at the site allow
archaeologists to piece together the merging of Europeans into the
Indians culture after White's return to England.
At the site the
crew uncovered European, Indian and local-made pipes, copper rings and
plates, shell beads, Indian and European ceramics and coins drilled with
holes to be worn around the neck.
[A] small undated
coin was [found with] holes drilled in each end are among Phelps
favorite find from the recent dig.
The coin he said is similar to a 1563 coin found on Roanoke
Island about 50 miles to the north.
The team also
discovered two fire hearths where Phelps said American Indians and
colonists may have manufactured weapons and tools together.
Bill Kelso, who directs Jamestown Discovery, said he is
"very excited" about Phelps finds.
unearthed twin hearths and all this debris that has nothing to do with
household living, lead droppings from molding bullets, copper and brass
pieces and all kinds of clay pipes made from red North Carolina soil as
well as white English clay. We
think this was their workshop area" Phelps said of the Croatan site
near the Pamlico sound in Buxton.
"There was a
tremendous amount of European influence here and a lot of borrowing of
European technology for such an early time period.
Our guess is that these artifacts go back to at least the era
between 1650 and 1729."
The coin and some
pottery pieces are probably even older and could have been brought down
the barrier island by the Lost Colonists.
Phelps chose the
site initially for its dune cover. "The
dune ridge has always been an ideal location for coastal
settlements" Phelps explained, citing Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and
Kinnakeet [currently Avon] as examples.
The ridge provides protection from wind and storm surge and is
close to the neighboring forest. Phelps
attributes the preservation of the underlying strata of Croatan to the
The forest has also
helped to preserve a lower strata which Phelps dates between 800 AD to
1650. The strata was
uncovered and easily visible in a text excavation at a higher area at
the site. The excavation referred to as "the monster" by the
crew was about 12 meters square and 2 meters in depth. Phelps was able to date the strata by a number of Algonquin
pottery pieces originally identified on and named after Colington
Island. The Colington
pottery, circa 100 to 1500 AD is unique for its addition of ground
oyster shells around it which helped in drying clay pottery and prevent
despite the recent discoveries the month-long excavation ended Friday
and the two test excavations and major excavation were filled in. Phelps stated that he hopes to reopen the workshop site next
year and at the same time open test sites westward.
Excavations are tempered by availability of open land and working
around trees. The upcoming
months will be spent in the lab researching and writing about the recent
Marketing Director for the Lost Colony outdoor drame was a volunteer and
participated in the excavation. She
feels that the word Croatan found on the stockade and the tree indicates
that at least some of the colonists went to Hatteras.
Not necessarily so
said National Park Service historian John Gillikin "We know what
the work 'Croatan' meant, but not what the message meant" said John
from his office at the Fort Raleigh Historical site.
"It could've meant that's where the colonists went.
Or it could have means as a warning that the Croatan Indians were
no longer friendly. We have
no idea what happened to the colonists.
We simply do not have enough evidence to even come up with a
theory. All those artifacts
show is that the natives were voracious traders with the Europeans,
whether colonists or shipwreck victims or what. I'm not doubting that site is where some of the Lost
Colonists may have gone. This
could be a very important discovery in finally finding what happened to
at least some of them. But
I'd need more evidence before I'd say so."
Hurricane Emily in 1993 unearthed the first remnants of Croatan Indian
civilization along a dirt road in Buxton.
Phelps has worked here the past 3 years.
This month's project included 5 ECU students and a dozen Hatteras
island volunteers and was the biggest effort yet.
The dig site extends about a half mile along Buxton's dune ridge.
Phelps said that as
many as 5000 Native Americans could have inhabited the southern end of
Hatteras Island from AD 1000 to 1700.
"There is no
way to say how many colonists may have been here.
Possibly a few single men were
sent down to Hatteras to wait for John White to come back with supplies
while the remaining settlers head up the Chesapeak Bay" said
Dough [who I
believe ran the LC play at the time] says that all the word Croatoan
indicates is that "at least one literate colonist went to Hatteras.
They probably didn't leave in a group."
Phelps plans to
continue digging on Hatteras for at least 5 years.
He hopes that someone will look for evidence of the colonists in
the Jamestown area. He
returned to his Greenville lab this week with thousands of Indian and
European artifacts that need to be processed and identified.
