Evans Family of Granville County – descendants of Jane Gibson “a free Indian woman”

The Native American/”free colored” Evans family of Granville County directly descend from Morris Evans (1665-1739) and Jane Gibson (1660/1670 – 1738) of Charles City County, VA. The Evans family resettled in and became a core part of Granville County’s Native American community in the 1760s immediately following the initial settlement of the founding  Chavis, Harris, Hawley, Pettiford, Anderson, Bass, and Goins families. In this blog post I will document the Evans family from their earliest documented origins from a “free Indian woman” known as Jane Gibson the elder, to their settlement in Granville County. A word of caution: “Evans” is among the most common surnames dating back to colonial times, therefore not all “Evans” families are genealogically related. There were a few “free colored” Evans families originating in Virginia and it is not known if an how they may all be related. The focus of this blog post is about documenting the branch of the Evans family that begins with Morris Evans and his wife Jane Gibson. I do discuss two additional Evans families at the end, that may or may not be related.


Jane Gibson the Elder, “a free Indian woman”

Morris Evans’ (1665-1739) wife Jane Gibson (1660/1670-1738), had a mother also named Jane Gibson. To distinguish between the two women, the mother is referred to as Jane Gibson the elder (born 1640/1650). The elder Jane Gibson was called “a free Indian woman” by some of her descendants who were illegally enslaved. Though the Evans and Gibson families were free-born, that did not prevent some colonists from illegally enslaving them. Apparently, some of the descendants of Morris Evans and Jane Gibson’s  daughter Frances Evans (1700-1771) were enslaved by a colonist named Goodrich Lightfoot. They were originally “bound out” to Lightfoot to be indentured servants but he instead enslaved them and after his death, they were subsequently sold to several slave owners.  The enslaved Evans later sued for their freedom and provided information that they descended from a free Indian woman – Jane Gibson the elder.

The petition of Charles Evans, Amey Evans, Sukey Evans, Sisar Evans, Solomon Evans, Frankey Evans, Sally Evans, Milly Evans, Adam Evans and Hannah Evans holden in slavery by Lewis Allen, of the County of Halifax humbly sheweth: that your petitioners are descendants from Jane Gibson, a free Indian woman..

Source: http://freepages.family.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~genealogyfriend/evans/gib_evans.htm

You can review the documentation on Deloris Williams’ website where she has graciously transcribed the chancery court documents and it is really worth a read, if you’re not familiar with these records.

I also found in the Saint Stephen’s Parish records for New Kent County, that Goodrich Lightfoot (the man who enslaved the Evans) owned an “Indian” slave named Charles who died on October 9, 1722. I’m unsure if this Charles is from the Evans family, but it certainly appears Goodrich Lightfoot enslaved multiple Native Americans.

Source: The Parish Register of Saint Peter's, New Kent County, Va. from 1680 to 1787
Source: The Parish Register of Saint Peter’s, New Kent County, Va. from 1680 to 1787

Also noteworthy, the Native American/”free colored” Howell family of Granville County descends from a woman who was a servant in the home of Goodrich Lightfoot’s brother Sherwood Lightfoot of Saint Stephen’s Parish in New Kent County, VA. And after both the Evans and Howell families came to Granville County, they intermarried.

The exact tribal origin of the Evans family has also been a subject of a lot of debate among researchers. Morris Evans was noted as being a free person of color and we know from DNA testing that he was of at least partial African descent. It is unknown if his background included any Native American ancestry. Although he was born around 1665, the first confirmed records for him were at the end of his life in 1738. So there is a lot about Morris Evans’ early life that we do not know about.

However Morris Evans’ wife’s mother Jane Gibson the elder and thus his wife were noted as being “Indian”, yet no tribe specified. Charles City County, VA which is where Jane Gibson the elder resided, is located in the heart of Powhatan territory and perhaps that is where her tribal ancestry comes from. There is another Powhatan (specifically Nansemond) descended family of Granville County – the Basses, that I blogged about previously and the Evans intermarried with them in Granville. There was also a Walter Gibson recorded as a chieftan in the Tuscarora “Indian Woods” reservation land deeds in Bertie County, NC in the 1770s. However, I have not seen any credible information that names his parents or children, so I’m not sure if he is at all connected to Jane Gibson of Charles City County. Another matter to consider is that Morris Evans and Jane Gibson’s son Charles Evans moved to southside Virginia by the 1730s, about a decade after the Saponi reservation at nearby Fort Christanna was closed. Charles Evans and his family  intermarried with the Saponi descendants residing in Virginia. The maiden name of Charles Evans’ wife is unknown, so more research into her identity is needed.


The Evans Move from the Tidewater to Southside Virginia

The Evans family line that came to Granville were not enslaved and as a result, they are well documented. Morris Evans and Jane Gibson also had two sons named Charles Evans (1696-1760) and Morris Evans Jr (1710-1754). Charles and Morris Jr were born in the Tidewater area of Virginia (York County) like their parents, but relocated to the southside Virginia counties of Brunswick, Mecklenburg, and Lunenburg (Lunenburg was formed from Brunswick in 1746 and Mecklenburg was formed from Lunenburg in 1765). Charles Evans moved first in the 1730s and his younger brother Morris Evans Jr moved later in the 1750s. Living next to the Evans families in Southside Virginia during this time period were other notable “free colored”/Native American families such as: Walden, Kersey, Harris, Brandon/Branham, Stewart, Chavis, Guy and Corn. I point this out because the Evans intermarried with most of these Southside families and they then moved together into the North Carolina border counties, including Granville.

Morris Evans Jr (1710-154) was married to a white woman named Amy Poole, who was the daughter of William Poole. After Morris Evans’ death, Amy remarried a John Wright and became known as “Amy Wright”. Her father William Poole in 1753, gave land in Lunenburg Co, VA to Morris Evans Jr and Amy Poole’s son named Richard Evans (1750-1794). This same Richard Evans later moved to Robeson Co, NC and is the most likely ancestor of the Evans family found within the Lumbee Tribe of Robeson Co.

Charles Evans (1696-1760) remained in southside Virginia until his death in 1760 and we have a good record of who his children were through land transactions and wills. Unfortunately not much is known about Charles Evans’ wife aside from her first name being Sarah. Charles Evans’ children were:

  1. Thomas Evans (b. 1734) – tithable in his father’s 1751 Lunenburg Co household. Was in very poor economic standing as his children were bound out because he could not provide for them. Thomas only received one shilling from his father’s will because he was “undutiful”. His wife may have been a Stewart. Some of his children intermarried with the “free colored”/Native American Jeffries family and moved to Orange Co, NC. This is the same Jeffries family that is a core family of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation.
  2. Major Evans (1733-1814) – moved to Granville Co, NC and is the primary ancestor of the Evans of Granville Co. Will be discussed in the next section.
  3. Charles Evans (b. 1737) – remained in southside Virginia. In 1782, he was compensated for beef he provided to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. His daughter Nanny Evans married Eaton Walden.
  4. Richard Evans (b. 1740) – remained in southside Virginia. He did not leave a will, so his apparent children are not verified. He may be the father of Richard Evans b. 1772 who relocated to Chatham Co, NC. An earlier Isaac Evans (b. 1735) was the first “free colored” Evans to appear in the Randolph Co (which borders Chatham) records, so some of the apparent descendants of Richard Evans may in fact be the descendants of Isaac Evans. And it is not currently known if and how Isaac Evans may be related to the family of Morris Evans/Jane Gibson.
  5. Sarah Evans (b. 1742)  – mentioned in her father’s will but unknown what happened to her next
  6. Joyce Evans (b. 1743) – mentioned in her father’s will but unknown what happened to her next
  7. Erasmus Evans (b. 1745) – had two sons named Anthony and Isham who were bound out. Anthony was called “Anthony Chavis”, so Erasmus’ wife was likely a Chavis. Anthony Evans/Chavis moved around a bit before settling in Chatham Co where he left a will but apparently no heirs.

From here, we will focus our discussion on Charles Evans’ son Major Evans (1733-1814) who is the main progenitor of the Evans in Granville County.


Major Evans (1733-1814) comes to Granville County

Charles Evans’ son Major Evans (1733-1814) who is the direct lineal ancestor of the vast majority of the Granville County Evans first appears in the Granville tax lists in the 1760s. By the 1780s and 1790s he had recorded several land transactions in Granville and short-lived Bute County (modern Franklin and Warren). Notably in 1780, he purchased 100 acres of land from Phillip Chavis off the Tar River in an area known as the Buffalo Race Path near Buffalo Creek. Phillip Chavis also sold Major Evans an additional 500 acres along the Granville/Franklin line. Phillip Chavis (b. 1726) was the son of William Chavis (1709-1777) – the original Granville land owner and founding community member. Phillip Chavis had numerous land transactions with his father William Chavis around Buffalo Creek and he also settled his father’s estate. In fact, Major Evans’ wife Martha Ann (maiden name unknown) may have been a Chavis given the close relationship between Major Evans and the William Chavis family.

It’s also important to remember that William Chavis’ wife was Frances Gibson was the daughter of Gibson Gibson (1660-1727) of Charles City County, VA. Perhaps Jane Gibson the elder and Gibson Gibson were related, given the shared Gibson surname in the same location. We know from witness testimony that Jane Gibson the elder had two children – Jane Gibson the younger who married Morris Evans and a son named George Gibson (born 1665) who died without having children. So William Chavis’ father-in-law Gibson Gibson could not have been a son of Jane Gibson the elder, but perhaps a brother or nephew. This is only speculation at the moment and hopefully some more documentation may confirm these suspicions.

