Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chapter vi, The Saponi

Saponi and Fort Christanna 1700-1730s Map 21. Saponi Sightings

Please remember the American Indians moved often. The Saponi moved often between 1671 and 1701. Also remember that sometimes a settlement might be found in a region, but that settlement might just be a hunting camp. Men hunted for game during a hunting season, and they very well might have allowed a few women to go along, to prepare meals, or perform other functions. Finding villages a few miles from each other really might be what is expected. However their movements from 1671 to 1701 is a significant move. They moved much closer to the Catawba. This is a defensive move for protection. Something is happening that makes them feel they require protection.

Above is a map somebody made about all the known movements of the Saponi before the Tuscarora and Yamassee Wars. I'd ignore the first part of this map. There is no proof the Saponi came from the Ohio River, or that they lived there in they year 1200. From 1608 until 1661 shows them moving only a short distance. Then from 1661 until 1671 they seem to have moved but little. But then the slave trade expanded in South Carolina. Whether this is what happened to the Saponi and neighboring bands, we may never know. We do know that thirty years later they were just North of the main band of the Catawba , near what is now Salisbury, NC. Later Governor Spotswood invited them back to Virginia saying he'd protect them, and they took him up on that offer, moving to Fort Christanna, just north of the North Carolina/Virginia border in the east. They made another atttempt to live with the Catawba in 1730, but they moved back to Fort Christanna shortly thereafter. The map shows some of them moving to live with the Tuscarora about 1711, and back to Fort Christanna by 1714. I wonder about that, though, as the Tuscarora Wars erupted during those years. Why would they move there during those years? Another map has the Eno living in that area, and the Saxapahaw as well. Perhaps these bands were somehow mislabeled at that time. They must have made peace with the Tuscarora or they never would have moved nearer them.

The story of the Melungeons beginis shortly after this timeframe. But we can see they were used to living a mobile life, moving from place to place every few years. As we will see, they kept up that mobile lifestyle afterwards.

I remember my mother talking about a small group of German families that had moved into Tillman County, Oklahoma, perhaps about the same time her family did, when it was first opened to White settlement in 1906. Their part of the county was opened to White Settlement through a land lottery known as “The Big Pasture.” She used to talk about those Germans. One thing I remember was that the grandparents couldn't speak English. Their children spoke both English and Greman. The grand children (my parent's age) spoke only English. So it was difficult for the grandkids to speak with their grandparents. Perhaps the Saponi were about to go through a smilar phase.

It is interesting to realize that a Saponi child born in 1690 could have been born in Western points of Virginia, moved to Central/Western North Carolina at the age of 10 by 1700, gone East to live at Fort Christanna by the age of 30, went to live with the Catawba by the age of 40 in 1730. He might have been 50-55 years old and living at ex-Governor Spotswood's plantation in the early 1740s. His children might have been born at Fort Christanna about 1715 or 1720. As such, they would have spoken both Saponi and English. The next generation might have been born about 1740 or so, at ex-Governor Spotswood's Plantation, and they might have known only a few words of their own Saponi language, English having become their first language. They would have had a hard time conversing with their grandparents. The generation born by the 1770s would have only a few old family stories of their Indian heritage that had been passed down. But they continued to travel together, as they once had done as a tribe. When the world discovered them, and started calling them “Melungeons” they were simply a mixed-race remnant (perhaps mixed-Caucasian, perhaps mixed- Black).of a once powerful Indian Nation, and a band of the Catawba.

NO! They didn't descend from a band of escaped slaves or a band of “Portuguese Adventurers”. The principle factor that kept them together wasn't their Caucasian or possible Negro heitage, but rather their Indian heritage.

The Saponi
Some information about the Saponi, and other Northern Bands of the Catawba

The Saponi are firsr found near present day Lynchville, Roanoke, and Charlottesville, Virginia. The bands that united with the Saponi eventually included the following; The Saponi proper, Tutelo, Occaneechi, Stukenoke/Enoke/Eno, Monacan, Mahook, Keyauwee, Miepontski, Stegaraki/Stegarski. [70.]
Notice the maps. The Monacan and Mahook are in the far north. To their south are “Sapon” and “Nahyssan” If you get rid of the prefix “Nay” and the ending “n” you have “Yssa”, very similar to “Yesaw”, which was what these people called themselves, and is very similar to Esaw/Yssaw/Isaw; what the southern branch of the Eastern Siouan people's called themselves. The “Akenatzi”mentioned have got to be the “Occoneechi”. Since the language has been lost, we don't know what the prefix “Nah” meant, when attached to “Yssa”.

In 1677, 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. This treaty made the Saponi one of the “Tributary Indians” mentioned in that treaty.

Haithcock states that 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), 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'.

Governor Spotswood Creates Fort Christanna for the Saponi
There is a map of the same region AFTER the Tuscarora War. That map shows most of Eastern North Carolina, prviously controlled by the Tuscarora, has been cleared of Indians. Many Catawban bands are also gone. They either fled south to the Catawba are in the location on the map as “Saponi Peoples” just to the west of the Meherrins in Southeastern Virginia. 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 were 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. [71.]

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 a single chief. It was said that they would not treat with the English but in their own language.

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, Tony Mack, Harry Irvin, and Dick. After the killing of a Nottaway Indian, four Saponi were sent to jail. They were Chief Tom, Chief Mahenip, Harry Irvin and Pryor. I suspect Pyah and Pryor are the same person.
In 1732 some Saponi returned to Fort Christanna from the Catawba. 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. These names are evidence that the Melungeons of Southwestern Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee early in the 19th century came from 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 is in Orange County, Virginia three decades later. The teacher at Fort Christanna was a White man. The other Charles Griffen was a Saponi Indian. He obviously had taken the name of the teacher, or perhaps he was his son byan Indian woman.

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. [72.]

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? When the Catawba met to talk with the Cherokee during the French and Indian War, and they spoke of Saponi, Notewego and Tuscarora, and spoke of these tribes as sending forces to serve during that war, I suspect th trip to Williamsburg is was one of the last government to government trips, perhaps the last, between the Saponi Tribe and the Government of Virginia.

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 mixed 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. [73.]

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 they 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 then implies these families were recognized by the state of North Carolina as the Haliwa Saponi Indians in the latter third of the twentieth century. [74.] This is EXACTLY what they say about the Melungeon families. They say “IF” they are Indians. 

There were no more full bloods by that timeframe, or at least they were few in number.

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 Bearskin, 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, Carter 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, Christopher 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. [75.]

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 North 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 1711, 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.

