Some information about the Saponi, and other Northern Bands of the Catawba
The Saponi are firsr found near presentday Lynchville Roanoke, and Charlottesville, Virginia. The bands that united with the Saponi eventually included the following; The Saponi proper, Tutelo,Ocaneechi, Stukenoke/Enoke/Eno, Keyauwee, Miepontski, Stegaraki/stegarski.(1).
Notice the Monacan and Mahook in the far north. To their south are “Sapon” and “Nahyssan” If you get rid of the “Nay” you have “Yssah”, very similar to “Yesaw”, which was what these people called themselves, and is verysimilar yo Esaw/Yssaw/Isaw; what the southern branch of the Eastern Siouan people's called themselves. The “Akenatzi”mentioned have got to be the “Occoneechi”.
Heathcock, talking about Lederer's witings, states “These parts, (the Piedmont of Virginia), were formerly possessed by the Tacci, alisas, Dogi, but they are extinct; and the Indians now seated here, are distinguished into several Nations of Mahoc, Nuntaneuck, alias Nuntaly, Nhayssan, Sapon, Monagog, Monquoack,Akenatzi, and Monakin, and one language is common to them all (2)
In 1676, the Tutelo, Saponi, and Occoneechi were living on islands on the Roanoke River, when they were attacked by Nathaniel Bacon as part of “Bacon's Rebellion. In 1680, the treaty of the Middle Plantation was signed, by the Saponi between may and June of that year, Mastegonoe was tribal chief and Tachapoake was headman. In 1701 John Lawson found the Saponi dwelling on the Yadkin River in North Carolina near the present town of Salusbury, North Carolina. Haithcock next mentions that the Saponi had moved by 1711 to a place called “Sapona Town,” a short distance from the Roanoke River, 15 miles westt of Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina. This was apparently, before the Tuscarora War of that same year. Haithcock mentions one Saponi took the name “Johnson”, after a settler named John Johnson, who lived at Sapona Town. In 1713 Virginia's governor, Alexander Spotswood, established some lands for the Eastern Siouans. Elements of the following bands were reported to have gone there, to a place called “Fort Christanna”; Saponi, Tutelo, Occoneechi, Meiponstky, Monacan, and the Stegarsky. These all came to be called the Saponi Nation. Tanhee Soka, Saponi, signed his mark at Fort Christanna. (3).
So the Northern Catawban bands (which included the Saponi and othrs) were almost constantly on the move from the 1670s until they arrived at Christanna in 1713. That's between 40 and 50 years. During this time their numbers decreased drastically. They were apparently enslaved, died of disease, and in the slave wars, often instigated by South Carolina traders. More on this later.
John Lawson visited the Saponi town when it was located on the Yadkin River in 1701., near the present town of Salisbury. Per Haithcock, they then moved to Bertie County, North Carolina with the Tutelo. He states that the Saponi, Tutelo, and Occoneechi, had moved to a 'new town', called Sapona Town, 'evidently', before the Tuscarora War. He states their town was east of the Roanoke River, about 15 miles west of the present day town of Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina. He mentions an 'Indian surnamed Johnson, and there was a Caucasian named 'John Johnson' living at the town of Sapona. In 1713 Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood invited these Saponi, Tutelo, Occoneechi, along with the Eno/Stuckenock, Meiponponstky, Monocan and Stegarsky Indians became the Saponi. These Indians were invited to live at Fort Christanna in Southeastern Virginia. All of these people were Northern and Eastern bands of the Catawba Nation. Haithcock speaks often of how these Indians had lived on or near the Ohio River before being pushed back east and south, and points to the names of rivers in the area as evidence. My opinion is yes, this is evidence, but I don't think this evidence constitutes proof. Others say these Eastern Siouan peoples had lived in the Carolina's and portions of Virginia from the distant past. My personal opinion is that this void was filled by Algonquin peoples, the Shawnee, the Miama (also called Twigtwees), the Shawnee, and others. Also many people forget that each tribe lived in a small region, yet also controlled vast regions which they considered their 'hunting grounds'.
Here is a map showing the Saponi at the location near what is today Salisbury, North Carolina, about 1701, when visited by Lawson.Notice how the Tuscarora control most of Eastern North Carolina.
