Tag Archives: Saponi

The Pamunkey Origins of the FPOC Howell Family

The FPOC Howell family traces directly back to a young woman named Dorothy Howell who lived in the early 1700s. As a “mixed-race” Pamunkey woman, Dorothy became geographically separated from her people when she had to live across the river from the Pamunkey reservation, as a house servant to a leading colonial family. Consequently, the lives of her descendants followed different paths with some leaving the area to intermarry with other tribes, while others who were determined to stay, continued to intermarry with the Pamunkey. This blog post takes a close look at the branch of the Howell family that stayed closely connected to the Pamunkey tribe and who have descendants enrolled in the tribe today. A great variety of records that I have amassed will be used to help document their lives.


Dorothy Howell (b. 1707) of New Kent County

Untitled presentation
Family Tree that shows the descedants of Dorothy Howell. This blog post examines the lineage traced down to John Howell b. 1822 and his wife Susan Pearman b. 1827 whose descendants are enrolled with the Pamunkey tribe.

The earliest documented direct lineal ancestor of the FPOC Howell family was a woman named Dorothy Howell (b. 1707). For me, she is my 7th great-grandmother. What we know about Dorothy Howell comes directly from the Registry Book of St. Peter’s Parish. The parish was formed in 1678 and served New Kent and James City counties. Births, deaths, and marriages are recorded in the Vestry Book, so these records help to establish Dorothy Howell’s approximate birth year, her location, and clues into her ethnic heritage. I know of no surviving records where we get to hear testimony from Dorothy Howell herself to understand her life and identity from her perspective. So this is something important to keep in mind as we review the historical archive.

The earliest record for Dorothy Howell, is when the birth of her daughter Judith Howell was recorded in the St. Peter’s Parish book in 1725:

Judith Howell
“Judith daughter of Dorothy Howell a mallatto servant to Mr. Sherwood Lightfoot born, 1725.” Source: The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter’s Parish of New Kent County, VA, 1684-1786. Page 473

The next and final record of Dorothy Howell which mentions her specifically by name is for the birth of her son Robbin Howell in the St. Peter’s Parish book in 1730/31:

Robbin Howell
“Robbin a mulatto son of Dorothy Howel born March 18th, 1730/1.” Source: The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter’s Parish of New Kent County, VA 1684-1786. Page 468

Given the birth dates of her two documented children, Judith born in 1725 and Robbin born in 1730/31, Dorothy Howell was likely born around 1707 (as genealogist Paul Heinegg suggests). In the birth record of her daughter Judith, Dorothy is referred to as a mulatto and in the birth record of her son Robbin, he is referred to as a mulatto. So we know that Dorothy Howell was considered a person of color with a likely “mixed race” background. We also know that she was a free woman because she is called a servant of a man named Sherwood Lightfoot. Notice that in the record for the birth of her son Robbin, Dorothy Howell is not referred to as a servant. The reason for this is that Sherwood Lightfoot died on 26 April 1730. If Dorothy had not already completed the length of her servitude, the death of Sherwood Lightfoot likely released her from service.

It is important to contextualize how the word “mulatto” was used in Virginia in the 1700s. In October 1705 (just twenty years before the birth of Judith Howell), the Acts of Assembly in Virginia defined “mulatto”, “as the child of an Indian, the child, grandchild or great-grandchild of a Negro”. Therefore the term “mulatto” encompassed many varieties of ethnic admixtures. Thus Dorothy Howell could have been mixed European and African, mixed European and Native American, or mixed European, African and Native American. In consideration of the historical analysis that I will provide over the following sections and given that her descendants are well documented as Pamunkey Indians, I believe that Dorothy Howell was a “mixed race” Pamunkey Indian.

The Pamunkey are one of many tribes that compromise the Powhatan Confederacy which once dominated the Tidewater Virginia area.

Powhatan Confederacy
A map of where the various tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy were located in 1607. Source: Helen Rountree

 

Because of the limited documentation on Dorothy Howell, the next section will take a close look at the man whose residence she lived and work in, Sherwood Lightfoot.


Sherwood Lightfoot and St. Peter’s Parish

Sherwood Lightfoot (1686-1730) was the son of Col. John Lightfoot and Ann Goodrich, a wealthy British colonial family. Ann Goodrich’s parents were Major Thomas Goodrich and Ann Sherwood of Old Rappahannock County, VA (present day Essex County, VA). Major Thomas Goodrich played a significant role during a pinnacle event in Virginia colonial history. Goodrich was a top lieutenant for Nathaniel Bacon during a violent episode known as “Bacon’s Rebellion”. In 1676, Bacon and allied colonists, formed an armed rebellion against colonial Virginia Governor William Berkeley. The colonists accused Governor Berkeley of not protecting their interests. During this violent uprising, Powhatan tribal peoples living in coastal Virginia were slaughtered by the rebellious colonists. You can learn more about Bacon’s Rebellion here.

Before becoming a lieutenant in Bacon’s Rebellion, Major Thomas Goodrich was a signatory to a treaty with a Powhatan tribe, dated September 1655 in Old Rappahannock Co, VA. The text reads:

“At a court September 1655 Rappahannock Present Coll Moore Fantleroy Capt Francis Slaughter Majr Thos Goodrich Mr Andrew Gilson Mr. Thos Lucas Senior Mr Richard Loe Capt William Underwood Mr Humphrey Boot The King Masquran Mquanzafsi Caskamino”

Source: http://gedcom.surnames.com/burgess_jim/np247.htm

Another relevant connection between Sherwood Lightfoot and Native American peoples is through his brother Goodrich Lightfoot. In the St. Peter’s Parish records, Goodrich Lightfoot is documented owning an “Indian” slave named Charles:

Charles the Indian Goodrich Lightfoot
“Charles an Indian belonging to Captain Goodrich Lightfoot died October 9, 1722.” Source: Source: The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter’s Parish of New Kent County, VA 1684-1786. Page 64

Goodrich Lightfoot is also connected to the origins of the “free colored” Evans family of Granville County, who descend from Morris Evans and his wife Jane Gibson the younger. Some of Morris and Jane’s descendants were illegally held as slaves by Goodrich Lightfoot and later sold to other slave owners. The Evans descendants were able to obtain their freedom by proving they descended from a free Indian woman – Jane Gibson the elder who was the mother of Jane Gibson the younger. Unfortunately Jane Gibson’s tribe is not specified in those records, but given the location, it’s most likely she was of Powhatan heritage. I have a blog post where I discuss the Native American origins of the Evans family here. Also descendants of the Evans family and of the Howell family often intermarried throughout Virginia and North Carolina, so it is common to find people who descend from both lineages (self included).

It is important to take a moment to study the geography of where Sherwood Lightfoot and his brother Goodrich Lightfoot lived and how this factors into understanding the heritage of Dorothy Howell.  Sherwood Lightfoot’s estate was located on the banks of the Pamunkey River, directly across from the Pamunkey Indian reservation. In 1707, Col. John Lightfoot died and his sons Goodrich and Sherwood Lighfoot inherited his large land holdings along the Pamunkey River which he originally purchased in 1686.

Pamunkey_map 1
Brothers Sherwood Lightot and Goodrich Lightfoot lived on properties that were about 1 mile apart and directly across from the Pamunkey Indian reservation. Sherwood resided at “Ricahock” and Goodrich resided at the “White House”. Source: http://archive.wetlandstudies.com/newsletters/2016/January/Pamunkey.html
Pamunkey River
A recent photo taken from the shores of the Pamunkey Indian reservation along the Pamunkey River. The land directly across the river is where Sherwood Lightfoot and his servant Dorothy Howell lived. Photo courtesy of Azie Dungey

The geographical proximity of Sherwood Lightfoot and his brother Goodrich Lightfoot to the Pamunkey Reservation is also evident in a diary entry from Col. William Byrd. On September 22 and 23, 1712, Byrd described staying at the homes of both brothers before going to the Pamunkey reservation to meet the Governor.

Byrd and Lightfoot brothers
Excerpt from Col. William Byrd’s diary which demonstrates that Sherwood Lightfoot lived directly across from the Pamunkey reservation, commonly called “Pamunkey Town”. Source:  “Old New Kent County [Virginia]: Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places, Volume 1” by Malcolm Harris. Page 123.

Additionally, Sherwood’s father Col. John Lightfoot who had previously owned the land before Sherwood, is noted for having “difficulties” with the Pamunkey Indians who lived across the river from him.

Lt John Lightfoot and Pamunkey
Col. John Lightfoot, the father of Sherwood Lightfoot, is noted for having “difficulties” with the Pamunkey Indians who lived across the river from his estate. Source: “Old New Kent County [Virginia]: Some Account of the Planters, Volume 1” by Malcolm Harris. Page 122.

Pamunkey Origins

So what does this tell us so far? We have the Lightfoot family whom in successive generations have a number of notable interactions with Powhatan peoples – Major Thomas Goodrich who was a signatory of a treaty and also fought in Bacon’s Rebellion; Col. John Lightfoot whose estate was across the river from the Pamunkey reservation and had difficulties with the tribe, and brothers Sherwood and Goodrich Lightfoot who inherited their father’s estate from across the Pamunkey reservation and are noted for enslaving local Native American peoples.  Dorothy Howell was a free woman living and working as an indentured servant in Sherwood’s household, and I do believe her heritage is from the Pamunkey reservation. Perhaps she or one of her parents was the offspring of a Howell colonist and a Pamunkey Indian woman? Or even a Howell woman and a Pamunkey Indian man?

At this time, Dorothy Howell’s parents are unidentified. Her birth was not recorded in the St. Peter’s Parish records and for Dorothy to be a free-born person means that her mother was also free.

I looked through earlier records to see if I could find any Howells who lived in the area and who had any interactions with Native Americans. It was not uncommon for some Native Americans to adopt the surnames of “friendly whites”, so it’s possible the Howell surname entered the local Native American population through that manner.

In court records for neighboring Charles City County, there was a John Howell who in 1659 received permission from the courts to hire an “Indian”. This person is not identified by name or by tribe.

Lt John Howell
John Howell was allowed to employ an “Indian” on 3 Aug 1659 in Charles City County, VA. Source: https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/jame1/moretti-langholtz/chap10a.htm

The John Howell named in this record was a man named  Lt John Howell (1623-1679) who was a Welsh-born colonist. Some additional information about him can be found here.

There was also an Edmund Howell who lived in nearby Surry Co, VA who was a participant in Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, just like Sherwood Lightfoot’s grandfather Major Thomas Goodrich. This same Edmund Howell left a 1679 will which named his godson Gibson Gibson. This Gibson Gibson was a mixed race Native American and a relative of Jane Gibson the elder whose Evans descendants were illegally enslaved by Goodrich Lightfoot. Edmund Howell had a son named William Howell who left a 1718 will which named sons William, Thomas, Edmund, and Joseph. Perhaps Dorothy Howell (or one of her parents) was a mixed race offspring of one of these Howell men and she ended up as an indentured servant with Lightfoots who were family friends? You can read more about Edmund Howell and his relationship to the Gibson family here.

I also found another record which offers precedence for Pamunkey Indians desiring to leave the reservation to live with the nearby white population. On 27 Oct 1709, in neighboring James City County, a Pamunkey Indian named Robin asked permission to remain among the white population so that he could continue his shoemaking business. His request was granted:

Robin Pamunkey
Source: https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_books/jame1/moretti-langholtz/chap10a.htm

 

I also found another record in the St. Peter’s Parish register that could possibly pertain to Dorothy Howell:

Thurs Dec 20, 1722 – Sherwood was paid 500 lbs of tobacco for keeping a “mollatto child of the parish”.

The Sherwood referenced here is Sherwood Lightfoot. Could this mulatto child be Dorothy Howell? In 1722, Dorothy Howell would have been about 15 years old, so still a minor. Because Sherwood Lightfoot was paid for taking in this child, we know that this child was not a slave.

In summary, all of these records present possible scenarios for how Dorothy Howell acquired her Howell surname and how she became an indentured servant for a prominent colonial family.


The Howells Descendants Diverge

As discussed earlier, Dorothy Howell had a daughter named Judith Howell who was born in 1725. 27 years later in 1752, we find Judith Howell a few counties over to the West in the Amelia County, VA records. And the following year in 1753 her son Matthew Howell (1752-1793) was bound out. Judith Howell lived in the Amelia County area at the same time it was reported a group of Saponi Indians lived in a small village built of cabins. I discussed this in an earlier blogpost here. It was in Amelia County that Judith Howell’s branch of the Howell family, first began to intermarry with the Saponi who were gradually moving away from the former Saponi reservation called Ft. Christanna. Matthew Howell continued to move further into the Southside counties of Virginia and his descendants continued to intermarry with the Saponi descendants in the area. Descendants of Matthew Howell’s daughter Elizabeth Howell b. 1783 relocated to Ohio and today are found among the Saponi-Catawba Nation in Ohio. Descendants of his son Freeman Howell (1777-1870) are the North Carolina branch and spread first into Granville County with some moving into Orange, Person, and Alamance counties. This is my branch of the Howell family and you can read more about Freeman Howell’s descendants here.

From the St. Peter’s Parish and Revolutionary War records, we learn that there was a branch of the Howell family that remained in New Kent County and therefore continued to intermarry with the Pamunkey. Please note that the genealogy that I will present here diverges a bit from the genealogy presented by Paul Heinegg about the Howell family. I found additional documents to corroborate the timeline and dates that I am presenting.

Robert Howell (1730/1740 – 1780) and his wife Mary are shown as the parents of several “mulatto” children whose births were recorded in the St. Peter’s Parish registry. I have estimated that Robert Howell was born between 1730 and 1740 based upon the ages of his children and other life events. And given Robert Howell’s approximate age, it makes the most sense that he was a son of Dorothy Howell (Heinegg tentatively believes that Robert Howell is Judith Howell’s son). The maiden name of Robert Howell’s wife Mary is unknown. From the St. Peter’s records, we learn that Robert Howell was the father of John Godfrey Howell born 12 July 1768 and twin daughters named Betsey and Sarah Howell who were born 22 March 1771. We also learn from Revolutionary War bounty land records that Robert Howell enlisted while living in New Kent County and died a year or two into his service. No dates are given, so I have estimated that he died around 1780. Thomas Howell was named as the heir at law of Robert Howell and that his parents were legally married. So this means Robert Howell had another son named Thomas Howell (more on him below). You can read Robert Howell’s transcribed Revolutionary War records and see the original images  here.

Thomas Howell b. 1760 who is documented as Robert Howell’s heir, was also a Revolutionary War soldier and there are records from his service which help document his life. Thomas Howell filed for a pension in 1836 while living in the city of Richmond, VA. He stated that he was 76 at the time, thus he was born around 1760. He enlisted while living in New Kent County and said that his birth was registered at St. Peter’s Parish. This is a key detail because it is consistent with Thomas Howell being a son of Robert Howell who we know was living in New Kent County and whose children were recorded in the St. Peter’s Parish records. After the War, Thomas Howell states he resided in the city of Richmond through to the present. You can read a transcribed version of Thomas Howell’s pension application here. Thomas Howell’s testimony is consistent with the census records which show him as the head of a “free colored” household in Richmond in the 1810 and 1820 censuses and in Henrico Co in the 1830 census (Richmond was enumerated in Henrico Co that year). I found no other Thomas Howells living anywhere in the Richmond from this time period, so I’m confident that this is him recorded in the census.

Fold3_Page_6_Revolutionary_War_Pension_and_BountyLand_Warrant_Application_Files
An excerpt from Thomas Howell’s Revolutionary War pension application. His answers to the first three questions provide key details about where he was from. “1. I was born in St. Peter’s Parish New Kent County Virginia 2. I believe there is a record of my age in New Kent Clerks Office. 3. I resided in New Kent when called into service, since that I have resided in this City.” Source: Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files; R5300, Page 6

The births of Thomas Howell’s children were recorded in the St. Peter’s Parish records as well, so we are able to continue to trace his line forward. His wife was named Lucy, but her maiden name is unknown. Son Robert Howell was born 20 Feb 1785 and the births of his daughters were recorded: Susannah in born 17 Apr 1787, Rebecca in born 27 Apr 1790 and Elizabeth in born 12 Mar 1794.

Robert Howell b. 1785 married Kitty Didlake on 22 Dec 1810 in Henrico County and that same year is enumerated in the census for Henrico County, head of a household of 2 “free colored” persons. It is his lineage who brings the Howells full circle back into the tight-knit Pamunkey tribal community


The Pamunkey Howell Family From the 1800s Onward

During the 1800s, Pamunkeys who lived off the reservation in neighboring New Kent County, began to emerge as a group referred to as the “Cumberland Indians”. Cumberland is a town in New Kent County where many off reservation Pamunkey families resided. In her book “Pocahontas People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries”, historian Helen Rountree refers to the Pamunkeys residing in New Kent County as “fringe Indians” and includes the Howell family in this group. The term “fringe Indians” seems to imply that those living off the reservation, lost their tribal identity and this is simply not the case. Historian Arica Coleman and others have pushed back against Rountree’s “fringe Indians”, and instead I will refer to the Pamunkeys living in New Kent as the “Cumberland Indians”.

John Howell b. 1822 was the son of previously mentioned Robert Howell b. 1785. It is John Howell’s family who emerges as a leading and integral family among the Cumberland Indians. John Howell was married to Susan Pearman and they are enumerated in the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses in New Kent County and sometimes classified as “mulatto” and sometimes classified as “Indian”. Susan Pearman was also an Indian woman and the daughter of Michael Pearman and Lucy Jarvis. The descendants of John Howell and Susan Pearman intermarried with just about every other Pamunkey family: Collins, Langston, Cook, Stewart, Dennis, Allmond, Wynn, Dungee, Miles, Tupponce, Adkins, Bradby, Custalow, etc (some of these surnames and families are also found among the neighboring Chickahominy and Mattaponi tribes).

Below is a picture of John Howell and Susan Pearman’s daughter Pinkie Howell b. 1865. She married fellow Pamunkey Simeon Collins b. 1859 and so they are shown here with their children. The photo was taken during an anthropological survey of the Pamunkey reservation.

Simeon Collins with wife Pinkie Howell and children. New Kent Co, VA. Identified as Pamunkey Indians. Smithsonian Archives
Simeon Collins b. 1859 seated in the middle with wife Pinkie Howell b. 1865 to the left and their children. Pamunkey Indian reservation in King William County, VA. Circa 1899. Identified as Pamunkey Indians. Smithsonian Archives

Simeon Collins and Pinkie Howell’s family were enumerated in the 1900 census, living on the Pamunkey reservation:

Pinkie 1900 census
Simeon “S” Collins and his wife Pinkie Howell and children were enumerated in 1900 census, living on the Pamunkey reservation. The first column identifies their tribe as “Powhatan”. The second and third columns identify the tribe for their father and mother, respectively. The parents of Simeon and Pinkie are both identified as Powhatan. The next column indicates how much “white blood” they have. The entire family is noted for having 1/2 “white blood”. Thus both of their Powhatan Indian parents were also mixed with European ancestry. This indicates that Pinkie Howell’s parents John Howell and Susan Pearman were both of mixed Pamunkey and European heritage. Source: Year: 1900; Census Place: West Point, King William, Virginia; Roll: T623_31077_4117892; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0043; FHL microfilm: 1241714.

Another daughter of John Howell and Susan Pearman was named Lena Lucy Howell (1857-1936). She was married to another Pamunkey named John Solomon Wynn b. 1855. Lena Howell and John Wynn had a daughter named Kate Wynn (1887-1969) who married outside of the tribe to a white man named Otho Floyd Gray.

Lena Lucy Howell
Lena Lucy Howell (1857-1936) was the daughter of John Howell and Susan Pearman. She was married to John Solomon Wynn.  Source: Robert Gray
Kate Wynn
Kate Wynn (1887-1969) was the daughter of John Solomon Wynn and Lena Lucy Howell. She is shown with her husband Otho Floyd Gray and her son Luther Gordon Gray.  Source: Robert Gray

In 2015, the Pamunkey Tribe became the first tribe in Virginia to receive federal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In support of their recognition application, the tribe submitted hundreds of pages of documentation to prove their identity and status as a sovereign indigenous nation. Included in these records was interesting information about a member of the Pamunkey Howell family. We learn that John C. Howell (“J.C. Howell”) who lived outside of the reservation in New Kent County, did not want a school built for Pamunkey children in New Kent in 1870, to have a “colored” teacher. John C. Howell (b. 1849) was the son of John Howell and Susan Pearman. For Howell it was important that the Pamunkeys keep their distance from “colored” people in order to maintain their status as “Indian” in the eyes of their white neighbors.

BIA Pamunkey 1
An excerpt from the Preliminary Positive Decision that the Bureau of Indians Affairs provided for the Pamunkey tribe. Source: https://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/xofa/documents/text/idc1-024801.pdf (page 42)
BIA Pamunkey 2
Continuation of the excerpt from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Preliminary Positive Decision for the Pamunkey Tribe Source: https://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/xofa/documents/text/idc1-024801.pdf (Page 43)

The Pamunkey’s tribe attempt to keep a clear racial distinction between themselves and “colored” people was complicated by Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924.  I previously wrote a blogpost about Walter Plecker (1861-1947) who was the Registrar of Vital Statistics in Virginia from 1912 – 1946. He was a proponent of white supremacy, racial segregation and eugenics and believed that only two races of people existed in Virginia: “White” and “Negro”. In his view, Indian peoples no longer lived in Virginia and “Negro” people simply identified as “Indian” as a racial stepping stone towards whiteness. Plecker’s racial policies were in direct conflict with the Indian identity of the Pamunkey and other tribal peoples who still lived in Virginia. In order to combat people from self identifying as “Indian” on vital records, Plecker sent out a list to the heads of vital statistics in counties across the state. On his list, Plecker identified surnames by county, of families whom he felt were trying to “pass” as “Indian” and “White”. The Pamunkey Howell family made the Plecker list:

Plecker letter 2
Walter Plecker’s 1943 Letter to the Registrars of Vital Statics across Virginia counties, included a list of surnames of families that Plecker determined should be categorized as “Indian”. Unsurprisingly, many of the surnames listed here make up the families of Virginia’s Native American tribes. Source: http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/lewisandclark/students/projects/monacans/Contemporary_Monacans/letterscan.html

The fallout from Plecker’s policies, meant that there were some Pamunkey Howells who did “pass” for white instead of suffering the social disadvantages of being identified as “Negro”. Some families in order to avoid being pinned between two racial categories that they did not identify with, simply left the state. The racial identity of one Pamunkey Howell named Herbert Clayton Howell (1916-1979) is an interesting example. Herbert Howell was identified as “white” in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses and identified as “white” in his World War II draft and enlistment records, thus it appeared that he had successfully “passed” for white. However it was his marriage to a white woman, that eventually “outed” his identity as a person of color. On 28 March 1945, just 5 years into their marriage, Herbert Howell and his wife Margaret Shadoan received an annulment. The reason for the annulment is stated clearly on the record: “Defendant was a person of the negro race.”

43071_162028006071_0327-00235
Margaret Shadoan received an annulment from her marriage to Herbert Clayton Howell. The stated reason: “Defendant is a person of the negro race.” Source: Virginia, Divorce Records, 1918-2014
43006_172028004422_0335-00264
Herbet Clayton Howell’s death record from 1979, lists his race as “American Indian”. He died after Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act was overturned, so it became legal again to self identify as Indian. Source: Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014

Final Thoughts

I think it is quite amazing to look back to see that all of us Howells descend from one woman named Dorothy Howell who lived right in the epicenter of a burgeoning colony. I wish there was a way to access more about her life and experiences. I wonder how she felt living so close, yet across the river from her people. In the end, the decisions that she made did result in many of her descendants still staying connected to the tribe and having an integral part in its political and cultural revolution in the 20th and 21st centuries. Modern DNA testing is having a tremendous impact on genealogy as a way of confirming the paper trail with genetic evidence. As a direct lineal descedant of Dorothy Howell’s daughter Judith Howell who moved away from the Pamunkey, I am finding DNA cousin matches who descend from the Pamunkey Collins, Dungee, and Custalow families. The Howells who remained among the Pamunkey appear to be the genetic link. Dorothy Howell’s legacy lives on in the DNA of her many descendants and it is helping us find our way back to one another.

image (1)
A group of Pamunkeys including members of the Cook, Dennis, Miles, Allmond, Page and Bradby families. Circa 1881. Source unknown.
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Genetic Genealogy and the Saponi/Catawba Guy Family

In this blog post, I will use a combination of genetic genealogy, paper based genealogy, and family oral history to confirm a genealogical relationship within the Saponi/Catawba Guy family of Granville County. By utilizing different techniques, I present a strong case for identifying Miles Guy and Delila Guy of Granville County as siblings. I especially hope the genetic genealogy section of this blog post will help readers better understand how to use cousin matches to confirm genealogical relationships.


Background

The Guy family is a core family of the Native American community in Granville County. I have not written a blog post discussing their early tribal origins yet because I’m still in the process of verifying research. However, there is a key primary source that is vital to documenting the origins of the Guy family that I will briefly discuss here. In 1872, a white man named Joseph McDowell of Fairmount, GA who had married a Guy woman, collected the names of 84 descendants of Buckner Guy who desired to be recognized as Catawba Indians by the United States and sought financial relief. In the early 1800s, Buckner Guy (b. 1789) relocated his family from Orange County out to the far western part of the state in Macon County.

Senate Document #144 Guy Family
This is the list of Buckner Guy and his descendants (84 individuals) who desired to be recognized as Catawba Indians in 1872. You will see at the bottom of the list, a text which states that they claim descent from William Guy the Revolutionary War soldier (it should read Granville Co, NC not Granville Co, GA). There is conflicting information about exactly who Buckner Guy’s father was. In 1805, Buckner Guy was a tithable in Christopher Guy’s household in Mecklenburg Co, VA. Christopher Guy was a brother of William Guy, thus it may be that Buckner Guy was William’s nephew. (Thank you to Haila Harvey Adams for a copy of the document)

There was no action from the 1872 list that Joseph McDowell submitted. As a result, he submitted the list and letter again in 1897 when the United States Senate was holding a session about the Catawba Indians. Unfortunately not much came from this action, but it does show an early direct attempt by the Guy family to not only be recognized as Native Americans, but specifically as Catawba. In my research, I identify the Guy family as “Saponi/Catawba”, that is I believe they were Saponi who took refuge with their closely related cousins, the Catawba.

The Guys were “free people of color”, so there is good documentation on them. However the paper record doesn’t always clarify exactly how all the “free colored” Guys are related to one another. In particular, I’ve had questions about Miles Guy (b. 1827) of Granville County and the identity of his siblings and parents. I had long suspected that a Delila Guy (b. 1819) of Granville County was his sister but still needed records to verify my suspicions.


