Tag Archives: Fishing Creek

Freeman Howell – Ancestor of the Native American Howells of Granville, Orange, Person, and Alamance Counties

This is a special blog post for me because Freeman Howell (1777-1870) was my 4th great-grandfather. He was also the progenitor of all of the Native American/”free colored” Howells living in Granville, Orange, Person, and Alamance Cos so it is important to correctly identify all of his descendants. Freeman Howell’s descendants married into most of the Native families in and around Granville, including: Pettiford, Anderson, Evans, Curtis, Brandon, Cousins, Tyler, Day, Richardson, Goins, Bass, Chavis, Guy, Hedgepeth and more. Thus if you are also researching these families, you’ll want to keep reading.

What has recently aided me in documenting Freeman’s descendants are the new wills and probate records that are available on Ancestry.com. These records have helped me verify his family as well as add in new family members I was previously unaware of.


Who was Freeman Howell?

Freeman Howell was the son of Matthew Howell (1752-1793) and Peggy Howell (1755- after 1830, maiden name unknown) of Charlotte County, VA. I briefly discussed his father Matthew Howell and earlier Howell lineage in my blog post about the Saponi Indian cabins in Amelia (Nottoway) Co, VA. Though the Howells have Pamunkey tribal origins, this particular branch of the Howell family moved into southside VA and married into the Saponi community there.

Freeman’s father Matthew Howell died in 1793, and as a result Freeman and his siblings were bound out as apprentices in the Charlotte County courts on June 3, 1793 to William Flood (1752-1806):

On 3 June 1793 the Charlotte County court bound her (Peggy Howell) “Mulatto” children Freeman, John and Peggy Howell to William Flood

William Flood (1752-1806) was from the Native American/”free colored” Flood family and I suspect that he was Freeman Howell’s maternal uncle. Like the Howells, William Flood moved from Amelia Co, VA to Charlotte and Mecklenburg Cos, VA. Also Freeman’s brother Matthew B Howell (b. 1784) married for a second time William Flood’s daughter Mary “Polly” Flood b. 1796 which would have been a first cousin marriage – a somewhat common occurrence in the community during this time period. So this would mean that Freeman’s mother Peggy Howell was originally Peggy Flood. If I find more evidence to support this theory, I’ll be sure to update this blog post.

Freeman Howell’s niece Betsy Howell (1814-1912) relocated her family to Gallia Co, Ohio where their descendants are “core” families of the Saponi Nation of Ohio and Midwest Saponi Nation. Betsy’s son Wesley Howell (b. 1843) was a know medicine man:

Wesley Howell medicine man Source: Midwest Saponi Nation
Wesley Howell (b. 1843) great nephew of Freeman Howell, was a medicine man
Source: Midwest Saponi Nation newsletter

Over the next few years, Freeman Howell appears in the tax lists for Charlotte County. He then appears in the tax lists for neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA. It is there that he likely marries his wife  Susan (Maiden name unknown) 1777-1870. Regrettably, I have not been able to locate their marriage record so I cannot say for certain what year they married or have confirmation of Susan’s maiden name. I have speculated in the past that Susan may have been the Susan Brandon who was the daughter of Thomas Brandon (1746-1834) and Margaret Evans/Walden (b. 1753, she used both surnames) of Mecklenburg Co, VA. Freeman Howell appears on the same tax lists as his potential father-in-law Thomas Brandon in Mecklenburg Co. He is counted in the 1820 census for Mecklenburg Co, VA, head of a household of 8 “free colored persons”. However, I am still looking for more solid documentation on Susan, so these connections aren’t solid yet.

In the 1820s, a number of Saponi families including the Howells, Brandons/Branhams, Guys, Cousins and Chavises living in Mecklenburg Co, VA moved just a couple of miles across the border to Granville Co, NC. There may have been a particular historical event that precipitated this move because I don’t think it was a coincidence that all these families moved into Granville’s Native community in the 1820s. The first records for Freeman Howell in Granville County are in 17 Jan 1824 and 2 Feb 1824, when he received $150 and a land deed from Robert Cousins (b. 1796). Robert Cousins was the brother of Freeman’s son-in-law Nelson Cousins (b. 1794). Nelson Cousins was married to Freeman’s daughter Julia Howell (1797-1870).

Freeman Howell’s household, which included his wife Susan and children, appears in the Granville County census in 1830, 1840, 1850 and 1860. By 1870, Freeman was deceased but he did not leave a will. And this is where the estate records help identify Freeman’s heirs, so let’s take a look.


Freeman Howell’s Estate Records

Lewisford A. Paschall (also known as Lunsford Paschall and L.A. Paschall), Granville County’s clerk was assigned as administrator of Freeman Howell’s estate on 19 Nov 1870. As administrator, he was responsible for selling Freeman’s assets which included 100 acres of land and any personal property. After paying off any outstanding debts, the remaining balance was to be divided among Freeman’s living heirs. On 2 Oct 1871, Freeman’s 100 acres of land was sold to his white neighbor John Greenway for $499 cash.

Lewisford A Paschall named as administrator of Freeman Howell'e estate. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Lewisford A Paschall named as administrator of Freeman Howell’e estate.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Freeman Howell's land sold for $499 to John Greenway on October 2, 1871. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Freeman Howell’s land sold for $499 to John Greenway on October 2, 1871.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

After paying off Freeman’s debts with the $499 received for the land sale, administrator L.A. Paschall had a remaining balance of $117.17 to be divided among Freeman’s heirs. A white woman named Milly Wilkerson (1810-1879) received a judgement of $210.82 against Freeman Howell’s estate which accounted for most of Freeman’s debt. I’m unsure of Milly’s exact relationship to Freeman, but in the 1850 census she was residing in his household. Milly Wilkerson was a single woman, but she had children with Native American/”free colored” men from the community. I know one man was Burton Cousins because he paid for her “bastard bond” in Feb 1835, but maybe she was also involved with a Howell. After all the debts were paid, an additional $25.60 was paid to county clerk Calvin Betts which brought down the remaining balance further.

Each of Freeman Howell’s children received $9.45. His son James Howell received $10.08 and I’m unsure why he received slightly more money. Because Freeman Howell lived to be almost 100 years old, he outlived many of his children. So the shares for his deceased children were divided among their living heirs. For example, Freeman Howell’s son John Howell was deceased but had 11 living children, so each child received 1/11 of $9.45 which equaled 85 cents.

Some of Freeman Howell’s children signed over their shares to pay off outstanding debts, and this included the estates of some of Freeman Howell’s deceased children. For example, Freeman’s daughter Elizabeth (Howell) Fain who was still living, signed over her $9.45 to A.H. Bumpass. And the estate for Freeman Howell’s deceased son William Howell signed over his share to James Amis.