Phillip Chavis land sold to Major Evans in 1780. Buffalo Race Paths - Granville County.
16 Feb 1780 Granville County, North Carolina – Phillip Chavis sells land along the “Buffalo Race Paths” to Major Evans. This land is very close to the Granille (now Vance) and Franklin County border
Major Evans land purchase on the Buckhorn Branch in Newlight Creek in far southeastern Granville County, close to the Franklin and Wake County borders.
Major Evans land purchase on the Buckhorn Branch in Newlight Creek in far southeastern Granville County, close to the Franklin and Wake County borders.
Circled in red are the approximate locations of Major Evans land purchases in and around Granville County.  There are at least two locations named
Circled in red are the approximate locations of Major Evans land purchases in and around Granville County. There are at least two locations named “Buffalo Race Paths” – one in Shocco township, Warren County where the old Bute County courthouse was located and one located on the Granville (now Vance) and Franklin county line. Major Evans’ “Buffalo Race Paths” land appears to be the latter one. This land bordered the Chavis family land and Snelling family land. The Snellings are Chavis descendants and intermarried with the Evans.
Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/3569

Whatever the exact relationship between Major Evans and the Chavis family turns out to be, these land transactions placed Major Evans and his family in the heart of the Granville County Native American community. It’s also important to note that Major Evans still owned land in Mecklenburg County, VA and appears on the tax lists there in the 1780s, so he likely was moving back and forth (a very short distance) between his Mecklenburg County property and his Granville County property. This close relationship between the two locations explains why many other the Native American/”free colored” families from the Mecklenburg area including the Howell, Guy, KerseyBrandon/Branham, Cousins, and Mayo families (most of whom had intermarried with the Evans) continued moving into Granville up through the first couple of decades of the 1800s. There was a Major Evans recorded in the Warren County tax list for the Six Pound District in 1814 and if this is the same Major Evans which it likely is, then it shows he moved yet again in his final years.

Nearly all of Major Evans’ children and descendants intermarried with families from the Granville Native American community. Below is a list of his children and their spouses:

1. * Morris Evans (1750-1834) married second Lydia Anderson, his first wife is unknown.

2. * Gilbert Evans (1757-1827) married Phoebe Lumbley. Phoebe was apparently white, and Gilbert appears in tax and census records as white as do their children. Because of strict laws forbidding interracial marriages, it could be that Gilbert “passed” for white in order to have a white spouse. This is a pattern that I have seen before.

3. Burwell Evans (1758-1820) married Mary Mitchell.

4. * John Evans (1759-1781) unwed and died in battle during the Revolutionary War.

5. Elizabeth Evans (1780-before 1860) married Isaac Chavis but they later separated.

6. Nelly Evans (1762-1849) married William Taborn

7. * William Evans (1764-1823) married Sarah Hays who was apparently white. Like his brother Gilbert, William “passed” for white and it was likely because he had a white spouse.

8. Sarah Evans (1770 – before 1860) married George Anderson.

* Paul Heinegg in his Evans family sketch on his website freeafricanamericans, lists the brothers Morris, Gilbert, John, and William Evans as the *possible* sons of Gilbert Evans b. 1730. However genealogist Deloris Williams has more up to date research on the Evans family and I agree with her conclusions.

Most of these families resided in Granville and Wake Counties. It is likely Major Evans’ land purchase in Newlight Creek which borders Wake County, precipitated the movement of many of his descendants into Wake.

The interconnectedness of the Evans family to the Granville County Native American community is also evident in the division of the estate of William Evans (1789-1871), a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County. Deloris Williams has transcribed his estate record here. William was the grandson of Major Evans. Major’s daughter Elizabeth Evans had a child “out of wedlock” before she married Isaac Chavis.  Though William Evans had been married to Frances Anderson, by the time of his death he was widowed and had no living heirs. So instead he divided his estate among some members of the Native American community including the Anderson, Boon, Pettiford, Hawley, Mayo, Curtis, Taborn, Jones, and Evans families.

Below are some pictures of Granville County Evans who are directly descended from Major Evans (and further back descended from Morris Evans and Jane Gibson):

Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Hilliard Evans and Betsy Brandon. Because her parents were unwed, she took her mother's last name. Though Pantheyer's marriage record to Junius Thomas Howell lists her father as
Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934) of Fishing Creek, Granville County. She was the daughter of Hilliard Evans and Betsy Brandon. Because her parents were unwed, she took her mother’s last name. Though Pantheyer’s marriage record to Junius Thomas Howell lists her father as “unknown”, Hilliard Evans identity was confirmed through Pantheyer’s brother Osh Brandon’s marriage record. Pantheyer’s sister Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon was also named after their father. Pantheyer’s mother Betsy Brandon later had several more children with William Peace. Hilliard Evans later married Louisa Mitchell and relocated to Ohio. Probably only his oldest children with Betsy Brandon had memories of him before he moved out of state.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973

Pantheyer Brandon’s lineage back to Major Evans is as follows:

Pantheyer Brandon; Hilliard Evans; Thomas Evans; Morris Evans; Major Evans.

She is also descended from the Brandon, Bass, and Anderson families.

John Evans (1830 - 1892) and his wife Martha Harris. John was the son of Polly Evans and an unknown father. His mother Polly later married Johnson Reed. The family relocated to Ohio by 1860. Source: E. Howard Evans
John Evans (1830 – 1892) and his wife Martha Harris. John was the son of Polly Evans and an unknown father. His mother Polly later married Johnson Reed. The family relocated to Ohio by 1860. John Evans was first cousins to Pantheyer Brandon pictured above.
Source: E. Howard Evans

John Evans’ lineage back to Major Evans is as follows:

John Evans; Polly Evans; Thomas Evans; Morris Evans; Major Evans

John Evans is also descended from the Bass and Anderson families.

Standing on the left if John Evans' son Thomas McDaniel Evans  (1861-1929). Standing to his right is Thomas' son Howard Evans and seated is Thomas' daughter Ruth Evans. John Evans moved to Ohio by 1860, where his family continued to live. Source: E. Howard Evans
Standing on the left is John Evans’ son Thomas McDaniel Evans (1861-1929). Standing to his right is Thomas’ son Howard Evans and seated is Thomas’ daughter Ruth Evans. John Evans moved to Ohio by 1860, where his family continued to live.
Source: E. Howard Evans
Mary Etta Guy (1866 - 1965) a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County. Mary Etta descends from several Granville County Native American families. She descends from the Evans (Morris Evans-Jane Gibson), Taborn, Guy, and Chavis families and was married to a Tyler. Mary Etta spent her entire life in Fishing Creek until after her husband's death in 1943 when she joined some of her family who had relocated to New York. Source: Carole Allen
Mary Etta Guy (1866 – 1965) a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County. Mary Etta descends from several Granville County Native American families. She descends from the Evans (Morris Evans-Jane Gibson), Taborn, Guy, and Chavis families and was married to a Tyler. Mary Etta spent her entire life in Fishing Creek until after her husband’s death in 1943 when she joined some of her family who had relocated to New York.
Source: Carole Allen
Ira Evans 1879-1968
Ira Evans (1879-1968) was the son of Lewis Evans (1847-1917) and  Zibra Bookram (b. 1859). His is a direct lineal descendants of Morris Evans/Jane Gibson through their grandson Major Evans. Ira descends from the Evans, Gibson, Bookram, Bass, Anderson, and Scott families and lived in Durham Co, NC. Source: Ancestry, Username: LaMonica Williams.
Ada Evans
Ada Evans (1885-1954) was the daughter of Thomas Evans and Mary Bookram. She is double first cousins with Ira Evans pictured above. Ada was first married to Earnest Day and second married to William Glover. She lived in Granville and Durham Counties. Please note that most family tree on Ancestry have confused this Ada Evans for her older first cousin Ada Evans ( b 1877) who was the daughter of Sallie Evans.  Source: Ancestry, Username: MichaelSmith493

What about the families of Thomas Evans (1723-1788) and James Evans (1720-1786)??

 

Evans Migration Map.004
Map following the movement of the Evans family. The Morris Evans-Jane Gibson line is shown in red, the James Evans line is shown in blue, and the Thomas Evans line is shown in purple. The dates indicate the earliest records for the Evans family in those locations. © Kianga Lucas

 

So as I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post, there were other early “free colored” Evans families in Virginia that may be related to Morris Evans/Jane Gibson. In particular, there are two two early Evans’ ancestors that need to be discussed.

 

Thomas Evans (1723-1788):

One family begins with a Thomas Evans (1723-1788) who lived in the southside Virginia counties of Lunenburg and Mecklenburg. His parents at this time are unknown. His wife’s name is also unknown but she was a Walden.  Thomas Evans and his descendants usually lived close to the known descendants of Morris Evans/Jane Gibson. In fact, this Thomas Evans (1723-1788), Charles Evans and Major Evans (grandsons of Morris Evans/Jane Gibson) all together on 9 April 1782 in Mecklenburg County court proved their claim to be paid for 225 lbs of beef they each supplied the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. This suggests a close relationship between the three men (two of whom are documented siblings).

