Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Carlson IV -- from Saponi to Melungeon, part 2



Carlson IV -- from Saponi to Melungeon, part 2
On page 129 Carlson says; “Compared to the Cherokee, the Catawba and their confederates were a relatively small population to start, and the war and recent small pox epidemics had taken their toll on adult Catawba males.”
The war referred to was called in Europe The Seven Years War, but in America it was referred to as the French and Indian War. Chistopher Gist played a prominent role in that war. I am also a Gist descended from the same line of Maryland Gist’s. The best book documenting them is Christopher Gist of Maryland and Some of His Descendants 1679-1957; by Jean Muir Dorsey and Maxwell Jay Dorsey. Christopher and Nathaniel Sr (whom I descend from) are recorded as being brothers.
But Carlson also refers to a small pox epidemic. I am reminded of what the Dorsey’s said; p 28 -- "Christopher Gist died of Small Pox on the road from Williamsburg to Winchester on July 25th, 1759. He was conducting 62 hand-picked Catawba Warriors to Winchester to help guard the western frontier of Virginia ((ibid., series 21664, part 1, , pp 216-217). It continues to say that these Catawba were urged to continue "but they said their father Capt. Gist (as they called him) was dead at it was better for them to return home (ibid., p. 302)."The Dorsey’s were referring to "The Papers of Colonel Henry Boquet". Other books on the Catawba refer to this 1759 epidemic as something similar to the straw that broke the camel’s back. One writer says or implies two-thirds of the Catawba died during this tragic epidemic. What was six Catawba towns moves down stream a few miles, and only two Catawba towns are remaining afterwards ( I have the reference – I will look it up when I have time).
Carlson says however, . . . in 1764, a large contingent of Catawba who could muster 150 warriors were reported to be found wondering on the frontiers of North Carolina and they too had made peace with the Cherokee and the colonists. [343, 344]
Back to those Carlson refers to as the“Christian Saponi’s”. He says; By the end of the 1760s, the old Christian Saponi families from the Flatt River Community and the old Louisa-Cumberland areas of Virginia began to bring their old tribal relations back together again. With the threat of the Iroquois now gone (p. 130) and and new friendly ties existing between the Cherokee and the Catawba and the colonists, the Christian Saponi strategically accommodated the situation by removing to the western fringes of colonial settlement. They would consolidate into a new community right at the New River boundary between Virginia and North Carolina and the lands of the Cherokee Nation, technically beyond the settler zone. Carlson states families from both Louisa County, and the Flatt River Community, came to live on New River, and are recorded as living there in 1770 and 1771. My own ancestor, Nathaniel Gist (b 1736, son of Nathaniel b. 1707. Nathaniel b. 1707 was brother to Christopher who died of Small Pox in 1759.). My Nathaniel, b. 1736, also moved to what was then called Washington County, Virginia, and settled at what is now Coeburn, Wise Co., Va. Gist’s River and Gist’s Mountain are nearby. Coeburn was first known as Gist’s Station long before it was called Coeburn. A document exists saying Joseph Blackmore (brother to John Blackmore who created Fort Blackmore), when he obtained lands at Castlewood, he was assignee of Nathaniel Gist. That’s MY Nathaniel. The Dorsey’s agree on this point. We, my Gist’s, showed up there the same time these Christian Saponi did, about 1770. My Gist’s arrived from Cumberland County, North Carolina. In the 1750s my Gist’s had been next to the Moravians in the Winston-Salem area, at a place called Mulberry Fields. They moved east to Cumberland County, shortly thereafter where they remained until about 1770. One more thing. MY Nathaniel Gist b. 1736 is NOT the same Nathaniel many believe was Sequoyah’s father. The claim is made that Sequoyah’s father was Nathaniel, son of Christopher – the same Christopher that died of Small Pox in 1759, whom the Catawba called “father”. My Nathaniel was son of Christopher’s brother, also named Nathaniel.
By page 133, Carlson is talking about Forts in southwestern Virginia, from 1770 on. These forts were manned by local farmer/hunter/militiamen. Some of these were the Christian Saponi. He mentions 1773-1774 “Delinquent Tax List” of Boteourt and Montgomery Counties, saying; “These lists show the names of over a dozen adult males of the Christian Saponi and families residing primarily on “Indian Lands” off the New River and Reed’s Creek.”[352,353]
Of these forts, Carlson also discusses those that would be locations associated with Nathaniel Gist. He says; “Some of these early fromtier forts and the people who occupied them would later enter into the history of the Christian Saponi of New River. These would include the fort that the Moore brothers of Castlewood, not far to the northwest of the New River in 1769. In 1772, Mathias, Jacob, and Henry Harmon emigrated from near Salisbury in North Carolina and established a defensive family compound on Carr’s Creek off the Clinch River. The most significant of such forts to later Saponi history however, would be Blackmore’s Fort, which was also established in 1772. This fort was constructed on the lands acquired by Captain John Blackmore located at the mouth of Stoney Creek on the Clinch River. [351]
I can’t help but think of my Nathaniel Gist living there at the same time, and that my Nevil Wayland would attend that church on Stone Creek a quarter of a century later. Although their families lived near one another, the Waylands were there long after the Gist’s had gone, a descendant of the Gist’s would marry a descendant of the Wayland’s in Arkansas, in 1872. Did each know the other was mixed race. I am sure family stories would answer that question “yes”. Did they know both had lived in Southwestern Virginia? I think they would answer that “yes” as well. Now for the question I can’t answer– did they think they were Cherokee or Catawba? Cherokee has come down to us in family stories – but I wonder . . .