Freeman Howell's daughter Elizabeth (Howell) Fain, widow of James Fain, signed over her share to A.H. Bumpass. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Freeman Howell’s daughter Elizabeth (Howell) Fain, widow of James Fain, signed over her share to A.H. Bumpass.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

What also further complicated the distribution of Freeman Howell’s estate was that many of his heirs had relocated to other counties and to the state of Ohio where many other Saponi descendants had resettled. Today they are the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation. As a result, administrator L.A. Paschall was required to publish in the newspaper the names of Freeman Howell’s heirs who had moved away to alert them of the land sale. For example:

Source: 18 May 1871 Raleigh Daily Telegram
Source: 18 May 1871 Raleigh Daily Telegram

In the account book for the Freeman Howell’s estate, we can see that his heirs who were still local received their cash share from the sale of his land. It also appears that those who had moved away and lost contact did not receive their shares. Here is the account for Freeman Howell’s estate:

First page of Freeman Howell estate's account. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
First page of Freeman Howell estate’s account.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Second page of Freeman Howell estate's account. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Second page of Freeman Howell estate’s account.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

Freeman Howell’s Descendants:

In the following sections, I will provide an overview of Freeman Howell’s descendants. This is a chart of Freeman Howell’s children, more detailed charts are included in the sections below.

Freeman Howell's children and their spouses
Freeman Howell’s children and their spouses. Please note that the maiden name of Freeman Howell’s wife Susan has not been confirmed. 

1. Julia Howell (1797 – 1870)

Julia Howell's family chart that shows her children and their spouses.
Julia Howell’s family chart

Julia Howell was the wife of Nelson Cousins (b. 1794). Nelson appears in the 1820 census for Mecklenburg Co, VA next to his father-in-law Freeman Howell. In 1830 and 1840, Nelson is counted in the Granville Co census. And by 1850, the family moved next door to Person Co, NC.

Starting in the 1860s, several of Julia Howell and Nelson Cousin’s children relocated to Ross Co, Ohio. And Julia Howell herself joined her children in Ohio because her death was recorded in Ross Co, OH on April 15, 1870.

Julia
Julia “Judith” (Howell) Cousins death record.
Source: Ohio, County Death Records, 1840-2001

Julia (Howell) Cousins’ children who relocated to Ohio were: John Cousins (1820-1891), Edmund Cousins (1824-1886), Robert Cousins (1830-1907), Elizabeth (Cousins) Day (b. 1832), Wiley Cousins (b. 1836) and William Cousins (b. 1838). The children who remained in North Carolina were: Frederick I Cousins (b. 1817), Emily (Cousins) Day (b. 1827), and Nelson Cousins Jr (b. 1844).

Because Julia predeceased her father, her share was divided among her heirs and her three children who remained in North Carolina each received a share of $1.33 of Freeman Howell’s estate. $9.45 divided by 7 shares, is $1.35. This indicates 7 living heirs of Julia (Howell) Cousins and according to my records, Elizabeth (Cousins) Day and William Day were deceased by 1870. And that would leave 7 living heirs.

Each heir who received a share of Freeman Howell's estate had to sign a receipt of payment. Because most people were semi literate, they signed with an
Each heir who received a share of Freeman Howell’s estate had to sign a receipt of payment. Because most family members were semi literate, they signed with an “x”. However Nelson Cousin Jr. (b. 1844) signed his own name.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

Son Edmund Cousins (1824-1886) lived long enough to file a Civil War pension in 1881 and his widow Julia Cousins filed one in 1890. If you’re a descendant of his, you’ll want to order the file from the War Department.

Edmund Cousins Civil War pension file number. Source: National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.
Edmund Cousins’ Civil War pension file numbers.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
Original data: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.
And son John Cousins (1820-1891) also fought in the Civil War and filed a pension in 1879 and his widow Martha (Hansberry) Cousins filed in 1892.

John Cousins Civil War Source: National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. Original data: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.
John Cousins’ Civil War pension file numbers.
Source: National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
Original data: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. T288, 546 rolls.

2. Elizabeth Howell (1801- about 1874)

Elizabeth Howell's family chart
Elizabeth Howell’s family chart

Elizabeth Howell was the wife of James Fain (b. 1789), a man who was born enslaved but became emancipated in 1822. There is likely no official record of their marriage because of James Fain’s enslaved status, but any children born to them would be free because Elizabeth Howell was a free-born woman. James Fain’s brother was Jacob Fain (1775-1837) and a transcription of his emancipation record in 1805 can be found here. Jacob Fain’s widow Sally Fain, named James Fain as her husband’s brother in her 1814 will that was proved in 1854. A transcription can be found here.

From the census records it appears Elizabeth (Howell) Fain and her husband James Fain resided in Jacob and Sally Fain’s household in 1820, 1830, and 1840. In the 1850 census, Elizabeth Howell and her husband James Fain resided next to their sister-in-law Sally Fain. By 1870, Elizabeth (Howell) Fain was widowed and residing in Person Co, NC. She died in 1879, when her estate was administered by A.H. Bumpass. This is the same man who Elizabeth signed over her $9.45 share from Freeman Howell’s estate to several years earlier. Elizabeth’s estate was divided among James H Cousins, Fanny (Cousins) Davis, William A Cousins, and Sally Ann Cousins.

Estate of Elizabeth (Howell) Fain Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Estate of Elizabeth (Howell) Fain
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

Because Elizabeth Howell and her husband James Fain resided with their brother/sister-in-law Jacob and Sally Fain, I’ve had difficulties differentiating their children. There’s a strong possibility that James Fain and Elizabeth Howell’s son was William Fain (b. 1824) who married Arabella Wilkerson (b. 1832) on 8 Nov 1848 in Granville Co. Freeman Howell’s son Alexander Howell 1811-1881) paid the bond. Arabella Wilkerson was a daughter of the previously mentioned Milly Wilkerson, a white woman who lived with Freeman Howell.

Mildred Fain (1853-1930) was a daughter of William Fain and Arabella Wilkerson. William Fain may have been a son of James Fain and Elizabeth Howell. Mildred Fain was married to William Pettiford Source: Ancestry, Username: t4phillips
Mildred Fain (1853-1930) was a daughter of William Fain and Arabella Wilkerson. William Fain may have been a son of James Fain and Elizabeth Howell. Mildred Fain was married to William Pettiford
Source: Ancestry, Username: t4phillips

3. William Howell (1804- before 1860)

William Howell's family chart
William Howell’s family chart

William Howell married Margaret Pettiford (b. 1805) on 22 Mar 1828 in Granville Co, NC. Burton Cousins was the bondsman. William Howell appears in the 1830 and 1840 censuses for Granville Co. In 1850 his household was in Caswell Co, NC. With Magaret Pettiford, William Howell had three children: Freeman Howell b. 1830, John Howell b. 1834, and Margaret Howell b. 1838. His wife Margaret died sometime before 1858 because on 30 Dec 1858, William Howell remarried Parthena Cousins b. 1833 in Person Co. With Parthena Cousins, William Howell had one additional son: Asa Howell (1860-1929).

