The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Volume XX, No.2, May 1994, pg.82 contains an article titled “James Logan Colbert of the Chickasaw, The Man and the Myth.” This article is reproduced at this link:
Colbert’s family history says that he was from Scotland and adopted as a child by the Chickasaw. Documentation provides different information. He was indeed raised among the Chickasaw and he did marry Native women.
The highlights relative to Native descendants and traders from the above article are extracted as follows:
During the early, mid, and late 1600s, African and West Indian slaves were sent to Virginia and bought by “white” Indian traders such as Charles HARMAR, Abraham WOOD, Benjamin HARRISON, and others.
On 7 January 1784 Alexander McGILLVRAY, the “half-breed” son of Lachlan McGILLIVRY and Sehoy MARCHAND of the Creek Indian Wind Clan, wrote a letter to Capt. Arturo O’NEIL (a French officer paid by the Spanish government to fight the Chickasaw Indians) that James COLBERT was dead:
“I had forgot to inform your Excellency in My last letter of the death of Capt. James COLBERT of the Chickasaw Nation who had been at St. Augustine, concerning demands that was made on him by the Governor of New Orleans for damages he did on the Mississippi. He got full powers to Clear up that Complaint, & on his Way to the Chickasaw Nation three days after he left my house his horse threw him down and Killd him before his Servant could assist him.(4)”
In a secret letter written to General James WILKENSON, John DONNE described James Logan COLBERT in the following way:
“From his education and mode of life, being bred among the Indians from his infancy, it will naturally be supposed he is illiterate, which is the case, but possessed of strong natural parts. I should suppose some honorary appointment such as he had under the Crown being continued to him, would naturally lend him in our interest, and under (him) moreover an useful person to whoever might be appointed Superintendent in them Nations.”(5)
During the negotiations with DONNE and MARTIN, COLBERT asked DONNE to write a letter for him. It was written on 25 July 1783 and addressed to Governor HARRISON of Virginia. In it COLBERT reiterated his hatred of the Spanish and French and pledged his support to the Americans. His concern, he went on, was for the welfare of the Chickasaws. As for himself, he had no motives other than helping the “disturbed Condition of those people, and to serve the Country IN WHICH HE LIVES AND WAS BORN.(6)”
In the mid 1820s, according to the family tradition, Chief George COLBERT of the Chickasaws offered Lunsford ASOBROOK “one of his four barrels of silver” if he would marry one of his daughters. According to Nina LEFTWICH’s book on the history of Colbert County, Alabama:
“There is in the ALSOBROOK family today a silver medal which George COLBERT gave to Lunsford ALSOBROOK as a token of esteem and friendship which he felt for him when the spirited daughter of the old chief refused to accept the attentions and proposal of Mr. ALSOBROOK, prompted as she thought by the offer of her father. The medal was presented to COLBERT by President JEFFERSON in 1801 as a mark of appreciation for services rendered by the Chief.(11)”
Historian Gilbert C. DIN wrote; “James Logan COLBERT, a Scotsman and trader, began residence among the Chickasaw before 1740, when he was about the age of twenty.”(13) In order to determine when COLBERT began living with the Chickasaws, it was necessary to seek corroborating evidence to verify DONNE’s statement. This evidence was discovered through the writings of James ADAIR, a former Chickasaw trader. In 1775. ADAIR wrote a book about his experiences with the Five Civilized Tribes. He called it A HISTORY of the NORTH-AMERICAN INDIANS,THEIR CUSTOMS, ETC. In his chapter on the Chickasaw he wrote: “Capt.J. C-l-b-rt who has lived among the Chikkasah from his childhood, and speaks their language even with more propriety than the english, desreves to be recorded…”(14)
COLBERT married three times and had eight known children:(16)
1)Sally b.ca.1743 (first by fullblood)
2)William b.ca.1748 (second by fullblood)
3)Joseph b.ca.1750 (second by fullblood)
4)Samuel b.ca.1753 (second by fullblood)
5)Levi b.ca.1759 (second by fullblood)
6)George b.ca.1764 (second by fullblood)
7)James b.ca.1768 (third by half-blood)
8)Susan b.ca.1769 (third by half-blood)
The DRAPER COLLECTION of MANUSCRIPTS proved very useful. In 1841 Lyman DRAPER interviewed Malcolm McGEE, a former Chickasaw trader and interpreter for the Chickasaw Nations. McGEE was present with James COLBERT in the summer of 1783 at Long Island on the Holston River during the Virginia-Chickasaw negotiations with DONNE and MARTIN. Like COLBERT, McGEE had moved to the Chickasaw Nations as a small boy. That was in 1767 when he was ten years old.(17) In addition, McGee was once married to Eizabeth OXBERRY HARRIS, daughter of Christpher OXBERRY and Molly COLBERT. During the interview, McGEE was asked to describe the Indian traders who lived with the Chickasaws in 1767. McGEE described the traders by their place of birth: ADAIR, Irish; BUBBY, English; BUCKLES, English; HIGHTOWER, Dutchman; COLBERT, Carolinian. All the traders, according to McGEE, had a Chickasaw wife except COLBERT who had three. McGee deduced that the above traders had lived with the Chickasaw for over twenty years because by 1767 all of them had fullgrown “half-breed” children.
