Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Waylands, the Melungeons, and a Saponi Band of the Catawba Nation

The Waylands, the Melungeons, and a Saponi Band of Catawbas

My research has morphed from a study of the Gist’s to the Wayland’s. The Wayland’s lived in the first known Melungeon Community at Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Scott County, Virginia. They lived on Copper Creek per early records. I believe the connection to the Melungeons is through the Gibson surname. Two known Melungeon-Gibson families were their closest neighbors  in Southwestern Virginia.
LAND ENTRY BOOK 2 [20]; RUSSELL CO. VA; PAGE 101; entry dated Oct 4 1805; Nevil Wayland Jun-r enters fifty acres of land by virtue of part of a Land Office Treasury warrant No 1855 dated March 18th 1796 lying in Russell County on both sides of Copper Creek, beginning at a conditional line between John McClelan and James Gibson then running up the Creek on both sides for quantity entry dated Oct 23. He purchased 50 aces in what became Scott County, Virginia, in 1796.
Next door to my William Wayland in Lawrence County, Arkansas, 30 years later, there was a James Gibson family. There was a Humphrey Gibson in Virginia, associated with a man whose daughter according to his will was “Cusiah” Gibson, and Keziah was the wife of my Nevil Wayland Sr.  Thirty years later, in Arkansas there was a Humphrey Gibson living near my Wayland’s, also in Lawrence County, Arkansas. There we other Gibson families in the area right next to my Wayland families.
Early Lawrence County, Arkansas Records
William Wayland [note: my direct ancestor], 1/2 appraised value
P 5 -- Tuesday, November 23, 1819 -- Thomas Griffith is authorized to keep a ferry at White River where James Akins now lives . . . He is allowed to charge the same rates . . .
Friday, November 26, 1819 -- William Wayland is appointed overseer of the second road of said township [Spring River Township]
P 10 -- Wednesday, third day of term, June 6, 1821 -- Jacob Flannery is appointed overseer of the first division in the place of William Wayland
Before Tuesday, January 15th, 1822 -- P 13 -- Samuel Crow is appointed overseer of the road leading from Davidsonville to White River, in the first road division of Strawberry Township in the place of William Wayland
P 21 -- Tuesday, the second day of term, 5 July 1825 -- Ordered that the following named persons be commissioned judges at the ensuing August election, to wit: Jesse Jeffrey, Henry Wayland, and Samuel D Gibson for Strawberry Township, and that the election, and that the election be held in the house of Jesse Jeffrey.
William Wayland, the youngest male of that generation of Wayland’s, mentioned above, was my direct ancestor. Notice the mention of White River. White River was the dividing line between Arkansas Territory and Indian Territory at that time, 1819. Henry Wayland (William’s eldest brother), Samuel D. Gibson, and Jesse Jeffrey are all mentioned in the same sentence. Jeffrey is a well-known Catawba surname associated with the Saponi, and Gibson is also associated with the same Saponi Band of the Catawba, as well as with the Melungeons of SW Virginia and NE Tennessee.
Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church, Scott County, Virginia
In “Melungeons and Other Pioneer Families” by Jack Goins he says, on page 9; The word Melungin first appeared on a written record in the minutes of Stony Creek Church in 1813. Mr. Goins, who has researched the Melungeons longer than almost anyone, also states on the same page; The fathers of some of the Stony Creek Church Melungeons originally lived on the Pamunkey River in Virginia. Their ancient Indian Tribe must have been located in that neck of the woods, and it may have been the Saponia who was a Siouan tribe. Of all the Siouan tribes, the only one remaining today as federally recognized is the Catawba. There are several Siouan tribes that are state recognized.
Goins also mentions the minutes of the Stoney Creek Primitive Baptist Church. Those minutes can be found here --
In introducing these minutes;
Fort Blackmore, Scott County Virginia
This copy of what is perhaps the first book of the Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church, located on Stony creek, near Fort Blackmore, Scott County, Virginia, was in the possession of Mr. Scott Beatright of Colburn, Virginia, whose grandfather was once a Minister of this church. The book is written on paper and bound between covers made of home spun cloth.  The handwriting is very good and the ink has lasted well. Copied August, 1966, by Emory L. Hamilton, Wise, Virginia, with a copy filed in the Archives of the Southwest Virginia Historical Society, at Clinch Valley College, Wise, Virginia and a copy sent to the Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia.
The church minutes begin with these words; A CHURCH BOOK FOR STONY CREEK CHURCH; NEVEL WAYLAND, CLERK FOR THE CHURCH. Church meeting held at Stony Creek. February the 21 day 1803  (Should be 1801). This is actually Nevil Wayland Jr. He is later found after 1815, in Lawrence County, Arkansas living with his brothers William and Henry. A fourth brother Francis arrived after 1820. I have a photo of Nevil’s son Jonathan in the previous blog entry. Also recall earlier blog posts mentioning Coeburn, Virginia and Fort Blackmore, wrt my Gist family. The above appears to imply that Nevil Jr was the writer of these mnutes. It also says; April the 24 day 1802; Church meeting held on Stony Creek.  Motion made by Brother Cocks for to petition Brother Flannary's church for him to attend us part of his time.  By consent of the church Brother Wayland is to get a quire of paper for the use of the church. . . .
            August the ____ (1806) . . . Henry Cock (also spelled Cocke in the church minutes) and Nevil Wayland is appointed by this church as clerk.