William Howell died around 1860, so he predeceased his father Freeman Howell. William Howell’s estate received the $9.45 share and signed it over to James Amis:

William Howell's estate collected the $9.45 payment from Freeman Howell's estate and signed it over to James Amis. William Howell predeceased his father Freeman Howell. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
William Howell’s estate collected the $9.45 payment from Freeman Howell’s estate and signed it over to James Amis. William Howell predeceased his father Freeman Howell.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

William Howell’s son Freeman Howell (b. 1830) lived in Hillsboro, Orange Co and Pleasant Grove township, Alamance Co among ancestors of the present day Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation tribal members. He was married to Eliza Simmons (b. 1820) who was originally from Fayetteville, Cumberland Co and had been previously married to Henry Goins. After Goins death, Eliza and her three daughters relocated to Alamance Co and she married Freeman Howell.

Siblings George Goins (1877-1935) and Daisy Goins (1882-1938) of Hillsboro and Durham, NC. Their mother Josephine Goins was the step-daughter of Freeman Howell (b. 1830) Source: Ancestry, Username: seanyancey1968
Siblings George Goins (1877-1935) and Daisy Goins (1882-1938) of Hillsboro and Durham, NC. Their mother Josephine Goins was the step-daughter of Freeman Howell (b. 1830)
Source: Ancestry, Username: seanyancey1968

William Howell’s son John Howell (b. 1834) also lived in Pleasant Grove township, Alamance Co among ancestors of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation. John Howell does not appear to have ever married or had children. He last appears in the census in 1900.

That's John Howell (b. 1834), son of William Howell and Margaret Pettiford, residing in the household of John Hutson Jeffries and wife Mary Jane Jeffries. The couple are buried at Martin's Chapel Cemetery. Source: Year: 1900; Census Place: Pleasant Grove, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: 1180; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 1241180
That’s John Howell (b. 1834), son of William Howell and Margaret Pettiford, residing in the household of John Hutson Jeffries and wife Mary Jane “Polly” Jeffries. The couple are buried at Martin’s Chapel Cemetery.
Source: Year: 1900; Census Place: Pleasant Grove, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: 1180; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0011; FHL microfilm: 1241180

And William Howell’s youngest son Asa Howell (1860-1929) lived most of his life in Fishing Creek township, Granville Co. He was married three times: Dora Norwood (b. 1860), Virginia Crews (b. 1875) , and Nancy Howell (1871-1949).

A page from Asa Howell's estate records which indicate how his estate was to be divided. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
A page from Asa Howell’s estate records which indicate how his estate was to be divided.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

4. Edward Howell (1805-1874)

Edward Howell was not married and did not have any children. He appears in the 1850 and 1870 censuses for Pleasant Grove township, Alamance Co, NC which is where the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation is located. He received his $9.45 share of his father Freeman Howell’s estate. Edward died in 1874 and because he did not have any children, his estate was divided among his siblings and their living heirs. The administrator of Edward Howell’s estate published a notice in the newspaper regarding the estate.

Edward Howell died without a spouse or children, so his estate was divided among his siblings and their heirs. Like Freeman Howell's estate records, Edward Howell's estate records are a good source for documenting the Howell family. Source: The Alamance Gleaner, 11 Jan 1876, Tue, Page 4
Edward Howell died without a spouse or children, so his estate was divided among his siblings and their heirs. Like Freeman Howell’s estate records, Edward Howell’s estate records are a good source for documenting the Howell family.
Source: The Alamance Gleaner, 11 Jan 1876, Tue, Page 4

5. John Howell (1805-1867)

John Howell's family chart
John Howell’s family chart

John Howell married Jane Harris (1817-before 1900) on 5 Aug 1836 in Granville Co. He then appears in the census for Granville Co in 1840, 1850, and 1860. John died around 1867 and so he predeceased his father Freeman Howell. Jane (Harris) Howell continued to live in Fishing Creek, Granville Co and assisted in raising her grandchildren.

John Howell and Jane Harris had 11 children: Julia Howell (b. 1838), James E Howell (1840-1912), Indiana Howell (b. 1842), Polly Ann Howell (1844-1914), Harvey  Howell (b. 1846), Christopher C Howell (1848-1920), Sally Howell (1850-1923), Missouri Howell (1851-1918), Joanna Howell (b. 1852), Ida Howell (1855-1928), and Lucy Virginia “Jennie” Howell (b. 1858). Each of John Howell’s 11 living heirs received a share of the $9.45 payment which came to 85 cents but not all came to collect their shares.

Julia Howell (b. 1838) was married to Henry Chavis (1815-1882) and continued to live in Fishing Creek, Granville Co. James E Howell (1840-1912) was my 2nd great-grandfather and he was married first to Betsy Ann Tyler (1851-1869) on 6 Apr 1867 but she died soon after. He next married my 2nd great-grandmother Virginia “Jinnie” Richardson (1850-before 1880) on 11 Nov 1869 in Warren Co and they had three children: Edward Brodie Howell (1870-1942), Francis Ellen Howell (1872-1923), and Lucy J Howell (1873-1952). Virginia “Jinnie” Richardson Howell died and James E Howell remained a widow until he remarried Mary McGlemdon on 9 Aug 1887 in Granville Co and had one additional son William Isaac Howell (b. 1891). James E Howell spent his entire life in Fishing Creek, Granville Co and was once nominated as county coroner on the Radical Republican ticket.

James E Howell (1840-1912) called
James E Howell (1840-1912) called “Jim Howell” here, was paid for transporting bodies and burying graves. His experience in this field is probably why he was nominated for county coroner the following year.
Source: The Torchlight, 13 Dec 1881, Tue, Page 3
In 1882, the Radical Republican part nominated James E Howell as county coroner. His first cousin James A Howell was nominated for a House seat. However the following week, both James E Howell and James A Howell were replaced on the ticket. Source: The Torchlight, 10 Oct 1882, Tue, Page 4
In 1882, the Radical Republican party nominated James E Howell as county coroner. His first cousin James A Howell (1846-1934) was nominated for a House seat. However the following week, both James E Howell and James A Howell were replaced on the ticket.
Source: The Torchlight, 10 Oct 1882, Tue, Page 4
Dr. Edward Gaylord Howell was the grandson of James E Howell and Virginia Richardson. Source: Christie Carter Lynch
Dr. Edward Gaylord Howell (1898-1971) was the son of Edward Brodie Howell, and the grandson of James E Howell and Virginia Richardson.
Source: Christie Carter Lynch
Beatrice Howell (1901-1967) was the daughter of Edward Brodie Howell, and the granddaughter of James E Howell and Virginia Richardson. She was married to Dr. Ledrue Turner. Source: Christine Carter Lynch
Beatrice Howell (1901-1967) was the daughter of Edward Brodie Howell, and the granddaughter of James E Howell and Virginia Richardson. She was married to Dr. Ledrue Turner.
Source: Christine Carter Lynch
Beatrice Turner Source: Christine Carter Lynch
Beatrice Turner (1923-1969) was the daughter of Beatrice Howell, the granddaughter of Edward Brodie Howell, and great-granddaughter of James E Howell and Virginia Richardson. She was married to James Young Carter.
Source: Christine Carter Lynch

Indiana Howell (b. 1842) was married to William Kersey (b. 1939) and lived in Townesville on the current Vance/Granville Co border. All of their children relocated to Brockton, MA by 1900. Polly Ann Howell (1844-1914) was first married to Aaron Curtis (1842-1883) and had a son named Harvey Curtis (b. 1885) who moved to New Haven, CT. She became widowed and second married John Green (1850-1915).

