Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lost Colony Baptisms to be Commemorated Aug. 17th

The first Protestant Baptisms in the New World to be commemorated on August 17th.

Image Credit:
© 2008 Episcopal Life Online

The Diocese of East Carolina will hold "The Commemoration of the Baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare at the Lost Colony" on August 17 at the Waterside Theatre in Manteo, North Carolina.

Little certainty surrounds the fate of the English settlers who inhabited Roanoke Island's lost colony, but it is known that in August 1587, Native American Manteo and English baby Virginia Dare were baptized. Manteo's baptism was the first recorded baptism of the Church of England in North America, while Dare was the first child born to English settlers on the North American continent.

"The baptisms of the lost colony mark a peaceful beginning to multi-cultural relations in North America," says East Carolina Bishop Clifton Daniel 3rd. "A commemoration of this event allows us as a people to reflect on this beginning and the changes that have shaped our nation and shed light on the challenges we face today," he said.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Documenting the American South

The Westover Manuscripts:
Containing the History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina;
A Journey to the Land of Eden, A. D. 1733; and A Progress to the Mines.
Written from 1728 to 1736, and Now First Published:

Electronic Edition.

Byrd, William, 1674-1744

Ruffin, Edmund 1794-1865

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sir Walter Raleigh - To His Love When He Had Obtained Her

Now Serena be not coy,
Since we freely may enjoy
Sweet embraces, such delights,
As will shorten tedious nights.
Think that beauty will not stay
With you always, but away,
And that tyrannizing face
That now holds such perfect grace
Will both changed and ruined be;
So frail is all things as we see,
So subject unto conquering Time.
Then gather flowers in their prime,
Let them not fall and perish so;
Nature her bounties did bestow
On us that we might use them, and
'Tis coldness not to understand
What she and youth and form persuade
With opportunity that's made
As we could wish it. Let's, then, meet
Often with amorous lips, and greet
Each other till our wanton kisses
In number pass the day Ulysses
Consumed in travel, and the stars
That look upon our peaceful wars
With envious luster. If this store
Will not suffice, we'll number o'er
The same again, until we find
No number left to call to mind
And show our plenty. They are poor
That can count all they have and more.
Sir Walter Raleigh (1554–October 29, 1618)

Friday, July 25, 2008

TGG Interview Series IX - Ana Oquendo Pabón

The ninth and final edition of the TGG Interview Series is with Dr. Ana Oquendo Pabón. Dr. Oquendo Pabón is DNA and Historical advisor to the Lost Colony DNA and Research Group, and is an Administrator or Co-Administrator to numerous DNA projects. Her bio is can be seen here.

In the following interview, Dr. Oquendo Pabón discusses her introduction to the field of genetic genealogy, her own experiences with genetic testing, and her thoughts about the future of genetic genealogy. It’s a terrific interview, so read on.

TGG: How long have you been actively involved in genetic genealogy, and how did you become interested in the field?

Ana Oquendo Pabón: I have been involved in genetic genealogy since very early in 2003. My brother and I have been traditional genealogists for about 28 years. Due to the excellent records on the island and hard research, we had long known all of our 64 grandparents except for one and all except 4 or 5 couples of our 128 ancestors. I had been keeping track of the news online concerning the “new science” and unique way of tracing your ancestral roots. I think everyone had heard about the Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings story by that time. I had also read about a particular genealogist named Bennett Greenspan’s own amazing quest to confirm his paternal DNA with an individual in Argentina and how he had started a genetic testing company to help others accomplish what he had done using yDNA. In 2003, I decided to give my brother a DNA kit as a combined birthday and anniversary present. We were among the first ten thousand genetic genealogy pioneers to take advantage of this new way of research. This spurred the idea of helping others in our field of expertise which was the genealogy of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Project (Proyecto ADN de Apellidos Puertorriqueños) was born.

TGG: Have you undergone genetic genealogy testing?

AP: I initially had the mtDNA HVR1 + HVR2 in 2003 as well as the biogeographic test. Since then, I have had the complete mtDNA and all autosomal markers available. My brother has had 67 markers and SNP testing. My son, daughter, grandson and I also have had testing through SMGF.

TGG: Were you surprised with the results?

