This article was originally published in the Lost Colony Research Group Newsletter in June, 2012. www.lostcolonyresearch.org
Fletcher Freeman during the process of his research on the Chowan Indians has compiled all of the information existent on the Chowan Indian Chief, John Hoyter or Hiter as well as his successor, Thomas Hoyter, possibly his son. These documents provide us with a very rare glimpse of Native life across a 50 year window, half of a century, and certainly, a half century that marked dramatic change for the Native people of North Carolina as Virginians streamed across the border and settled in North Carolina.
John Hiter is first mentioned by name in his 1703/1705 petition to council on which he complains that the Chowan Indians have been confined on a narrow strip land too poor for them to support themselves. He appears in numerous records, the last of which is in 1730 where he is one of a number of men to convey Indian land. On the next deed, in 1733, John is absent as he is thereafter, probably having died, and instead we find Thomas Hoyter acting as one of the Chief men and referred to as King on some documents. Thomas is initially found in the records in 1712 and is subsequently found until 1745/46 when he too disappears from all records.
We want to thank Fletcher for his contribution of these records and his permission to print them.
November 26, 1694 – November 30, 1694 Minutes of the General Court of North Carolina,
“Upon complaint of the Chowan Indians that they are much injured by the English seating soe near them
Ordered that no more entry or settlemt of land be made higher then the plantac̄ons weh are alreddy seated above the old towne Creeke and yt wt entries are already made and not yett settled shall be void.”
By order of the General Council, Indians in North Carolina had “liberty to hunt on all wastelend that is not taken up and liberty to pass through the lands that are seated in their goeing to and from the said Wasteland.” but only if they conduct themselves “sivilly and doeing noe injury.” This is a victory for the Indians as it meant they were not restricted to their reservations for hunting, and could travel to unclaimed land to hunt, theoretically without trouble from their white neighbors. It is doubtful, however, that the local whites were well respecting of the council’s order.
March 28 1702 North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, Hathaway, pg 152
Benjamin Blanchard John Campbell Thos Spivey Francis Rountree Robt Rountree Robert Lassiter Georg Lassiter and Nicholas Stallings lived on Bennett’s and Gariett’s Creek in Chowan now Gates Co They had a dispute with the Chowan Indians who had their hunting quarters upon some of their land The Indians occupied about 11,000 acres of land between Bennett & Catharine Creek granted by the Government.”
1703/1705Petition to Council
North Carlin Silliset
To the onerable Councel the humble pitison of John hiter Engon for that your pitesor under Stand that by order of his Exelency and onerebell Councell he had 6 mill Squar granted him of Land to which it was not Sorvaid accordin to order for which Resen your pitisenor prays A order It may be sorved again and that he may have his Land Layd out accordin to order or other wese ther He cannot Subsist for he is Soo Upprest with Catell and hogs of other mens and the Ground is Sow pore that He cannot make Corne to Ceep him for it was sorved upon A naro Nek of pinny Land that will not bar Corn and further your pititioner prays he may be considerd that he is not a strangr nor a foriner but in his one Netev ples and ther for prays he may have Ground to work upon ther for I Rest and pray that your pitisner may find fever In your presences and as in duty bound Your pitesner Shall pray
1707/1708 Petition to President and Council
North Carolina ss To the Honorable President and Councill
The Humble Petition of Jno. Hoyter and Rest of the Chowan Indians in all Humble Maner Complaineing and shewing
That whereas upon the Humble Petittion of the said Indians to the Honorable Board in the time when the Honorable Henderson Walker Esqr. was President of the Councill An Order was past that the Surveyor Generall or Deputy should Lay out a tract of Land for the said Indians of six miles Square. And also another Order in the time of the Honorable Landgrave Robt. Daniel Esqr. Pursuant to the former Order
In pursuance of the aforesaid Orders the Deputy surveyor Viz,Capt. Luten Came and undertook the said survey and by various Courses Did Lay out a tract of Land for the said Indians but wholly Contrary to the Intent and meaneing of the said Order for the Petitioners are very Confident that the Intent of the Councill was that such Land should be layd out for them as would produce Corn for theire Support aqnd the petitioners Do say and are Ready to Averr that no part or parcel of the said Land in the said tract Layd out will produce Corn being all pines and sands and Deserts so that they have not theire Land according to the Intent and meaneing of the Honorable Board Neither for quality nor quantity it being not near six miles Square.