All of Thomas Evans’ children married other closely related Native American families of the area including Chavis, Brandon, Drew and Kersey. Thankfully Thomas Evans left a 1787 (proved 1788) Mecklenburg County will that named his heirs. His heirs were also named in a subsequent lawsuit. Many of Thomas’ descendants moved into and intermarried with the Native American community in Granville including his grandson Isaac Chavis who married and later separated from the previously mentioned Elizabeth Evans who was the daughter of Major Evans. Additional surnames that Thomas Evans’ descendants married into when they moved to North Carolina include: LocklearIvey and Hawley. All of this suggests a close relationship between Thomas Evans and the descendants of Morris Evans/Jane Gibson but I’m not sure what it is. I feel fairly confident that this Thomas Evans is related to Morris Evans/Jane Gibson but I’m still working on seeing where exactly he fits in. Thomas Evans and his unnamed Walden wife were my 6th great-grandparents.

Sally Kersey
Sally Kersey (1828-1911) was the daughter of Benjamin Kersey and Sally (maiden name not known). Her grandparents were William Kersey and Polly Evans. Polly Evans was a daughter of Thomas Evans (1723-1788). She was married to William Tyler and was a lifelong resident of the Native American community in Granvilly, in Fishing Creek township. Source: Ancestry, Username: wanhiehol

James Evans (1720-1786):

And second there is James Evans (1720-1786) who first appears in the records in Surry County, VA in 1746. In that year he was charged with adultery for living with Eleanor Walden. Eleanor is presumed to later be his wife and mother of his children. Unfortunately, Surry County suffered major record loss, so further details on James Evans’ early life may have been destroyed. Such records may have named his parents, because James’ parents are unknown. By the 1750s, James Evans was living in Edgecombe County, NC as indicated by land purchases and militia records. Notably James Evans is listed next to several members of the “free colored”/Native American Scott family that was of Saponi descent and these families later intermarried. This part of Edgecombe became Halifax County in 1758, and James Evans continues to appear in the Halifax records. By 1786, his wife Eleanor (Walden) Evans was listed as a head of household in the Halifax records, indicating that James had died some time previous to that date.

James Evans’ descendants continued living in the Halifax County area. Again, please note that Paul Heinegg has different information for the descendants of James Evans. Instead I’m using the genealogy provided by Deloris Williams which I believe is more accurate. James Evans had a son by the same name James Evans Jr (1750-1830) who lived in Halifax Co. James Jr had a son named Leven Evans (1775 – before 1850) who is the main source of the Evans found within the state-recognized Haliwa-Saponi tribe in Hollister. Leven Evans’ first wife was Kizzie but her maiden name is unknown. His second wife was Harriet Scott (b. 1811). Harriet was from the same Scott family that her grandfather James Evans (1720-1786) enlisted in the Edgecombe Co militia with. Leven Evans’ descendants continued to intermarry with “core” families of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe including Richardson, Lynch, Silver, Mills, and Copeland.

Deloris Williams also noted connections between Leven Evans’ son Archibald Evans (1793 – before 1870) and the descendants of Morris Evans-Jane Gibson here. However, recent DNA testing suggests that the descendants of Leven Evans are not related to Morris Evans/Jane Gibson. At least 7 direct male lineal descendants of Morris Evans have done yDNA testing and their haplogroup is E-M2 which is a sub Saharan African haplogroup. At least one direct male lineal descendant of Leven Evans has done yDNA testing and his haplogroup is R1b which is Western European (most commonly Irish). This means we know that Leven Evans and Morris Evans do not share a common male Evans ancestor. But it’s possible that the Leven Evans branch may descend from a female Evans ancestor which would account for the different yDNA haplogroups. Like the paper trail, DNA results can offer a clue but not the full story about one’s heritage.

Fox Evans
Fox Evans (1882-1932) was the son of Elijah Evans and Jane Cornelia Richardson. He is a direct lineal descendant of James Evans (1720-1786) through Leven Evans. Fox Evans was married to Leacy Silver and lived in Halifax County, NC. Source: Ancestry, Username: lynnmcaldwell1
image1
Major Blake Evans (1879-1959) is pictured with his first wife Adeline Virginia Richardson (1876-1920). Major Blake Evans was a brother to Fox Evans pictured above. He is a direct lineal descendant of James Evans (1720-1786) through his grandson Leven Evans. Major Blake Evans lived in Halifax Co, NC his entire life where some of his descendants are among the Haliwa-Saponi tribe. Source: Desmond Ellsworth
image2
Pictured are children of Major Blake Evans (1879-1959) who resided in Halifax Co, NC. Source: Desmond Ellsworth

 

Mollie Evans
Mollie Evans (1892-1938) was the daughter of William Evans and Martha Richardson. She is also direct lineal descendant of James Evans (1720-1786) through Leven Evans. Mollie was married to Arch Silver and lived in Halifax County, NC. Source: Ancestry, Username: GwendolynJohnson84
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The Tale of two (maybe three, four?!) Sherwood Harrises in Granville County

I think one of the most common mistakes in doing genealogical work is mixing up the records for people who have the same name. In Granville County in the 1700s, there were at least four men with the name “Sherwood Harris”. One of those men was my 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris. The three other men are related to one another but are unrelated to my Sherwood Harris. My Sherwood was Native American, most often listed as a “free person of color” in the records. The other three Sherwood’s were listed as “white”. One would think that this racial distinction along with many diverging life details would help resolve any confusion, but that has not been the case. In this blog post, I’m going to discuss the Revolutionary War pension application of my Sherwood Harris that has quite frequently been attributed to the other Sherwood Harrises. Hopefully this will be a helpful warning to other researchers to take more care in how they attribute records.

My 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris (1761-1833) was the son of Edward Harris and Sarah Chavis. Edward Harris was among the founding members of the  Native community in Granville. Sarah Chavis’ parents were William Chavis and Frances Gibson, who owned the original land base for the community. Two of Sherwood brother’s named Jesse Harris (1762-1844) and Edward Harris Jr (1756-1792) also fought in the Revolutionary War. Edward Jr died before filing a pension and left no heirs, and Jesse and later his widow Julia (Taborn) Harris successfully filed and received a pension (W.1277).

It is actually incorrect for me to say that Sherwood Harris filed a pension. From after his service in the war and until his death in 1833, Sherwood never filed for a pension. According to witness testimony provided by Nathaniel Estes, Sherwood “felt rather above begging” the government for compensation. However after his passing, his widow Martha/Patsy Harris (maiden name not known) was in financial trouble and had no means of support. So in 1843, she filed a widow’s pension, application number W.3984.

In order to receive a widow’s pension, Martha Harris had several things to prove. For one, she had to prove that she was legally married to Sherwood Harris and had not remarried after his death. She also needed to give proof of his Revolutionary War service including details such as names of captains and battles that would substantiate his record as a soldier. Despite both Martha and her deceased husband Sherwood being illiterate and not being able to leave behind a paper trail, Martha was able to prove her claim to a widow’s pension based off of witness testimony.

The following individuals provided testimony in support of Martha’s application: Frances “Fanny” Cavender, Samuel Chapell, Nathaniel Estes, Peter CashStephen Bridges, and George Pettiford. I have a full un-transcribed copy of the pension application but you can access transcribed portions of the pension application here. George Pettiford (1760-1853) was from the Native American Pettiford family of Granville, and he was the son of founding community member Lawrence Pettiford. George was also a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran and provided testimony that he was well acquainted with Sherwood Harris before the war. He knew that Sherwood had been enlisted, but did not see Sherwood until after the war when they both came back to Granville.

The five remaining testimonies came from white residents of Granville who also knew Sherwood Harris. Samuel Chapell (1757-1845), was a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran who knew Sherwood Harris around the time of the war and believed that Sherwood was a private in Col. William Moore’s regiment for at least two years. Peter Cash (1756-1846) was also a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran and recalled that he served with Sherwood Harris in Col. William Moore’s regiment. He further stated that Sherwood served under a different captain named Capt. Harrison.

Siblings Stephen Bridges (born 1770) and Frances “Fanny” (Bridges) Cavender (born 1765) were personal friends of Sherwood and Martha Harris and knew that their father and older brother served with Sherwood in the Revolutionary War. They both remembered attending Sherwood and Martha’s wedding and provided 1787 as the approximate year of the marriage. And finally Nathaniel Estes (1770-1845) was aclose friend of Sherwood and Martha’s and provided some interesting information about the couple. He said he frequented their home regularly and heard Sherwood speak of being a soldier in the war. He also recalled Sherwood and Martha’s wedding but could not remember the date. However he added that Sherwood had a son who was older than his own son born in 1793 and that this son of Sherwood’s was buried on his property.

The testimony provided by fellow soldiers  as well as personal friends, allowed for Martha Harris to receive an annual widow’s pension payment of $80. However Martha Harris was not receiving any money because her pension payments were being illegally withheld by local land agent J.H. Kirkham according to additional testimony from Martha Harris in 1851 and backed up by a letter sent from her attorney William Hunt. As a result Martha was in a state of destitution.

Letter from Martha Harris' attorney William Hunt in 1851 confirming that she has not received her pension payment because it is being illegally withheld. Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application W.3984
Letter from Martha Harris’ attorney William Hunt in 1851 confirming that she has not received her pension payment because it is being illegally withheld.
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application W.3984

Even back in 1844, after initially filing the pension claim, the pension office mixed up Martha’s husband Sherwood Harris with another Sherwood Harris. The other Sherwood Harris had received a bounty land grant for 228 acres and Justice of the Peace Clement Wilkins writing on Martha’s behalf had to explain that it was a different Sherwood Harris who received this land.