AP: Yes and no. As an admixed individual of European (mainly Spaniard), Taino and African cultures, I expected to find a tri-cultural diversity in my personal DNA. Yet, where one test did find African heritage, another found none despite a known slave in the fifth generation and in others. The test did however find that I was 24% East Indian which could only mean my indigenous ancestry. The indigenous fact was definitely not a surprise since my ancestors had been on the island since the colonization but the high percentage was. Without a doubt, DNA can broaden our perspectives as to our ancestral origins and where to look further but it must go hand in hand with the traditional genealogy.

The greatest personal satisfaction to me is that by emphasizing mtDNA which was not even considered relevant to genetic testing as paternal yDNA Surname Projects of that time, we were able to make it an important aspect of our own project from the outset in 2003. Through mtDNA testing, we were able to dispel, one member Native American result after another, any notion of the complete extinction of the people who first greeted Columbus to the New World. After five years of intense recruiting, we have proven through our project that our Taino and indigenous ancestry is very much present in our people in a very large way. In fact, we have one of the highest frequencies of indigenous ancestry ~62% of Haplogroups A, C, B and D for such a small geographic area. We have also been able to determine the DNA of many of the first Colonos and Criollos, the first Spanish Colonists and their descendants who intermarried with Taíno or indigenous women and of other European colonists and immigrants from the 16th century forward.

TGG: Did the results help you break through any of your brick walls or solve a family mystery?

AP: Through my personal mtDNA or my brother’s yDNA, we have not. Neither of us has any exact high resolution matches. Since our mother was an orphan, and our father lost his father when he was three, our personal quest has been to determine the DNA signatures of our other lines through close relatives. In that way, we have been able to confirm our traditional genealogy and determine many of our other great great plus grandparents’ DNA. In fact, of the 300 members in our Puerto Rican DNA Project, we are probably related to ~75 % either on the paternal or maternal side due to our island’s geographic isolation during large periods of history and the high level of consanguinity and endogamy.

To date, we have confirmed through both traditional genealogy and DNA, our maternal mtDNA: L1c1a, paternal yDNA: E1b1a*, maternal grandfather: J2, mother’s paternal grandmother: Haplogroup C, another maternal ggg grandmother: Haplogroup A, our 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th maternal great grandfathers: E1b1b1 (E3b1), R1b1b2 (R1b1c), J1, R1b1, T (K2), J2a2 and our paternal great grandfather’s R1b1. However, it takes time, knowledge of the history and connections between families of the period, the genealogy of surnames of the period and not just your own and recruiting the correct individuals who themselves have well documented records.

continue interview

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Carolina Land Grants

Carolina Land Grants, 1684 - 1688

26 March 1684
Grant from the Proprietors of Carolina of 3,333 acres to Mary Biggs. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton.

11 July 1684
Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor Sir Richard Kyrle. Warrant for grant of lands to Thomas Ferguson, who is removing with divers other families from the North of Ireland to Carolina. Signed, Craven, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton.

25 July 1684
Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor Sir Richard Kyrle. Warrant for a grant of land to William Thorogood. Signed, Craven, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton.

14 April 1685
Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor Joseph West. Warrant for a grant of 500 acres of land to James Du Gué. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, P. Colleton.

14 April 1685
Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor Joseph West. Warrant for a grant of 300 acres of land to Isaac Fleury.

16 April 1685
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of 600 acres of land to Charles Franchomme. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, P. Colleton.

17 April 1685
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of 500 acres to Isaac Lejay. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, P. Colleton.

22 April 1685
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of 3,000 acres of land to William Shaw.

23 June 1685
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of 100 acres of land to Nicholas Languemar. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

30 July 1685
Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor Joseph West. Warrant for the grant of 3,000 acres of land, gratis. to Jean François de Genillat, the first of the Swiss nation, who has announced his intention of settling in Carolina. Signed, Craven, Tho. Amy, P. Colleton.

20 September 1685
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for grant of 3,000 acres of land to James le Bas. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, S. Sothell.

1 October 1685
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for a grant of 1,000 acres to Andrew Perceval. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, S. Sothell.

2 March 1686
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the delivery of three thousand acres of land to Josias Forrest. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

15 April 1686
Warrant of Lords Proprietors of Carolina, for the delivery of two hundred acres, sold to James Nichols, alias Petitbois. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton.