The Paper Trail

In order to learn more about Miles Guy’s family, I located the earliest primary source record on him. On 5 May 1842, Miles Guy (b. 1827)  was apprenticed out to William Chavis in Granville County. Miles’ age was given 14 years as of 15 Nov 1841, which would indicate that Miles Guy was born on 15 Nov 1827. It is not common to be able to establish a precise birthdate for ancestors from this time period, so this is excellent documentation to have. Miles Guy was to be taught the trade of carpentry and to remain with William Chavis until 21 years of age. The document unfortunately does not name Miles Guy’s parents. He is referred to as an “orphan”, but this term can be a bit misleading as it doesn’t necessarily mean both of his parents were deceased. The Granville County Court Minutes may have recorded the names of Miles Guy’s parents but those records are not digitized online.

Miles Guy
Miles Guy (b. 1827) of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, NC. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Miles Guy
Miles Guy (b. 1827) was “bound out” on 5 May 1842 to William Chavis (1801-1854) in Granville County. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998; Granville Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1810-1865; page 1435.

So who was William Chavis? William Chavis (1801-1854) was the son of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) who I previously blogged about here. On 16 Oct 1834, William Chavis married Delila Guy (b. 1819) and she was the mother of his children. This means that eight years after getting married to Delila Guy, William Chavis formally takes in “orphan” Miles Guy as an apprentice. This is certainly not a coincidence. This is why I believe Miles Guy was Delila Guy’s younger brother, and that she and her husband took him in when he became “orphaned”.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.29.30 PM
Delila Guy married William Chavis on 15 Oct 1834 in Granville Co. Source: Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
William Chavis and Delila Guy had the following children together:

  1. Harriet Chavis (b. 1837)
  2. Nelly Chavis (b. 1840)
  3. William Chavis (b. 1841)
  4. Julia Chavis (b. 1845)
  5. Edna Chavis (b. 1847)
  6. Silvanus Chavis (b. 1850) *died in childhood*
  7. Patrick Chavis (b. 1852)

The documentation that identifies William Chavis and Delila Guy’s children is quite solid because William died relatively young in 1854 and so there are probate records concerning his estate and named heirs.

Miles Guy was married a few times and had several children. Before marrying, Miles Guy had a child out of wedlock named Emily Curtis (1853-1925) with a woman named Nancy Curtis (b. 1835). Emily Curtis’ death record identifies her father as Miles Guy.

Emily Curtis Pettiford death
Emily Curtis’ death certificate names her father as “Miles Guy”. Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

He then married Henrietta Dunstan on 19 Oct 1854 in Granville County. It must have been a short marriage that likely ended with Henrietta’s death because in the 1860 census, Miles Guy is shown with no wife or children.

4237503_00444
The 1860 census for Granville County. Miles Guy who was recently widowed is listed living in a household alone. Two household below are Delila Guy’s orphaned children – Julia Chavis, Edna Chavis, and Patrick Chavis. Delila Guy died shortly before 1860 and so her youngest children who were still minors went to live with relatives. The “Polly Guy” listed as the head of household, is actually Polly Jones and the wife of Minnis Guy (b. 1803). I suspect that Minnis Guy was a close relative to Delila Guy and Miles Guy. Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Tabs Creek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M653_898; Page: 440; Image: 444; Family History Library Film: 803898

On 13 Sep 1865, Miles Guy then married Susan Taborn (1846-1879). Together Miles Guy and Susan Taborn had the following children:

  1. Mary Etta Guy (b. 1866)
  2. Robert Guy (b. 1869)
  3. Jana Guy (b. 1872) *died in childhood*
  4. Cora Guy (b. 1873)
  5. Delia Guy (b. 1877)
Mary Etta Guy b 1866
Mary Etta Guy (1866 – 1965) a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County. She was the eldest daughter of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Robert Guy
Robert Guy (b. 1869) was the son of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Cora Guy
Cora Guy (b. 1873) was the daughter of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Mary Etta, Cora, Delia Guy
Sisters L to R: Mary Etta Guy, Cora Guy, and Delia Guy. Daughters of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn of Granville County. Source: Anita Bonds

Miles Guy’s wife Susan Taborn was deceased by 1879 because on 2 Sep 1879 he married for a third time to Sarah Burnett. Miles Guy last appears in the 1900 census for Granville County and he registered to vote in 1902, so he died sometime after that date.

Miles Guy pistol
A very important Guy family heirloom. This is the pistol that belonged to Miles Guy (b. 1827) which he claimed was used during the Civil War. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

So we have good documentation on Miles Guy and Delila Guy which show their families living close to one another in the Fishing Creek community in Granville County. And we have documentation that shows that Miles Guy was brought up in Delila Guy’s household. But is there anything else we can do to verify their relationship?

When I recently showed the picture below to a great-grandson of Miles Guy, he immediately recognized the elderly woman seated in the middle and exclaimed “that’s aunt Julia!”. This great-grandson of Miles Guy identified Julia Chavis, daughter of Delila Guy, as his “aunt”. The term “aunt” when used in our communities does not necessarily mean a literal “aunt” or “great aunt”, but is also used to describe a close relationship with an elder female relative. Also because Miles Guy was raised in Delila Guy’s home, he likely viewed her children as his “siblings”.

Bibby family 1898
Julia Chavis (1845-1939) is the elder woman seated in the middle. She was the daughter of Delila Guy (b. 1819) and William Chavis (1801-1854). Julia is pictured here with her husband William Solomon Bibby, children, and grandchildren at the family farm in Franklinton, NC in 1898. My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell’s first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right.

With fairly good paper trail documentation firsthand testimony from a living person, what would DNA testing reveal about the relationship betweenn Miles Guy and Delila Guy?


Genetic Genealogy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you most likely at some point have encountered advertisements for DNA tests that will predict your ethnic composition. The three leading companies that offer DNA tests to consumers are 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and FamilyTree DNA. The ethnicity estimates offered with these tests are interesting and perhaps revealing but if you’re looking to take a DNA test to confirm Native American heritage for example, it’s not so straight forward. I’m not going to take the space here to discuss the many complications and limitations of DNA testing to confirm Native American identity but I suggest following the research of scholar Dr. Kim Tallbear.

However where I see the biggest strengths in these DNA tests, is the cousin matching feature. The DNA company that you test with, will pair you with other individuals who have also tested and share a segment of DNA with you. A free genetic genealogy website called Gedmatch, allows users from the three companies mentioned above to upload their DNA data and utilize the website’s more sophisticated tools. And because anyone from the three companies can upload to Gedmatch, it significantly opens the pool of potential cousin matches. In other words, Gedmatch is a genetic genealogist’s best friend.

Guy Family
Guy Family Tree which shows the genealogical pedigree of the four individuals who tested.

Within the past year, four direct lineal descendants of the Guy family from Granville County have done DNA tests. All four have also uploaded their results to Gedmatch which has allowed me to take a closer look at their DNA. And to top it all off, all four individuals have very well researched and documented family trees.

To preserve anonymity, I am using initials to discuss these 4 Guy descendants.

RT = His great-grandfather was Miles Guy (b. 1827)

SH = Her great-great grandfather was Miles Guy (b.1827)

WD = Her great-great-great grandfather was Miles Guy (b. 1827)

CL = Her great-great-great grandmother was Delila Guy (b. 1819). Also note that CL is my  (Kianga’s) second cousin.

RT, SH, WD, and CL are all cousin matches with one another on Gedmatch. This is not surprising because all four individuals have deep roots within Granville’s Native American community and so they have several lineages in common in addition to the Guys. The heavy endogamy within our community creates a major challenge with genetic genealogy because it’s not immediately clear when looking at cousin matches, which shared common ancestor is reflected in that chromosome match. What also complicates matters is that your DNA will not always match all of your known cousins. With each generation that passes, there is a greater chance for the recombination process to diminish that shared DNA. So the further back in time that common ancestor is, the greater the chance that you will not match cousins from that ancestor. So this is where the “triangulation” process helps us identify the common ancestor of all four individuals.

What I found when comparing the Gedmatch kits of RT, SH, WD, and CL is that all match one another on overlapping segments on Chromosome 5. In other words, all four people share a common ancestor whose DNA they have inherited on their Chromosome 5. Below are “One to One” comparisons between the four Gedmatch kits. Please note that I have blocked out their Gedmatch kit numbers and user names and have replaced them with initials:

CL to WD
CL and WD share a segment on Chromosome 5
CL to SH.jpg
CL and SH share a segment on Chromosome 5
CL to RT
CL and RT share a segment on Chromosome 5 and another segment on Chromosome 18. The second match on Chromosome 18 may reflect another one of CL and RT’s distant common ancestors.

 

WD to RT
WD and RT share a segment on Chromosome 5. They also share other segments because they have a closer biological relationship as well as other shared common ancestors.
WD to SH.jpg
WD and SH share a segment on Chromosome 5. They also share other segments because they have a closer biological relationship as well as other shared common ancestors.
SH to RT
SH and RT share two long segments on Chromosome 5. They also share many, many other segments (I ommitted all the shared segments to save space) because SH is the niece of RT.

Though there are other chromosome segments that some of the individuals share, the only overlapping segment that all four individuals shared was on Chromosome 5. If you look at the start and end point numbers, that is the measurement of where on the chromosome that matching segment occurs. Not all four individuals match on the exact start and end points and that is due to recombination and inheritance (we do not inherit exact replica copies of our ancestors’ DNA). But I think it is clear that all four individuals inherited overlapping large segments that indicate a shared common ancestor.

Another important feature on Gedmatch is the “Most Recent Common Ancestor” (MRCA) number. This is exactly what it sounds like – Gedmatch predicts how many generations back that most recent common ancestor was. But a very strong word of caution: the number is an estimation and the extreme endogamy of our community amplifies cousin matches so that they sometimes appear closer than what they really are. With that said, the MRCA’s predicated on the Chromosome 5 matches are consistent with Miles Guy and Delila Guy being siblings.

SH is the niece of RT, so there is no question as to their biological relationship. They share lots of DNA in common and their MRCA is predicated at 1.5. This means they share common ancestors between 1 and 2 generations ago. This is spot on because for RT, his parents (1 generation ago) are the MRCA and for SH her grandparents (2 generations ago) are the MRCA. You also see that SH and RT share a very long segment on Chromosome 5, starting and ending at approximately 29,000,000 to 83,000,000.

SH and WD are third cousins, once removed. That is, SH‘s great-great grandparents are the same as WD‘s great-great-great grandparents (Miles Guy and Susan Taborn). This puts their MRCA between 4 and 5 generations ago. However when you look at Gedmatch’s predicated MRCA, it states 3.4. This is likely a result of endogamy and sharing multiple sets of common ancestors.

CL who is a direct lineal descendant of Delila Guy is predicated to share a MRCA to SH, RT, and WD, in the 5 range (5.9, 5.4, and 5.1 respectively). 5 generations from CL goes back to her great-great-great grandmother Delila Guy. And because these MRCA numbers are above 5, it suggests that CL is sharing a MRCA one more generation back from Delila Guy.

In other words, the parents of Miles Guy and Delila Guy are the shared common ancestors for all four individuals. This of course means Miles Guy and Delilah Guy were siblings. I did even consider the possibility that Delila Guy was Miles Guy’s mother, but she is only roughly 8 years older than him, making her way too young to be his mother.

So in summary, the overlapping segments shared by all four individuals on Chromosome 5 appear to come from the parents of Miles Guy and Delila Guy.


Moving Forward

So we have a paper trail showing that Miles Guy was raised in Delila Guy’s home. We have family oral history from a living person who knows the two families are related. And finally we have DNA tests which are consistent with descendants of both Miles Guy and Delila Guy sharing common ancestors within the correct Guy family genealogy timeframe. It feels satisfying to have three different categories of evidence to align so perfectly because often times this is not the case.

However, the big remaining question is who are the parents of Miles Guy and Delila Guy?

There was an earlier Miles Guy (b. 1797) recorded in the Granville records. This Miles Guy married a Betsy Bonner on 22 May 1817 in Granville Co. Betsy Bonner was likely a white woman and the sister of Neverson Bonner who provided the bond for the marriage. By 1820, this Miles Guy moved to Caswell Co where he is recorded as the head of a household of three “free colored” males. That is the last time I find Miles Guy in the records. Sharing a name with Miles Guy (b. 1827) certainly indicates a close relationship but it does not necessarily mean they were father and son. They may have an uncle/nephew relationship because parents often named their children after their siblings. So it’s possible that Miles Guy (b.1827) and Delila Guy’s (b. 1819) parent may be a sibling of this older Miles Guy (b. 1797).

It is noteworthy to mention that this elder Miles Guy in the 1820 census is listed next to Vines Guy. The census was recorded alphabetically so this does not mean that the two men lived next to one another. But the two men lived in Caswell Co at the same time, which may indicate that they were brothers. Vines Guy (1785-1836) settled in Orange Co and some of his descendants are enrolled members of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Orange/Alamance Cos. Vines Guy is believed to be a son of William Guy (1763-1837), the Revolutionary Soldier who lived in Granville County and filed a military pension. However I’m still looking for proof to verify this relationship, so I do not consider it fully confirmed.

Calvin Guy
Calvin Guy (1863-1930) was the son of Thomas Guy and Harriet Adeline Burnett. Thomas Guy was the son of Vines Guy (1785-1836) and Elizabeth Jeffries. Vines Guy is believed to be a son of William Guy (1763-1837).
Thomas Guy Martha Martin
Thomas Guy (1868-1962) is pictured with his wife Martha Martin (1871-1947) and son Julius Andrew Guy (1914-1954). Thomas Guy was the son of Mary Jane Guy and Bynum Jeffries. Mary Jane Guy was the daughter of Fanny Guy, father unknown. Fanny Guy was the daughter of Vines Guy (1783-1836) and Elizabeth Jeffries. Vines Guy is believed to be a son of William Guy (1763-1837)

My suspicion is that most if not all of the Guys who appear in the Granville Co records are direct lineal descendants of William Guy (1763-1837), the Revolutionary War soldier. He is the earliest known Guy to move to Granville Co in 1803 and remained in Granville until his death in 1837. William was originally from across the state line in Mecklenburg Co, VA and had at least two brothers – Christopher Guy (b. 1766) and John Guy (b. 1758) who were also Revolutionary War soldiers (but died before filing pensions). Though neither Christopher or John moved to North Carolina, many of their descendants did which is why there is much confusion with identifying the correct lineal descendants of each brother.

I’m hoping that by using a combination of different sources including the paper trail and DNA, we can begin to correctly map out the Guy family tree. If there is anyone reading this who descends from William, John, or Christopher Guy and has done DNA testing or plans to do so, please get in touch with me.

R.I.P. Chief James D Keels of the Midwest Saponi Nation

Longtime chief of the Midwest Saponi Nation, James Dewey Keels, passed away on January 28, 2016. He served as chief of the tribe for 19 years and just stepped down this past year due to health concerns. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and community. Chief Keels served his tribe well and held a number of important political positions including mayor, councilman, and state treasurer. He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army. Below is the full text of the Chief Keels’ obituary. Afterwards, I will explain his family connections to the Native Americans in Granville County, NC.

Obituary

James Keels (1930 – 2016)

RIO GRANDE — James Dewey Keels, 86, of Rio Grande, formerly of Cincinnati, passed away Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.

Born Jan. 12, 1930, in Blackfork, he was the son of the late G. Dewey Keels and Huldah A. Howell.

After his service in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of Cincinnati studying business law. Keels was employed with the United States Postal Service, retiring as postal area manager with 37 years of service.

Keels was elected councilman and was the first black mayor in the village of Woodlawn, serving two terms. As mayor, Keels developed a 50-acre park, constructed a new municipal building, police station, fire house and swimming pool. He was elected the first black state treasurer and second vice president of the Ohio Mayors Association; executive vice president of the National Alliance Federal Employees; and was the first black chairman of the Cincinnati Postal Credit committee. Keels was instrumental in designing the village of Woodlawn flag which continues to be displayed in the village.

Community and civic involvement includes: Member and deacon of New Hope Baptist Church, president of the Gallia Economic Development Association, member of Gallia-Meigs Community Action, minority representative of Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission, Woodlawn Youth Association, post commander of John R. Fox 631 American Legion, commissioned Kentucky colonel (twice), Ohio Rural Development Partnership, and member of the Midwest Saponi Nation, serving as chief for 19 years.

Recognition includes: Who’s Who in Government, Profile of Black Mayors in America, Who’s Who in Ohio, Who’s Who in Black America, Who’s Who in Government, Profile of Black Mayors in America and Honor Commendation for Outstanding Community Service by the Ohio State Senate.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Wilmore Keels; daughter Tawana Keels; son Col. (ret.) James D. (Tara) Keels Jr.; stepson Kendall A. Gault; grandchildren; step-grandchildren; sister Gladys D. Grant; brothers Lloyd E. Keels, Russell E. (Annette) Keels and Raymond K. Howell; and a host of family, relatives and friends.

James was preceded in death by brother-in-law Charles “Foxy” Grant.

Visitation will be 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at Thompson, Hall and Jordan Funeral Home, 11400 Winton Rd., Forest Park, Ohio, followed by funeral services at 11 a.m. Interment with military honors, Vine Street Hill Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the James D. Keels Memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 446, Mason, OH 45040; or at any Fifth Third Bank.

Local arrangements are entrusted to Cremeens Funeral Chapel, Gallipolis. Please sign registry at www.thompsonhalljordan.com

Source: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/mydailytribune/obituary.aspx?n=james-keels&pid=177626380

James Keels John Blackfeather Jeffries
The late Chief James D Keels of the Midwest Saponi Nation on the left and John Blackfeather Jeffries of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation on the right. Source: Richard Haithcock
Chief James Keels
The late Chief James D Keels at a Midwest Saponi Nation tribal event. Source: Midwest Saponi Nation

The obituary lists the names of Chief James Keel’s parents – G. Dewey Keels and Huldah Howell. His father G. Dewey Keels descends from the same Stewart family found in Granville County’s Native American community that I blogged about here. His mother Huldah Howell is from the same Howell and Scott families of Granville County’s Native American community.
James Keels’ maternal great-grandparents were Wesley Howell (1843-1910) and Elizabeth Scott (1846-1916). Wesley Howell was born in Charlotte Co, VA and moved to Ohio with his mother Elizabeth Howell (1814-1912) and siblings in the 1850s. Wesley Howell was locally known as a medicine man and he married Elizabeth Scott, who was the daughter of Jefferson Scott (1810-1907) and Caroline Hockaday (1821-1892) who relocated their family from Halifax Co, NC to Ohio.
Wesley Howell medicine man
Chief James D Keel’s great-grandfather Wesley Howell (1843-1910) was a medicine man Source: Midwest Saponi Nation
Scott famly and Wesley Howell
Members of the Scott and Howell families from left to right: Newton Scott, Angie Scott Thurston, Oren Scott, Betsy Scott, Walter Scott, Lester Scott, Wesley Howell, Rose Scott, Porter Scott, Florence Scott. Wesley Howell and Betsy Scott were James Keel’s great-grandparents. The other Scotts pictured are the nephews/nieces of Betsy Scott. Source: Cathleen Drew
Elizabeth Howell (1814-1912) was the daughter of Elizabeth Howell (b. 1783). This elder Elizabeth Howell was the sister of Freeman Howell (1777-1870). Freeman as you will recall from this blog post, is the progenitor of the Native American Howell family found in Granville County.
Jefferson Scott (1810-1907) was the son of Sterling Scott (b. 1750) Revolutionary War veteran. Sterling was the son of Abraham Scott (b. 1710). Abraham had a brother named Francis Scott (b. 1720) who in turn had a son named Exum Scott (1754-1823). Exum is the main progenitor of the Scotts found within Granville’s Native American community.

 

Jesse Chavis, Saponi Indian from Granville County – An Update!

I have a major update and correction to the genealogy of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) of Granville County. This is a big breakthrough for Chavis, Gibson, and Granville County researchers. And what I will discuss below is a major correction to the genealogy that researcher Paul Heinegg has provided for Jesse Chavis. As I’ve shown in other blog posts, researchers sometimes conflate the records of multiple people who happen to share the same name into a single person. I can confirm that Jesse Chavis of Granville County was NOT the son of Elizabeth Chavis of Amelia and Mecklenburg Counties, VA. Instead Jesse Chavis was from the family of Granville community founders William Chavis and his wife Frances Gibson.


 

The Wrong Jesse Chavis

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 9.54.18 PM
This is the genealogy that Paul Heinegg presented for Jesse Chavis. He conflated two different Jesse Chavises into one person. Source: freeafricanamericans.com

In his section on the Chavis family, Paul Heinegg wrote about a woman named Elizabeth Chavis (b. 1751) who lived in southside Virginia and was the mother of several children born out of wedlock. On 13 November 1769, Elizabeth Chavis had a son named Jesse Chavis who was bound out. No other information is provided as to what happened to Jesse Chavis after he was bound out. As you can see from the text above, no additional records are provided on this Jesse Chavis of Mecklenburg County. What Heinegg then does is assume that a Jesse Chavis who appears in the Granville County records is the same Jesse Chavis who was bound out in Mecklenburg County. This is not an unfair assumption to make because Mecklenburg County shares an important border with Granville County and many of the Native families in Granville that I have discussed came from Mecklenburg. However Heinegg provides no records to demonstrate that the Jesse Chavises are indeed the same person. In the following sections, I will examine the records of Jesse Chavis more closely and present some new records that I found which help to sort out this mix up.


 

The Family of William Chavis (1709-1777)

Jesse Chavis family tree.001
Family Tree of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840). All of these family relationships are explained in this blog post. © Kianga Lucas

I have referenced William Chavis (1709-1777) many times in previous blog posts though I have yet to write a full blog solely dedicated to him. The reason for this is that I’m still gathering and analyzing records related to William Chavis. He is such an important ancestor not only for Granville County but for other Native communities as well, so I want to make sure I get it right.

William Chavis was the original land owner of a massive, continuous tract of land that he likely received directly from John Cateret, 2nd Earl of Granville in the 1740s. Local Granville/Vance County historian Oscar W. Blacknall (1852-1918) wrote about the Native American identity of William Chavis and his massive land holdings which I previously discussed here. It is the Chavis land tract that provided the original land base for the Native community. William Chavis’ wife was Frances Gibson (1700-1780), who was the daughter of Gibby Gibson (1660-1727) originally from the Charles City County, VA area. Before marrying William Chavis, Frances Gibson had a son named John Smith.

William Chavis Original Land Tract
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

Perhaps most importantly, William Chavis was part of a group of Saponi Indians who were documented several times in the colonial records in the 1750s and 1760s, living in Granville County next to the land of Indian trader Col. William Eaton. I have previously blogged about these records here and here. I can’t stress enough how important this documentation is for establishing that not only were these individuals identified as Saponi, but they were collectively identified as a recognized Saponi Nation. These were not random individuals living together who just happened to be Native Americans. These were individuals that were deeply connected through a shared national identity. And these documents are from the 1750s/1760s which is many decades after the closure of Fort Christanna located in Brunswick County, VA which was the site of the Saponi reservation that the colony established.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.09.11 AM
1754 census of Native Americans in North Carolina shows 14 men, 14 women, and children of the Saponi (“Sapona”) living in Granville County. Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr05-0089

Together William Chavis and Frances Gibson had the following children (birth dates are approximations):

1. Phillip Chavis (b. 1726)– executor of his father William Chavis’ estate and sold what was left of his father’s land. Philip moved around a lot between North Carolina and South Carolina, eventually settling in Bladen Co (later Robeson Co). He is the common ancestor of the Chavises of the Lumbee Tribe and Tuscarora of Robeson County.

2. Sarah Chavis (1730-1785)– married to Edward Harris and received a parcel of her father William Chavis’ land which her children later sold. Many of Sarah’s descendants remained in Granville and Wake Counties. Sarah Chavis and Edward Harris were also my 6th great-grandparents.

3. Gibby/Gideon Chavis (1737-1777)– namesake of Gibbs Creek in Granville/Vance Co off of the Tar River. He was married to Ann Priddy and because he died somewhat young (according to historian O.W. Blacknall, he was killed as a result of a horse race), his three children were looked after by his widow’s family. One of his sons named William Chavis eventually moved away by 1785 to South Carolina or Georgia (according to a letter written to the British Claims Commission). Heinegg guesses but does not firmly assert that Gibby’s son William Chavis married Sarah Kersey in 1790 and lived in Wake Co but this is not correct. After William Chavis sold his father Gibby Chavis’ land in 1785, he moved out of state.

4. William Chavis Jr (b. 1741)– was married to a woman named Ellender (maiden name not known) and by the 1780s, relocated down to Bladen (Robeson ) Co with his brother Philip Chavis. It is unknown if he had any surviving children.

5. Lettice Chavis (1742-1814)– was married to Aquilla Snelling and their descendants are mostly found in neighboring Wake Co and some relocated to Tennessee and Kentucky.

6. Keziah Chavis (b. 1742) – was married to Asa Tyner. Asa Tyner and his father-in-law William Chavis had a very tumultuous relationship which will be discussed in more detail below. Keziah’s descendants remained in Granville Co and many later moved out to Stokes/Forsyth Cos, NC.

7. Fanny Chavis – she appears on a tax list in her father William Chavis’ household in 1761 but nothing is known about her after that and she is not named in William Chavis’ estate papers.

Because William Chavis was a substantial land owner, tax payer, and had a close relationship with Indian trader Col. William Eaton, his children are well documented since they all at some point owned parcels of their father’s land and/or appear in his estate papers.


 

Newly Discovered Records for Jesse Chavis

William Chavis died in 1777 and his estate papers are digitized and available on Ancestry.com. Please be aware that the index for Ancestry’s North Carolina Wills and Probate collection is not so accurate, so the stop and end points of folders are not indexed properly and there are pages from different folders mixed in together. William Chavis’ estate papers are a necessary read if you are a William Chavis descendant and/or researcher. Heinegg only makes brief references to the content of the estate papers and so they are definitely worth a look because you will learn a lot more.

So while I was reviewing William Chavis’ estate papers, I came across a very interesting page. It was a court order from 5 February 1777 that called for several people to report to court to settle William Chavis’ will. The following people are named to report to court: Frances Chavers (William Chavis’ widow), Phillip Chavers (William Chavis’ son and executor of the estate), Anna Chavers (I’m not yet sure who she is), Joseph Hill, John Nevil, William Mills, John Kittrell, William Ashley, and Major Evans (from the Native America/”free colored” Evans family who intermarried and had several land transactions with the Chavises). And scribbled in between these names is a “Jesse Chavers”. (Chavers is another common spelling of Chavis).

Jesse Chavis court order
On 5 February 1777 a number of family and friends of William Chavis were summoned to come to court to settle his will. “Jesse Chavers” (Chavis) was among them. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

 

The court order does not specify Jesse Chavis’ relationship with the deceased William Chavis but I found another page in the estate files that does help clarify. William Chavis owned a lot of land and property, so it took a number of years to finally settle his estate. His widow Frances (Gibson) Chavis died in 1780 which likely added to the complications of William Chavis’ estate. A page dated 9 Aug 1780 named Jesse Chavis as an orphan of William Chavis, deceased, and ordered that Jesse Chavis be bound out to Thomas Person until the age of 21 years.

Jesse Chavis apprenticeship
A page from William Chavis’ (1709-1777) estate records shows that Jesse Chavis was his orphan who was bound out to Thomas Person on 9 August 1780. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

 

Perhaps the reason why Jesse Chavis was not originally bound out in 1777/78 when William Chavis died was that Frances (Gibson) Chavis was still living and was financially secure from her husband’s estate to raise Jesse. But when Frances died in 1780, Jesse Chavis was truly orphaned.