Here is a map of the same region AFTER the Tuscarora war. Notice most of Eastern North Carolina, prviously controlled by the Tuscarora, has been cleared of Indians. There were also a couple of bands of the Siouan peoples that are also gone from this region. Thwy either fled south to the Catawba are in the location located on the map as “Saponi Peoples” just to the west of the Meherrins. This was the location of Fort Christanna, founded by Virginia Governor Spotswood as a refuge for the last remnants of the Saponi and the bands that associated with them. It wasn't until the strength of the Tuscarora had been shattered that most of North Carolina became widely settled. Within a few more years, the power of the Catawban peoples, which consisted of most of the rest of the bands in South Carolina, would be shattered in the Yamassee War, opening the way to the settlement of much of South Carolina.
In 1714, Tanhee Soka and Hoontsky are mentioned as Chiefs of the Saponi at Fort Christanna.
The last surviving man who spoke the Tutelo language, Horation Hale, was said to have stated the people called all the Eastern Siouan peoples the “Yesah'. James Mooney stated the Catawba name for their own people was the 'Esaw'. Esaw and Yesah are practically identical, and is proof these people were all ONE NATION, at one time (4).
Per Haithcock, 300 Saponis were brought to Fort Christanna in March of 1715. In March 1716, it was reported some 60 Saponi warriors went on a war party against the Genito Indians. These are probably the Seneca. At this time they were ruled by twelve elders, and one a single chief. It was said that they would not treat with the English but in their own language. This probably means no tribal members spoke English fluently at that time.
In 1722, a treaty was signed between the Seneca and the colonies and Indians of Virginia, and both Carolinas. The following Saponi men were mentioned in a letter by Virginia Governor Gooch; Great George, John Sauano, Ben Harrison, Captain Tom, Pyah, Saponey Tom, Pyah, Tony Mack, Harry Irvin, and Dick. After the killing of a Nottaway Indian, four Saponi wee sent to jail. They were Chief Tom, Chief Mahenip, Harry Irvin and Pryor. I suspect Captain Tom and Chief Tom are the same people. I also suspect Pyah and Pryor are the same person.
In 1732 some Saponi returned to Fort Christanna from the Catawba. They returned to Fort Christanna. They were also allowed to settle along the Appomattox or Roanoke Rivers.
In 1733 the Saponi and Nottaway wanted a treaty between themselves, and wanted to include the Tuscarora.
In February of 1739, there was mention of 'a Saponi Camp' on the south side of the Nuese River in Craven County, North Carolina.
Probably about 1740, the Tutelo went north, stopping at Shamokin, Pennsylvania. These eventually went up to join with their ancient enemy, the Six Nations.
In 1742, eleven Saponi men are mentioned in the records of Orange County, Virginia. Their names are given as Maniassa, Captain Tom, Blind Tom, Foolish Zach, Little Zach, John Collins, Charles Griffen, Alexander Machartoon, John Bowling, Isaac, and Tom. It is interesting that 'Captain Tom' is mentioned both in 1722 at Fort Christanna and in 1742 in Orange County, Virginia. There are two other interesting names that time the Melungeons of Southwestern Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee early in the 19th century to the Saponi of Fort Christanna. We have John Collins and Charles Griffen in 1742 in Orange County, Virginia. We also have the Collins family, claiming a mixed-Indian origin in NE Tn. We also have a teacher named Charles Griffen who tought the Indians at Fort Christanna, and an Indian by that same name in Orange County, Virginia 3 decades later.
In 1749 in Johnson County, North Carolina, on the south side of the Nuese River, at a place called Powell's Run, a 'Saponi Camp' is mentioned at that location (5).
In 1753, the Tutelo joined the Six Nations, formerly their mortal enemies.
In 1755, there is mention of 14 men and 14 women living in Person County, North Carolina, who are Saponi Indians.
On April 19th, 1755, John Austin, a Saponi Indian, and Mary, a Susquehanna Indian, applied for a pass to the Catawba Nation.
In 1757, a party of Indians from the North Carolina/Virginia border region, visited Williamsburg, Virginia, and met with Virginia's governor. Some were Saponi. Here I wish Haithcock had elaborated more. If “some” were Saponi, what tribe were the rest?
There are dry spells where the Saponi aren't mentioned much. Haithcock mentions some who had earlier gone north to the Six Nations, in the 1760s and 70's. Unfortunately Haithcock mentions nothing more about those Indians that fought for the Brittish in the French and Indian War. He does mention some Saponi mized bloods who are mentioned on militia rosters in 1777 during the American Revolution. He lists their surnames as Riddle, Collins, Bunch, Bollins, Goins, Gibson, and Sizemore.
