Thursday, May 9, 2013

Carlson V -- from Saponi to Melungeon, part 3

Carlson V -- from Saponi to Melungeon, part 3
By P. 149, by the 1790s, Carlson notes these Christian Saponi and their mixed blood relatives had learned to buy and sell land, to negotiate contracts, and for all intents and purposes were living pretty much like their White neighbors. He mentions by 1803 they are recorded buying land from White land owners rather than obtaining lands from the government. By the 1790s the non-Indian population in the region had increased so much that a new county was created, Ashe County, in Western North Carolina. On page 153-4 Carlson provides another list of surnames on the Virginia side of the New River– Collins, Gibson, Coles, Clonches, Nuckolls, and Perkins. He mentions some names that ar missing by the time of the 1800 census – with the surname Moore the only surname not previously mentioned. This notes a move from New River to the Clinch and Powell River Valleys.
On a personal note, my ancestor, Nevil Wayland Sr, and his family, moved from the Tyger River near Spartanburg in South Carolina to across the border in Western North Carolina in 1794 (probably in what is now Rutherford or Cleveland Counties), and were in Copper Creek next door to some Gibson families, in what later became Scott County, Virginia, by 1797. If our Nevil married a Cusiah/Keziah Gibson as we suspect, when and where would they have met? Since their first child was born about the late 1770s, and Nevil obtained his land near Spartanburg as bounty land for his service to South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, and since a record of his Christening (birth) exists at St John’s, in Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland in 1745, there are gaps in what we know of him. We don’t know when he came to America or where he lived when he arrived on our shores. The first we hear of him in America is 1777-8 from South Carolina archived records of his service in the revolution, where he worked for the Quartermaster as a “wagoner, and a driver of horses and cattle to the troops on the Indian line” as a member of the “Spartan Regiment”, aka “Roebuck’s Regiment”. He did serve near Spartanburg which is just to the west of York County, where the Catawba reside to this day. Many Catawba served in South Carolina, but we do not know where he would have met his wife. Since we don’t know when or where he arrived in America, and his first child was born about the same time he is first recorded in the South Carolina militia, he must have met her before enlisting, and we know nothing of his life at that time.
Carlson ends chapter three by talking about the population of the New River Indian community growing through intermarriage with White families, and says (p. 155); “Politics and status were linked s being racially classified as ‘White’ or ‘fee colored’. . . while the ‘friendly Indians’ of New River were being taxed as ‘Whites’ for nearly 20 years, by 1800 North Carolina authorities reverted to placing them under the socially and economically restrictive political definition of ‘free colored.’”
One thing Carlson never covers is the African heritage of many of these families. DNA evidence says many of these families possess African heritage as well. My own autosomal DNA test discovered sub-Sahara African DNA in my genetic makeup. There is to this day a stigma associated with having sub-Sahara African heritage
Carlson’s forth chapter begins on page 156. It covers the migrations of these people from New River, to what he calls Stone Mountain, to Greasy Rock, and beyond the Cumberland Gap. This also covers the time when my known Wayland family lived in the Melungeon Community. I suspect my Kezziah’s family had lived with them much longer. I also suspect that it is through her that we get at least some, if not all, of our sub-Sahara African heritage.
On page 156 Carlson speaks of isolated Catawba families living upon the New and Yadkin River Valleys, as they separated from the Catawba Nation and made their way as citizen Indians. He mentions the Snow family as one of these families, and also mentions Wilburn Waters. He discusses the Sizemores, Bunches and Hales.
Carlson quotes a James Woody of Laurel Springs, North Carolina, calling him an elderly White person (p. 157-158); “There used to be some full blood Indians that stayed up here in the woods, and when we were boys we would go to work in the mountains, occasionally two or three Indians would come out of the woods, and father would make us something to feed them. We could not understand one thing they said, and we did not know their names. There was not a word said as to what kind of Indians they were. I got acquainted with one enough to know that his name was Bill Hale. He stayed in the country a good long while. I do not think he was a full blood, but some of the others were. They stayed here a while – they seemed to stay in the woods. They just stayed here through some of the summer season. . . [423]
Carlson speaks of these other families, saying they interacted with the Christian Saponi, they were separate from them. Also note the Christian Saponi spoke English very well, whereas of these other Indian families it was said, we could not understand one thing they said.
Carlson speaks of the Cherokee and Catawba, and an effort for the two tribes to live together under friendly terms. He says (p. 158); “. . . Back in 1734, the Cherokees made peace with the Virginia Tributary tribes, specifically, the ‘Saponi, Tuscarora, Nottaway and other Indians living among the English.” [424] He speaks of several families thinking they were Cherokee. I however suspect they were Catawba. From p. 158-162 or thereabouts, he discusses these things.
I do have one other problem with Carlson’s paper. Throughout the document, he claims his own ancestors surnamed Cole and others, came from a Cherokee family. We all have a bias where our own family is concerned. I have a family story that we are related to Sequoyah through the Gist’s. My Aunt wrote me a letter saying my great great-grandma was a “niece or great niece” of Sequoyah, according to family tradition. But we cannot prove it. I so WANT to believe it! I will have a personal bias pertaining to MY family that I will not have towards the families of others. But without documented proof, I can’t come out and say it is a fact! We have evidence, but not proof. This is one reason I get so mad at these people online who say they descend from so and so and they have no proof of it. They should be saying the same thing I say – that is, they have evidence, but not proof.