Other families Carlson associates with the Christian Saponi living on/near the New River are the Bunches, Colins, Gibson’s, Sexton’s, Bowlings, Aicee/Sicee, Anglicized to “Thomas”.
The fact these families were said to have settled on “Indian Lands” has cause some comments by Carlson’s. he says; “It might be assumed that the Indians had settled beyond the 1763 Proclamation Line. This would be in error, for the Cherokee boundary was reset in 1767-1768, and then again in 1770, placing the Cherokee boundary west of the entire New River watershed.[357] Additionally, if the Christian Saponi were being considered squatters on non-ceded Cherokee territories, then Colonial law would have mandated that the be removed back into ceded lands, and thus they would not be openly taxed on Cherokee lands. [358] Yet neither the Virginians nor the Cherokees ever accuse the Christian Saponi of establishing a squatter settlement in any document I have found so far. . . . taxable Whites were living much further west . . . than were the people of the New River Indian Community. And none [of the taxable Whites] are noted in 1773 as living on “Indian lands”, like John Collins and the rest. Carlson speculates as to whether the Virginia government might have given some sort of land grant to these Christian Saponi. Maybe it later reverted into private property and thus to a taxable status. Carlson concludes on this topic; “Regardless of the 1771 status of these Indian lands, no list after 1774 shows the Christian Saponi as residing on "Indian Lands", although the community remained right where it was.”
Dunsmore’s War broke out shortly after the New River Indians were said to be living on “Indian Lands”. Carlson says (p. 135-136), “A list from the Draper Manuscripts, thought to reflect Captain Herbert’s Company, reveals one of the militia units comprised of the New River Indians, their mixed blood relations, and numerous Virginia backwoodsmen mustered into duty that summer [the summer of 1774]”.
Carlson says this unit originally had plans to fight the Shawnee, but attacks by the Cherokee warriors on Virginians living in the Clinch and Powell River valleys made them change their plans. He states that “Men from Herbert’s company were quickly ordered to the Chinch River and Powell’s Valley forts to deflect any further attacks from hostile Cherokee-Shawnee alliances, and were among the reinforcements noted as being placed at Fort Blackmore late that summer when Daniel Boone would serve briefly as captain upon his return from Kentucky in 1774.”
Christian Saponi also served in the revolutionary War, but they did so as individuals, and not as an Indian Unit. Carlson states th Flatt River Indian Community was 130 miles from the New River Community. Carlson says (p 138); “In late 1776, Old Goerge Gibson passed on. Apparently he was the last link holding the fading rmnants of the Flatt River Community for, within a few years following George’s death, most of his relations would join with Tom Gibson in the Mountains, while others scattered into Caswell and Guilford Counties in North Carolina.”
Carlson discusses (pp. 139-140) divided loyalties during the Revolutionary War of some of these families. They mentions Osborn’s Company of Militia, saying many New River Christian Saponi men were mustered into it. They were mostly on the Western frontier to guard against Shawnee-Cherokee attacks. He mentions the Bowlings, Riddle’s, and Sexton’s.
Most Melungeon researchers know about the Lewis Jarvis writing. In Carlson’s words (p. 141-142); “In 1903 a local lawyer from Hancock County, Tennessee named Jarvis published a brief history in the county newspaper regarding the Christian Saponi and other Indians and mixed-bloods who would move from New River into Northeastern Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia at the turn of the century. . . . it is significant to note here that Jarvis’ short newspaper article is the earliest printed history of these citizen Indians accurately relating their residence at New River.” Quoting Jarvis, “they were originally friendly Indians who ame with the Whites . . .from Cumberland County [sic] and New River, Virginia” and “they had already lost their language and spoke English very well.” Jarvis mentions several surnames, Bowling, Collins, Gibson, and Bunch, saying there were others not remembered who’d left the area.
While residing on New River (p 144), Carlson says other non-Saponi Indiansurnames became associated with these Christian Saponi. These surnmaes are Cole, Clonch, Minor, and Sizemore. I however, suspect these ar Saponi/Catawba as well. One Sizemore, in his application for Miller-Guion acceptance on the Cherokee Rolls, states someone said (paraphrasing) “Old Ned” Sizemore came from the Catawba River, or the Catawba Reservation as he called it. I think it is a mistake to say the Catawba and Saponi and Saura are different tribes, but rather they are different bands of the same tribe loosely confederated together. On pages 144-145 he adds the surnames Williams, Nickells, and Moore. By page 146 he mentions some families in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He covers the 1790s. To confirm these are the descendants of the Indians at Fort Christanna, there is a “Griffen” Collins mentioned on page 147. Rev. Griffin was the name of the old school master at Fort Christanna. So Carlson has masterfully followed the same families on a migration from Fort Christanna to New River.
          Also Carlson mentions some families were in North carloina and others in Virginia, on New River. I can't help but recall an earlier map showing Upper and Lower Saura Towns along the Dan River. Were they just moving back to their old haunts? I wonder.
Page 148 brings us to the Battle of Fallen Timbers, and the last battle between settlers and Indians in the area. With the Cherokee finally subdued, settlers came streaming through Cumberland Gap into Tennessee and Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, at a quickened pace. Carlson comes to the conclusion; “As early as the mid 1790s, a few of the New River Indians and mixed bloods were frequenting the Cumberland Gap and Clinch Valley region . . . as a new generation attained adulthood, most of the New River Indians would eventually migrate to this region."