Wherefore Your Humble Petitioners Do humbly Pray your Honors to take our Distressed Condition into your serious Consideration that your Petitioners may have Releife in the Premises Least they perish for Breaqd.
And Yr. Petitioners shall Ever Pray etc.
In Behalfe of himself and Rest of the Nation
Colonial Records, Vol 1, p 432 Prior to 1712
Upon complaint of the Chowan Indians that they are much injured by the English seating soe near them
Ordered that no more entry or settlemt of land be made higher than the plantations wch are alreddy seated above the old towne Creeke and yt wt entries are already made and not yet settled shall be void.
July 25, 1712 Rev. Giles Rainsford’s Letter to the SPG
“I had several conferences with one Thomas Hoyle, king of the Chowan Indians, who seems very inclinable to embrace Christianity and proposes to send his son to school to Sarum to have him taught to read and write by way of foundation in order to further proficiency for the reception of Christianity. I readily offered my service to instruct him myself, and having the opportunity of sending him to Mr. Garratt’s, where I lodge, being but three miles distance from his town. But he modestly declined it for the present till a general peace was concluded between the Indians and the Christians. I found he had some notion of Noah’s flood, which he came to the knowledge of and expressed himself after this manner, “My father told me, I tell my son.” But I hope to give the society a better account of him as well as of those peaceable Indians under his command.”
August 11, 1714 Records of the Executive Council
“Upon petition of Jno. Hoyter on behalfe of himselfe and the rest of the Chowan Indyans therein setting forth that the said Indyans had granted to them in the Administration of Governor Archdale for their settlement a tract of Land on the Eastern side of Bennets Creek including the Meherrin Neck of Twelve Miles Square which not being laid out according to the direction of the Order of the Councill they aplyed themselves to the Honorable President Glover and the Councill then being to have the Same laid out upon which it was ordered that a tract of Six Miles square within those bounds shoud be laid out for their settlement which yet hath not been done And further that most of the said Indyans have been upon Eight expeditions against the Indyan Enemys of this province and during the time they were in the Country Service they suffered Considerable loss in their plantations and Stocks looseing Seaventy five head of Hoggs a Mare and Colt their Corne destroyed by Horses and Catle their fences burnt and fruit trees destroyed by all which and the weareing out of their Clothes they are reduced to verry great poverty. And pray’s that their Land may be laid out according to the intent of the Grant and that they may have Some allowance made for their Services and Llosses Etc. And this board having Considered the whole matter
It is ordered that Colonell Wm. Maule doe examine the former survey made by Colonell Moseley and See whether the Same be made pursuant to the former order of the Councill and whether it Conteyns the Quantity and make his report therof to this Board.
Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council November 22, 1717
Upon a complaint made by John Hoyter King of the Chowan Indyans that Ephraim Blanchard and Aaron Blanchard had settled upon those Indyans Lands without their leave.
It is ordered by this Board that the said Blanchards do attend the next Council to Shew Cause for their so doing and that in the mean time they desist from doing anything further on their settlements
Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council July 31, 1718
Upon a Complaint of Cap John Hoyter, king of the Chowan Indians that the neighbourhood intrude upon him and his people and take away their lands
Ordered that the Surveyor General or his sufficient Deputy at ten day s notice attend ffred Jones Esqr up to the said Indian Towne and follow his directions in laying out sd Indians Lands and that the Secty or his Deputy send him Coppys of all orders passed relating to grants made to the aforesaid Indians as soon as possible.
Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council April 04, 1720
Capn Joh Hoyter a Chowan idien having produced to this Board an order from the Honble the Governor directed to James Sitterson requiring him the sd Sitterson to pay one Willowby an Indian Money due for an Indian Slave bought at Core Sound which order the sd Sitterson not having complied with.