Justice of Peace Clement Wilkins explaining the Sherwood Harris mix up back in 1844.
Justice of the Peace Clement Wilkins explaining the Sherwood Harris mix up back in 1844. “The Sherwood Harris who received 228 acres of land for two and a half years of service since in the Continental Line from the state of North Carolina could not have been her husband such since being entirely inconsistent that said forth in her own declaration”.
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application. W.3984

As you can see, these Sherwood Harrises have been getting mixed up for quite some time. Finally in 1855, Martha Harris applied for a bounty land grant however there is no further documentation to find out what happened with that application. According to her 1855 testimony, Martha Harris was receiving $80 annually so it appears J.H. Kirkham eventually released her payments or she was issued a new payment certificate. Martha passed away in 1859.

Martha
Martha “Patsy” Harris’ household in the 1850 census for Granville County. She had been widowed for 17 years and is living with her daughter and grandchildren.
Source: 1850; Census Place: Beaver Dam, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 127A; Image: 252
Delia Harris (1843 - after 1870), granddaughter of Martha Harris. She is listed in Martha's household in the 1850 census for Granville County, listed as
Delia Harris (1843 – after 1870), granddaughter of Sherwood and Martha Harris. She is in Martha’s household in the 1850 census for Granville County, listed as “Dilly Harris” age 7. Her descendants today are part of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe
Source: Marvin Richardson. Please do not reproduce.

So who are these other Sherwood Harrises?

Two of the Sherwoods have a father/son relationship, and the third Sherwood shares an uncle/nephew and 1st cousin relationship with the previous two. Below I created family tree to better illustrate the family relationships:

Family Tree showing the Sherwood Harrises. Circles is the Sherwood Harris who was also a Revolutionary War veteran as well as a Justice of Peace.
Family Tree showing the Sherwood Harrises. Circled is the Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) who was also a Revolutionary War veteran as well as a Justice of the Peace.

Most of the genealogical information on the Sherwood Harris family tree above comes from this website. I found many trees on Ancestry that included these Sherwood Harrises, though far too many looked incorrect, had contradictory information and lacked sources. Many of these family trees also had the pension application for my Sherwood Harris attached to these three other Sherwood Harrises. What a mess! But by reviewing some additional records I was able to sort out the records for each of these Sherwoods and determine which of these other Sherwoods was also a Revolutionary War veteran.

Off the bat, I could eliminate the Sherwood Harris (1720-1763) who left a 1763 will because he pre-deceased the Revolutionary War. Several descendants of the other Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) who was also a veteran, filed applications to join Sons of the American Revolution. According to those applications, their ancestor Sherwood Harris was married to an Elizabeth Tillman/Tallman and they claimed descent through two of their sons – Daniel and William Harris. Additionally, they state that their Sherwood Harris fought under General Ashe and was also a Justice of the Peace. They also have 1805 as Sherwood’s death date.

Sons of the American Revolution application for Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) descendant Charles Harris Livingood Jr. The document provides key details about this Sherwood Harris' life and descendants.  Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
Sons of the American Revolution application for Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) descendant Charles Harris Livingood Jr. The document provides key details about this Sherwood Harris’ life and descendants.
Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
More information on Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) confirming his occupation as Justice of Peace from the Sons of the American Revolution application. Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.
More information on Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) confirming his occupation as Justice of the Peace from the Sons of the American Revolution application.
Source: Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970. Louisville, Kentucky: National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Microfilm, 508 rolls.

The 1805 death date of the veteran Sherwood Harris is consistent with the Granville County census records which show 2 white Sherwood Harris head of households for the 1800 census, and only 1 white Sherwood Harris head of household for the 1810 census. So for any researchers of this family, the white Sherwood Harris in the 1810 census is the Sherwood Harris (born 1749) who was NOT the Revolutionary War veteran, and instead was the son of Sherwood Harris Sr. and Jane Hudspeth.

Revisiting the pension application of my Sherwood Harris (1761-1833), it is clear the Pension Office incorrectly filed correspondence letters from the descendants of the other Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) veteran into his folder. The letters from these descendants provide details that are consistent with the other Sherwood Harris. Yet, the Pension Office wrote back to these descendants and provided them with the service information of my Sherwood Harris.

Letter from a Mrs. J.B. Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) requesting information about her ancestor. Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.1277
Letter from a Mrs. J.B. Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805) requesting information about her ancestor.
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.3984
Response from the Pension Office to Mrs. J.B.Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805). The office mistakenly gives her the information on my Sherwood Harris (1767-1833). Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.3984
Response from the Pension Office to Mrs. J.B.Stroud, a descendant of Sherwood Harris (1733-1805). The office mistakenly gives her the service record and pension information on my Sherwood Harris (1761-1833).
Source: NARA M804. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. W.3984

I hope this blog post will not only clear up any confusion about the many Sherwood Harrises of Granville County, but also serve as a reminder for all of us researchers to be patient and take the time to efficiently sort out and attribute records.

The Nansemond Indian Bass Family of Granville

The Bass family in Granville is one of the larger Native American families in the county. Just about all “core” surnames of the Native community in Granville have intermarried with the Basses. Thankfully, the Bass family has a very well documented tribal origin with the Nansemond tribe in Virginia. Additionally, there are Bass descendants found in several state recognized tribes in North Carolina including: Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Occaneechi-Saponi, and Lumbee.


Nansemond Tribal Origin

Untitled presentation (2)
Family Tree of the first generations of Basses. John Bass(e), a colonist, married Elizabeth, daughter of the chief of the Nansemond tribe. This blog post focuses on their grandsons Edward Bass and John Bass who moved to North Carolina. © Kianga Lucas

Much of the source material for this blog entry comes from Lars Adams’ research on the Basses. Not only is he a researcher, but he is also a descendant of the Bass family and has invested a lot of time in correcting past genealogical mistakes. I also drew from Paul Heinegg’s research on the Bass family.

The Native American branch of the British Bass family begins with the marriage in 1638 of John Bass(e) an English colonist to Elizabeth, baptized daughter of the chief of the Nansemond tribe. They are my 10th great-grandparents. Their marriage was recorded in the Bass family bible that has survived to the present. There have been incorrect transcriptions of this marriage record that falsely state that Elizabeth’s name was “Keziah Elizabeth Tucker” and that her father was “Robin the elder”. However as you can clearly read from the actual original marriage record, her name is simply “Elizabeth” and her father’s name is not mentioned at all. So if you are a Bass descendant or researcher, please check your family tree to make sure you have the correct information. Below is an image of the marriage:

Bass Family Bible transcription:
Bass Family Bible transcription:
“John Basse married ye dafter of ye King of ye Nansemond Nation by name Elizabeth in Holy Baptizm and in Holy Matrimonie ye 14th day of August in ye yeare of Our Blessed Lord 1638 Dyed 1699 A.D.”

The Nansemond tribe is an Algonquian speaking tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy from the tidewater Virginia area that is today the modern city of Suffolk. As coastal people they were impacted very early on by European colonization. Here is a map of sub-tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy:

Map of the Powhatan Confederacy. The Nansemond Tribe is circled in red. Source: Helen Rountree
Map of the Powhatan Confederacy. The Nansemond Tribe is circled in red.
Source: Helen Rountree

John Bass and Elizabeth had several children including a son named William Bass (1654-1741) who appears to be the most well documented. William Bass was married to a woman named Catherine Lanier and they continued living in the area that was then Norfolk County, VA and is today Chesapeake, VA. William Bass Sr and Catherine Lanier had the following children:

  • Edward Bass b. 19 Oct 1672
  • John Bass b. 4 Dec 1673
  • Keziah Bass b. 30 Oct 1675
  • William Bass b. 28 Oct 1676
  • Joseph Bass b. 21 Dec 1678
  • Mary Bass b. 15 Jun 1681
  • Thomas Bass b. 13 Nov 1687

Four of his sons: Edward, John, William, and Thomas are known to have had children and living descendants today. Sons William Bass Jr (1676 – 1761) and Thomas Bass (1687-?) and their descendants primarily remained in the Norfolk Co, VA area with some descendants moving a very short distance across the state line into Camden Co, NC and neighboring counties. Descendants of the Basses who remained in the Norfolk area make up the core membership of the state recognized Nansemond Tribe. These Basses commonly intermarried with other FPOC families such as: Hall, Perkins, Price, Archer, Newton, and Nickens.

On the other hand, sons Edward Bass (1672 – 1750) and John Bass (1673- 1732) relocated to North Carolina and their descendants I will document in the following sections. The descendants of both men can be found in many Native American communities throughout North Carolina, including Granville.

William Bass Sr in 1726/1727 received a certificate from the Norfolk Co, VA court stating that:

William Bass, Senr. & … his sons Wm. Bass, Thomas Bass and Joseph Bass, & spinster daughter Mary Bass are persons of English and Nansemun Indian descent with no Admixture of negor, Ethipopic blood

William’s sons Edward and John Bass are not included in this certificate because they had already relocated to North Carolina several years prior.

Later William’s son William Bass Jr (1676-1761) received a similar certificate in 1742 that read:

William Bass, the Bearer, tall, swarthy, dark eyes, weight abt. 13 stone, scar on back of left hand, is of English & Indian descent with no admixture of negro blood, numbered as a Nansemun by his own Choosing. The sd. Bass dwells in this County and hath a good name for his industry and honesty.

