Chowanoke Descendants Community


      Chiefs John and Thomas Hoyter, in the early to mid 1700s, was some of the last Chowanoc chiefs. Under their leadership, succesivly, as father and son, they took the nation through the most turmoil of anyone before them, save for perhaps Menatanon, who dealt with the Roanoke Colony, had his son kidnapped and likely dealt with a crippling epidemic afterwards. But the Hoyter yelled themselves horse at the Carolina government about the thievery of their white neighbors, who continually encroached on their land. They stood up for the people, until finally the government merged the Chowans with the Tuscarora. Following this, we see a series of land sales within the nation, most of them signed by Hoyter and other headmen of the tribe, which likely represented the sale of vacant land of those who had moved away to the Tuscarora.

Enter John Freeman and his wife, Tabitha.  It was near to this time, that one of these land sales was a combined sale, with both Hoyter's name and the name of John Freeman, selling together a parcel of Chowan land. In accordance with the Algonquian culture, only members of the tribe could, with permission of the tribe as a whole, sell any tribal land. Are we then to take this to mean that Freeman (named as a planter, not himself an indian) was a part of the tribe? This could only happen if he was, in fact married into the tribe, for the tribe was matrilineal. The blood connections to the tribe were passed from a mother to her children, not the father as in white culture.

     In 1994 Merril Hill Mosher published a book entitled John Freeman of Norfolk County, Virginia, his Descendants in North carolina and Virginia. According to her research, there were some who reported the surname of Tabitha, John's wife as Hoyter. The source on this was an unsourced file in the LDS library. Fletcher Freeman, member of this site explains more below. But was this oral history passed down? Or did someone uncover a document somewhere showing Tabitha as a Hoyter? We have yet to know how the Hoyter connection happened to be. More research is required, but it is certain that John was very close to the tribe, and was considered one of them, in order to make those land sales.

So states Fletcher Freeman:

   "I am a direct descendant of John Freeman and his wife Tabitha, whom many believe to have been a Hoyter and daughter of Chief Thomas Hoyter .   Like you and most other researchers, I am searching for some definitive evidence that Tabitha was in fact daughter of Thomas Hoyter.   The book you reference about John Freeman was actually written by Merrill Hill Mosher, a certified genealogist. She estimated that John and Tabitha were married around 1733, not 1708 as you state.  I corresponded with Ms. Mosher years ago and she said the source of her information were two undocumented references she found at the LDS library in Salt Lake by two ladies whom she contacted but who could not remember their sources. The most compelling evidence is a 1754 land deed executed by two Chowan Indians and John Freeman selling land in Chowan Indian Town to Richard Freeman.  The inference is that John was a tribal member as there would be no other reason for him to be selling tribal land.   Since the Chowan were Algonquian and matrilineal, any white man who married a Indian woman would gain membership in the tribe and be entitled to own, buy and sell tribal lands.  At the same time, women did not have land ownership rights under the NC and English law and hence a deed would have to be signed by her husband."

Here is the deed referenced above, again, submitted by Fletcher Freeman:

                                           CHOWAN INDIAN LAND DEED 





   To all to whom these presents shall come we James Bennet & John Robins Chowan Indians & John Freeman Planter of the County and Province aforesaid Know Ye that we the aforesaid James Bennet, John Robins  & John Freeman for and in consideration of the sum of Twenty Pounds Lawfull money of Great Britain to us in hand paid by Richard  Freeman of the county and Province aforesaid, Planter, the receipt of which we do hereby acknowledge have granted bargained sold  conveyed confirmed & deliver and do by these presents grant Bargain Sell Convey Confirm and Set Over unto the aforesaid Richard Freeman one certain tract or parcel of land &  pocoson lying on the No. side of Bennets Creek commonly called & known by the name of the Chowan Indian Land Two Hundred acres by Estimation beginning on Blanchards Line running then west ...