20 April 1686
Grant of the Proprietors of Carolina of five hundred acres of land to Charles Colleton. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

30 April 1686
Memorandum of Lords Proprietors of Carolina. A patent of Langrave was granted to John Price on this day.

30 August 1686
Grants by the Proprietors of Carolina of one hundred acres of land to Isaac le Grand, Sieur d'Anarville, and the same to Mr. James Le Moyne, they having each paid five pounds for the same. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, P. Colleton.

4 September 1686
Warrant of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of three thousand acres of land to henry Augustus Chastaigner, Seigneur de Cramaké, and Alexander Thezée Chastaigner, Seigneur de Lisle. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

29 October 1686
Warrant of the Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of twelve thousand acres to Mons. John d'Arsens, Seigneur of Wernhaut. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, P. Colleton.

2 November 1686
Warrant of the Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of one thousand acres to Maurice Matthews, in consideration of his having purchased the lands from the Indians. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, P. Colleton, Thos. Amy.

7 December 1686
Warrant of the Proprietors of Carolina for the allotment of three thousand acres of land to James Mantell Goulard de Vervaut. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

7 December 1686
Warrant of the Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of twelve thousand acres of land to James Mantell Goulard de Vervaut. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

13 May 1687
Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor James Colleton. We have agreed to grant Mr. John Price forty thousand acres of land on certain conditions herewith transmitted to you. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton, John Archdall, Tho. Amy.

13 July 1687
Order of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the grant of 626 acres of land to James Boyd. Signed, Craven, Albemarle, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

14 July 1687
Order of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina. That the grant of land made to M.M. Genillac and Bruneau shall be a free gift. Signed, Vraven, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

10 October 1687
Order of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina for the admeasurement of six hundred acres of land in Jameston precinct to Joachim Guillard. Signed, Craven, P. Colleton, Tho. Amy.

19 June 1688
Warrant of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina to Governor James Colleton, for the grant of 12,000 acres to Doctor Chritopher Dominick, he having paid £600 for the same. A rent of one penny per acre to be reserved. Signed, Craven, Bath (for Lord Carteret), P. Colleton.

Fortescue, J. W., ed., Calender of State Papers, Colonial Series (Volume 11), America and West Indies, 1685-1688, Preserved in Her Majesty's Public Record Office (Vaduz: Kraus Reprint Ltd., 1964) First Published London: HMSO, 1898. pp. 611, 667 and 670; Fortescue, J. W., ed., Calender of State Papers, Colonial Series (Volume 12), America and West Indies, 1685-1688, Preserved in the Public Record Office (Vaduz: Kraus Reprint Ltd., 1964) First Published London: HMSO, 1899. pp. 29, 30, 32, 59, 71, 95, 100, 157, 173, 182, 233, 239, 270, 271, 298, 366, 397, 451, 561.

More information about land grants in the Carolinas can be found in the books:
Province of North Carolina 1663-1729 Abstracts of Land Parents
Warrants for Land in South Carolina, 1672-1711
from website

Monday, July 21, 2008

England's First View of America

British Museum Exhibition of
John White Watercolors

A New World: England's First View of America
July 15, 2008 - October 15, 2008

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown Settlement will exhibit the 16th-century watercolor drawings of John White from the British Museum’s “A New World: England’s First View of America” July 15 through October 15, 2008.

The drawings are the earliest visual record by an Englishman of the flora, fauna and people of the New World. White accompanied a number of expeditions sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh to Virginia in the 1580s and was governor of the short-lived colony at Roanoke Island, part of modern North Carolina. He departed for England in 1587 to obtain more supplies, but war with Spain delayed his return until 1590. By then the colonists had vanished, and Roanoke became known as the “Lost Colony.”

Jamestown, America’s first permanent English colony, was established 17 years later, about 100 miles away. White’s depictions of the Algonquian-speaking people of the region have been an important resource in the development of Jamestown Settlement’s gallery exhibits and outdoor re-created Powhatan Indian village.

