Chowanoke Descendants Community



My latest academic contribution will soon come to light thanks to Backintyme Publishing!

Tentatively Titled:


Breaking the House of Pamunkey:

The Final Powhatan War and the Fall of an American Indian Empire

In the first ever book-length study of the Third Anglo-Powhatan War of 1644-46, more detail is brought in than ever before, connecting this war to the larger Atlantic World, particularly as the Powhatans took advantage of the English Civil War to hit Virginia while they were vulnerable. This war would have greater consequence than any of the Powhatan wars preceding it, and set the geopolitical stage for Indian and European people for generations to come.


Award Winning Historian

Lars  C.  Adams

 “Whereas the Indians have justly made themselves our Irreconcileable enemyes by the late Bloody Massacre having most treacherously and cruelly slayne neare fower hundred of the Inhabitants of the Collony. Bee it therefore by this present Grand Assembly recorded to Posterity. That wee will for ever abandon all forms of peace and familiarity wth the whole Nation. And will to the uttmost of our power pursue and root out those wch have any way had their hands in the shedding of our blood and Massacring our People.”

- Virginia Assembly, June, 1644

Chowanoke Bibliography of Sources

Within this page I am creating a bibliography of sources that contain information about Chowanoke history, culture and genealogy. As much as possible, I will provide a link to where these books and articles may be found on the internet, though not in all cases may these be found, that I know of. As always, if someone knows of a source, either secondary or primary, that I do not have listed please let me know and I will post it ASAP. Likewise if I have a source listed without a link, and you know of a place on the net where it can be found, let me know, so I can provide the link. I want to make this site as useful as possible for the easy access of information for anyone with an inclination to know more of the Chowanoke people, so let me know what would be useful for you to know, and I can see what I can do to make this site work for everybody.

Updated 4/29/2011

Books, primary sources from eyewitnesses:

Arthur Barlow, The First Voyage to Roanoke, 1584. old South Leaflets (General Series) number 92. 20 pages. (Boston, Directors of the Old South Work, 1898)

     Contains brief information on Coastal Algonquian people, and makes brief references to the Chowanoke. Time period: 1584


Thomas Hariot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. 82 pages. (New York, J Sabin and Sons, 1871)

     An excellent source on the culture of the Algonnquians, and of the history of the Roanoke voyages. Contains DeBry's engravings of John White's paintings. Time period: 1585.


Ralph Lane, Raleigh's First Roanoke Colony. 24 pages. (Boston, Directors of the Old South Work, Old South Meeting House 1902)

     An accounting of much interaction with the Chowanoke, namely on attacking the main town, Chowanoc, and capturing Skiko, the chief's son. Also gives information on the strength of the tribe and location of villages.Time Period: 1585.

John Smith, A Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles. 248 pages (London, printed by I.D and I.H for Michael Sparkes, 1624)

   Another Good source on the culture and language of the Algonquians, a history of early Jamestown, and an accounting of several expeditions in search of the Roanoke colony, which intersected with the Chowanoke. Several other mentions of the Chowanoke made.

William Strachey, A Historie of Travaille into Virginia Brittania. (London, Printed for the Haklyt Society, MDCCCXLIX)

     Largely a forgery of John Smith's work, however there is some valuable cultural information nonetheless. The main value to this book is a very extensive Algonquian Dictionary.

The State and Colonial Records of North Carolina, compiled by William Saunders.

    Probably the single best collection of sources we have. We owe Saunders a huge debt of gratitude for these many volumes he preserved. Some records have since been destroyed since the publication of his transcriptions, so he saved them from being lost forever. Chowan references are sprinkled throughout, most of them in the first two volumes.

John Lawson, A New Voyage to Carolina. 248 pages (London, 1709)

    An outstanding source of cultural information on the Tuscarora, Algonquian and Souian  tribed of NC, primarily south of Albemarle Sound. However, Lawson does give much information on the way the Indians at the time lived, and also gives an estimate of Chowan population in 1709.

Robert Beverly, The History and Present State of Virginia, in Four Parts. (London, printed for R. Parker, 1705) 

    Similar to Lawsons work on the culture of the Southern Algonquians living in Virginia. No references to the Chowans, but gives good cultural clues. Talks about the Nansemond, the Chowan's nearest northern Algonquian neighbors.