"Eventually these things should come back to Hatteras
island. They belong here. What we're trying to do now is to understand the Croatoan
society and how those native Americans related to the original European
Phelps is also
presently working on a underwater study off of Roanoke Island and plans
to return in the fall for a workshop to train volunteers and formally
present the artifacts found at the Buxton site.
Hurricanes Reshape the Outer Banks
Why do we care
about the hurricane history of the Outer Banks?
It's simple. Hurricanes
have changed the coastline and sometimes the very essence of the Outer
Banks. When considering
archaeology digs, we need to know where to look, what is no longer
"there" and where not to bother to look because the area has
been washed out.
Weather Service has compiled a history of major storms long the outer
banks. This was done by
Charles Carney, Albert Hardy and James Swanson and parts reprinted in
several articles clipped and now a part of the Beatrice McArthur
collection in the History Center in Manteo.
Few articles are sourced or dated, so I've extracted information
and combined it to make a single, comprehensive article, with my
commentary interspersed as well.
The outer banks has
been struck by a major hurricane on the average of every 4 years.
The first weather history of the Outer Banks begins with the
adventurer Giovanni da Verrazano sailed into NC waters in 1524 and after
enduring a storm, charted the first shoal which he named as the Cape of
Feare, probably aptly so. Two
years later, in 1526 a large Spanish expedition led by Lucas de Ayllon
came to the Cape of Feare in search of gold.
After wrecking his ship during a "loathesome gale", de
Ayullon and his men camped in the vicinity of Bald Head Island.
There they built a new ship, the first to be constructed by
Europeans in the new world.
Drake, on his way
to visit Roanoke Island in 1586 to deliver supplies to the fledgling
military colony encountered a 4 day hurricane on June 13, 1586 which
wrecked many of his ships. Lane,
the leader of the Roanoke colony which was subsequently rescued by Drake
at the end of the hurricane and taken back to England, reported that
"in the terrible storm, he (Drake) had undergone more dangers from
shipwreck in his desire to bring aid to us than all his previous
engagements with the Spaniards".
Drake was a pirate, known as a privateer, so this statement was
indeed saying something.
Still determined to
establish a colony in the New World, Sir Walter Raleigh sent another
group of colonists in 1587 who would come to be known as the "Lost
Colonists". As we
know, they were left on Roanoke Island and
John White, their governor, returned to England in 1587 for
supplies. Upon his return
in 1590, the colonists were gone. Some
have speculated that the fate of the colonists could be linked to a
hurricane disaster. Contributing
to the theory in which a great storm surge could have swept through the
settlement, 4 cannon, iron bars and other metal debris were found around
the site. Heavy objects may
have been left behind while homes, ships and other objects may have been
scattered by the tides. This
is just one of many theories. If
this were the case, I would think that the Native people would carry an
oral history of such an event, but none exists.
records are sparse, partly because the area was so thinly populated. Through
the 17th century, only 3 hurricanes are known to have struck North
Carolina, although others may have affected the general area. On Sept. 6
1667, a severe storm dragged through southern Virginia destroying crops
and buildings. It is assumed that this hurricane passed over the Outer
Banks prior to its move up to the Chesapeake.
Rains from this storm were said to have lasted for 12 days.
The Great Storm of
August 18, 1750 was responsible for numerous reports of damage along the
Carolina coast. New inlets
were cut through barrier islands and 5 ships of the Spanish Flora, a
fleet sent to plunder coastal settlements, were reported washed ashore
or wrecked. That was
probably the silver lining of the cloud to bedraggled Outer Bankers.
Outer Bankers thrived on the spoils of shipwrecks, so much so
that legislation was enacted describing how the spoils were to be
Then in 1752
another fateful storm tracked from Charleston, SC up the coastline and
also destroyed many ships. But
this hurricane's most infamous result was the flood and destruction of
the Onslow County seat. The
town of Johnstown, named after Governor Gabriel Johnston, was built on a
bluff in an area now known as Old Town Point, now part of Camp LeJeune.
The only building left standing was the jail, which was also
subsequently abandoned because after rebuilding elsewhere, no one lived
close to the jail anymore. All
of the county records were destroyed.
A severe hurricane
in September 1761 washed over the southern coast of NC. Once again many ships and homes were destroyed.
