Original Land Transactions
William L. Byrd, III, in his book, Against the Peace and Dignity of the State, North Carolina Laws Regarding Slaves, Free Persons of Color and Indians, extracted Indian records from the North Carolina General Assembly. These records, combined with the deed records, governor’s letters and other correspondence provide details not otherwise available.
1748 – An act for ascertaining the bounds of a certain tract of land formerly laid out by treaty to the use of the Tuskerora Indians so long as they or any of them shall occupy and live up on the same and to prevent any person or persons taking up lands or settling within the said bounds by pretense of purchase from the said Indians. …..lands formerly alloted to the Tuskerora Indians by solemn treaty lying on the Morattock river in Bertie Co being the same whereon they now dwell butted and bounded as follows…beginning at the mouth of Quitsnoy swamp running up the said swamp 430 poles to a scrubby oak near the head of the said swamp by a great spring then north 10 degrees east 1850 poles to a persimmon tree on the Raquis Swamp then along the swamp and pocoson main course north 57 degrees west 2640 poles to a hickory on the east side of the Falling Run or Deep Creek and down the various courses of the said run to Morattock Rover then down the said river to the first station…is confirmed and assured into James Blount, Chief of the Tuskerora Nation and the people under his charge, heirs, successors, forever, by law, usage or grant to the contrary notwithstanding. If the Indians desert or leave the land and persons who formerly obtained grants within the bounds may then take the land. Charging quit rents is not lawful within the Indian bounds to the Indians but if the Indians have deserted, they may be charged to the patentee in possession. No person for any consideration whatsoever shall purchase or buy any tract or parcel of land from any Indian or Indians and they are declared null and void.
The above bolded verbiage is important for two reasons. First, it explains why, here, and in other locations, we don’t find Native people on tax lists.
Secondly, and more important to the Tuscarora, this verbiage, found here and elsewhere, paves the way, anticipates it actually, for the whites to take the Indian lands.
I have often wondered why the Tuscarora who went to New York would in effect, disown the Tuscarora who did not move and who were left behind. If the Tuscarora had to leave the land in order to dispose of it, what better way to eliminate those who remained. They simply were no longer Indians, not Tuscarora, so not a problem because they remained. If you couldn’t convince them to move North, then they could be eliminated from the Tuscarora population, thereby not posing a legal problem relative to the land. It’s somehow ironic that 150 years later, the tribe would have gladly found any reason, including remaining tribal members, to claim a right to the land their ancestors had sold the reversionary rights to. They could not have sold those rights had any Tuscarora remained on the land.
1757 – Petition of the Tuscarora – North Carolina State Archives – Governor’s Papers
“We the Tuskarora Indians petition your Excely and council to grant a pattent or some beter title for our land for the white folks tells this is good for nothing and the come and settle without leave, fall our timber and drive stocks of all sorts: We hope care will be taken to protect us in quiet possession of our land and from the white people abusing us.”
Signed James Blount by order for the Tuskarora Nation
Sept 5th 1757
1758 – North Carolina State Archives, Nov. 29, 1758, Petitions rejected or not acted on
The Petition of Humphrey Bates
“At a council held at Edenton Nov. 7th 1723, King Thomas Blount Chief Man of the Tuscarora and some of their other Chieftains appeared before the said council and prayed that a tract of land containing about 600 acres lying in Bertie County and known by the name of Quitsney’s Meadow joyning on the Chyahick Swamp which they had made over unto one William Charlton for some favours done by him for them might be confirmed by that board and it was accordingly confirmed by that board to the said William Charleton and ordered that thenceforth that the said indians should make no sale of any part of their lands and that no white person should purchase any of the same from them but that William Charleton should be at liberty to settle on said land.
Your petitioner purchased of George Charleton the son of William Charleton 300 acres of the land aforementioned.
That at general assembly in 1748 an act passed entitled An Act for Ascertaining the Bounds of a Certain Tract of Land Formerly Laid out by Treaty to the Use of the Tuskarora Indians so long as they or any of them shall occupy and live upon the same and to prevent any person or persons taking up lands or settling within the bounds by pretence off any purchase or purchases made or that shall be made from said Indians. Among other things enacted that all and every person or persons other than the said Indians who then were dwelling on any of the lands within the bounds prescribed for the said Indians should on or before March 25 next ensuing ratification of the act remove him or herself and family off the said land under penalty of 20 pounds proclamation money…[with further penalties added over time].
