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chowanoke
Site Owner
Posts: 49

Everybody,

   Something I would love to put together is a collection of the family stories that have been passed down throughout the generations. Other than what the history books tell us, another untapped primary source are what our parents and grandparents have told us about our ancestry. Sometimes it seems that our family story about a "Cherokee Princess"  that turned out to be Chowan wouldn't merit being anything worth mentioning as oral history, but to the contrary! These family rumors, these wisps of truth, are echoes of the past. While for most of us the Chowanoke name hasn't been passed down, that lingering family legend of Indian blood is knowledge that has been passed down since time immemorial. It is our ancestors crying out for a voice. To get this rolling, I'll share my family stories that were passed down to me.

 

     My grandmother and great-grandmother always told me I was an Indian descendant. No one knew the details, but that we were part Cherokee. Or "Teton Souix of the Rosebud Reservation". Still working on that one. But my great grandmother Ethel, who grew up close to the Yakama Indians of Washington State, maintained that our Indian blood came from the Basse line in out family. Her brother Marvin concurred in his memoirs. But no one could tell us what tribe this was or who exactly was the Indian.

 

   Not much of a story, I know, but these are the stories that are at the heart of us, the only bit of knowledge left for us by our forbears. Later I took our Basse line back generation by generation through the census records. I found that we had maintained out Indian identify the whole time. A county history from the mid 1800s still maintianed that we were Indian descendants from North Carolina, though it neglected to tell us the tribe, probably because they didn't know it at this point. (And we don't know how sympathetic they were, since John L Bass was a soldier our fought against the Sauk in the Black Hawk War). But North Carolina, this must mean this was the Cherokee line! But after many dead ends and false alarms I uncovered information from Albert Bell that the Basses were in fact descendants of the Nansemond Nation, and that I was eligable for enrollment! Very exciting. But one problem, Bell was wrong. He purposely changed the wording of the prayerbook record that recorded the Nansemond blood, and also crossed over several genealogical lines, so that the Tribe informed me I wasn't Nansemond at all, but Chowanoke! Come on! I felt like I was getting tossed around, and honestly it was emotional, because I was getting my heart attached to these various tribes as I researched, only to be disappointed. (Lesson learned, do not commit emotionally until you are certain). but I digress. The Nansemond gratiously showed me convincing evidence from the prayer book records that my ancestors were Chowan. I was of course appalled at the treatment of the tribe and the fact that our people drifted apart, but I found it. And I am proud to call myself a Chowanoke descendant!

 

So everybody! Tell us your stories! Bring on the Cherokee Princess your were told you were descended from! We all want to hear from each other and create a nucleus people to support each other, even though we live all over america.

July 4, 2010 at 7:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Eddie Davis
Member
Posts: 1

In my Vaughan family it was the mysterious "Fereby Benton" who was the Cherokee Princess.  The story was that her father, the chief, was either happy or annoyed (it varied in different sides of the family) that the young handsome Welsh trader, William Vaughan loved his daughter.  They either were married in the "old Cherokee Nation" or else they ran off together.  One stroy says the Cherokee thought William was something because he sired "10 sons" with Fereby.  Of course all this is hogwash.  It was the most persistant family story about Fereby being Cherokee.  I began a group of descendants of William and Fereby back in the late 1990s called "Vaughan Pioneers".  We now number over 200.  We began carefully looking as a group at the stories.  One thing we did was to have the Mitochondrial DNA of a great x6 granddaughter of Fereby tested.  MtDNA is passed down intact from mother to child, and we knew that American Indians have a specific range of MtDNA.  We learned that Fereby's MtDNA was the most common European MtDNA, which proved she wasn't 100% Indian.  But it left us scratching our heads.  We don't know for sure who her parents were, but while reseaching one of the few Benton families in NC where Fereby was from, I believe I zeroed in on where her family lived, and that was around Bennett's and Catherine's Creek in Chowan Co. NC.  Chownoke territory.  I began researching the area and found that the Chownoke land bordered land owned by one of Fereby's suspected Benton ancestors.  Moreover, a Thomas Vaughan lived nearby, though I can't for certain tie him in with William Vaughan, it is very interesting.  In my mind I think I can build the case.  Fereby was the daughter or most probably granddaughter of a Benton man who married one of the last remaining Chownoke ladies in the dwindling Chownoke tribal area.  The lady was herself probably not 100% Indian, but was half, her mother being white, her father being the Indian (thus no MtDNA that was Native American being passed down).  Fereby, when she was born, was probably only about 25% Indian, the tribe being Chownoke.  Her descendants got the name of the tribe mixed up and Chownoke became Cherokee.  I also have two other family lines that lived around Chownoke territory, one being the Lassiter family, which had a lady said to be a "Cherokee of the Nottoway tribe" which I think means she was either a Nottoway Indian or much more likely a Chownoke.  But that is another post. 