Harvey Howell (b. 1846) moved up to Danville, VA and married a woman named Sallie Burnett (b. 1848). Christopher C Howell (1848-1920) married Harriet Goins (b. 1850) and lived his whole life in Fishing Creek, Granville Co. He owned an insurance company named Masonic Insurance and most of his children relocated to Brockton, MA and New Haven, CT.

Christopher C Howell's will. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Christopher C Howell’s (1848-1920) will.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

Sally Howell (1850-1923) was first married to Lunsford Williford (b. 1847) and second married James Berry Cousins (1854-1926). She lived in Granville Co her entire life. Missouri Howell (1851-1918) was not married but had two daughters Plummer Howell (1880-1930) and Mittie Howell (b. 1888) born out of wedlock.

Mattie Howell Miller was the daughter of Plummer Howell, granddaughter of Misssouri Howell, and great-granddaughter of John Howell. Plummer Howell moved up to Bucks Co, PA. Source: The Bristol Daily Courier, 27 Jan 1961, Fri, Page 19
Mattie Howell Miller (1905-1961) was the daughter of Plummer Howell, granddaughter of Missouri Howell, and great-granddaughter of John Howell. Plummer Howell moved up to Bucks Co, PA.
Source: The Bristol Daily Courier, 27 Jan 1961, Fri, Page 19

Joanna Howell (b. 1852) received a share of her grandfather Freeman Howell’s estate but I’m not sure what happened to her after that and if she married and had children. Ida Howell (1855-1928) married James Mayo (1847-1910) on 22 Dec 1874 and continued to live in Granville Co. Lucy Virginia “Jennie” Howell (b. 1858) received a share of her grandfather Freeman Howell’s estate but I’m certain if she married and had children.


6. Matthew Howell (1806 – before 1860)

Matthew Howell's family chart
Matthew Howell’s family chart

Matthew Howell married Mary Pettiford (b. 1807) on 29 Mar 1831. He appears in the 1850 census for Alamance Co with his wife and children. Matthew died before the 1860 census, and his children are found spread among Orange Co, NC, Guilford Co, NC, Danville, VA, And it appears they became disconnected with the rest of the Howell family because although Freeman Howell’s estate published their names in the newspaper, none of Matthew Howell’s children came back to collect on their share of the estate.


7. James Howell (1810 – before 1870)

James Howell's family chart
James Howell’s family chart

James Howell married Ann Troler b. 1810 (also spelled Toler) on 14 Aug 1834 in Granville Co. He was counted in the 1850 and 1860 censuses for Granville Co and died sometime before 1870 so he predeceased his father Freeman Howell. As a result, James Howell’s estate was granted his share of Freeman Howell’s estate which was $10.08, slightly higher than the $9.45 that the rest of Freeman’s children received.

James Howell and Ann Troler’s children were: Minerva Howell (b. 1836), Louisa Howell (b. 1845), Margaret Howell (1849-1915), William Howell (1852-1926), Mary Eliza Howell (1856-1926), and Juda Howell (b. 1858) who continued to live around the Sassafras Fork/Oak Hill area of Granville Co.


8. Alexander “Doc” Howell (1811-1881)

Alexander Howell's family chart
Alexander Howell’s family chart

Alexander Howell married Betsy Ann Anderson (b. 1825) on 4 Jul 1839 in Granville Co. Alexander was a preacher and resided in Fishing Creek, Granville Co for his entire life. He was still living when his father Freeman Howell passed away, so Alexander received his $9.45 share of the estate. He had a large family that included 10 children and his family often appears living adjacent to the family of his brother John Howell (and wife Jane Harris).

Daughter Polly Ann Howell (b. 1840) was not married but had a son named Ben Howell (1867-1949). Son Elijah Howell (b. 1841) was first married to Harriet Evans (b 1847) and second to Eveline Watkins (b. 1854). Daughter Frances Howell (b. 1842) was married to Civil War veteran of the 54th Regiment Varnell Mayo (1837-1900) whom I previously blogged about here.

Son Freeman Howell (b. 1844) was also a preacher and was married first to Nancy Ash (b. 1849) and second to Mary Cowell (b. 1866). Son James A Howell (1846-1934) was first married to Emily Evans (b. 1853), second married to Mary Eaton (1865-1887), and third married to Sally Pettiford (1856-1934). Son Junius Thomas Howell (b. 1848) was married to Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934).

James A Howell's (1846-1934) will. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
James A Howell’s (1846-1934) will. He was the son of Alexander “Doc” Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Nancy Howell (1871-1947). Daughter of Junius Thomas Howell and Pantheyer Brandon. Granddaughter of Alexander
Nancy Howell (1871-1947). Daughter of Junius Thomas Howell and Pantheyer Brandon. Granddaughter of Alexander “Doc” Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson. Married to Herbert Junius Anderson and later married to Asa Howell. Nancy was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County.
Source: Ancestry, Username: Christopher Williams
Nancy Howell (1871-1947), daughter of Junius Thomas Howell and Pantheyer Brandon, is shown here again with one of her sons from her first marriage to Dennis Anderson. Fishing Creek, Granville Co, NC. Source: Christopher Williams
Nancy Howell (1871-1947), daughter of Junius Thomas Howell and Pantheyer Brandon, is shown here again with one of her sons from her first marriage to Herbert Junius Anderson (b. 1864). Fishing Creek, Granville Co, NC.
Source: Christopher Williams

Daughter Mickins Howell (b. 1850) does not appear in the records again as an adult. Daughter Judith Howell (1852-1924) was married first to Nehemiah Mayo (b. 1850) and second married to John Hedgepeth (b. 1860).