The petitioner has been in continuous possession of the 300 acres he purchased of he above George Charlton without interruption of the Indians who your petitioner is informed are endeavoring to dispossess him by virtue of the above recited act.”
1766 – Bertie Co. Deed Book L pg 56-58 July 12, 1766
Indians to Jones and others
Between James Allen, John Wiggins, Billy George, Snipnose George, Bille Cain, Charles Cornelius, Thomas Blount, John Rogers, George Blount, Wineoak Charles, Bille Basket, Bille Owens, Lewis Tuffdick, Isaac Miller, Harry Samuel, Bridgers Thomas, Senicar Thomas Howett, Bille Sockey, Bille Corelius, John Senicar, Thomas Baskett, John Cain, Billy Denis, William Taylor, Owins John Walker, Bille Mitchell, Bille Netop, Billy Blount, Tom Jack, John Litewood, Billy Robert, James Mitchell, Capt. Joe and William Pugh, Chieftains and Principal persons of that part of the Nation of Indians commonly called Tuskarora Indians dwelling in the county of Bertie in the Province of NC on the one part and Robert Jones, Jr., his majesty’s attorney general of the province aforesaid and William Williams and Thomas ??? of the said province, gentlemen of the second part. Witnesseth that the said Tusckarora Indians as well for and in consideration of the sum of 1500 pounds proclamation money to them in hand paid or secured to be paid for their own use and for the use of the rest of that part of the said Nation of Tuscarora dwelling in the county and Province aforesaid. As for the yearly rents and covenants herein after mentioned have demised granted and to form let and by these presents in behalf of themselves and their said nation to demise ??? and to form let unto the said Robert Jones Jr., William Williams and Thomas Pugh, all that dividend or tract of land lying and being on the North side of Roanoke River in Bertie County and bounded as follows, to wit. Beginning at the mouth of Deep Creek otherwise known as Falling River then running up the sand creek to the ?? or head line thence by the said line south 50 ?? degrees East 1280 poled thence with the course of said Creek to Roanoke River and the River to the beginning….together with appurtenances….unto the said Robert Jones, William Williams and Thomas Pugh….8000 acres of land to be enjoyed severally, each holding one third equal part…for the term of 150 years….to be paid yearly every year one peppercorn if demanded on the feast of St. Michael. This deed was registered in the September Court of 1767.
This deed repeats the names of the Tuscarora three times, but the list of names does not match all three times. The third listing fortunately has more punctuation so that we can sort some of the names out that were difficult before.
Here is the list of names by combining the three lists.
Capt. George Blunt/Blount
Harry, Henry or Harvey Whealer
Witnesses David Standley, Samuel Grymes, James Bate, registered Sept Court 1767 – note that no actual signatures are given or shown, so we can’t tell who could write and who could not.
An act was passed in the General Assembly confirming this sale.
Relative to this and following deeds and the surname Senicar/Senica, note that in a 1711 letter from Governor Spotswood in Virginia to an unnamed party, he notes the following: “You no doubt heard of the Massacre committed last fall in North Carolina by their neighboring Indians….South Carolina Indians commanded by Col. Barnwell fell upon those Rogues and cutt off 6 towns of the Tuscaroras and are now in search of the rest. They have taken abundance of prisoners and found among them a considerable booty of English goods and by the blow have I hope disappointed their designs of carrying on a formal war against the Province and us, in conjunction with the Senequas in having your frontier, who it is said prompted them to this villany by promises of supplys of arms and ammunition from your government and of the assistance of the whole strength of that Nation. There were about 30 of the Senequas among them, some few days before Col. Barnwell arrived, who is like to have had the same fate with the rest.”
Von Graffenreid also testified that there was a Seneca among the Tuscarora who tried him.
Several Tuscarora surnames were obviously adopted from white neighbors. These would minimally include Blount, Rogers, Taylor, Hix, Pugh and later, Williams. A review of the Bertie County records would probably reveal others as well.
Another Tuscarora name which may hold some significance in terms of heritage is Wineoak Charles. The name Wineoak may be a derivative of the Wayanoke Indian tribe who historically lived across the Chowan River in the area where Edenton is now located. There are reports that the Wayanoke moved to the Bertie County location, but I have no documentation that this occurred.
 The punctuation on this deed is very poor. Other sources suggest that these names should be Harry, with no surname, Samuel Bridgers, Thomas Senicar, Thomas Hewett. Also Owins John Walker should be Owins (with no other name), John Walker.