Additional Reading:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Supporting Lost Colony Drama is a Family Tradition

Fearing family continues tradition of support for The Lost Colony

Keeping the longstanding Fearing family tradition of generosity and support for The Lost Colony, Mollie A. Fearing & Associates has again renewed their $5,000 corporate sponsorship to offset overall costs of the production.Fearing's family ties to The Lost Colony story pre-date the symphonic drama. In the late 1920's her great uncle, the late D. Bradford Fearing chaired a committee that organized "The Pageant of Roanoke". The idea inspired Fearing and others who persuaded Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paul Green to write a play about Roanoke Island's famed "lost colony."

The elder Fearing, a local merchant and politician, oversaw the production its inaugural year and served as producer and general manager for many years until his death."When you're in our family, you are in service to The Lost Colony," said Grizelle Fearing, president of the Manteo insurance company. "As a kid, I saw The Lost Colony almost every night. Half of the family was in The Lost Colony every summer as costumer, actor-tech, principal, or board member and I was often there to help."Grizelle Fearing's mother, the late Mollie A. Fearing, was one of the production's greatest champions. A gifted hostess, "Miss Mollie" organized The Lost Colony's opening night receptions, board dinners and other social events for years, in addition to serving as a long-time officer and board member.

Fearing's husband, Tom McDonald (grandson of the late Irene Smart Rains, the show's former costumer) has long lent a helping hand, from creating exhibits at places like the Outer Banks History Center, alumni committee work, and even donating items for fundraising auctions from their personal collection. He performed in the show in his youth.

First staged in 1937, The Lost Colony tells the real-life story of America's "lost colony" of men, women and children who sailed from Plymouth, England, in 1587 to establish an English colony on Roanoke Island (N.C.). Predating Jamestown by 22 years and Plymouth by 35 years, the settlement disappeared with hardly a trace, leaving historians and archaeologists with a mystery that has never been solved.

Cont. here:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Acknowledging the Lumbee Indians

Dr. Jack Campisi
Anthropologist consultant, Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina
Testimony before the Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate
Legislative hearing on S.660, “To provide for the acknowledgment of the Lumbee Tribe
of North Carolina, and for other purposes.”
July 12, 2006

I hold a doctorate in anthropology, have dedicated my career to research in tribal
communities, and have taught these subjects as an adjunct professor at Wellesley College.
Between 1982 and 1988, I conducted a number of studies for the Lumbee Tribe of North
Carolina. Each of these included fieldwork in the community for periods of time varying from a
week to three weeks. In all, I spent more than twenty weeks in Robeson County carrying out a
variety of research projects. Besides being responsible for synthesizing the thousands of pages of
documentation collected during the ten years it took to carry out the archival research, and for
designing and carrying out the community research, I had the honor of writing the petition that
was submitted on December 17, 1987, to the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (now the
Office of Federal Acknowledgment) under the federal regulations that govern acknowledgment
of eligible Indian tribes, 25 C.F.R. Part 183. Specifically, I drafted the Historical Narrative
section, and researched and wrote the sections dealing with community and political continuity.
Subsequent to the completion of the petition, I continued research with the Lumbee Tribe, most
recently in 2002. The material that follows is based on my twenty years’ research on the Tribe’s
history and community.

Over the course of the past twenty-five years, I have worked on 28 tribal petitions for
federal acknowledgment. None has exceeded the Lumbee petition in documentation and no
group has exhibited more evidence of community cohesion and political continuity than the
Lumbee Tribe. It is my professional opinion that the Lumbee Tribe exists as an Indian tribe and
has done so over history. I will outline below the main arguments and evidence in support of this

An Overview of Lumbee Tribal History:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Saponi Commentary on Tribal Recognition

by Scott Collins
1 May 2008

Saponi Commentary on Tribal Recognition

The current government and tribal systems in place for Federal recognition of Native American tribes is inadequate, illogical, and destructive. The policies practiced, both in the past and present, destroy Native American Indian communities and families via blood quantification, tribal sovereignty, and paradoxical definitions.

Blood quantification for race is an illogical and unscientific method of determining tribal affiliation. Looking at what genetics show us in heredity, it can be deduced that a person does not necessarily express fifty percent of their DNA from each parent exclusively. This is due to “variability arising from independent assortment”, which creates “new gene combinations”. Genes are not “parceled out in mathematically precise combinations” (Marieb 1148-1149). The policy of blood-quantum can therefore be shown as a way to extinguish Native claims to tribal status and bolster racial policies hidden within tribal sovereignty issues. This policy specifically targets mixed blood Native American Indians and is a way to restrict access, recognition, and membership. Katel poignantly points out that tribes are no longer obligated to use blood-quantum established in 1932 “ by the Indian Affairs Commission”, but that it is endemic in tribal constitutions (Katel 379).