One of the first Virginia Indian traders whose property was “confiscated” because of this act [SC Indian Trader act of 1702] was Robert HICKS[Sr.]of Virginia in 1707.(18)
Using the names of “Licensed Indian traders”, a list of Virginia, North and South Carolina traders was created. A partial list includes Robert LONG, Charles HICKS, John BROWN, William GILCHRIST, Abraham COLSON, James ANDERSON, William KEMP, James MOORE, Richard HYDE, John SIMS, William WILLIAMS, and John PETTYGREW.
One of James COLBERT’s ‘hirelings’ was Richard HYDE, listed above. His father, aslo known as Richard Hyde, had also been employed by COLBERT as a packhorseman. The elder HYDE was a former pirate and member of Blackbeard’s gang. HYDE quit his life of piracy when Edward TEACH(Blackbeard) was killed in 1718.(20)
Records show that Richard HYDE and his family lived along the Roanoke River at Hyde Island. This island is a few miles upstream from Plumbtree (Mush) Island and the Occoneechee Neck.
Further research revealed a number of Chickasaw Indian traders lived along the Pee Dee River during the “off-season” at a settlement called Sandy Bluff (in present day Marion County, South Carolina). According to Harvey Toliver COOK, several North Carolina and Virginia “squatters” had lived at Sandy Bluff since the early 1730s and a substantial community had evolved by 1734.(22)
William BYRD made reference to the Pee Dee River in his book HISTORY of the DIVIDING LINE when describing the Indian Trading Path which crossed the northwest section of present day Warren County in North Carolina on its way “to the Catawbas and other southern Indians.” According to BYRD, the Pee Dee was a place “where the traders commonly lie for some days, to recruit their horses’ flesh as well as to recover their own spirits.”
Sandy Bluff was farther down the Pee Dee that the “usual” rest stop for traders. At first, it was occupied by only a few of the Chickasaw woodsmen before they proceeded to Virginia and North Carolina. Most, if not all, of these woodsmen had Indian wives and half-breed children in the Chickasaw towns they traded in. Geographically, Sandy Bluff was remote from any of the major Indian paths or large towns in South Carolina. It was considered “out-of-the-way”. In all respects, Sandy Bluff was a “self-contained isolate community”.
Richard TURBEVILLE’s will was witnessed by John HOGG, Richard CURETON, and John HATCHER. All three lived on the Roanoke River near Occoneechee Neck and Plumbtree Island. John HATCHER was a descendant of a Virginian Indian trading family. The HOGGs and CURETONs had ties with the COLBERTs.
Virginia records show that Jacob COLSON had been an Indian trader since the late 1600s. Abraham’s father, Joseph COLSON, had been a Chickasaw trader since 1721.
Four years earlier Joseph COLSON was one of the woodsmen who accompanied Major MUMFORD[MUNFORD] and William BYRD II on the expedition to THE LAND OF EDEN.
Like his grandfather and father, Abraham COLSON lived and traded among the various Indian tribes. In February of 1740, Abraham submitted two bills to the House of Commons of South Carolina for payment.
“An Account of the said Mr. Abraham COLLSON amounting to L25, it being for a Steer, and 2 Quarters of Beef & for the Use of the Indians in July 1738. Which Account having been also read to the House it was ordered that the same be referred to the Consideration of the Committee on Petitions and Accounts.(27)
“another Account of the said Mr. Abraham COLLSON amounting to the Sum of L6 for 2 Quarters of Beef for the Chactaw Indians on their traveling to Charles Town.”
As Chickasaw traders, the COLSONs and TURBEVILLESs had the means and opportunity to take James Logan COLBERT to the Chickasaw Nations as a small boy. What is more compelling, however, is that both families lived next door to the COLBERTs in North Carolina during the 1720s and 1730s.