A new inlet was cut near Bald Head Island at a location known as
"Haul-Over", nearly one mile wide and 18 feet deep, this inlet
remained open for more than a hundred years.
I can't tell if this is the Haul-Over between Portsmouth and
Okracoke Island or a different one much further south.
Haul-Over is also an area just north of Buxton where an inlet was
also open for many years. The
phrase "haul-over" itself was a place where one could
literally, haul a boat over the island from one side to the other.
In some cases, with inlets on the Outer Banks, we only know
approximately when they opened and closed, the information obtained form
Many reports exist
of a devastating hurricane that hit NC on September 6, 1769.
Most severely hit were the region from Smithville (now Southport)
to New Bern, the colonial state capital.
In a letter to the Earl of Hillsboro, Governor Tyron wrote, "New
Bern is really now a spectacle, her streets full of the tops of houses,
timber, shingles, dry goods, barrels and hogsheads, empty most of them,
rubbish....insomuch that you can hardly pass along - a few days ago so
flourishing and thriving. It
shows the instability of all sublunary things.
In short, my Lord, the inhabitants never knew so violent a storm.
Every herbage in the gardens had their leaves cut off.
hurricane is attributed to the effect of a blazing planet or star that
we seen both from New Bern and here, rising in the east for several
nights between the 26th and 31st of August and its stream was very long
and stretched upwards towards the west."
that at this late date, weather events were still attributed to
celestial events. Ironic
that the English called the Indians heathens for their beliefs in
similar kinds of things.
struck the New Bern area again in 1803, 1815, 1821 and 1825.
On September 3 and
4, 1815, a hurricane surprised coastal residents near Swansboro.
According to a newspaper report in Raleigh, the storm caused
great damage and loss of life. In Onslow, a Mr. Nelson's home on Brown's Banks was swept
away during the storm surge taking with it 4 of his children.
The father and one son survived by clinging to the wreck of the
house as it carried them nearly 12 miles to Stone's Bay on the New
In 1825 a rare June
hurricane swept through NC leaving destruction up and down the eastern
seaboard from Cuba to New England.
More than 20 ships were driven ashore on Okracoke Island, 27 near
Washington, and dozens more from Wilmington to Cape Lookout.
On August 24 and
25, 1827 another powerful hurricane moved west across the state from
Cape Hatteras to Winston-Salem. During
the peak of the storm, the Diamond Shoals Lightship broke away from its
anchors and drifted southward to Portsmouth.
Two of the lightships crew were washed overboard and lost at sea.
After this storm the treacherous Diamond Shoals were without a
signal light for several years.
In the year 1837, 3
hurricanes were known to have struck between August and November.
The August storm brought tremendous rains and it was reported
that no bridge was left standing between Wilmington and Waynesboro
(today Goldsboro). According
to a witness "the gale was certainly the most violent we have
witnessed and the quantity of water greater than has ever been
In October of 1837
a long-lived hurricane named Racer's Storm wandered across the Yucatan
Peninsula to the Texas coast, across the Gulf states and Florida and
into the Atlantic, crossing the Outer Banks on the 9th and sinking
several ships. On the
steamship Home, 90 of the ship's 130 passengers were lost at sea.
Three weeks later, the third hurricane of that season hit the
In 1842, two
hurricanes struck, damaging areas from Wilmington to Currituck. The first, a July storm sank numerous ships along the
coastline. The most severe
damage was from Portsmouth along the Outer Banks where livestock drowned
and homes were washed away. For
residents on the island, this storm is believed to have been the most
severe on record. Less than
30 days later, another storm swept over the same area of the Outer
Banks, again bringing destruction, including the loss of 3 ships.
The Congress wrecked at Cape Hatteras, the Pioneer at Ocracoke
and the Kilgore at Currituck. The Outer Banks aren't known as the
"Graveyard of the Atlantic" for no reason.
The September 6,
1846 hurricane that approached the Outer Banks was both intense and slow
moving. A remarkable surge
of water driven for days by continuous northeast winds pushed far into
the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds flooding rivers and creeks for miles
inland. Then as the
hurricane passed, the winds shifted direction to the southeast, causing
the massive expanse of water to rush back towards the sea, overwashing
the Outer Banks from west to east.
On the night of September 7th, a new inlet was created by these
events today known as Hatteras Inlet.