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July 6, 2010 at 7:54 AM Flag Quote & Reply

John Fletcher Freeman
Member
Posts: 16

My Cherokee,

Chowanoke, and Tuscarora Princesses

I have been fascinated and infatuated with Indians my entire life. My best friend in 1rst thru 3rd grade was a full blooded Cherokee. When I learned to read, I devoured every book I could find on Indians. As much as I wanted to be Indian, I didn’t think there was any chance since I am a blue eyed blonde whose maternal ancestors all came from Norway and Finland in the late 1800’s. During my High School years I started asking my father’s older sisters about the Freeman family history. They didn’t know much but had accumulated some information going back to the time of my Great –Great Grandparents,.and they gave me a written summary. One phrase caught my attention. My aunt had written “Papa says the Freeman’s are Black Dutch.” I later learned that was a euphemism meaning someone’s ancestry was of “mixed blood,” usually African American or Native American, particularly Cherokee. This aunt had also corresponded with an elderly gentleman in Commerce, Georgia who had know my G-G Grandparents. She had sent a letter to the postmaster asking if there was anyone with knowledge of the Freeman Family and he had turned it over to a local historian. This man had been 9 or 10 when my relatives were in their 80’s. He sent several letters and history books he had written to my aunt along with pictures of their house and gravestones.

MY CHEROKEE PRINCESS

My G-G- Grandmother’s name as written on her grave was BEANIGBEA Freeman. As my aunt said, “Have you ever heard of such a name?” Years later when I discovered Genealogy and had access to one of the finest Genealogical Libraries in the country I spent countless hours researching that name and her history. I am still searching, but here is what I have found. Various census records list her as BENIGMA, BENIGBY, and DEMAGNA. The old gentleman in Georgia said she went by “NIGBY.” Her marriage records list her as MA NG MA Perry. I am of the opinion that her name is Native American and was spelled phonetically by the various persons recording it. I have found all the phonetic sounds in the Cherokee syllabary as well as in an Algonquin language dictionary. However I have not found any of the specific names. To make the story more interesting, there was a famous Cherokee Chief named BENGE which sounds similar. Beanigbea was born, lived and died in Northeastern Georgia in what was Cherokee or Choctaw country. An old map I found reflects that her grave is located in a cemetery situated on an old Cherokee Ball Field. The military records for her brother reflect that he had “black hair and black eyes.” All fascinating clues but no documentary evidence.

MY CHOWANOKE PRINCESS

About thirty years ago, I found a wonderful research genealogist who I hired to search for my Freeman forbears as well as my Barfield (my grandmother) ancestors. He traced both my Freeman’s and my Barfield’s back to North Carolina and Virginia in the 1660’s. His Freeman research was later confirmed and enhanced by the book JOHN FREEMAN OF NORFOLK COUNTY, VIRGINIA by Merrill Hill Mosher, a certified genealogist and Freeman descendant. She had a fascinating addition to my earlier research findings. She indicated that there was a belief that a John Freeman who moved to Chowan County, NC around 1718 may have married a TABITHA HOYTER, “daughter of Thomas Hoyter, Chiefman of the Chowan Indians.” I was elated and contacted her for more details. It turned out she had no documentary evidence, only two unsourced manuscripts she found in Salt Lake City. She had contacted both authors, but neither could recall their source. I started searching for clues myself and since I am an attorney, started looking at the facts and circumstantial evidence from a legal perspective. I found that Englishmen were encouraged to intermarry with Indians up until around 1745 when intermarriage was banned. This encouragement was because there were few white women and intermarriage helped create alliances with the Indians. In addition, Indian women were described as quite beautiful and sexually uninhibited. Furthermore, most tribes were matrilineal meaning that tribal membership and property ownership were through the wife or mother. Hence if a white man married an Indian woman, he could acquire Indian lands and was recognized as a tribal member. Then I found a deed in which John Freeman, along with two Chowan Indians, sold tribal land in Chowan IndianTown. How was he entitled to sell tribal reservation land unless he was a member of the tribe? He had also previously acquired reservation land and was the Reader at the Indian Town Chapel where both whites and Indians worshipped. While all this is circumstantial evidence, I find it quite compelling and there are hundreds of descendants of John and Tabitha who are convinced that Tabitha was Chief Hoyter’s daughter.

