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The Lost Colony by Hamilton McMillan, published in 1888
Owned by Roberta Estes
Estes - copyright 2010
original document was written by Hamilton McMillan in 1888.
I have transcribed the original and added research notes where the data
was adequate to either verify what Mr. McMillan wrote or to add more
Walter Raleigh's Lost Colony, an Historical Sketch of the Attempts of Sir Walter
Raleigh to Establish a Colony in Virginia with the Traditions of an Indian Tribe
in North Carolina indicating the Fate of the Colony of Englishmen Left on
Roanoke Island in 1587 by Hamilton
1 - In 1583, "Elizabeth by the Grace of God, of England, France and
Ireland, Queen, defender of the faith" granted to Sir Walter Raleigh, his
heirs and assigns forever, letters patent "to discover, search, find and
view such remote heathen and barbarous lands, countries and territories, not
actually possessed of any Christian Prince, nor inhabited by Christian people as
to him, his heirs and assigns, to every or any of them shall seem good, and the
same to have hold and occupy and enjoy, to him his heirs and assigns
was provided further that a settlement should be made in the territory granted
within 6 years next succeeding the
date of the letters patent.
grant was made during one of the most critical periods of British history. The Protestant Elizabeth has espoused the cause of the
Netherlands and had given high offense to Spain by rejecting the proposed
matrimonial alliance with Philip, the reigning monarch of that country.
The Armada, consisting of 140 ships of war and carrying fully 30,000 men
threatened at attack upon England. Powerful
allies stood ready to assist King Philip. The
length of time necessary to complete this powerful armament had afforded to
Elizabeth opportunity to prepare for the impending danger. Sir Walter Raleigh
then enjoyed high favor at court. The
Queen early discovered his soldierly qualities and intellectual ability and in
addition to high rank which she bestowed upon him, readily granted him and his
heirs extensive territory in North America. Raleigh was one of the most skillful
generals of his time and while actively engage in preparation for the threatened
invasion of England found opportunity to fit out an expedition to the coast of
America to make discoveries and to locate a colony in compliance with the terms
of his grant. The commanders of the
expedition were Philip Armadas and Arthur Barlowe who sailed with 2 barques from
the coast of England on the 15th day of April 1584 (old style) and reached the
cost of America in July of the same year. They
sailed along the coast for 120 miles before they found any river or entrance
issuing into the sea. These
navigators probably entered Hatteras Inlet on the coast of what is now NC and
having anchored "within the haven's mouth of the left hand of the
same", they went in boats "to view the land adjoining and to take
possession of the same in right of the Queen's most excellent majesty as
rightful Queen and Princess of the same."
The land thus taken into possession was Roanoke Island about 7 leagues
distant from the anchorage.
a stay of nearly 2 months, the expedition returned to England, carrying two of
the natives, Manteo and Wanchese. The
disposition of the natives towards the Englishmen was friendly and though no
reason is given for carrying two Indians to England, it was probably understood
that a second expedition would soon follow and that they could return to their
own country at an early day.
There was good policy in impressing them, as prominent men of their own
land, with the greatness of England. Manteo
and Wanchese returned in another expedition to Roanoke, the former to become
Lord of Roanoke, the later to become the determined enemy of the English.
second expedition under Sir Richard Grenville, the cousin of Sir Walter Raleigh,
sailed from England on the 9th of April 1585.
This expedition consisted of 7 vessels, and arrived at Roanoke during the
following July. In August
following, Sir Richard Grenville returned to England after leaving a colony on
Roanoke Island under Master Ralf Lane.
explored the surrounding country making many valuable discoveries, and finally
despairing of aid expected, embarked with his entire colony on the fleet of Sir
Francis Drake, which stopped at Roanoke and sailed for England.
departure of Lane's colony left no Englishman on the shores of North America.
3 - Chapter 2 - In less than one month from the departure of Lane, Sir Richard
Grenville arrived at Roanoke with supplies an after a fruitless search for the
colonists, he left 15 men on the island to hold possession of the country. After the departure by Grenville, these men were seen no more
discouraged by repeated failures, Sir Walter Raleigh fitted out another
expedition under John White as Governor, who with others of the colonists, were
incorporated as "the Governor and Assistants of the Cittie of Raleigh in
Virginia". The city of Raleigh
was designated to be built on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.