Becoming the Melungeons
Who are we? I have grown weary and frustrated. So many people say; "If you are Melungeon, you are Turkish . . . or Portuguese, or you descend from a band of escaped East African Slaves . . . or maybe Welshmen, or Atlantian, or Phoenecian, or the ten lost Israeli Tribes -- you are Jewish . . ." They want to say ANYTHING but the truth -- ANYTHING but American Indian So I wanted to create the TRUE history of the Melungeons in the hopes of discovering a certain pride in the heritage

Trouble With Neighbors, 1742
Haithcock and Carlson both spoke about the same thing. Both showed how the Saponi became the the Melungeons, and the children of the Melungeons became the Carmel Indians of Ohio. Both have done excellent research. Here are a few things Dr. Carlson has shared. I thank him for allowing me to share these things.
Excerpts from “Who’s Your People”
Dr. Richard Allen Carlson wrote a PhD dissertation about his family. He, like me, had Indian blood that he couldn’t prove. So in a sense, he and I are on similar quests. He speaks of his family’s Guion Miller Applications being rejected back at the beginning of the 20th century. I have often said some people were rejected from the rolls NOT because they were not Indian, but rather they couId not prove they were Cherokee. That's a big distinction. Our family story says my rgeat grandparents started to fill our the paperwork for a Dawes application, but they got “upset” or “mad” about something – nobody knows why – but they got upset and never signed up out of spite. We can only guess what that was. I also remember hearing mama (German/Scots-Irish) saying about Dad's side of the family, “Oh, those Hawkins! They never forgive anything!” So we have to learn what other families said and wrote, to find out anything. I sincerely would like to thank both Richard Hathcock and Dr. Richard Carlson for helping me learn about some of my ancestors. I hope to quote bits and pieces of this work. Carlson ties the Melungeons to the Saponi Indians. He never mentions they were part “Portuguese”.
On page 6 Carlson says; “Today the Salyersville Indians persists a small but distinct population of people living around the old Michigan and Ohio “muckfields,” parts of Oklahoma and the Kentucky Mountains. Their families came from Appalachia to the ‘muck’, a folk term referring to the vast peat bogs that once dotted the Midwest in the early to mid 1900s in order to find seasonal work in the onion fields that thrive there. For nearly two centuries prior to that time the people’s ancestors had maintained their Indian identity while living in a distinct Indian community deep in the heart of Kentucky’s Appalachia. . . . During that time, a few expatriate Cherokee families attached themselves to the families of a band of Christian Saponi. . . . By the early 1800s, these citizen Indian families left their homes off the New River in the Mountains of the Virginia-North Carolina border region and ultimately formed the Grasy Rock, Stone Mountain, and Salyersville Indian Communities.” Carlson speaks of “refugee Indian families” (p 7-8). He speaks of three Indian populations, I.] Greasy Rock, ii.] Stone Mountain, and iii.] Salyersville, then says “Just prior to the period when the prominent anthropologists, like James Mooney and Frank Speck, were speculating on the identity and fate of ‘Eastern Indian Survivals’, other outside observers were characterizing these three interrelated Indian populations as “Melungeon” and this trend continues to this day No confirmed etymology of this regionally specific label has been developed, but most contend the word stems from the French mélange, meaning “mixed”. . . . [76.]
From Pages 21-22;
Most popular and professional writers still accept the premise, generated in the 1800s, that Melungeon History and heritage – biological and social – is forever lost to contemporary researchers. Such outsiders have thus downplayed the people’s own assertions of being Indians in favor of emphacizing the possibilities of White, Black, Portuguese, Phoenecian, Jewish, Moorish, Turkish, and/or Lost Colony ancestry among them (even though all mention that these potential old world ancestors must have taken up with the Indians to bring forth the present population). . . . A poignant example is apparent in a 1947 Saturday Evening Post article focusing on the Greasy Rock population. Showing a photo of elder Asa Gibson, the author wrote “were his ancestors Welsh warriors, Phoenecians, or Survivors of Roanoke? . . . [Asa] say’s he’s 75 years old and an Indian [76.].”

Saponi Indians at Fort Christanna in 1716
Carlson mentions in 1716, a trip made to Fort Christanna, a place where the Saponi were settled by Gov. Spotswood. The governor visited the fort with a clergyman named Rev. John Fontaine. Fontaine mentioned the fort was located on the Meherren River, and about 200 Sapony Indians resided near the fort. Fontaine says he was surprised that some of them could speak good English.
Carlson then says (p 64); Fontaine spent a considerable amount of time conversing with the instructor of the Sapni Indian school, Rev. Charles Griffin. Frustrated at the repeated denials from the Virginia Council to fund a missionary schoolteacher for the Saponi, Spotswood still personally employed the English Clergyman. Fountaine found Griffin enthusiastically carrying out his mission “to teach the Indian children and bring them to Christianity”. Besides running the Fort’s church, Reverend Griffin’s work among the Saponi involved teaching their children to read the Bible and repeat “common prayers”. He was also teaching broader skills in speaking, reading, and writing English. Fontaine noted he “hath had good success amongst them.” One evening Fontaine attended a common prayer reading and noted that the eight Indian boys participating “answered very well to their prayers and understand what is read.” [77] [78]. . . In 1716 Spotswood was reporting to the Bishop of London on the continued success of the school in operation for the Saponi, but desperately requested more funding. And the governor frequently made trips to the Saponi Reservation and the law officially “directing the Indian Company to take over the fort later in December” was passed. [79], [80] Carlson speaks of several attacks from the Five Nations Indians and others, upon the Saponi and mentions the killing of some Catawba’a, whom it says are allies of the Saponi. He says (p 69) despite the peace made in 1718, the Iroquois attacked again in 1722. [81]

Troubles with Neighboring Tribes
Pages 70 to 95 of Carlson’s Dissertation discuss from about 1718-1728. The author talks about the Indians at Fort Christanna, sayingthat although they went under the name of Saponi, they were a Occoneechi, Stengenocks, Meipotskis, and Tutelo. The author includes the Outaponis as well.

There is a story of an Indian named “Sawney” who had recently returned to Virginia from Canada. He had been captured by the “French Indians”. Somehow he escaped about 1724 and returned to Virginia. Once in Virginia, he was arrested and was accused of threatening the inhabitants with incursions from his former allies, the “French Indians” from Canada. He denied bringing messages to the Saponis. I mention this because I know dad had an uncle named “Uncle Swaney”, so the story of this “Sawney” caught my attention. The similarity of these names is probably just a coincidence, though.

The Northern Indians did continue their attacks in Virginia. Carlson says; “More Virginia settlers were killed by Iroquois in the winter of 1725-1726 . . . the sachems of the Five Nations replied . . . it was some of their warriors operating without authority in conjunction with some French Indians and Tuscaroras who committed the killings.” [82] The sachems of the Iroquois defended their warriors, saying the killing of the Virginians was a mistake, and that they were really after “enemy Indians”. It was recorded that about this time, seven Saponi were killed or captured by some Tuscarora warriors. Other accounts have said seven Catawba warrors were killed. This makes sense when we know the Saponi are Catawba.

In 1727 the Saponi came to the Virginia Assembly in Williamsburg and asked for satisfaction. The Saponi said in the Virginians took no action on the Tuscarora, they would take the matter into their own hands. Virginia did nothing, so the Saponi went to the Catawba and asked them for help.The Catawba did take action. This tells us a lot. The Saponi were weak. The Catawba felt as though they were strong. The Catawba felt an obligation to defent the Saponi. And remember, in all of this, we are not just talking about the Saponi alone, but ALL the northern bands, and others who had gone to Fort Christanna. They all became known collectively as the Saponi.

There was an attack on the Meherrin Indians, who complained to the same Virginia Assembly the Saponis had complained to the pevious year. They blaimed the Occoneechi’s and Saponis. And the Nottaways complained the Meherrins had attacked them. The Saponis with the Catawba attacked the Tuscarora, of King Blount’s Town. North Carolina officials meanwhile, blamed the Catawba as the primary instigator of these feuds, also holding the Saponi and Occoneechi responsible. These tribes were all attacking each other, as they had always done. But their numbers had dwindled to a pitiful few.