Its Ordered that the sd James Sitterson attend this Board at the next Sitting without fail and that Willowby attend likewise.
Complaint being made by John Hoyter hief man of the Chowan Indians that several of the white people are continually intrudeing upon their Land and the same hath never been so determinatly bounded and ascertained pursuant to the grants made to them by the Government.
Its therefore ordered by this Board that all the several grants made by the Government be laid before Frederick Jones Esqr and that he determinatly and finaly lay out and Asscertaine the bounds for the sd Indians without any reguard to survey or grants made to any other claimers since the first Grants to those Indians.
October 1730 Chowan County North Carolina County Court Minutes Pleas & Quarter Sessions
John Hayter King of the Chowan Indians Jeremiah Pushin Thomas Hayter and James Bennet Great Men belonging to the said Nation came into Court and acknowledged a Deed of Sale for ffifty acres of Land to Capt. Aaron Blanchard joining on the sd Blanchards Land and the Court thereupon examined the King and the rest of the sd. Indians touching the consideration money mentd. In sd. Deed who likewise ackxnowledged they had recd. The sd money.
August 3, 1733 John Freeman purchases 200 acres “on Catherine Creek Swamp, being part of Chowan Town” for 120 pounds current money from the Chiefmen of the Chowan Indian Tribe. (Chowan Deed Book W-1, p. 216) Thomas Hoyter was the second signatory to this deed as a Chiefman of the Chowans.
Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council January 15, 1735—January 30, 1735
Upon reading at theBoard this day the Petition of Chowan Indians setting forth that they being possessed of a large parcel of Lands lying in Chowan Precinct and but few in number to cultivate the same or make any benefit thereby and praying leave to make sale of part thereof the same was accordingly granted.
Whereupon a Deed of Sale from Thomas Hoyter James Bennet, Charles
Beazley and Jeremiah Pushing Chief Men of said Chowan Indians to Jacob Hinton for fifty Acres of Land was read and the consideration mentioned in the said Deed being fifty Pounds the said Indians were thereon interrogated who acknowledged they had received the money and was therewith content.
Whereupon His Excellency the Governor by and with advice and consent of this Board was pleased to allow and approve of then said sale to Jacob Hinton.
A Deed of Sale from James Bennet, Thomas Hoyston, Charles Beazley and Jeremiah Pushing Chief Men of the said Chowan Indians to James Brown for one hundred acres of Land was read and the Consideration Money therein mentioned being twelve pounds the said Indians was thereon interrogated who declared they had received the full consideration money therein mentioned and were fully content and satisfyed therewith whereupon his Excellency the Governour by and with the advice and consent of this Board was pleased to allow and approve of the said Deed of Sale made by the aforesaid Indians to James Brown.
A Deed of Sale from James Bennet Thos Hoyton, Charles Beaseley and Jeremiah Pushing Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to Richard Minchen for one hundred Acres of Land was read the consideration money therein mentioned being fifty pounds and the said Indians being interrogated thereon were therewith content whereupon his Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of his Majesty’s Councel was pleased to allow and approve of the said Deed.
A Deed of sale from James Bennet Thomas Hoyter Charles Beasley, Jeremiah Pushing, John Robins, John Reading and Neuse Will Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to Thomas Garret for four hundred Acres of Land was read at the Board and the Consideration money therein mentioned being One Hundred and fifty pounds the said Indians declared that they had received part thereof and that they had the said Garrets obligation for the remainder and were therewith fully content whereupon his Excellency the Governour by and with the advice and consent of his Majestys Council was pleased to allow and approve of the said Deed.
A Deed of Sale from Thomas Hoyter, Jeremiah Pushing, Charles Beasley and James Bennet Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to Michael Ward for two hundred Acres of Land the Consideration Money therein mentioned being sixty pounds and the said Indians being interrogated thereon were content. Whereupon His Excellency the Governour by and with the advice and consent of his Majesty’s Council was pleased to allow of the said Deed.
A Deed of Sale from Thomas Hoyton, James Bennet Charles Bennet and Jeremiah Pushing Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to Jacob Hinton for two hundred acres of land was read and the consideration money therein mentioned being one hundred pounds the said Indians were thereon interrogated who declared therewith content whereupon His Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of this board was pleased to allow of the same.