Claude Eugene Hedgepeth (1891-1962) was the son of Judith Howell and John Hedgepeth the grandson of Alexander Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson. Source: Ancestry, Username: hedgepeth_richardson
Claude Eugene Hedgepeth (1891-1962) was the son of Judith Howell and John Hedgepeth and the grandson of Alexander Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson.
Source: Ancestry, Username: hedgepeth_richardson
Ethel Mae Hedgepeth (1913-1981) was the daughter of Claude Eugene Hedgepeth, granddaughter of Judith Howell, and great-granddaughter of Alexander Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson. Source: Ancestry, Username: Iris Grant
Ethel Mae Hedgepeth (1913-1981) was the daughter of Claude Eugene Hedgepeth, granddaughter of Judith Howell, and great-granddaughter of Alexander Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson.
Source: Ancestry, Username: Iris Grant

Son Henry Howell (1857-1916) was married to Amanda Brandon (1858-1922) and lived in Fishing Creek, Granville Co and Kittrell, Vance Co. And daughter Adeline Jane Howell (b. 1858) was married to Dennis Stanley Hedgepeth (b. 1852).

Adeline Jane Howell (1858 - after 1900) Daughter of Alexander
Adeline Jane Howell (1858 – after 1900) was the daughter of Alexander “Doc” Howell and Betsy Ann Anderson.
Source: Ancestry, Username: Christopher Williams
Carrie Hedgepeth (1894-1960) was the daughter of Adeline Jane Howell and Dennis Stanley Hedgepeth. Source: Ancestry, Username: Christopher Williams
Carrie Hedgepeth (1894-1960) was the daughter of Adeline Jane Howell and Dennis Stanley Hedgepeth.
Source: Ancestry, Username: Christopher Williams

Alexander Howell died on June 15, 1881 and his obituary appeared in the newspaper:

Obituary of Alexander Howell (1811-1881) Source: The Torchlight, 21 Jun 1881, Tue, Page 3
Obituary of Alexander Howell (1811-1881)
Source: The Torchlight, 21 Jun 1881, Tue, Page 3

9. Mary Ann Howell (b. 1815)

Mary Ann Howell's family chart
Mary Ann Howell’s family chart

Mary Ann Howell married Owen Hart (1810-1881) on 18 Sep 1832 in Granville Co. By 1850, the family was residing in Person Co, NC and by 1860, the family relocated to Pike Co, Ohio. Their children were: Susan Hart (b. 1845), Nancy Hart (1845-1869), Abigail Hart (1849- before 1880), Lorenzo Hart (1857-1870), and Robert Owen Hart (b. 1862).

Mary Ann (Howell) Hart was still living when her father Freeman Howell died but she had relocated to Ohio, so her name was published in the paper to alert her of the land sale. It does not appear Mary Ann received her $9.45 share of the estate likely because she had moved away.


10. Additional Howell Descendants

These are additional descendants of Freeman Howell who received a share of his estate but their exact lineage is unknown.
These are additional descendants of Freeman Howell who received a share of his estate but their exact lineage is unknown.

There are a few Howells that I know directly descend from Freeman Howell (1777-1870) because they are named in the estate files, but I have some questions about exactly how they are related to Freeman Howell.

Allen Howell (1820-1850), married Malinda Parrish (b. 1827) on 12 Mar 1847 in Granville Co, NC, James Floyd bondsman. They had one daughter together – Elizabeth Howell (b. 1850) but Allen Howell died the same year. Allen Howell’s sister Eliza Howell (b. 1825) married James Floyd on 6 Sep 1845 in Granville Co, NC. This is the same James Floyd who was the bondsman for his brother-in-law Allen Howell’s marriage. James Floyd and Eliza Howell had two children: William Floyd (b. 1847) and Willie Ann Floyd (b. 1849) but James Floyd died in 1850. You can find the widowed sister-in-laws Eliza (Howell) Floyd and Malinda (Parrish) Howell living together with their children in the 1850 census:

Eliza (Howell) Floyd is showing widowed and living with her children, and sister-in-law Malinda (Parrish) Howell who was also widowed. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 101B; Image: 202
Eliza (Howell) Floyd is shown widowed and living with her children, and her sister-in-law Malinda (Parrish) Howell who was also widowed.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 101B; Image: 202
Malinda Parrish (b. 1827) was first married to Allen Howell (1820-1850) and second married to Dennis Anderson (b. 1813). Source: Ancestry, Username: Waniehol
Malinda Parrish (b. 1827) was first married to Allen Howell (1820-1850) and second married to Dennis Anderson (b. 1813).
Source: Ancestry, Username: Waniehol

Malinda (Parrish) Howell remarried Dennis Anderson (b. 1813) on 18 Jun 1852 and had additional children with him. Dennis was a preacher and presided over many marriages for people in the community. I don’t know what happened to Eliza (Howell) Floyd. When Freeman Howell passed away, Allen Howell and Malinda Parrish’s daughter Elizabeth Howell (b.1850) received $1.58 for her share of the estate. And Eliza (Howell) Floyd’s daughter Willie Ann Floyd b. 1849 (she was called “Willie Ann Howell” in the estate records), received $1.05 for her share of Freeman Howell’s estate. So we know Allen Howell and Eliza Howell Floyd were related to Freeman, but I’m unsure if they were his children or grandchildren. I’m also unsure of how their shares of Freeman Howell’s estate were calculated.

Elizabeth Howell (b. 1850) daughter of Allen Howell and Malinda Parish, received a share of Freeman Howell's estate. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Elizabeth Howell (b. 1850) daughter of Allen Howell and Malinda Parish, received a share of Freeman Howell’s estate.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
William Ann Howell/Floyd (b. 1849), daughter of James Floyd and Eliza Howell received a share of Freeman Howell's estate. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Willie Ann Howell/Floyd (b. 1849), daughter of James Floyd and Eliza Howell received a share of Freeman Howell’s estate.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Napolean Bonapart Tyler (1916-1986) was the son of John Henry Tyler, the grandson of Elizabeth Howell and Benjamin Tyler, and the great-grandson of Allen Howell and Malinda Parrish. Source: Darrin Norwood
Napolean Bonepart Tyler (1916-1986) was the son of John Henry Tyler, the grandson of Elizabeth Howell and Benjamin Tyler, and the great-grandson of Allen Howell and Malinda Parrish.
Source: Darrin Norwood

There was a Margaret Owen who received a share of $3.15 of Freeman Howell’s estate. That is 1/3 of the $9.45 that was distributed to Freeman Howell’s children which suggests that this Margaret Owen was one of three siblings, who were grandchildren of Freeman Howell.

A Margaret Owen received a share of Freeman Howell's estate. The amount of $3.15 suggests that she was one of three siblings who were grandchildren of Freeman Howell. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
A Margaret Owen received a share of Freeman Howell’s estate. The amount of $3.15 suggests that she was one of three siblings who were grandchildren of Freeman Howell.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

There was a Lucy Chavis who received a share of $1.58 of Freeman Howell’s estate. This is Lucy (Howell) Chavis b. 1843 who married Lawson Chavis (b. 1833) on 20 Nov 1865 in Person Co, NC. I’m not sure who Lucy Howell’s parents were because the first time I find her in the census she’s living in the household of Nelson Cousins (b. 1794) and Julia Howell (1797-1870). So we know Lucy Howell is definitely a descendant of Freeman Howell. It’s also worth mentioning that both Lucy (Howell) Chavis and the previously discussed Elizabeth Howell (b. 1850) received $1.58 each, suggesting a close (sibling?) relationship between the two.