Several settlements were granted patents or grants by the South Carolina government during the 1730s near Sandy Bluff. Queensboro was surveyed in 1733 and in 1736 a colony of Welsh Baptists from Pennsylvania was established. Unfortunately, the settlers at Sandy Bluff did not get along with their neighbors.
“In 1739 one of the petitions of the Welsh complained ‘That several Out Laws and Fugitives from the Colonies of Virginia and North Carolina most of whom are Mullatoes or of a Mixed Blood’ had thrust themselves among them, paying no taxes nor quit rents, ‘and are a Pest and Nuisance to the adjacent Inhabitants.’ They were a part of a band of robbers sought by the Virginia government, and had, so the Welsh suspected, the sympathy of some of their neighbors.”(29)
The outlaw community of mulattoes and mixedbloods continued to plague the Welsh settlements with robberies to such an extent that the governor brought out the militia. In 1746, two settlers petitioned to have their grants moved to a different location. One complained that the “robbers reduced his stock of hogs from twenty-five to six.”
In 1747, George HICKS, son of Robert HICKS, Jr., moved to the Pee Dee River near Sandy Bluff. According to the Reverend Mr. GREGG:
“In the latter part of the year previous came George HICKS, from Virginia. The family was of English descent. Being a man of means and influence, Mr. HICKS induced a number of his own relatives and others also to come with him. He became head of a large connexion on the Pee Dee. The first record of his name is in a grant of land, in the Welsh tract, January 22nd, 1747.”(30)
In 1750 the governor of South Carolina appointed George HICKS and James CRAWFORD as justices of the peace because some of the Sandy Bluff settlers were “Living very Riotous”. The problem did not subside, however, and two years later, Justice of the Peace James CRAWFORD and sixty other settlers asked the governor for permission to move to another district. By then, the mulattoes and mixed bloods had taken control of the district.
In addition to the TURBEVILLEs and COLSONs, many other families that had previously lived on the Roanoke River moved to Sandy Bluff. Among them were the GIBSONs, CHAVIS[CHAVERS], Goins[GOINGS], and SWEETs[SWEAT]. According to GREGG, Gideon GIBSON was one of the wealthiest men at Sandy Bluff. He was also a “Free Man of Color”.(31) So were the CHAVIS, GOINS and SWEAT families. All four families were related by marriage.(32)
The TUBEVILLEs were also related to the Sweat family by marriage. In 1763, William SWEAT, the son-n-law of John TURBEVILLE, was named executor of his estate. John TURBEVILLE was born in North Carolina at either Plumbtree Island or the Occoneechee Neck and was a grandson of Richard TURBEVILLE. In his will dated 3 August 1763 and probated in Charleston, South Carolina, John TURBEVILLE made provisions for his daughter Lucy SWEAT and grandson Nathan SWEAT as well as other members of his family.(33)
The GOINS family had originally come from Virginia before migrating to North and South Carolina. (Goins Island is located at Lake Gaston on the Roanoke River a few miles upriver from Hyde Island and Plumbtree Island.) CHAVIS [Chavers], on the other hand, lived on the Quankey Creek, which is below Plumbtree Island.
Gideon GIBSON had lived near the Occoneechee Neck adjacent to land owned by Arthur KAVANAUGH, Ralph MASON, and Richard TURBEVILLE before buying land on Quankey Creek from Robert LONG[LANG], a Chickasaw and Cherokee Indian trader. LONG also owned land at Elk Marsh and Plumbtree Island. LONG had received his land patents at Quankey Creek and Plumbtree Island on 1 March 1719/1720.(34)
Robert LONG and Gideon GIBSON were not the only woodsmen who lived at Quankey Creek in North Carolina. Joseph SIMS and James MOORE also lived there. Like the COLSONs and TURBEVILLEs of Plumbtree Island, these woodsmen traded with the Chickasaws. During the off-season they often rested at Sandy Bluff before returning to North Carolina. In 1732 Joseph SIMS and James MOORE witnessed the selling of land between two men from Albemarle County, North Carolina, at Quankey Creek. A third witness was James LOGAN.