MY TUSCARORA PRINCESSES

In 1701 a Richard Barfield (the first) became the first white man to settle in what is now Hertford County, NC. He built a plantation on the Chowan River. If you look at the Mosley Map of 1733 you will see “Barfield” almost adjacent to the Meherrin Indian Town and directly across the river from Chowan Indian Town. A later map shows “Barfield’s Landing” in the same spot. This spot today is called “Tuscarora Beach.” The Barfield’s later moved west into Bertie County, the heart of Tuscarora Country, and later to Duplin County, NC.

Richard Barfield II was born and raised near the Meherrins, Chowans, and Tuscarora. He occasionally recorded his name as Bearfield. Was this a hidden reference to a “Bear Clan” relationship in one of the tribes? In his 1754 will, he specifically named each of his children and grand children and gave each land, money, livestock and other property. Then, almost as an afterthought, he said “And to my loving wife (whom he did not name) I give 2 pots, 2 chests, 1 table, a horse, all the pigs and all the sheep.” No land, no money, not even a directive that she could live on the plantation. My supposition is that she was Native American, probably Tuscarora, and was not legally entitled to own any property since the miscegenation laws were then in effect. There is no record of their marriage and she was never named on any of his many land transactions. However, all of her children would be considered both white and/or Indian.

One of Richard’s daughters, Kathryn Barfield, was married to a man named William Taylor. My researcher found quite a bit of information on him that I later expanded upon and came to the conclusion that he was a half breed Tuscarora Chief. We knew where he was born from land deeds to his father. It turns out this land was within the boundaries of The Indian Woods Reservation created for the Tuscarora on the Roanoke River following the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713. We later found a Chief William Taylor who was one of 18 Tuscarora chiefs who signed a lease of The Indian Woods land to several wealthy White landowners. My William Taylor and his father had previously had many dealings with several of these men and some of the other signatory chiefs appear to have been neighbors of William Taylor when he moved to Duplin County. There is also documentary evidence that the North Carolina Council had appointed a William Taylor as Trustee for the Tuscarora. This would fit in with him being a half breed with connections to both the white society and the Tuscarora. In addition, William had an Uncle named Tom Taylor who mysteriously appeared back on the Indian Woods Reservation shortly after a Tuscarora Chief, Tom Taylor, was swindled out of tribal land at New Bern, NC by Swiss and German immigrants. William and Katherine had two daughters. One of William and Katherine’s granddaughters married back into the Barfield family (her second cousin) and this line subsequently moved to Mississippi and then to Texas in 1850. Based upon the premise, if your mother is Indian, you are Indian, I may have 4 female Tuscarora ancestors---William Taylor’s mother, his wife, his daughter and his granddaughter. However we are not accepted by the official federally recognized Tuscarora Tribe in New York as they only recognize descendants of those Tuscarora who fled North Carolina in the mid 1700’s and joined the Iroquois five nations.

Interestingly, my Barfield and Freeman ancestors had no known dealings with each other during the 50-100 years that they resided in close proximity in North Carolina. It wasn’t until they acquired adjacent farms in Texas in the 1880’s that they met following which my grandparents married. As for the “Black Dutch” reference by my Grandfather, I was told by another aunt some 25 yeas after my grandmother died that “mama looked down on papa’s family.” Maybe this was another clue that he did in fact have half breed ancestry. Little did Grandmother know that she too had a long history of Native American ancestry!

MY NORDIC PRINCESS

I have a 22 year old daughter to whom I have tried to explain our Indian Ancestry. Her response is “Dad you are crazy! Look at me. I am a blue eyed blonde who loves Nordic Skiing with a passion that has to be inherited. Indians didn’t ski.”

I don’t dare tell her she is also part Saami and they may have been the ancestors of the Chippewa/Ojibwa. The Saami are the indigenous people of Finland north of the Arctic Circle. They live in Teepees, carry their infants in Papoose Carriers, wear puckered leather moccasins, and herd reindeer. Many of their words are similar to Algonquin and while some are blue eyed blondes, many have black hair and black eyes.

July 16, 2010 at 5:00 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Black Dutch
Member
Posts: 6

Since I was a child both sides of my family have been called Black Dutch with stories of Indian blood, but usually claimed Cherokee when I asked my elderly relatives. When I was a kid I remember finding old family photos at my great Aunt's home. I asked her why my Great Grandpa was so dark and she said Indian and showed me some family papers that referred to him as Cherokee. She then told me that we don't talk about it because she was accepted in society as a "Blue Blood" with her light skin, blond hair and blue eyes. She was a wealthy successful business owner in West Texas and believed it would hurt her image although she loved her father. He looked almost like a full blood Indian due to a combined mixture of several families being mixed Indian.