The next day, a second inlet was formed just south of Roanoke
Island. This inlet soon
became navigable and was named Oregon Inlet for the first large boat to
pass through it, the Oregon. For
years after this storm, sounds and bays that had always been freshwater
were said to contain oysters, stingrays and other saltwater creatures.
In addition to wrecking homes and ships, this storm literally
reshaped the geography of the Outer Banks.
Many of the island
residents sought cover on the ocean-side dunes.
On Hatteras Island a man known as Old Stein recounted that prior
to the storm, the area between Frisco and Hatteras was lush with
vegetation, and after the storm surge, it was all gone and has never
tempest" that struck the Cape Fear region on a full moon in
September 1856 also delivered a massive storm surge.
Heavy crop damage was reported as fields were flooded with salt
water from the incredible tide. Prior
to the storm, Wrightsville beach was said to have been covered with
groves of live oaks. As the
hurricane made landfall, the surging ocean overwashed Wrightsville.
The waves uprooted and swept away most of the oaks and left only
a few trees standing. Of
those that remained, most died within
a few days due to the invasion of the salt water.
Reports of waves breaking half a mile inland from the sound at an
elevation of 30 feet have led to speculation that these floods may have
been some of the worst in NC history.
A hurricane played
a part in the Civil War. Just
after the battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861, President Lincoln
declared a commercial and military blockade of all southern ports and
the Civil War began. Within
months, the Union Navy positioned a fleet of 75 vessels along the
Carolina coast which was at that time the largest ever assembled by a US
commander. On November 1st,
a terrific late-season hurricane scattered the fleet and brought a major
setback to the Union command. At
least 2 vessels sank and several sailors drowned.
Some of the ships were wrecked on the NC beaches where
Confederates were able to salvage their goods.
The hurricane of
August 16-18, 1899 was the last big storm which blew across Hatteras
Island prior to the Conservation Crops construction of the duneline on
the island in the 1930s.
Witnesses said that
"the scene here was wild and terrifying in the extreme.
The entire island was covered from a depth of 3 to 10 feet.
The tide swept over the island at a fearful rate destroying
everything moveable in front of it.
The howling wind, the rushing and roaring tide and the awful sea
which swept over the beach and thundered like a thousand pieces of
artillery made a picture which was at once appalling and terrifying, the
like of which Dante's Inferno could scarcely equal."
More than half of the residents lost their homes.
During this storm, named San Ciriaco, 7 ships were lost on the
shoals, 6 more disappeared without a trace and more than 50 lives were
lost on the Outer Banks alone.
By this time,
people began to live in raised homes and had holes slotted in the floor
so that the flood waters could rise and recede.
Local stories tell of residents opening their doors and windows
to the sea so that the floods would flow through the house, not destroy
it by knocking it off of its foundation and washing it out to sea.
The next major
hurricane occurred on September 14, 1944 and slammed into the area with
110 mile per hour winds at Hatteras.
108 buildings were lost, nearly 700 damaged and 2 Coast Guard
cutters capsized and sank while trying to assist another ship.
In September 2003,
hurricane Isabel opened a new inlet, known as Isabel inlet, half a mile
wide, 15 feet deep and with three distinct channels between Frisco and
Hatteras. This new inlet
was subsequently closed by replacing massive amounts of sand and the
summary, the Hatteras Island areas most affected geographically by
hurricanes since the colonists were abandoned in 1587 are the area now
Oregon Inlet, an area just north of Buxton between Buxton and Avon where
an inlet existed in 1587 but does not now, probably the entire stretch
between Buxton and Avon, the area between Frisco and Hatteras Village
which has been washed out and where Isabel Inlet opened and was
subsequently closed, and the area now Hatteras Inlet.
