From Nansemond to Monacan: The Legacy of the Pochick-Nansemond among the Bear Mountain Monacan

Jay Hansford C. Vest wrote an article which was published in 2003 titled From Nansemond to Monacon: The Legacy of the Pochick-Nansemond among the Bear Mountain Monacon (American Indian Quarterly, Summer/Fall 2003, Vol 21, No 3 and 4).

The article discusses in depth the history of the Pochick-Nansemond band of the Monicans, also called “Issues”, “Brown People” and mulattoes.  By 1685, the Iroquois were harassing the Monacon, and by 1714, the Monacon were among the people at Fort Christanna.  Following the closure of Fort Christanna, this particular band apparently moved to what is now Rockbridge and Amherst Counties.  The only evidence of this is that Thomas Jefferson described “Indian mourners” coming to visit an Indian grave near Monticello in Albemarle Co., Va.

Genealogical evidence of this Monacan connection to Fort Christanna is evident in some of the surnames as well as the surnames of several well-known traders.  The Native people had to take their surnames from someplace.  Land patents adjoining the Saponi Fort include Urvine (Irvine), Turner, Floyd and West (Vest).  Trader names include Beverly, Irwin (Irvin), Hicks (Hix) and Jones (Johns).

The next connection we have is a will from John Bias of Amherst Co., to his natural son Obadiah Knuckles, August 1835.  It is believed that this John Bias is a member of the Native Bass family.  Obadiah Knuckles was on the original Monacon tribal rolls and married Belinda Gue and secondly, Susan Johns, daughter of Tartleton Johns and Elizabeth Redcross Johns. This document, as well as others, identifies Obadiah Knuckles as the biological son of John Bias.  Today, were one of the Knuckles males to take a DNA test, we would expect that they might well match a Bass.

Peter Houck in Indian Indians in Amherst County tells us about interviews conducted among the Bear Mountain people, “Following…Johns, Branham and Redcross…there were numerous other people with different names, who arrived in the community over the next 150 years, Beverly, Clark, Adcock, Terry, Nuckles, Hicks, Hamilton, Lawhorne, Penn, Lawless and Roberts are recognizable surnames but there were others.”

Interestingly enough, we find many people with these same surnames registering in the WWI draft in 1917/1918 as Indians.

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About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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12 Responses to From Nansemond to Monacan: The Legacy of the Pochick-Nansemond among the Bear Mountain Monacan

  1. ❤ this article as well!! Keep it coming!!

  2. bohpoli says:

    The Obediah Knuckles/Nuckles who married Belinda Gue was the father of the Obediah Nuckles who married Susan Johns.

  3. Shouldn’t ”Rockingham and Amherst Counties” read ”Rockbridge and Amherst Counties” , its just a typo , still , just sayin……

  4. Blue Ridge Blue says:

    Strange, I descend from Polly Johns Price George Va, Lucy Evans of 1777 Chatham County, John Richardson son of Mary Martin Guinn 1873 of Halifax/Rockingham NC. Richard Evans of Chatham 1776 whose family intermarried with Locklears, Chavis, Lowerys, Johns, Redcross. I’m African American however, and DNA only shows me 5.2% N.A. It seems to me that there were groups of FPOC moving around to certain designations and intermarrying. I also have White, North African, Southeast Asian and Iberian in my composition

  5. I’m looking for info about my 5th great-grandparents who lived in Amherst County prior to 1769. Their names were John Bly, and his wife’s name was Mary (maiden name unknown). I don’t know if she was a Monacan or not. Their son, John, who was born in Amherst on 1780, got married when he was 19 in Kentucky. So I know he moved out of Amherst when he was very young. This I already know about David Bly. He is on the books as a land owner in Amherst Co, VA from 1769 to 1784. He bought and sold several times. His wife’s name was Mary and they were married by 1770 because her name appears on some of the sales. In 1770, Linn Banks bought 70 acres adjoining his father’s property from David Bly, Amherst Co., VA on the branches of the Buffalo River adjoining Gerard Banks, Martin Trap and John Ownbey Jr. (Amherst Co., VA, Deed Book C, p 124). Any info will be appreciated

  6. John Cheek says:

    My 2nd Great Grandmother, Annie Elizabeth Ailstock, has Phebe Vess listed on her Death Certificate as her Mother..Your article here Listing Vest, West among those living around Fort Christanna is the first thing I’ve seen saying the Vests may have been Indian. The Ailstocks and Vess’s were from the Rockbridge, Kerrs Creek Area… Lived among the Monacans, though I can’t say they were Monacan…Annie was Mulatto in the 1860 Census, White in 1870 Census..

  7. STACEY LOCKLEAR says:

    My name is Stacey my grandmother’s name was Ethel Willis she was the youngest child of Clifton Willis & Maude Willis (Roberts). Clifton and his siblings grew up on Bear Mountain Clifton was born around 1886 or so. He had several siblings. His bother Homer has items In the Monacan Museum. I am looking or any information anyone may have on Maude Willis born Maude Roberts she was raised by her grandparents I believe Julia & Jesse Roberts. Clifton and his siblings father’s name as Elisha Willis.

    • Lloyd Johns says:

      My name is Lloyd and Maude Roberts was the daughter of Amanda Roberts, who was Jesse and Julia Roberts daughter. Amanda was also my great grandmother on my mother’s side. Clifton and Homer Willis’s sister Emma was my grandmother (my father’s mother). Maude’s sister Nellie was my grandmother (mother’s mother). I will be glad to share any info with you. Have quite a lot.

      • STACEY LOCKLEAR says:

        any information you have on the Roberts or the Willis would be appreciated. Like i said missing a lot of information about Amanda giving Birth to Maude who Maude’s father was? Any type of pictures floating around i am also on ancestry as well. fell free to use any of my email address. locklear23@gmail.com

  8. STACEY LOCKLEAR says:

    omg i am truly smiling right now i know Amanda was Maude’s mother her name is on her marriage lic. but the name Robert Roberts is listed as her father. Am having a terrible time finding dates on when Maude was born actually and who her father was? When Amanda passed away i know she married and had the last name Childress for a while i think i have two pictures of Maude but that is it. She passed away in baltimore in the 50’s
    my email address locklear23@gmail.com

    • STACEY LOCKLEAR says:

      omg i am truly smiling right now i know Amanda was Maude’s mother her name is on her marriage lic. but the name Robert Roberts is listed as her father. Am having a terrible time finding dates on when Maude was born actually and who her father was? When Amanda passed away i know she married and had the last name Childress for a while i think i have two pictures of Maude but that is it. She passed away in baltimore in the 50’s
      my email address locklear23@gmail.com

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