Card Carrying Indians vs Those Who Don’t

In the Indian world, those who have BIA “cards” are considered “real Indians” and those who don’t, aren’t.  It’s a sad commentary, really, because it draws a line in the sand and actively, systematically encourages both discrimination and the eventual elimination of Indian tribes, well, of government sanctioned Indian tribes, as we know them.  Why?  Because unless the tribal members “marry native,” eventually, their blood quantum, the percentage of Indian blood they carry, will be reduced to under the amount required for tribal membership, a percentage established by the tribes themselves.  Then there won’t be issues about obtaining that precious BIA card from the government that identifies them as “Indian,” and entitles them to a number of services, because there won’t be any more “Indians.”  They, along with the BIA who issues the cards, will have legislated themselves into the group of “have nots,” the “not real” Indians that the card carrying Indians so often disdain.  Indeed, the line in the sand that includes/excludes the BIA card and tribal membership encourages discrimination both inside of and outside of the Native community.

I have often wondered if this is just another kind of long-term institutionalized genocide, one that Native people and tribes have bought into in order to obtain the services today that their people need.  In time, the “Indians” will be gone, in another generation or two, which was, after all, the original intention of the government – to exterminate the Indians one way or another – through death, sale into slavery, religious conversion, assimilation – anything to make them non-Indian and to “go-away,” of course, leaving their precious land behind.  By the tribes’ own definition of who is and is not an Indian, they will shrink their own numbers until they become extinct or so small as to be inconsequential.  So the government doesn’t have to do anything, except wait, because the “shrinking” criteria for being “Indian” has been established and agreed to by all parties involved.

Why, you ask, wouldn’t the Indian tribes simply change their definition of blood quantum to include more people?  That is a political question, and the answer even moreso, but in essence, there is a pot of money, often including casino revenue, and the pot must be divided by the number of tribal members.  Some tribes have actually tightened their membeship requirements.

Warren Petoskey, a card-carrying member of the Little Bay Band of Odawa Indians writes about card carrying versus excluded Indians in Native News Network from a first-hand perspective.  He is card-carrying, number 0322, but his wife is not.  Take a look.

From another perspective, and for an example of what the BIA and Oklahoma Cherokee tribal membership cards look like, see John Cornsilk’s webpage.

Posted in Bureau of Indian Affairs, CDIB Card | 7 Comments

Shuffer Tonies, They Was Free Issues and Part Indian

MEMORIES OF UNCLE JACKSON, John H. Jackson, 309 S. Sixth St., Wilmington, N.C.

From Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves (1841).

My mother was the laund’ess for the white folks. In those days ladies wore clo’es, an’ plenty of ‘em. My daddy was one of the part Indian folks. My mammy was brought here from Washin’ton City, an’ when her owner went back home he sold her to my folks. You know, round Washin’ton an’ up that way they was Ginny (Guinea) niggers, an’ that’s what my mammy was. We had a lot of these malatto negroes round here, they was called ‘Shuffer Tonies’, they was free issues and part Indian. The leader of ‘em was James Sampson.

For more information about the Sampson family, check out Lisa’s blog at:

This is interesting in that it not only tells us about  James Sampson, it tells us that John H. Jackson’s father was mixed Native.  I checked the 1840 census in New Hanover County, where there was no John Jackson in the 1840-1860 census, but in 1870 we find a John Jackson born in 1840 and a John H. Jackson, age 11 months in Wilmington.

Maybe someone knows more about  this John H. Jackson whose father was part Indian.  His mother was from Beaufort County, so at some point we know that his father and his mother had to be in the same proximity.  Of course, there is also the question of whether his father’s surname was Jackson, or his mothers, or neither.

Posted in Guinea, Shuffer Tonies | Leave a comment

1888 Indian Census of New York

Tusc 1888 census

In the US federal census before 1900, Indians living on reservations were not enumerated on the regular census schedules.  I’m not positive when they began to be included, but I know they were not in 1880 and they were by 1930.  I was looking for the earliest records available that listed tribal members for the Tuscarora tribe, so when I found the 1888-1893 Indian census records, I was quite pleased to see that entire families had been enumerated, not just heads of households, etc.

These original records have been digitized by Ancestry in conjunction with the National Archives.  Unfortunately, all of the New York tribes are lumped together in New York records, 808 pages of them.

I went through and for the first three years and nearly 500 pages, sorted them into tribes and reservations, the way that they were actually enumerated.  I compared the records for the Tuscarora from 1888-1891 and they are consistent, so this looks like a quality enumeration.

I found it particularly interesting that in 1766, 160 Tuscarora arrived in New York from North Carolina, the majority of the tribe.  A few more made the journey in 1802.  The Tuscarora in New York were adopted either by the Seneca or Oneida, depending on the resource you reference.  By 1889, they had 404 tribal members and in 1891, the total was 392.

Reading these census records also points out how much cross-visitiation there was between tribes.  You’ll notice several records of one tribe’s members living on another tribes reservation.  I’m sure that intermarriage was very prevalent as well. In fact, there was one elderly lady in her 80s by the last name of Fish.  Since she is the only Fish listed, I have to wonder if she didn’t marry outside the tribe and then move back as a widow.  In 1891, a new name was introduced among the Tuscarora by a young woman in her 20s, DeFeurest.

I noticed another name that occurs only once among the Tuscarora, Jemison (Jenison) but is found prolifically among the Seneca.  These records make for interesting reading.  I wish we had records to fill in the gaps between the 1760/1800 Tuscarora land sales in North Carolina, the few War of 1812 records and the 1888 census enumeration.