Clearly the Bass family early on was attempting to document and establish their Nansemond Indian identity and in the eyes of the colony, this meant also not having any “negro admixture”.

Augustus Bass sitting on the far left with other members of his family in Norfolk County, VA (modern Chesapeake). Augustus Bass is a descendant of William Bass Jr (167 ), whose family remained in Virginia.
Augustus Bass sitting on the far left with other members of his family in Norfolk County, VA (modern Chesapeake).
Augustus Bass is a descendant of William Bass Jr (1676-1761), whose family remained in Virginia.

William Bass Sr, wrote a will on 1 Oct 1740 which was proved on 17 Sep 1742 in Norfolk Co. In the will, William gives to his sons William, Edward and Thomas only one shilling each. He gave to his son Joseph Bass, his “waring cloaths” and left his land and anything else to his daughter Mary in the hopes that she salvage what is left. Clearly, William was not in good financial standing at the time of his death. Son John Bass (1673-1732) is not named in the will because he predeceased his father. This is also true for William’s daughter Keziah Bass who died in 1704.

William Bass will
This is the original handwritten will of William Bass (1654-1741). Source: Virginia, Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1983; Norfolk; Original Wills, 1693; page 427.

 

William Bass will abstract
Transcription of the will of William Bass dated 1 Oct 1740 and proved on 17 Sep 1742 in Norfolk Co, VA

Edward Bass and John Bass Move to North Carolina

From here our discussion focuses on the two brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) who moved to North Carolina. Let’s first start with Edward Bass. Edward Bass was named in his father William Bass’ 1740 will in which he only inherited one shilling. Edward’s wife was Lovewell but her maiden name has not been confirmed and so more research is needed to properly identify exactly who she is. Edward is well documented as a land owner in Norfolk County, VA (modern Chesapeake, VA) and purchased land from John Fulcher in 1699. Fulcher’s will in 1712, freed the Anderson family that would both intermarry and move with the Basses into North Carolina. You can read more about John Fulcher and the Anderson family here. Edward Bass makes numerous appearances in the Norfolk Co court records up through 1715.

By 1720, Edward Bass owned land around the Horsepool Swamp in Chowan County (modern Gates County), North Carolina. In that land transaction, he is called “Edward Bass of Norfolk County, Virginia, Parish of Elizabeth”, so we know it is our same Edward Bass. A couple of years later in 1723 he started purchasing tracts of land along Urahaw Swamp in what was then Bertie County and what is today Northampton County, NC. Fortunately, Edward left a Northampton County will which named his children.

All of Edward Bass’ children moved to Granville County and so his descendants are well represented in the Granville community. And it is important to note that Edward Bass’ children and descendants intermarried quite frequently with the freed Anderson family, so much so, that it’s nearly impossible to separate the two families. Though all of Edward Bass’ children inherited a parcel of his Northampton Co. land, they all eventually sold off their shares when they moved to Granville Co. Edward’s son Benjamin Bass (1722-1802) still owned a parcel of his father’s Northampton Co land in 1784, when he and his wife Mary eventually sold it off. Once Edward Bass’ children arrived in Granville, they became neighbors and intermarried with the already established Chavis, Harris, Pettiford, Hawley, Goins, and Mitchell families and became apart of the community.

 

The descendants of Edward Bass’ brother John Bass (1673-1732) are also among the Granville Native Americans, but they are not as numerous as Edward’s. John Bass was first married to Love Harris. A record of their marriage still exists:

John Bass and Love Harris marriage recorded in Perquimans County, NC. “John BAS and Love HARRIS was Married ye 8th day of Janewary 1696 both of Nanse Mum County and Nanse Mum Parresh by Mager Samuel SWANN Esqr.”
John Bass and Love Harris marriage recorded in Perquimans County, NC.
“John BAS and Love HARRIS was Married ye 8th day of Janewary 1696 both of Nanse Mum County and Nanse Mum Parresh by Mager Samuel SWANN Esqr.”

As researcher Lars Adams point out, despite John Bass and Love Harris both being residents of Nansemond County, VA they married in North Carolina. John Bass was Indian and Love Harris was white and during this time, VA passed strict laws forbidding interracial marriages. So they likely married in North Carolina where the laws were more lenient.

John Bass purchased land that adjoined his brother Edward Bass’ land in Horsepool Swamp in Chowan Co (now Gates Co), NC in 1720/1721. This shows the two brothers moved together and remained close in North Carolina. And just like his brother Edward, John Bass accumulated a lot of land that adjoined his brother’s along Urahaw Swamp in what was then Bertie County, and now Northampton County starting in the early 1720s. John Bass died young in 1732. Fortunately he also left a Northampton County will which divided his Urahaw Swamp land among his children.

It should be noted that John Bass’ will makes mention of his widow Mary, and in it, John leaves his plantation to her as gift for “bringing up my small children”. Since we have an earlier marriage record for John Bass to Love Harris, this would mean that Love died sometime earlier, and John Bass remarried Mary. The will seems to indicate that Mary helped raise the children that John Bass had with his previous wife. The will also confirms that Edward Bass and John Bass were siblings because in it, John Bass refers to his own land as being adjacent to his brother Edward Bass.

Some of John Bass’ children remained in Northampton County and neighboring/nearby counties including Bertie, Edgecombe, Nash and Halifax. Other children moved to other parts of the state. For example, John Bass’ grandson Frederick Bass (b. 1750)  moved to Anson Co and some his descendants can be found among the Lumbee Tribe in Robeson Co.

Several of John Bass’ children did join Edward Bass’ children in their relocation to Granville Co. They were Sarah Bass b. 1704, William Bass b. 1712, and Lovey Bass b. 1720. Sarah Bass b. 1704 was the wife of Lewis Anderson (1713-1785), of the freed Anderson family of Norfolk Co, so that explains why she moved to Granville. Lovey Bass b. 1712 was not married but had a partner named George Anderson (1696-1771) who was also of the Anderson family. The wife of William Bass b. 1712  is unknown but I wonder if she was also an Anderson. Just like Edward Bass’ children, John Bass’ children who moved to Granville married into and became a part of the Native community.

****Mary Bass (1757-1844) and her husband  Benjamin Richardson (1750-1809) are my 5th great-grandparents and are the main progenitors of the state recognized Haliwa-Saponi tribe. It had been assumed that Mary Bass was the same Mary Bass who was the daughter of Thomas Bass and Thomasine Bunch of Bertie Co. Thomas Bass was a grandson of John Bass (1673-1732). However I no longer believe this to be true. A closer examination of the records as well as DNA cousin matches, shows Mary Bass to have a closer relationship with the Edward Bass (1672-1750) branch of the Bass family. Specifically, I’m looking into Mary Bass being the daughter of either Benjamin Bass (1722-1802) or perhaps Edward Bass Jr (1728-1800) of Granville Co. Both men were sons of Edward Bass (1672-1750). I will update this blog post when I can confirm my research. Please check back again later. ****

This map shows the movement of brothers Edward and John Bass from their Nansemond homeland in Virginia to North Carolina. All of Edward Bass' children and three of John Bass' children moved and settled in Granville County by the 1750s. © Kianga Lucas
This map shows the movement of brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) from their Nansemond homeland in Virginia to North Carolina. This map shows that the brothers moved together from Norfolk, to Horspool Swamp, and then to Urahaw Swamp together. All of Edward Bass’ children and three of John Bass’ children moved and settled in Granville County by the 1750s.
© Kianga Lucas

 


A Closer Look at Urahaw Swamp and Neighboring Tribes

The fact that brothers Edward Bass and John Bass moved to North Carolina at the same time and bought adjoining land deserves further examination. The Urahaw Swamp land that was first purchased in 1722/1723 is of particular interest because Bartholomew Chavis (1685-1750) also owned land along Urahaw Swamp. Bartholomew was the father of original Granville County land owner William Chavis (1709-1777) whose large land tract provided the land base for the Native American community in Granville. The earliest records for Bartholomew are found in Henrico and Surry County, VA. By 1719/1720 he was living in North Carolina and started purchasing land along Urahaw Swamp just 2-3 years before the Bass brothers purchased land there.

Map of the southern portion of Northampton County, NC. I circled Urahaw Swamp which runs off of Potecasi Creek which I also circled. Potcesai Creek enters Northampton from the eastern border with Hertford. Urahaw Swamp breaks off from Potecasi and runs westward an ends on the northern side of the Roanake River along the Halifax County border. Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/8072/rec/18
Map of the southern portion of Northampton County, NC. I circled Urahaw Swamp which runs off of Potecasi Creek which I also circled. Potecasi Creek enters Northampton from the eastern border with Hertford. Urahaw Swamp breaks off from Potecasi and runs westward and ends on the northern side of the Roanake River along the Halifax County border.
Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/8072/rec/18

The Gibson family is another Native American family who are relevant to this discussion. William Chavis’ wife was Frances Gibson. Her brother John Gibson who lived nearby, was a witness to a 1728 land purchase along Urahaw Swamp by Edward Bass (1672-1750). Two of John Gibson’s sons – George Gibson and Charles Gibson moved to Granville in 1750 but this was the far southwestern part of the county that just two years later became Orange County. George and Charles Gibson did not stay in Orange County for along and moved around quite a bit with their descendants eventually leaving the state. William Chavis (1709-1777) also owned some land in Orange County and perhaps that is connected to George and Charles Gibson’s temporary residence there. Despite inheriting his father’s Northampton County land along the Roanake River in 1750, William Chavis (1709-1777) continued to live in Granville County. William even continued to have additional land transactions in Northampton County but Granville was his primary residence as indicated in tax records. So with William Chavis being the first from Urahaw Swamp to relocate to Granville, it appears the Bass/Anderson family followed him.