Governor Spotswood had retired and was replaced by Governor Gooch, and he was not as friendly towards the Saponi as his predecessor. The Virginians had done nothing to help the Saponi when they asked for help after seven of their men were killed, while the Catawba did come to their aid. To add to this mistrust, three Saponi men were accused of killing two Nottaway’s. Three Saponi chiefs were held in jail until those guilty of the killings were brought forward. The killing of the son of the Tutelo chief also added fuel to the fire. A report came in (page 76) that John Sauna (Sawnie) and a fellow named Ben Harrison (apparently an Indian named after the White trader), went south to bring up one hundred Catawba warriors to protest the incarceration of the three Saponi men . . . the Saponi said that if Captain Tom was hung, they would take their wives and children over the Roanoke, and then return to drive the Whites and Negroes to the James River, and go to war. [83]

The Tutelo king, grieving over the death of his son, threatened the life of the governor, saying then he’d go off to some foreign Indians. The old Tutelo king was ordered to be arrested, but Carlson says he found no evidence that this ever happened. These events are probably the actions taken that inspired the Tutelo to retire north with their enemies, the Six Nations. Acording to Carlson, Byrd stated (p 93) that the executions by the colonists of three Saponi caused the Saponi to remove to the Catawba’s. This too seems to have been the catalyst that led to the Tutelo's decision to leave for the Six Nations forever.

This takes us to the end of 1728, and the end of Carlson’s first chapter. From 1714 to 1728 the Saponis, Tutelos, Occoneechis, and others came together. War with the Iroquois, and pressure from the colonists forced this option upon them. However pressures from the colonists to make them conform to colonial laws also alienated them. They did obtain satisfaction from the Catawba, their allies.

Acording to Carlson, Byrd stated (p 93) that the executions by the colonists of three Saponi caused the Saponi to remove to the Catawba’s.
As a result of the Treaty of Middle Plantatin of 1677, the Saponi were one of several tributary tribes

of Virginia. On page 59, Carlson talks of Virginia Governor Spotswood long desiring to educate the Indians. One clause of that treaty, he 6th, said – [VI.] That no Indian king or queen shall be imprisoned without a special warrant from his majesty’s governor and two of the Council. That no other Indian shall be imprisoned without a warrant from a Justice of the Peace and without sufficient cause of commitment. To the Saponi it might have seemed that the English had violated tis provision of the treaty in their treatment of the Tutelo king.

On page 52, Carlson speaks of the Saponi, mentioning how in 1732, William Byrd III spoke of the Indians at Fort Fort Christanna, saying they were really a consolidation of several tribes; and “each of these was formerly a distinct Nation, or rather several clans or canton’s of the same Nation, speaking the same language, and using the same Customs.”

There are some interesting comments about the Indians way of life. First is the mention of corn. Carlson is paraphrasing Byrd. When talking of the colonists he calls “borderers, meaning the people that lived on the Virginia/North Carolina border (P. 82), Byrd also decries the “borderers” means of economy and subsistence; especially in North Carolina where he contemptuously stated they raised Indian corn instead of tobacco and fruit orchards which he blamed on laziness. Indian corn, he noted; “. . . is of so great increase that a little pains will subsist a very large family with bread . . .”

Concerning sex between races, Carlson again turns to Byrd, saying; Byrd and a few other ex-traders of the survey team would make a side trip into Virginia in hopes of finding some “entertainment” in the Nottaway Indian Town. The entertainment the surveyers sought out among the Nottaway turns out to have been sexual in nature. After mentioning two “pretty English women,” the narrative continues; . . . we could find it in our hearts to change these fair beauties for the copper coloured ones of Nottaway Town.” Continuing to quote Byrd, Carlson writes of him; He wrote in that evenings journal entry that the Nottaway “offered us no bed fellows, according to the good Indian fashion, which we had reason to take unkindly.” Please know that everything about American Indian culture that we have a record of, is seen from the point of view of the English. Had the American Indians written these things down from their perspectives, we might have an entirely different view of those times.

Continuing on this theme, Carlson writes (P. 85), still quoting Byrd, “. . .one way of converting these poor infidels, and reclaiming them from barbarity and that is, charitably intermarry with them according with the modern policy of the most Christian King in Canada and Louisiana.” He continues saying that had the English done as the French, the country would be swarming with more people than it has insects, and . . . even their copper coloured complexion would admit of bleaching, if not in the first, at the farthest in the second generation . . . it is strange, therefore, that any good Christian should have refused a wholesome, straight bed-fellow, when he might have so fair a portion with her, as the merit of saving her soul. [84] This type of talk would lead to the term Melungeon later on, which in french, means “we mix”.

Byrd had a Saponi guide, Ned Bearskin. It was said this was his hunting name. Ned it was said, was a great hunter and kept them fed. It was said that Ned spoke English very well. Mention was made of seeing the smoke of Northern Indians, enemies of the Eastern Siouan Indians, as they were “firing the woods”, as was the Indian custom.

This takes us to the next section of chapter two, the Saponi Diaspora, 1728-1743.

The Saponi Boomerang the Catawba, 1729-1738
I'm using “boomerang” as a verb meaning the Saponi went to live with the Catawba, then returned back near Fort Christanna.

(P. 91) Speaking of March 1729, Carlson writes; “. . .most of the Saponi were still at Christanna in June, although some families had already left to join the Catawba and/or other Tutelo now living far from the Christanna reservation.” One of the main reasons that the Saponi left Christanna was the hanging of a Saponi elder. A drunken Saponi leader had earlier killed an Englishman. (P. 93). Carlson states “. . . the Sapony’s took this so much to heart, that soon after quitted their settlement and moved in a body to the Cataubas.[85.]

By late in the summer of 1729, the Saponi and confederated bands and families that remained with them finally departed the Christanna Reservation. This abandonment of the Reservation would begin a diaspora of the people that once resided there. Comments later made by John Mitchell in 1755 stated that, in 1729, both the Saponi and the Tutelo “had removed further South upon the heads of the Pee Dee”at the Northern end of what was known as Catawba Territory. Byrd also noted that the Saponi removed to Catawba Territory that year. He explained that this people is now made up of the remnant of several other nations, of which the most considerable are the Saponey’s, Occoneechi’s, and the Steukenhocks [NOTE: many consider this tribe to be the Eno – the “cks” ending is of Algonquin origin, but remember the early Virginian exployers often used “Algonquin” guides], who not finding themselves separately numerous enough for their defence, have agreed to unite into one body, and all of them now go under the name of the Sappony. . . A French map published late in 1729 reveals that one faction labeled labeled the “Sapon Nahisan”had removed far west from the extent of settlement far up on the headwaters of the Roanoke River. [233, 234]

Speaking of the Tutelo, (P. 94) Carlson says they wondered up and down the Appalachians until1740 they joined their old enemies, the Iroquois. In 1730 (P. 95) the Catawba and Saponi living with them, asked to make a treaty with Virginia. Nothing came of it. In 1732, Byrd, speaking of the Catawba, said “their population of more than 400 fighting men was spread through six towns on the Santee River in Carolina along a 20 mile stretch.”[240, 241]

Since the Saponi had abandoned their homes at Fort Christanna, the state of Virginia assumes they have abandoned it. By the winder of 1730, the Virginia Council decided to sell off the reservation. Carlson finds only one reference to the Saponi found in the Carolinas on Catawba lands. He speaks of the Tuscarora harassing a small band of Settlement Indians.