New York Indian Census Enumeration


Seneca at Tonawanda



St. Regis on St. Regis Reservation (pg 51)

Oneida on the Onondaga Reservation

Cayuga residing on different Indian reservations in NY

Senecas on the Cattauragas Reservation

Tonawanda Senecas residing on Cattaraugus Reservation

At Orphan Asylum (for orphan Indians) – note this asylum’s residents were listed in the 1880 federal census (found doing Printup lookup)

Seneca Residing on the Allegheny Reservation

Tonawanda Baud. (sic)

Onondaga residing on the Cattaraugus Reservation

Onondaga residing on the Allegheny Reservation

Signed at the end:  New York Agency, August 10, 1888, Enumeration of the Onondaga at Allegheny furnished by a chief.


The next segment, begins again with the Seneca on the Allegheny reservation in June of 1889

Tonawanda band of Seneca on the Tonawanda Reservation

Seneca on the Cattauragus Reservation

Onondaga on the Allegheny Reservation furnished by a chief

Onondaga on the Cattauragus Reservation

Cayuga on the Cattauragus Reservation furnished by a Chief

Oneida on the Oneida Reservation furnished by a Chief

Onondaga on the Onondaga Reservation

Oneida on the Onondaga Reservation furnished by a chief

Onondaga on the Tuscarora Reservation

Tuscarora on the Tuscarora Reservation provided by a chief

Tuscarora Children at Orphan Home (listed separately but included with Tuscarora totals)



Seneca children in orphan’s home

Tonawanda band of ? residing on Cattaraugus Reservation

Tonawanda band of Seneca on Allegheny Reservation


Tuscarora orphans at asylum

Tonowanda band of Seneca

Senecas of Cattauragus residing on Tonawanda Reservation



Onondaga residing on Cattauragus Reservation

1892 begins here

I did not extract 1892 nor further.  These records continue through 1893, 808 pages in all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Kinchen Tucker, of Indian Descent, Lives at Gholson’s Bridge

The lovely blog, Fourth Generation Inclusive ran this extremely interesting tidbit.

gholson bridge

Fifty Dollars Reward. RANAWAY from the subscriber, on the 10th inst. without a fault, a Negro Man named DAVE, about 32 years of age, is about 5 feet 7 or 8 inches high, slender made, yellow complexion, down look when spoken to, speaks not very quick when spoken to; has not got good eyes, on account of having wild hairs in them at times. It is probably Dave will try to pass for a free man; he has travelled a good deal with the wagon in different parts of this state and Virginia, and don’t lack for want of sense. I have been told that he has gone to Virginia; and that his father lives in Meherrin, Va. near Gholson’s Bridge. His father, I have been told, is of Indian descent, and is a free man; his name is said to be Kinchen Tucker; and he will no doubt conceal him, should Dave get there. When he went away he had good clothes, and dressed equal to any servant; he had a new fur hat on, and forty or fifty dollars in cash, about forty of which was in specie. I purchased him of a Mr Ross Hutcheson, living within six miles of me, a man who raised him. I will give the above reward if taken out of the state, and if taken in the state, twenty-five dollars if put in any jail so that I get ho again. – Should said negro man Dave be taken up information can be given to me by letter, addressed to Hillsborough, or to Pleasant Grove, Orange County, N.C.    John B. Vincent. August 23.

Raleigh Register and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser, 2 September 1825.

There is a lot of implied history in this story.  First, looking at a map, Gholson Bridge (shown above) crossed the Meherrin River about a mile from the location of Fort Christanna in Brunswick County, Virginia. The Sapponi and other primarily Siouian (Tutelo, Occaneechi and Nahyssan) tribes were settled there in 1714 when the fort was completed.  The Meherrin and Nottoway, Iroquoian tribes, refused to live at the fort with the Siouian tribes.  The Fort was decommissioned only 3 years later and closed in 1718.   The Saponi and Tutelo remained on the tract, 6 miles square (or 36 square miles) for several more years, at a village called Junkatapurse (Tutelo: chunketa pasui, “horse’s head”). They began moving elsewhere in small bands around 1730. The largest part of them moved to Shamokin, Pennsylvania in 1740, where they joined the Iroquois, and were formally adopted by the Cayuga nation in New York in 1753. Meanwhile colonists had begun moving to the lands around the fort in such numbers that in 1720, Brunswick County was formed there as a separate county.

Not only does the advertisement for runaway Dave give the location of Kinchen Tucker in terms of Meherrin, but in relative proximity to the bridge as well.  On the map below, the bridge is marked with a red balloon and Fort Christanna is shown to the left of the yellow Christanna Highway on Fort Hill Road.

gholson bridge map

The fact that Kinchen Tucker’s son, Dave, described as a mulatto, was a slave implies that Dave’s mother was a slave, because the child took the legal status of the mother.  If Dave was 32 in 1825, he was born in about 1793 and his father would have been probably at least age 20 by then, so born in 1773 or before.  The census reflects several white Tucker families, all with slaves, in Brunswick County.

There is a Kinchen Tucker in Washington County, Va. with a family of 7 in 1830, but he is a white man.  This particular Tucker family moved into east Tennessee and by the 1850 census, there are several Kinchen Tuckers in Tennessee and Kentucky.  It is unknown whether these families are connected, but a name like Kinchen Tucker is quite unusual.  Of course, a Native man could have adopted the name of a white family that lived closeby.  It would be interesting to take a close look at the Brunswick County records to see if Kinchen Tucker is found anyplace in the records.  I wonder what happened to Dave, his son, and if he survived, what surname he took.

Posted in Cayuga, Iroquois, Nahyssan, Nottoway, Ocaneechi, Saponi, Tutelo | Tagged | 1 Comment

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