I thought long and hard before making this blog post because I find no joy or satisfaction in doing this. However, I must protect my reputation as well as the integrity of the community I come from.
A woman named Tria Robinson continues to falsely claim that she descends from William Chavis (1709-1777) and his wife Frances Gibson (1700-1780). Specifically she claims to descend from their daughter Keziah Chavis (b. 1742) who was the wife of Asa Tyner. Tria has used this well known Native American family to gain friends and “family” throughout North Carolina’s “Indian Country”. This is not a case of a researcher innocently mistaking the identities of different people in the historical record. In spite of being informed by numerous genealogists that she does not descend from William Chavis (1709-1777) and Frances Gibson (1700-1780), she continues to commit this fraud which is why I must speak out. This ongoing fraud entails Tria using photographs and genealogy from this blog to substantiate her claims. Tria has even gone as far as to use personal photographs of myself from my Facebook page and post them on her timeline to claim me as a “cousin”. I have never been Facebook friends with Tria Robinson. She blocked me last year after she initiated contact with me through messenger to ask about the Chavis family. After I told her the information she had was incorrect she blocked me so I have no way to directly contact her.
Let me be very clear, I do not know Tria Robinson in real life and don’t know anything about her personally. The only reason I am forced to make this blog post is because she has initiated a fraud that involves using some of my family history. And by using information and images from this blog, she is by default attempting to implicate me in her deceit.
So in the following sections, I will present to you facts about Tria Robinson’s fraudulent claims. I have blurred out her face in photos because this is not a personal attack against her or what she looks like. And in order to protect the identities of people who have contacted me about Tria Robinson, I have also blocked their names and photos.
Keziah Chavis, daughter of William Chavis and Frances Gibson
Tria Robinson claims descent from William Chavis and Frances Gibson’s daughter named Keziah Chavis, born about 1742. I have referenced William Chavis and Frances Gibson many times in previous blog posts because they are the “founders” of the Native American community in Granville Co and owned a substantial amount of land that formed the base of the community. William Chavis and Frances Gibson were also my 7th great-grandparents. Furthermore, they are the direct ancestors of the Chavis family found within the Lumbee Tribe and the Tuscarora of Robeson Co, NC. So let’s first take a look at what is known about Keziah Chavis. She was listed as a tithable in her father’s Granville County household in 1754, 1761, and 1764. By 1765, Keziah Chavis had married Asa Tyner. As researcher Paul Heinegg notes:
The marriage of Asa Tyner and Keziah Chavis was further confirmed by a 3 September 1767 letter from Anthony Armistead of Northampton County to Col. Samuel Benton, Clerk of Granville County. Armistead wrote, “Mathew Ran … is got with old William Chavers, or one Asa Tiner that Married his daughter… Whether old Chavers Lives in Granville or Bute County, I can’t tell… [CR 44.928.8 by NCGSJ XI:35].
I also found in William Chavis’ estate papers, a deposition about the marriage contract between William Chavis and his son-in-law Asa Tyner which provides additional proof that Keziah Chavis was married to Asa Tyner in 1765:
Asa Tyner also famously was involved in a number legal disputes with his father in law William Chavis in neighboring Bute County (Warren and Franklin Counties) in the 1770s. Asa Tyner and his wife Keziah sold property adjoining William Chavis’ and Asa Tyner was a buyer at William Chavis’ estate. This is all ample and direct evidence that shows that William Chavis’ daughter Keziah Chavis was married to Asa Tyner. So if anyone was to claim descent through Keziah Chavis, they would directly descend through her children with Asa Tyner.
The last verified records for Asa Tyner are when he enlisted in the Continental Army on September 3, 1778. He must have died sometime before 1800 because his widow Keziah (Chavis) Tyner is listed as a head of household in the 1800 census for Granville County:
Though it does not appear Asa Tyner left a will that named his heirs, his children and descendants can be identified in the Granville County records. Also 1800, is the last time Keziah appears in the census, so she died some short time after 1800. There were no other Tyners living in the area except for Asa Tyner, so we know any “free colored” Tyners who appear in the Granville records descend from him.