The Saponi tribe of the Siouan Nations came from the Ohio River valley. They belonged to the Yesah, Santee linguistic branch of Siouan speakers, which migrated eastwardly between 1100 and 1200 A.D. Some Siouan groups migrated west to the Great Plains, some remained in the Ohio River Valley, and some settled into the Piedmont regions of the Appalachian Mountains. It is thought that the great wars between the Northern tribes, Iroquois and Algonquians, and the Southern tribes, the Muskogee, sandwiched and pushed large groups of the Siouan eastward into the forest where territory was claimed as common grounds for all tribes (Mooney 29).

The Saponi, Tutelo, Occaneechi, Nahyssan, Moneton, Monacan, and Manahoac make up the Tutelo linguistic division and Monacan Confederacy of tribes. During the time of colonization, beginning in 1607, most Native American Indians, in the eastern and northern forests, where evolving confederacies to strengthen and share in protection and resources. One key alliance was the Monacan Confederacy. The Monacan tribe held control of the eastern regions’ copper mines. The Powhatan, the Cherokee, and the Erie were dependent upon the Monacan for trade in copper. Powhatan took the opportunity to establish a treaty with the English in order to break the copper monopoly of the Monacans. It is perhaps the only reason that the English were able to establish Jamestown (Hantman 660-676).

The Catawba are another Siouan linguistic division directly related to the Tutelo division. The Catawba and Monacan were important strategically for the colonies. The Monacan Confederacy was used to buffer the colonies on the north against the Iroquois and was a port of entry to the South. The Catawba held the Southern trade routes of the Occaneechi Trading Path and buffered against the tribes to the south and west, such as the Cherokee and Creek, and helping to confederate other Siouan tribes to act as buffer nations on the early frontier often mustering warriors to attack interior Indians for the colonial government (Merrell 1-16).

The records from the Colonial Era into the Revolution Era began to take shape in the 1740’s and 50’s. We can pick up certain family groups in the census and land records of the time. The Collins family is one such family that figures into the history of the Saponi. In 1742, Orange county, VA, Saponi men were arrested for utilizing a slash and burn agricultural technique used to clear planting grounds and create meadows for deer and turkey to browse. The charge was made that these Saponi men were terrifying a colonial named Lawrence Strouther (Orange County, VA 309). Two of the men brought into court were John Collins and John Collins, Jr. It is still controversial in some quarters, however the John Collins in the Orange county court case and the one later in Grayson County, VA, son of Old Thomas Collins and 1st cousin to Vardy Collins of Newman’s Ridge, son of William Collins brother to Old Thomas, are believed to be the same people. DNA testing has proven a male direct line, linking the John Collins and Vardy Collins lines. These are two separate labs scientifically coming to the same results; Relative Genetics: Collins DNA Project and Family Tree DNA: The Core Melungeon DNA Project (Jeskie and Family Tree DNA). Having traced out all the other John Collins lines, I can only come to the same conclusions.

Moving forward from genealogical data, census, land, court, military, and church records along with family oral tradition; we can logically deduce the correlative heritage between the Collins family and the Saponi. Known under several racial labels, this family migrated as needs arose; doing so for the sake of survival. Any group of people will migrate to gain employment, economic opportunity, to escape racial prejudice, or to escape untenable laws which restrict normal living. The Collins family is a well researched break away band of the Saponi tribe. In a letter to a Mrs. Stallard of Coeburn, VA, Robert K. Thomas, a well known Cherokee field ethnographer, states that, “As far as I can determine, all the Collins of Northeastern Tennessee, Southwestern Virginia, and Eastern Kentucky are descendants of one household of Collins who resided in Orange County, N.C. in 1760; a family of Saponi Indians. I know that it must be mind boggling to imagine that the thousands of Collins in your area are all descended from just one household, but such is the case. Further, this is not too amazing as it sounds its common among pre-Revolutionary American families” (Thomas).