White was instructed to call at Roanoke to ascertain the fate of the 15 men left
there by Sir Richard Grenville. The
commanders of the ships seemed to have been independent of the authority of
Governor White, and fully aware that a voyage to the Chesapeake Bay would delay
their expected cruise in the West Indies, refused to transport the colony to its
destination, thus compelling White to stop at Roanoke Island.
The vessels soon departed in search of Spanish prizes.
reciting many incidents, Governor White relates that "on the 13th of
August, our savage, Manteo, by the commandment of Sir Walter Raleigh, was
christened in Roanoke and called Lord thereof, and of Dasmonquepeuk, in reward
of this faithful service." "the
18th, Eleanor, daughter of Governor White and wife to Ananias Dare, one of the
colonists, was delivered of a daughter in Roanoke, and the same was christened
there the Sunday following, and because this child was the first Christian born
in Virginia, she was named Virginia."
White relates that a violent tempest arose on the 21st of August which lasted
for 6 days and threatened the destruction of one of the vessels then ready to
sail for England. Governor White
was sent back to England by the planters to act there as factor for the colony.
Croatan Indians who visited Roanoke Island invited the colonists to reside with
them, and the latter, prior to the departure of the Governor, expressed to him
their intention to accept the invitation and to remove 50 miles "up into
the main". It was understood
that if they went to Croatoan, they were to carve the word Croatoan on the bark
of a tree in some conspicuous place, that he Governor might know where to find
them on his return. It was further
understood that if they left the Island in distress they were to carve the
Christian cross above the word Croatoan.
the 27th of August, White sailed for England and the colonists were seen no more
by white men.
4 - chapter 3 - On his arrival in England, Governor White found all things in
commotion. The long threatened
storm of war had burst upon England and the services of Sir Walter Raleigh and
others who were interested in the distant colony, were enlisted in the national
defense. It was a critical period
of British history. Queen Elizabeth
relied upon the skill of Raleigh, under whose guidance the Armada was defeated,
and "liberty of person and liberty of conscience were once more free".
the 22nd of August 1588, Governor White by aid of Sir Walter Raleigh sailed from
England with 2 barques to visit the colony at Roanoke.
These vessels, disabled in fighting ships encountered during the voyage,
were compelled to return to England. No
further attempt to reach the colony was made till the 20th of March 1590, when
White again sailed for Virginia with three vessels. Nearly 6 months
passed before the vessel reached Roanoke in the following August.
his account of this voyage as published by Hakluyt, Governor White said that
"on the 15th of August, towards evening, we came to anchor at Hattorask in
36 1/3 degrees, in 5 fathoms of water, three leagues from the shore. At our first coming to anchor on this shore, we saw a great
smoke rise in the isle Roanoke, near the place where I had left our colony in
the year 1587 which smoke put us in good hope that some of the colony were there
expecting our return out of England. The
16th and next morning, our two boats went ashore and Captain Cooke and Captain
Spicer and their company with me with intent to pas to the place at Roanoke
where our countrymen were left. At
our putting from the ship, we commanded our master-gunner to make ready 2
minnions and a falcon, well loaded, and to shoot them off with reasonable space
between every shot, to the end that their reports might be heard to the place
where we hoped to find some of our people."