I find it interesting that a Nottoway Indian named George Skipper b. 1685 was documented through land transactions, living along Urahaw Swamp in the 1720s (See Heinegg here). This is the exact same time that the Chavis, Gibson, Bass, and Anderson families lived along Urahaw Swamp. And when we take a look at the Moseley map of 1733, we see both the Meherrin and the Nansemond Indians living in close proximity to Urahaw Swamp in Northampton Co. The Nottoway and Meherrin are part of the same Iroquois speaking confederacy. And some of the Nansemond lived with the Nottoway. This was an area where a number of tribes took refuge with one another, and this historical context is important for understanding Urahaw Swamp and the cluster of mixed race Native American families who resided there.

Mosely Map 1733
Zoomed in portion of the Moseley Map of 1733. Urahaw Swamp is shown west of the Nansemond and Meherrin tribes which are circled. Source: http://ncpedia.org/moseley-manuscript-map

 

So why did some Nansemond Indians leave VA and head into Iroquois/Tuscarora and Saponi territory and ultimately end up marrying into both tribes? The Basses belonged to the so-called “Christianized-Nansemond” as explained by scholar Helen Rountree, and they were never granted a reservation like other Powhatan tribes (Pamunkey, Mattaponi, Gingaskin, etc). The “traditional” Nansemond did live on a reservation in Southampton County and lived with the Nottoway Tribe. By 1792 they sold off their remaining reservation land.

Map showing the location of the
Map showing the location of the “Christianized Nansemond” that the Bass family belonged to.
Source: Helen Rountree

Without a bordered, recognized land base, it seems the Basses were pushed out of VA as a result of encroachment by European colonists. North Carolina at that time was still the “frontier” and that is where the Basses decided to make their home. The Basses were not the only family from a Powhatan tribe that made this journey. I suspect a number of Native American families from North Carolina that have tidewater Virginia roots were Powhatan tribal people who were pushed out and ended up marrying into other tribal communities.


The Basses from Granville County

So to summarize: all of the children of Edward Bass (1672-1750) and three of the children of John Bass (1673-1732) relocated to Granville County. Edward Bass and John Bass were brothers, and the grandsons of John Bass(e) an English colonist and his Nansemond Indian wife Elizabeth.

The Bass family continued living and thriving in Granville County as can be seen from census records. In 1800, there were 14 Bass heads of households, in 1810: 10 heads of household, in 1820: 7 heads of household, in 1830: 6 heads of household, and in 1840: 6 heads of household. In the 1850 census where every household member is named for the first time, there were approximately 24 Basses in Granville, and in 1860 there were approximately 25 Basses in Granville. By the 1940 census which is the last publicly available census, there were approximately 100 Basses in Granville. These numbers of course do not reflect female Basses whose names changed due to marriage, nor their descendants.

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Family Tree showing the immediate family of Benjamin Bass (1722-1802), great-grandson of John Bass(e) and Elizabeth the Nansemond. Because neither a will or estate records have been located for Benjamin Bass, there are unanswered questions as to how many children he had. In addition, numerous children were bound out to Benjamin Bass. © Kianga Lucas
Untitled presentation
Family Tree showing the immediate family of Edward Bass Jr (1728-1800), great-grandson of John Bass(e) and Elizabeth the Nansemond. Edward Bass left a will which named his children. In the Granville tax lists, he is consistently shown with his wife Tamer so I feel confident that she was the mother to all of his children. © Kianga Lucas

Two of Edward Bass’ sons: Benjamin Bass (b. 1722) and Edward Bass Jr (b. 1728) are primarily responsible for the large number of Basses in Granville Co as well as those who continued to head further west into Person, Orange, Caswell, Alamance, Chatham, and Guilford Counties, so you will find a high number of their living descendants today.

Alonzo Bass (1859-1941). Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Alonzo Bass (1859-1941). Son of William Bass and Sarah Evans. 
Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
William Brammer Bass (1874-1962) Source: Ancestry, User: Derika73
William Brammer Bass (1874-1962). Son of William Bass and Sarah Evans
Source: Ancestry, User: Derika73
Garland Bryant Bass (1879-1935). Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Garland Bryant Bass (1879-1935). Son of William Bass and Sarah Evans
Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby

The Bass lineage of the three brothers pictured above:

William Bass; Cullen Bass; Prudence Bass; Edward Bass Jr; Edward Bass Sr; William Bass Sr; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief.

Not only do the three Bass brothers descend from the Bass family, they are descendants of the Granville County Evans, Anderson, Day, and Mayo families. This particular branch of the Bass family moved around neighboring Granville, Person, and Orange counties.

Alonzo Bass’ grandson Joel Bass (1929-2012) was former chief of the Eno-Occaneechi Tribe (precursor to the state recognized Occaneechi-Saponi tribe). On Joel’s mother’s side he is descended from the Granville County Day, Stewart, Cousins and yes the Bass family again from the Edward Bass Sr line.

Joel Bass (1929-2012). Son of Buck Bass and Minnie Day. Source: Richard Haithcock
Joel Bass (1929-2012). Son of Buck Bass and Minnie Day and grandson of Alonzo Bass pictured above.
Source: Richard Haithcock
Joel Bass as a young man. Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Joel Bass as a young man.
Source: Ancestry, User: randymaultsby
Alford Pettiford born 1877 Resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, NC. Son of James Pettiford and Frances Brandon. Source: Ancestry, Username: rdaye
Alford Pettiford born 1877
Resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, NC.
His parents were James Pettiford and Frances Brandon.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rdaye

Alford Pettiford is another Bass descendant and in fact has multiple Bass lines that trace back to both brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732).  One of his Bass lineages is as follows:

Alford Pettiford; James Pettiford; William Pettiford; Dicey Bass; Nathan Bass; Lovey Bass; John Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief.

Cappie Frances Anderson (1882-1947). Cappie was a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, North Carolina. Her parents were James Anderson and Emma Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: rdaye
Cappie Frances Anderson (1882-1947). Cappie was a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County, North Carolina. Her parents were James Anderson and Emma Taborn.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rdaye

Cappie Frances Anderson also has multiple Bass lineages going back to both brothers Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732). One of her Bass lineages is as follows:

Cappie Anderson; James Anderson; Winnie Anderson; Henry Anderson; Rhody Anderson; Winnie Bass; Benjamin Bass; Edward Bass; William Bass; John Bass(e) the English colonist and Elizabeth daughter of the Nansemond chief.

Geography of Granville County and Regional Native American Sites

In this post, I’m going to discuss the geography of Granville County that will help illustrate the settlement of the Native American community.

The Great Trading Path also known as the Occaneechi Path was a Native American road that began in Petersburg, VA and on some accounts ended with the Catawba Nation on the South Carolina/North Carolina border just below Charlotte and in other accounts, terminated in Augusta, GA. In the area surrounding Petersburg, lived numerous Indian traders and this path gave them direct trading access to tribes. The Great Trading Path cuts right through Granville County, entering Northeast from neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA and exiting through the Southwest to neighboring Durham County. Not only was it beneficial for Indian traders to live on the path, but it was also necessary for tribes to live close to or have access to this path. Col. William Eaton (1690-1759) who I have mentioned in previous blog posts was an Indian trader from Prince George Co, VA who moved to Granville County by the 1740s. Both of Eaton’s residences were along the Great Trading Path and it explains why a group of Saponi Indians were living next to his land in Granville in the 1750s. This means the origins of the Native American community in Granville are very much tied into this trade relationship between the colonists and local tribes and it explains why that specific location became the land base for the community.

The path labeled number 10 on this map is the Great Trading Path. Source: http://ncpedia.org/indian-trading-paths
The path labeled number 10 on this map is the Great Trading Path.
Source: http://ncpedia.org/indian-trading-paths
Another map of the Great Trading Path that includes county borders. You can see how the path enters and exits Granville County. Source: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Occaneechi_Path
Another map of the Great Trading Path that includes county borders. You can see how the path enters and exits Granville County.
Source: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Occaneechi_Path

Granville County was originally created in 1746 from Edgecombe County. Previously, the entire northern half is what was then the Carolina Colony was claimed by John Cateret, 2nd Earl Granville (1690-1763) and became known as Granville District.

Map showing the upper half of the Carolina Colony known as Granville District. Source: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-colonial/2040
Map showing the upper half of the Carolina Colony known as Granville District.
Source: http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/nchist-colonial/2040

Originally, “Old” Granville County included the land that is today known as Granville, Vance, Warren, and Franklin Counties. This changed in 1764, when the areas known today as Warren and Franklin Counties were split from Granville to form Bute County (a short lived County, that quickly split into modern Warren and Franklin Counties in 1779). Finally in 1881, the eastern section of Granville that included the Kittrell, Henderson, and Townesville/Nutbush townships was separated to form newly created Vance County.