I will give credit to Dr. Carlson, in that there is a place where he mentions this in his dissertation. On page 161 he says; Complicating matters of tribal identification and assertions, this researcher has strong suspicions that the Indian Andersons tied to the Coles and Sizemores were origionally a Catawba affiliated family before settling down in the Cherokee Nation. . . .” Now the next part is very important. Carlton says; “It is well documented that a significant number of Catawba intermarried, were adopted, or otherwise were relocating from their residences in the Carolinas to the Eastern part of the Cherokee lands by that nation’s permission from the late 1700s up until at least the 1840s.” He provides four references –Finger (1984), Mooney (1894, 1900), Thornton (1990), and Swanton (1946). In my own personal opinion, and I might be wrong, it is these Catawba who migrated westwards who perhaps are responsible for the many records that their ancestors were Cherokee rather than Catawba/Saponi/Saura. My Gist’s might have been Catawba rather than Cherokee. Maybe the same is true of others who honestly think they have Cherokee heritage, but according to the Cherokee – NO THEY DON’T! So this is a haggling point that we may never resolve.
When Lewis Jarvis wrote that when some of the Whites and the“friendly Indians” built Fort Blackmore, Carlson says he doesn’t know if these were the “Christian Saponi” or not. But it is certain that within twenty years these Christian Saponi moved to Stoney Creek (where Fort Blackmore was located), and they were still living there when Jarvis wrote that article in 1903.
Of the New River Indians (p. 178-182), only a few remained by 1800. Joel Gibson was said to have left in 1805. George Collins claim o his lands were questioned in 1809, and he stated that he first came to that are in 1769. By 1810 he was on the Grayson County Tax list. By 1820 few families remained. Carlson mentions the Williams, Riddle and Sizemore families still residing there. By 1830 many of these families were in the “Greasy Rock” area. He speaks of the Sizemores going to Pilot and White Top Mountains. Other surnames associated with the Sizemore’s are Perkins, Baldwin and Blevins.
Carlson then reports about some movement for these families to remove to Indian Territory/Oklahoma. Such stories are of great interest to me, as this is where my family relocated to.
Carlson says “. . .In 1896, J. W. Perkins and John Baldwin again petitioned the Federal Government as well as the Cherokee Nation for permission to move as a body to Indian Territory, but the attempt failed.” [501]
This statement has my interest! The following thoughts are my ramblings and were not discussed by Carlson. This is the same timeframe that Bain and Williamson were attempting to get the “Western Catawba Indian Tribe” federally recognized in Arkansas and Indian Territory (Oklahoma) where 257 individuals petitioned the federal government. Another record of this organization lists 4,000 members. I wonder if these two groups knew of each other’s attempts in the 1890s, one along the Oklahoma/Arkansas border and the other on the Southwest Virginia/North Carolina border? The Catawba in York County, South Carolina had also just petitioned the Cherokee, as well as the Chickasaw, for permission to settle amongst them, and were declined by both. A few Catawba were adopted by the Creek, Choctaw, and I am not sure about the Cherokee.
From a historic perspective, the Allotment Act had just been passed by Congress whereby all the Indian lands in Oklahoma were to be divided up into individual family allotments, with the excess sold off. The more land that was sold off, the more money the individual tribes would probably obtain from that sale. On the Cherokees behalf, they knew who was Cherokee and who wasn’t. It was a small tight knit community, only about fifteen thousand strong (this is my very wild guess, but they were few in number). When someone unknown says they are Cherokee, and no one in the community has ever heard of them, red flags are thrown. So when these families who had never, as far as anyone’s recollection, lived in the Cherokee Nation, the Cherokee didn’t believe them. They thought these people just wanted free Indian lands. Maybe a trip to Oklahoma and a visit with local tribal leaders would have helped the situation, I don’t know. It didn’t help the Western Catawba organization.
Remember, these groups had to have the approval of the federal Government, as well. Remember they wanted lands to settle on, too, and since they had been living as Whites, the government decided they had already assimilated, why run the risk they’d revert back? Again this is just my guess. So the tribes didn’t want to share their lands with descendants of the Catawba, Saponi and Saura, and the government wanted ALL THE INDANS to assimilate, and gradually disappear, as these Eastern Siouans were in the process of doing.
So these attempts were doomed to failure, from the start.
Although there is quite a bit more from Carlson, I will report only a small part of it. He speaks of families going to McGoffin County, Kentucky, and finally to Carmel, Ohio where they are called “Carmel Indians”. If you are interested in these sections please write me and I will cover it further. Carlson also discusses his opinion of those stories of the Melungeons being “Portuguese” – I WILL cover ALL of that! J He also speaks of a migration of some of his Kentucky and Ohio families trying to come to Oklahoma. I will also see what he has on that topic, and likely will write about it as well. [503]
I will also create a short index of the sources Carlson uses from the sections that I have transcribed. This will be boring and time consuming, but it is VERY necessary. I have always been willing to share my research believing the more informed we are the more educated, the fewer people will be willing to accept tall tales that make for interesting reading, but have little basis in fact. Each of these five reports covers a four hour period on my part of reading, transcribing, and editing. So it has taken me a minimum of 20 hours to cover these things from Carlson’s excellent dissertation. This is a difficult task for someone already working 45-50 hours every week, so I have been getting up at 3 in the morning on many days in the last 2 or 3 weeks. I just don’t have the time I wish I had to perfect these writings in detail. I have too many bills. Please forgive the typos, et cetera. Eventually I’ll get the time, if I live that long.

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