By 1732 (P. 96) the Saponi living with the Catawba decided to leave them. The Saponi Indians asked the state of Virginia if they could return, and also asked if the Sara (Saura/Cheraw) [247] could come with them. The Virginians agreed to this, and promised them an equal amount of land that they had lost at Christanna, so long as it was not settled, either on the Roanoke or Appamatox Rivers. They built a fort near their old haunts, near Fort Christanna. Carlson goes on to say there was immediately tension as before, between the Saponi and the Nottaway. The Tuscarora, the Nottaway, and the Five Nations (Iroquois) continually attacked the Saponi. Eventually the Virginians, sided with the Saponi, and eventually local militias in Virginia helped subside the tensions between rival groups. Even King Blunt of the Tuscarora, attempting to mediate an end to the war, asked the Saponi to join him. There is no record of a response from the Saponi. It appears the Saponi abandoned their fort in Brunswick County, and are not found again in historic documents (by Carlson) until 1735. Two bands of the Saponi and Tutelo are found in the Mountains of North Carolina. Carlson says (Pp. 99-100); “One era map also shows that a band of the Occoneechi had split off from the main body of the Saponi, and by 1733 were living off the trading path where it crossed the Eno or the Flatt River in North Carolina. Bricknells 1737 publication reported that in the year 1735 and/or 36, the band of Saponi closely associated with the Catawba was located on the Clarendon River (in the west branch of the Cape Fear River) in North Carolina. This Sapona Village was some five to six days ‘over the mountains’ far removed from colonial settlements. Bricknell also mentions that the ‘Totera’ then had a village somewhere nearby this Saponi town, although deeper into the mountains. Of the people of these two villages, Bricknell wrote that they usually do not ‘make visits amongst us except to be their traders who bring us their skins and furs.’

Carlson continues on the documentary trail of the Saponi. The next reference Carlson discovers is in 1737, where there is areference to ‘Saponi cabins” that appear to still be inhabited, in Amelia County, Virginia. This Saponi community was located on a branch of Winningham Creek, a tributary of the Appomattox River. This was near a former trading post run by Colonel John Bolling. Carlson states that although there is no longer a trading post in the area, the Bolling family was still in the area. He states that both Bolling and the Saponi were friends of Colonel Mumford. Recall that earlier the Saponi were offered lands near this area, but there is no record, according to Carlson, of them receiving the lands.

Map 22. Movements of the Saponi in the 1720s and 1730s
I have tried to approximate the movements of the Saponi based on what Carlson wrote. I know there are errors on these “home-made” maps, but this is just an approximation. I'll try to make corrections, but in the meantime this is close. While the catawba's and other Carolina Indians remain in one place, the Virginia Siouan peoples are continually moving all over the place. The lands the Virginians had given them, Fort Chritanna, were taken away from them. They had just left the Catawba and would be embarrased to simply return. They were seeking for a place to call home.

It is here (p. 101) that Carlson starts referring to the “Christian Band” of the Saponi. Carlson’s next reference – “By 1738, a Christian Band of the Saponi had established a new village a little further north on the personal lands of the now ex-Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, who had retired upon his plantation in neighboring Spotsylvania County. Apparently the band had gained permission from him to reside on Fox’s Neck of the Rapidan River in Orange County, not far from old Fort Germanna.[266] This Christian Band of the Saponi would be able to maintain residence here for some time in the company of their old benefactor. To put this all in proper perspective, Governor Soptswood built his plantation next to the old Germanna Settlement. The old Germanna Settlement was built on the location not far from where an old Monacan village had stood only fourty years previously. Since the Indians had left, settlers had moved in. Both the Monacan and Saponi had signed the Treaty of 1677. It appeared that Governor Spotswood was aware of treaty agreements with the Saponi. But perhaps the next governor, Gov. Gooch, was not. The Indians had become again what they once were, before moving to Fort Christanna. However things could never be the same. Some, perhaps all of them spoke English. Those to become “Melungeons” were first called “Christian Indians” and “Citizen Indians”. At the same time the English Governors of the 1730s started ignoring their own treaty of 1677, it was so long ago, a half a century.

“From 1738 on, the Orange County Court records mention various petitions from Alexander Maurchtoon, John Sauna, John Collins, John Bowling, and others, all of whom are described there specifically as “Christian Saponey Indians.”[86]

Carlson notes one change. Whereas the Saponi had been considered “Tributary Indians” before they left Fort Christanna, this distinction no longer applied afterwards. He says pp. 101-102, with respect to these Christian Saponi;” [87] . . . these Saponi were no longer treated as members of a Tributary Nation but more fully as “Citizen Indians” by the Virginians. There were to be consequences to this. After the death of their old advocate, ex-Governor Alexander Spotswood in 1740, complaints against Christian Saponi began being forwarded to county authorities by local settlers.

In 1740 a local farmer named William Bohannon complained that ’26 of the Indians who inhabit Fox’s Neck were firing the woods’. He also accused them of killing some of his free ranging pigs.” He said he had “lost more pigs than usual since the coming of the Indians.” He says the Indians were being called into court, and were being accused of “doing mischief”. The following year Bohannon came again to Orange County officials complaining that he thought the Indians had shot at him.

Then Carlson adds, “The bands troubles would climax in the winter of 1743 when a number of Saponi men had their guns seized and found themselves arrested. The Saponi men named John Collins, Alex Machartion, John Bowling, Craft Tom, Blind Tom, Foolish Jack, Charles Griffen, Little Jack, Isaac and Harvey were taken before the Orange County court for trial ‘by precept under the hands and seals of William Russell and Ed Spencer, gentleman’, under the charges of stealing hogs, burning the woods, and terrifying one Lawrence Strothers. Strothers had even claimed that he was shot at and chased by the Saponi in the backwoods. The Saponi men were ordered held in jail until bonded, after which they were ordered to leave the county. Interestingly, several White men sympathetic to the Saponi predicament, ‘went security on their bail bonds,’ after which they were released and openly declared their intentions to depart the county within a week, at which time their guns would be returned.”[268, 269, 270]

The Saponi and their Relations; Crisis to Crisis, and Back Again, p 41.
Following the identity of the Saponi from documents recorded before this 1743 incident, it becomes clear that this band was previously a part of the composite Indian community that, some twenty-five years earlier, had flourished at Fort Christanna Reservation down on the Meherrin River. . . . The Christian Band of the Saponi were also living legacy of the Saponi signers of the infamous Treaty of Middle Plantation of 1677.

(p 52) In 1732 William Byrd III recalled the configuration of these Siouan tribes consolidating at the Fort Christanna Reservation. He described how “. . . each of these was formerly a distinct Nation, or rather several clans or canton’s of the same Nation, speaking the same language, and using the same customs.”

Starting p. 59, Carlson says; Governor Spotswood had long proposed to educate Indians in their own towns . . . The governor argued elsewhere that, by educating the Indians in their own villages, Virginia could go far to “banage [sic] savage customs in a generation or two” among the tribes where they could be made more “. . . useful as neighbors” . . . As Spotswood perceived it, the Colony’s military and economic interests directly related to his long-standing conviction of wanting to “Christianize and civilize the Tributarys” [88].The Indians living in the colony of Virginia were called in those days “tributary” Indians.

Carlson continues, “Late in the summer of 1743, Governor Gooch of Virginia reported that the Saponies and other petty nations associated with them had left Virginia and were again residing in the Carolinas with the Catawba.” Carlson reports that while some Saponi would forever remain with the Catawba, this Christian Band of Saponi would separate from them. He speaks of three Saponi bands that he describes as the Tutelo-Saponi, the Catawba Saponi, and this Christian Band of the Saponi. He will eventually link this Christian band with those later termed “Melungeons”.