Map of
Map of “Old” Granville County which includes the modern counties of Vance, Warren, and Franklin. Dates along the modern county borders in the map explain the divisions.
Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/ncmaps/id/3569
Map of Granville County in 1880, just one year before Kittrell, Henderson, and Townesville were separated to form Vance County. Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/654/rec/8
Map of Granville County in 1880, just one year before Kittrell, Henderson, and Townesville were separated to form Vance County.
Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/654/rec/8

In addition to old Indian Trading Paths, being familiar with the local rivers and creeks is vital to understanding Native peoples’ relationship to Granville County’s geography. The Tar River cuts right through the middle of the county, the Neuse River forms the southern border of the county, and the Roanake River occasionally touches Granville County’s northern border with Mecklenburg County. The Tar, Neuse, and Roanake are major waterways that local Natives have used since before European colonization.

The land base for the Native American community in Granville, is mostly concentrated off of Fishing Creek and Tabbs Creek which run north off of the Tar River. Founding community member William Chavis (1709-1778), originally owned a continuous land tract that stretched all the way from Lynch Creek to Fishing Creek along the Tar River and went 5 miles north inland. In this map, you can see The Great Trading Path labeled “Trading Road”. Buffalo once inhabited in this region, and “Buffalo Creek” off of the Tar River along with many other local buffalo name places, reflect this history. The buffalo is also what originally brought the Eastern Siouan speaking Saponi into this region.

Map of Granville County's waterways Source: http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncgranville/other/gran-landmarks.pdf
Map of Granville County’s waterways
Source: http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncgranville/other/gran-landmarks.pdf

When reviewing census data for Granville County, it’s helpful to know exactly what section of the county you are looking at. The following map displays the census designated areas of Granville County. Also note in northwestern Granville in the township of Oak Hill, is “Bearskin Creek” named after Saponi guide Ned Bearskin who accompanied William Byrd II on the Diving Line in 1728.

Census Designated Areas of Granville County Source: http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncgranville/other/gran-landmarks.pdf
Census Designated Areas of Granville County
Source: http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncgranville/other/gran-landmarks.pdf

Finally, I made a map of Northeastern North Carolina and Southside Virginia showing current Native American communities, former reservation land, and other important sites. The very close proximity of the sites to one another and to the Native American community in Granville County, demonstrate the interconnectedness of indigenous peoples living in this region.

Map of Northeastern North Carolina and Southside Virginia Native American sites © Kianga Lucas
Map of Northeastern North Carolina and Southside Virginia Native American sites
© Kianga Lucas
Key to the Map © Kianga Lucas
Key to the Map
© Kianga Lucas

Identifying the Saponi Indians living next to Col. William Eaton

The Native American community in Granville County was very much a community, and not a place where unconnected random Native peoples settled. It was/is very much a thriving, connected community of very closely related families that have been intermarrying with one another since at least the early/mid 1700s.

There is probably no better way to demonstrate this, than to identify the group of Saponi Indians that were documented living in Granville County next to Col William Eaton. In the previous blog post, I listed several sources from the mid 1700s that placed a group of Saponi families living next to Eaton. It is from this group of original settlers that the Native community in Granville traces its roots to. But who exactly were these early families and how can we identify them?

Here are a few things we can learn about the group of Saponi Indians from the colonial reports:

  • they were free and not enslaved
  • they lived next to Col. William Eaton’s land
  • they enlisted in Eaton’s regiment in 1754
  • they are documented living in Granville County in 1754, 1755, and 1761
  • they were not “white” (this may seem rather obvious, but indigenous peoples have been racially mislabeled since colonization)
  • there were approximately 14-20 “fighting men” meaning healthy adult males and there was an equal number of women and children.

By examining the list of Eaton’s regiment, tax lists, and land deeds I was able to come up with a list of men who were the Saponi in Granville County. Unless noted otherwise, all the men that I researched were “free people of color” a term applied to all free non-whites living in the Southeast including Native Americans. Researcher Roberta Estes of the Native Heritage Project previously blogged about Eaton’s regiment and made an attempt to identify the Saponi Indians living in Granville.

Researcher Steven Pony Hill also observed a connection between the multiple colonial reports of Saponi Indians in Granville in connection with specific surnames:

A 1761 report counted 20 Saponi warriors in the area of Granville County, NC and this corresponds to the “Mulatto, Mustee or Indian” taxation in Granville of such families as Anderson, Jeffries, Davis, Chavis, Going, Bass, Harris, Brewer, Bunch, Griffin, Pettiford, Evans, and others in the 1760’s.

Source: http://sciway3.net/clark/freemoors/CHAPTER1colonial.htm

Beginning in the 1960s, a Cherokee anthropologist named Robert K. Thomas began conducting research in several Native American communities in North Carolina. In his “A Report on Research of Lumbee Origins”, Thomas makes the following observation about Native Americans in Granville:

Another band of Saponi appears to have gone, in 1743, to Granville Co., NC to live on the land of Colonel John Eaton, a very famous Indian fighter originally from Virginia, and a man who had traded with the Catawba and spoke the Saponi language. They lived there from 1743, according to local historians, to the 1760s. Then according to one local historian, they disappeared by “marrying with other races.”

Source: http://jackgoins.blogspot.com/2015/05/report-on-lumbee-indians-by-robert.html

Thomas mistakenly calls Col. William Eaton “John Eaton”. The Chavis, Evans, Bass, Kersey, Harris, Scott, and Goins families are among the many shared direct blood lines between the Native Americans in Granville County and the Native Americans in Robeson County (including the Lumbee Tribe and Tuscarora Nation).

Finally, in support of the Lumbee Tribe’s federal recognition, Wesley White also wrote up a report on the Saponi Indians in Granville who lived next to Col. William Eaton. Through similar research methods, White also showed a connection between William Chavis, an original Granville County land owner and Col. William Eaton:

Map of Granville County showing Col. William Eaton's tracts of land next to William Chavis'. This map does not represent the total of Chavis' land holdings which were most much extensive. From Wes White's
Map of Granville County showing Col. William Eaton’s tracts of land next to William Chavis’. This map does not represent the total of Chavis’ land holdings which were much more extensive and continuous. Source: Wes White’s “Saponi Report”. 1985

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Here is my list:

1. William Chavis Sr. (1709 – 1778). William was an original Granville County land owner and owned a substantial amount of land that would form the land base for the Native community. This land bordered Eaton’s as shown in the above map. William also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. William Chavis will be the subject of a much longer dedicated blog post. (Note: William Chavis is my 7th great-grandfather).

2. William Chavis Jr (1741 – ?). Son of William Chavis Sr and Frances Gibson. William Jr also served in Eaton’s regiment and inherited a parcel of his father’s land.

3. Gibson/Gilbert Chavis (1737-1777). Son of William Chavis Sr. and Frances Gibson. Alternately called Gibson and Gilbert in the records, Gibson also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment and inherited a parcel of his father’s land. Gibson was also the namesake of “Gibbs Creek” which runs off of the Tar River and was part of William Chavis Sr’s original tract of land.

4. Edward Harris (1730 – 1780s). Son-in-law of William Chavis Sr by marriage to his daughter Sarah Chavis. William Chavis gave his daughter Sarah Chavis-Harris a parcel of land that Edward Harris was subsequently taxed on. Edward also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. The Harris family from the state recognized Haliwa-Saponi tribe in Holliser, descend from Edward Harris. (Note: Edward Harris is my 6th great-grandfather).

5. Joseph Hawley (1725 – after 1791). Brother-in-law of Edward Harris by his marriage to Edward’s sister Martha Harris. Joseph’s land was adjacent to William Chavis’ and he first appears in the Granville County tax lists in 1750. Joseph also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. The Holley/Hawley family of the state recognized Haliwa-Saponi tribe of Hollister, descend from Joseph Hawley.

6. William Bass (1712 – ?). William is documented in Granville County as early as 1749 and taxed in Granville throughout the 1750s and 1760s. He also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. William is a documented great-grandson of John Bass(e) an English colonist and his Nansemond Indian wife Elizabeth. (There will be a blog post dedicated to the Nansemond descended Bass family who are one of the largest Native families in Granville). The Nansemond Basses who moved from the Tidewater area of Virginia into North Carolina, married into and became apart of local tribes including the Tuscarora and Saponi.

7. Lewis Anderson (1713-1785). Lewis was the brother-in-law of William Bass by his marriage to William’s sister Sarah Bass. Lewis first appears in Granville County records in 1749 and was counted in the tax lists until his death. He also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment.

8. George Anderson (1696-1771). George’s wife is unknown aside from her first name Mary. She could very well have been a member of the Bass family because the Bass and Andersons moved together from Norfolk, VA to Granville County by the mid 1700s. George is also a relative of Lewis Anderson. George first appears in the Granville records in 1746 and he enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. George’s mistress Lovey Bass with whom he fathered a child, was the sister of William Bass and the sister-in-law of Lewis Anderson. George’s daughter Catherine Anderson was a sister-in-law of Edward Harris through her marriage to Edward’s brother George Harris.

9. Lawrence Pettiford (1732 – after 1790) Lawrence first appears in the Granville records when he enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. He is also found consistently in the Granville tax records beginning in the 1750s. Lawrence’s wife was Mary but her maiden name is unknown. She was previously married to a member of the Mitchell family (a Native American/”free colored” family from Granville that did not enlist in Eaton’s regiment). Given the very close relationship between the Pettiford and Bass families who have been intermarrying for centuries, Mary may have been a Bass. Lawrence also had a couple of land transactions with members of the Bass family, including Nathan Bass – son of the previously mentioned Lovey Bass and George Anderson.

