History of Halifax Co., NC

Halifax county was formed in 1758 from Edgecombe County which in turn was formed in 1741 from Bertie County which in turn was formed as Bertie Precinct in 1722 from the part of Chowan Precinct of Albemarle County lying west of the Chowan River.

This history of Halifax County was originally copyrighted in 1918.  Digitized by Google and I extracted the portion of this book having to do with Native people.




Previous to the coming of white people, the Tuscarora tribe, or nation, of Indians held sway over the whole of Halifax County. They were the dominant peoples in Eastern North Carolina before the Albemarle country was settled. It is difficult to make an estimate as to the numbers of Indians that occupied the territory of the county at the time of the first settlements in the State.

Excavations in various sections have brought to light many remains of that extinct race, which lead to the opinion that they were numerous along the banks of the Roanoke river and Fishing creek, but few and scattered in other places. Perhaps there were never more than a thousand in the county.

The country possessed by the Tuscaroras lay mostly along the Roanoke river, on both sides, and on the Neuse and the Tar. Other tribes in Eastern North Carolina were under the control to a large extent of the Tuscaroras and acknowledged their sway. Among these smaller tribes may be mentioned the Meherrins and the Yeopins, who lived in what is now Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Gates, and Northampton counties; the Pungos, the Chowanokes, and Croatans in what is now embraced in the counties of Perquimans, Chowan, Washington, Tyrrell, Dare, and Hertford; and the Corees, the Matchepungos, and the Mattamusketts in Hyde, Beaufort, Carteret, and Pamlico. Besides these, there were several other smaller and less important tribes; but none of them lived in Halifax County.

It is remarkable that for more than fifty years after the first settlements of white people in North Carolina there was complete peace between the races. While there were dreadful Indian wars and massacres in Virginia and the New England colonies, peace reigned in North Carolina between the white man and his red skin brother. This condition may be accounted for on the ground that the early settlers were regardful of the rights of the Indian, careful not to take their lands without recompense, paying them honestly for their furs, and abstaining from all acts of violence and hasty vengeance.

As in other parts of North Carolina, the Indians of Halifax County were living in a savage state. Their cultivation of the soil was of the rudest kind. Hardly any agricultural products were raised. Only a little Indian corn and a few potatoes, pumpkins, and melons were grown. The entire county with few exceptions was an unbroken wilderness. The women did what little agricultural work was done. The men hunted the deer, the raccoon, the buffalo, and the wild turkey. The dress of both men and women was of the simplest sort, consisting of skins and gorgeous headgear. Their homes were the wigwam made in the easiest way of poles covered with bark or skins of beasts that had been killed in the chase.

In religion, they were pagan, believing in a Great Spirit that presided over the happy hunting ground of the beyond.

Nothwithstanding the fact that these Indians were few and in the lowest savage state, they have left some impression upon the county. Besides the relics that have been found in various localities, consisting of arrow heads and tomahawks of stone and specimens of pottery, they have left some names, such as Quanky, Chockayotte, Kehukee, and Conocanara.


It is not known how soon the Indians vanished from the history of the county, but it is fairly well conjectured that nearly all of them had departed before 1720. At the close of the Indian War in 1713, the remaining Tuscaroras left the State and went to New York except the friendly Indians under “King Blunt,” who were given lands in what is now Bertie County. It is thought that the last of the tribe in Halifax County left a few years later and joined their brethren in New York, where they united with the Iroquois, making the sixth nation of that powerful confederacy. Halifax County was thus clear of Indians at the time the white settlers began to come.

An incident is related of those early times that shows some of the traits of the red men of that day. While the Tuscaroras were occupying the “Indian Woods” in Bertie County, some of them often came to Halifax. On one of these trips, an Indian chief became desperately anxious for a bearskin blanket that belonged to Willie Jones, a prominent resident of Halifax. To make it known that he wanted the blanket, the chief told Mr. Jones that he had dreamed that the blanket was his. Indians then thought that dreams must come true. Mr. Jones readily made the chief a present of the blanket. Shortly after wards the chief came again to Halifax. Mr. Jones called the Indian to him and said, “I dreamed last night that you gave me a tract of land of 500 acres in the Indian Woods.”

“Ah! Willie, you beat me. You may have the land, but let’s not dream any more,” replied the chief.

It is not known whether or not Mr. Jones took advantage of this gift.

The balance of the book can be read here.


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Chowan, Coree, Croatoan, Machapunga, Mattamuskeet, Meherrin, Pungos, Tuscarora, Yeopim. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to History of Halifax Co., NC

  1. “Previous to the coming of white people, the Tuscarora tribe, or nation, of Indians held sway over the whole of Halifax County. They were the dominant peoples in Eastern North Carolina before the Albemarle country was settled.”

    Wrong! This was the land of the Carolina Algonquin tribes and nations, and did not become Tuscarora land till long after the coming of the white man.

    “Other tribes in Eastern North Carolina were under the control to a large extent of the Tuscaroras and acknowledged their sway.”

    Wrong again! We were never under the authority of the Tuscaroras, we considered them brothers and sisters, and allowed them to live on land we gave to them.

    Now I will have to read that old book, just to see how many lies and mistakes it has in it!

  2. candece tarpley says:

    Roberta did you write this?

    • Hi Candece. No, I didn’t write it. It’s from a published book, not outside of copyright which has been scanned by Google. In the last sentence of the article is the link to the rest of the book.

  3. wanda muncey gant says:

    Roberta, I cannot find ely Munsey between 1810 [rowan, NC] and 1830 warren county, tn. and I have looked hard. I will continue to do so.

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