A Deed of Sale from James Bennet Thos Hoyter, Jeremiah Pushing and Charles Beasley Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to John Freeman for two Hundred Acres of Land was read and the consideration money therein mentioned being one hundred and twenty pounds the said Indians were thereon interrogated who declared that they were therewith satified whereupon his Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of his Majestys Council was pleased to allow of the same.
A Deed of Sale from Thomas Hoyter James Bennet and Charles Beasley Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to William Hill for one hundred Acres of Land was read the consideration Money therein mentioned being sixty barrels of Tar the said Indians on examination were therewith fully content Whereupon his Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of his Majestys Council was pleased to allow and approve of the same.
A Deed of Sale from James Bennet Thomas Hoyton, Charles Beasley and Jeremiah Pushing, Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to Michael Ward for six hundred Acres of Land was read and the consideration Money therein mentioned being Eighty Pounds the said Indians on Examination was therewith fully satisfyed and content Whereupon his Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of his Majestys Council was pleased to allow of the same.
A Deed of Sale from Thomas Hoyter James Bennet Charles Beasley and Jeremiah Pushing Chief Men of the Chowan Indians to James Hinton for one hundred Acres of Land was read and the consideration Money therein mentioned being fifty Pounds the said Indians being examined thereon were therewith content whereupon his Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of his Majestys Council was pleased to allow of the said Sale.
Mr Attorney General Represented to this Board that Capt Aaron Blanchard had got into his possession and keeping a Patent belonging to the Chowan Indians for their Lands on Bennets Creek and that he had refused to deliver the said Patent to the Chief Men of the said Nation who prayed relief therein from this Board Whereupon his Excellency the Governor by and with the advice and consent of his Majesty’s Council was pleased to Order that the said Aaron Blanchard do forthwith Lodge the said Patent in the Secretary’s Office of this Province for the benefit of the said Indians and all others concerned By Order
1737 Description of King Hoyter by John Brickell in The Natural History of North Carolina:
“Dinner being ended the Glass went round very merrily and whenever they drank to the Governour they always stiled him by the Name of Brother These three Kings speak English tolerably well and are very wary and cunning in their Discourses and you would be surprised to hear what subtile and witty Answers they made to each Question proposed to them notwithstanding they are in general Illiterate People having no Letters or Learning to improve them King Blunt being the most powerful of these I have mentioned had a Suit of English Broadcloth on and a pair of Women’s Stockings of a blue Colour with white Clocks a tolerable good Shirt Cravat Shoes Hat &c King Durant had on an old Blue Livery the Wastecoat having some remains of Silver Lace with all other Necessaries fit for wearing Apparel such as Shirt Stockings Shoes &c made after the English manner. King Highter had on a Soldiers red Coat Wastecoat and Breeches with all other conveniences for wearing Apparel like the former And it is to be observed that after their return home to their Towns that they never wear these Cloaths till they make the next State Visit amongst the Christians.
“After this manner appeared the three civilized Kings with each of them his Queen. The first of these Queens was drest with a Peticoat made after the European manner and had her Hair which is generally long thick and Black tyed full of bits of Stuff such as Red Green Yellow and variety of other Colours so that to an European she rather seemed like a Woman out of Bedlam than a Queen She likewise had a large Belt about her full of their Peack or wampum which is their Money and what they value above Gold or Silver but to me it seem d no better than our common Snails or other ordinary Shells the other parts of the Body from the Waste upwards were all naked.
“…except the civilized Kings who of late have Houses fashioned and built after the manner that the Christians build theirs.”
Minutes of the Governor’s Council March 14, 1745/46:
Read the petition of James Bennett a Chowan Indian complaining of one Henry Hills having obtained a Deed of Sale for some of the Chowan Indian Land from some Indians who had no right to sell the same.
Ordered that Henry Hill be summoned to attend this Board at their next sitting, And that Thomas Hoyster and John Robin the two Indians who sold the Land to the said Hill to be summoned to attend at the same time.