10. George Pettiford (1736 – ?) George was a brother to Lawrence Pettiford. Like his brother Lawrence, George enlisted in Eaton’s regiment and is found in the tax record beginning in the 1750s.

11. Michael Gowen (1722 – ?) Michael enlisted in Eaton’s regiment and starts appearing in the Granville tax lists in 1750. He owned land off of Taylor’s Creek which falls within the original William Chavis land holding. Michael moved out of state to South Carolina towards the end of his life.

12. Edward Gowen (1727 – after 1810) Edward was a brother of Michael Gowen and also enlisted in Eaton’s regiment and appears in the tax lists beginning in the 1750s. Edward lived on Michael’s property off of Taylor’s Creek and remained in Granville County as did many of his children.

13. Thomas Gowen (1732 – 1797) Thomas was a cousin to Michael and Edward. He enlisted in Eaton’s regiment and was counted in the tax lists starting in the 1750s. Towards the end of his life, he and his children relocated to Montgomery Couty, NC.

The above 13 men have the best documentation to show that they were part of the Saponi Indians living in Granville County.

The following men were also most likely counted among the group of Saponi but I have some questions or need further documentation.

14. William Gowen (1710 – ?) William was a cousin to Edward, Michael, and Thomas Gowen. He enlisted in Eaton’s regiment and was in the tax lists beginning in the 1750s. Unlike his cousins, William was taxed as “white” in every Granville record and including his enlistment in Eaton’s regiment. Though Native Americans in the South were most commonly documented as “Free colored”, they were also occasionally documented as “white” (especially if there was a lot of recent mixed in European ancestry). However the fact that William consistently was recorded as white in Granville records, despite coming from a family that was not white, raises a lot of questions as to wether he was counted among the Saponi (who were clearly not being recorded as white at that time). William and his children relocated to South Carolina towards the later years of his life.

15. Robert Davis (1717 – ?). Robert first appears in the tax lists in the 1750s and enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. His wife is unknown. There were a couple more generations of Davises  in Granville after Robert but the family was not large at all and did not leave many descendants. Because of this shortage of information along with no known parentage or siblings for Robert, I’m not sure if he was among the Saponi.

16. Lewis Pettiford (1734 – after 1794). Lewis was a brother to the already named George and Lawrence Pettiford, though unlike his brothers, he did not enlist in Eaton’s regiment. However he appears in the Granville tax lists beginning in 1758 – a couple of years after his brothers first appear in the tax lists. Perhaps this is why he did not enlist in Eaton’s regiment – he was not fully of adult age. His birth year is also an approximation and perhaps he was really a few years younger.

17. William Hawley (1728 – ?). William was a brother to the already named Joseph Hawley. He first appears in the Granville County tax lists in the 1750s but not consistently as it appears he relocated to South Carolina and then moved back and forth between the two locations. He also did not enlist in Eaton’s regiment. He was married to Amy Scott of South Carolina who was a relative of “King Hagler” of the Catawba Indians in South Carolina. The Saponi and Catawba are very closely related tribes, both part of the Eastern Siouan language group. During the 1730s and 1740s, groups of Saponi sought refuge with the Catawba and then would return back to Saponi homelands. The back and forth movement of William Hawley along with family ties to the Catawba’s King Hagler, suggests that he was part of this movement of Saponi.

18. Gideon Bunch (1713 – ?). The Bunch family is a “free colored” family going back to the early 1600s in Virginia and have extensively married into many Native families. He inconsistently  appears in the Granville County tax lists in the 1750s and 1760s and did not enlist in Eaton’s regiment. Tax and land records place him moving about in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. His later years were in South Carolina.

19. Richard Chavis (1724 – 1766) Richard was likely a brother of the previously named William Chavis Sr though I’d like to see additional records confirming their relationship. Richard is found in the tax lists beginning in the 1750s and in the 1760s. He did not enlist in Eaton’s regiment. Richard’s daughter Milly Chavis was married to Edward Silver. Interestingly, Edward purchased land from William Chavis Jr (part of the original William Chavis tract). Edward and Milly Silver are the progenitors of the Silver family found in the state recognized Haliwa-Saponi tribe in Hollister.

So I counted 19 men, 13 of whom I’m very confident identifying as the Saponi who lived next to and enlisted in Eaton’s regiment. According to the colonial records, there was anywhere from 14 – 20 Saponi men in Granville and the list that I created seems to fit that count. I would also venture to say that this was a conservative count and that there likely were more Native adult males in Granville County during this time. Furthermore, all of the men that I have confidently identified are all very closely related by both blood and marriage, indicating a shared heritage and identity. These families would more or less remain in the same area and continue mostly intermarrying with one another well into the 20th century. These early settlers laid the foundation for my tribal community. Many of the sons of these founding members would take up arms with the colonists against the British in the uprising known as the American Revolution. In the decades immediately preceding and following the Revolutionary War, additional Saponi as well as Tuscarora families with following surnames: Evans, Kersey, Brandon, Guy, Taborn, Tyler, Mitchell, Boon(e), Parker, Hedgepeth, Richardson, Howell, Scott and many more would join this settlement adding to the rich indigenous heritage of this community.

Colonial Records of Saponi Indians in Granville County

Throughout history, Granville County was occupied by both Saponi and Tuscarora peoples at various times. However, the last time the government officially identified the Native Americans of Granville County by a tribe, they identified the people as “Saponi”. This is not to imply that the only Saponi people left in North Carolina lived only in Granville Co nor do I mean to imply that all the Native peoples in Granville Co were Saponi. But rather, the last time the colonial or federal government officially acknowledged a relationship with Saponi people, was in Granville County in the mid 1700s.

These records are important because they document that Saponi people still existed as a distinct tribe after the closing of Fort Christanna in 1718 and the removal of some Saponi/Tutelo to upstate NY. It also demonstrates that the Saponi were still considered a distinct tribe after the formation of the Indian Woods reservation in 1717 in nearby Bertie Co for the neutral Northern Town Tuscarora.

These records are also significant because they demonstrate a very close relationship between the Saponi people in Granville County and an Indian trader named Col. William Eaton (1690-1759). These details are key and will be discussed at length in future blog posts about William Chavis and the other Saponi Indians who lived next to Eaton.

In 1754, in a “Report concerning the militia in each county of North Carolina”, we see:

Granville—Willm Eaton Esqr Coll: of Granville county His Regimt consists of 8 companys 734 besides officers 2 Captns Simms & Jones are moved away the others Resigned He thinks the fines on delinquents should be fixed by a Court Martial. No arms or ammunition in the Stores.

There are about 12 or 14 Sapona men and as many women & children in the county

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr05-0072

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Also in 1754, in “Muster roll for William Hurst’s company for the Granville County Militia”, we see that Hurst writes:

A small number of Saq. Indians living on the lands of Colonel Wm. Eaton in Granville.

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr22-0109

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In 1755, in a “Report concerning the number of Native Americans in North Carolina”, we see:

Granville County:  The Saponas about 14 Men & 14 Women Children. Total = 28.

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr05-0089 

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Also in 1755, we have another report of Saponi Indians. It does not specify the location but it again demonstrates the Saponi are a separate people who have a trade relationship with the colony.

In a “Report by the Committee of both Houses of the North Carolina General Assembly concerning public claims”, we see:

Mr. Spaight produced a further claim of £39.11.6, expended in presents to the Catawba and Sapona Indians in March last. As to this last claim, the Committee proposes the House should come to a resolution thereon. Allowed by the house

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr22-0635

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And finally in 1761 in a “Report by Arthur Dobbs concerning general conditions in North Carolina”, we see:

The only Tribes or remains of Tribes of Indians residing in this Province are the Tuskerora Sapona Meherin and Maramuskito Indians. The Tuskerora have about 100 fighting men the Saponas and Meherrin Indians about 20 each and the Maramuskitos about 7 or 8. the first 3 are situated in the Middle of the Colony upon and near Roanoak and have by Law 10,000 acres of Land allotted to them in Lord Granvilles District they live chiefly by hunting and are in perfect friendship with the Inhabitants

Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr06-0167

From this last passage we learn that the neutral Tuscarora, along with the Meherrin and Saponi are still living in the Northeastern part of the state. And despite living with or near one another, they are still separate tribes.

This is the last primary source reference I can find for Saponi people in North Carolina until the modern era.

Col. William Eaton's home shown in a historical map of Granville County. To view a full version of the map: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/3569
Col. William Eaton’s home shown in a historical map of Granville County.
To view a full version of the map: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/3569

Family Surnames for Granville County Native Americans

Welcome! The following is a list of surnames of closely related Native American families of Granville County. Please note that all the families are “free people of color”, meaning they were not enslaved and generally not recorded as “white”.

It is these families that most of the content of this blog is about. I have documentation on all of these families, so if you believe you are also researching the same families, please do get in touch.

Anderson

Bass

Boon(e)

Boswell/Baswell/Braswell

Brandon

Chavis/Chavers

Cousins

Curtis

Day(e)

Evans

Goins/Gowen

Guy

Harris

Hawley

Hedgepeth

Howell

Jones

Kersey

Locklear

Mayo

Mitchell

Parker

Pettiford

Richardson

Scott

Stewart

Taborn

Tyler