However, with that said, I don’t believe that Jesse Chavis was William Chavis and Frances Gibson’s son despite being called their “orphan”. For one, Jesse Chavis was born in the 1760s since he was still a minor in 1780. Frances was born around 1700, making her too old to give birth in the 1760s. And second, in the many estate records dealing with transfer of land ownership and with companies attempting to collect outstanding debts from William Chavis’ estate, Jesse is never mentioned as a son to potentially collect debt from. William Chavis’ sons are consistently listed as Phillip, Gibson, and William Jr.

So if Jesse Chavis was not William Chavis and Frances Gibson’s son, then what was his relationship? I believe the most likely scenario is that he was their grandson that they were raising. I’m not 100% certain which of William Chavis’ children was Jesse Chavis’ parent, but we can definitely eliminate a few. Again, keep in mind that Jesse Chavis was born in the 1760s and based on other biographical information discussed later, I have estimated his birth at around 1766.

Phillip Chavis was married to wife Celia before Jesse was born, was living in Bladen County and then South Carolina around the time of Jesse’s birth, and lived long past his father William’s death, so he’s not a candidate.

Sarah Chavis was married to Edward Harris by about 1750, so she couldn’t be Jesse’s mother.

Gibby/Gideon Chavis died in 1777, however Gibby’s children were named in their maternal grandfather Robert Priddy’s will. Gibby’s own will which was written in 1777 only names one son named William, so we can rule him out.

William Chavis Jr moved down to the Bladen (Robeson) Co area in the 1770s and lived long after his father died, so he doesn’t seem to be a possibility.

Lettice Chavis was married to Aquilla Snelling by 1761 and her children are named in her will, so she couldn’t be Jesse’s mother.

Keziah Chavis was married to Asa Tyner in 1766 (according to tax lists and testimony from William Chavis’ estate papers). If Jesse was born before Keziah Chavis married Asa Tyner, then it is a possibility. I will explore this some more below.

And finally there is Fanny Chavis who we know very little about because she only appears in a tax list once in 1761 and no additional records for her. It’s quite possible she was Jesse’s mother and she died a short time after, thus Jesse’s grandparents raised him.

Mixed in with William Chavis’ estate papers, I found a sworn deposition provided by Joshua Hunt on 9 August 1780. Mr. Hunt was a witness to a proposed marriage contract some 15 years earlier between William Chavis and his future son-in-law Asa Tyner. It appears Asa Tyner never received his payments from William Chavis and sued the estate to be fully compensated. According to Joshua Hunt, William Chavis offered Asa Tyner: 500 £, two slaves (“Dick” and “Dilcie”), 644 acres of land that included two plantations, a large quantity of cattle and hogs, and an assortment of household items if he married William’s daughter Keziah Chavis.

Joshua Hunt deposotion
Joshua Hunt provided a deposition on 9 August 1780 to the Granville County court in which he testified to being a witness to a marriage contract between the deceased William Chavis and his son-in-law Asa Tyner. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

Offering a dowry to marry off a daughter was certainly not unheard of for this time period, but that is quite a lot to offer to pay. I don’t know if William Chavis made similar offers to his other son-in-laws such as Edward Harris or Aquilla Snelling. So this leaves me wondering why he offered so much? Could it be that Keziah Chavis was already an unwed mother to Jesse Chavis, so William had to offer more to persuade Asa Tyner to marry her? We also know from court records that Heinegg provided, that when William Chavis was still living, he and Asa Tyner were involved in a number of legal disputes. So it appears they had a hostile relationship and some of it may stem from William Chavis never fully compensating Asa Tyner for marrying Keziah.

So at this time, my best leads are that Jesse Chavis was a son of either Fanny Chavis or Keziah Chavis. Hopefully additional research will clarify exactly who Jesse’s parents were.


 

Jesse Chavis and His Family

Let’s continue reviewing the additional records that Heinegg provided for Jesse Chavis and you will see they are consistent with him being from William Chavis’ family. In 1787, Jesse Chavis was a tithable in Hugh Snelling’s Granville County household. 1787 is also the year that Jesse Chavis was 21 years old, so his indenture to Thomas Person was over. Hugh Snelling was a grandson of William Chavis through his daughter Lettice Chavis and her husband Aquilla Snelling. Aquilla Snelling was deceased by 1779, so oldest son Hugh Snelling acquired most of his parent’s possessions. Hugh was a substantial land owner in Granville County and it makes sense that Jesse Chavis would reside with his first cousin Hugh Snelling. This is yet another confirmation that the Jesse Chavis of Granville County was not the same Jesse Chavis of Mecklenburg County.

By 1790, Jesse Chavis was the head of his own household in the Fishing Creek district of Granville County. Fishing Creek was the heart of the Native community and the location of most of William Chavis’ family and their land holdings. In August 1794, Jesse Chavis was charged with having an “illegitimate child” with Nelly Bass. Absalom Bass (b. 1760) and Benjamin Bass (b. 1756) were his securities for the “bastard bond”. Nelly, Absalom and Benjamin were from the Native American/”free colored” Bass family that I previously blogged about here. Absalom and Benjamin were brothers and Nelly was likely their sister or niece which is why they were the sureties for the bond. I don’t know the name or gender of the child that Jesse Chavis had with Nelly Bass or what happened with that child.

In his Jesse Chavis discussion, Heinegg included a record from 8 April 1798 which states a Jesse Chavis of Petersburg sold 8 heads of cattle in Granville County. This is most likely a different Jesse Chavis, perhaps the one living in Mecklenburg Co or yet another Jesse Chavis that was contemporary to one we are discussing. The fact that the record says this Jesse Chavis was of Petersburg, indicates that he was not local and instead was from Petersburg and came to Granville County to sell cattle.

In the 1790s, Jesse Chavis also fathered an “illegitimate child” with Rhody Anderson (b. 1770). The name of that child was Henry Anderson (1790-1850). We know this because Rhody Anderson went on to marry Darling Bass (1771-1845) and Darling’s will makes mention of his step-son Henry Anderson. Rhody Anderson was the daughter of Lewis Anderson Jr (1743-1805) and Winnie Bass (1752-1809). Winnie Bass was a sister of Absalom Bass and Benjamin Bass discussed above and Lewis Anderson Jr. was from the Anderson family that I blogged about here.

Sampson Anderson and wife Jane Anderson and and son Robert F Anderson
Sampson Anderson (1844-1906) was the son of Henry Anderson (1790-1850) and was the grandson of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) and Rhody Anderson (b. 1770). He is pictured with his wife Jane Anderson (1852-1923) and son Robert F Anderson (1872-1914). The family lived in Granville and Wake Counties and relocated to Washington, D.C. in their later years. Source: Ancestry, Username: rewinder11

Jesse Chavis was a tithable in 1802 and appears in the Granville County census in 1810, 1820, and 1830. His 1810 household included 6 people which would indicate that by 1810 Jesse was married and had several children (the 1810 census does not provide age and sex of household members). In 1820, Jesse is listed in the Fishing Creek district and is the head of a household of 8 people. In this census we can see the age and gender breakdown of the household and it appears to include Jesse, 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls ages 14 and under), and 3 women in the same age range as Jesse. One woman is likely a wife but I’m unsure who the other 2 women are. Perhaps siblings or in-laws or even a mistake by the enumerator.

In 1830, Jesse Chavis is the head of a household of 5 people (Ancestry has this incorrectly indexed as 15 people). The household looks to include Jesse (age 55 or over), a wife (female age 55 or over), two adult sons (one age 24-36 age, one age 36-55), and a daughter (age 10-24). Though the 1830 census did not name districts, I know from looking at Jesse Chavis’ neighbors that he was still in Fishing Creek. In fact he is listed two households over from my 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris (1761-1833). Sherwood Harris (who was the son of Sarah Chavis and Edward Harris) and Jesse Chavis were first cousins.

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Jesse Chavis enumerated in the 1830 census in Granville County. He is living amongst other members of the Native community in the Fishing Creek district. Living two households above him is Jesse Chavis’ first cousin (and my 5th great-grandfather) Sherwood Harris. Source: 1830; Census Place: South Regiment, Granville, North Carolina; Series: M19; Roll: 121; Page: 78; Family History Library Film: 0018087

1830 is the last census that Jesse Chavis appears in, so he died sometime before the 1840 census. I do not have a precise date of his death and have not located a will or estate papers for him.

We do know that Jesse Chavis was married at least once. On 2 May 1812, he married Nancy Mitchell (b. 1775). Interestingly, Darling Bass was the bondsman for the marriage, so Jesse appears to have been on good terms with his son Henry Anderson’s step-father. Nancy Mitchell was the wife living in Jesse’s household in the 1820 and 1830 censuses, but she couldn’t have been with him in the 1810 census as that was before they were married in 1812. Recall that the 1810 census included 6 individuals in the household, so Jesse Chavis was most likely married before Nancy Mitchell and had children with that wife. I have not located any other marriage records for Jesse, so I don’t know the identity of this first wife.

I did find Jesse’s widow Nancy (Mitchell) Chavis in the 1850 and 1860 censuses in the Beaver Dam district in Granville County. Beaver Dam is right below Fishing Creek, on the other side of the Tar River and was a location that some of the Fishing Creek community members moved into, including other descendants of William Chavis.

In the 1850 census, Nancy (Mitchell) Chavis is shown living with a Redding Chavis, age 49 years and a married couple – Benjamin Anderson age 60 and Franky Anderson age 52. Redding Chavis was Jesse Chavis’ son from his first unknown wife since he was born in 1801, which is before the 1812 marriage date with second wife Nancy Mitchell. Franky Anderson’s maiden name was Franky Mitchell and she was Nancy Mitchell’s daughter from before marrying Jesse Chavis. In the 1830 census, Franky Mitchell’s husband Benjamin Anderson is also shown only living two households away from Jesse Chavis. Benjamin Anderson was also the younger brother of Rhody Anderson, the woman who Jesse Chavis had a child with.

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Jesse Chavis’ widow Nancy (Mitchell) Chavis was enumerated in the Beaver Dam District of Granville County in the 1850 census. She is listed with her step-son Redding Chavis, her daughter Franky (Mitchell) Anderson and Franky’s husband Benjamin Anderson. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Beaver Dam, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 126B; Image: 251

In the 1860 census, Nancy (Mitchell) Chavis is shown again living with her step-son Redding Chavis in Beaver Dam district in Granville Co. That is the last time she appears in the census, so she died sometime before 1870. Redding Chavis was never married but he did father a child with Fanny Harris b. 1815 named Emily Harris (1834-1907). Fanny Harris was also a descendant of William Chavis, and in fact Redding Chavis and Fanny Harris were second cousins. Emily Harris married Thomas Evans (1827-1911) and their family like many other Saponi families from Granville County, relocated to Ohio and later Michigan where the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation are today.

Emily Harris Evans death
The death certificate for Emily (Harris) Evans, confirms that she was the daughter of Redding Chavis and Frances “Fanny” Harris. Redding Chavis was the son of Jesse Chavis and his first unknown wife. Emily was the wife of Thomas Evans who also hailed from Granville’s Native American community. Source: http://cdm16317.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p129401coll7/id/271747
Joseph Evans
Joseph Evans (b. 1869) was the son of Emily Harris and Thomas Evans. He was a grandson of Redding Chavis, and a great-grandson of Jesse Chavis. He was born in Ohio, after the family left Granville County. Joseph later moved to Michigan. Source: Ancestry, Username: shaithcox
Ida (Evans) Allen  & sister Kathyrn Evans
Sisters Ida Belle Evans (1893-1971) and Catherine Evans (b. 1884). They were daughters of Richard Evans, granddaughters of Emily Harris and Thomas Evans, great-granddaughters of Redding Chavis, and great-great granddaughters of Jesse Chavis. Source: Ancestry, Username: shaithcox

So to recap, Jesse Chavis was from the family of William Chavis and Frances Gibson and most likely a grandson of theirs. He was bound out to Thomas Person and then lived with his first cousin Hugh Snelling. He had a child with Nelly Bass, a child with Rhody Anderson named Henry Anderson, a first unknown wife with whom he had at least one son named Redding Chavis, and then later married Nancy Mitchell.

Looking at his household numbers in the census records, it’s quite apparent Jesse Chavis had other children. He likely had more children with his first unknown wife and children with his second wife Nancy Mitchell.

I can confirm that William Chavis (1801-1854) was a son of Jesse Chavis. And given his approximate birth date of 1801, he would be from Jesse Chavis’ first unknown wife. Census records and tax lists place William Chavis in very close proximity to where Jesse Chavis and his known family lived in the 1830s and 1840s. William Chavis married Delilah Guy (1819-1860) on 16 Oct 1834 and the Guy family as well lived in Fishing Creek and were neighbors to Jesse Chavis. William Chavis’ will makes mention of giving his mother title to the land that she was already living on in the Beaver Dam district. The text of the will was transcribed by fellow Granville County researcher Jahrod Pender:

Will of William Chavis

Jan. 26 1854 proved Feb. Court 1854

William Chavis wills to his mother the land in Beaverdam district where she now lives for her life then to my wife if she be living and if not to my children; To wife Delilah Chavis, for life or widowhood, all else I own but if she marry again then to be taken over by my excr. For use of my wife and children, and after her death to all my children.

Exrs. Col Lewis Parham

Wts W.W Dement, W H Paschall.

Though the will does not give the name of William Chavis’ mother, Nancy (Mitchell) Chavis is the only elder female Chavis who is listed in the census for Beaver Dam district in 1850 and 1860. Nancy was actually his step-mother but was the mother that raised him for most of his life since she married his father Jesse Chavis when William was about 10 years old. And this explains why in the census records for 1850 and 1860, Nancy was the head of the household and not her adult step-son Redding Chavis who resided with her.

Bibby family 1898
Julia Chavis (1845-1939) is the elder woman seated in the middle. She was the daughter of William Chavis (1801-1854) and Delilah Guy. William Chavis was a son of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840). Julia is pictured here with her husband William Solomon Bibby, children, and grandchildren at the family farm in Franklinton, NC in 1898. My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell’s first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right.

 

I hope this blog post was informative and clarifies exactly who Jesse Chavis of Granville County was. I especially hope it’s a helpful reminder for researchers to be patient with the records and to carefully review all of the content. This is the best way to avoid mistakes such as conflating records of different individuals.

 

Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonquian Place Names in Granville County

In what has become a classic Anthropology text, author Keith Basso in “Wisdom Sits in Places: Language and Landscape Among the Western Apache” explores how Apache culture and place names are inextricably linked. Before European colonization, every mountain, forest, river, lake, road, canyon, etc had a place name in the local indigenous language. How each land feature earned its name, is a history lesson in itself so these place names are also ways of learning about the past. In this blog post, I will discuss what the historical record has revealed about the indigenous place names in Granville County found in the Siouan, Iroquoian, and Algonquian languages.


 

Background

In an earlier blog post, I discussed the work of local historian Oscar W. Blacknall who wrote about the Native community. In one essay, Blacknall presented a story about how Gibbs Creek which runs off the Tar River, received its name. Gibson/Gideon Chavis 1737-1777 (son of William Chavis and Frances Gibson) of the Native community had a racing horse named “Black Snake” which won him a lot of money. After another successful horse race, Gibson Chavis’ losing opponents killed him at that creek and it was afterwards called Gibbs Creek. So the story of what happened to Gibson Chavis lives on forever in the name of that creek.

The tribes indigenous to the area that became Granville County are the Saponi and Tuscarora. During colonial times in the 1700s, especially after the Tuscarora War, the area was more so a Saponi settlement as indicated by the the numerous reports of a Saponi Indian community living next to Col. William Eaton who was an Indian trader. (These are the direct lineal descendants of Granville’s Native community – see my previous blog posts here and here for more info). Thus the indigenous place names found within and around Granville County are going to be in the Saponi/Tutelo (the Saponi and Tutelo spoke nearly identical languages) and Tuscarora languages. The Saponi language is an Eastern Siouan language and the Tuscarora language is an Iroquoian language. Although Algonquian speaking tribes are not indigenous to Granville County, many Granville Indians have some roots among the Algonquian-speaking Powhatan Confederacy and Algonquian speaking tribes in North Carolina were not that distant. Long, windy rivers that stretch across the ancestral territory of many tribes carry place names in the Algonquian language, often times because they were the peoples with whom European colonists had first contact with.

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1754 census of Native Americans in North Carolina shows 14 men, 14 women, and children of the Saponi (“Sapona”) living in Granville County. Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.html/document/csr05-0089

It is important to remember in our discussion about indigenous place names that none of these languages before European contact, were written languages. So applying the Roman alphabet to indigenous languages, is going to cause all kinds of corruption and inconsistency in how these indigenous words were transcribed. So in the historical archive, we are going to find multiple variations of the exact same place name. To the best of my ability, I will provide all variations that I am aware of.


 

The Roanoke, The Tar, and The Neuse Rivers

Let us first start with the three major waterways that pass through or are immediately adjacent to Granville County. The Roanoke, Tar, and Neuse Rivers all flow into the Atlantic Ocean and have long, winding courses that pass through diverse topography. In addition to sources that are linked within the discussion, I was assisted with the translations in this section by my Tuscarora friend/cousin/fellow researcher Duane Brayboy Williams. Nya:weh (thank you) to Duane for all his help.

The Roanoke River does not technically touch Granville County, but comes very close when it passes through northern Warren County, NC and on Granville’s northern border with Mecklenburg County, VA. Many smaller creeks in Granville County are tributaries of the Roanoke.

“Roanoke” is an Algonquian word meaning a string of wampum beads. Wampum is made from a highly prized clam shell called a quahog which is found only in salt water. Thus it would be quite odd for fresh water to be named after something found in salt water. Therefore it is possible that the English colonists mistook the name “Ohanoke” for “Roanoke”. Ohanoke is an Algonquian word for a crooked place, and perhaps it may have referred to the crooked, winding shape of the river.

Before the river was called the Roanoke, it was called the Moratuck River (also “Moritoco”). Moratuck is also an Algonquian word but it appears to be a corrupted Algonquian word because there is no “r” sound in the Algonquian dialect called Renape which is spoken in current day Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The “r” would be pronounced more like a “d” and it is believed that the name is rooted in the Algonquian world “madah” which means bad. The Roanoke River is noted for being a river with violent currents and so it is understandable how that would play a role in its naming. Our ancestors probably had many heroic and tragic stories about the rapid currents of the river. And when we consider both words: “Ohanoke” meaning crooked and “Moratuck” meaning bad river, it’s clear that the tumultuous nature of the river is how it was characterized.

Roanaoke River
The Roanoke River is shown in this map. The main body of the river does not pass directly through Granville/Vance Counties, but many tributary creeks are located in Granville/Vance. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roanoke_River

 

The Tar River also has an interesting and complex history. The Tar cuts right through the center of Granville County and the Native community is most concentrated off of tributary creeks of the Tar River such as Fishing Creek, Tabbs Creek, Gibbs Creek, and more. We know from earlier historical records that the Tar River was called the Taw (or Tau) River but that is also not the river’s original name. For that we need to turn to the map created by German explorer John Lederer in 1671. Lederer lead several expeditions from Virginia through the North Carolina Piedmont and back in 1669/70. Most of the men who accompanied Lederer on his voyage left early on, leaving just Lederer and his Iroquoian speaking Susquehannock Indian guide. Because of the lack of other eyewitnesses to corroborate his journey, many of Lederer’s contemporaries believed that he fabricated aspects of his voyage and historians today still debate the veracity of the expeditions.

However what is clear is that on the map that Lederer created, he refers to the Tar River as the Torpaeo (also Tarpaeo and Tarpaco) River. From the map we can see that Lederer erroneously believed that river was a tributary of the Roanoke. Because Lederer’s Indian guide was an Iroquoian speaking person, it would be a fair assumption to think that “Torpaeo” was an Iroquoian word. The problem is that there is no known translation of this word. It could be that Lederer mistranscribed the word and unfortunately his accounts do not give us any additional background information. “Torpaeo” may also be an Algonquian word but if so, no definition has been located.

Another strong possibility for the original place name of the Tar River, could be from the Tuscarora village known in English as Torhunte or Tarhuntes. The correct Tuscarora spelling of the village is Teyurhę̀h·θa?. We know from accounts from Col. John Barnwell who lead the attack against the Tuscarora during the Tuscarora War, that Torhunte was located off of Cotechney Creek which runs northeast off of the Neuse River. However the Tar River is very close by, and it is believed by some that after the war, the village was reestablished closer to banks of the Tar River. Whatever the case may be, the fact that a Tuscarora village called Torhunte was in very close proximity to the Tar River is quite revealing and it’s conceivable that Torhunte/Tarhuntes could be corrupted and shortened to Taw/Tar. Torhunte means “a place to stay overnight”.

But there is still more…

The Tar River and the Pamlico River are actually the same river. What happened was that during Lederer’s time, a different group of European colonists lead an expedition on the river, starting from the Atlantic Coast. There they encountered Algonquian speaking Indians referred to as the Pamlico (also the Pamticough) Indians and they became the namesake of the river.

Lederer Map
John Lederer Map of 1671. The Tar River was called the Torpaeo River and is circled in red. Source: http://rla.unc.edu/archives/accounts/lederer/lederertext.html
Tar River Pamlico River
Map showing that the Tar River and Pamlico River are the same river. Source: https://prezi.com/_ajcpjrv-us-/tarpamlico-river/

The Neuse River barely touches Granville’s southern border with Wake County but many creeks that run through lower Granville County are tributaries of the Neuse. The Neuse River was the home of the Neusiok Indians. Neusiok is an Algonquian word, meaning a settlement at the neck of a place. However the Neusiok Indians themselves were actually believed to be Iroquoian speaking peoples. Neusiok is what their Algonquian speaking neighbors referred to them as, and because it was the name that European colonists heard first, it became the name of the tribe. The Neusiok peoples likely lived in a bend/neck of the Neuse River and thus derived their name from their settlement along the river. During the Tuscarora War, what remained of the Neusiok people were absorbed into the Tuscarora.

Neuse River
The Neuse River is shown here. It reaches Granville’s southern border with Wake County. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuse_River

Local Granville County Place Names

The following discussion focuses on place names found within Granville County. The information on these place names comes primarily from the expedition that Col. William Byrd II (1674-1744) lead in 1728 along the Virginia/North Carolina border. In addition to other Euro-American colonists, Byrd brought along Saponi Indian guides from the Saponi reservation at Ft. Christanna. One of these men was Ned Bearskin, and he provided important information about Saponi culture and the local landscape. Byrd authored “The History of the Dividing Line” based upon the 1728 expedition and the full text can be found here. In addition, I reviewed the material from some of the other men including the Christopher Gale/Edward Mosely/John Lovick/William Little journals found here and the fieldbook of Alexander Irvine found here.

James Mooney (1861-1921) was an American ethnographer who was doing field research on the Ghost Dance of the Great Plains in the late 19th century. During this research, he became interested in studying the Eastern Siouan speaking tribes. Mooney was drawn to the linguistic evidence which showed that the Siouan speaking people of the East and Siouan speaking people of the Plains spoke a similar language. In “Siouan Tribes of the East” published in 1894, Mooney drew upon the Saponi language that Ned Bearskin provided in Byrd’s notes to make that linguistic connection. Therefore I also used Mooney’s book to help translate the Saponi place names that Bearskin provided. A full text can be found here.

All of these place names are of creeks and the suffix “mony” or “moni” refers to water.

Place names in the Saponi language provided by Ned Bearskin:

Mausa-mony (also spelled Massa-mony): This translates into “paint creek” and is a reference to the red ochre paint that is found along the banks of the river. Natural paints like red ochre were used for a variety of purposes including for ceramics, burial ceremonies, and body paint. This creek is today called Island Creek and is located in northern Granville County.

Yapatsco Creek (also spelled Yapatio Creek): This translates to “beaver creek” and is a reference to the many beavers and beaver dams situated along the river. In fact Byrd makes specific note that they had some difficulty crossing that creek because of the manner in which the beavers had dammed the water. Col. Byrd also tells a story of how our ancestors would mix the “juice” from the body of a dead beaver with ground up bark from the sassafras tree which grows in abundance in this territory and would use that as a bait to attract more beavers. Today the creek still goes by its English translation of Beaver Pond Creek and is located in northern Granville County.

Ohimpa-mony (also spelled Ahimpa-mony): This translates into “jumping creek” and is named so after the jumping of fish in the creek. Clearly fish was an important part of our ancestor’s diet and they knew which creeks provided the best opportunities for fishing. Today this creek is known as Grassy Creek, located in northern Granville County.

Tewawho-mony (also spelled Keew-ahomony): This translates to “Tuscarora creek” and is a reference to a story about a Tuscarora who was killed by the Saponi and his body was thrown into the creek. The Saponi and Tuscarora during these colonial times were “enemies”, but later on some Saponi were adopted into the Iroquois when they relocated to upstate NY and the “neutral” Tuscarora who remained in the Indians Woods reservation did have friendly relations with the Saponi. This creek though serves as a reminder to a time period when the two tribes were warring against one another. Today this creek is known as Aarons Creek and is located in northern Granville County.

Hico-oto-mony (also spelled Hycoote-mony): This translates into “turkey buzzard creek” and is a reference to the large number of buzzards who roost in the trees situated along the banks of the river. Turkeys provided both food and feathers for adornment for our ancestors. The name over time was shortened and corrupted to “Hyco” and today the river is known as the Hyco River and is located in northern Person County (borders Granville County to the West). Hyco Road which is an east-west road in northern Granville County is also named for this river.

Granville County map 1880 copy
Indigenous place names in Granville County. Names in red are Saponi/Eastern Siouan, names in green are Algonquian, and names in blue are Tuscarora/Iroquoian. Source: http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/ncmaps/id/654/rec/14
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James Mooney’s discussion of Saponi place names provided by Nead Bearskin that are found in Granville County. Source: James Mooney, “The Siouan Tribes of the East”. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894. Page 46.

I think you can see from these several place names in Granville County, an insight into Saponi culture and social values. The more place names that we are able to recover, the better we can understand the lives of our ancestors and the relationship they had with the land that they have called home since time immemorial.

Important Update for Willis Bass of Granville County

One of the most common mistakes found in genealogical research is conflating multiple people into a single person. In an earlier blog post about my 5th great-grandfather Sherwood Harris (son of Edward Harris and Sarah Chavis), I discussed how even the War Department conflated the records of multiple men who shared the same name: Sherwood Harris. So it is understandable that in Paul Heinegg’s massive research on all “free colored people” from colonial times in the American South, he would likely commit a few of these mistakes.

One such error comes from Heinegg’s discussion about a man named Willis Bass (b. 1792). (Heinegg suggests his birthdate is 1787 but I have records which indicate 1792). By carefully reviewing the records that Heinegg provided and finding additional records to corroborate my suspicions, I am able to update and correct important info on Willis Bass. If you are a descendant of Willis Bass or just researching him, you will definitely want to update your records after reading this blog post. Most researchers use Heinegg’s material so hopefully he will update his website with this new info that I have provided.