Asa Tyner and Keziah Chavis were married in 1765, so their children were born starting around 1765 and onward. And we do find Tyners in the records that match the ages of Asa and Keziah’s children. They continued marrying other Native American families in the community such as Pettiford, Bass, and Taborn. Asa Tyner and Keziah Chavis’ children and grandchildren:
Jonathan/John Tyner (1766-1831) married Betty Bass on 5 Jan 1796 in Granville County with his brother Uriah Tyner as the bondsman. He is enumerated in the 1800 census in Granville Co as head of household of 4 “free colored” people next to his mother Keziah. By 1820, Jonathan Tyner had relocated his family further west to Stokes County, NC. This was a somewhat common migration route for families from Granville County that decided to head West. Some of the Bass and Pettiford families moved to Stokes County as well, so Jonathan Tyler’s children continued marrying Granville descended families. Some of his descendants did eventually move out of state, but some stayed in the Stokes/Forsyth County area and are still there today.
Uriah Tyner (b. 1774) was the bondsman for his brother Jonathan/John Tyner’s 1796 marriage. He moved to Petersburg, VA and married Phoebe Kennon on 4 May 1816.
Ann Tyner (b. abt 1780) married Labon Taborn on 5 Aug 1799 in Granville Co, NC.
Jonathan Tyner (b. 1776) was bound out at age 13 years to John Smith on 5 Aug 1789 in Granville Co. He married Phoebe Bass on 9 Jul 1804 in Granville Co with his brother Arthur Tyner as the bondsman. He moved out to Stokes Co by 1820 and is the main ancestor of the Tyners found in the subsequent Stokes/Forsyth Cos, NC records.
Arthur Tyner (b. 1779) was bound out at age 10 years to John Smith on 4 Aug 1789 in Granville Co. He was the bondsman for his brother Jonathan Tyner’s 1804 marriage.
James Tyner (b. 1785) was bound out at age 2 years to John Smith on 5 Aug 1787 in Granville Co. He married Betsy Bass on 5 Jan 1805 in Granville Co.
Patsy Tyner (b. 1789) married Thomas Pettiford on 1 Sep 1807 with her brother Jonathan Tyner as the bondsman. Their family relocated to Stokes Co, NC and their descendants are found in Guilford Co, NC and out of state.
So in order to claim descent from Keziah Chavis, daughter of William Chavis and Frances Gibson, it would be through a “free colored” Tyner from Granville Co. Also you can see there is no evidence that Keziah Chavis ever lived outside of the Granville Co area. From her birth in 1742 to her death sometime after 1800, she is consistently documented in the Granville area. And finally there is no evidence she was ever married to anyone else other than Asa Tyner.
Now let’s take a look at Tria Robinson’s family tree and you’ll see how ludricious her claim is.
Tria Robinson’s Family Fraud Exposed
As stated earlier, Tria Robinson claims direct descent from Keziah Chavis, daughter of William Chavis and Frances Gibson. She claims that Keziah was her 5th great-grandmother. These are not my words, but words from Tria Robinson herself:
Tria Robinson even attempted to say another genealogist verified her family information. I actually know this genealogist myself so I contacted him directly and asked him about it. He was very emphatic in stating that he did not tell Tria that she descended from Keziah Chavis. He told her repeatedly that her information was wrong and was hoping that sooner rather than later someone would catch her lie. The reason why this exchange concerns me is that Tria tried to legitimize her false claims by name dropping a respected genealogist. She may also be doing the same thing with my name which is why I feel so compelled to make this blog post so my name is not caught up in her lies. If you think I’m being overly paranoid, you can clearly see that’s not the case:
So before Tria Robinson had even contacted me, she had been told repeatedly by the very same genealogist who helped with her family tree, that she was not a descendant of Keziah Chavis. Yet Tria continued and as far as I know, still continues to this day to claim descent from Keziah Chavis. She cannot claim ignorance of the truth. Her own public family tree on Ancestry shows that she is well aware that she is not directly descended from Keziah Chavis.
Tria Robinson’s Actual Family Tree
I don’t expect you to take my word or the other genealogist’s word that Tria Robinson’s descendancy claims are inaccurate and fraudulent. Instead, I will thoroughly show you to make it very clear.