some unimportant details we extract from White's narrative the following:
"Our boats and all things filled again, we put off from Hattorask,
being the number of 19 persons in both boats, but before we could get to the
place where our planters were left, it was so exceedingly dark that we overshot
the place a quarter of a mile, when we espied towards the north end of the
island (Roanoke) the light of a great fire through the woods to which we
presently rowed: When we came right over against it, we let fall our grapnel
near the shore and sounded with a trumpet a call, and afterwards many familiar
tunes and sons and called to them friendly; but we had no answer, we therefore
landed at day break and coming to the fire we found the grass and sundry rotten
trees burning about the place. From
hence we went through the woods to that part of the island directly over against
Dasamonguepeuk, and from thence we returned by the water side round about the
north point of the island until we came to the place where I left our colony in
the year 1587. In all the way we saw in the sand the print of the savage's
feet of two or three sorts trodden in the night, and as well entered up the
sandy bank, upon a tree in the very brow thereof, were curiously carved these
fair Roman letters, C.R.O., which letters presently we knew to signify the place
where I should find the planters, seated, according to a secret token agreed up
on between them and me at my last departure from them, which was that in any way
they should not fail to write or carve on
the trees or posts of the door the name of the place where they should be
seated, for at my coming away they were prepared to remove from Roanoke 50 miles
into the main. Therefore at my
departure from them in August 1587, I willed them that if they should happen to
be distressed in any of those places that they should carve over the letters of
a name a cross (cross shape) in this form, but we found no such sign of
distress. And having well
considered of this we passed through the place where they were left in sundry
houses, but we found the houses taken down and the place very strongly enclosed
with a high palisade of great trees with curtains and flankers, very fortlike,
and one of the chief trees or posts at the right side of the entrance had the
bark taken off, and 5 feet from the ground, in fair capital letters, was graven
"Croatoan", without any cross or sign of distress.
This done, we entered into the palisado, where we found many bars of iron
and two pigs of lead, 4 iron fowlers, iron locker, shot and such like heavy
things thrown here and there almost over grown with grass and weeds."
"But although it grieved me much to see such spoil of my goods, yet
on the other side, I greatly joyed that I had safely found a certain token of
their being at Crotoan, which is the place where Manteo was born, and the
savages of the island our friends."
weather compelled Governor White to return to the fleet, and on the following
day, with a favorable wind they prepared to sail to Croatan, but owing to the
loss of all their anchors, save one, and the approaching foul weather, it was
determined to sail to St. John or some other island southward for fresh water
and after obtaining victuals and necessaries in the West indies and spending the
winter there, to return in the spring to seek the colonist at Croatoan. One of
the vessels being in a leaky condition was compelled to sail for England.
The other vessel after cruising for awhile in search of Spanish prizes,
finally sailed for England and arrived at Plymouth on the 14th of October, 1590.
P 7 - From the story of Governor White, it is evident that Croatoan was situated southward from Roanoke Island, and up on the coast, for the voyages attempted to sail to it upon the open sea. It is probably that the island mentioned was one of the long
curtaining the coast and embracing within the present county of Carteret. It is so located on one of the olde maps, bearing date of
On a map published by order of the Lords Proprietors in 1671, the
peninsula embracing the present county of Dare is called Croatan.
Lawson's map of the year 1709 also locates Croatan in the same region.
The sound immediately west of Roanoke Island still bears the name of
Croatan. The name of the island
belonging to the tribe was Croatoan, while the name of the tribe inhabiting it,
may have been Croatan. The name
Croatan was given to the tribe by the English from the name of a locality within
their territory. That part of their
territory lying west of Roanoke Island was called Dasamonguepeuk by some of the
natives. Manteo, by order of Sir
Walter Raleigh, was made of "Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonguepeuk", the
first instance of a title of nobility being conferred on an American.
There can be little doubt that the territory now embraced within the
counties of Hyde, Tyrrell and Dare was claimed and occupied by the friendly
tribe of Manteo at one time, and was designated as Croatan, and at another time
occupied by a different tribe of hostile Indians who called it Dasamonquepeuk.
Croatoan, the principal seat of Manteo and his tribe lay to the
southward. The name carved upon the
tree according to a secret understanding between Governor White and the planters
prior to the departure of the former, was Croatoan, and was understood by him to
mean an island southward from Roanoke, "for there" he related,
"Manteo was born and the savages of the island, our friends."
