The Barber family of Hyde County is known to be of Native heritage, specifically Mattamuskeet. The Hyde County marriages have been neither transcribed in their entirety nor published. Some are on the Hyde County rootsweb site. Only three Barbour marriages were found but one of them is particularly remarkable and perhaps quite telling.
Spencer Barber married Mary Ann Mackey, another Native surname. Mackey is among the males who signed the Mattamuskeet deeds in the 1700s. Spencer and Mary Ann obtained a marriage license on November 15, 1851 and were married on November 27th by George Carawan.
Croatan Barber married Charity Spencer. They obtained their license on Feb. 23, 1866 and were married on Feb. 25th by James Watson.
Spencer Barber married Anne Coval in March of 1856, obtaining the license on March the 1st and marrying the next day. The minister was W. B. Tooley.
The Mackey’s and Barber’s lived adjacent from as early as the 1780s when they are found on tax lists adjacent, so intermarriage within and between the families is not only not surprising, it is to be expected.
What is unexpected is the name Croatan. By 1701, the Indians on Hatteras Island were being referred to as the Hatteras. The Mattamuskeet were called that or Machapunga. Croatan was a placename on a map, not a name for an Indian tribe in the 1700s. Was the first name, Croatan, a way to connect or honor the ancestors in general, or his ancestors specifically, or was this man named after a location? That would be highly unusual.
Attempting to find Croatan Barber with his parents in 1860 was not successful, nor was a search in 1850.
Unfortunately, we don’t find either Croatan or Charity in the 1870 census, so we may never know what happened to Croatan Barber, or why he was named with such a historically tantalizing name. Perhaps it was a nickname, but the real question might be why.