The Chowan Indians
Thanks to Fletcher
Freeman for contributing part of the following information. In addition I used resources found in The American Indian in
North Carolina (1947) by the Rev. Douglas Rights hosted at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~jmack/algonqin/rights.htm
and the book Villany Often
Goes Unpunished, Indian Records from the North Carolina General Assembly
Sessions 1675-1789 by William L. Byrd III along with the ever popular
The Chowan Indians
were found in North Carolina when Sir Walter Raleigh's military
expedition visited in 1585 -1586. At
that time, they were documented as the "Chowanook", or Chowanoke. Later,
the name was shortened to Chowan and today, the Chowan River is one of
the few rivers left that memorializes a Native tribe on the Eastern
According to Ralph Lane, Raleigh's expedition leader in 1585, the Chowanoke
had 19 villages, with the capital being the town of Chowanoke
near present-day Harrellsville in Hertford County, NC. They were the most numerous and most powerful of the
Algonquian tribes in North Carolina. Lane described the town as being
large enough to muster 700-800 warriors, which meant their total
population was likely more than 3000. Another later account by Harriot,
from the same expedition, estimated that all the villages could muster
800 warriors. Lane's account was quite accurate in terms of his
description of the town, its location and structures.
Archaeological excavations at the site of Chowanoke in the 1980s confirmed
Lane’s report of its location. The town had been occupied by humans
for 800 years, with radiocarbon dating establishing 825 AD as the
earliest date of culture related to the Chowanoke. Including large agricultural fields, the town was a mile long
and was home to several hundred Chowanoke people and possibly as many as
2100. It contained a precinct for the ruler and nobility or elite
residences, public buildings, temples and burials near the north end of
what the archeologists called Area B. This may have been the
30-longhouse cluster observed and reported by Harriot. Evidence
of other residences was found in areas of erosion on the edges of the
Other earlier inhabitations were found as well, predating the Chowanoke.
Richard Dillard has described a shell mound in the former Chowan region:
of the largest and most remarkable Indian mounds in Eastern North
Carolina is located at Bandon on the Chowan, evidently the site of the
ancient town of Chowanokes which Grenville’s party visited in 1585,
and was called Mavaton. The map of James Winble, made in 1729, also
locates it about this point. The mound extends along the
bank five or six hundred yards, is sixty yards wide and five feet deep,
covered with about one foot of sand and soil. It is composed almost
exclusively of mussel shells taken from the river, pieces of pottery,
ashes, arrowheads and human bones . . . Pottery and arrowheads are found
in many places throughout this county, especially on hillsides, near
It is probable that diseases from the first English contact, such as measles
and smallpox, considerably weakened the Chowanoke, as they did other
coastal Carolina peoples.
None had natural immunity to European diseases.
The neighboring Tuscarora, who had inhabited areas to the inland, expelled
the remaining Chowanoke from the territory along the river.
In 1607 an English expedition, in the area on orders from Captain John Smith
of Jamestown, found that hardly any Chowanoke people were left along the
Chowan River. They had been reduced to one settlement across the river
in present day Gates County on Bennett's Creek.
Several decades later, in 1644 and 1675-77, the Chowanoke had strengthened
enough to wage two wars against English settlers. They met defeat each
time. After these wars, the English designated the Chowanoke settlement
on Bennett's Creek as the first Indian Reservation in the present-day
August 27, 1650, a Virginia exploring party set out from Fort Henry to
reach the Tuscarora settlements. The company included Edward Bland,
Abraham Wood, Sackford Brewster, Elias Pennant, two white servants, and
an Appromattox Indian guide. On the way they secured a Nottoway Indian
guide named Oyeocker.
distance west of Meherrin River they came to an Indian trail. Their
this path our Appamattuck Guide made a stop, and cleared the Westerly
end of the path with his foote, being demanded the meaning of it, he
shewed an unwillingness to relate it, sighing very much. Whereupon we
made a stop untill Oyeocker our other Guide came up, and then our
Appamattuck journied on; but Oyeocker at his coming up cleared the other
end of the path, and prepared himselfe in a most serious manner to
require our attentions, and told us that many years since their late
great Emperour Appachancano came thither to make War upon the Tuscarood,
in revenge of three of his men killed, and one wounded, and brought word
of the other three men murdered by the Hocomawananck Indians for lucre
of the Roanoke they brought with them to trade for Otter skins. There
accompanied Appachancano severall petty Kings that were under him,
amongst which there was one King of a Towne called Powhatan, which had
long time harboured a grudge against the King of Chawan, about a young
woman that the King of Chawan had detayned of the King of Powhatan: Now
it happened that the King of Chawan was invited by the King of Powhatan
to this place under pretence to present him with a guift of some great
vallew, and they met accordingly, and the King of Powhatan went to
salute and embrace the King of Chawan, and stroaking of him after their
usual manner, he whipt a bowstring about the King of Chawans neck,
strangled him; and how that in memoriall of this, the path is continued
unto this day, and the friends of the Powhatans when they passe that
way, cleanse the Westerly end of the path, and the friends of the Chawan
some two miles from the path we come unto an Indian Grave upon the east
side of the path: Upon which Grave there lay a great heape of sticks
covered with greene boughs, we demanded the reason for it, Oyeocker told
us, that "there lay a great
man of Chawan that dyed in the same quarrell, and in honor of his memory
they continue greene boughs over his Grave to this day, and ever when
they goe forth to Warre they relate this, and other valorous, loyall
Acts, to their young men, to animate them to doe the like whan occasion
1663 the Chowan entered into a treaty with the English and
"submitted themselves to the Crown of England under the Dominion of
the Lord Proprietors." This treaty was faithfully observed for a
decade, but in 1675 the Susquehanna War broke out in Virginia. Through
incitement of the Indians of Virginia the Chowan violated their treaty.