Below is a list of my direct ancestral line surnames and most of these have stories passed down of Native American ancestry, usually claiming Cherokee. As you have noted, many claim Cherokee and even applied with the Dawes Commission, but unable to show a direct link to Cherokee.

Parker, Evans, Knight, Barfield, Goodman, Williams, Johnson, Loadman, Cotton, Rutland, Hardy, Wynn, Whitfield, Godwin, Murphy, Laurence, Montague, Whitley, Benton, Moore, Bush, Williamson, Dickenson and Hooker

Areas of residence Meherrin, Barfields Landing, Ahoskie, Peters Swamp, Urahaw Swamp, Turkey Swamp, Bennetts Creek, Catherines Creek, and Sarum Creek.

Let me know if anyone has any further on any of these names being connected to area tribes.

 

                                            Tom Kingery

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September 6, 2010 at 12:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Jerald Cumbus
Member
Posts: 2

John Fletcher Freeman at July 16, 2010 at 5:00 PM

My Cherokee,

Chowanoke, and Tuscarora Princesses

I have been fascinated and infatuated with Indians my entire life. My best friend in 1rst thru 3rd grade was a full blooded Cherokee. When I learned to read, I devoured every book I could find on Indians. As much as I wanted to be Indian, I didn’t think there was any chance since I am a blue eyed blonde whose maternal ancestors all came from Norway and Finland in the late 1800’s. During my High School years I started asking my father’s older sisters about the Freeman family history. They didn’t know much but had accumulated some information going back to the time of my Great –Great Grandparents,.and they gave me a written summary. One phrase caught my attention. My aunt had written “Papa says the Freeman’s are Black Dutch.” I later learned that was a euphemism meaning someone’s ancestry was of “mixed blood,” usually African American or Native American, particularly Cherokee. This aunt had also corresponded with an elderly gentleman in Commerce, Georgia who had know my G-G Grandparents. She had sent a letter to the postmaster asking if there was anyone with knowledge of the Freeman Family and he had turned it over to a local historian. This man had been 9 or 10 when my relatives were in their 80’s. He sent several letters and history books he had written to my aunt along with pictures of their house and gravestones.

MY CHEROKEE PRINCESS

My G-G- Grandmother’s name as written on her grave was BEANIGBEA Freeman. As my aunt said, “Have you ever heard of such a name?” Years later when I discovered Genealogy and had access to one of the finest Genealogical Libraries in the country I spent countless hours researching that name and her history. I am still searching, but here is what I have found. Various census records list her as BENIGMA, BENIGBY, and DEMAGNA. The old gentleman in Georgia said she went by “NIGBY.” Her marriage records list her as MA NG MA Perry. I am of the opinion that her name is Native American and was spelled phonetically by the various persons recording it. I have found all the phonetic sounds in the Cherokee syllabary as well as in an Algonquin language dictionary. However I have not found any of the specific names. To make the story more interesting, there was a famous Cherokee Chief named BENGE which sounds similar. Beanigbea was born, lived and died in Northeastern Georgia in what was Cherokee or Choctaw country. An old map I found reflects that her grave is located in a cemetery situated on an old Cherokee Ball Field. The military records for her brother reflect that he had “black hair and black eyes.” All fascinating clues but no documentary evidence.

MY CHOWANOKE PRINCESS

About thirty years ago, I found a wonderful research genealogist who I hired to search for my Freeman forbears as well as my Barfield (my grandmother) ancestors. He traced both my Freeman’s and my Barfield’s back to North Carolina and Virginia in the 1660’s. His Freeman research was later confirmed and enhanced by the book JOHN FREEMAN OF NORFOLK COUNTY, VIRGINIA by Merrill Hill Mosher, a certified genealogist and Freeman descendant. She had a fascinating addition to my earlier research findings. She indicated that there was a belief that a John Freeman who moved to Chowan County, NC around 1718 may have married a TABITHA HOYTER, “daughter of Thomas Hoyter, Chiefman of the Chowan Indians.” I was elated and contacted her for more details. It turned out she had no documentary evidence, only two unsourced manuscripts she found in Salt Lake City. She had contacted both authors, but neither could recall their source. I started searching for clues myself and since I am an attorney, started looking at the facts and circumstantial evidence from a legal perspective. I found that Englishmen were encouraged to intermarry with Indians up until around 1745 when intermarriage was banned. This encouragement was because there were few white women and intermarriage helped create alliances with the Indians. In addition, Indian women were described as quite beautiful and sexually uninhibited. Furthermore, most tribes were matrilineal meaning that tribal membership and property ownership were through the wife or mother. Hence if a white man married an Indian woman, he could acquire Indian lands and was recognized as a tribal member. Then I found a deed in which John Freeman, along with two Chowan Indians, sold tribal land in Chowan IndianTown. How was he entitled to sell tribal reservation land unless he was a member of the tribe? He had also previously acquired reservation land and was the Reader at the Indian Town Chapel where both whites and Indians worshipped. While all this is circumstantial evidence, I find it quite compelling and there are hundreds of descendants of John and Tabitha who are convinced that Tabitha was Chief Hoyter’s daughter.

