The Tuscarora Surnames 1695 to 1892

While in the process of setting up the Tuscarora DNA project, I needed to find the names of the Tuscarora Indians who are documented in North Carolina before their removal to New York and in New York.

The first part was relatively easy, because I’ve already done that research and documented it in a series of articles titled Tuscarora People Identified in Land and Other Transactions.  The first posting is linked, above, and from there you can get to the rest.  There are a total of 15 segments of this series.

From those early documents, I found a total of 407 people in transactions.  Many were obviously the same people signing different deeds, for example, but there were were many different surnames.  These documents spanned the earliest mentions of  Tuscarora by English names beginning in 1695 and ending after 1831.  The transacations after 1802 involved people, chiefs mostly, from the NY Tuscarora reservation dealing with the land in North Carolina.

Surnames from the NC group, excluding the NY chiefs, include Allen, Basket(t), Blount/Blunt, Bridgers, Cain, Charles, Cope, Cornelius, Dennis, George, Gibson/Gipson,  Hancock, Harry, Hicks/Hix, Howett/Hewett, Jack, James (may be first name only), Joe as in Capt. Joe, Lawson (possibly), Lightwood/Litewood, Littlejohn (possibly), Lloyd, Miller, Mitchell, Netop, Oin/Owen/Owin/Owens/Owins, Pagett (possibly), Pugh, Randell/Randall, Rash, Rice or Hill, Robarts/Robards/Roberts, Rogers/Rodgers/Roggers, Seneca/Senicar, Smith,  Sockey, Squarehooks (possibly), Stone, Strawberry, Taylor, Thomas/Tommas/Tomas, Tuf(f)dick, Tyler (possibly), Walker, Wheeler/Whealter/Wheatter, Whitmeal/Whitmell, Wiggians/Wiggins/Wigans, Wineoak, Yollone

The surnames of the Tuscarora people who returned to NC from NY to deal with land sales and negotiations include:  Abraham (may be first name only), Big Fish, Billy, Casie, Chew, Cusick, Jack, Jacob, Johnson, Jones, Green, King (as in Young King), Lewis (may be first name only), Longboard, Lovedenny, Mt Pleasant, Printup/Prantup, Sacarusa, Sachem (may be a description, not a surname), Smith, Thomas (may be first name only), Warchief, William (may be first name only).

Tuscarora surnames recorded from NY in the War of 1812 include:  Allen, Beach, Blacknose, Cusick, Fox, Green, Henry, (possibly), Miller, Mount Pleasant, Patterson, Pemberton, Peter (possibly), Printup, Sky, Smith (possibly), Thompson, Williams.

The next record I was able to find was the Indian Census of New York from 1888-1891 in which I found the following Tuscarora surnames.

Alvis, Anderson, Beubleton or Bembleton, Bissell, Brayley, Bissell, Beaver, Cusick, Chew, Douglas, DeFeurest, Fish, Garlow, Green, Gansworth, Hewitt, Hill, Henry, Isaac, Jonson, Jack, Jones, Jacob, Johnathan, Jenison or Jemison, Lonto, Mt. Pleasant, Martin, Miller, Nash, Patterson, Printup, Peter, Racket(t), Sylvester, Smith, Seneca, Tompson, Williams, White.  In 1889, there were total of 404 Tuscarora and in 1890, 392.

Now for the interesting part.

Of the Tuscarora in NY who had claims from the War of 1812, three surnames were in common with the NC Tuscarora, Allen, Miller and possibly Smith.  Smith was listed as an executor, so may have been a surname from before leaving North Carolina. Looking at the War of 1812 records for the Seneca and Oneida, the tribes that adopted the Tuscarora, there were few if any English names, so the Tuscarora people may well have abandoned most English names from NC, returning to mostly Native names and later readopting possibly different English or French surnames.

Of the people in the 1888-1889 census, very few surnames were found when the Tuscarora resided in North Carolina, but those few include Hewett, Jack, Miller, Smith and Seneca.

You may notice that two of these names, Miller and Smith, are names that were also in common between the NC group and the War of 1812 records.  Granted, Miller and Smith are both very common names, but there is what appears to be continuity.

It looks like there is a good possibility that five Tuscarora surnames survived the migration from NC to NY and are likely found in descendants today.  It is also very likely that the DNA of proven Tuscarora paternal lines will match that of descendants, possibly carrying different surnames, in the Carolinas where we know that some of the Tuscarora remained or married and assimilated.