together with all and singular the appurtenances thereunto belonging unto the said Richard Freeman, his heirs and assigns forever hence they yielding and paying  to our Sovereign Lord  the King the yearly quit rents of and by(?) required for every hundred acres hereby granted by the said James Bennet, John Robins and John Freeman as aforesaid to the said Richard Freeman his heirs..the aforesaid James Bennet, John Robins, & John Freeman and do bind ourselves and each of our heirs and by these presents to forever  warrant and defend unto the said Richard Freeman his heirs and the above mentioned tract or parcel of land and pocoson from all manner of persons whatever...


whereof we the aforesaid Ja. Bennet, Jn Robins Chowan Indians and John Freeman, Planter have hereunto set our hand and seals this --- of January, 1751


Signed & Sealed & Delivered in the presence of Richard Garret, Reuben Hinton, George S. Outlaw



Chowan County  for January County Court 1751

Present his Majesty's Justices

These may testify that the within Deed of Sale of Land from James Bennet, John Robins, & John Freeman to Richard Freeman was duly proved in open Court by the oath of Richard Garret and on motion is ordered to be registered.

Registered January 23, 1751



Signed Sealed & Delivered in the presence  of:


Richard Garret                    James B. Bennett

Reuben Hinton                     John R. Robins

George S. Outlaw                  John Freeman



Chowan County       January County Court 1751


Present His Majesties Justices These may codify that the within Deed of Sale of Land from James Bennet John Robins & John Freeman to Richard Freeman is hereby proved in open Court by the oath of Richard Garret & on Motion is ordered to be Registered.



Registered Jan 23, 1751

 Fletcher Freeman also had this to say, which may possibly show a link between John Freeman and a Weynoke Indian:

"The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Second Series, Volume VII entitled RECORDS OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL on page 416 has a deposition given by Richard Booth in which he states that in the year 1667  he took a canoe with trade goods to the Meherrin Indian Town down the Blackwater River.  On his right the Weyanoake River joined in about 13 miles north of the Meherrin River.  Accompanying him on this journey was “a Certain Weyanoake Indian Called Tom Freeman.”  Also accompanying him was a man named John Browne.

 Our John Freeman, is first mentioned as being a landowner in Norfolk County,Va. in 1675.  Could he be related to Indian Tom Freeman?

 In his deposition, Richard Booth states that the Weyanoake Indian Town was very near a plantation owned by Colonel Harrison.  There was a William Harrison who owned a 600 acre plantation due west across the Great Dismal Swamp from our John Freeman who owned a 400 acre plantation on the Eastern side of the swamp.

 A 1708 deposition by Robert Lawrence of Nansemond County, VA. told of “ a large Creek on the said South west side of Chowan (river) commonly called and known both by the English and Indians by the name of Weyanoake Creek Which Creek issueth into Chowan about twenty five miles above Morattock Rivers mouth and according to the best of this Deponents Judgement about twenty miles below the mouth of Maherine River”

The Weyanoake River or Creek is apparently known today as the Nottaway River.

 Later maps of North Carolina indicate that the Meherrin Indian Town was in what is now North Carolina and was on the west side of the Chowan River opposite the Chowan Indian town.

 The Weyanoke’s lived for a while in Bertie County , NC south of Meherrin Indian Town and west of the Chowan River and Chowan Indian Town.

 The son and grandson of John Freeman of Norfolk, Va. moved to Chowan County NC and in fact bought land from the Chowan Indians.  It is further theorized that his grandson, John Freeman, married the daughter of the Chiefman of the Chowan Indians, Tabitha Hoyter.

 The Weyanoake Indians were part of the Powhatan Confederacy as early as 1607 and were members in the Algonquian Language Group.  The name Weyanoake, in Algonquian, means “Land of the Sassafras.” 

 John Freeman of Norfolk had three known children—William, John, and Thomas.  Was Thomas named after his grandfather or uncle?