Willis Bass family tree.001
Family tree for Willis Bass that explains his family relationships. Records for all these individuals will be discussed below. © Kianga Lucas

 

Heingg’s Research on Willis Bass (b. 1792)

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Paul Heinegg’s section on James Bass who he proposes is the father of Willis Bass (b. 1792) of Granville Co. Note how there is not a single record of James Bass ever living in Granville Co or even North Carolina. Source: http://freeafricanamericans.com/bailey-berry.htm

James Bass (b. 1760) is who Heinegg suggests is the father of Willis Bass (b. 1792) of Granville County. Heinegg included a number of very helpful primary source documents for James Bass. We see he lived in Norfolk Co, VA for most of his life and later moved out to Tennessee where he filed a Revolutionary War pension application. What you do not see is a single record of James Bass in Granville Co, NC. Children do certainly move away from their parents at some point but to not have a single record for James Bass in Granville Co should immediately throw up some red flags. Let’s take a closer examination of the records.

We see that in the 1801 tax list for Norfolk Co, VA James Bass is listed with the names of members of his household. Included in his houshold is a Willis Bass, which is solid proof that James Bass had a son named Willis Bass. This tax list is the only record provided for the Willis Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. I do find James Bass in the Bedford Co, TN census records starting in 1820 and he is there along with several other “free colored” Bass head of households. These are most likely James Bass’ children and other close family members. If his son Willis Bass survived childhood and did move away from Norfolk Co, VA, he likely would have relocated with his family to Bedford Co, TN. So the Willis Bass of Norfolk, VA coming to Granville Co, NC just doesn’t make much sense or fit into the general trend for James Bass’ family. Let’s look at the records available for the Willis Bass of Granville Co.


 

Willis Bass (b. 1792) Apprenticeship Records

The earliest records that I found for Willis Bass are not included in Heinegg’s research. Ancestry recently made available to their members, Wills and Probate Records for North Carolina and included in the Granville County folder are also apprenticeship records. These records have been an incredible aide for me to verify or disprove genealogical relationships.

Willis Bass John Irby apprenticeship
Willis Bass, age 9 years, was bound out to John Irby on 8 May 1801 in Granville County. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

On 8 May 1801, Willis Bass, age 9 years, was bound out to John Irby. On the exact same day, Racey Bass, age 11 years, was also bound out to John Irby. John Irby (1780-1841) was a resident of the Abrams Plains district of Granville County. This is an important detail because Willis Bass and Racey Bass are later shown living in the Abrams Plains District after their indentured servitude was over.

Racey Bass John Irby apprenticeship
Racey (“Rasey”) Bass, age 11 years, was bound out to John Irby on 8 May 1801 in Granville County. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

The fact that Willis Bass and Racey Bass were bound out on the same day to the same person is strong evidence that they were siblings. Often times the courts would send out orders requesting that the children of a specific individual, be required to report to court to be bound out. But who were Willis and Racey’s parents? The Granville County court minutes, reveal that a few years earlier in May 1798, Racey Bass, was called the son of Milly Bass who was the wife of Pearson Hawley. The identified gender of Racey Bass is odd because the 1801 apprenticeship order to be bound to John Irby, identified Racey Bass as a female. However after reviewing additional primary source records, I can confirm that Racey Bass was a male.

Racey Bass 1798 Court Minutes
Racey “Raisey” Bass, age about 8 years, is called the son of Milly Bass, wife of Pearson Hawley in the May 1798 Court Minutes. Racey was ordered to be bound to James H. Smith. Source: Dr. Warren Milteer

So who was Milly Bass? According to the court minutes, Milly Bass (b. 1772) was the wife of a Pearson Hawley (b. 1770). This means that siblings Willis Bass and Racey Bass were born to Milly Bass before she married Pearson Hawley. And this explains why Willis Bass and Racey Bass were bound out because it was common for children born out of wedlock to be apprenticed out. Pearson Hawley is found in the Granville Co records beginning in 1791 and is in the 1800 census, head of a household of 5 “free colored” people. He is from the Saponi/Catawba Indian Hawley family that I previously blogged about here. The 1800 census is the last time I find Pearson Hawley in the Granville records, so I’m unsure of what later happened to him or his wife Milly Bass.

Milly Bass (b. 1772) was the daughter of Benjamin Bass (1722-1802) and his wife Mary Bass (born 1722). The Granville County bastardy bonds show that Milly Bass had children out of wedlock and that it was Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) who fathered those children. (After initially publishing this blog post, I made additional discoveries that you can read here, which reviews the evidence that supports Jesse Chavis being the father of Milly Bass’ children).

On 5 Aug 1803, Willis Bass and Racey Bass were bound out again to John Irby. I’m not sure why multiple apprenticeship orders were needed but it shows the pattern of siblings being bound out on the same date.


 

Willis Bass (b. 1792) in the Granville Co Census and Marriage Records

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This is Paul Heinegg’s discussion of Willis Bass (b. 1792). He jumps right into the Granville Co records without offering any evidence or insight as to why the Willis Bass of Granville Co was the same person as Willis Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. Heinegg includes the word “perhaps” to illustrate that he is not sure. All researchers need to pay close attention to these details. Source: http://freeafricanamericans.com/bailey-berry.htm

So if Willis Bass was bound out as a boy in Granville Co in 1801 and 1803, how could he be the son of someone who was living in Norfolk Co, VA during that time? The answer is that Willis Bass was not the son of James Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. And the apprenticeship records and court minutes of Granville Co identify the mother of Willis Bass and Racey Bass as Milly Bass.

The next time we find Willis Bass in the records was on 4 Jan 1809 when he married Olive Chavis. He was then counted in the 1810, 1820, and 1830 censuses for Granville Co. He lived in the Abrams Plains district which is a district in far northern Granville Co, immediately next to the Virginia state border. And this is the same district that he lived in when he was bound out to John Irby. Willis Bass’ 1810 household consisted of three people – himself, wife Olive, and a child. His brother Racey Bass was enumerated right next to him, head of a large household of 9 people. Willis Bass’ 1820 household consisted of 9 people (himself, wife Olive, 5 boys and 2 girls). His brother Racey Bass does not appear in the census again after 1810 and I wonder if some of the children in Willis’ 1820 household may have been his brother’s children. Willis Bass’ 1830 household consisted of 12 people (himself, wife Olive, 5 young men/boys, and 5 young women/girls).

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Willis Bass is enumerated in the 1810 census next to his sister Racey Bass. Note: the 1810 census was based off of alphabetical tax lists from each district in Granville County, so names listed next to one another are not necessarily neighbors. But names close to one another indicate living in the same district. in Source: Year: 1810; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Roll: 40; Page: 858; Image: 00228; Family History Library Film: 0337913
1820 willis bass
Willis Bass enumerated in the Abrams Plains district of Granville County in 1820. Source: Year: 1810; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Roll: 40; Page: 858; Image: 00228; Family History Library Film: 0337913

I also found that Willis Bass was twice the bondsman for marriages in Granville Co. He was the bondsman for the marriage between Joseph Peal and Jane Pettiford on 18 May 1822. Jane Pettiford was the daughter of Collins Pettiford and Polly Chavis (perhaps a family members of Willis Bass’ wife Olive Chavis). And Willis Bass was the bondsman for the marriage between Henry Bass and Eliza Hart on 26 Feb 1824. Henry Bass (b. 1800) is too old to be Willis’ son, but perhaps he was a close relative. Henry Bass relocated to Ohio, specifically Ross County which is a couple of counties over from where some of Willis Bass’ descendants relocated to.


Willis Bass’ (b. 1792) Descendants Filed Eastern Cherokee Applications

So the last time Willis Bass appears in Granville Co is in the 1830 census and we know from the size of the household that he had a large family. We next learn about what happened to Willis Bass from the Eastern Cherokee (Guion Miller) applications that his descendants filed.

If you’re not familiar with the Guion Miller roll, here is a blurb from familysearch:

The Guion Miller Roll is a list of Eastern Cherokees who applied for money awarded in 1905 because of a 1902 lawsuit in which the Eastern Cherokee tribe sued the United States for funds due them under the treaties of 1835, 1836 and 1845. Claimants were asked to prove they were members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe at the time of the treaties, or descended from members who had not been affiliated with any other tribe. Guion Miller, an agent of the Interior Department, was appointed as a commissioner of the Court of Claims to compile a list of claimants. He made an extensive enrollment of the Cherokees in 1907 and 1908.

Source: https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/The_U.S._Eastern_Cherokee_or_Guion_Miller_Roll

Even though the applications for Willis Bass’ descendants were rejected, they are full of important genealogical information about his family. I will be doing a blog post hopefully soon about why so many of our families were labeled “Cherokee” despite not being tribally Cherokee. In that blog post I will explore that phenomenon more in depth but for now you should at least be aware that “Cherokee” was often synonymous for “Indian” in the Southeast.

Descendants of Willis Bass who filed Eastern Cherokee applications: grandsons: Elijah Bass Jr (#17657) and Peter Bass (#44383); great-grandchildren: two named Alice Revels (#14050 and #14118), Charles Bass (#14052), Malissa Roberts (#16153), Delia McCann (#16156), Matilda Bostwick (#16155), Martha J Bass (#17656), Mansfield Bass (#17659), Ransom Bass (#18015), Martha Anderson (#18350), Rosa Bass (#19825), Nora Thomas (#19826), and Matilda Newville (#15670); and great-great grandchildren: William Newville (#24366), Alice Elizabeth Carman (#24379), and Charley Newville (#32952). All applicants claimed descent from Willis Bass and Olive Chavis’ son Elijah Bass Sr. I won’t discuss each application because they are quite redundant. Instead I’ll focus on a couple of applications that provide the most pertinent info.

Elijah Bass Jr and Elizabeth Arnold
Elijah Bass Jr (1835-1912) with his wife Elizabeth Arnold. Elijah Jr was the son of Elijah Bass Sr and the grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Elijah Bass Jr filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application # 17567. Source: Ancestry, Username: Anthony DI DIO

By the time of the Eastern Cherokee roll applications in 1907, some descendants of Willis Bass had relocated from Granville Co, NC to Lawrence Co, OH and finally to Vernon Co, WI. We learn from Elijah Bass Jr’s application, that Willis and Olive Bass had the following children: Elijah Bass Sr, William Bass, Henry Bass, Racey Bass, Ransom Bass, Nancy Bass, Polly Bass, and Delia Bass. Elijah Bass Sr was the only one to relocate to Ohio, while the others continued to live in North Carolina. We have already seen the name Racey Bass from the apprenticeship records which show that Willis Bass had a brother named Racey Bass.

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A page from Elijah Bass Jr’s Eastern Cherokee application (#17657). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.
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Another page of Elijah Bass Jr’s Eastern Cherokee application (#17657). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.

Elijah Bass Jr states that he was born on 15 Oct 1835 in Granville Co but relocated with his father Elijah Bass Sr to Lawrence Co, OH a couple of years later. This is consistent with Elijah Bass Sr first appearing in the Lawrence Co, OH census in 1840. However, Elijah Sr’s marriage record to Matilda Dutton of Pennsylvania was recorded on 20 March 1835 in Lawrence Co, OH. It seems unlikely that Elijah Sr would go all the way to Ohio to marry a woman from elsewhere, return to Granville Co where his first son was born, and then a few years later go back to Ohio. In the 1850 census, Elijah Jr’s birthplace is listed as Ohio and every other census after that it was listed as North Carolina. I wonder if Elijah Jr thought he was  born in North Carolina, when he was actually born in Ohio.

Another inconsistency is found when Elijah Bass Jr identified his grandparents as Willis Bass and Olive Stewart. We know from their 1809 marriage record in Granville Co, that Olive’s maiden name was Chavis. It’s possible that she born a Stewart, was first married to a Chavis, became widowed and then married Willis Basss. But I can find no marriage record for an “Olive Stewart”. The Stewarts were another large “free colored”/Native American family in the area, and I suspect that Olive’s mother was a Stewart and the reason why Olive was sometimes known as a Stewart. The Stewarts and Chavises intermarried a lot on both sides of the VA/NC border. Because I have not been able to identify Olive’s parents, I can’t say for certain how the Stewarts fit into her lineage.

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Elijah Bass Jr’s Eastern Cherokee application (#17657) includes a handwritten note to the commissioner. Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.
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Second page of the hand written note by Elijah Bass Jr included in his Eastern Cherokee application (#17657). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.

In a letter dated 25 Feb 1908, Elijah Bass Jr writes directly to the Guion Miller commissioner to provide some additional background information about his family. There are some big inconsistencies in his narrative with what is found in the actual records. Elijah Jr states that his grandparents (Willis and Olive Bass) had to flee from Virginia into North Carolina in 1812 because they were driven out of their land by white people. And that his grandfather Willis Bass had previously lived on a (Cherokee) reservation in Virginia.

But we know from apprenticeship, marriage, and census records that Willis Bass was born in North Carolina and is in the Granville Co records before 1812. I think this misleading narrative is why Heinegg tried to force a connection between Willis Bass of Granville Co and the James Bass of Norfolk Co, VA. This is why examining the totality of all the records is vital when you have conflicting stories. I do not think Elijah Bass Jr fabricated this story completely and that there is likely some truth in there. The events that he is recalling, happened well before his was born, so that may partially account for the mistakes. But I also wonder if the story about fleeing Virginia for North Carolina was more about his grandmother Olive Chavis’ lineage. Willis Bass’ widow Olive Chavis was enumerated in the 1850, 1860 and 1870 censuses, and her birthplace is given as Virginia. And earlier on in the 1810, 1820, and 1830 censuses, Olive Chavis (counted in her husband Willis Bass’s household) lived close to Evans Chavis (1770-after 1860), Charles Chavis, and Isaac Chavis (1766-1831). These three men were from neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA and perhaps were of some relation to Olive Chavis.

I can say with certainty that all the Basses in Granville Co all descend from two brothers: Edward Bass (1672-1750) and John Bass (1673-1732) who initially left Virginia for North Carolina in 1720 and whose descendants were in Granville Co by the 1750s. Edward and John Bass were the documented grandsons of British colonist John Bass(e) and his Nansemond Indian wife Elizabeth. If you’d like a good recap of the Bass family of Granville Co, read my previous blog post. So the Basses were well established in Granville Co before 1812.

Bass movement map.001
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

When we look at Elijah Jr’s brother Peter Bass’ Eastern Cherokee application, we find some additional information. In the Guion Miller applications, there is space for respondents to write down their “Indian names”. Peter Bass lists his Indian name as “Peter Chavers” and lists his father Elijah Bass Sr’s Indian name as “Elijah Chavers”. So we can clearly see Willis Bass’ descendants were aware that they descended from the Chavers (Chavis) family, although Chavis/Chavers is not an “Indian name”.

Peter Bass
Peter Bass (1844-1922) was the son of Elijah Bass Sr and the grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co. He filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application #44383. Source: Ancestry, Username: rmcilquham1
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A page from Peter Bass’ Eastern Cherokee application (#44363). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.

As stated earlier, all of the Eastern Cherokee enrollment applications for Willis Bass’ descendants were rejected. On Alice Revels’ (#14050) application, the Guion Miller commission provided the exact reason why the family’s applications were rejected. The Willis Bass family was never listed on any previous Cherokee rolls, never lived with the Cherokees, and Granville Co was never part of original Cherokee territory.

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All applications filed by Willis Bass’ descendants were rejected. The commission provided the exact reasons on Alice Revels’ application (#14050). Source: NARA M1104. Eastern Cherokee Applications of the U.S. Court of Claims, 1906-1909.
Samuel Bass and Eliza Jane Murphy
Samuel Bass (1838-1906) with wife Eliza Jane Murphy. He was the son of Elijah Bass Sr and the grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Samuel died just before the Eastern Cherokee application process started. Source: Ancestry, Username: SchusterL41
Elizabeth Bass
Elizabeth Bass (1840-1902) was the daughter of Elijah Bass Sr and the granddaughter of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville Co, NC. Elizabeth died a few years before the Eastern Cherokee application process began. Source: Ancestry, Username: rmcilquham1
Ransom Bass
Ransom Bass (1861-1947) was the son of Elijah Bass Jr, grandson of Elijah Bass Sr, and great-grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville County. Ransom filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application (#18015). Source: Ancestry, Username: rmcilquham1
Matilda Bass
Matilda (Bass) Newville (1863-1933) was the daughter of Elijah Bass Jr, granddaughter of Elijah Bass Sr, and great granddaughter of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville County. Matilda filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application (#15670). Source: Ancestry, Username: deborah3311
Mansfield Bass
Mansfield Bass (1870-1945) was the son of Elijah Bass Jr, grandson of Elijah Bass Sr, and great grandson of Willis Bass and Olive Chavis of Granville County. Mansfield filed a (rejected) Eastern Cherokee application (#17659). Source: Ancestry, Username:

Addendum

In February 2016, Paul Heinegg updated the Bass section of his website with some of the corrected information I discussed above. He no longer has the Willis Bass who was the son of James Bass b. 1760 of Norfolk CO, VA and Bedford Co, TN as the same Willis Bass of Granville Co who was actually the son of Milly Bass and Jesse Chavis. Heinegg also provided additional records for the James Bass b. 1760 of Norfolk Co, VA and Bedford Co, TN so if you are a descendant of the this branch of the Bass family, it is worthwhile to revisit Heinegg’s Bass section:

http://freeafricanamericans.com/bailey-berry.htm

The Saponi/Monacan Indian Brandon/Branham Family of Granville County

The Brandons are a core family of Granville’s Native community that have intermarried with most of the other Native families. Originating in Southside Virginia, the Brandons came to Granville County in the 1820s, rejoining their Saponi relatives who had already established the community during the days of Indian trader Colonel William Eaton. I introduced the Brandon family in an earlier blog post about the Saponi Indian cabins that were reported in Amelia Co (modern Nottoway Co), Virginia in 1737. I will repost some of the content here but I recommend reading that blog post if you have not already done so.

The Brandon surname has been spelled a variety of ways including Brannum, Branham, Brandom, and Brandum. However for the sake of clarity and consistency, I will use the standardized “Brandon” spelling of the surname for the family in Granville Co, NC. But please be aware of the variety of spellings as you research this family. Also note that there were white Brandon/Branham families residing in the same areas as the “free colored”/Native American Brandon/Branham family. I have found no connection between the two populations, with the exception that they share the same surname. The family that is the topic of this blog post were consistently listed as “free colored” people with the exception of some later descendants who were identified as “white”.


Background on the Brandon Family:

The Brandon family descends from several Brandons living in Bristol Parish, Prince George Co, as well as surrounding areas of Brunswick Co. and Henrico Co. who first appear in the records in the 1720s, 1730s, and 1740s. It is not known exactly how all these Brandons relate to each other but a few Brandons who were born in the household of Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale in Bristol Parish were most likely siblings and could be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins in Amelia County in 1737. Edward Brandon was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on July 9, 1730 and in 1751, Edward Brandon was a tithable between the Flatt and Deep Creek districts of Amelia Co. As you will recall, Winningham Creek the site of the Saponi cabins runs off of Deep Creek in Amelia County. Margaret Brandon was born on Nov 7, 1720 and was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on Oct 10, 1722. Doll “Dorothy” Brandon was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on Jul 24, 1727.

Contemporaries to siblings Edward, Margaret and Doll Brandon, who are probably of some family relation to them include: Benjamin Branham b. 1721 who lived in Louisa Co, and Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728 who lived in Brunswick and Lunenburg Cos. There was also an Edward Branham b. 1760 who was likely related to Benjamin Branham and Eleanor Branham/Brandon. Edward Branham b. 1760 first appears as a tithable in Amherst Co, VA in 1783 and he is the progenitor of the core Branham family (this family used the standardized “Branham” spelling) of the state recognized Monacan Tribe in Amherst Co, VA. Current Chief Dean Branham is a direct lineal descendant. The Monacan are another Eastern Siouan tribe that once comprised a confederacy that included the Saponi.

Family tree of the Brandon/Branham family. The Brandons bound out to Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. The other Brandon/Branhams are connected to known Saponi/Eastern Siouan communities. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of the Brandon/Branham family. The Brandons bound out to Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. The other Brandon/Branhams are connected to known Saponi/Eastern Siouan communities.
© Kianga Lucas
Map showing the precise location of the Saponi Indian cabins within what is now Nottoway Co, VA. Source: http://bridgehunter.com/va/nottoway/big-map/
Map showing the precise location of the Saponi Indian cabins within what is now Nottoway Co, VA. This is where some of the early Brandons lived.
Source: http://bridgehunter.com/va/nottoway/big-map/

Eleanor Brandon b. 1728

We don’t know much about Eleanor Brandon except for the records of her children that were bound out. Based upon the dates of when her children were bound out, Paul Heinegg in his research on the Brandon family suggests that she was born around 1728.

On 24 Jul 1753 in Brunswick County, VA, Eleanor’s children – Thomas and Molly/Mary Brandon were bound out. And on 29 January 1755, her children Thomas Brandon, Molly/Mary Brandon, and Viney Brandon were bound out again in Brunswick Co. There is no record of who her children were bound out to. Brunswick Co is the location of Fort Christanna, the former Saponi reservation that was closed in 1718. Many Saponi continued to live in and around Brunswick Co which explains why Eleanor resided there.

Entrance to the Fort Christanna site Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
Entrance to the Fort Christanna site
Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site explains the original layout of the fort. Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site explains the original layout of the fort.
Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site discusses the nearby location of the Saponi village called Junkatapurse. After the fort was closed Saponi people continued to reside in the area and both sides of the state border. Eleanor Brandon was likely one of those Saponi who remained in Brunswick Co. Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty
This panel at the Fort Christanna site discusses the nearby location of the Saponi village called Junkatapurse. After the fort was closed Saponi people continued to reside in the area and both sides of the state border. Eleanor Brandon was likely one of those Saponi who remained in Brunswick Co.
Photo credit: Tonya Evans Beatty

Viney Brandon (1754-1818)

Viney Brandon was a daughter of Eleanor Brandon and resided in Mecklenburg Co, VA. She was the “wife” of a white man named Thomas Dison. Because of laws against interracial marriage, they could not legally marry and so on 14 March 1791, they were presented to the court for living in “adultery”.

Viney continued to live in Mecklenburg Co, VA where she was a land owner and appears on the tax lists until her death in 1818. She left a will which named her children. Because she was not legally married to Thomas Dison, their children alternated between the Brandon and Dison (also spelled Dyson) surnames. Most of Viney Brandon’s  children and descendants remained in Mecklenburg Co or on the North Carolina side of the state border. They mostly intermarried with other known “free colored”/Native American families in the area such as Goins, Chavis, Howell. etc. There was one son named William Brandon Dison (1777-1845) who relocated out to Wilkes and Surry Cos, NC. Though he was “mixed race”, after he moved to Western NC, he and his children were most commonly recorded as “white”.

From left to right siblings: Susannah Dyson b. 1812 (with white shawl), Moses Dyson b. 1810 (wearing dark hat next to Susannah), and Solomon Dyson b. 1817 (standing right behind the donkey). They are direct descendants of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728. Their father was William Brandon Dyson and their grandmother was Viney Brandon. The family moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA out to western North Carolina (Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke Cos). This photo was taken when Moses Dyson was leaving for Tennessee. Source: Jerry Dagenhart
From left to right siblings: Susannah Dyson b. 1812 (with white shawl), Moses Dyson b. 1810 (wearing dark hat next to Susannah), and Solomon Dyson b. 1817 (standing right behind the donkey). They are direct descendants of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728. Their father was William Brandon Dyson who was the son of Viney Brandon and a white man named Thomas Dyson. The family moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA out to western North Carolina (Wilkes and Burke Cos). This photo was taken when Moses Dyson was leaving for Tennessee.
Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Andrew Jackson Dyson Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Andrew Jackson Dyson b. 1818. He was a brother to the above listed Dyson siblings. His father was William Brandon Dyson who was the son of Viney Brandon and a white man named Thomas Dyson.
Source: Jerry Dagenhart

Thomas Brandon (1746-1834)

As discussed above, Thomas Brandon was bound out in Brunswick Co in 1753 and 1755 to an unnamed person. Heinegg suggests he was born around 1746 and that is the date I will use for consistency but it’s possible he was a few years younger. Thomas Brandon was also my 5th great-grandfather.

On 12 May 1763, Thomas Brandon was bound out again in neighboring Lunenburg Co, VA to Hutchins Burton. And according to the tax lists in 1764 for St. James Parish in Lunenburg Co, Thomas Brandon was a tithable in Hutchin Burton’s household. Very noteworthy is that Robert Corn (1745-1816) was also listed as a tithable in Hutchin Burton’s household in 1764. Robert Corn later moved to North Carolina and some of his descendants are the Corn (now more commonly known as “Cohen”) family of the state recognized Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Orange/Alamance Cos, NC.

So this begs the question, who was Hutchins Burton? Hutchins Burton (1722-1767) was the son of Nowell Burton and Judith Allen and looks to have belonged to a prominent, slave-owning family. You can find additional well researched information about the Burton family here. I wonder if there was a connection between his family and the Saponi people.

Thomas Brandon was mistreated by Hutchins Burton and complained to the courts to be freed from his indenture. And on 13 Jul 1764 Thomas Brandon was bound to Jacob Chavis (1736-1808). Jacob Chavis was the husband of Elizabeth Evans (1745-1814) which is probably why on 3 January 1771, Thomas Brandon married Elizabeth Evans’ sister Margaret Evans (b. 1753). Elizabeth and Margaret Evans were the children of Thomas Evans (1723-1788) and his unnamed Walden wife. I previously discussed Thomas Evans in this blog post.

We learn from his 1833 pension application (W.4643) that Thomas Brandon was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Thomas lived in Mecklenburg Co until his death in 1834 and his widow Margaret (Evans/Walden) Brandon received a widow’s pension. In Margaret’s application, she provided a family register which listed the names and ages of her children. This specificity of this information is very impressive and rare for its time, so this is a valuable source for reseachers.

A page from Thomas Brandon's Revolutionary War pension application which lists the names and birth dates of his children. Source: The National Archives
A page from Thomas Brandon’s Revolutionary War pension application which lists the names and exact birth dates of his children.
Source: The National Archives

Most of their children remained in Mecklenburg Co, VA where the Occaneechi-Saponi of Virginia community is located. Some later relocated to Ohio where the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation are.

So the children of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden were:

1. Nancy Brandon (b. 1771) married Frederick Graves

2. Agnes Brandon (b. 1773)

3. Walden Brandon (b. 1775) – note that his first name “Walden” probably came from his mother Margaret’s Walden heritage.

4. Susan “Suckey” Brandon (b. 1777) married Freeman Howell. These are my 4th great-grandparents and they moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA to Granville Co, NC.