John Brickell, The Natural History of North Carolina (Originally publched in 1737, this link goes to the Reprint from the Trustees of Public Libraries, 1817)

    Many portions of this book are largly copies of Lawson's previous work, but I feel this is more valuable in many areas, because it further expands on previous information, and most importantly, gives detailed information on the Chowan people. This is the only time in my research I have come across a specific physical description of Chief Hoyter, and details of a festival, similar to a Powwow of today, where all the local nations came together to pay tribute and feast to the governor. It also gave details on how Chowan Town may have looked, as opposed to a more traditional town. The Chowans, Yeopim and Tuscaroras, are all carefully described, and are called "civilized indians", because of their adoption of certain English customs.

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, University of Virginia's American Studies Program, 1998-1999.

     Primarily a study on the natural history, agricultural state, chief manufactures, etc, of Virginia, Jefferson does devote chapter XI to the Virginian Indians. There is valuable information regarding the then present state of Virginian tribes, but he also briefly mentions the Chowanoke and Meherrin in relation to the Tuscarora. Thank for Fletcher Freeman for this source!

William Powell, John Pory, 1572-1636: The Life and Letters of a Man of Many Parts, (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina) 1977

This book contains much biographical information on John Pory, who visited the Chowanoke in 1622, just prior to the Powhatan uprising. This might belong with the secondary histories below, but it is particularly valuable in that it publishes several letters detailing Pory's Chowanoke trip. Apparently, Pory wrote a narrative about it that was lost, but several others summarized his narrative whereby we can piece it together. Transcription of these letters found in archives section.

Books. Secondary histories from early 20th century and prior.

RDW Connor, The History of North Carolina, (Chicago and New York, Lewis Publishing Company, 1919)

   This is the most commonly quoted source for information on the Chowanoke War. Connor devotes two pages to this nation altering event, and unfortunetally, gets  one or two things wrong. While a generally skillful historian, he was as racist as any other for the times, so bear it with a grain of salt. Otherwise it is a wonderfuly extensive volume on the Colony that the Chowans lived within and can provide great context for their living conditions and widespread events.


Books. Secondary; contemporary. mid 20th century to present.

 Merril Hill Mosher, John Freeman of Norfolk County, Virginia: his descendants in North Carolina and Virginia and other Colonial North Carolina. Heritage Books, 1994. 236 pages.

   I have recently read this book, thanks to Fletcher Freeman, and it contains a preponderance of evidence that John Freeman married Tabatha Hoyter, Chief Thomas Hoyter's daughter. Click this link to see publication information from Google, and use the find a copy link to see if there are any in a library near you.

Paul Heinegg, Free African American Families of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia from the Colonial Times to About 1820, (Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 5 editions between 1992 and 2005)

  Full text of book, digitized online. This is the author, Paul Heinegg's website and he gives the full content of his books. An amazing and detailed source of information on virtually every free person of color in North Carolina, as well as surrounding states. Chowanoke surnames appear here (Robbins, Bennet, Hoyter, etc)

Scott Withrow, editor, Carolina Genesis: Beyond the Color Line. (Backintyme Publishing, Palm coast Florida, 2010)

 Contributing Author is Chowanoke site member Marvin Jones, who contributed the chapter in this book entitled The Leading Edge of Edges: The Tri-Racial People of the Winton Triangle, containging much information on the Winton Triangle area from prehistory to present, including references to the Chowanoke and the Robbins family history. The rest of this book also has many interesting chapters devoted to the history of racial relationships on North Carolina.

Michael Leroy Oberg, The Head in Edward Nugent's Hand: Roanoke's Forgotten Indians. Philadelphia,  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008

An extensive research on the Indians surrounding the failed English colony of Roanoke. I recently purchased this book, and am very glad  I did, it is outstanding, and the only book I can think of that tells of the English contact from the Algonquian perspective. Superb cultural, Archealogical and historical information on the Southern Algonquian people.

Noeleen McIlvenna, A very mutinous people: the struggle for North Carolina, 1660-1713UNC Press Books, 2009

A good and detailed account of the early white settlers of Albemarle county, NC, containing much information on the Chowans during the early period of white settlement. Preview available online.

Helen C. Rountree, The Powhatan Indians of Virginia, Their Traditional Culture, (Norman, University of Oklahoma Press) 1989

Rountree sets this book forth as an authoritative guide to Powhatan culture, mentioning the Chowanoke several times. The Powhatans had a culture exceedingly similar to the Chowanoke, so this book is a great guide to the Chowanoke lifeways.

Helen C. Rountree, Pocahantas's People, The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries, (Norman and London, University of Oklahoma Press) 1990

This and Powhatan Indians of Virginia are intended to be companion book to each other, one for culture, and the other for history. This book takes a detailed look at the Powhatans from the old days to the present, whereby we may see many parralels to the Chowanoke. Very good read.