The “Christian Band” of the Saponi, according to Carlson, had its start at Fort Christanna. Most of the Saponi were not responsive to the efforts on the behalf of Governor Spotswood’s school for the Saponi. A part of that education was an attempt to turn the heathen into Christians. But it appears that the school master, Griffin, had an effect on a few of the Indians, and they must have converted to Christianity. Carlson asks us to recall an incident he described in 1728. He had, p. 102, mentioned a record where “certain Saponi’s” informed the Virginians that the Tutelo chief and other Saponi were considering taking the colonists to war with the aid of the Catawba. They wanted vengeance over the hangings of three Saponi by the colonists. Were these informants the Christian Saponi? We will never know.

Carlson speaks of the two other bands, one that went to live with the Catawba, and a second, later called the Tutelo, who went north to live with Six Nations. This third band went to live in the vicinity of ex-Governor Spotwood, at a place called Fox Neck. Carlson says “The Orange County records also confirm that no interpreter was ever required in dealing with the Christian band when they found themselves in court. It also shows that the old policy observed by Reverand Fontaine at Fort Christanna less than three decades earlier, was no longer in force amongst the Christian Saponi.”Fontaine had maintained that the Saponi required interpreters, and their elders always spoke in their own language even if they could speak English, in their dealings with colonial officials. Carlson continues,“ the Christian Band of the Saponi had established an identity distinct and separate from the Catawba Saponi or the Tutelo-Saponi refugees to the Iroquois country from at least 1738 onward.” Carlson states that from the late 1730s until the Revolutionary War, that only those families associated with the Orange County Saponi are referred to in the records as “Christian Saponi”.

Orange County records from 1738-1743 refer to several Saponi living in the area. They include Alex Machartion, John Collins, John Bowling, Charles Griffen, and other “Christian Indians.” The following names are also mentioned – Manincassa, Foolish Jack, Little Jack, Isaac, Harry, Captain Tom and Blind Tom. Charles Griffen appears to have taken his name from Rev. Griffin, a former school teacher at the Fort Christanna school. Captain Joseph Collins negotiated the release of Sauna from the “French Indians” in 1722. Carlson speculated the Machartion surname might have evolved into McCarty and McCarta surnames associated with the Collinses n the next century. Carlson speculates p 107, “evidence available from written records made subsequent to 1743, it is quite possible to surmise that John Collins is the son of “Captain Tom”, for an elder named Tom Collins is shown living with John and the rest of the Christian Saponi in the years immediately following their expulsion from Orange County. If this is so, one might further speculate that Blind Tom is Tom’s father.” Carlson suspects the Bowling surname came amongst the Christian Band of the Saponi in the 1730s while living in Amelia County. The well known Powhattan mixed-blood family had for generations operated a trading house at the Falls of the Appomattox.

Per Carlton, “Exactly when and how the treaty obligations stemming from the 1677 and subsequent agreements with the Saponi were abolished, ignored or forgotten by Virginia authorities is not known. After 1733 no mention of the colony recognizing any treaty obligations to the Saponi appears in Virginia records. Regardless, by at least 1738, the Christian Saponi were being treated as Individual Citizen Indians as opposed to the political entity of ‘Tributary Indians’.

Carlton says . . . in 1743 the Christian Saponi went south to live near Catawba lands, however by in 1745 they were back in Virginia, in Louisa County, near to their former lands in Orange County (p 111), in the mountains south of Rapidan Station. The Christian Saponi would reside in the area for some time and would be noted as “Nassayn” (Saponi for ‘the People’) on 1749-1750 era maps. Names listed living in this area are Sam and William Collins, along men named George and Thomas Gibson, Sam Bunch, Ben Branham, and a few others were charged with by Louisa County court of ‘concealing tithables’. . . . On page 112, “The likely source for the charge . . . was Virginia law that stipulated that, in addition to all adult males, all Indian, Negro and Mulatto women over 16 years of age were also tithable, unlike white women of the same age. . .The Christian Saponi may have felt they should be free from taxation as rightful heirs of the Tributary Nation. But as far as the Virginia government was concerned, ‘tributary status no longer applied. This being the case, they would now have to be subject to the Virginia Act of May 1723. The act stipulated that ‘all free Negroes, mulattos, Indians, (except tributary Indians to this government) male and female, above 16 years, and all wives of such Negroes, mulattos, or Indians (except Indians tributary to this government) shall be accounted tithable. . . . Social and economic barriers based on race labels would become a greater concern for these Christian Indians now that they had lost their political status as tributary Indians.

Please recall the 1750 and 1756 maps from earlier. The 1750 map has “Nausie” and the 1756 map has a “Nassaw.” Are these the “Nassayn”? In fact the deerskin map rom 1725 drawn by the Catawba themselves has “Nassaw”. If you drop the “N” sound you have “Assaw” which is very similar to 'Esaw” or “Yesaw”. These things all show a similar origin between the Saponi and the Catawba.

We have followed the documentation of the Saponi Indians from 1729-1743. The presense amongst them of a "Charley Griffen" ties them back to old Fort Christanna, and the teacher Reverend Charles Griffin. Once they left Christanna, they lived for a time with the Catawba, and for a time with former Governor Spotswood. They wondered in search of new homes, with tribal unity disappearing, as a few remote families are gradually being absorbed into the frontier lifestyles of their white neighbors. In 1743 families again started to return to the Catawba. They simply didn't know where to go or what to do. The next section covers the timeframe when these Christian Saponi Indians became known more commonly as "Melungeons."

Treaty of Lancaster 1744
I must also mention the Lancaster Treaty of 1742. It was signed between the Six Nations and the English settlers: http://jeffersonswest.unl.edu/archive/view_doc.php?id=jef.00083. A part of that treaty that mentions Virginia is below;

July 2, 1744
To all people to whom these presents shall come Conasatugo, Tachanoontia, Joneehat, Caxhayion, Torachdadon, Neerohanyah, and Roiirrawarkto, Sachims or Chiefs of ye Nation of the Onondagoes, Saquihsonyunt, Gashraddodon, Hurasaly-akon, Rowamhohiso, Ocoghquah, Seayenties, Sachims or Chiefs of ye nation of ye Cahugas, Cwadamy alies Shirketiney, Onishudagua, Onothkallydaroy, alias Watsatuha, Toshashwaroiororow, Anighosharvand Tiorkaasoy, Sachims or Chiefs of ye nation of the Senekers send greeting.

Whereas the Six United Nations of Indians laying claim to some lands in the colony of Virginia signified their willingness to enter into a treaty concerning the Same-- Whereupon Thomas Lee, Esq., a Member in Ordinary of his Majesty's honourable Council of State and one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Judicature in that Colony and William Beverly, Esq., Colonel and County Lieutenant of the County of Orange and one of the representatives of the people in the House of Burgesses of that Colony were deputed by the Governor of the said Colony as Commissioners to treat with the said Six Nations or their Deputies Sachims or Chiefs, as well of and concerning their said Claim, as to renew their Covenant Chain between the said Colony and the said Six Nations, and the said Commisioners having met at Lancaster in Lancaster County and province of Pennsylvania and as afoundation for a stricter Amity and peace at this juncture, agreed with the said Sachims or Chiefs of the said Six Nations for a Disclaimer and Renunciation of all their Claim or pretence of Right whatsoever of the said six nations and an acknowledgement of the Right of our Sovereign the King of Great Britain to all the Land in the said Colony of Virginia.