5. Edward Brandon (b. 1779) married Elizabeth Chavis

6. Elizabeth Brandon (b. 1782) married Archer Stewart

7. Thomas Brandon Jr (b. 1786) married Sarah Chavis

8. Margaret Brandon (b. 1790) married John Garnes

9. John Brandon (b. 1792)

10. Jesse Brandon (b. 1796) married Parthena Drew

Elisha Pettiford (1875 - after 1940). Elisha Pettiford (1875 - after 1940). Elisha was the son of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Viney Brandon and a white man named Thomas Dison. Elisha's family relocated to Ohio in the 1860s. Source: Ancestry, Username:dl1952
Elisha Pettiford (1875 – after 1940). Elisha was the son of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden. Elisha’s family relocated to Ohio in the 1860s.
Source: Ancestry, Username:dl1952
Arminta Evangeline Pettiford (1857-1934). She was the daughter of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden. Arabella's family relocated to Ohio. Source: Ancestry, Username: sej1sej
Arminta Evangeline Pettiford (1857-1934). She was the daughter of Arabella Brandon and Chesley Pettiford. Arabella Brandon was the daughter of Jesse Brandon and Parthena Drew. And Jesse Brandon was a son of Thomas Brandon and Margaret Evans/Walden. Arabella’s family relocated to Ohio.
Source: Ancestry, Username: sej1sej

Mary/Molly Brandon b. 1744

This brings us to Eleanor Brandon’s daughter Mary/Molly Brandon who is the primary progenitor of the Brandons in Granville Co. She was called both “Mary” and “Molly” in the records and for the sake of clarity I will refer to her as Mary Brandon.

Like her siblings, Mary Brandon was bound out in 1753 and 1755 in Brunswick Co, VA. She was living in neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA when her son Rhode Brandon (1762-1811) was bound out on 11 Aug 1766. There are no additional records for Mary Brandon, so I’m unsure who fathered her children or what became of her. So we will move onto Mary Brandon’s descendants.


Rhode Brandon (1762-1811)

Rhode Brandon was a son of Mary Brandon and he was initially bound out to a white man named Isaac Holmes on 11 Aug 1766 in Mecklenburg Co, VA. Isaac Holmes (1727-1772) was married to Lucy Ballard and when Isaac Holmes died in 1772, Rhode Brandon was bound out to Isaac Holmes’ brother-in-law John Ballard Jr. Rhode Brandon continued to live in Mecklenburg Co until his death in about 1811. His wife’s name was Elizabeth but her maiden name is unknown. Elizabeth may have been a Stewart because after Rhode Brandon’s death, she purchased land in Mecklenburg Co from James Stewart (b. 1734) that adjoined William Stewart’s (b. 1723) property. The Stewarts were another Saponi family that lived in the area, intermarried with the Brandons, and some family members also moved into Granville Co. This same William Stewart (b. 1723) was bound out to Indian trader Col. William Eaton. Col. Eaton had a close relationship to the Saponi Indians and would later move to Granville Co where the Saponi lived next to his land. See my previous blog posts about Col. William Eaton here and here.

Rhode and Elizabeth Brandon had the following children:

1. *Charles Brandon b. 1787

2. *Burwell Brandon b. 1789

3. Elizabeth Brandon b. 1791

4. Peter Brandon b. 1784

5. George Brandon

6. *Mary Brandon b. 1790 married Robert Mayo 31 Dec 1811 in Mecklenburg Co, VA

7. Hannah Brandon

*Charles Brandon, Mary Brandon, and Burwell Brandon relocated next door to Granville Co, NC. Mary Brandon’s children carried the Mayo surname and despite what Paul Heinegg says about her and Robert Mayo separating by 1839, I have not found that to be the case. They are clearly listed together in the 1850 census in Granville Co with their children. My next sections will focus on Charles Brandon and Burwell Brandon as they are the ones who primarily carried the Brandon surname into Granville Co.

Robert Mayo and his wife Mary brandon did not separate by 1839. They are shown in the 1850 census in the Oxford district of Granvile Co, residing in the household of their son Eldridge Mayo. Eldridge was married to Sally Harris (sister of my 3rd great-grandmother Jane Harris). Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 106B; Image: 212
Mary (Brandon) Mayo and her husband Robert Mayo did not separate by 1839. They are shown in the 1850 census in the Oxford district of Granvile Co, residing in the household of their son Eldridge Mayo. Eldridge was married to Sally Harris (sister of my 3rd great-grandmother Jane Harris).
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Oxford, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 106B; Image: 212

Charles Brandon b. 1787

Charles Brandon is well documented as a son of Rhode and Elizabeth Brandon because he was a tithable in their Mecklenburg Co, VA household. By 1820, Charles Brandon moved to the Abrams Plains district of Granville Co, NC where he is found in the census, head of a household of 6 “free colored” individuals, including: 1 male under 14, 1 male 26-45, 2 females 14-26, and 1 female over 45. This household information suggests that Charles Brandon was married and had at least one son and two daughters. I say at least because it’s quite possible some of his children may have been bound out as apprentices in white households (a common occurrence for the Brandons in Mecklenburg Co, VA).

Charles Brandon was enumerated in the Abrams Plains District of Granville Co in 1820. Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Page: 23; NARA Roll: M33_85; Image: 23
Charles Brandon was enumerated in the Abrams
Plains District of Granville Co in 1820.
Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Granville, North Carolina; Page: 23; NARA Roll: M33_85; Image: 23

I know very little about Charles Brandon because that is the last time he appears in the census. I do not have a marriage record associated with him either so I cannot verify the identity of his wife. However it certainly appears that Charles Brandon died sometime after 1820, and so we may find his children in the apprenticeship records in Granville Co.

On 7 Feb 1831 in Granville Co, a Mary Brandon and a Susannah Brandon were bound out to John Bowen and Chesley Daniel, respectively. The fact that both girls were bound out on the same date is good evidence that they were sisters. Their parents were not named in the apprenticeship records but looking at the date of when they were bound out suggests they were orphans of Charles Brandon. And Granville County court minutes reveal that Mary and Suannah were the orphans of Charles Brandon, deceased (h/t to researcher Warren Milteer). I don’t know what happened to Mary Brandon. Susannah Brandon on the other hand married William Pettiford (son of Collins Pettiford and Polly Chavis) of the very large “free colored”/Native American Pettiford family on 3 Jan 1846. Also, Susannah Brandon and her husband resided in the Abrams Plains district, the same district that Charles Brandon formerly resided in.

Apprenticeship record for Susannah Brandon shows that she was bound out to Chesley Daniel on 7 Feb 1831. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Apprenticeship record for Susannah Brandon shows that she was bound out to Chesley Daniel on 7 Feb 1831.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
The apprenticeship record for Mary Brandon shows that she bound out to John Bowen on 7 Feb 1831. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Apprenticeship record for Mary Brandon shows that she bound out to John Bowen on 7 Feb 1831.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

What is also worth pointing out is the name of Chesley Daniel. This Chesley Daniel may have had a close relationship to Charles Brandon because there was a Chesley Brandon b. 1812 who appears in the Granville Co records that I believe to be a son of Charles Brandon. It was not uncommon for “free colored”/Native American families to name their children after “friendly whites”. I cannot locate an earlier Chesley in the Brandon family, so Chesley Daniel may be the reason why the Chesley name was passed down in the Brandon family. (Also note there was a Chesley Bass b. 1815 of Granville’s Native community).

Below is a list of probable children of Charles Brandon and they all lived in and intermarried with members of Granville’s Native community. If I find additional documents to verify or dispute these connections, I will update:

1. Chesley Brandon b. 1812. Married Susan Anderson 8 Oct 1840 in Granville Co, with Collins Pettiford as the bondsman. This is the same Collins Pettiford who was the father-in-law of Chesley’s sister Susannah Brandon.

2. Jane Brandon b. 1815. Married Martin Cousins 26 March 1845 in Granville Co, with Evans Pettiford as the bondsman. Evans Pettiford was the husband of Jane’s sister Martha Brandon.

3. Susan “Susannah” Brandon b. 1819. Married William Pettiford 3 Jan 1846 in Granville Co, with Sterling Chavis as the bondsman. Susannah was called an orphan of Charles Brandon when she bound out in 1831 to Chesley Daniel and lived in the same part of Granville Co as her father Charles Brandon.

4. Martha Brandon b. 1821. Married Evans Pettiford 30 Sep 1840 in Granville Co, with Abram Plenty as the bondsman. Evans Pettiford was the bondsman for the marriage of Martha’s sister Jane Brandon.

5. Mary Brandon b. 1823. She was bound out on the same date as her sister Susannah Brandon in 1831 to John Bowen when she was called an or[han of Charles Brandon. No additional records of her after she was bound out.

If we go back and look at the census information for Charles Brandon’s household in 1820, we know that he had at least three children (1 son and 2 daughters) born before 1820. Those children could be Chesley, Jane, and Susannah (Jane and Susannah may have been mistakenly listed a bit older).

William Pettiford (1852-1932) was the son of Sussanah Brandon and William Pettiford Sr. He lived in Granville's Native community. Source: Ancestry, Username: t4phillips
William Pettiford (1852-1932) was the son of Susannah Brandon and William Pettiford Sr. He lived in Granville’s Native community.
Source: Ancestry, Username: t4phillips

Burwell Brandon b. 1785

Burwell Brandon was born in Mecklenburg Co, VA where he was found on the tax lists in the household of his father Rhode Brandon. He next appears in the 1820 census in neighboring Charlotte Co, VA, head of a household of one male (himself). This is a very important detail because it strongly implies that Burwell Brandon was not married nor had children before 1820 unless they were bound out.

Burwell Brandon was enumerated in the 1820 census in Charlotte Co, VA. He was the head of a household that only included himself. Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Charlotte, Virginia; Page: 33; NARA Roll: M33_136; Image: 46
Burwell Brandon was enumerated in the 1820 census in Charlotte Co, VA. He was the head of a household that only included himself.
Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Charlotte, Virginia; Page: 33; NARA Roll: M33_136; Image: 46

I have not located Burwell Brandon in the 1830 census, so I’m unsure the exact year he moved to Granville Co. However other closely interrelated Saponi families in the Mecklenburg Co area such as the Guy, Howell, Parker, Cousins, and Chavis families moved into Granville Co in the 1820s.

In the 1840 census in Granville Co, Burwell Brandon is listed as the head of household of 5 “free people of color”, and by looking at their ages they were presumably his wife, 2 sons, and 1 daughter.

So who was Burwell Brandon’s wife? There are some family trees on Ancestry that list Burwell’s wife as Lucy Young but I have found no evidence to support this. I believe these family trees are confusing a woman named Lucy Young who lived in and never left Charlotte Co; she appears in the 1810, 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses for Charlotte Co. According to the “Free Negro Register” of Charlotte Co, this Lucy Young along with other Youngs were emancipated slaves of an Edward Almond. This Lucy Young was 57 years of age in 1822 when she is listed in the “Free Negro” register of Charlotte Co, making her born around 1765, too old to be Burwell’s wife.

According to the death certificate of Burwell Brandon’s youngest son Richard Brandon (1840-1916), Burwell’s wife was “Lucy Stoye”. I have not come across this surname before and I’m pretty confident that “Stoye” was a misspelling of “Stow”. I found several white Stow (also spelled “Stoe”) households in Charlotte and adjacent counties in the early 1800s. As we know Burwell Brandon resided in Mecklenburg and Charlotte Cos before coming to Granville Co. And Virginia is listed as Lucy Brandon’s birthplace in the 1850 census record. It could be that Lucy was a member of the white Stow family or even an emancipated slave of the Stow family. Either scenario may explain why I have not been able to find a marriage record for Burwell Brandon.

The death certificate for Burwell and Lucy Brandon's youngest son Richard Brandon, lists Lucy's maiden name as
The death certificate for Burwell and Lucy Brandon’s youngest son Richard Brandon (1840-1916), lists Lucy’s maiden name as “Lucy Stoye”. I believe this is a misspelling of the Stow/Stoe family.
Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

In the 1850 census, Burwell Brandon appears in the Tabbs Creek district of Granville Co with his wife Lucy Brandon, daughter Betsy Brandon, sons Humbleston “Amos” Brandon and Richard Brandon, and grandchildren Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon and Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon. These grandchildren were the children of Burwell’s daughter Betsy Brandon.

Burwell Brandon and his family were enumerated in the 1850 census for the Tabbs Creek District of Granville Co. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Tabscreek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 82B; Image: 166
Burwell Brandon and his family were enumerated in the 1850 census for the Tabbs Creek District of Granville Co.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Tabscreek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 82B; Image: 166

We learn from the Granville Co apprenticeship records that a few years prior in 1847, the court had ordered that Burwell’s sons Humbleston Brandon and Richard Brandon to be bound out. The sons were not specifically named but it is clear the court order was referring to Humbleston and Richard Brandon. But it appears the court never took action since Humbleston and Richard were living with their father in 1850.

Court order in Granville Co in 1847 recommended that Burwell Brandon's sons (Humbleston and Richard) be bound out. However it appears this never happened because they are listed in Burwell's household in 1850. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998
Court order in Granville Co in 1847 recommended that Burwell Brandon’s sons (Humbleston and Richard) be bound out. However it appears this never happened because they are listed in Burwell’s household in 1850.
Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998

I have not located Burwell Brandon in the 1860 census. In 1870, he was living in Fishing Creek township in Granville Co, and enumerated again with his wife Lucy Brandon. This was the last time Burwell and his wife Lucy appear in the census, so they likely died shortly afterwards.

The documented children of Burwell and Lucy Brandon were:

1. Betsy Brandon (b. 1831). She was not married and had a number of children whom I will discuss in the next section.

2. Humbleston “Amos” Brandon (b. 1834). He was first married to Onie Peace and second married to Addie (I don’t know her maiden name). He had numerous children with both women and continued living in the Native community in Granville/Vance Co in Fishing Creek/Kittrell townships.

3. Richard Brandon (1840-1916) . He was married to a woman named Eliza (not sure of her maiden name) but it appears they never had children. He remained in the Native community in Granville Co in Fishing Creek township.

There are two additional Brandon children of Burwell’s that were much older than than the ones discussed above and so they likely had a different mother.  Mahalia Brandon (b. 1805) was the wife of Henry Parker (b. 1810) who was from the Saponi Indian Parker family that I discussed in this previous blog post. Their descendants remained in Granville’s Native community. Second there is Giles Brandon (1813-1909) who was the husband of Sallie Ann Evans 1827-1914 (daughter of Thomas Evans and Sallie Bass) of the Native American Evans and Bass families. Interestingly, Mahalia Brandon’s husband Henry Parker was the bondsman for the marriage of Giles Brandon and Sallie Ann Evans, which is a strong indicator that Mahalia Brandon and Giles Brandon were siblings. Furthermore, Mahalia Brandon had a son named Giles Parker (b. 1835), likely named after her brother Giles Brandon. Giles Brandon eventually left Granville Co for Ohio where his descendants are found among the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation.

Several of Mahalia (Brandon) Parker’s children listed their grandfather as Burwell Brandon when they registered to vote in 1902 under the “grandfather clause” (h/t to researcher Warren Milteer). So from those voting records, we know Burwell Brandon had to be the father of Mahalia and Giles Brandon. But their mother could not have been Lucy Stow/Stoe (b. 1795) because she was too young to be the mother of Mahalia Brandon (b.1805). As I mentioned earlier, Burwell Brandon in the 1820 census was in a household by himself, so perhaps his first unknown wife had died and his children were bound out. So you can see, there are some unresolved questions with identifying the mother of Mahalia and Giles Brandon. I would urge any researchers and descendants of this family to be aware of these issues.


Betsy Brandon b. 1831

In this final section, I’m going to take some time to discuss Betsy Brandon’s children. Because she was not married, I have seen some confusion about who fathered her children.

Betsy is well documented as a daughter of Burwell and Lucy Brandon and appears in their household in the 1850 census. Betsy’s oldest children were fathered by Hilliard Evans b. 1815 (son of Thomas Evans and Sallie Bass) of the Native American Evans and Bass families that I previously blogged about. I have verified this a few ways. The marriage record for Betsy’s oldest son Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon to Parthenia Eaton, recorded on 23 Dec 1868 in Granville Co, lists his father as Hilliard Evans. Betsy’s oldest daughter was named Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon, obviously named after her father. The marriage records for Betsy’s next three children: Crutch Brandon, Pantheyer Brandon and Amanda Brandon do not list their father’s name. But given that they are quite close in age to Hayoshe and Hilliard Brandon, Hilliard Evans was most likely their father. It also worth mentioning that Hilliard Evans was the brother of Sallie Ann Evans who married Giles Brandon.

The marriage record for Hayoshe
The marriage record for Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon to Parthenia Eaton on 23 Dec 1868 lists his father as “Hilliard Evans
Source: Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
Hilliard Evans on 24 Jun 1855 married Louisa Mitchell in Wake Co and relocated to Ohio, so we know he likely did not father any additional children with Betsy Brandon after 1855.

I cannot find Betsy Brandon and her children in the 1860 census, which makes establishing their ages a bit difficult. She does appear again in the 1870 and 1880 censuses in Fishing Creek township in Granville Co with additional children. The next clue about who fathered Betsy Brandon’s next set of children comes from the death certificate of her son Peyton Brandon (1861-1925). His death certificate lists his father as William “Billie” Peace of Granville Co. Another clue comes from the death certificate for Betsy’s daughter Maranda Brandon (1868-1962), where her father is listed as “Billie Brandon”. There was no Billie Brandon but I believe this was also in reference to William “Billie” Peace.

Peyton Brandon's death record lists his father as
Peyton Brandon’s death record lists his father as “Billie Peace
Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

So who was William “Billie” Peace? I found two William Peaces who were both the appropriate age to father children with Betsy Brandon, were never married and lived in close proximity to her. Both men were also white. One was William L Peace (son of Pleasant Peace and Peggy Reed) who looks to have been a prosperous slave owner. The other was William R Peace (son of John Peace and Frances Reed) who is consistently listed in the census as “deaf & dumb”, so I doubt that he is the correct one. William Peace being white is also likely why Betsy Brandon never was able to marry him. Additional research is needed to verify that I have identified the correct William Peace.

Here is the list of Betsy Brandon’s children who all lived in the Native community. Most intermarried with other Native American families:

Fathered by Hilliard Evans:

1. Hilliard “Hettie” Brandon b. 1847. Married to Samuel Harris

2. Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon 1848-1923. Married first to Parthenia Eaton and second to Sarah Williams.

3. Pantheyer Brandon 1851-1934. Married to Junius Thomas Howell

4. Crutch Brandon b. 1853. Married to Lucy Ann Parker.

5. Amanda Brandon 1854-1922. Married to Henry Howell.

Fathered by William “Billie” Peace:

6. Admond Brandon 1858-1948. Married to Delia Braswell

7. Peyton Brandon 1861-1925. Married to Beatrice (maiden name not known).

8. William Brandon 1864-1932. Married first to Florence Braswell and second to Etta Jones.

9. Walter Brandon 1865-1939. Never married.

10. Maranda Brandon 1868-1962. Married to Matthew Parker.

11. Delia Brandon 1869-1958. Married to Ben Howell.

Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Hilliard Evans and Betsy Brandon and a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County. She comes from the same Branham family in Plecker's letter. Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973
Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Betsy Brandon and Hilliard Evans and a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County. She was married to Junius Thomas Howell.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973
Admond Brandon (1858-1948) was the son of Betsy Brandon and William
Admond Brandon (1858-1948) was the son of Betsy Brandon and William “Billie” Peace. He was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell townships.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Hayoshe
Hayoshe “Osh” Brandon (1848-1923) was the son of Betsy Brandon and Hilliard Evans. He was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell townships.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Zonius Brandon (1896-1970) was the son of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams and he was the grandson of Betsy Brandon and Hiliard Evans. Zonius spent most of his life in Fishing Creek and Kittrell and later moved up to Boston, MA. Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Zonius Brandon (1896-1970) was the son of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams and he was the grandson of Betsy Brandon and Hiliard Evans. Zonius spent most of his life in Fishing Creek and Kittrell and later moved up to Boston, MA.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
Willie Brandon (1904-1980) was the daugjhter of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams. She was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell. Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm
 Willie Brandon (1904-1980) was the daughter of Hayoshe Brandon and Sarah Williams. She was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek and Kittrell.
Source: http://www.chileshomepage.com/Brown/ID/Brown.htm

The Ashkenazi Jewish Origins of the Native American Levy Family

The Levy family came to Granville County well after the Native community had been established. Before that we find ancestors of the Levy family in Fayetteville, Wilmington, Guadeloupe, London, and Holland. The reason for this is that although the Levys were Native American/”free colored” people, they also were of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. This unique and fascinating aspect of their heritage will be documented in this blog post.


Jacob Levy (1780-1850)

The story of the Native American Levy family in North Carolina begins in Wilmington. But the Ashkenazi Jewish origins of this Levy family take us back to Holland. It is there that Jacob Levy , progenitor of the Native American Levy family, was born. We know a bit about Jacob Levy’s life from the biography of his great nephew Confederate Statesman Judah P. Benjamin (1811-1884) found here. Additionally, Jacob Levy is discussed quite a bit in this text about Jewish American history in North Carolina, so I have also used this for source information as well.

Jacob Levy was living in Holland in the late 1700s when his sister Eva Levy married a Sephardic Jewish man named Solomon de Mendes. They had a daughter named Rebecca de Mendes and the family moved with Jacob Levy to London, England soon after 1790. In London we learn that Rebecca de Mendes married a Sephardic Jewish man named Phillip Benjamin by about 1807. The following year, Phillip and Rebecca Benjamin moved to St. Criox, now part of the U.S Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean and that is where their son Judah P. Benjamin was born in 1811. This was during the Napoleonic Wars and St. Criox which was Danish territory yet British occupied, was under heavy guard by British war ships. As a result, the Benjamin family moved to the United States in 1813.

Map of the Caribbean Islands. St. Criox which is today part of the U.S. Virgin Islands is circled. Source: http://www.shipdetective.com/maps/caribbean.htm
Map of the Caribbean Islands. St. Criox which is today part of the U.S. Virgin Islands is circled.
Source: http://www.shipdetective.com/maps/caribbean.htm

Rebecca (de Mendes) Benjamin’s uncle Jacob Levy was already situated in Wilmington, North Carolina and it was probably he who persuaded the Benjamins to leave St. Criox. I do not know the exact year Jacob Levy left London to come to the United States and I have reason to believe he also likely came to the West Indies before coming to the U.S. The first records for Jacob Levy in the U.S. are in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1799 when it was published in the paper that he was dissolving his business relationship with Abraham Isaacs. Wilmington was home to a small yet thriving community of Jewish (Ashkenazi and Sephardic) merchants who mostly dealt with West Indian trade goods (nearby Charleston, SC had the largest Jewish population in the U.S.).

Jacob Levy's announcement of the opening of his store. Source: The Wilmington Gazette, 24 Dec 1801, Thu, Page 4
Jacob Levy’s announcement of the opening of his store.
Source: The Wilmington Gazette, 24 Dec 1801, Thu, Page 4

In 1819 a fire destroyed Jacob Levy’s store, so he moved up to Fayettville and his niece Rebecca Benjamin, along with her husband Phillip Benjamin and son Judah Benjamin (and siblings) relocated to Fayetteville as well. Jacob Levy opened a store there and the Benjamins resided on the second floor. Jacob Levy paid for Judah Benjamin to attend Fayetteville Academy and Jacob was a well respected member of the community who was praised for his skills as an auctioneer:

In this letter to the newspaper, we learn more details about the Jacob Levy and the Benjamins. Source: Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 10 Feb 1898, Thu, Page 1
In this letter to the newspaper, we learn more details about Jacob Levy and the Benjamins.
Source: Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 10 Feb 1898, Thu, Page 1

We learn first hand from a letter written by a childhood friend of Judah Benjamin, that Jacob Levy, along with his sister Mrs. Wright (this was actually Phillip Benjamin’s sister Harriet Wright) left Fayetteville around 1826 and relocated to New Orleans so that Jacob Levy could expand his business:

A letter to the newspaper offers information about when Jacob Levy left Fayetteville for New Orleans. Source: The Charlotte Observer, 29 Jan 1898, Sat, Page 5
A letter to the newspaper offers information about when Jacob Levy left Fayetteville for New Orleans.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, 29 Jan 1898, Sat, Page 5

I found additional corroboration in a newspaper ad from 1827 which shows Jacob Levy’s trust selling off his Fayetteville property:

Jacob Levy's property in Fayetteville was sold in 1827 because he relocated to New Orleans. Source: The Charlotte Observer, 29 Jan 1898, Sat, Page 5
Jacob Levy’s property in Fayetteville was sold in 1827 because he relocated to New Orleans.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, 29 Jan 1898, Sat, Page 5

Jacob Levy died on July 19, 1850 in New Orleans and he  is buried at the Dispersed of Judah Cemetery  where his tombstone still stands:

Jacob Levy is buried at the Dispersed Judah Cemetery in New Orleans. His niece Rebecca (de Mendes) Benjaminis buried in the same plot. Source: http://thompsongenealogy.com/2010/12/the-mysterious-hunt-for-the-grave-of-rebecca-de-mendes/
Jacob Levy is buried at the Dispersed of Judah Cemetery in New Orleans. His niece Rebecca (de Mendes) Benjamin and another relative are buried in the same plot.
Source: http://thompsongenealogy.com/2010/12/the-mysterious-hunt-for-the-grave-of-rebecca-de-mendes/

“French Mary”

From the above records we know much about Jacob Levy’s business life but his personal family life is not as well documented. According to one text, Jacob Levy’s wife was “Maria”, daughter of his Sephardic Jewish business partner Aaron Lopez. I did find family trees which indicate that this Maria died in 1812 back when Jacob Levy was still living in Wilmington and it does not appear they had any children that lived to adulthood. And in reviewing all the biographies about Judah Benjamin, there is no mention of Jacob Levy having children of his own living in the household with the Benjamin family.

However there is one woman who is known to have had at least one son with Jacob Levy, and she was commonly known as “French Mary”. Mary’s origins though are not so transparent and I found numerous conflicting stories about her heritage. In consideration of the many documents I looked over, I believe “French Mary” was Native American (Carib Indian) and was enslaved in Guadeloupe and later freed by Jacob Levy in North Carolina. Below I’ll present the source material for “French Mary” and how I came to this conclusion.

On 4 December 1876, Jacob Levy’s son Lewis Levy submitted a claim to the Southern Claim Commission to be compensated for his losses during the Civil War. He provided testimony that he was a free born person, born to an Indian woman from Guadeloupe who came to this country in 1794:

Excerpt from Lewis Levy's Southern Claims Commission in which he describes his mother as an Indian woman from Guadeloupe. Source: Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880
Excerpt from Lewis Levy’s Southern Claims Commission in which he describes his mother as an Indian woman from Guadeloupe.
Source: Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880

We learn from several newspaper articles starting in the 1890s, that “French Mary” was a well known local woman because she had famously served dinner to General Marquis de Lafayette (namesake of Fayetteville) when he visited Fayetteville in 1825. De Lafayette, a Frenchman, was so impressed with the dinner that he was served, that he knew the cook must have been French. We learn from one article that Mary was a small, dark skinned woman with straight hair and usually wore a turban style head handkerchief:

Excerpt from a newspaper article that describing
Excerpt from a newspaper article that describing “French Mary’s” appearance.
Source: Fayetteville Observer, 25 Aug 1897, Wed, Page 2

Mary’s ethnic origins differ with each retelling of the infamous story of her famous meal to General de Lafayette. In the above newspaper article, she is described as being “Moorish” and that she was kidnapped and sold into slavery, where she was first brought to France, then to a West Indian island, and then brought to Charleston, S.C. and finally Fayetteville. I have found that “Moor” when used in the context of the United States does not always mean the historic Moors who were an Arab/Muslim population that inhabited and controlled Spain over many centuries. Instead it usually is meant to signal someone’s non-European physical appearance. I think in the context of “French Mary”, she may have been referred to as a Moor due to her dark physical appearance and her relationship with the Sephardic Jewish Benjamin family. Also, “French Mary” was noted as wearing a “turban” which may have also contributed to the lore that she was a Moor.