There is a Keziah Shavers/Chavis (“Shavers” is another spelling variation of “Chavis”) in Tria Robinson’s family tree. However this is a completely different Keziah Chavis than the one from Granville Co. And this other Keziah Shavers/Chavis is not Tria’s direct ancestor. Below I will show how Tria Robinson’s 3rd great-grandfather Chapman Webb was the step-son of Jeremiah Moss. Jeremiah Moss’ parents were Daniel Moss and Keziah Chavis of Campbell/Giles Cos, Virginia.
We’ll start with Tria’ grandmother Lois Webb (1915-2004). Lois was born in Giles Co, VA and grew up in Mercer Co, WV. We find her listed as “Lois Webb” in the 1930 census of Mercer Co, WV in the household of Augustus “Gus” Davidson who is listed as her step-father and Mamie (Webb) Davidson who is her mother. Lois Webb was Mamie Webb’s daughter before marrying Gus Davidson which is why Lois has the Webb surname.
Mamie Webb (b. 1887) was Tria’s great-grandmother. Mamie can be found in the 1900 census in Giles Co, VA listed as “Mary B Webb” (“Mary” and “Mamie” were sometimes used interchangeably) listed as the daughter of Chapman Webb and Lizzie Webb. Chapman Webb and Lizzie Johnston were married on 20 Feb 1900 in Giles Co, VA. You will notice this marriage date is after their daughter Mamie Webb was born in 1887. It’s possible that one of Mamie’s parents is actually her step-parent. But Mamie and her siblings were very consistently listed with the Webb surname in all located records and all of their marriage and death records list their parents as Chapman Webb and Lizzie Johnston. So there is probably some explanation for why her parents waited to marry until after several of their children were born.
So Chapman Webb (1861-1932) was Tria’s great-great grandfather. His approximate birth year is important because he was born before the Civil War and if born to an enslaved woman he was also born into slavery. The very first record we find Chapman Webb in, is the 1880 census for Giles Co, VA. In that census he is listed as the step-son of a man named Jeremiah Moss. In the same household we find Jeremiah Moss’ wife Rebecca (Webb) Moss and the Moss children they had together: Samuel, William, Laura, and Phillip. You will see the ages of these children are younger than Chapman Webb, again indicating that Jeremiah Moss married Rebecca Webb after she had her son Chapman Webb. This is why Chapman has the Webb surname and Rebecca Webb’s other children with her husband Jeremiah Moss have the Moss surname. Additional family members in the household include in-laws.
We find Jeremiah Moss with wife Rebecca Webb and their Moss children in the 1870 census but Chapman Webb is not found in their household:
Rebecca Webb (b. 1846) was Tria’s great-great-great grandmother. Rebecca was a mixed-race woman, the daughter of a white man named John Webb who is listed as her father in the 1880 census. I’m not entirely certain who her mother was.
In 1865, Rebecca Webb who was already the mother of Chapman Webb (b. 1861), married Jeremiah Moss. Jeremiah was a free-born person of color and can be found in the 1860 census in Giles Co, VA with his parents Daniel and Keziah Moss and siblings. After his first wife Rebecca Webb passed away, Jeremiah Moss later remarried Rhoda Coburn and on that marriage record, Jeremiah’s birthplace is listed as Campbell Co, VA:
In the Campbell Co, VA records we find the marriage record for Jeremiah Moss’ parents: Daniel Moss and Keziah Shavers recorded on 18 Apr 1827 with a Joel Shavers providing the surety. The 1860 census is the only census where I can find Keziah enumerated and her birth year is given as 1806. This looks to be quite accurate because it means she was 21 years of age when she married Daniel Moss.
So you can see Keziah Shavers/Chavis was not Tria Robinson’s direct ancestor. She was the mother of man named Jeremiah Moss who was the step-father of Tria’s 3rd great-grandfather Chapman Webb.