Over the course of time the Collins family migrated out in several directions. The contacts in this family remain, to the present, through family reunions, letters, email, family web-pages and family associations. The ability to maintain Indian identity became a matter of family tradition and not one of criteria and reservation living. The Salyersville Indians are a part of the Collins story as the family migrated westwards. Dr. Richard Allen Carlson states, “Salyersville Indian identity is the product of cumulative historical actions guided by specific socio-cultural processes that subvert notions regarding race, class, ethnicity, religiosity, or political affiliation” (Carlson 3). He continues on explaining that the community standard became more complex as the tribe filtered out into the country side, integrating and assimilating into white society, however, keeping a form of community through strong family ties and traditions.

Defining a community may not seem like a difficult task when utilizing standard and simple dictionary terms. However, some communities are diverse, complex, and are not easily defined under government policies. Community may be classed into definitions that are empirical and abstract. The meaning of community may change between these two polar opposites when government policy conflicts or agrees with the community in question.

“Community”, as defined by The American Heritage College Dictionary, is “A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government . . . A group or class having common interests”. Contrast Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which states, “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest, living together within a larger society . . . a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interest”.
The U.S. government policy that defines Native American communities uses definitions such as, “A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government” (“community”American). In this definition a community is defined by the geographic location and further qualified through a common governing body.

In the historical context, the Saponi never had a specific micro-geographic location or a micro-political body operating autonomously. It would be more appropriate to maintain that the Saponi shared a regional geo-political range they themselves called Amanishuck and moved around within those bounds as the need or inclination arose. Saponi government was decentralized. Decisions were made on the basis of consensus by the family, clan, tribe, and even the confederacy to which the tribe belonged. The complexity this presents shows the basic need for context in understanding how and why the Saponi and all descendent groups should be recognized. Moving through time and circumstance, the Saponi would find their self removed from their historic region and into the regions of other tribes. Whether farther along South, East, or West, by migrating out and joining surrounding tribes, they were following a more abstract pattern of community. Such an abstraction would be like the one Merriam-Webster denotes as “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society” (“community” Merriam).

Communities can be separated by geography and still maintain a “common interest” in preserving cultural heritage (“community”American). In this manner they have not ceased to be a community by separate geographic locations. They have maintained their sense of community in an abstract manner and not the empirical one the U.S. government decides to impose over a mobile population. Often during the Colonial Era, and into the 1800’s, Native American tribes became so decimated by hostilities that a tribe would break apart into bands or family groups. Migrating to safe havens, they would wait until they could either return or decide to move completely out of the theater of violence. In some cases these groups or bands dispersed into and with the settler communities that sprang up. Anthropologists use the terms etic and emic to help further define a community. The etic view would be that which arises from outside communities. The emic view would be that which arises from within the community; its self view. While self determination is a right all Americans enjoy, the Salyersville Indian community emically identified themselves as a community of Native Americans as others outside the community etically defined them as such. The Salyersville community and the outside community had the same definition, but the governments’ definition differs enough to exclude, thus failing the added criterion of “continuous community” as stated in 25 CFR 83.7: Procedures for Establishing that an American Indian Group exists as an Indian Tribe (25 USCS 83.7, 2008).

When a tribe in modern times seeks to gain recognition with the U.S. government, the petitioning tribe must show an empirical standard of community continuity. This standard, although correct by definition, may not be the best method for determining tribal status. The reversal of the dispossession of Native American tribes can only occur when the definition of community is understood from the prospective of situational and historical contexts. The stern deductive logic of community definition used by the U.S. government, therefore, loses its saliency and tumultuously splits families into factions. These families very often live in separate states or perhaps across the continent.

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (west), and the Eastern Cherokee of North Carolina, although split by geography half a continent away from one another, never lost their community from the distance imposed upon them. They maintained familial and cultural ties that spanned the distance and continue to make their Nations one community, “a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests” (“community”Merriam). The government policies of the past and the present define community in such an empirical way that it discounts the historical context and present thinking of many Native American communities.