In a 1903 newspaper article authored by Mary’s grandson John Sheridan Leary, he described her as a woman named “Mary Ann Willette” who came from France to America and was well regarded as a good cook. Guadeloupe was at that time and still is a French territory, which is why it was referred to as “France”:

“French Mary’s” grandson John Sheridan Leary indicated that her name was “Mary Ann Willett” and that she came from France.
Source: The Charlotte Observer, 6 Sep 1903, Sun, Page 10

And in a 1921 newspaper article, “French Mary” is said to have not been born a slave, but was a free woman who came to Wilmington on a sailing vessel and the captain then sold her into slavery. What’s also interesting about this article is that the author thinks that General de Lafayette visited Phillip Benjamin’s family (including Jacob Levy) and that is why it was “French Mary” who cooked the meal:

Another news article about
Another news article about “French Mary” that describes her origins.
Source: Fayetteville Observer, 9 Mar 1921, Wed, Page 3

What is consistent about “French Mary” is that she had three known documented children: 1. Lewis Levy (who is the subject of the next section); 2. Juliette Memorell who married Matthew Leary and was the mother of Lewis Sheridan Leary (1835-1859) who took part in John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, and 3. John Ochiltree. The fact that her three children all had different surnames suggests that each child had a different father.

Lewis Sheridan Leary (1835-1859) was the son of Juliette Memorell who was the daughter of
Lewis Sheridan Leary (1835-1859) was the son of Juliette Memorell who was the daughter of “French Mary” – an Indian woman from Guadeloupe.
Source: Ancestry

We know that Jacob Levy was a slave owner and we even know the names of some of his slaves from legal transactions. From the Wilmington records we learn that on 28 March 1817 Jacob Levy manumitted his “mulatto” slave named Margaret Allan and her child Jacob. The same year, Jacob Levy purchased a “negro” slave named Isaac. And in the Fayetteville records, we learn that in 1819 Jacob Levy had a “mustee” slave girl name Maria that he deeded to his newborn great nephew Jacob Levy Benjamin (son of Jacob Levy’s niece Rebecca Benjamin). This last record is especially interesting because the slave’s name is “Maria” and she’s described as “mustee” meaning very specifically of mixed Native American/African descent. This slave girl could be related to “French Mary” or could possibly be “French Mary” herself. The newborn baby Jacob Levy Benjamin did not survive childhood, so I’m not sure where the enslaved “Maria” ended up. And when we consider that Jacob Levy was a merchant of West Indian goods, it stands to reason that his slaves also came from the West Indies.

So if Lewis Levy was born to Jacob Levy and his freed slave “French Mary”, then that would explain why neither “French Mary” or Lewis Levy went with Jacob Levy to New Orleans in 1826. We saw that Jacob Levy sold his real estate in Fayetteville in 1827 and I wonder if he left behind any money or property to his son before taking off.

Out of all the evidence presented about “French Mary”, I think the statement made by her son Lewis Levy back in 1876 that she was an Indian woman from Guadeloupe is the most credible. Not only is that the earliest document that speaks directly to “French Mary’s” heritage but it was information given from her own direct son, who would be most familiar with his mother’s heritage. Guadeloupe was during that time period and still today, a French territory and would explain the “French” aspect of Mary’s cultural background and culinary skills. The indigenous people of Guadeloupe are the Carib Indians and there are still recognized Carib people on the island today. So taking all the above information into consideration, I do believe that “French Mary” was a Carib Indian woman from Guadeloupe. She was most likely born a slave and freed at some point by the Levy/Benjamin family where she continued to work and have a child by Jacob Levy.

A Carib Indian woman from Martinique wearing traditional dress, 1902.
A Carib Indian woman of Martinique in Native dress, 1902. “French Mary” was most likely a Carib Indian woman from neighboring Guadeloupe island and was known for wearing a “turban”, perhaps similar to this example.
Source: http://kadaotonkao.blogspot.com/2013/03/ktk29-les-antilles-part2.html

Lewis Levy (1820-1899)

Lewis Levy (1820-1899) was the son of Jewish Jacob Levy and Carib Indian
Lewis Levy (1820-1899) was the son of Jewish Jacob Levy and Carib Indian “French Mary”. He was a lifelong resident of Cumberland Co, NC and married to Sarah Jane Scott.
Source: Ancestry, Username:carolaalen53

This brings us to Lewis Levy, whose Southern Claims Commission record we reviewed above. Lewis Levy identifies himself as the son of Jacob Levy the auctioneer from Fayetteville and an Indian woman (“French Mary”):

Lewis Levy's identifies his father as Jacob Levy and his mother as an Indian woman. Source: Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880
Lewis Levy identifies his father as Jacob Levy and his mother as an Indian woman.
Source: Southern Claims Commission Approved Claims, 1871-1880

The first record I have for Lewis Levy is when he married Sarah Jane Scott (1825-1898) on 24 Apr 1843 in Cumberland Co, NC with Abram Scott paying the bond. Abram Scott was Sarah Jane Scott’s father who resided in Cumberland Co by 1830. Sarah Jane Scott was a Native American woman of Saponi/Catawba heritage.

Sarah Jane Scott (1825-1898) was the wife of Lewis Levy. She was the daughter of Abram Scott and Lucinda Walden who moved down from Wake Co to Cumberland Co. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Sarah Jane Scott (1825-1898) was the wife of Lewis Levy. She was the daughter of Abram Scott and Quentina Scott (maiden name not known) who resided in Cumberland Co.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

We first find Lewis Levy with wife Sarah Jane Scott and children living in Fayettville, Cumberland Co in the 1850 census. The entire family was enumerated as “mulatto”” and Lewis is listed as a saddler and harness maker. In 1844, Lewis Levy opened his shop in Lumberton and advertised it in the newspaper:

Lewis Levy was a saddler and harness maker and advertised his new shop located in Lumberton. Source: Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 18 Dec 1844, Wed, Page 1
Lewis Levy was a saddler and harness maker and advertised his new shop located in Lumberton.
Source: Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 18 Dec 1844, Wed, Page 1

However something serious must have happened to the family because in 1851 Lewis Levy announced via the newspaper that he was trying to leave Fayetteville as soon as possible and so he was hoping to wrap up all outstanding business. I don’t know exactly why Lewis Levy suddenly decided to leave but it could be that the “Free Negro” laws were ruining him financially. After the Nat Turner slave rebellion in Southampton Co, VA, North Carolina in 1835 passed a new constitution that rescinded the rights that “free people of color” had and instead began to strictly enforce “Free Negro” laws. The last couple of decades leading up to the Civil War were incredibly oppressive times for all “free people of color” in North Carolina.

In 1851, Lewis Levy is shown making haste to close his shop and leave Fayetteville. I do not know why. but he ended up staying. Source: The North-Carolinian, 23 Aug 1851, Sat, Page 4
In 1851, Lewis Levy is shown making haste to close his shop and leave Fayetteville. I do not know why. but he ended up staying.
Source: The North-Carolinian, 23 Aug 1851, Sat, Page 4

But, Lewis Levy did not leave Fayetteville and in the 1860 census, his family was enumerated again in Fayetteville. This means Lewis Levy stayed in the South during the Civil War and we learn a little bit about his experiences during the War from his Southern Claims Commission (#16083) record from 1876. The full file is available on fold3.com. Lewis Levy stayed loyal to the Union and aided General Sherman’s troops with food and transportation so he sought to be compensated for his expenses. He filed a claim for $1592.65 and supplied a detailed list of exactly what he provided to the Union soldiers and the associated cost. In return, the commission allowed him to claim $723. Within the 75 pages of this claim, Levy provides testimony that he was assaulted and abused by the Confederate soldiers and because Levy himself was so fair skinned and could “pass” for white, the Confederacy tried to force him to enlist. Friends and family of Lewis Levy provided additional testimony to corroborate his claims.

Lewis Levy made his mark during the post-Civil War Reconstruction politics of the South. Unlike most “people of color” (both free-born and freedmen) who were members of the Republican Party (the “Radical Republicans”), Lewis Levy was a member of the Democratic Party – specifically the “Colored Democratic Club of Wilmington”.  And this put him at odds with his neighbors and community as seen in this news article:

Lewis Levy was a member of the Democratic Party which put him at odds with his Republican neighbors. Source: The Daily Journal, 22 Apr 1868, Wed, Page 3
Lewis Levy was involved with Reconstruction politics and was a member of the Democratic Party which put him at odds with his Republican neighbors.
Source: The Daily Journal, 22 Apr 1868, Wed, Page 3

Cumberland County continued be Lewis Levy’s home until his death in 1899. A newspaper article relays the news that Lewis Levy’s died en route while visiting his son Matthew Levy in Virginia:

Lewis Levy's death announcement in the newspaaper. Source: Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 1 Jun 1899, Thu, Page 4
Lewis Levy’s death announcement in the newspaaper.
Source: Fayetteville Weekly Observer, 1 Jun 1899, Thu, Page 4

Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott had the following children (some may have been grandchildren):

1. Eiza Levy (b. 1842) Died in childhood.

2. Robert Levy (b. 1844) married Celia Scott and continued to live in Cumberland Co. Descendants enrolled with the Lumbee Tribe.

3. Lewis Levy Jr. (1846-1945) married Josephine Holliday and later settled in Philadelphia.

Lewis Levy Jr (1847-1945) was the son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. He later moved to Philadelphia. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Lewis Levy Jr (1847-1945) was the son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. He later moved to Philadelphia.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

4. Matthew Levy (1850-1913) married Elizabeth Merrick and moved to Virginia.

Matthew Levy (b. 1850) was the son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. He moved to Virginia where he was a preacher. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Matthew Levy (1850-1913) was the son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. He moved to Virginia where he was a preacher.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

5. ***James W. Levy (1852-1936) married Martha Freeman and moved up to Granville Co. He is the subject of the following section.

6. (William) Henry Levy (1854-1938) married Tempie Young and remained in Cumberland Co. Descendants enrolled with the Lumbee tribe.

7. Edward Levy (b. 1858) Died in childhood.

8. Mary Jane “Jennie” Levy (b. 1861) married James Pearce

9. William L. Levy (b. 1863) Died in childhood.

10. Charlotte Levy (b. 1870) Died in childhood, birth date suggests granddaughter not daughter.

11. Anna Levy (b. 1872) Died in childhood, birth date suggests granddaughter not daughter.

12. Aurelia Levy (b. 1876) Died in childhood, birth date suggests granddaughter not daughter.


James W. Levy (1852-1936)

Reverend James Levy (1852-1936) was the son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. He moved up to Granville Co and married Martha Freeman. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Reverend James W. Levy (1852-1936) was the son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. He moved up to Granville Co and married Martha Freeman.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

So this brings us to the Granville County part of the Levy history and that begins with James W. Levy, son of Lewis Levy and Sarah Jane Scott. James was the only child of Lewis Levy that moved up to Granville Co. I don’t have an exact year for this move but it occurred in the mid 1880s because James is last enumerated in Cumberland Co in the 1880 census. James moved to to the township of Kittrell, which is situated right next to Fishing Creek. Up until 1881 Kittrell was part of Granville Co and due to political maneuvering, Vance Co was created in 1881 from a small section of Ganville Co which included Kittrell.

It is there that James married a woman from the Native community named Martha Freeman (1865-1944). Martha was the daughter of John Freeman and Elizabeth Hayes and is descended from the Native American Freeman, Hayes, Taborn, and Epps families. Though she was raised in Kittrell, most of Martha’s family came from neighboring Person Co in the High Plains community that is today the Sappony Tribe of Person County. I have not located James Levy and Martha Feeman’s marriage record yet but according to census info, they married around 1887.

Martha Freeman (1865-1944) was the wife of James Levy. She was the daughter of John Freeman and Elizabeth Hayes of Kittrell, Granville/Vance Co. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Martha Freeman (1865-1944) was the wife of James Levy. She was the daughter of John Freeman and Elizabeth Hayes of Kittrell, Granville/Vance Co.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

James Levy was a popular minister at A.M.E. Zion Church and was active and well known in the Native community and throughout Granville/Vance Co. James served on the Board of Directors for the Colored Orphanage in Oxford, Granville Co.  The orphanage was situated a very short distance from the Native community, so community members took a strong interest in the institution and did a lot to support its efforts. For example, I’ve found that my 2nd great-grandfather James E Howell and his first cousin James A Howell volunteered their services and often took in children from the orphanage.

Reverend James W. Levy is listed on the annual report of Board of Directors for the Colored Orphanage in Oxford. Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/asyl1910/asyl1910.html
Reverend James W. Levy is listed in the annual report of Board of Directors for the Colored Orphanage in Oxford.
Source: http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/asyl1910/asyl1910.html

James Levy remained in Kittrell until his death in 1936. His wife Martha (Freeman) Levy also remained in Kittrell until her death in 1944. And what I think is a bit uncommon for the times, James Levy and Martha Freeman only had two children: a son named Dr. James W. Levy Jr and a daughter named Bessie Levy.


Dr. James W. Levy Jr. (1893-1975) – Medical Doctor, Bureau of Indian Affairs

Dr. James W. Levy was the son of Reverend Lewis Levy and Martha Freeman. He was a physician employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Dr. James W. Levy was the son of Reverend James Levy and Martha Freeman. He was a physician employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

James Levy Jr was the son of James Levy Sr. and Martha Freeman and early in his life, left North Carolina to assist other Native American communities. James was born and raised in Kittrell and enrolled in Winston-Salem State University, a historically black university in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County. He earned his medical license in 1915 as seen in a newspaper article that listed people who passed the North Carolina medical examination:

James Levy Jr received his medical license in 1915. Source: Greensboro Daily News, 17 Jun 1915, Thu, Page 7
James Levy Jr received his medical license in 1915.
Source: Greensboro Daily News, 17 Jun 1915, Thu, Page 7

In Winston-Salem, NC he met and married a woman named Christina Dykes on 21 Jan 1916. They had one son together named Ulysses Levy (1916-2003) but it appears the couple divorced soon after they wed.

We next find Dr. James Levy Jr in 1917 living all the way out in Minnesota. According to his WW1 draft record, James was working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (then called the U.S. Indian Service) as a medical doctor on the Leech Lake reservation. He is described as single, Indian, and that his mother was his dependent:

Dr. James W. Levy's WW1 draft card which shows he was employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (
Dr. James W. Levy’s WW1 draft card which shows he was employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (“U.S. Indian Service”).
Source: United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.

The Leech Lake reservation is the reservation for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota where the Bureau of Indian Affairs is responsible for carrying out treaty obligations between the United States government and the tribe. These treaty obligations include access to healthcare and so Dr. James Levy’s patients were all from the reservation.

Dr. James Levy also developed a relationship with a woman from the Leech Lake reservation named “Marie”, her surname is unknown. She accompanied Dr. James Levy on a trip back home to Kittrell, NC to meet his parents:

From left to right: Marie (girlfriend of Dr. James Levy who was Leech Lake Ojibwe), Dr. James Levy, Martha (Freeman) Levy, and Reverend James Levy. Dr Levy brought his girlfriend Marie home to Kittrell to meet his parents. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
From left to right: Marie (girlfriend of Dr. James Levy who was Ojibwe), Dr. James Levy, Martha (Freeman) Levy, and Reverend James Levy. Dr Levy brought his girlfriend Marie home to Kittrell to meet his parents.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

American Indians served in high numbers during World War 1 and a result many returning Indian veterans of the World War came back to the U.S. with little support from the federal government. Thus in 1920 Dr. James Levy along with several other American Indians from other tribes formed the “American Indians of the Wold War” (AIWW) in Minneapolis:

Dr. James Levy along with several others founded the American Indians of World War to assist Indian veterans. Here Levy is called
Dr. James Levy along with several others founded the “American Indians of the World War” to assist Indian veterans. Here Levy is called “Cherokee” which was a term applied to and used by Indians in North Carolina who were not Cherokee.
Source: Bitten, Thomas A. “American Indians in World War I: At Home and at War”. Page 166

Unfortunately I have not found Dr. James Levy in the 1920, 1930, and 1940 censuses. I get the feeling he moved around a bit, likely working on different projects for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And if he was living on reservations, he may not have been counted in the general U.S. census. If the Bureau still has records of James Levy’s employment, that would be worthwhile to look at.

By 1931, James Levy was living in Miami, OK and married an Arkansas-born woman named Dorothy O’Connor. By the 1950s onward, the couple is consistently listed in the Sioux City, Iowa city directories where James Levy is listed as a medical doctor.

James Levy died in September 1975 and is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Sioux City, IA in the same plot as his wife Dorothy who predeceased him in 1969:

Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=120045173
Source: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=120045173

Bessie Levy (1888-1980)

image
Bessie Levy (1888-1980) was the daughter of Revered James Levy and Martha Freeman. She is pictured here holding one of her children. Bessie’s headband is a reflection of the family’s Native American identity. Source: Shirley Hines (granddaughter of Bessie Levy)

Bessie Levy was the daughter of James Levy Sr. and Martha Freeman, and sister to Dr. James W Levy. Unlike her brother, Bessie stayed local and married within the community.

On 24 September 1913 in Kittrell, Bessie Levy married George Huley Tyler from Fishing Creek of the Native American Tyler, Guy, Kersey, Day, Anderson, Bass, Evans, Walden, Taborn, Chavis families.

George Huley Tyler (1886-1961) was the husband of Bessie Levy. He was from Fishing Creek, Granville Co and the son of John Thomas Tyler and Mary Etta Guy. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
George Huley Tyler (1886-1961) was the husband of Bessie Levy. He was from Fishing Creek, Granville Co and the son of John Thomas Tyler and Mary Etta Guy.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

In the 1920 census we find Bessie Levy with her husband George Tyler and their children, living with Bessie’s parents in Kittrell. She is listed as a teacher so we know she was an educated woman like her brother Dr. James Levy. Her husband George Tyler was a photographer who had his own studio. They had 8 children who lived into adulthood (including 1 who is still living) and at least 2 children who died in infancy.

image
Robert Guy is pictured here with Bessie Levy at her home in Kittrell, Vance Co (formerly Granville Co). Robert Guy was the son of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. His nephew George Huley Tyler was the husband of Bessie Levy. Source: Shirley Hines (Bessie Levy’s granddaughter)

In 1948, Bessie Levy and husband George Tyler moved up from Granville/Vance Cos to Boston, MA where some of their children had already settled. They both remained in Boston until their deaths – Bessie died in 1980 and her husband George predeceased her in 1961.

Marie Sarah Elizabeth Tyler (1916-2004) was the daughter of Bessie Levy and George Huley Tyler. She is pictured with her son Charles at the family home in Kittrell. Marie relocated up to Boston. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Marie Sarah Elizabeth Tyler (1916-2004) was the daughter of Bessie Levy and George Huley Tyler. She is pictured with her son Charles at the family home in Kittrell. Marie relocated up to Boston.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
James
James “Jimmy” Joseph Tyler (1918-1998) was the son of Bessie Levy and George Huley Tyler. Jimmy Tyler was a jazz saxophonist who had a successful career in the jazz scene from the 1940s onward. He was in the Boston (legendary “Wally’s club”) and New York jazz clubs and later moved to Florida. You can listen to one of his recordings here.
Source: Ancestry, Username: ShirleyHines73
Goldie Tyler (1922-2011) was the daughter of Bessie Levy and George Huley Tyler. She relocated up to Boston and was a songwriter. Her son Steve Johns is jazz drummer carrying on the family's musical legacy. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Goldie Tyler (1922-2011) was the daughter of Bessie Levy and George Huley Tyler. She relocated up to Boston and was a songwriter. Her son Steve Johns is jazz drummer carrying on the family’s musical legacy.
Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

Final Thoughts:

By taking a close look at the Levy family, we see that the European heritage of some Native American families did not just include Christians. European Jews were also settlers in the Carolinas where they had many opportunities to intermarry with local Native Americans and blacks. As “minority” populations in Europe, it stands to reason that in the Americas they may have also faced discrimination from their Christian European counterparts, thus at times placing them on a social level that was in close proximity to that of “free people of color”. So as we explore the diverse heritage of these families, we should keep an open mind about the contribution of other “minority” European groups.

The Parker Family: Occaneechi Saponis living in Granville, Orange, and Alamance Counties.

The Native American Parker family of Granville County are a large and integral part of the community. Most of the local families intermarried with the Parkers, so they’re an important family to identify and document. The Parker family of the state recognized Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation of neighboring Orange/Alamance Counties, are from this same Parker family and will be included in this blog post. So let’s continue!


Stephen Parker (b. 1778) – Earliest Identified Parker:

Identifying the earliest known ancestor of the Granville Parker family is not an easy task because the Parkers don’t appear in the Granville records until the 1820s/1830s as “free people of color”. Clearly they did not appear out of nowhere and had to have been living elsewhere before the 1820s. And we need to go to neighboring Mecklenburg Co, VA to find the earliest known “free colored” Parker in the immediate area

Stephen Parker (b. 1778) first appears in the 1820 census for Mecklenburg Co, VA. Sadly the 1790, 1800, and 1810 censuses for Mecklenburg Co did not survive to the present, so we don’t know much about Stephen Parker’s early life. In the 1820 census he is the head of a household of 8 “free people of color”. He is recorded again in the 1830 census for Mecklenburg Co but his household numbers were not properly recorded so I don’t know how large his household was. I have not located Stephen Parker in the 1840 and 1850 censuses.

Stephen Parker's household in the 1820 census in Mecklenburg Co, VA. We appears to have a wife and 5 daughters and 1 son. Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Mecklenburg, Virginia; Page: 147A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 283
Stephen Parker’s household in the 1820 census in Mecklenburg Co, VA. He appears to have a wife and 5 daughters and 1 son.
Source: 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Mecklenburg, Virginia; Page: 147A; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 283

In the 1860 census, Stephen Parker is still in Mecklenburg Co and is listed as 82 years old. Living in his household are 3 Parker women who are probably his daughters. Another important clue that lets us know we have identified a probable early ancestor of the Granville Parker family is that Stephen Parker was surrounded by the “free colored”/Native American Howell, Harris, Stewart, Cousins, Proctor and Mayo families that are from the same families found in Granville Co.

Stephen Parker, age 82 years old, living in Mecklenburg Co. He has 4 women with the surname Parker living in his household. Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Regiment 22, Mecklenburg, Virginia; Roll: M653_1362; Page: 154; Image: 160; Family History Library Film: 805362
Stephen Parker, age 82 years old, living in Mecklenburg Co. He has 3 women with the surname Parker living in his household. Stephen is also listed as “deaf” probably due to his old age.
Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Regiment 22, Mecklenburg, Virginia; Roll: M653_1362; Page: 154; Image: 160; Family History Library Film: 805362
This is the entire census page that Stephen Parker is enumerated on in the 1860 census for Mecklenburg Co. You can see he is surrounded by many other Native American/
This is the entire census page that Stephen Parker is enumerated on in the 1860 census for Mecklenburg Co. You can see he is surrounded by many other Native American/ “free colored” families. These same families also lived in Granville Co.
Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Regiment 22, Mecklenburg, Virginia; Roll: M653_1362; Page: 154; Image: 160; Family History Library Film: 805362

The Parker, Howell, Harris, Stewart, Cousins, Proctor, Mayo  and additional “free colored” people who were clustered together in this 1860 census next to Stephen Parker, were all living/working on the grounds of the Moss Tobacco Factory. The company was created by Robert H. Moss along with brother Reuben Moss and George B. Hammett. The factory was built in 1855 during a time when Clarksville, Mecklenburg Co was the tobacco producing capital of the United States. In fact according to an 1859 report, the Moss Tobacco Factory was the largest tobacco producing plant in the United States. The Moss family “employed” 160 people. Some of these workers were “free colored” families including the Parkers. But the Moss family also “rented” slaves from nearby plantations, so they also used slave labor to produce their tobacco. In that 1860 census, we see the “free colored”/Native American people who worked at the factory are listed with occupation titles such as “stemmer” and “twister”. Despite its early success, the tobacco factory closed in 1862 due to the Civil War. In 1979, the building that once housed the Moss Tobacco Factory was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but was delisted in 2001.

This is the census page previous to the one Stephen Parker is listed on. Moss Tobacco Factory owner Robert H. Moss
This is the census page previous to the one Stephen Parker is listed on. Moss Tobacco Factory owner Robert H. Moss “R.H. Moss” is listed as a tobaccoist. Below his family, you can see the “free colored” workers with their occupations listed as “twister” and “stemmer” in tobacco factory. The enumerator accidentally left their race column blank which would normally mean they were white. But this was simply an error as I can assure these same individuals are listed in other censuses as free people of color.
Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Regiment 22, Mecklenburg, Virginia; Roll: M653_1362; Page: 153; Image: 159; Family History Library Film: 805362
This is the Moss Tobacco Factoring building in Clarksville, Mecklenburg Co, VA. On this site, members of the Parker, Cousins, Howell, Harris, Mayo, and Proctor families worked side by side with slaves
This is the Moss Tobacco Factory building in Clarksville, Mecklenburg Co, VA. On this site, members of the Parker, Cousins, Howell, Harris, Mayo, and Proctor families worked side by side with enslaved people “rented” by the Moss brothers from nearby plantations to produce tobacco for the largest tobacco factory in the country from 1855-1862.
Source: http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/registers/Counties/Delisted_Resources/MOssTobacco_photo.htm

I have not found any marriage records for Stephen Parker so I don’t know who the mother of his children was and it’s quite plausible he was married more than once. However from the 1820 census household numbers it is clear his large household included a wife, and 5 girls and 1 boy born on or before 1820.

So with this in mind, let’s move onto Granville County.


Parkers in Granville County:

So we can deduce from the 1820 census that Stephen Parker had at least 6 children born on of before 1820. From later census records, it appears some of Stephen Parker’s children remained in Mecklenburg Co but others moved to neighboring Granville Co by the 1820s. Here is a list of Stephen Parker’s possible children who appear in the Granville records:

  1. Elizabeth Parker (b. 1807) married Allen Cousins Sep 7, 1825 Granville Co
  2. Polly Parker (1808-1846) married Thomas Pettiford Jan 17, 1829 Granville Co
  3. Henry Parker (b. 1810) married Mahaly Brandon, marriage record not found
  4. Susan Parker (b. 1816) married John Quinchett Dec 26, 1836 Granville Co. Susan Parker’s brother in law Allen Cousins was the bondsman.