A year of warfare followed with serious loss to the settlers.
The tribe was largely extinct by the late 1600s; with many deaths likely due
to diseases, including a smallpox in 1696.
Chowan were forced to surrender all of their land on the south side of
Meherrin River and were assigned a reservation on Bennett’s Creek.
Here they struggled along for a hundred years. Many petitions were made
to the council for a survey, but nearly fifty years passed before the
request was granted. Their lands gradually dwindled from twelve square
miles, as first assigned, to six square miles about 1707. At this time
they had only one town with about fifteen fighting men.
In March of 1702, the area was beginning to be settled, and a group of
settlers petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly, as follows:
have right to considerable tracts of land on Bennet's Creyke now known
as Caret's Creyke via patents and conveyances.
Chowan Indians have their hunting quarters upon petitioners lands
and pretend the land is theirs and destroy the stock of the petitioners
and burn their houses saying they are under the protection of the
English and that no Englishman ought to seat within 4 miles of their
town...we implore the Indians lands be laid out for them accoriding to
the aforesaid order of coucill and if petitioners hold land within the
limits it shall be diserted and left to the said Indians.
Signed by Benjamin Blanchard, John Campbell, Thomas Spivey,
Francis Rountree, Robert Rountree, Robert Lacitar, George Laciter,
1712 Missionary Giles Rainsford of the English Church wrote:
had conference with one Thomas Hoyle King of the Chowan Indians who seem
very inclinable to embrace Christianity and proposes to send his son to
school . . . I readily offered him my service to instruct him myself . .
. where I lodge being but three miles distant from his Town. But he
modestly declined it for the present till a general peace was concluded
between the Indians and the Christians. I found he had some notions of
Noahs flood which he came to the knowledge of and exprest himselfe after
this manner – My father told me I tell my Son.
years later Rainsford reported: "I have been five months together
in Chowan Indian Town & make myself almost a Master of their
language." In this same letter he offered to serve as missionary
John Hoyter petitioned the council in 1714 for a survey of the six-mile
reservation, stating that the Indians had been "fighting on Eight Expeditions against the Indyan Enemy of this
province and during the time they were in ye Countys Service they
Suffered Considerable loss in their plantations & Stocks loosing
Seaventy five head of hogs a Mare & Colt their Corne destroyed by
which ye wearing out of their clothes they are reduced to great poverty,
and asked that some allowance be made for their services and
Apparently the land was surveyed, because in this 1714 petition request to
the General Assembly, we find that Chief Hoyter is petitioning on behalf
of the Chowan Indians for a resurvey:
Hoyter Petition for himself and the rest of ye Chowan Indians.
Upon ye humble petition of ye said indians to this honorible
board in the time when Honorable Henderson Walker Esq. was president was
past that ye governor or deputy should lay out a tract of land for ye
said indians of 6 miles square and another order in the time of
honorable Landgrave Robert Daniel Esqr persuant to ye order.
In pursuance deputy Gov .Capt Luton came and undertook said
survey and did lay out a tract of land but wholly contrary to the intent
and meaning of said order for ye petitioners are very confident that ye
council was that such land should be layd out for them as would produce
corn for their support and the petitioners do pray and averr that none
other parcel of ye said land in ye said place will produce corn being
all pines and deserts so they have not their land according to ye intent
and meaning of the board, neither for quality nor quantity it being not
near 6 miles squiare. We
pray for relief. John (I,
his mark) Hoyter for himself and the rest of the nation.