Now know ye that for and in consideration of the Sum of four hundred pounds Current money of Pennsylvania, paid and delivered to the above named Sachims or Chiefs partly in Goods & partly in Gold Money by the said Commissioners, they the said Sachims or Chiefs on behalf of the said Six Nations Do hereby renounce and disclaim not only all the Right of the said Six Nations but also recognize and acknowledge the Right and Title of our Sovereign the King of Great Britain to all the Land within the said the said Colony as it is now or hereafter may be peopled and bounded by his said Majesty our Sovereign Lord the King his Heirs and on behalf of the people of the Six Nations aforesaid have hereunto set their hands & Seals this Second day of July in the 18th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second King of Great Britain and in the year of our Lord 1744

Signed by all the people names Chiefs Signed Seald and Delivered in the presence of EDM'D JENNINGS. At a General Court held at the Capitol Oct. 25th, 1744, This Deed Poll was proved by ye Oaths of Edm'd Jennings, Esq., Phillip Ludwell, Esq. and Wlliam Black, three witnesses thereto and by the Court ordered to be recorded.

The important part, as far as the Catawba abd Associated Bands are concerned, is that the Six Nations renounce their claims to the lands on which the Catawba and bands associated with them, live. However by this time the Catawba and Associated Bands had almost vanished from history. This treaty did, however, end Six Nation excursions southward to attack the Catawba.

From Saponi to Melungeon, Part 1
This section will cover the movements of these families From Louisa Co., Va to Flatt River, NC, to the New River, and on to Scott Co, Va and from there to Hancock Co., Tn. At the beginning of this migration they were still called Saponi Indians. By its end, they became known as Melungeons.

The 1745 document concerning unclaimed tithables living in the households is the first document that included the Bunch and Gibson surnames. The Bunch surname later appears in Catawba records. Both Bunch and Gibson were prominent surnames in Louisa nad Orange Counties in Virginia in the 19th century. According to Carlson, per oral tradition about these families during the next century would claim these White families were Portuguese or Spanish, but no corroborating evidence has ever surfaced (p. 113). Carlson discovered at least one marriage between the Saponi Collinses and the White Gibson’s by 1739. [89] By 1747, Thomas Collins obtained some land in Louisa County, Virginia. Gilbert Gibson’s land was adjacent to Collins’ place. Carlson believes Thomas Gibson and Gilbert Gibson are closely related. This is the same Thomas accused of concealing tithables in 1745 in Louisa County. Since there is a Thomas Gibson, with a wife named “Mary” and a daughter named “Cusiah”, or “Kezziah”, and my Nevil Wayland married a “Kezziah” who would have been born about the same time as Thomas' daughter. I have been told Thomas' daughter, Cusiah – was wife to Nevil Wayland. I descend from Nevil's son named William. Therefore I want to learn more about this “Thomas” Gibson. On p. 114, Carlson says; Several of these Indian families remained in Louisa County, upstream on the Anna River down Turkey Creek on the Virginia frontier, as it was situated at that time, between the James and the South Anna. During the 1750's, one map would continue to label them as “Nassaw Indians” [90]. Other families moved to the Flatt River in North Carolina. In 1750 they were in Granville County, North Carolina.

Since I am interested in Tom Gibson, here is what Carlson says pertaining to him and the migration of these Saponi (p. 115); “later in 1751, Tom Gibson received a noticeably large grant from the prominent ‘Earl of Glanville’ of 640 acres on the Flatt River adjoining John Collins . . . the Christian Saponi’s choice of resettling at Flatt River must be more that in interesting coincidence . . . documents produced during the decade would show that these had settled among or immediately adjoining the remaining band of Occoneechi Indians who had removed here somewhere around 1732. Carlson paraphrasing Ramsey, saying; “up until the late 1750s, John Eaton, Ephraim Osborne, William Harrison and other colonists using the Trading Ford as a place to trade with the Saponi, Cherokees, and Catawba. . . .” Carlson adds; “Mitchell’s map also identifies the Aconeechy living on Flatt River. Bowen’s 1752 map also shows the ancient title of Occoneechi was being applied towards the Indians living at the junction of the Flatt and Little River [Note: in the 1750s & 60s my Nathaniel Gist lived along the Little River, before moving up to southwestern Virginia about 1770] where the trading Path crosses them. Mitchell’s well known 1754-1755 map of North America then adds to the complexity of the picture. He shows one band of the Occoneechi where Bowen did three years prior at the mouth of the Flatt exactly where the Christian Saponi from Virginia settled in 1750. But Mitchell also shows yet another Aconeechy Town [91] a dozen miles upstream at the headwaters of the Flatt. . . .

(p. 116) The cartographic division of the Occoneechi bands on the Flatt from one village in 1752 to two in 1755, coincides perfectly with the immigration of the Christian Saponi families from Virginia to the area. . . . following a sickness epidemic and a series of attacks on the Catawba Towns to the southwest in 1753, which prompted a portion of the Catawba Saponi band to temporarily move into this part of North Carolina. Primary documents cited by Tilley show that from 1753-1758 this band of about 30 Saponi were living just North of the Flatt River in Granville County. Their location was reported to be on the lands of William Eaton, and is thought by one local historian to be those lands Eaton held just north of present day Henderson. . . unlike the Christian Saponi, these Saponi still required an interpreter . . . William Eaton filled this position . . . the Christian Saponi had not used an interpreter for more than fifteen years. Carlson continues; . . . Granville County authorities reported that about ’12 or 14 Sapona men and as many women and children’ were living among William Eaton’s regiment in Glanville County in 1753-1754, and these Saponi had newly come up from Cheraw (Sara) Town in the Catawba Nation. . . . In a 1755 document citing figures used by the governor, Moravian Bishop A. Spangenburg claimed that 28 Saponi had recently moved to Granville County from Virginia. Because Granville County embraced Orange County just prior to that Bishop’s publication, it is clear that the Bishop was referring to the Christian Band of Saponi …
Map 23. Movements of the Christian Saponi, 1738-1755

More exerpts and paraphrasing of Carlson’s dissertation starting on page 119
Carlson begins; “From 1750 to the Revolution, the Christian Saponni families remained split between the Louisa County mountains in Virginia and the more distinct Flatt River Community down in North Carolina”.He says other mixed race families joined there on Flatt River – the Sizemore’s and the Ridley’s, or Riddle’s. After the proclamation of 1763, he speaks of the Flatt River Indians moving again, further west in North Carolina and Virginia.

Forest Hazel mentions some of these Indians. Forest is another of those researchers I have great respect for. He says;

By 1754, at least one group of 30-40 Saponi had traveled to North Carolina and settled on the lands of William Eaton, where they were enumerated in the Colonial Records of North Carolina (Saunders 1968). These Saponi have allegedly been ancestral to several Indian groups presently living in North Carolina, although since none of their names are given, it is difficult to make the claim with any degree of certainty. However, it is known from oral tradition that an Indian named Sam Parker moved to the Texas community from the Vance-Granville county area prior to the Civil War. In 1752, a Thomas Parker was granted land on Tabb's Creek adjoining lands of William Eaton and William Chavis, another individual who seems to have been of partial Indian ancestry. There are still Parkers of Indian descent living in that area near the town of Kittrell. It is also noteworthy that William Chavis, who owned the land near the Saponi settlement in old Granville County, also owned land in what is now Alamance County. The Orange County deed books show that on August 27, 1768, William Chavis "of the County of Granville" sold to Joseph Pritchit some 320 acres on both sides of the Haw River, "it being part of a tract of land granted to the said Wm. Chavis by deed from Wm. Kinchen bearing the date the __ day of December 1751" (Orange County Register of Deeds 1790). It may have been entirely coincidental that Chavis owned land near where the Saponi would resettle 20 years later, or perhaps there were Indian families living on or near Chavis's land in Alamance County as well as in Granville County. The Chavis name is still predominant among the Meherrin Indians of Hertford County and the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County.