MY TUSCARORA PRINCESSES

In 1701 a Richard Barfield (the first) became the first white man to settle in what is now Hertford County, NC. He built a plantation on the Chowan River. If you look at the Mosley Map of 1733 you will see “Barfield” almost adjacent to the Meherrin Indian Town and directly across the river from Chowan Indian Town. A later map shows “Barfield’s Landing” in the same spot. This spot today is called “Tuscarora Beach.” The Barfield’s later moved west into Bertie County, the heart of Tuscarora Country, and later to Duplin County, NC.

Richard Barfield II was born and raised near the Meherrins, Chowans, and Tuscarora. He occasionally recorded his name as Bearfield. Was this a hidden reference to a “Bear Clan” relationship in one of the tribes? In his 1754 will, he specifically named each of his children and grand children and gave each land, money, livestock and other property. Then, almost as an afterthought, he said “And to my loving wife (whom he did not name) I give 2 pots, 2 chests, 1 table, a horse, all the pigs and all the sheep.” No land, no money, not even a directive that she could live on the plantation. My supposition is that she was Native American, probably Tuscarora, and was not legally entitled to own any property since the miscegenation laws were then in effect. There is no record of their marriage and she was never named on any of his many land transactions. However, all of her children would be considered both white and/or Indian.

One of Richard’s daughters, Kathryn Barfield, was married to a man named William Taylor. My researcher found quite a bit of information on him that I later expanded upon and came to the conclusion that he was a half breed Tuscarora Chief. We knew where he was born from land deeds to his father. It turns out this land was within the boundaries of The Indian Woods Reservation created for the Tuscarora on the Roanoke River following the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713. We later found a Chief William Taylor who was one of 18 Tuscarora chiefs who signed a lease of The Indian Woods land to several wealthy White landowners. My William Taylor and his father had previously had many dealings with several of these men and some of the other signatory chiefs appear to have been neighbors of William Taylor when he moved to Duplin County. There is also documentary evidence that the North Carolina Council had appointed a William Taylor as Trustee for the Tuscarora. This would fit in with him being a half breed with connections to both the white society and the Tuscarora. In addition, William had an Uncle named Tom Taylor who mysteriously appeared back on the Indian Woods Reservation shortly after a Tuscarora Chief, Tom Taylor, was swindled out of tribal land at New Bern, NC by Swiss and German immigrants. William and Katherine had two daughters. One of William and Katherine’s granddaughters married back into the Barfield family (her second cousin) and this line subsequently moved to Mississippi and then to Texas in 1850. Based upon the premise, if your mother is Indian, you are Indian, I may have 4 female Tuscarora ancestors---William Taylor’s mother, his wife, his daughter and his granddaughter. However we are not accepted by the official federally recognized Tuscarora Tribe in New York as they only recognize descendants of those Tuscarora who fled North Carolina in the mid 1700’s and joined the Iroquois five nations.

Interestingly, my Barfield and Freeman ancestors had no known dealings with each other during the 50-100 years that they resided in close proximity in North Carolina. It wasn’t until they acquired adjacent farms in Texas in the 1880’s that they met following which my grandparents married. As for the “Black Dutch” reference by my Grandfather, I was told by another aunt some 25 yeas after my grandmother died that “mama looked down on papa’s family.” Maybe this was another clue that he did in fact have half breed ancestry. Little did Grandmother know that she too had a long history of Native American ancestry!

MY NORDIC PRINCESS

I have a 22 year old daughter to whom I have tried to explain our Indian Ancestry. Her response is “Dad you are crazy! Look at me. I am a blue eyed blonde who loves Nordic Skiing with a passion that has to be inherited. Indians didn’t ski.”

I don’t dare tell her she is also part Saami and they may have been the ancestors of the Chippewa/Ojibwa. The Saami are the indigenous people of Finland north of the Arctic Circle. They live in Teepees, carry their infants in Papoose Carriers, wear puckered leather moccasins, and herd reindeer. Many of their words are similar to Algonquin and while some are blue eyed blondes, many have black hair and black eyes.

I have been researching my native heritage and have also found that I am related to the same Barfields and Taylors you are...

We are Tuscarora cousins. 

February 1, 2013 at 10:11 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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