Haithcock says a group of Saponi, Nansemond, and Tuscarora peoples organized together in the 1780s, and they formed what is today known as the Haliwa Saponi, around a place known as “the Meadows”. They are called Haliwa because they live in both Halifax and Warren Counties, in North Carolina.
In 1784, some old Saponi families are still living in Brunswick County, Virginia, near the location of the former Fort Christana. Their surnames are Robinson, Haithcock, Whitmore, Carr, Jeffreys, and Guy. Many of these families are also found in Hillsborough County, North Carolina (6).
Hathcock mentions the following, “The Saponi/Christanna Indians by 1827 were being documented or recorded as Catawba by their friends, neighbors and officials in the Department of the interior. He provides 2 quotes. I.] “If descended from Indians at all, they were likely Catawba and lived in Eastern North Carolina.” and ii.] “It is a region much more likely to have been occupied by Indians from Virginia or by the Catawba Indians who ranged from South Carolina up through North Carolina into Virginia.” He mentions the surnames of these families; Hathcock, Dempsey, Jefferies, Guy, Johnson, Collins, Mack, Richardson, Lynch, Silvers, Mills, Riddle, Austin, Hedgepath, Copeland, Stewart, Harris, Nichols, Shepherd, Gibson, Coleman, Martin, Branham, Johns Taylor, Ellis, Anderson, Tom, Ervin, Bowling, Valentine, Goens, Sizemore, Bunch, Coker, Rickman, Whitmore, Mullins, Perkins, Harrison, Holley, Pettiford. Haithcock them implies these families were recognized by the state of North Carolina as the Haliwa Saponi Indians in the latter third of the twentieth century. Haliwa stands for the two counties where they mainly lived, Halifax and Warren Counties in North Carolina (7).
Heathcock mentions some 79 Saponi names. Some are full names, some are just given, and some are just surnames. Here is that list:Chief Mastegonoe, Chief Manehip, Chief Chawka, Chief Tanhee, Seko, Chief Tom, Chief John Harris, Captain Harrry, Captain Tom (Chief Tom and Captain Tom are perhaps the same person), Ned Beqarskin, Ben Bear Den, Pyah, Pryor (probably the same), Manniassa, Dick, Harry (perhaps the same as Captain Harry), Isaac, Tom (perhaps the same as captain or Chief Tom), Lewis Anderson, Thomas Anderson,Isham Johnson, Will Matthews, Isaac White )perhaps the same as 'Isaac'), John Hart, Carte Hedge Beth, Sepunis, Cornelious Harris, John Collins, Lewis Collins, Mullins, Charles Griffin, Absalon Griffin, Hannah Griffin, John Sauano, Saponey Tom,Alexander Marchartoon, John Bowlinig, Ben Harrison, Tony Mack, Great George, Little Zach, Blind Tom, Foolish Zach, Hary Irwin, Tom Irwin, John Austin, Sr and Jr, Richard Austin, Tutterow, Dempsey, Miles Bunch, William Thims, Chritopher Thims, John Head, Isaac Head, Heathcock, Jeffryes, Guy, Whitmore, Robinson, Carr, Ford, Long, Rickman, Coker, Jones, Richardson, Mills, Stewart, Going, Jackson, Thore, Williams, Branham, Johns, and Coleman. Now these are in adition to some of those already mentioned that are not mentioned here (8).
So recapping, first reports have the Monacan and Manahoac first being mentioned by John Smith to the west of the Jamestown Colony in 1607. In 1670 John Lederer has the Saponi and their allies along the eastern slope of the Appalachians in Virginia and Nprth carolina, indicating a movement southward. Lawson finds them near the present site of Salisbury, North Carolina. They flee again to live not far from the Tuscarora even before the Tuscarora War of 1722, only to flee again, to Fort Christanna by invitation of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood..about 1714. Some flee with the Tuscarora up to Six Nations, but most remain in Virginia and the Carolinas whereover time, they become a mixed race minority in their own homelands. They were constantly being attacked prompting a treaty in 1722 with the Six Nations. Heathcock suggests a remnant fled north about 1740 to live with the Six Nations.
1.] 1., Introduction
2.] page 4, The History of the Saponi Tribe and the Saponi Nation compiled by Richard Haithcock
3.] page 5
4.] page 5
5.] page 6
6.] page 7
.7] page 10.
8.] page 11