Furthermore, this Keziah Shavers/Chavis is most definitely not the same Keziah Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Keziah Shavers/Chavis of Campbell/Giles Cos, VA was born in 1806 and died sometime between the 1860 and 1870 censuses. Keziah Chavis of Granville Co was born at least 60 years earlier in 1742 and died sometime between the 1800 and 1810 censuses. They are two generations apart and lived in two different and distant locations. I don’t have any verified information on who Keziah Shavers/Chavis’ parents were. The Joel Shavers who provided the surety of her marriage is a close family relation. I found Joel Shavers/Chavis in the Campbell Co, VA records and judging by his marriage and census info, he was born in 1802, making him Keziah’s brother.
There is a family tree on Ancestry that lists Joel Shavers’ father as Bartlett Shavers/Chavis born about 1780. Bartlett is one of the first “free colored” Shavers/Chavis to appear in the records in that area. In the 1810 and 1820 censuses he is found in neighboring Bedford Co, VA. Paul Heinegg in his research on the Chavis family has this Bartlett Chavis identified as the son of a Sarah Chavis who left a Charlotte Co, VA will. Sarah is the earliest verified member of this branch of the Chavis family. If and how all the various Chavis branches exactly relate to one another is still unknown. So I also cannot say if this Keziah Shavers/Chavis of Campbell/Giles Cos, VA is of some relation to Keziah Chavis of Granville Co, NC.
So I really do hope that Tria Robinson ceases this fraud she has created and instead researches and claims her own ancestors. Additionally, she needs to stop using my own personal images from Facebook as well as photos from this blog. And finally she needs to quit befriending people on social media under the false pretense that she is a Chavis cousin. It is very dishonest and qualifies as “ancestor theft”. There are real, living, breathing descendants of Keziah Chavis of Granville Co. I am in contact with a few of them and they are so proud of their heritage. These are not abstract names in historical records. These are our ancestors and we would not be here today without them. We owe it to them to honor them respectfully and accurately.
But the big lingering question is why? Why would Tria Robinson claim ancestors that she knows are not hers? Why would she go out of her way to befriend all of these Chavis descendants on social media and pretend to be their cousin? Because I do not know her personally, I cannot say for certain why she is doing this. The Chavis family, and especially William Chavis/Frances Gibson are the ancestors of one of the largest Native American families in North Carolina. Perhaps in an attempt to desire a Native American identity, Tria is committing ancestor theft in order to feel wanted and part of a group. I’m only guessing here and I hope there is not a darker, deeper sinister motive at play.
If you have ever been contacted by Tria Robinson under the false pretense that she is a Chavis descendant, feel free to comment here on the blog. Even though you have every right to be outraged at her fraud, please keep the comments civil and respectful. I have been contacted by numerous people about Tria’s lies, so you are not alone.
Within the last 24 hours or so since I have posted this blog, I have received numerous messages from people who have had similar experiences with Tria Robinson. I’m not going to list all of their comments. But in summary: it appears Tria has been committing this tribal identity fraud for quite some time. She changes tribal affiliation frequently, probably as her lies are exposed. She has claimed Choctaw, Comanche, Yamassee, Saponi, Lumbee, and Tuscarora affiliations. Please note there is nothing wrong or suspicious about claiming descent from multiple tribes. But in Tria’s case, her tribal affiliation changes when her fraud is exposed.
Tria Robinson has also stolen family pictures from other people in order to claim them as her own ancestors. One person even confessed to me that she doesn’t post family photos on genealogy sites anymore because of Tria’s actions. This is incredibly unfortunate because we benefit from the healthy exchange of information. I would never have been able to get as far as I have with my research and this blog, if it wasn’t for other researchers graciously sharing their information and family photos.
Another genealogist contacted me who also assisted Tria with her family tree. And he as well informed her that she was not a Chavis descendant. He said she became completely irate with him and refused to accept the information he provided to her. He told me he was very pleased to see this blog post because it sets the record straight about her lies.
And finally, the big unanswered question is motive. Well I was informed by a couple of enrolled members from the Saponi Nation of Ohio, that Tria Robinson tried to enroll with their tribe by claiming descent from the Chavis family. The tribal council was alerted of her known fraudulent Chavis claims and so thankfully not much more happened there. I can’t imagine that Tria would stop at trying to enroll with Saponi Nation of Ohio, so I would look out for her trying to enroll elsewhere.