 Another coincidence relates to the John Browne who accompanied Weyanoke Indian Tom Freeman in the canoe.  John Browne was the son of Col. Tom Browne who owned over 1200 acres of land on the west bank of the Elizabeth River in Norfolk Cty., VA  John had a sister named Anne Browne. She married Richard Cording and had a son Thomas Cording.  He had a daughter, Mary Cording who married William Freeman, Sr., the son of John Freeman of Norfolk, VA who is first shown there in  1673.  John Freeman also owned land on the west bank of the Elizabeth River.  Hence William married the Great-Niece of John Browne and, if related, would have been the Grandson or great nephew of Indian Tom Freeman"


NEW - added 9/30/10:

From Fletcher Freeman:

Possible Documentary Proof of Tabitha’s Ancestry


"I was reviewing documents that Lars sent me back in August and have discovered something that adds to the circumstantial evidence that John Freeman’s wife Tabitha was Chowan Indian and possibly daughter of Chief Hoyter.

            The document was a 1770 list of Tithables that included John Freeman, Sr as well as John Freeman, Jr and William Freeman.  It was from a February 2009 transcription by Jan & David Barrett entitled “Chowan County, North Carolina—1770 Taxables.”  There was also a note indicating that “non-White males and females 12 and older” were taxable.

            The chart had four columns—Master or Mistress of the Plantation, male slaves, female slaves, and total.   John Freeman, Sr had 1,2,1,4 beside his name. 

            I then reviewed an article by a Southeastern Native American researcher named Pony Hill that dealt with early Indian records from VA, NC, SC, TN, FL, and GA.  I noticed a discussion about how many white men who were married to Native Americans got into trouble for not reporting their “mulatto” wives on the tithable lists.  Apparently if they had an Indian or Black wife, they had to pay a special tax on her, just as they did for each slave they owned.  Pony Hill quoted a 1738 NC law “ every white person male of the age of sixteen years and upwards all Negroes Mulattoes Mustees male or female and all persons of mixt blood to the fourth generation  male and female of the age of twelve years and upwards shall be tithables.”

            If Tabitha was Chowan, then John would have had to report her as a tithable and in 1770 he did in fact report a female mulatto, mixed blood, or slave as a tithable!

            John didn’t die until 1776 and he named Tabitha in his will, so both were alive in 1770.  Maybe this is the “smoking gun” proving Tabitha was Native American."




On to the genealogy of John Freeman and Tabitha, likely daughter of Thomas Hoyter:

Children of John Freeman and Tabatha, according to Merril Hill Mosher's book:

i) William Freeman, married Sarah_____. Will proved 1802 in Surry County, Resided in Hertford 1760-70. bought land in Surry 1778 from Samuel Freeman. Issue: 10 children.

ii) Jacob Freeman, resided in Hertford 1771. Appears in 1790 census on Lofans creek in Surry County.

iii) John Freeman, resided in Chowan 1771, no further information.

iv) Zilphah Freeman, married as his second wife Lewis Outlaw.

v) Tabitha Freeman, married Mr. Mansfield.

vi) Prisciller Freeman, married William Hinton, who died Jan 1 1806 in Gates County.

vii) Richard Freeman, married 29 Sep 1778 Christian Hinton. Issue: James.

viii) Catharine Freeman, no further data.

iv) Sarah Freeman, no further data.



i) John Freeman, died 1793, married bef 1760 (1) ____, married (2) Widow Sarah Norfleet who died ion 1807. Issue: 11 children.

ii) Joshua Freeman, died 1797 in Bertie, married Mary ___. Issue: 8 children.

iii) Moses Freeman, born by 1740, Resided Bertie 1785, married Courtna ___.

iv) King Freeman, died Bertie 1793, married bef 1779 to Sarah (Perry), widow to William Rice. Daughter: Christian who married Blake Baker.

v) James Freeman, inv Gates 1807, married (1)  Selah _____, (2) Mary Barber. Had four children by first marriage and two by second.

vi) William Freeman, married Sarah _____. Resided in Gates county. Issue: 8 children.

vii)Sarah Freeman, who married Hardy Hayes (Haise), who died 1784, had 7 children.

viii) ______, married Mr. Hinton, had son Reuben Hinton.

ix) Sussanna, married Mr. Spruel.

x)[(A]Mellisent?] Freeman died in Bertie 1822, married Josiah Perry, who died 1820. had 14 Chidlren.

v) Mary Freeman, married Mr. Ward.