Elizabeth Parker and her husband Allen Cousins appear in the Granville Co census in 1830 and 1840. In 1850, they were in neighboring Person Co, and by 1860, they relocated their family to Ross Co, Ohio. Their descendants are part of the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation.

Susan Parker and her husband John Quinchett lived in Mecklenburg Co where their descendants continued to live and where the modern Occoneechee-Saponi Tribe of Virginia is.

Siblings Henry Parker and Polly Parker remained in North Carolina, as did their Parker descendants, so let’s focus on their families.


Henry Parker (b. 1810) of Granville Co:

Henry Parker appears in the 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 censuses for Fishing Creek township, Granville Co. We know that his wife Mahaly’s maiden name was Brandon through the death record of their son Junius Parker (1856-1929)Mahaly Brandon (b. 1805) was from the Native American/”free colored” Brandon/Branham family that has Saponi/Monacan tribal origins and I wrote a little piece on them here. Mahaly’s father was Burwell/Burrell Brandon (b. 1785) who had moved his family from Virginia to Granville Co in the 1820s, which is the same time the Parkers first appear in the Granville records. Also it appears Mahaly named her son Burwell Parker (b. 1840), after her father Burwell Brandon.

Henry Parker with wife Mahaly Brandon and their children in the 1850 census in Fishing Creek township, Granville Co, NC. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Fishing Creek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 89A; Image: 178
Henry Parker with wife Mahaly Brandon and their children in the 1850 census in Fishing Creek township, Granville Co, NC.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: Fishing Creek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M432_631; Page: 89A; Image: 178
Junius Parker's (1856-1929) death certificate reveals some valuable information. His mother's maiden name is Brandon and his father Henry Parker's birthplace is listed as Virginia. Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Junius Parker’s (1856-1929) death certificate reveals some valuable information. His mother’s maiden name is Brandon and his father Henry Parker’s birthplace is listed as Virginia.
Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Though Henry Parker’s birthplace is listed as North Carolina on the census records, the death certificate of his son Junius Parker (1856-1929) confirms that Henry Parker was born in Virginia. Henry and Mahaly lived in the middle of Granville’s Native American community and their many children also intermarried with the community. Their children were:

  1. Eleanor Parker (b. 1830)
  2. Giles Parker (b. 1835) married Betsy Pettiford, March 8, 1862 Granville Co
  3. Alfred Parker (b. 1836) married Melvina Evans, Nov 20, 1854 Granville Co.
  4. Susan Parker (b. 1838) married John Mitchell, Apr 13, 157 Granville Co.
  5. Burwell Parker (b. 1840)
  6. William Parker (1852-1915) married Emma Pettiford, Aug 29, 1863 Granville Co
  7. Mary Parker (b. 1844) married Arthur Vaughan, Oct 12, 1868 Granville Co
  8. Bunion Parker (b. 1845) married Mary Ann Brandon, Jun 16, 1863 Granville Co
  9. Lucy Ann Parker (b. 1845) married Crutch Brandon, Feb 19, 1877 Granville Co
  10. Stella Parker (1846-1929) married Larkin Smith, Mar 5, 1865 Granville Co
  11. Junius Parker (1856-1938) married Francis Evans, Oct 9 1877 Granville Co

As you can see, Henry Parker and Mahaly Brandon had a lot of children, most of whom remained an integral part of the Native community in Granville.

A well known Granville Co ancestor of many Saponi people who relocated to Ohio, was a man named John Anderson (1832-1916) who I previously blogged about in my Anderson entry. John Anderson’s first wife was Margaret Parker (married Oct 27, 1852) and Margaret Parker was the biological mother to children Margaret Anderson b. 1853, Frances Anderson b. 1855, and Benjamin Anderson b. 1856. Margaret Parker died when the children were just a few years old, and John Anderson remarried Mary Mayo on May 14, 1857 and had additional children with her. I mention this because many descendants of John Anderson are unaware that Margaret Parker was the mother of John Anderson’s oldest children, so these family trees should be updated with this correct info. I don’t yet know who Margaret Parker’s parents were but I have no doubt she is from this Parker family.

Berry Parker (1882-1949) was the son of Junius Parker and Francis Evans of Fishing Creek township, Granville Co. Source: Tawnee Parker Alvarez
Berry Parker (1882-1949) was the son of Junius Parker and Francis Evans of Fishing Creek township, Granville Co. He was the grandson of Henry Parker and Mahaly Brandon
Source: Tawnee Parker Alvarez

Polly Parker (b. 1808) – Progenitor of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation Parker Family:

Finally, we turn to Henry Parker’s sister Polly Parker (b. 1808). The Parker family is also a core family of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in neighboring Orange/Alamance Cos, NC. Polly Parker was the mother of Samuel Parker (1825-1908), who was an important person early on in the Occaneechi-Saponi tribal community. Because Samuel Parker’s parentage has not been fully documented, I’m going to use this section to carefully show how I connected Samuel Parker to Polly Parker.

In the article “Occaneechi-Saponi Descendants in North Carolina: The Texas Community” (1991), Forest Hazel, tribal historian for the Occaneechi-Saponi tribe, briefly discusses the Parker family. Hazel writes:

However, it is known from oral tradition that an Indian named Sam Parker moved to the Texas community from the Vance-Granville county area prior to the Civil War.

Source: http://www.rla.unc.edu/publications/ncarch/sis_40(e-book).pdf

So it is known within the Occaneechi-Saponi community (also referred to as the “Texas community”) that Samuel Parker was an Indian who came from Granville Co, thus situating him within the Parker family of Granville Co discussed above. I cannot stress enough the value of our oral histories to help make sense of what is in recorded history.

Polly Parker (b. 1808) of Granville Co had her son Samuel Parker out of wedlock and I have no leads on who fathered her son. Samuel was born in 1825, so Polly became a young, unwed mother. But this changed a few years later when Polly Parker married Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805) on January 17, 1829 in Granville Co. Thomas Pettiford therefore became Samuel Parker’s step-father.

Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805) married young unwed mother Polly Parker (b. 1808) on Jan 17, 1829 in Granville Co. Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805) married young unwed mother Polly Parker (b. 1808) on Jan 17, 1829 in Granville Co.
Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

I have not located the family in the 1830 census, but in 1840 we find the family in the Orange Co census. Their household had 3 members – one adult male aged 24-35 (Thomas Pettiford), one adult female aged 24-35 (Polly Parker) and one young male aged 10-23 (Samuel Parker).

Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805) enumerated in 1840 in Orange Co with a household that included wife Polly Parker and stepson Samuel Parker. Source: Year: 1840; Census Place: Northern Division, Orange, North Carolina; Roll: 367; Page: 184; Image: 383; Family History Library Film: 0018096
Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805) enumerated in 1840 in Orange Co with a household that included wife Polly Parker and stepson Samuel Parker.
Source: Year: 1840; Census Place: Northern Division, Orange, North Carolina; Roll: 367; Page: 184; Image: 383; Family History Library Film: 0018096

Though no death records exist for this time period, we know that Polly Parker died sometime before 1846, because on September 4, 1846 in Orange Co, Thomas Pettiford remarried Jane Roland. In addition, on April 10, 1846 in Orange Co Samuel Parker married Lucy Chavis.

Polly Parker died so Thomas Pettiford married again to Jane Roland on Sep 4, 1846 in Orange Co. Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
Polly Parker died so Thomas Pettiford married again to Jane Roland on Sep 4, 1846 in Orange Co.
Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
Samuel Parker married Lucy Chavis on Apr 10, 1846 in Orange Co. Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.
Samuel Parker married Lucy Chavis on Apr 10, 1846 in Orange Co.
Source: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

So the next time we find Thomas Pettiford and his new wife Jane Roland, and Samuel Parker and his new wife Lucy Chavis is in the 1850 census in Alamance Co. In 1849, a section of Orange Co became newly formed Alamance Co and that is where the family was located. And indeed we can see in the 1850 census, Thomas Pettiford is listed with a wife named Jane, and young children.

In the 1850 census for Alamance Co, Samuel Parker's stepfather Thomas Pettiford is enumerated with his 2nd wife Jane Roland and children. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: North District, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: M432_619; Page: 68B; Image: 140
In the 1850 census for Alamance Co, Samuel Parker’s stepfather Thomas Pettiford is enumerated with his 2nd wife Jane Roland and children.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: North District, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: M432_619; Page: 68B; Image: 140

However, in the 1850 census, there is no one named “Samuel Parker” in Alamance or neighboring counties. BUT – there is a “Samuel Pettiford” listed two households above Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805). This Samuel Pettiford has a wife named Lucy and two young children named John and Francis. This is our Samuel Parker, but why is he listed with the Pettiford surname? As you will recall, Polly Parker had Samuel Parker out of wedlock but a couple of years later married Thomas Pettiford. It was not uncommon for children to sometimes be enumerated with the surname of their step parent, and for the 1850 census record, Samuel Parker was enumerated with the Pettiford surname. It could be the enumerator knew or was told that Samuel Parker was a “son” of Thomas Pettiford and assumed they shared the same surname. We may not know the exact reason why, but clearly this is our Samuel Parker.

Samuel Parker and his wife Lucy Chavis and children John and Francis were all enumerated with the Pettford surname in the 1850 census in Alamance Co. Samuel Parker's stepfather Thomas Pettiford was enumerated two households over. Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: North District, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: M432_619; Page: 68B; Image: 140
Samuel Parker and his wife Lucy Chavis and children John and Francis were all enumerated with the Pettiford surname in the 1850 census in Alamance Co. Samuel Parker’s stepfather Thomas Pettiford was enumerated two households over.
Source: Year: 1850; Census Place: North District, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: M432_619; Page: 68B; Image: 140

The 1860 census in Alamance Co is almost just as confusing because in that census, Samuel Parker’s surname was mistranscribed as “Parks”. However you can see this Samuel has a wife named Lucy. The enumerator only used initials for the first names of Samuel and Lucy’s children. However you can see the oldest son is listed as “J H Parks” age 13 years. That is Samuel and Lucy’s son John who was enumerated in the 1850 census. On this same census page is Samuel Parker’s step-father Thomas Pettiford (b. 1805), which provides additional corroboration that this is the correct Samuel Parker. So if you have been researching Samuel Parker and were having trouble locating his family in the 1850 and 1860 censuses, now you know why.

Samuel Parker was enumerated as
Samuel Parker was enumerated as “Samuel Parks” in the 1860 census for Alamance Co. His stepfather Thomas Pettiford was enumerated a few households away. So it appears they both lived in the same location in 1860 as they did in 1850.
Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: M653_886; Page: 42; Image: 84; Family History Library Film: 803886

We next find Samuel Parker in the 1870 census in Alamance Co, and he is finally enumerated with the correct spelling of his name (yay!). And you can see the names and ages of his children, match up with the children in the 1860 census, further verifying that “Samuel Parks” in the 1860 census is our Samuel Parker.

Samuel Parker, wife Lucy
Samuel Parker, wife Lucy “Lucinda” Chavis and children are correctly enumerated with the Parker surname in the 1870 census in Alamance Co.
Source: Year: 1870; Census Place: Pleasant Grove, Alamance, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1121; Page: 135A; Image: 278; Family History Library Film: 552620

Samuel Parker and Lucy Chavis’ children and later descendants continued to intermarry with other Occaneechi-Saponi families of Orange/Alamance Cos including Jeffries, Haithcock, Guy, Burnett, and Day.

In 1902, Samuel Parker registered to vote in Alamance Co and in order to register, Samuel identified a “Jack Parker” of Virginia as an ancestor who was legally able to vote in 1865. I along with other researchers including Forest Hazel have not been able to identify this “Jack Parker” that Samuel Parker references as an ancestor. Samuel Parker may have been referring to his possible grandfather Stephen Parker (b. 1778) of Mecklenburg Co, VA. Whoever this Jack Parker was in reference to, we can certainly glean from that voting registration, the Samuel Parker was aware of the Virginia roots of the Parker family.

Monroe Parker and wife Margaret Jeffries. Source: Ancestry. Username: singletaryrl1
Monroe Parker (1861-1943) and wife Margaret Jeffries (1877-1949). Monroe was the son of Samuel Parker and Lucy Chavis of Orange/Alamance Cos. Monroe and Margaret Parker are both buried at Martin’s Chapel in Pleasant Grove township.
Source: Ancestry. Username: singletaryrl1
Cardovious Parker Source: Ancestry, Username: rt0703
Cardovious Parker (1886-1970) was the son of the above pictured Monroe Parker and Margaret Jeffries. Cardovious was a grandson of Samuel Parker and Lucy Chavis of Orange/Alamance Cos. He is buried at Martin’s Chapel in Pleasant Grove township.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rt0703
George Samuel Parker Source: Ancestry, Username: cmcbee5000
George Samuel Parker (1867-1952) was the son of Samuel Parker and Lucy Chavis of Orange/Alamance Cos. He is buried at Martin’s Chapel in Pleasant Grove township. 
Source: Ancestry, Username: cmcbee5000
Connie Parker and Lizzie Parker Source: John Debnam
Sisters Connie Parker (1891-1927) and Lizzie Parker (1896-1952). They were the daughters of George Samuel Parker and Mary Haith. They were the granddaughters of Samuel Parker and Lucy Chavis of Orange/Alamance Cos. They are both buried at Martin’s Chapel in Pleasant Grove township.
Source: Sam Burnette

Occaneechi/Saponi Tribal Origins of the Parker Family:

I have not found a record that directly ties the Parker family to the Occaneechi or Saponi during the colonial period, but there are some circumstances to consider. The earliest “free colored” Parkers are found in Mecklenburg Co living among other families that in other blog posts (and more to come), that I have connected to the Saponi people. Mecklenburg Co is next to Fort Christanna, site of the former Saponi reservation, and we know that the Saponi continued living in and around the fort many decades following its closure in 1718.

And specifically, Mecklenburg Co is the site of “Occaneechi Island”, a historically significant site of the Occaneechi/Saponi people. During a colonial armed rebellion in 1676 known as “Bacon’s Rebellion”, some of the British colonists took up arms against the colonial government and also attacked friendly “tributary” tribes of the colony including the Occaneechi. To escape this armed conflict, the Occaneechi fled to the site of Occaneechi Island which is a large island located in the middle of the Roanoke River in Mecklenburg Co which during this time was outside of the core of the Virginia colony.

Marker pointing out the historical significance of Occaneechi Island Source: http://www.markerhistory.com/occaneechi-indians-marker-u-60/
Marker pointing out the historical significance of Occaneechi Island
Source: http://www.markerhistory.com/occaneechi-indians-marker-u-60/
1755 Edition of Fry-Jefferson map shows the location of Occaneechi
1755 Edition of the Fry-Jefferson map shows the location of Occaneechi “Occoneachey” Islands. This is also the site of the modern town of Clarksville and where Stephen Parker (b.1 776) first appears in the records. Granville’s Native American community is a very short distance away.
Source: http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/media_player?mets_filename=evm00002619mets.xml

Additionally, Forest Hazel (via personal communication and here), identified a Thomas Parker who purchased land in Tabbs Creek in Granville County in 1752. This land purchase placed Thomas Parker next to community founder William Chavis and perhaps there was a connection between the two men. It’s quite possible the Parker family was moving back and forth from Mecklenburg Co, VA to Granville Co, NC since the 1700s. Certainly more research is needed to further explore the tribal origins of the Parker family and I hope this blog post will push that research forward.

“Saponi Indian Cabins” in 1737 and Contemporary Tribal Communities

On November 8, 1737, a land deed recorded in Amelia County, Virginia contains a report of Saponi Indian cabins. This historical record is quite significant because it documents a very specific date and location of Saponi people. Throughout the 1700s, documented sightings of Saponi people continued to diminish, so any and every reference to the Saponi is important in tracking their location. In a previous blog post, I discussed the multiple reports of Saponi Indians in Granville County living next to Indian trader Col. William Eaton in the 1750s/1760s and I proposed that this was the foundation of the Native American community in Granville. (If you have not already read that blog post, I strongly suggest you do to make better sense of the content here). In this blog entry, I will look to see if any of Granville’s Native American families and nearby tribal communities can be tied to this record of Saponi Indian cabins in Amelia County.


Fort Christanna (1714-1718), the Saponi reservation:

Before discussing the Saponi living in Amelia County in 1737, some background information on where they were located before is needed. In 1714, Virginia Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood (1676-1740) created Fort Christanna on the outskirts of what was then the Virginia Colony, to create a “buffer zone” between the English colonists and tribes they deemed as “hostile”. The fort was located is what is now Brunswick County, Virginia. The Saponi along with other related Eastern Siouan speaking tribes were invited to live on a reservation next to the fort. After gathering at Ft. Christanna, the various tribes were all referred to collectively as “Saponi”. I will do a future blog post specifically on Fort Christanna so I will not delve into all the details about the fort here. However what is important to know is that in 1718, the fort closed due to financial pressure from Great Britain and from competing Indian traders.

After the fort closure in 1718, it is evident the Saponi fractured into smaller family groups. Some Saponi (Tutelo) allied with the Haudenesaunee and relocated to upstate NY and were adopted into the confederacy. We also have multiple reports of Saponi in the 1730s moving to and from the Catawba reservation. So it is important for researchers to understand that after 1718, one report of the Saponi living in a specific area does not mean the entire Saponi Nation was located there. So the 1737 land deed which recorded the Saponi Indian cabins, does not mean that every Saponi Indian was living in Amelia County. Instead it means that a group of Saponi people were living there. Okay, let’s proceed…

Source: http://www.markerhistory.com/fort-christanna-marker-u-90/
Source: http://www.markerhistory.com/fort-christanna-marker-u-90/

1737 Land Deed in Amelia County and Saponi Indian Cabins:

On November 8, 1737 (19 years after Ft. Christanna closed) in Amelia County,  a land transaction took place between seller John Taylor of Surry Co, Va and buyer Alexander Bruce of Amelia Co, VA.  The exact language of the deed reads as follows:

Beginning at a white oak above the Sappone Indians Cabbins, thence south 10 degrees, east 302 poles to a corner hicory near a branch of Winnigham Creek, thence east 10 degrees north 164 ples to a corner shrub white oak, thence noth 10 degrees west 218 poles to two corner Spanish oaks a the fork of a small spring branch thence down the said branch as it meanders to the said creek, thence up the creek as it meanders to the first station.

Source: http://nativeheritageproject.com/2012/12/04/sappone-indians-cabbins/

Previous research published by archaeologist C.G. Holland in 1982, identifies the precise location of the Saponi Cabins – on the south side of Winningham Creek and just west of State Route 617 also called “Winningham Road”. The closest municipality to this location is the town of Crewe which is located a few miles to the West. The approximate GPS coordinates of this site: 37°10’32.1″N 78°04’38.7″W

Map hand drawn by archaeologist C. G. Holland showing the location of the Saponi cabins, south of Winningham Creek, and west of route 617. Source: http://nativeheritageproject.com/2012/12/04/sappone-indians-cabbins/
Map hand drawn by archaeologist C. G. Holland showing the location of the Saponi cabins, south of Winningham Creek, and west of route 617.
Source: http://nativeheritageproject.com/2012/12/04/sappone-indians-cabbins/

This area now falls within the borders of Nottoway County which was formed from the southern portion of Amelia County, VA called Nottoway Parish in 1789. It is also important to remember that the area where the Saponi cabins were located in 1737, is the section of Amelia Co that was formerly Prince George Co just 2 years prior in 1735. Therefore to find potential additional records related to the Saponi Indians residing off of Winningham Creek in 1737, we need to look at Prince George Co, Amelia Co, and Nottoway Co records. The land deed does not indicate how long previous to or how long after 1737, the Saponi resided off of Winningham Creek. It’s within reason to deduce that the Saponi had lived there at least several years before and after 1737, as cabins are permanent structures and the land deed would likely not rely upon a temporary point of reference.

Map showing the precise location of the Saponi Indian cabins within what is now Nottoway Co, VA. Source: http://bridgehunter.com/va/nottoway/big-map/
Map showing the precise location of the Saponi Indian cabins within what is now Nottoway Co, VA. (click on map for larger view)
Source: http://bridgehunter.com/va/nottoway/big-map/
Map of southern Virginia where I have marked the location of the Saponi Indian cabins in 1737 which became part of Nottoway Co in 1789. I also marked the location of Fort Christanna which is where the Saponi a couple of decades earlier.
Map of southern Virginia where I have marked the location of the Saponi Indian cabins in 1737 which became part of Nottoway Co in 1789. I also marked the location of Fort Christanna which is where the Saponi a couple of decades earlier.

A Cluster of Indian Traders and the Saponi Indians:

A closer look at the Anglo residents who resided in Amelia Co/Prince George Co in the years leading up to 1737, reveals a lot about why some Saponi lived in the area. In the 1720s and 1730s, Prince George Co was served by Bristol Parish. Fortunately the Bristol Parish vestry book has survived to the present. A number of noted Indian traders and other Anglo colonists who had frequent dealings with local Indians resided in Prince George Co and served as the churchwardens and vestrymen of Bristol Parish. Many of these Indian trading families were related to one another. Here follows a summary of these men:

Col. William Eaton (1690-1759) was born in York Co, VA, and resided in Prince George Co, VA for most of his life. He is recorded many times throughout the Bristol Parish records. Eaton was an Indian trader who traded with Saponi and Catawba Indians. By 1746, Eaton relocated to Granville Co, NC and in a previous blog post, I discussed the numerous reports of Saponi Indians living next to his land and enlisting in his regiment. One of these Saponi men was William Chavis (1709-1778), who owned a substantial amount of land that formed the land base for the Native American community in Granville. Clearly, Col. William Eaton had a close relationship with the Saponi when he lived in Prince George Co, VA which continued when he moved to Granville Co, NC.

Other churchwardens of Bristol Parish included Colonel Robert Bowling Jr (1682-1749), Major Robert Mumford (1674-1735), Major Peter Jones III (1691-1753), Captain Buller Herbert (1680-1730), Major William Kennon (1685-1735), William Poythress (1694-1763), and Captain Henry Randolph (1689-1726).

Colonel Robert Bolling Jr.  (also spelled “Bowling”) was an Indian trader and son of Robert Bolling Sr. (1646-1709) and his second wife Anne Stith. Robert Bolling Sr.’s first wife was Jane Wolfe – granddaughter of Powhatan Indian “Pocahontas” and Englishman John Rolfe. Jane Wolfe died shortly after giving birth to their son John Fairfax Bolling. Robert Bolling Sr. remarried Anne Stith (a white woman) and he had several more children with her including Robert Bolling Jr of Bristol Parish. Robert Bolling Jr. was married to Anne Cocke.

Major Robert Mumford was an Indian trader who along with William Byrd II, John Bowling, Robert Bowling, John Evans, Peter Jones, Thomas Jones and Richard Jones traded with Indians along the Great Indian Trading Path (aka the Occaneechi Path) in North Carolina. Robert Mumford’s son James Mumford (1705-1754) was married to Elizabeth Bolling (1709-1755), daughter of the above mentioned Robert Bolling Jr. and Anne Cocke.

Major Peter Jones III was a vestryman for both Bristol Parish and Raleigh Parish (Raleigh Parish served Amelia Co after it split from Prince George Co in 1735). Peter Jones was an Indian trader and accompanied William Byrd II on at least two expeditions on the Virginia-North Carolina border line. He was also the namesake for the city of Petersburg. Major Peter Jones’ father Captain Peter Jones II (1661-1727) was also a vestryman for Bristol Parish. Peter Jones III’s paternal grandmother Margaret (maiden name not known) was second married to Thomas Cocke after Peter Jones I died. Thomas Cocke was the uncle of the previously mentioned Anne Cocke, the wife of Robert Bolling Jr.

Captain Buller Herbert was captain of the Prince George Co militia and vestryman for Bristol Parish. William Byrd II writes about visiting Buller Herbert’s home which was a short distance from Major Robert Mumford’s. Buller Herbert was married to Mary Stith, daughter of Col. Drury Stith. Drury Stith was the brother of previously mentioned Anne Stith, wife of Robert Bolling Sr.

Major William Kennon was an Indian trader whose sister Mary, was the wife of Indian trader John Fairfax Bowling, son of  the previously mentioned Robert Bowling Sr. and his first wife Jane Rolfe. William Kennon was married to Anne Eppes, daughter of Col. Francis Eppes.

William Poythress was an Indian trader and came from a large family of Indian traders. His wife was Sarah Eppes, sister of the previously mentioned Anne Eppes who was the wife of Major William Kennon.

Captain Henry Randolph was a vestryman for Bristol Parish and married to Elizabeth Eppes, sister of the previously mentioned Anne Eppes and Sarah Eppes.

Lastly there is Robert Hicks (1658-1759) who was an Indian trader and resided in Prince George Co before moving to Emporia, VA. His surname is spelled both “Hicks” and “Hix” in colonial records. In 1708 Robert Hicks purchased land in Prince George Co from the previously mentioned Peter Jones and made another land transaction in Prince George Co in the same year with Joshua Irby (1664-1746). In 1709, Robert Hicks purchased a land tract along the northside of the Meherrin River that has been previously surveyed by Arthur Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh was under investigation for misleading agreements between the Saponi Indians and the English.

Also noteworthy is that at the conclusion of the Tuscarora War in 1713, Robert Hicks lead an expedition that included 50 “tributary Indians” (meaning Indians who had been made treaties to not take up arms against the British such as the Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Nansemond, Meherrin, Nottoway, Saponi, Tutelo, and Occanecchi) to locate Tuscarora Indians who were hiding out from the war. Hicks successfully brought the Tuscarora Indians into Williamsburg with a delegation that included leaders from the Tutelo, Nottoway, and Saponi. When Fort Christanna opened in 1714, Robert Hicks was named captain of the fort and he relocated his family to the area. His homestead “Hick’s Ford” is close to the modern city of Emporia in Greensville Co, VA. Robert Hicks was married to Winnifred Evans, daughter of the previously mentioned Indian trader John Evans. Hicks also accompanied William Byrd in the 1722 expedition of the Virginia/North Carolina border. Included in this expedition was Saponi guide Ned Bearskin.

Clearly Prince George Co was home to a number of wealthy and influential Indian traders who had dealings with Saponi and other regional tribes. Close proximity to the Great Trading Path is also what brought all of these Indian traders into the Prince George Co area. Additionally, there was strong incentive for the Saponi to settle close to these Indian traders and the Great Trading Path in order to sustain a trade and “tributary” relationship with the Virginia colony. With all of this in mind, I think we have thoroughly explored and contextualized why a group of Saponi Indians were residing in cabins in Amelia Co in 1737.


Identifying the Saponi Indians in Amelia County:
With the identification of the Saponi Indian cabins in 1737 and the discussion of the numerous local Indian traders, we may be able to identify who some of these Saponi families were. The land deed did not provide any names of the Saponi Indians living in Amelia County in 1737, so we may never be able to fully verify their identities. However I was able to identify several Native American families, many who have descendants in Granville County and neighboring Native communities, that could very well be part of the Saponi Indian living in Amelia Co. And to no surprise, most of these families have intermarried with one another over many generations.

