Mapping Indian Town on Hatteras Island

Baylus Brooks and I’ve been working for the past three years or so on reassembling the early land grants from the part of Hatteras Island where the Indian town was located.  I did a lot of the original land grants and deeds records extractions and Baylus did the mapping, plus additional research, many times obtaining the original records for clarity.  This was not a straightforward project, by any means, and still isn’t.

This land was granted to the Hatteras Indians in 1759 after they complained to the State Legislature in 1756 that whites were encroaching on their land.  The people involved, descendants of one of the original grantees, Henry Davis, said they weren’t encroaching and besides, the Indians didn’t legally own any of the land anyway as they didn’t have a patent.  That was remedied in 1759 when William Elks and the Hatteras Indians were granted the land where their village was located.

Colony of NC 1735-1764 Abstracts of Land Patents, Volume One – B by Margaret M. Hofmann:

Page 382, pat 5398, page 268, book 15, William Elks and the rest of the Hatteras Indians March 6 1759, 200 ac in Currituck including the old Indian Town, joining the sound side, the mouth of King’s Creek and Joseph Mashue.

Unfortunately, the original survey doesn’t exist, but later references do, such as there were.  What do I mean, “such as there were?”  For starters, the Indians sold more land than they were granted.  Even though they sold pieces of thier land, the deeds with the metes and bounds description still read exactly the same, obviously just having been copied from earlier deeds (or the missing grant survey) with no thought given to the fact that part of that land had been previously sold.  And that’s just for starters.  In short, things are just never quite what they seem.

Take a look at what Baylus wrote on his blog about what he had to do to try to map even a part of this area surrounding the Indian’s land grant.

It’s no wonder that the exact location of Indian Town has remained so elusive.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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