  1. Mr. Hawkins: Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! THIS vital genealogical information that you have provided HAS helped make SO MANY of my genealogical works' UNEXPLAINED FACTS "fall" into "place" into my family lines, our heritage & history. I have been working on several lines that oral family history claims absorbtion by the Cherokee Tribe(s) (Eastern & OK), along with family-line migration patterns that were "timely", to co-encide with the Indian Removal Acts (1830's-1838) that President Andrew Jackson signed, however, NO LIVING RELATIVE OF MINE on any family lines CURRENTLY HOLDS A CDIB (Certificate Degree of Indian Blood) Card.

    Your transcriptions of Dr. Carlson's Doctoral Dissertation, published on this internet Blog page on May 5th: (Carlson III: "From Saponi to Melungeon, Part I") & May 7, 2013: (Carlson IV: "From Saponi to Melungeon, Part II") lists facts that support other unexplained documentation I've collected. Carlson lists: "Dunsmore's War"--& I have a family member that served as an "Indian Liason/Agent" & New (Whtie) Settlement Scout that is recorded, working before & after this 1774 period as a Long Hunter, but during Dunsmore's War, he served to ensure White Settlers weren't encroaching upon Indian Lands, & to: "keep the lines clear/straight", between Indian Settlements/Towns & New White Settlements. Dr. Carlson, between pages 115 & 116 of his Dissertation, lists my 5G Grandfather, "WILLIAM HARRISON" (AKA: Haralson, Harrelson, Harilson, Haroldson), a Longhunter, who, worked with Ephraim Osborne to trade with the Indians (Saponi, Cherokee & Catawba). This same WILLIAM HARRELSON is named in the "Draper Manuscripts", during 1774. In your "Part II: Saponi To Melungeon", you published Lewis Jarvis's writing, naming yet ANOTHER surname along my genealogical collateral (direct ancestry) bloodline: "Bowling" (AKA: Bolling, Boling, Bolen), which explained to me, for the 1st time, the "friendly Indians" that migrated along with the new White Settlers from Cumberland County, VA, whom had: (as Jarvis writes): "...already lost their language & spoke english VERY WELL." (YOUR BLOG MADE ME AWARE OF LEWIS JARVIS'S RECORDS.)

    AGAIN: Thank you, thank you, thank you--your work does NOT go, un-recognized, nor do your transcriptions go unappreciated.


    With most sincere gratitude,

    Heidi (Self) Hoyt
    Born in Washita County, OK

  2. howdy, from a fellow Oklahoman! I know EXACTLY where Washita County is -- I live in Jackson County, just a couple of counties to your southwest! I wish I had time to transcribe more of Dr. Carlson's work, he did the hard work. I wish I had more time, but I don't. You can reach me at vhawkins1952@msn.com. Thanks for the kind words.