Lucy (Howell) Chavis (b. 1843) received a share of Freeman Howell's estate. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Lucy (Howell) Chavis (b. 1843) received a share of Freeman Howell’s estate.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

And finally there is an Elizabeth Haithcock who received a share of 85 cents from Freeman Howell’s estate. Her husband William Haithcok signed the receipt for her and stated that his wife Elizabeth’s maiden name was Howell. I found a William Howell (a blacksmith) and Bettie Howell in the 1860 census in Granville Co and they seem to fit. But this same William Haithcock appears in the 1870 and 1880 census as a blacksmith with a wife name Isabella Haithcock. Also Elizabeth (Howell) Haithcock received 85 cents which is the same amount that the children of John Howell and Jane Harris received. However there is no record of John Howell and Jane Harris having a daughter named Elizabeth. So I’m also not sure what to make of this.

Elizabeth (Howell) Haithcock received a share of Freeman Howell's estate and her husband William Haithcock signed the receipt on her behalf. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Elizabeth (Howell) Haithcock received a share of Freeman Howell’s estate and her husband William Haithcock signed the receipt on her behalf.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

Advertisements

“mind and body that are unmistakably Indian” – Historian Oscar W. Blacknall on the “free negroes” of Granville County

Given the frequency of racial mislabeling of Granville County’s Native Americans, how exactly can we be sure we’re correctly identifying “Indian” people? This is a fair and common question. Identifying Native Americans in the colonial and historical records throughout the Southeast is very challenging because Native Americans were seldomly identified individually by name and all free non-whites fell under the politically created term “free colored”. In addition, any real or perceived African racial “admixture” usually meant Native Americans with any African ancestry, were often not enumerated in official government documents as “Indian”. In spite of these challenges, there are still ways to correctly identify Native American communities.

This is why the writing of local Granville County historian Oscar W. Blacknall (1852-1918) is crucial in understanding the identify and social life of Granville County’s Native American community. As a white man, he provides an outsider perspective of the community but because of his family’s deep colonial roots in the area, he was intimately familiar with the community’s families. And one very important and consistent description in Blacknall’s writing about the “free colored” community is that although he includes the term “free negro” to describe the people, he is absolutely certain of their “Indian” racial identity.


Background Information on Oscar W. Blacknall aka David Dodge

Members of Oscar W Blacknall's family: 1. Son Oscar Blacknall Jr. 2. Son Charles "Harry" Blacknall 3. Son Harcourt Blacknall 4. Brother Charles Lee Blacknall Ellis Home Place on  Overton St. Kittrell, NC Circa 1895 Oscar Blacknall later purchased this property in 1908. Source: G. Faye Ascue
Members of Oscar W Blacknall’s family:
1. Son Oscar Blacknall Jr.
2. Son Charles “Harry” Blacknall
3. Son Harcourt Blacknall
4. Brother Charles Lee Blacknall
Ellis Home Place on Overton St. Kittrell, NC. Circa 1895
Oscar Blacknall later purchased this property in 1908.
Source: G. Faye Ascue

Before we explore his writings, here is some background info on Oscar W. Blacknall (1852-1918). He was the son of fallen Confederate soldier Col. Charles C. Blacknall and Virginia Baskerville Spencer. His paternal great-grandmother was Mary “Polly” Kittrell, whose Kittrell family is the namesake for the town of Kittrell where her family has pre Revolutionary War roots. Blacknall wrote in many newspapers and magazines, sometimes under the pseudonym “David Dodge”. His life ended in a murder-suicide tragedy in 1918 when he killed his wife, his daughter, and then killed himself. This was after the devastating deaths of several of his children.

Source: Oxford Public Ledger, 10 Jul 1918, Wed, Page 1
Source: Oxford Public Ledger, 10 Jul 1918, Wed, Page 1

“The Free Negroes of North Carolina” from January 1886, The Atlantic Monthly

The first Blacknall writing that we will discuss is titled, “The Free Negroes of North Carolina” in the January 1886 edition of The Atlantic Monthly. Blacknall wrote this article under his pseudonym “David Dodge”. It is a long article and I will not be reposting the entire text, but you can access the full text here. Instead I will repost important excerpts, starting with this one:

The other factor in their decadence — or perhaps more correctly, another cause of their torpor and inelasticity — is the considerable infusion of Indian blood generally diffused by exclusive intermarriage in their own class, and which has unduly asserted itself owing to their irregular mode of life for many generations. From the nature of the case, the extent of this infusion is of course hard to approximate. If the account of the free negro himself is to be received, it is large, though his anxiety to disown all negro affinity causes one to receive his statement with caution and allowance. But, tradition aside, many, if not the larger part, of the free negroes whose freedom dates back further than this century show traits of mind and body that are unmistakably Indian. In many instances, long, coarse, straight black hair and high cheek-bones are joined with complexions whose duskiness disclaims white blood and with features clearly un-African. True, these extreme types are the exception; but the majority shade up to it more or less closely. These traits are more noticeable among women, forming no exception to the usual accentuation of racial characteristics in the female. The mental qualities of unrecuperativeness and transcendent indolence of a drowsy, listless type, coupled with lurking vindictiveness, all point the same way.

This excerpt shows that Blacknall is unequivocal in his statement that the “free negroes” of the area he lived in are Native Americans. He even describes how the people strongly self-identify as “Indian”, perhaps at times over-stating their Indian identity. Blacknall believes the people to be not only Indian in their appearance but also in their personality and lifestyle. He uses the common racial tropes of “high cheekbones” and “straight hair” to describe the women as “Indian”. And Blacknall also points out what he perceives to be the community’s anti-modern, backwards, suspicious, and lazy demeanor as characteristically “Indian”. Something that he eludes to but discusses in more detail in the subsequent excerpt, is the extremely endogamous marriage patterns of the community – i.e., people almost exclusively marry their own kin.

My neighborhood contains an “Ol’ Isshy” town, a petrified remnant of the past, hardly an exaggeration of the general type, in which the above race marks are to be seen in their full development. It stands about five miles from the railroad station, and consists of some half a dozen families, scantily provided with fathers, crowded into as many little huts scattered here and there on a “slipe” of very poor, rocky ridge. Here they have vegetated for several generations since their ancestors immigrated from Virginia, early in the century. They are intensely clannish and loyal to each other, timid and suspicious of the outside world, of which they are incredibly ignorant. Many of the women have grown old without ever seeing the cars or having been in a town, although almost within sight of both. They still cherish boundless respect for the class that are to them, and to them alone, “rich folks,” coupled with an abiding dislike of the “New Isshy,” especially if he is black. A marriage, even a liaison, with one would be instantly fatal to the reputation of any female among them, though, excepting the African, the children of many, in point of variety of color at least, might serve to illustrate the five races of mankind. After their own immediate class, they associate almost wholly with the poorest whites, though not quite as equals.

