One of the first things that the Europeans did was to harness the physical power of the Native people. The English weren’t the first. The Spanish enslaved the Native people beginning with their first foray into what is now North Carolina by De Soto in 1540. However, with the English settlement of what would become the United States at Jamestown in 1607, enslavement of the Indians in Virginia would follow very shortly and would become an industry, of sorts. This 1596 painting shows Native Americans enslaved by the Spanish.One of our Lost Colony researchers, Sharron, came across several mentions Indian as well as mustee (Indian mixed race) slaves in early North Carolina wills.
Sadly, since these people don’t have surnames and are primarily known by the families who own them, there is no way to track them forward in time to see if they had descendants that lived into the present time. What we do know is that maybe someday their descendants will DNA test, have a “surprise” when they discover that their enslaved ancestors had Native American DNA instead of the expected African, and maybe, just maybe, the records will exist so that they can thread their way backward through time through transactions in white families involving slave to these records. I suspect that these Indians were not local Indians. If they were, they would be familiar with the area and would simply leave, run away, and return home. It’s most likely that these people were captured and sold to local NC or NA planters and were from more distant tribes. Local Indians participated in the slave trade by capturing members of other tribes with whom they were at war and selling their captives into slavery.
Our thanks to Sharron for extracting these records and not allowing these people to be entirely forgotten and slipping beneath the waves of time.
From the book, “Abstract of North Carolina Wills compiled from Original and Recorded Wills in the Office of the Secretary of State” by J. Bryan Grimes Secretary of State. Published under Authority of the Trustees of the Public Libraries. Raleigh. E.M. Uerell & Co. State Printers and Binders. 1916
Arderne, John. October 22, 1707. May 17, 1712. Kinsman: William Duckenfield (tract of land known by name of Salmon Creek, all negro, Indian, molato slaves. all horses, mares, cobbs, cattle, hoggs, young and old, and everything else in America, England, or any other part of the world.”)
Bishop, George. Onslow County. December 20, 1743. December 20, 1743. Brothers: James Sidbury (“one Indian man”). [Lists brothers, sister, cousins, father, other legatees, witnesses.] Will proven in New Hanover Court.
Innes, James. July 1754. October 9, 1759. “Of Cape Fear in North Carolina. Col. of the Regiment of sd. Province raised for His Majesty’s imediate Service and Commander in Chief of the Expedition to the Ohio against the French and there Indians who have most unjustly Invaided & Fortified themselves on His Majestys Lands.” [Lists bequests, wife, witnesses] Will made and executed at Winchester in Virginia.
Jones, Frederick. Chowan Precinct. April 9, 1722. March 26, 1723. Daughters: Jane (“Indian girle, four negroes, diamond ring and diamond earrings…) [Lists sons, brother, other daughters, witnesses. Lands in Virginia, on Moratoke River, and Maherrin.]
Lewis, David. Carteret County. October 6, 1773. November 11, 1773. Devisees and legatees: John Shepard (“plantation whereon I now dwell known by the name of Indian Town”)
Masters, Thomas. Craven County. October 27, 1746. Mentions Indian slave. [Lists sons, wife, witnesses]
Pollock, Thomas. Bertie County. April 16, 1732. January 20, 1732. Bequests include “two tracts nigh Tuskarora Indian Town”
Porter, Mary. Chowan Precinct. November 12, 1717. January 21, 1717. To daughter Elizabeth “my Indian woman called Judith and her daughter named Sukey…” [Lists sons, daughters, long list of possessions including land at Yawpim]
Reed, Andrew. Perquimans Precinct. February 29, 1723. July Court 1728. Grandsons: William and Andrew Woodley, Jonathan Keeton (to William is bequeathed an Indian slave) [Lists daughter, granddaughter, witnesses.]
Rodgers, Joseph. Bath County. January 2, 1704-1705. Indian slave freed. [Lists grandchildren, wife, witnesses]
Sanderson, Richard. Perquimans County. August 17, 1733. October 15, 1733. Son: Richard (“ye Island of Ocreecock,” three negroes and one Indian slave”; “all my lots in Ronoak Town”…) Brother-in-law: Henry Woodhouse (one Mustee fellow). [Lists other relatives]
Slocomb, John. Craven Precinct. March 28, 1722. September 19, 1722. Sons: Jeseway and Josias (land on Mill Branch and one Mustee boy). Daughter: Elizabeth Slocom (land on Mill Branch and one mustee boy.) [Lists other sons.].
Smith, Henry. Craven County. August 4, 1748. November 2, 1748. Daughters: Elizabeth (one mustee boy). [Lists sons, other daughters, witnesses.]