8 - For nearly three hundred years after the departure of White no trace of the
lost colony had been discovered, with the exception of the following related by
Lawson, an early historian, who wrote in 1714: "the Hatteras Indians who
lived on Roanoke Island, or much frequented it, tell us that several of their
ancestors were white people and could talk in a book, as we do; the truth of
which is confirmed by gray eyes being frequently found amongst these Indians,
and no others. They value
themselves extremely for their affinity to the English, and are ready to do them
all friendly offices."
tells us that several subsequent voyages were made at the expense of Sir Walter
Raleigh, to discover his lost countrymen, but without success. Commanders of ships in those days were more anxious to
capture Spanish vessels than to find lost Englishmen and it is doubtful if a
single ship touched at Croatan or Roanoke to make enquiries, after the departure
of White in 1590.
4 - Who were the Croatons? The term
Croatan or Croatoan was applied by the English to the friendly tribe of Manteo
whose chief abode was on an island on the coast southward from Roanoke. The name Croatan seems to indicate a locality in the
territory claimed by Manteo and his tribe as Hatteras Indians, and from an
incident to be related hereafter, this title seems to have been recognized by
these Indians. From the first
appearance of Amadas and Barlowe to the departure of Governor White in 1587
relations of the most friendly character are known to have existed between this
tribe and the English colonists. Their
chief, Manteo, in reward of his faithful services to the English, was, by
command of Sir Walter Raleigh, baptized as a member of the Church of England and
was made Lord of Roanoke and of Dasamonguepeuk.
reasons given in the succeeding pages, we believe the term Roanoke, then applied
to the island, was afterwards given to a large extent of territory contiguous to
Pamlico Sound, in fact to all the territory claimed by Manteo.
The tribes at that early day, seemed to have had no settled boundaries to
the territories claimed by them and occupied the land adjacent to their
principal seats, alternately with other tribes, as hunting grounds.
history of this tribe, as connected with the early attempts to colonize our
eastern coast, is of peculiar interest and is worthy of extended notice.
who accompanied Lane's expedition to Virginia, in describing the Indians on our
coast, says "they are a people clothes with loose mantles made of deer
skins and aprons of the same around their middles, else naked, of such a
difference of stature as we of England, having no edge tools or weapons or iron
or steel to offend us withal, neither know they how to make any."
"The language of every government is different from any other, and
the further they are distant, the greater is the difference."
"They believe that they are many gods, which they call Mantoac but
of different sorts and degrees, one only chief and great God which has been from
all eternity." "They also
believe the immortality of the soul, that after this life as soon as the soul is
departed from the body according to the works it has done, it is either carried
to heaven, the habitable of the gods, there to enjoy perpetual bliss and
happiness, or else to a great pit or hole, which they think to be in the
furthest part of the world towards the sunset, there to burn continuously,
the place they call Popogusso."
reading this account of the religion of the natives, we conclude that at some
period they had communication with more civilized races from the East who
impressed upon them some idea of faith more exalted than the common among
savages. Some may be ready to
accept the absurdities of monkish fancy and readily believe them to be
descendants of the "lost tribes" who had retained something of ancient
Jewish faith. The difference in
color, language and other characteristics renders it difficult to accept such a
theory. The knowledge of this
western land is as old as the time of Plato and Solon, who mention an island in
the west called Atlantis "and a great continent which lay beyond it".
The Persians established a colony in the West Indies a thousand years
ago, which, by "abstaining by all admixture with the black aborigines,
differs but little from their progenitors in the parent country."
The Welsh colonized the Carolina coast in the 12th century. In 1660 Rev. Morgan Jones in travelling in the Tuscarora
country was captured by the Doegs, a branch of that tribe who spoke Welsh.
He describes them as settled upon Pontigo river near Cape Atross.
This statement seems to confirm the Welsh chronicle which describes
Madoc's colony. Long before the
discovery of Columbus the Basques sent fishing vessels to the northern part of
America. The Norse records describe
voyages to the American coast, reciting facts and dates which are confirmed by
Irish and Arabic chronicles, and also by the inscription on Woman's Islands on
our northern coast bearing date of April 25, 1135.
If we discredit the accounts of these early voyages we may discredit
anything of ancient date recorded in history.