“…Thomas MATTHEWS of the north west parish of Edge. Prect. in the Co. of Albermarle, planter to Joseph BREWER of Edge. Prect….16 Mar.1732 10 pounds current money of VA. 200 acres in north west parish on the south side of the Moratock river and the south side of Great Quankey Creek whereon the sd. MATTHEWS now lives, joining Peter JONES, other lands of sd. MATTHEWS, the land formerly owned by Robert WOOD and the creek part of a tract granted to William WILLIAMS for 340 acres 17 May 1730 Wit: Joseph SIMS, James LOGAN, James MOORE…”(36)
William WILLIAMS, a former owner mentioned in the above sale, had traded with the Chickasaw Nations since the early 1720s. Peter JONES had accompanied Joseph COLSON, Robert HICKS, Major MUMFORD, and William BYRD II during the survey of “Eden”.
According to COLBERT family tradition, a man named “James LOGAN” was the grandfather of James COLBERT. Given the similarity of names, plus the fact that Chickasaw traders lived at Quankey Creek, Occoneechee Neck and on Plumbtree Island, circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that this James LOGAN was indeed the grandfather of James Logan COLBERT.
Additional information on James LOGAN comes from F.B.KEGLEY in his book KEGLEY’S VIRGINIA FRONTIER. In it he describes some of the earliest settlers on “the southwest frontier below the mountains” in Virginia.
“On the south side of the James below the mountains the frontier at this time was represented by the Welsh settlement on the Mcherrin; Col.BYRD’s improvements on the Roanoke above Sandy Creek, including the three charming islands, Sapponi, Occoneechee and Totero; Major MUNFORD’s Quarter near-by; Col. BYRD’s Land of Eden on the Dan and Major MAYO’s Survey adjoining; Richard and William KENNON’s grant on Cub Creek which supplied farmsteads for John CALDWELL’s Presbyterian Colony…
“On the South eastern creeks were…Joseph COLSON at Major MUMFORD’s…and Peter MITCHELL, the highest inhabitant on Roanoke River, about six miles above the fork. Among the first to become settled on Cub Creek were John and William CALDWELL, James LOGAN…”(37)
The CALDWELLs and LOGANs had originally come from Pennsylvania before migrating to Virginia and North Carolina. In addition to settling a Presbyterian colony, several of the CALDWELLs were also Chickasaw traders. When Bernard ROMANS visited the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians in 1775, he wrote of his accounts of an Indian trader named CALDWELL:
“One CALDWELL has the greatest stock[of cattle]; and OPAYA MINGO LUXI went in 1771 to complain of it, but CALDWELL, knowing that no savage can withstand the words of a white man, took advantage thereof, and so intimidated the savage, by his mere presence at Pensacola, when in the Superintendent’s hall, in order to lodge his information, and make his complaint that OPAYA MINGO LUXI himself said he had nothing against him…”(38)
While investigating the TURBEVILLEs, COLSONs, and LONGs, it was discovered that the family of Joseph CALVERT (pronounced kahl/vert) also lived on Plumbtree Island and owned property on the Occoneechee Neck. Deed records strongly suggest that Joseph CALVERT and Joseph COLSON were either partners and/or related to one another. On 20 March 1721 both bought property on the Morattuck River from Thomas WHITMELL, an Indian trader.(39)
Further research revealed that the TURBEVILLEs, COLSONs, and CALVERTs worked for Major Robert MUMFORD of Brunswick County, Virginia, and with Thomas WHITMELL. Major MUMFORD was a large land speculator and the descendant of an Indian trading family. The MUMFORDs had traded alongside men like Abraham WOOD, Benjamin HARRISON, Robert BOLLING, William BYRD I, Peter POYTHRESS, and Robert HICKS since the late 1600s.(42)
The TURBEVILLEs learned of the Occoneechee Neck on the Roanoke through their association with Arthur KAVANAUGH and Major Robert MUMFORD. By 1712 both KAVANAUGH and MUMFORD were large landowners in Virginia and North Carolina. KAVANAUGH began selling his North Carolina patents in 1713 and MUMFORD acted as his attorney. Thomas WHITMELL, the Indian trader, bought six hundred acres from KAVANAUGH on the north side of the Morattuck River in 1715.(43)
Before moving to North Carolina, the TURBEVILLEs sold land they owned in Prince George County, Virginia, to Peter MITCHELL, an Indian trader and land speculator. (MITCHELL lived high on the Roanoke River near the CALDWELLs and James LOGAN.) Major MUMFORD acted as Mary TURBEVILLE’s power of attorney and it was witnessed by Arthur KAVANAUGH and John ANDERSON.(44)
ANDERSON was also an Indian trader and land speculator who worked with MUMFORD. Prior to 1722, ANDERSON lived with his family on the Occoneechee Neck of the Roanoke River. Before moving to the Roanoke River and the Occoneechee, ANDERSON had lived in Prince George County, Virginia.