    Paul Heinegg's work from Free African Americans, shows that there were other 'free colored' household in the Currituck and Pasquotank area from 1800-1820 bearing the name Hiter. These would almost certainly also be some Chowan descendants of the Hoyter family. Click Here to see. Does anyone know more information on what became of thse people and who are their descendants?


Hiter Records in Currituck County Census Returns

Following the Chowanoke Hiters in Currituck County


The first Hiters we find in Currituck County are in 1800, when we find Abraham Hiter with his household of 6 people as “Free Colored” persons. Cursiously, there appear several other Chowanoke in the county at the time. Someoe named “Old Robins” had a family of 4, and there was also a “Free Colored” community, of which several were Chowanoke:

Jonathon Case              10

Joseph Case                 6

Sarah Smith                  1

Sam’ll Robins             2

Henry Gordon             5

Rachel Bocoses (?)      3

Ronor                           3

Morse                          4

Rachel Bennet            4


The nature of this community merits further research, but these other Chowanoke names do not appear in subsequent census records.




In 1810 we find 3 Hiter families. First is the Abraham Hiter we saw earlier, this time with a family of 3. Additionally, we find John Hiter with a family of 3 and Elizabeth Hiter with a family of 2. Perhaps they are Abraham’s children.




Unfortunetally Currituck County does not have a 1820 census record, so we must jump to 1830. The 1830 census provides a little more detail into the households of “Free Colored” people:

Isam Hiter  1 male 36-55, 1 female under ten, and one female 24-36

Anna Hiter 1 female 10-24, one female 24-36




In 1840 we find only the household of Amy Hiter, who is possibly the same person as Anna Hiter in the previous record based on her age.

Amy Hiter 1 female under 10, 1 female 10-24 and 1 female 36-55




In 1850 George Hiter is only a seven year old boy in Cowinjock, listed as black, and in the household of Sam’l Jarvis, white. Perhaps he was a servant or apprentice?

We find Amy Hiter again, but curiously she is listed twice with the same family, once in Poplar Branch and once in Powell’s Point. Her age  is listed as 50 and 60 respectively, though 50 appears correct based on previous census records:

Amy Hiter, 50, Nancy Hiter, 30, Betsy Hiter, 12, PoplarBranch

Amy Hiter, 60, Nancy Hiter, 30, Betsy Hiter, 12, Powell’s Point



In 1860 Amy, now an old woman, still lives with nancy, and they have a new member to their household, Dempsy. George is now a young man living on Roanoke Island.

Amy Heighter, 70, Nancy, 40, Dempsy, male, 3, Powells Point

George Hider, 19, Laborer, Roanoke Island



No Hiters are to be found in the 1870 census. Amy likely died of old age, but what happened to George, Nancy and Dempsy? Roanoke island was host to a battle and occupation by Union forces and one wonders what effect this had on George. This is incomplete, more work will be done to see if more Hiters remained 1880 and beyond. There is also the certainty that the Hiters in intermarried with the “Free Colored” population, so a looks into marriage records may show more Hiter descendants within the surnames of the African Americans within the county, this may particularly be the case with the Gordon family, who for some reason always is a neighbor of the Hiters throughout the Currituck county records.

     If anyone knows more about the Hoyter/Freemans, such as a furthurance of the above lines, I beg you, let me know. The most valuable bit of info would be a primary source proving Tabatha was the daughter of Thomas Hoyter, Chowan Chief. Thanks!