The Sanscrit root syllable ap and the Latin root ak, both meaning water,
are detected in the names of scores of rivers and bays on our Atlantic coast
facing Europe, where vessels driven by the northeast trade winds, would probably
reach our shores.
cite these facts in support of the theory that colonies were in past times,
located on our coast, and in course of time were neglected and forgotten by the
parent countries and became absorbed by native tribes.
If this theory is accepted in will account for traditions of wrecked
vessels prevalent among the Indians described by Harriot, as well as for their
religious notions so far above those commonly found among savages.
Prescott, as quoted by Dr. Hawks in speaking of Indians found on the
Atlantic coast of North America, says, "they had attained to the sublime
conception of one Great Spirit, the creator of the universe, who immaterial in
his own nature, was not to be dishonored by an attempt at visible representation
and who pervaded all space was not to circumscribed within the walls of a
may have been the origin on the tribe, known to us through the English colonists
as Croatan, can only be a matter of conjecture.
They had traditions of vessels wrecked in past times, and the affirmed
that iron implements found among them were obtained from such wrecks.
Children with auburn hair and blue eyes were noticed among them, which
impressed the belief that they had had communication with the white people.
From the appearance of Amidas and Barlowe in 1584 to the departure of
Governor White in 1587, their demeanor towards the whites was friendly. The treatment received by Manteo during his visit to England
may have enhanced the good feeling towards the English. What became of them?
- Chapter 5 - After the departure of Governor White from the coast of Virginia
in 1590, 5 expeditions were fitted out at the expense of Sir Walter Raleigh for
the relief of his distressed countrymen at Roanoke.
the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, Captain John Smith sent a hardy woodsman to
the Chowanoke Indians, who lived near the head of Albemarle Sound, under the
pretense of sending presents to their king, but his object was to make inquiries
concerning the Roanoke colony. Captain
Smith sent two other men to the Mangoaks, on the river Nottoway, but they
returned as the other had done, without any information except that the white
people were all dead. (Vide
Williamson's His. Of NC Vol 1 p73)
is evident from the story of Governor White, as given on a preceding page, that
the colonists went southward along the coast to Croatoan Island, now a part of
Carteret county, in North Carolina, and distant about one hundred miles in a
direct line from Albemarle Sound. The
Mangoacks were seated northwest from Albemarle and it is not surprising that the
messenger returned without definite information.
The statement of Lawson, as to the tradition of the Hatteras Indians, may
throw some light on the fate of the English colonists, but it is a matter of
surprise to us at this time that a historian would not pursue the investigation
of that tradition far enough to ascertain who those ancestors were who could
"talk in a book". Europeans
had been upon the coast even before the arrival of Amidas and Barlowe in 1584.
Persons were noticed among the native with auburn and chestnut colored
hair and traditions existed concerning wrecked vessels.
Iron implements were found among the Croatoan Indians made of spikes and
nails obtained from a wreck on their coast, which occurred about 20 years before
the arrival of the English colony. A
previous wreck in 1558 was mentioned, some of the crew were saved and were
supposed to have been lost in their attempt to leave in the frail boats of the
natives. Lawson wrote in 1714, 127
years after the colonists were last seen on Roanoke Island.
Sixty nine years after the settlement on that island and 60 years before
the event related by Lawson, Roanoke was visited by an Englishman, Francis
Yeardly, who, in a letter to John Farrar, Esquire, dated May 8, 1654, relates a
visit made to Roanoke Island by himself and others, "where or thereabouts
they found the great commander of these parts with his Indians ahunting, who
received them civilly, and showed the ruins of Sir Walter Raleigh's fort, from
which I received a sure token of their being there.
After some days spent to and fro, in the country, the young man, the
interpreter, prevailed with the great man and his war captains to come in and
make peace with the English, which they willingly condescended unto." -
(Vide Hawks His NV Vol 2 p 17).
So that at that early day the island was occupied by Indians who knew
nothing of the lost Englishmen,
and who pointed out Raleigh's fort as an object of curiosity, without any
tradition as to the fate of those who built it.