1718 and 1720 petitions were filed by Chief Hoyter complaining that the
settlers were continually intruding upon the lands of the Indians and
that the limits of the territory had never been determined. In the
former petition he also asked for payment due one of his tribesmen by a
settler for an Indian slave of the Core Sound region.
1717, Chief Hoyter complained to the governor and council that his
people were starving, being kept off their land by the settlers.
According to notes
by Fletcher Freeman, the N.C. council set aside the 53,000 acre Indian
Woods Reservation in 1723 along the Roanoke River in Bertie County for
the Tuscarora under Chief Blount and the Chowan who had sided with the
colonists in the Tuscarora War of 1711.
the year 1731 the tribe had dwindled to less than twenty families.
In 1733, the
Bennett name is located on the East side of the Chowan River, but none
of the other names mentioned are, including Freeman.
In 1733, just 10
years later, the Chowan and Tuscarora petitioned to merge. This citation is found in the Minutes of the North Carolina
Governor’s council dated April 3, 1733, Vol. 3, pages 537-538 of the
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina. The
council authorized the “Suponees “to live with the
“Tuskarooroes” and went on to say “ and that the Chowan Indians
have leave to live with the Tuscarooroes Indians provide King Blount
will receive them.” This
is somewhat unusual since the Chowan were Algonquin speaking and the
Tuscarora were Iroquoian, although they were allies during the Tuscarora
war beginning in 1711. However, it appears from the Council
records that the Chowan under Chief Hoyter stayed on their Indian town
reservation in Chowan County until at least 1751 when they sold their
In May of 1733, we
find our next document, as follows:
We James Bennett,
Thomas Hit(t)er, Charles Beazley, Jeremiah Pushen (Pushing), John
Robins, John Reding, Nuce Will, Indians of Chowan precinct in the county
of Albemarle in NC for 150# NC money in hand on ? to be paid by Thomas
Garrett whereof we the said Indians hereby acquit exonerate and
discharge Thomas Garrett, heirs and assigns forever having sold all that
part and parcell of land lying in Chowan precinct being part of a patent
bearing the date 1724 for land beginning at the mouth of a branch known
as Gum Branch up the swamp to a branch to Capt. Aron Blansherds line,
along his line to a branch by his plantation at a bridge then from thr
bridge along the path to the Gum Branch then down the branch to the
first station containing 400 acres and we the said indians (names
repeated) have good right and lawful authority to sell....bind ourselves
for 1000#. Signed James
Bennett, Thomas Hitter, Charles Beazley, Jerrmiah Pushing, John Robins,
John Reding, Nuce Will, in the presents of Michael Ward, Henry Hill May
In September 1733,
the Chowan are leasing their land.
Charles Beasley, Thomas Hittor, Jereme Pushen, Thomas Pushen, John
Reding of Chowan precinct to Thomas Tailor of Chowan let to farm Thomas
Tailor 100 acres lying between the Myrey branch and the Poplar branch
upon the pocoson side lying (torn) Chowan precinct belonging to the
Jowan indians called the Rain Gras neck with land
and all the profetes and preveledges there unto belonging to said
Thomas Taillor from Sept 10 full term 13 years.
Two yeares went free firm and fully completed and ended yealding
and paying unto said indians aforesaid the rent or sum of 250# tobacco
to them and asignes to be paid yearly after 2 years rent free now to the
performance of these artikles and 200 pounds to be paid upon the
nonperformance of this agreement. And
if sold Thomas Taillor to have the refuse of ye said land.
James Bennet, Charles Besly, Jereme Pushing, John Freeman, Walter
Droughan, William ?, John Reading.
There appear to be no witnesses.
Note that in this
instance, John Freeman seems to be included at the end with the Indians,
but not in the first sentence. The
same situation occurs with Walter Droughan and William ?, and Thomas
Hittor who is in the first sentence is missing from the last reference.
On January 30,
1734, the Chief Men of the Chowan, petitioned the North Carolina
Assembly regarding the abuses against their people.
Petitioners were Thomas Hoyter, John Robins, John Reading, Neuse
Will, James Bennett, Charles Beasley and Jeremiah Pushing.