CHAVIS
Rebecca Chavis (1721-1768) first appears in the Bristol Parish records on Nov 11, 1734 when she was bound out to John West (1673-1743). On that exact same day a Sarah Chavis is bound out to William Macewen, so there is a strong probability that Rebecca and Sarah were sisters or some other close family relation. I don’t have any solid leads on who the parents of Rebecca and Sarah Chavis were. It is likely that their mother was an indentured servant and became pregnant during her servitude which is why her children were bound out by law. We know that both John West and William Macewen lived in the section of Prince George Co that became Amelia County the following year in 1735, because they are next found in the Amelia Co records. (A published copy of Amelia Co road orders found here, is what I frequently used to help locate where individuals lived). John West’ wife Mary asked the previously mentioned Indian trader Robert Mumford to represent her interests in a land deed. Furthermore, John West and William Macewen are on a list of tithables located below Deep Creek. Winningham Creek, the site of the Saponi cabins, runs northeast into Deep Creek. In 1740, the churchwardens of Raleigh Parish in Amelia County, bound out Rebecca Chavis’ son Adam Chavis. And in 1756, 1760, 1763, 1764, and 1768, the churchwardens of Nottoway Parish in Amelia Co, bound out more of Rebecca’s children. Rebecca Chavis is also mentioned in Dec 1760 in neighboring Lunenburg County, when the churchwardens of Cumberland Parish bound out her son Ned. So Rebecca Chavis lived in the immediate area of the Saponi cabins before, during, and after their documented reference in 1737.

All of Rebecca Chavis’ children were bound out repeatedly and it appears her Chavis family moved slightly southwest into Mecklenburg, Lunenburg and Charlotte Counties as they start to appear in those county records in 1768. At least two of Rebecca’ Chavis’ children – James Chavis (1749-1824) and Elizabeth Chavis b. 1751 had children who were well documented, so we are able to trace Rebecca’s line forward. James Chavis moved to Mecklenburg Co as early as 1782, when he first appears as a tithable and continued to be listed as a “mulatto” tithable through 1820. James Chavis’ and his wife Fanny were named in a May 14, 1800 order from the Mecklenburg County court, to have Frederick Gowen/Goins pay them $1.06 for being witnesses in a suit. James Chavis appears in the 1820 Census as a head of household of 10 “other free” in Mecklenburg Co. He died before 1824, when his estate was settled. James Chavis’ children –  James, Lydia, Jincy, William, Thomas, Ann, Pleasant, Henry, Ellison, and Elizabeth were named in a 1832 chancery suit.

All of James Chavis’ children intermarried with other local Native American families and appear to have remained in Mecklenburg Co. Some of these Chavises are the ancestors of the contemporary Occoneechee-Saponi community located in Mecklenburg/Brunswick Co, VA. One of James Chavis’ children – Lydia Chavis (1779-1865) married Jeremiah Harris (1775-1855) and moved to Jackson County, Ohio by 1830. Their Harris family is a core family of the modern Midwest Saponi Nation, Saponi Nation of Ohio, and Catawba of Carr’s Run tribes all located in Ohio. The Catawba are a closely related tribe to the Saponi and a number of Saponi allied with the Catawba after the closure of Fort Christanna.

Going back to Rebecca Chavis, she also had a daughter named Elizabeth Chavis b. 1751 who was bound out by the churchwardens of Raleigh Parish in Amelia County on Aug 26, 1756. By 1760, Elizabeth Chavis was in Lunenburg Co, and by 1782, she was living in Halifax Co, VA. Elizabeth had two children born out of wedlock, Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) and Bartlett Chavis (born 1776). Elizabeth Chavis’ son Bartlett Chavis (born 1776) continued living in Halifax Co, VA as well as neighboring Pittsylvania Co, VA and married Elizabeth Matthews on Feb 10, 1803 in Halifax Co, VA. Elizabeth Matthews is of the Native American Matthews family that I discuss below. Bartlett’s probable children – Cole Chavis and Benjamin Chavis, were listed as tithables in the same household that Bartlett was a tithable in.

I should also include that since I don’t know who Rebecca Chavis’ (1721-1768) parents are, I don’t know if and how she is related to Granville community “founder” William Chavis (1706-1778). But certainly if the two are related, it lends additional credence that Rebecca Chavis was related to the Saponi Indian cabins. And it would explain why some of Rebecca’s descendants later moved to the Granville location of her relative William Chavis where the Saponi were also reported.

Charlotte Ella Harris (b.  1855). Charlotte is a direct descendant of Rebecca Chavis. Her father was Carter Harris and her grandparents were Jeremiah Harris and Lydia Chavis. Her family relocated from Virginia to  Ohio by 1830. Source: Ancestry, Username: Eunicecarr61
Charlotte Ella Harris (b. 1855) is a direct descendant of Rebecca Chavis (1721-1768). Her father was Carter Harris and her grandparents were Jeremiah Harris and Lydia Chavis. Her family relocated from Virginia to Ohio by 1830.
Source: Ancestry, Username: Eunicecarr61

MATTHEWS
On Oct 30, 1732, Ruth Matthews was bound to Robert Downing in Bristol Parish, Prince George Co. She next appears in the records as a “free mulatto”on Mar 7, 1756 when her daughter Elizabeth was baptized at St. James Northam Parish in Goochland County, VA. Ruth Matthews was then called an “Indian” on Sep 26, 1737 when her children Betty, Jemmy, Bristol, and Judith were bound to William Flemming of St. James Northam Parish in Cumberland Co VA (formerly a section of Goochland Co, VA).

I have not been able to identify who “Robert Downing” was and cannot locate him in any other historical records of Virginia from that time period. I also cannot locate any other Downings in the Brisol Parish records. I think it’s probable that his name has been mis-transcribed and the entry in the original vestry book should be reviewed for accuracy. Maybe the name should have been transcribed as “Robert Bowling” – as in Col. Robert Bolling Jr (1682-1749) – the Indian trader who we already know was a churchwarden of Bristol Parish. Without knowing exactly who “Robert Downing” was, it’s hard to identify exactly where in Prince George Co Ruth Matthews resided. But if it turns out to be Robert Bolling Jr, then that situates Ruth Matthews in close proximity to the Saponi Indian cabins and living with a known Indian trader.

Ruth Matthews’ son James (called “Jemmy” when he was bound out) Matthews was born around 1750 and moved to Halifax Co, VA by 1787. On Jul, 20 1790, he married Molly Cumbo with David Gowen/Goins providing the surety. James Matthews last appears as a tithable in 1813 in Halifax Co, VA and likely died shortly after that. I have not located any records of descendants.

Bristol Matthews, another son of Ruth’s was born around 1752 and remained in Goochland Co, VA when he married Ann “Nanny” Lynch on Sep, 25 1775. Bristol Matthews likely fathered Ann Lynch’s children who were born before their marriage and when she was still bound to George Payne. The reason being that while she was still an indentured servant, she could not marry. However when her service was complete, she immediately married Bristol Matthews. One child was Thomas Lynch b. 1772 who married Sally Banks on July 29, 1801. Another possible child of Bristol Matthews and Ann Lynch’s was Patsy “Martha” Lynch b. 1774. Patsy Lynch is the progenitor of the core Lynch family of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe. Patsy first appears in the Halifax Co, NC minutes in 1798 and I have not located her in the Virginia records so I don’t have any further verification that she was the daughter of Ann Lynch and Bristol Matthews.

Returning to Ruth Matthews – her  father was most likely William Matthews who is mentioned a few times in the Bristol Parish records. On Nov 17, 1722, William Matthews’ stepson William Snelgrove was bound out to Robert Lyon. In that record William Matthews was identified as an “Indian”.

William Matthews is called an
William Matthews is called an “Indian” when his stepson William Snelgrove was bound out. The shorthand spelling of the Matthews surname is shown as “Matts”.
Source: The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish, Virginia, 1720-1789

And on July, 24 1727, the churchwardens of Bristol Parish, including all of those Indian traders that I discussed earlier,  bound Mary Bibby to William Matthews. The dates of both of these records would make William Matthews an appropriate adult age to be Ruth Matthew’s father, given her approximate birth year was 1728.

Mary Bibby is bound to William Matthews on July 24, 1727 by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish. The shorthand spelling of the Matthews' surname is shown as
Mary Bibby is bound to William Matthews on July 24, 1727 by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish. The shorthand spelling of the Matthews’ surname is shown as “Matt”. The race for both Mary Bibby and William Matthews is not listed.
Source: The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish, Virginia, 1720-1789
Family tree of Ruth Matthews who have been connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of Ruth Matthews who may have been connected to the Saponi Indian cabins.
© Kianga Lucas
Dudley Lynch (1850-1923) was most likely a direct descendant of Ruth Matthews. His father was William Thomas Lynch and his grandmother was Patsy Lynch. Dudley Lynch lived in Halifax Co, NC and was an important early leader in the Haliwa-Saponi community. Source: Kimberly Jackson
Dudley Lynch (1850-1923) was most likely a direct descendant of Ruth Matthews b. 1728. His father was William Thomas Lynch and his grandmother was Patsy Lynch. Dudley Lynch lived in Halifax Co, NC and was an important person in the Haliwa-Saponi community.
Source: Kimberly Jackson

BIBBY
The Native American Bibby family in Granville/Franklin Cos, NC descend from Mary Bibby who as previously mentioned in the Matthews section above, on July 24,  1727 was bound by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish to William Matthews.

Mary Bibby is bound to William Matthews on July 24, 1727 by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish. The shorthand spelling of the Matthews' surname is shown as
Mary Bibby was bound to William Matthews on July 24, 1727 by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish. The shorthand spelling of the Matthews’ surname is shown as “Matt”.
Source: The Vestry Book and Register of Bristol Parish, Virginia, 1720-1789

Mary Bibby’s parents are unknown, but it is likely her Bibby surname is connected to the Bibby family descending from William Bibby, an Englishman who arrived in Accomack Co, VA in the 1620s. I think it is also possible that William Matthews was Mary Bibby’s father since she was bound out to him. We know from other Bristol Parish and Goochland Co records that William Matthews and his Matthews family were documented as “Indian” and it seems highly unlikely the colony would bound out a child to an “Indian” that was of no relation to the child.

It is not known how long Mary Bibby stayed in Prince George Co but by 1759 she was living in Granville Co, NC. In 1762 she wa a tithable in Joshua Ingram’s household and had married his “negro slave” Charles. The part of Granville Co that she lived in became Franklin Co in 1779. Mary Bibby had several documented children: Edmund Bibby b. 1758, Fanny Bibby b. 1759, Solomon Bibby (1764-1846), Absalom Bibby b. 1764, and William Bibby b. 1766 who all continued to live in Franklin Co. Solomon Bibby (1764-1846) married Charity Young b. 1768 on Dec 25, 1789 in Franklin Co. Charity was from Bertie Co, NC and from the Young and Demery families that have connections with Nottoway and Tuscarora people (and the modern Lumbee community). Solomon Bibby was a pensioned Revolutionary War veteran, along with his brothers Absalom and Edmund.

Local Granville Co historian Oscar W. Blacknall (aka David Dodge) wrote about the Indian identity of the “free negroes” of the area which I blogged about previously here and the Bibby family was included in his writing. In Blacknall’s October 12, 1895 letter to the editor of the News and Observer, he talks about a “free negro” Revolutionary War soldier named “Dibby” and his son who strongly protested the 1835 state constitution which disenfranchised all “free people of color”. There are no Dibbys in the area and given that Blacknall misspelled other names in this same letter, I’m certain he meant to say “Bibby”. And I’m confident Blacknall is referring to Solomon Bibby (1764-1846) because he is the most well known of the Bibby siblings and neither Edmund or Absalom Bibby had any documented sons. The descendants of Solomon Bibby continued to intermarry with Granville’s Native American community.

Oscar W. Blacknall's letter in which he references a Revolutionary War soldier named
Oscar W. Blacknall’s letter in which he references a Revolutionary War soldier named “Dibby”. This was really “Bibby” – Solomon Bibby.
Source: News and Observer, 12 Oct 1895, Sat, Page 2
Oscar W. Blacknall wrote a follow up letter to correct the mistakes from his previous letter but he forgot to correct Bibby. Blacknall does discuss the Indian identity of the community. Source: News and Observer, 31 Oct 1895, Thu, Page 2
Oscar W. Blacknall wrote a follow up letter to correct the mistakes from his previous letter but he forgot to correct Bibby. Blacknall does discuss the Indian identity of the community.
Source: News and Observer, 31 Oct 1895, Thu, Page 2
Family tree of Mary Bibby who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins in 1737. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of Mary Bibby who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins.
© Kianga Lucas
I do not have any photos of Varnell Mayo, his siblings, or parents. Varnell's first cousin Julia Chavis (1845-1939) is the elder woman seated in the middle. She was the daughter of William Chavis and Delilah Guy. William Chavis was Varnell's uncle and the man who provided the bond for the marriage of Varnell's parents William Mayo and Joyce Chavis. Julia is pictured here with her husband William Solomon Bibby, children, and grandchildren at the family farm in Franklinton, NC in 1898. (My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell's first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right).
William Solomon Bibby (1835-1916) is shown seated in the center with his wife Julia Chavis (1845-1939) and their children and two grandchildren. William Solomon Bibby is a direct descendant of Mary Bibby b. 1727. His mother was Nancy Bibby and his grandfather was Revolutionary War veteran Solomon Bibby. Julia Chavis may be a direct descendant of the previously mentioned Rebecca Chavis (1721-1768). Julia Chavis’ father was William Chavis who may have been a son of Peter Chavis. This photo was taken at the family farm in Franklin Co, NC in 1898. (My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell’s first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right and the grandfather/great-grandfather of NBA coach Henry Bibby/NBA player Mike Bibby is Charlie Bibby seated on the bottom left).

BRANDON/BRANHAM
The Brandon family (also spelled Branham, Brandum, Brandom) descends from several Brandons living in Bristol Parish, Prince George Co, as well as surrounding areas of Brunswick Co. and Henrico Co. who first appear in the records in the 1720s, 1730s, and 1740s. It is not known exactly how all these Brandons relate to each other but a few Brandons who were born in the household of Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale in Bristol Parish were most likely siblings and could be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. Edward Brandon was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on July 9, 1730 and in 1751, Edward Brandon was a tithable between the Flatt and Deep Creek districts of Amelia Co. As you will recall, Winningham Creek the site of the Saponi cabins runs off of Deep Creek in Amelia County. Margaret Brandon was born on Nov 7, 1720 and was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on Oct 10,  1722. Doll “Dorothy” Brandon was bound to Godfrey Ragsdale on Jul 24, 1727.

Contemporaries to siblings Edward, Margaret and Doll Brandon, who are probably of some family relation to them include: Benjamin Branham b. 1721 who lived in Louisa Co, and Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728 and who lived in Brunswick and Lunenburg Cos. There was an Edward Branham  b. 1760 who was likely related to Benjamin Branham and Eleanor Branham/Brandon.  Edward Branham first appears as a tithable in Amherst Co, VA in 1783 and he is the progenitor of the core Branham family of the state recognized Monacan Tribe in Amherst Co. The Monacan are another Eastern Siouan tribe that are very closely related to and allied with the Saponi at Fort Christanna.

Eleanor Brandon/Branham is the common ancestor of the Brandon family of Granville County. She also has descendants who remained in Mecklenburg Co and who removed to Ohio and are part of the Midwest Saponi Nation and Saponi Nation of Ohio. Eleanor’s surname is spelled both “Branham” and “Brandon” in the records, but her children more often used the “Brandon” spelling. The Brandons in Granville County intermarried with the Native community and became a core family.

Family tree of the Brandon/Branham family. The Brandons bound out to Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. The other Brandon/Branhams are connected to known Saponi/Eastern Siouan communities. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of the Brandon/Branham family. The Brandons bound out to Godfrey and Elizabeth Ragsdale may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. The other Brandon/Branhams are connected to known Saponi/Eastern Siouan communities.
© Kianga Lucas
Dyson family Source: Jerry Dagenhart
From left to right siblings: Susannah Dyson b. 1812 (with white shawl), Moses Dyson b. 1810 (wearing dark hat next to Susannah), and Solomon Dyson b. 1817 (standing right behind the donkey). They are direct descendants of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728. Their father was William Brandon Dyson and their grandmother was Viney Brandon. The family moved from Mecklenburg Co, VA out to western North Carolina (Wilkes, Caldwell, Burke Cos). This photo was taken when Moses Dyson was leaving for Tennessee.
Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Andrew Jackson Dyson Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Andrew Jackson Dyson b. 1818, was a brother to the above pictured Dyson siblings. He is a direct descendant of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728
Source: Jerry Dagenhart
Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934). She was the daughter of Hilliard Evans and Betsy Brandon and a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County. She comes from the same Branham family in Plecker's letter. Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973
Pantheyer Brandon (1851-1934) is a direct descendant of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728. Her mother was Betsy Brandon, her grandfather Burwell Brandon, her great-grandfather was Rhode Brandon, and 2nd great-grandmother was Mary Brandon. Pantheyer was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek township in Granville County. 
Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973

STEWART/STUART
Elizabeth Stewart b. 1695 had several children whose birth, baptisms, and indentures were recorded in Bristol Parish from 1721-1741 – Edward b. Aug 19, 1721, William b. 1723, Matthew b. Sep, 19 1726, Mary b. Sep, 19 1732, Martha b. Oct 3, 1741. Her son Edward Stewart b. 1721, was bound to the previously mentioned Indian trader Buller Herbert in Bristol Parish, Price George Co. By 1747, Edward had moved to Chesterfield Co, VA. His son James Stewart b. 1760, was counted as an “Indian” on the 1795 Goochland Co, VA tax list. A possible son of Edward Stewart’s named John Stewart (1758-1812), married Pamunkey Indian Frances Dungey. In fact John Stewart or a brother of his, may be responsible for the Stewart family currently found in Chickahominy and Pamunkey tribes. Many of John Stewart and Frances Dungey’s documente descendants relocated to Ohio and are found among the Midwest Saponi Nation and the Saponi Nation of Ohio.

Elizabeth Stewart’s son William Stewart b. 1723 who is the progenitor of most of the Stewarts found on Granville’s Native American community, was bound to Indian trader Col. William Eaton in 1739 by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish. Several years later Eaton moved to Granville Co living next to the Saponi so it makes sense that some of William Stewart’s descendants later ended up in Granville. By 1779, William Stewart was a resident of Mecklenburg Co when he purchased land in the county. His wife was Mary Harris was the aunt of the previously mentioned Jeremiah Harris who married Lydia Chavis. Another son of Elizabeth Stewart’s named Matthew Stewart b. 1726, had a son named Titus Stewart b. 1753 whose descendants are also found in Granville Co.

There is another Stewart lineage that descends from a John Stewart (17175-1765) and his wife Martha Patty Harris (b. 1730) who lived in neighboring Lunenburg and Mecklenburg Cos, VA. Their son Thomas Stewart (1742-1818) is the progenitor of the core Stewart family of the Sappony Tribe of Person County.

Family tree of Elizabeth Stewart who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of Elizabeth Stewart who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins.
© Kianga Lucas
Richard Stewart Source: Ancestry, Username: shaithcox
Richard Stewart (1800-1885) was likely a direct descendant of Elizabeth Stewart b. 1695. His father was John Stewart (1758-1812) who was likely a son of Edward Stewart b. 1721. Richard Stewart relocated his family to Ohio and Michigan.
Source: Ancestry, Username: shaithcox
Littleberry Stewart Source: Ancestry, Username: shaithcox
Littleberry Stewart (1828-1917) was the son of the above pictured Richard Stewart. Littleberry is likely a direct descendant of Elizabeth Stewart b. 1695.
Source: Ancestry, Username: shaithcox

BIRD/BYRD
Elizabeth Bird b. 1720 was called a “mulatto woman” when her daughter Molly Bird b. 1738 was bound out by the churchwardens of Bristol Parish on Dec 9, 1740. The person who Molly Bird was bound out to was not named, so we don’t know the exact location of Elizabeth or Molly. Next on On Nov 24,  1757, she sued for her freedom from Alexander Bolling in Amelia Co. Alexander Bolling (1720-1767) was from the Indian-trading Bolling family and the grandson of the previously mentioned Col. Robert Bolling Sr. and his second wife Anne Stith.

Molly was also called Mary Bird and is next found in the Brunswick Co, VA records where her children were bound out by the churchwardens of Meherrin Parish on Feb 28, 1780. Her children all appear to have moved to Charlotte Co, VA: Joseph Bird b. 1765 married Nettie Jackson on Aug 20, 1790, Catherine Bird b. 1769 married Isaac Jackson on 22 Sep 1797 in Lunenburg and then moved to Charlotte Co, Peggy Bird b. 1770 did not marry and appears in the tax lists, and William Bird b. 1775 married Polly Carter Nov 19, 1796. Molly Bird’s descendants’ that remained in the Charlotte Co area can be found among contemporary Occoneechee-Saponi tribe in the area and some descendants moved to Ohio and are part of the Saponi Nation of Ohio and Midwest Saponi Nation.

Family tree of Elizabeth Bird who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of Elizabeth Bird who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins.
© Kianga Lucas

LAWRENCE
Three contemporary “Indian” Lawrences who lived in Amelia Co. and Brunswick Co. and were likely siblings: Martha Lawrence b. 1730, Drury Lawrence b. 1734, and Robin Lawrence b. 1735. Drury is the only one mentioned in Amelia Co when on Jun 26, 1755, he asked to be discharged from his indenture to Charles Irby (1695-1763). Charles Irby was a justice and prominent land owner in the area of Amelia Co where the Saponi cabins were reported. By 1772, Drury Lawrence was living in Lunenburg Co, VA when he taxed as an “Indian” in Cumberland Parish. Martha Lawrence’s son Richard Littlepage Lawrence b. 1747 was called an “Indian” when he was bound out to Drury Stith Jr. in 1751 in Brunswick Co, VA. Drury Stith Jr. was the son of the previously mentioned Col. Drury Stith and nephew of the previously mentioned Anne Stith who married Robert Bolling Sr. When Robin Lawrence’s son Wood Lawrence b. 1767, registered as a “free negro” in 1811 in Charlotte Co, VA, his father Robin was called an “Indian”. The Lawrences intermarried with other local Native American families including : Jumper, Flood, and Barber. Descendants are found among the Occoneechee-Saponi tribe in Mecklenburg/Brunswick Co, VA.

Family tree of the Lawrence family including Drury Lawrence who may have connections to the Saponi Indian cabins. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of the Lawrence family including Drury Lawrence who may have connections to the Saponi Indian cabins.
© Kianga Lucas

VALENTINE
There were quite a number of Valentines who first appear in the records in the early-mid 1700s in neighboring counties in southside Virginia that may be related. Only one was found in area of the Sapon cabins and that was John Valentine b. 1721. John Valentine first appears in the Amelia Co records in May 1743 when he accused Charles Irby of keeping him as a slave despite being a free person. This is the same Charles Irby who the previously mentioned Drury Lawrence asked the courts to relieve him of his servitude in 1755. There are no known records for John Valentine before 1743, but if he was an indentured servant to Charles Irby before 1743, then he also lived in the area of the Saponi Indian cabins in 1737. There are Valentine descendants in Granville’s Native American community who first appear in the Granville records in the first decades of the 1800s. Unfortunately because it is not known how all of these early Valentines are related to one another, I’m unsure where the Granville Valentines exactly fit into the larger Valentine family tree.

Eola Valentine Source: Ancestry, Username: geelow2
Eola Valentine (1924-1996) is a descendant of the Valentine family that remained in Mecklenburg Co, VA. Because of the many early Valentine ancestors in the southside Virginia area, I’m unsure at this time which Valentine line she descends from. But here is her lineage that I have traced back so far – Eola Valentine; Willie Valentine b. 1898; John Valentine b. 1866; James Valentine b. 1825
Source: Ancestry, Username: geelow2

HOWELL
Judith Howell’s 1725 birth was registered in St. Peter’s Parish in New Kent Co as a daughter of Dorothy Howell, a “mulatto” servant of Sherwood Lightfoot. Judith Howell does not appear in the records again until 1752, when she complained to the Amelia Co, VA courts that John Thomas was keeping and detaining her as a slave despite being a free woman. The following year in 1753 she was taxed in the Nottoway Parish, Amelia Co household of Abraham Cocke (1690-1760). Abraham Cocke was a relative of the previously mentioned Anne Cocke who was the wife of Indian trader Robert Bolling Jr. Both John Thomas and Abraham Cocke lived in the area of the Saponi Indian cabins and were neighbors with the previously mentioned Charles Irby. There is a thirty year gap between Judith’s birth and her complaint against John Thomas, so I’m not sure where she was living during those years. I do believe Judith Howell was of the Pamunkey tribe, because the Pamunkey reservation was situated directly across the river from where she was born in 1725 and historian Dr. Helen Rountree calls the Howell family “fringe Pamunkey”.  However Judith Howell ended up living in Saponi territory with descendants who intermarried with Saponi families. It could be the Howells, were similar to the Stewarts and Dungeys who have early tribal roots with both the Pamunkey (or Chickahominy) and Saponi people.

In 1753, Judith’s son Matthew Howell (1752-1793) was bound out by the churchwardens of Nottoway Parish, Amelia Co. Matthew Howell moved to Charlotte Co, VA and his son Freeman Howell (1777-1870) is the progenitor of the Howell family in Granville’s Native American community. Other descendants of Matthew Howell remained in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg Co area and some moved out to Ohio to form core families of the Saponi Nation of Ohio and the Midwest Saponi Nation.

Family tree of Judith Howell who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins. © Kianga Lucas
Family tree of Judith Howell who may be connected to the Saponi Indian cabins.
© Kianga Lucas
Adeline Jane Howell (1858 - after 1900) Daughter of Alexander
Adeline Jane Howell (1858 – after 1900) is a direct descendant of Judith Howell b. 1725. Her father was Alexander “Doc” Howell and her grandfather was Freeman Howell. Adeline Howell was from Fishing Creek in Granville County and later moved to Nash Co, NC
Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas 1973
Nancy Howell (1871-1947). Daughter of Junius Thomas Howell and Pantheyer Brandon. Granddaughter of Alexander
Nancy Howell (1871-1947) is a direct descendant of Judith Howell b. 1725. Her father was Junius Thomas Howell, her grandfather was Alexander “Doc” Howell, and her great-grandfather was Freeman Howell. Nancy Howell is also a direct descendant of Eleanor Branham/Brandon b. 1728 through Nancy Howell’s mother Pantheyer Brandon who is pictured earlier. Nancy was a lifelong resident of Fishing Creek in Granville County.
Source: Ancestry, Username: rthomas1973
Wesley Howell medicine man Source: Midwest Saponi Nation
Wesley Howell b. 1843 is a direct descendant of Judith Howell b. 1728. His mother was Betsy Howell, and his grandmother was Elizabeth Howell. Wesley Howell is the great-grandfather of Chief James Keels of the Midwest Saponi Nation. Wesley was a medicine man and this write-up comes from the Midwest Saponi newsletter. (Though mistakenly called “Cherokee”, his Howell lineage was Saponi with Pamunkey roots). 
Source: Midwest Saponi Nation