Mr. Blain, who as a missionary to the settlement son Pamlico Sound, after
describing the difficulties of his situation, writes to his patrol Lord
Weymouth, as follows: "I think
it likewise reasonable to give you an account of a great nation of Indians who
live in that government, computed to be no less than 100,000 many of which live
among the English, and all as far as I can understand, a very civilized
people." This letter was
written in 1703. Mr. Blair speak of
a desert of 50 miles in extent to be crossed in reaching the place.
At the time in which he writes, the descendants of the missing colonists
must have held only a tradition respecting the events attending the attempt at
colonization on Roanoke Island. The
number mentioned by Mr. Blair is evidently an exaggeration and the location of
the tribe is indefinite. There is
reason to believe that descendants of the colonists were living in a region of
the country southwest of Pamlico at the time in which he writes and that they
emigrated Westward towards the interior where a large body of Croatan Indians
and descendants of the lost colonists had previously located.
It is probably that the civilized Indians mentioned were a portion of the
Croatan tribe, as there was no other tribe in which the reference could apply.
At that early day very little was known of the region to the Southwest of
Pamlico Sound and the missionary may have traveled 100 miles in reaching the
place of his labor which seemed to be at a great distance from other precincts
visited by him.
the time he writes, 1703, there were no settlements of white men known to exist
beyond the region around Pamlico Sound. Subsequent
to that date white emigrants penetrated the wilderness and in 1729 there was a
settlement made on Heart's Creek,
a tributary of the Cape Fear, and near the site of the present town of
Fayetteville. Scotchmen arrived in
what is now Richmond County in North Carolina as early as 1730.
French Huguenots in large numbers emigrated to South Carolina after the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and some of them had penetrated as far North
as the present Northern boundary of that State, in the early part of the 18th
the coming of white settlers there as found located on the waters of Lumber
River, a large tribe of Indians, speaking English, tilling the soil, owning
slaves and practicing many of the arts of civilized life.
They occupied the country as far west as the Pee Dee but their principal
seat was on the Lumber, extending along that river for 20 miles. They held their lands in common and land titles only became
known on the approach of white men. The
first land grant of land to any of this tribe, of which there is written
evidence in existence, was made by King George the 2nd in 1732 to Henry Berry
and James Lowrie, two leaders of this tribe, and was located on the Lowrie Swamp
east of Lumber River in present county of Robeson in NC.
A subsequent grant was made to James Lowrie in 1738. According to tradition there were deeds of land of older
date, described as "White" deeds and "Smith" deeds, but no
trace of their existence can be found at this date.
of these people at a later period purchased their lands from persons who
obtained large patents from the King.
bands of immigrants arrived on the Lumber River from ancient settlements towards
the east, while other moved west towards the Pee Dee, Catawba, and French Broad
rivers. These people were
hospitable, and friendly relations were established between them and their white
neighbors. Subsequent to the coming
of white settlers a portion of the tribe went north towards the Great lakes and
some of their descendants can be found at this time in Canada, West of Lake
Ontario. Another emigration
occurred at a later date and the emigrants became incorporated with a tribe then
located near Lake Michigan. Many
families, described as white people, emigrated towards the Allegheny mountains
and there are many families in Western NC at this time who are claimed by the
tribe in Robeson County, as descendants of the lost English colonists, who had
preserved their purity of blood to that degree that they could not be
distinguished from the white people. These
Indians build great roads connecting distant settlement with their principal
seat on the Lumbee, as the Lumber river was then called.
One of the great roads constructed by them can be traced from a point on
Lumber River for 20 miles to an old settlement near the mouth of Heart's Creek,
now Cross Creek.
Another great highway still bearing the name of the "Lowrie
Road" and used at this day as a public road extends from the town of
Fayetteville through Cumberland and Robeson Counties, in a SW direction towards
an ancient Croatan settlement on the Pee Dee.
Lowrie, previously mentioned as one of the grantees in the deeds made by George
the 2nd, and recognized as a chief man of his tribe, is described as an Indian
who married Priscilla Berry, a sister of Henry Berry, the other grantee
mentioned. James Lowrie was a
descendant of James Lowrie of Chesapeake, who married a Croatan woman in
Virginia, as Eastern NC is still designated by the tribe, and became the
progenitor of all the Lowries belonging to this tribe.