At the same time these Saponi were living in North Carolina, there was at least one other group living in Virginia. In 1757, the Virginia governor at Williamsburg received a delegation of Indians including "King Blunt and the thirty-three Tuscaroras, seven Meherrins, two Saponies and thirteen Nottoways" (Hillman 1966). Well, here is that citation Mr. Haithcock mentioned. During the French and Indian War some Tuscarora, Nottaway, Meherrin, AND Saponies visited with the Governor of Virginia. The Tuscarora had a “King Blunt” back in 1713, so this must be his son.This indicates that the Saponi were still in existence. Since only the “King” of the Tuscarora were mentioned, one could surmise that he was probably the war leader of this bunch. I suspect over time, a few came and went and the numbers of each of these tribes rose and fell. Part way through the war there may have been 5 or 10 Saponi at some point. It seems likely that they were still in the Brunswick-Greenville county areas of Virginia. It was just before this time that certain individuals who were ancestral to families in the Texas community began to receive patents of land, primarily in the area around Emporia, Virginia. Joseph Hathcock was one of these early grantees, receiving 200 acres in 1732. Other landowners near him bore names such as Jeffries, Whitmore, Burnette, and Stewart, which figure in the history of the Texas families.

At this point, it should be noted that there is some evidence that the area of Alamance and Orange counties may still have had a few settlements of Indians who never left the region, and who consolidated with the Saponi to form the Texas settlement after the Revolutionary War. Various tax lists for Orange County in the 1750s include several families of so-called mulattos bearing the surnames Bunch, Gibson, and Collins. Jeramiah and Henry Bunch received land grants in the area, near the Eno River. The term "mulatto" had a somewhat different meaning in the 1700s; rather than defining simply a black-white mixture, the term was used to classify a wide variety of mixed-blood peoples, so the Bunches and others could easily have been mixed-blood Indians and not Africans (Forbes 1988). It is obvious that when Southern Indians ceased living in what the local non-Indians perceived to be an "Indian" manner, they were relegated to the larger "free colored" class. The situation of the Nottoway and Ginkaskin in Virginia, or the Machapunga in North Carolina, are clear examples of what happened to these remnant Saponi-Occaneechi and other groups like the Meherrin and Chickahominy. This is not to say, however, that the Indians ceased to think of themselves as Indians, or that all the traditional ways were lost. It was simply the perception of their neighbors that changed. Some of the Gibsons later moved to Macon County in western North Carolina where their descendants had the reputation of being of Indian ancestry. Macon County settlement will be discussed at greater length later. Other Bunches, Gibsons, and Collinses appear to have moved west, arriving in eastern Tennessee by way of Ashe County, North Carolina, and formed the nucleus for the so-called Melungeon settlement in the vicinity of Hancock County, Tennessee (Price 1950:130).

In 1756, the Moravians near present Winston-Salem reported that they received a visit of "Cherokees from the fort near Haw River." Haw River was approximately where it exists today, in Alamance County and far from any known Cherokee settlements (Fries 1922:165). What is more likely is that the Indians were Sissipahau, or a group related to the Occaneechi Town Indians, who were living in a palisaded village similar to that which was used at Occaneechi Town. To the settlers, it would certainly look like a fort. The reference, if taken at face value, indicates: [92.] that there were Indians living in the Alamance County area in 1756, years after they were supposed to have vanished; and [93.] they were living in a more or less traditional manner. The oral tradition of various white families in the area support this. These traditions say that there was an Indian settlement nearby when the town of Graham was first settled, and that along Piney Branch in the southern part of the county the settlers found "Indian Tee-pee wigwams" along the creek, again indicating some type of traditional dwelling. Archaeological remains in the Pleasant Grove area indicate widespread habitation over a long period of time. Although no confirmed Contact period sites have been located here, the state archaeological site files include at least one Late Woodland period site in close proximity to an abandoned graveyard that dates to the early 1800s and was once used by the Corn and Jeffries families.

However I prefer another possibility. Remember the date – 1756! This is the timefraame of the French and Indian War. Maybe this was the unit made up of Tuscarora, Nottaway, Saponi and Meherrin.

The next reference to the Saponi as a distinct tribe in the area of interest is from the official papers of Lt. Governor Francis Fauquier of Virginia. In 1763, he wrote to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantation Affairs in response to various queries about affairs in the colony. Referring to Indians in Virginia, he states "There are some of the Nottoways, Meherrins, Tuscaroras, and Saponys, who tho' they live in peace in the midst of us, lead in great measure the lives of wild Indians". Once again, the indication is that the Saponi retained many of their Indian customs and certainly their Indian identity. Fauquier contrasts them with the Pamunkey and Eastern Shore Indians (probably the Ginkaskin), whom he says follow the customs of the common planters and wear non-Indian clothing. The location of the Saponi settlement(s) is again not revealed. But notice he mentions the same four tribes as the ones who represented the English in the French and Indian War.

Up to the Time of the Revolution
What appears to be the next to last official reference to the Saponi as a distinct tribe in the South is in 1764 when, according to a report from the Indian superintendent of the South, the Sapony and the Nottoway combined had "60 gunmen" (American Historical Review 1915). This report, although short and lacking in specifics, is an interesting basis for speculation. It may be inferred from the reference that the Saponi "gunmen" were still a noteworthy military force in the eyes of the superintendent and had adopted the use of firearms (as opposed to earlier references to Indian "bowmen"). It may also be inferred that they were living in proximity to the Nottoway. It is known that the Nottoway were living in what is now Southampton County, Virginia, near the present-day town of Courtland. The Saponi settlement appears to have been in neighboring Greensville County, south of Emporia, Virginia. It is also unknown how many of the "60 gunmen" were Nottoway and how many were Saponi. At least 5-10 must have been Saponi for them to have been listed separately, but there may have been as many as 15-20 of the 60 who were Saponi. If a ratio of 1:4 is used to represent the number of adult males to other family members, this suggests that 50-100 Saponi were living in Virginia in 1764. Added to the 28+ Saponi who were living on Col. Eaton's land in Granville County, North Carolina in 1754, this would suggest that there were at least 125-150 Saponi shortly before the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It is known that some of the Nottoway fought in the Revolution; consequently, it would not be surprising for Saponi men like William Guy and Simon Jeffries to have also served with the colonial forces. We will have more about the descendents of William Guy and Simon Jeffries later

A final reference to the Saponi in Virginia during the pre-Revolutionary War era can be found in James Adair's History of the American Indians, published in 1775. Adair remarks that "In Virginia, resides the remnant of an Indian tribe, who call themselves Sepóne" (Williams 1930:67). While it is uncertain whether this statement was still true by the time Adair's book was published, it certainly supports the idea that the Saponi were recognized as a distinct group well into the mid-eighteenth century.