We see Blacknall describe in more detail why members of the Native American community exclusively married their own kin because it was socially unacceptable for them to marry blacks or whites. He does concede that the community would sometimes intermarry with “poor whites” because both groups occupied similar social standing. Even though most members of the Native American community had varying amounts of both African and European ancestry, Blacknall shows that they still self-identified as “Indian” and were identified as “Indian” by their black and white neighbors.

The term “Old Isshy” referred to the “free-born” status of the Native American community, whereas “New Isshy” referred to the “freed slave” status of the black community. This distinction was apparently important for both communities to make which resulted in the use of this terminology. Blacknall also describes a particular cluster of families from the Native American community living a few miles from his home that I have pointed out on the map:

This is a zoomed in map of Granville County. Oscar Blacknall's family's property  is marked on the map, along the referenced Kittrell train station and the Native American community he called the
This is a zoomed in map of Granville County. Oscar Blacknall’s family’s property is marked on the map, along with the referenced Kittrell train station and the Native American community he called the “Ol Isshy” community.

As you can see, 5 miles from the Kittrell train station is the precise location of the Native American community that is mostly centered around Fishing Creek and then expands in various directions including Kittrell, Oxford, and Brassfield. Native Americans families lived in tight clusters throughout the county, but the Fishing Creek area is the oldest area with the highest concentration of Native American families. The Native American families who most commonly lived in tight clusters in the Fishing Creek/Kittrell area that Blacknall described include: Chavis, Harris, Pettiford, Anderson, Bass, Mitchell, Parker, Howell, Boon, Scott, Brandon, Evans, Guy, Richardson, Taborn, Tyler, Hedgepeth, Jones and Hawley.

George Huley Tyler (1886-1961) was the son of John Thomas Tyler and Mary Etta Guy. He was nearly a lifelong member of the Granville County's Native American community (he lived in Fishing Creek and Kittrell) and moved to Boston, MA later in life. George also descends from the Day, Kersey, Anderson, Bass, Taborn, Chavis, and Evans families. Though he was recorded as
George Huley Tyler (1886-1961) was the son of John Thomas Tyler and Mary Etta Guy. He was nearly a lifelong resident of the Granville County’s Native American community (he lived in Fishing Creek and Kittrell) and moved to Boston, MA later in life. In addition to the Tyler and Guy families, George also descends from the Day, Kersey, Anderson, Bass, Taborn, Chavis, and Evans families. Though he was recorded as “mulatto”, “black”, and “Negro” on all U.S. federal censuses, he was recorded as “Indian” on his World War 1 draft card.
Source: Robert Tyler

The “poor whites” that the Native American community intermarried with, were most often white women. Blacknall further explains here:

Indeed, of all the hundreds of free negroes that I have known from childhood, I cannot now recall a dozen black or very dark ones. Hardly a neighborhood was free from low white women who married or cohabited with free negroes. Well can I recollect the many times when, with the inconsiderate curiosity of a child, I hurriedly climbed the front gate-post to get a good look at a shriveled old white woman trudging down the lane, who, when young, I was told, had had her free-negro lover bled, and drank some of his blood, so that she might swear she had negro blood in her, and thus marry him without penalty. Since I became a man I have heard it corroborated by those who knew, and I still occasionally see the children of this tragic marriage, now grown old men.

From looking at census records and marriage records for members of the community, I as well noticed a pattern of poor white women who lived among and had children with men from the community. For example:

In this page from the 1850 census, you can see two white women named Lucy Mangum and Virginia Jackson listed among members of the  Day, Anderson, Taborn, and Richardson families of Native American community who are racially classified as
On this page from the 1850 census, you can see two white women named Lucy Mangum and Virginia Jackson listed living among members of the Day, Anderson, Taborn, and Richardson families of the Native American community who are racially classified as “M” for “mulatto”. Lucy Mangum and Virginia Jackson had children with men from the community but because of laws against interracial marriage, they could not marry their partners. Their “mixed race” children are listed as “mulatto”.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 106A; Image: 211

What I find also very informative about this article is that Blacknall discusses the changing attitudes that whites had towards the Native American community. Before and right after the Revolutionary War, whites looked at the community favorably. But due to increasing fears of slave revolts, whites began to distrust all “free people of color”:

The attitude of the races towards each other was widely different from what it afterwards became. But about 1830, a growing mistrust on the part of the whites manifested itself. Abolitionism, hitherto the hobby of visionaries and isolated philanthropists, had now grown to be the watchword of a militant, uncompromising party. Its subtle leaven permeated the whole country, encouraging the slave, exasperating the master.

Blacknall later references the 1831 Nat Turner slave rebellion in Virginia, which prompted the North Carolina legislature to completely disenfranchise the rights of “free people of color” in 1835. This included taking away the right to vote and the right to own firearms. As a result, attitudes towards the Native American community greatly shifted during the decades leading up the Civil War and the community suffered for it. Blacknall echoes this sentiment:

There is still a tradition among them in Granville County that they lost the franchise on account of their persistent support of the notorious Potter. Potter, though a man of parts and a natural orator, was a consummate demagogue and a violent, unscrupulous man, whose new departure in iniquity evoked special legislation. Toward the last, the free negroes falling more and more into disrepute, their support carried such a stigma with it as to be an element of weakness rather than of strength to a candidate. More than one candidate of those days, twitted by his opponent on the stump about this element of his constituency, retorted by declaring his willingness to throw out every free-negro ballot, if his assailant would do likewise. After this period, the life of the free negro grew unspeakably harder. Not so much that the laws were harsher, but because the attitude of the whites became and continued more hostile.

And Blacknall continues:

It is not to be wondered that the free negroes, unelastic and prone to unthrift, underwent still further deterioration. Cowed, perplexed, and dispirited, they huddled together on any scant, sterile bit of land that they were fortunate enough to be possessed of, erected clusters of their frail little huts, and like oppressed, hopeless classes the world over sunk into profound listlessness and sloth. The women grew unchaste, the men dishonest, until in many minds the term “free negro” became a synonym for all that was worthless and despicable.