According to the prevalent tradition respecting this family, the men were
intellectual and ambitious and as a chronicler of the tribe described them,
became "leaders among men". Many
persons distinguished in the annals of NC are claimed as descended from the
original James Lowrie of Chesapeake. "You
will find the name of James Lowrie", remarked the chronicler,
"wherever you find a Lowrie family."
Berry, the grantee previously mentioned, was a lineal descendant of the English
colonist, Henry Berry, who was left on Roanoke Island in 1587.
of this tribe served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and
enjoyed pensions within the memory of persons yet living.
A considerable number served during the War of 1812, some of whom
received pensions within the recollection of the writer. From the close of the Revolution to the year of 1835, they
exercised the elective franchise equally with white men, performed militia
duties, encouraged schools and built churches, owned slaves and lived in
comfortable circumstances. By an
ordinance of the NC State convention of 1835, the elective franchise was denied
to all "free persons of color". To
effect a political purpose, it was contended that these citizens were "free
persons of color" and afterwards they were debarred from voting till the
year 1868, when a new constitution was adopted.
After the adoption of the new State constitution, they were allowed the
benefit of public schools, but having been classed for a long period as
"free persons of color", they were compelled to patronize schools
provided for the negro race. Owing
to a bitter prejudice against negroes, but few availed themselves of the
privilege, the greater part preferring that their children should grow up in
ignorance rather than they should be forced to associate with a race which they
hold in utter contempt. Separate
schools have since been provide for their race, by the legislature of NC which,
by special act, recognized them as Croatan Indians.
16 - Chapter VI - During the late way between the states, an incident occurred
which caused the writer to investigate the traditions of this tribe.
Three young men of the Lowrie family were drafted, according to military
law, to work on the fortifications at Fort Fisher in Eastern NC, and while on
the road to the nearest depot in Robeson County, they were killed, it is
supposed, by a white man who had them in custody. An inquest was held, and at its conclusion, an old Indian
named George Lowrie, addressed the people
assembled, in substance as follows: "we have always been friends of white
men. We were a free people long
before the white men came to our land. Our tribe as always free.
They lived in Roanoke, Virginia. When
the English came to Roanoke, our tribe treated them kindly.
One of our tribe went to England in an English ship and saw that great
country. When English people landed
in Roanoke we were friendly, for our tribe was always friendly to white men.
We took the English to live with us.
There is the white man's blood in these veins as well as that of the
Indian. In order to be great like
the English, we took the white man's language and religion for our people were
told they would prosper if they would take white man's laws.
In the wars between white men and Indians, we always found on the side of
the white men. We moved to this
land and fought for liberty for white men, yet white men has treated us as
negroes. Here are our young men
shot down by a white man and we get no justice, and that in a land where our
people were always free."
incident above occurred in the latter part of 1864 and owing to the troubled
state of the country at that time, and for several years afterwards, no
investigation could be made till the year 1875, when the writer became a citizen
and had opportunity of interviewing the leading persons of the tribe.
the year 1835 these Indians who murmured greatly at the injustice done them in
being classed as "mulattoes" or "free persons of color"
became suspicious of white men and at first we found difficulty in eliciting any
facts relating to their past history. After
years of patient investigations, gathering here and there, we present the
following summary of traditions prevalent among them.
tribe once lived in Roanoke in Virginia, as they persist in calling Eastern NC. The name Roanoke is applied to the country around Pamlico
Sound, embracing Hyde, Tyrrell and Dare counties on the North, with the series
of island as far South as Carteret county and embracing that county with Craven
and Jones. Croatoan or Croatan was
a locality far to the south, off the coast of Carteret, and was the principal
seat of the tribe. Their leading
man was made Lord of Roanoke. The
name Manteo they do not recognize, but are familiar with a Mayno, a name very
common among them and representing a very quite law abiding people.
an early date after the colony became incorporated with the tribe, they began to
emigrate westward. The first
settlement made was probably in what is now Sampson county on several small
rivers tributary to Black River. A
portion located on the Cape Fear, near a place now bearing the name of
"Indian Wells" and at Heart's Creek in Cumberland county, now
Fayetteville. It is impossible to ascertain at what date the tribe located in
Robeson, but it is probable that they have resided there for 200 years.