From the above discussion, it is clear that not all the Saponi died off or removed to the Catawba or the Iroquois. Fifty years after they were commonly thought to have vanished, the Saponi presumably were still living along the North Carolina-Virginia border, retaining many of their traditional ways. At the same time the official records speak of the Saponi sending delegates to the governor at Williamsburg (1757), a large community of nonwhite persons, claiming to be Indian, was developing in south-central Greensville County, Virginia. Early family names were Jeffries, Guy, Watkins, Haithcock, Steward, and Whitmore, all families which moved to what would become the Texas community around the time of the Revolutionary War. Several of these community members fought in the Revolution; Robert Brooks Corn, William Guy (see descendants), Simon Jeffries, Britton Jones, John Jeffries, and Charles Whitmore are all Revolutionary War veterans from Greensville County who were classed as "Free Persons of Color." Marriage, land, and other official records from the area show a relationship between members of these families. For example, when Delila Jeffries, widow of John, filed for money due her as a pensioner's widow in 1855, Charles Whitmore and Drewry Jeffries (see descendant) both gave evidence supporting her claim. In 1818 (after the community moved to Alamance County), Jacob Jeffries's will, on file in the North Carolina Archives, was witnessed by David Haithcock, and one of his daughters was married to a Guy. There are numerous examples of these associations, exactly what might be expected from a group of people of the same background. The tendency toward endogamous marriage is one that has continued up until the last generation or so, and even now the preference is for marriage with a partner of similar background.

Carlson mentions Tom Gibson again, saying he obtained more land, bordering lands obtained by Tom Collins and George Gibson, and an Indian man named Moses Ridley/Riddle. [94.] Carlson reveals (p. 120); “Documents such as tax records reveal that, in the first few years on the Flatt River, the people of the Christian Saponi Band were enumerated as “White tithables”. [95.] Soon after Orange County was formed from Granville in 1753, new county officials chose to count the citizen Indians . . . as Molatas . . . Virginia and North Carolina law stipulated that individuals of half Indian and half White heritage to be labeled ‘mulatto’, while individuals less that half Indian could be deemed ‘White’.
[96.] In Virginia, any person that was of 1/16th African heritage or more was to be recorded as ‘mulatto’, regardless of the character of the remainder of their blood quantum.

The author talks about a Sizemore man being recorded as a ‘mulatta’. Then the author gets interesting, as far as I am concerned. He says; . . .three years prior [meaning abt 1750] Ephriam [Sizemore], George Sizemore, and William Joiner were counted among ‘an old Indian man’s list’ of Indian and/or mixed blood families living at the time in Lunenburg County, Virginia. [97]. . . one may surmise that these men were counted as ‘citizen-Indians’ at that time, and no tribal identification was shown.” The above information got my attention because of the Joiner surname. A century later, a Thomas Joiner married a half-sister of my direct ancestor. In Bedford County, Tn, related Joyner’s were listed as “mu” on census records, meaning ‘mulotto’. One of these Joiner’s applied to the Cherokee Freedmen’s Rolls, claiming to be a tri-racial grandson of John Brown, the 1/8th
Cherokee who operated a Ferry Crossing at “the Suck”, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He claimed his father was part Creek and his mother, the daughter of John Brown and a slave woman. But hearing the story of mulatto Joiner's a hundred years earlier, well it makes me wonder.

Throughout the Seven Years War, the Catawba and their allies were courted. But the Flatt River Indians, per Carlson (p. 128), were also being treated poorly, with several lawsuits against them. By about 1770, many of them had started to return to Virginia. Carlson says, “By 1770, most of the Flatt River Indians had removed back to the mountains of Virginia. It appears debts, stricter hunting and taxation laws, in combination with the passing of the infamous Proclomation of 1763 and a growing non-Indian population around Flatt River, would all be factors that played a role in prompting this move.”[338,339]

The Proclomation Line of 1763
At the end of the French and Indian War Brittish gained French territory in America, mostly in Quebec. The King of England thought the source of much friction between the American Indians and her colonists was that the colonists were constantly moving westwards, and claiming more and more Indian lands. This was the reason for the Proclomation of 1763.

Per http://www.history.com/topics/native-american-history/1763-proclamation-of ; we have – In 1763, at ethe end of the French and Indian War, the British issued a proclamation,mainly intended to conciliate the Indians by checking the encroachment of settlers on their lands. In the centuries since the proclamation, it has become one of the cornerstones of Native American law in the United States and Canada.

This royal proclamation, which closed down colonial expansion westward, was the first measure to affect all thirteen colonies. In response to a revolt of Native Americans led by Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, King George III declared all lands west of the Appalachian Divide off-limits to colonial settlers. The edict forbade private citizens and colonial governments alike to buy land from or make any agreements with natives; the empire would conduct all official relations. Furthermore, only licensed traders would be allowed to travel west or deal with Indians. Theoretically protecting colonists from Indian rampages, the measure was also intended to shield Native Americans from increasingly frequent attacks by white settlers.

Map 24. Royal Proclomation Line of 1763

Settlers were not to settle beyond west of the line drawn on the map above after 1763. West of that line was considered Indian lands. In 1742 the Six Nations had relenquished their claim to those lands. These lands close to the “line” in Northwestern North Carolina and Virginia especially, had been in dispute between the Cherokee and the Catawba and Associated bands. About those times, some of the Saponi began moving to that region.

From Saponi to Melungeon, Part 2
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 near 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 (Also called Cassal's Wood), 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. I have a strong belief that MY Nathaniel Gist, not his more famous cousin, was Sequoyah's father. But that is another story for another time, and a “strong belief” about something is worthless without PROOF!.

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.”[99]. They were just on the western side ot the lands described in the Proclomation of 1763.

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 Stoney Creek shortly afterwards. 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 ma sure they did. 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 . . . I suspect both.

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 remnants 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.

Map 25. Saponi move to Fort Blackmore, Become Known as “Melungeons”


  1. Where can the maps be found?

  2. Very thankful we were guided to you.. The John Austin you mention and Mary, were John and Mary McBee Austin, John is the son of John Constable Austin and Hanna Love.> Hanna was Saponi..

  3. Going to mention this here to you.. never know when an solution comes up.. We have a Native Gx Grandmother who was known as Mary Molly, she was originally married to Warrick Hockaday, controversy in the past as to if she were native or not, since she acted as executor to his will. Now, I have obtain info as per Warricks father, his name was William Warrick, born in England, immigrant to Va. Protector for natives in the area after the 1600 wars, his wife may well have been native. Warrick was married and had a number of children, died around 1759, Mary Molly migrated with her daughter Nancy and her family Thompson Briston to SC and then she apparently having remarried a native known as Tashapiathacho. They settled in the choctaw territory of Mississippi, by 1830 Mary is elderly and a widow, and on the armstrong rolls, she is listed with a family of 9 on the reservation, and that she was going to remain in the US as a US citizen, rather than remain Native and going to Oklahoma aka Trail of Tears. She is next listed on the Rosannah Nolan Brister census in Lawrence County, Rosannah was the widow of Samuel Brister Grandson of Mary Molly, they are listed as a family of 9 and there is over 100 year old female in the household.. Now, our purpose to to end up validating Mary Molly wihin a tribe, along with her Mother..

    1. Hello

      I am also a descendant of Warrick Hockaday.

  4. I applied for enrollment to the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe in NC. I descend from Thomas Collins of Flatt River. I was told that the Orange Co Saponi went North to live with the Iroquois from the records they have....This is what was told to me by Councilman Earl Evans, even though all the information leads to the contrary....Like Census, Wills, Land sales, ect...My Collins ended up in Letcher Co KY. I live in NC in Jackson Co, one county up from another Saponi town in Macon Co NC.....This is very sad. Poor Cpt Tom is rolling in his grave that his descendants have been rejected by people who bare No documented Saponi Indian Surnames.

  5. OK....there are lots of Evans and Redcrosses in Amherst Co VA....they migrated down with some Saponi's. I get it now...still lots of research to do....LOL