I had remembered it as saying they bought ink and paper for Nevil’s usage. It actually says Nevi was asked to purchase “a squire of paper” for the usage of the church. See how unreliable our memories or our own recollections can be?  Anyhow, I have wondered if it was MY Nevil Wayland that wrote the word “melungins” in these minutes. Below, from the same website cited above, we have;
September the 26, 1813; Church sat in love.  Brother Kilgore, Moderator.  Then came forward Sister Kitchen and complained to the church against Susanna Stallard for saying she harbored them Melungins (Melungeons).  Sister Sook said she was hurt with her for believing her child and not believing her, and she won't talk to her to get satisfaction, and both is "pigedish", one against the other.
Remember at the beginning of this report it said of the handwriting; The handwriting is very good and the ink has lasted well. It says Nevil Jr was clerk in 1801 and again in 1806. Was he still church clerk by 1813? Also note the usage of a word “pigedish” that has no meaning. Maybe it is “pig-[he]adish”? SO maybe this is a different person, as this handwriting is not as good as was earlier mentioned. The only way to know for sure is to look at the original document and see if the hand writing is the same.
The word “Wayland” is mentioned in these minutes 31 times! Obviously my direct family was members of this church. To compare, the surname “Gibson” is used 42 times. So our two surnames are very closely associated with this church, the first known Melungeon community documented in history. Evidence exists saying Nevil Wayland Sr’s. wife was a Gibson.
I’d like to report one more thing. When Nevil Wayland Senior died about the end of 1806, a list of his belongings was made, and that list still exists. One item was “tomahawk”. I did a little research and both the words “hatchet” and “axe” were in common usage. So these people knew the difference between a hatchet made by the English and a tomahawk in the possession of the American Indian. Nevil Sr. owned a tomahawk.
The origin of the term “Melungeon”
There are several theories today as to the origin of the name “Melungeon”. One theory states it comes from some ancient Turkish word. Another group of researchers believe it came from a Portuguese word. Some say there is an Angolan origin based out of Africa. But there is no record of Turkish, or Portuguese people emigrating to colonial Virginia or the Carolinas. Maybe few Portuguese ships did land in this region, but they also left on those ships. If a ship went aground, the most likely scenario is that a later ship came by to cart the surviving sailors back home. No early record exists of Portuguese sailors being left on American shores.
The Angolans is a different story. They have a VERY GOOD REASON to hide their identity. These Angolans would have undoubtedly been sold into slavery, once discovered. Their best option would have been to move in with the local Indians. However the people who later became Melungeons were tri-racial. Some of them were forced to say they had no Negro blood, before a court of law. Why would there be a memory of one Angolan word, Melungo (hard “g” sound), amongst them, that they change to “Melungeon” (soft “g”, sounds like “j”)? Why change the word ending from "go" to something sounding like "jeon"?
            The best explanation for the origin of the word comes from the French verb “melanger” meaning “to mix” and “malungeon” which is first person plural of that verb, and it means “we mix”. This is an EXACT spelling, not an approximation or something a little similar – it is exact. And there were French Huguenots living in the area ( where it states; Prior to the Revocation, there were about eight hundred thousand Huguenots in France.  In the face of horrible persecution, approximately five hundred and fifty thousand of them recanted their faith.  During the next twenty years, it is estimated that about a quarter of a million Huguenots left France.  Many fled to friendly neighboring countries such as Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and parts of Belgium.  Others escaped to England and Ireland from where they embarked for the West Indies and British North America, especially to the Carolinas, Virginia, New York and New England.  Some eventually migrated as far as South Africa. . . .
The Huguenot Society of South Carolina was founded in 1885 by their descendants in order to honor and perpetuate the memory of these French Protestant men, women and children.
Please note that the Siouan tribes lived in the Carolinas and Virginia, the same states mentioned as locations where the French Huguenots (Protestants) settled in America.  So we can document French speakers to the regions where these mixed-race families came from, and Melungeon is a French word meaning “we mix”. There is no Turkish, or Angolan word meaning “we mix” that is similar to the French word. And since the Portuguese and French languages are both of Latin origin, they have many words that are very similar. But we have no corresponding Portuguese Society of South Carolina that can document Portuguese settlers back to the time of the original Melungeon forebears, as is the case with the French Huguenots.
I hope my family photos help dispel the lies that the Melungeons contained no American Indian element. At least some of us did. I can’t speak for other families, but I know mine had American Indian blood, proven by an autosomal DNA test. We have rumors of Indian blood down three lines (Brown, Gist, and Wayland), well, these things are supporting evidence. 
 In the future, I hope to quote from a Ph. D. dissertation, some of the writngs that helped get a band of the Saponi state recognized, recent reports related to the y-chromosome DNA testing,  others who have written about the Melungeons, records of the Eastern Siouan tribes, and others I have probably forgotten about. When I look at my computer, I suspect I'll find a few things and say, "Oh yeah, I forgot about that!" It happens all the time.

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