H. Patrick Ward and R.P. Stephen Davis Jr., Time Before History, The Archealogy of North Carolina, (Chapel Hill and London, University of north Carolina Press) 1999

These authors not only summarise the data learned from archealogical sites, but also detail the history of the archealogical field in North Carolina, and outline where further study is needed. Primarily the book deals with the Piedmont peoples, but also has a section devited to the coastal Algonquian area, the study of which is still in its infancy and requires more data.

William Loren Katz, Black Indians, A Hidden Heritage, (New York, Ethrac Publishing) 1986

Katz writes about the relationship between Africans and Indians throughout the history of the Americas. As we see with the Chowanoke in the late 1700s early 1800s, there was much intermarriage between the two groups as he Chowanoke drew black into their society, and this book offers a perspective on this.

E. Lawrence Lee, Indian Wars of North Carolina, 1663-1763, (Raleigh, North Carolina Division of Archives and History) 1997

Lee gives a basic summary of colonial era Indian Wars in North Carolina, not going into any kind of detail, nor does he cite sources, however he does offer a starting point for those wishing to research further.

Theda Perdue, Native Carolinians, The Indians of North Carolina, (Raleigh, North Carolina Division of Archives and History) 1985

Similar to above, this book gives a brief outline of Carolinian peoples, good for those just beginning their research.

Allan Gallay, The Indian Slave Trade The Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717, (New Haven and London, Yale University Press) 2002

An outstanding and authoratative book, researching in detail the Indian slave trade and the close relationship between all the southeastern nations. Goes in depth as the the effect the Tuscarora War, Yamassee War,and other conflicts affected native peoples, and the relationships with the French and Spanish, who contended for influence with the nations.


In the "Scolding Houses": Indians and the Law in Eastern North Carolina, 1684-1760, by Michelle LeMaster. (North Carolina Historical Review, April 2006, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2)

   Not available for viewing online (unless you have access to paid databases), but affordable copies are available through the publisher, as they have availability, as well as other affordable historical publications. Very good, very detailed attention is paid to the Chowanoke regarding their many court battles, and there are several facsimilies of original Chowan suits. Outstanding. Thanks to Darryl Sauer for submitting this source.

Forest Hazel, "Looking for Indiantown: The Dispersal of the Chowan Indian Tribe in Eastern North Carolina, 1780-1915," in North Carolina Archaeology. Oct2014, Vol. 63, p34-64.

OUTSTANDING new article showing the post-reservation Chowanoke dispersal and new community formation. This particular piece has been wanting in this research field for a long time and fill many holes, answering MANY questions.

Shannon Lee Dawdy, The Meherrin's Secret History of the Dividing Line, in The North Carolina Historical Review, October 1995, Volume LXXII, number 4.

Dawdy goes into excellent detail on the Meherrin people, giving a complete history of them into the late 1700s. Much is also said of the Chowanoke, who had a close relationship with the Meherrin.

Lars Adams, "'Sundry Murders and Depredations': A Closer Look at the Chowan River War, 1676-1677," in The North Carolina Historical Review Vol. 90, No. 2, April 2013, 149-172.

I wrote this, so obviously it must be outstanding right? I kid. But I can truthfully say that this is the most in depth study of the Chowan River War (1676) ever done, which is critical in understanding the formation of the original reservation. It is also interesting to note the connections between this war and Bacon's Rebellion, as well as its contribution to Carolina's Culpeper's Rebellion.

Lars Adams, "The Battle of Weyanoke Creek: A Story of the Third Anglo-Powhatan War in Early Carolina," in Native South, Vol. 6, 2013, 170-195.

 I wrote this one also. This outlines how the war of 1644 spilled over into Carolina territory in 1645, chasing a Powhatan group known as the Weyanoke into Chowanoke territory. Often thought to be an expedition against the Carolina Algonquians, I believe (while documentation is extremely limited) that the Chowanoke and Yeopim actually cooperated with the Virginians against their true target, the Weyanoke. These expeditions would form pretenses for land claims for Virginians, essentially being the catalyst for a southern migration of Europeans to the Carolina territory for the first time.

National Geographic, May, 2007 - Containing several articles pertaining to the Jamestown colony, just a day or two's journey north of the Chowan territory. Contains many intertesting newly discovered facts and theories regarding an environmental change that would have affected the Chowans, as well as archealogical and historical information.