order for the Chowan Indians.

This “History of Indian Town” tells us a little more.


As with many other early towns created in North Carolina, there simply isn’t much information currently available regarding the village of Indian Town, first within Currituck County, then because of minor boundary changes it ended up in Camden County.

One can easily find its location on many maps that were produced in the 1790s and well into the late 1800s, but one cannot find much else out about this town. Indian Town was located well up the North River – about halfway up the border between Currituck and Camden County – a tad north of what is now the town of Camden (on the east side of Camden County), and a bit south of the town of Currituck (on the other side of the county from Indian Town).

US Postal records provide us a little insight. Indian Town was granted a Post Office on August 10, 1793 and its first Postmaster was Mr. Thomas P. Williams of Currituck County. On February 1, 1882, the Post Office records indicate that Indian Town was moved to Camden County, and its first Postmaster in that county was Mr. Samuel S. Leary. This PO was in continuous operations until May 15, 1934, when it was closed for good.

Posted in Hatteras, Maps, Mattamuskeet, Poteskeet, Yeopim | 1 Comment