In fact the records tell us clearly that William Cain, a Tuscarora youth remained and we know he reached the age of majority, declined to move to NY and was last seen heading for Raleigh.  A woman named Esther Gibson remained and at least one other female child.  Others likely remained as well, but aren’t named in financial records or had married and assimilated or moved elsewhere in earlier generations, between the Tuscarora War in 1711 and the official final removal to NY in 1802.


About robertajestes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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21 Responses to The Tuscarora Surnames 1695 to 1892

  1. Craig Howell says:

    When trying to trace the lineage of David Howell, 1750, in Bedford Va., He lived in same area as reported Tuscarora Indians returned from NY and given refugee by the Monacan Indians.
    I also found a Chief Thomas Howell who signed to sell part of the ” Woods” reservation in NC to move to NY.
    When Virginia ratifielded it’s race law’s in 1823, half his decendants moved to KY and IN. The remaining Howells did continue to freely marry with local Indians.
    My DNA shows about 11% native, 2% asian.

  2. Denise says:

    Thank you, this is helpful.

  3. shantell kolb says:

    have you found any Indians from the towpath area between WV and Virginia, in Jefferson county. Family background is supposed to be Tuscarora or Shawnee, from that area. Surnames, Mitchell, and Reynolds. Had an uncle that spent his life researching our background and took all his info found to the grave with him. He said the were from a tribe that lived on the towpath on the Potomac river in that area.

  4. Pingback: Borderlands Deeds and the Cain Surname | Native Heritage Project

  5. Gene Dorris says:

    I am descended from William Cane who died in 1732 in Bertie Precinct NC and married an Elizabeth Hardy. Are we talking about the same William Cain or Cane? Thanks

  6. Could you please tell me if the surname “Wilson” was ever a Tuscarora name. My family is Native and lived in Maryland in 1800. Later they migrated to New York. Any information would be helpful.
    Thank You.

  7. Tash says:

    Hello, is anyone familiar with the Jumper family that were Tuscarora? I am a descendent of that line. However, I didn’t see the surname listed here. I know they once resided in Dinwiddie Virginia and later migrated to Pittsylvania/Henry County. Today, there is a large population of “Jumpers” in Rockingham County and many are aware of having both Native and African American heritage. Any additional information would be appreciated.

  8. Janet says:

    All the jumpers I know of are Cherokee check the Cherokee east roles for your ancestors


  10. Sandy says:

    does anyone know how the name Cusick got to be native, I have got Cusick on both sides of my family.. some were in the states and in the civil war. I have a book called Seven Generations of Iroquois Leadership, Lt. Cornelius Cusick is in it.. on the front page of the book is a picture of him and he looks as English as an English man can, he is wearing an army coat with medals , he was born on the Tuscarora Reserve.. his grandfather was Nicholas Kaghnatsho Cusick.. I am trying to find out how the name became native and if the two sides of my family Cusicks are related.

    • got2bjb says:

      Perhaps he studied Tuscarora Culture, life & hardships of this tribe. found a book David Cusick wrote. here is the link if interested.
      looks like you will have to copy and paste this into your browser

    • got2bjb says:

      , see Susan Kalter, “Finding a Place for David Cusick in
      Native American Literary History,”
      27:3 (Fall 2002),
      pp. 9-42. Page images of the 1892 edition, edited by William
      M. Beauchamp and including extensive annotations, may be
      seen at
      In earlier editions, a line was apparently dropped follow-
      ing “i.e. Big Neck.” at page 25, line 25 of the present edition;
      a conjectural reading (“He attacked the Sah-wau-noo”) has
      been supplied in brackets.
      No attempt has been made to correct or regularize spelling
      and punctuation or to standardize the language and syntax of
      the original; some typographical errors have been corrected

  11. got2bjb says:

    I believe Witmell Tuffdick and Sam Smith (Died 1802?) were North Carolina’s Tuscarora Chiefs.

  12. Sheila Blount says:

    Have been doing my Family Tree and hit a wall at my 4th Grandfather Reuben(Rubin) Blount/Blunt (born abt.1765_1775 in NC). No where can I find in charts or Books that he is of Europe descent. Some researches have pointed me toward the Tuscarara Tribe. Some believe his Father was name James. My father said i have indian blood,but would like to know if there are any records to search or Test. I have no males left in my Family…any Help????

    • You’ll have to go up the tree and back down to find a Blount male. Seldom do any genealogies state that someone is of European descent. That is assumed, unless they are labeled as African or Indian or something else.

  13. James Morrison says:

    I have always been told that we were of Cherokee descent but the cope name seems to be Tuscarora. Does anyone know if this is true. My great great grandfathers name was William Cope.

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