Tag Archives: William Byrd

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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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.

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

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
Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 11.02.10 AM
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.

“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

Geography of Granville County and Regional Native American Sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The land base for the Native American community in Granville, is mostly concentrated off of Fishing Creek and Tabbs Creek which run north off of the Tar River. Founding community member William Chavis (1706-1778), originally owned a continuous land tract that stretched all the way from Lynch Creek to Fishing Creek along the Tar River and went 5 miles north inland.

In this map, you can see The Great Trading Path labeled “Trading Road”. Buffalo once inhabited in this region, and “Buffalo Creek” off of the Tar River along with many other local buffalo name places, reflect this history. The buffalo is also what originally brought the Eastern Siouan speaking Saponi from the Ohio River valley into this region.

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

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

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

Finally, I made a map of Northeastern North Carolina and Southside Virginia showing current Native American communities, former reservation land, and other important sites. The very close proximity of the sites to one another and to the Native American community in Granville County, demonstrate the interconnectedness of indigenous peoples living in this region. Please note that this map does not reflect all past or current Native American sites but rather shows locations that are most relevant to Granville’s Native Americans.

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