William Jasper Tyler (1892-1958)  was the son of John Thomas Tyler and Mary Etta Guy. And he was a brother to the above pictures George Huley Tyler. William lived in the Native American community in Fishing Creek, graduated from Mary Potter High School and worked as a photographer. He moved to New York City in his later years. In addition to the Tyler and Guy families, William also descends from the Day, Kersey, Anderson, Bass, Taborn, Chavis, and Evans families. Though he was recorded as “mulatto”, “black”, and “Negro” on all U.S. federal censuses, he was recorded as “Indian” on his World War 2 draft card. Source: Carole Allen
William Jasper Tyler (1892-1958) was the son of John Thomas Tyler and Mary Etta Guy. And he was a brother to the above pictured George Huley Tyler. William lived in the Native American community in Fishing Creek, graduated from Mary Potter High School and worked as a photographer. He moved to New York City in his later years. In addition to the Tyler and Guy families, William also descends from the Day, Kersey, Anderson, Bass, Taborn, Chavis, and Evans families. Though he was recorded as “mulatto”, “black”, and “Negro” on all U.S. federal censuses, he was recorded as “Indian” on his World War 2 draft card.
Source: Robert Tyler

Oscar W. Blacknall’s Letters to the Editor in 1895

Though the 1886 Atlantic Monthly article is full of rich description, Oscar Blacknall failed to provide any specific names of people from the Native American community. In this published letter from 1895 he did provide names, but he mixed up their identities:

Source: News and Observer, 12 Oct 1895, Sat, Page 2
Source: News and Observer, 12 Oct 1895, Sat, Page 2

In this letter, Blacknall cites a man named “Chavers” who was a school teacher that taught white students. (“Chavers” is a common spelling variation of “Chavis”). He says this same man owned a huge tract of land along the Tar River and that there is still a bridge and road named after him. Though, Blacknall did not give the man’s first name, there is no doubt he is referring to John Chavis (1763-1838), a Revolutionary War soldier who famously became a Presbyterian preacher and taught white students. However John Chavis was not the owner of the large tract of land along the Tar River. That was William Chavis (1709-1778), founder of Granville County’s Native American community. And it is William Chavis, not John Chavis, who is the namesake for the road and bridge. It is not known if the two men were related. John Chavis (1763-1838) was born in Mecklenburg Co, VA and was the son of a Jacob Chavis and Elizabeth Evans. Blacknall mistakenly conflated the two men but a couple of weeks later, Blacknall corrects his mistake in another letter to the newspaper:

Source: News and Observer, 31 Oct 1895, Thu, Page 2
Source: News and Observer, 31 Oct 1895, Thu, Page 2

Immediately, Blacknall admits his mistake in conflating the two men and says that it is William Chavis (1709-1778) who was the large land owner. He refers to Chavis’ land as the “old Chavis tract” and describes it as beginning at Lynch Creek and going 16 miles upstream to Fishing Creek. His land then extended continuously a full 5 miles inland from the banks of Tar River. I have outlined William Chavis’ land tract below:

Granville County's Native American community founder William Chavis originally owned land that stretched from Lynch's Creek 16 miles upstream to Fishing Creek and went 5 miles inland from the Tar River. This is approximately 80 square miles or 51,200 acres of continuous land. This was the land base for the community. © Kianga Lucas
Granville County’s Native American community founder William Chavis (1709-1778) originally owned land that stretched from Lynch’s Creek 16 miles upstream to Fishing Creek and went 5 miles inland from the Tar River. This is approximately 80 square miles or 51,200 acres of continuous land. This is the land base for the community.
© Kianga Lucas

51,200 acres is an enormous amount of land and is far beyond the Chavis land that was described in Wes White’s write-up for the Lumbee Tribe’s federal recognition. (The Lumbee Chavis family descends from William Chavis’ son Phillip Chavis). Blacknall believes that Chavis came to own such a large, continuous tract of land directly by way of John Cateret, 2nd Earl of Granville (1690-1763). As I discussed in an earlier blog post, the entire upper half of North Carolina was owned by John Cateret and was known as “Granville District”. The Blacknall Family property was originally part of the old Chavis land tract, so that is why Oscar Blacknall was intimately familiar with the history of who owned the land before his own family. This expansive tract of land that William Chavis owned, formed the land base for Granville County’s Native American community. So when I refer to the original land base for the community, you now know exactly what I’m referring to. Also note that this land was not “communally owned”, but rather privately owned by William Chavis and later divided into smaller plots privately owned by other community members. So it was not a bounded reservation, and increasingly over time as land was sold off, many unrelated families both white and black, came to reside in this location. (Note: William Chavis and his wife Frances Gibson are my 7th great-grandparents).

In this article, Blacknall also discusses William Chavis’ son Gibson “Gibbs” Chavis (1737-1777) who he says is the namesake for Gibb’s Creek  (part of the original Chavis land tract). Gibson Chavis was the owner of a racing horse named “Black Snake” who won Gibson a lot of money. However one night, Gibson Chavis was killed by a group of men he had won money off of from his racing horse. The fact that Gibson named his horse “Black Snake” is very culturally relevant. Black snakes are common in the area and traditional indigenous belief is that the snake holds a lot of power and medicine. The black snake is even featured on the Haliwa-Saponi tribal seal:

Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Seal The black snake is featured in the center of the seal.
Haliwa-Saponi Tribal Seal
The black snake is featured in the center of the seal.

As the letter continues, Blacknall reiterates many of the points he raised in the 1886 Atlantic Monthly article. Here is an excerpt:

“Excepting Wake county, I found them far more numerous in Granville County as well as much more characteristic of the type…I found that many of the families denied that their ancestors had ever been slaves. This denial I naturally attributed to their pride or ignorance. But it turned out they were right. An investigation as far as practicable of their genealogy SHOWED THEM TO BE LARGELY OF INDIAN BLOOD……Their prejudices against the slaves were so strong that nearly all the affinity of the free negro was with the lowest class of whites. As this exclusiveness still prevails, many known as free negroes probably have not one drop of negro blood.”

In the article, he also discusses slave ownership among the “free negro” population. Blacknall found that some of the “free negroes” were themselves slave owners. This is true – for example William Chavis (1709-1778) the community’s founder, did own slaves. Though by the early 1800s, nearly all of the community members no longer owned slaves.

As the letter goes on, Blacknall again emphasized the division between the Native American community and the black freedmen community, saying that intermarriage and socialization between the two was so frowned upon that members of the Native American community likely had little to no African blood. It is difficult to discern how true this statement is because of the way all non-whites were classified using the same racial terms. So “degrees of Indian blood” for members of the community were not historically recorded. It is very much worth mentioning that it may have been true that intermarriage between members of the free-born Native American community and freedmen black was nearly non existent during Blacknall’s lifetime, but starting in the early-mid 20th century, the communities did begin to intermarry and socialize much more.


Final Comments

I’ve come to learn that much of Oscar Blacknall’s writing and research was destroyed in a house fire. This is truly unfortunate because as you can see, Blacknall’s insights offer a rare glimpse into a community that few of his contemporaries had any interest in. However, if you come across more of his writing that is relevant to the Native American community in Granville County, please leave a comment.

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 just barely 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. This blog post takes a closer look at the indigenous place names local to Granville County.

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 (1706-1778), 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 from the Ohio River valley 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. Please note that this map does not reflect all past or current Native American sites but rather shows locations that are most relevant to Granville’s Native Americans.

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