According to their universal tradition, they were located there long
before the troubles with the Tuscaroras began in 1711.
Some of the tribe fought under "bonnul" as they term Colonel
Barnwell, and we have reliable evidence that they brought home a few
Mattamuskeet Indians as prisoners and slaves.
The descendants of these Mattamuskeet had their traditions also.
The name Dare was not recognized by them in our first investigations, but
we afterwards discovered that they pronounce the name variously as Darr, Durr
and Dorr. This discovery was made
when we related to an old chronicler of the tribe the story of Virginia Dare,
the first white child born on American soil
This name Dorr or Durr has disappeared on the Lumber river since the War
The name Dorr appears on the muster roll of a company composed in part of
Indians from Robeson county which served in the war, in the US Army.
chroniclers or old persons who keep the tradition of the tribe have informed us
that there are families bearing the name of Dorr or Durr to be found in western
NC who are claimed by the tribe as descended from the English colonists of
Roanoke. These chroniclers affirm
that the Dares, Coopers, Harvie and others retained their purity of blood and
were generally pioneers in emigration. Many
names are corrupted so that it is difficult to trace their history.
The name Goins was originally O'guin, as appears from ancient court
records. The name Lumber as applies
to the river was originally Lumbee or Lombee.
The name Manteo is nor familiar to them.
While they have a tradition of their leader or chief who went to England,
yet they have preserved no name for him. The
nearest approach to the name of Manteo is Maino or Mainor.
An old women whom we interviewed spoke of their great man as Wonoke.
This name may be a corruption of Roanoke for we must remember Manteo was
made Lord of Roanoke. Mattamuskeet Lake, according to the tradition preserved by
these Indians was a burnt lake or lake caused by water filling a hole burnt in
the ground. We are indebted for
this tradition to an aged gentleman of Roberson county who was familiar with the
traditions of the tribe from about 1820-1824. He mentioned several persons who represented that they were
descended from Mattamusket Indians who were taken prisoners, in the war between
the whites and the Tuscaroras, by the tribe n the Lumber River.
These Mattamuskeets could locate the dwelling places of their ancestor
who lived in what is now Hyde county in the vicinity of Mattamuskeet Lake.
In our investigations we could find no traditions respecting these
persons. The names given by our
informants have all disappeared. Large
numbers have immigrated since the beginning of the present century.
Within half a century about 40 families have left the county of Roberson
from about Plainview and went into the northwest. "Traditions are fading fast", our informant
remarked "as far back as 1820 their traditions were more vivid than now and
were familiar to old and young. Now
you will find their ancient traditions confined to comparatively a few old
Lake is known among them as Mattapungo. They
have no tradition as to any river named Roanoke.
This name is invariably applied by them to the territory previously
described as occupied by their tribe on the Eastern coast. Hawks, as previously mentioned, speak of the tribe in 1587 as
When the Act of the North Carolina General Assembly was read to them, recognizing them as Croatans, an intelligent Indian remarked that he had always heard that they were called Hatteras Indians. The line of emigration extended westward from what is now Carteret County and can be traced according to tradition as far west as the French Broad in Buncombe county. Tradition respecting localities occupied by the tribe at the time of the absorption of the English colony is vague, but definite enough to establish the belief that their territory once embraced portions, at least, of the present counties of Carteret, Jones and Craven. It is not at all probably that any of the English colonists left by Governor White ever lived west of the county of Jones. The settlement on the Lumber river in Robeson county was made during the 17th century, possibly as early as 1650. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes occurred in 1685 and thousands of French Huguenots, driven to exile, found refuge in South Carolina. As early as 1709, a colony of these exiles located in the Eastern part of NC. Some of these Huguenots penetrated the interior as far as the Lumber river in the early part of the last century, and found the country north and east of them thickly populated by Indians who had farms and road and other evidences of civilized life, and had evidently resided there for a considerable time before the approach of white men.
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