Tribal sovereignty, in the United States, is paradoxical in that Native American Indian tribes exist in their sovereignty as dependents of the federal government. Their sovereignty is limited by the policies of recognition, funding, and legislative whim. The use of sovereignty rights are often denied when substantive issues are being addressed as to the care and welfare of the tribal members. Used as a weapon to deny the legitimate birthright of descendents that may fall outside of the criteria, replete with paradoxical definitions of community, blood quantum, or geographic bias; tribal inner circles in the leadership often continue the government bias in order to secure monetary gains or press their personal agendas. Russel L. Barsh and James Youngblood Henderson in their book “The Road” show my assessment to be correct on membership of tribes and the way that membership was handled traditionally. They also agree that the U.S. governments’ policies influenced the uses of blood-quantum by tribal governments and impressing “. . . itself on the ideology of tribalists.” These authors also go on to state that “tribalists prefer a repressed tribal society . . . They do what they can to perpetuate reservations and the laws that maintain them . . . also unavoidably the racial theories that justify the laws” (Barsh and Henderson 244-245).

These actions cleave Native communities and families creating rifts that can last generations. The Saponi, along with other Southeastern Siouan tribes, are good examples of denial to recognize based on erroneous and fallacious government policies. Colonial, state, and federal documents can clearly show proof and evidence of the valid claims of these tribes and descendents. Instead of trying to understand the historical context of survival within these communities; the government suppresses context in favor of dogmatic criteria. This criterion has its basis in the Allotment Act and the Indian Reorganization Act, both utilizing as their basis, forced enrollments and round-ups during the removal period. They do not take into account the tribes that were scattered into the country prior to the Revolution, colonial treaties, Citizen Indians; the federal governments’ success at assimilation, those who escaped the Trail of Tears, and the systematic paper genocide that became policy for smaller scattered tribes in the Southeast.

Peter Katel in his work American Indians speaks about the issues of self-determination and how “Red Power”, the activism effort to secure Native American rights, directly impacted the governments’ policies. He states, “Amid the surging Indian activism, the federal government was trying to make up for the past by encouraging tribal self-determination. In 1975, Congress passed the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, which channeled federal contracts and grants directly to tribes, reducing the BIA role and effectively putting Indian communities in direct charge of schools, health, housing and other programs”. Was this a dodge by the government in effect abrogating treaty responsibility? In opting out and limiting government interference did the government actually make the system worse? Katel goes on to illustrate the supposed sincere approach of Washington stating, “And to assure Indians that the era of sudden reversals in federal policy had ended, the House in 1988 passed a resolution reaffirming the “constitutionally recognized government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes.” Separate legislation set up a “self-governance demonstration project” in which eligible tribes would sign “compacts” to run their own governments with block grants from the federal government. By 1993, 28 tribes had negotiated compacts with the Interior Department. And in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that made self-governance a permanent option” (Katel 361-384). By taking out supervision the government allowed corruption to take control fostering competition and rivalry within the Native communities.

Shawn Zeller, in CQ Weekly, shows a prime example in the dangers of power afforded to out of control leadership. The tribal membership of the Cherokee Nation became an issue when the Nation kicked off the Freedman from their rolls. In reaction to this alleged break in treaty terms, the U.S. government began to have hearings concerning the legality of this act and possible economic sanctions. Zeller states, “Cherokee Chief Chad Smith has made several trips to Capitol Hill this year to lobby against any such legislation. He has visited more than 60 offices, arguing that Congress has no cause for tampering with tribal sovereignty. “One of the foundations of tribal sovereign government is that we have the right to decide on our own citizenship,” says Cherokee spokesman Mike Miller” (Zeller 3524). Perhaps the sovereignty rights issue and the policies of the U.S. government created the problems seen in both the Cherokee and Seminole cases in which a minority in the tribal government decides to cut off large groups of Native Americans in favor of monetary gains. In giving the right to define tribal membership, the pitfall of denial for Native Americans will ultimately fall into the hands of unscrupulous Native leaders setting up a money machine for self interests. This leaves the fate of the many in the hands of a few and underscores the need for oversight and basic defining terms that are fair and true to the heritage.

It is easier for the government to set up a system, where in, over the course of three or four generations, a people become bred out by way of marriages to outsiders of the community. It is mathematically impossible for a people to maintain full blood status when the majority of tribal people are mixed bloods. Further, why waste time, money, and man power to keep the system running when you can make it look politically correct by placing the people in question at the head of the process. Tribal sovereignty and programs implemented to allow Native Americans to “run their own affairs” become an escape from responsibility while continuing the process of slow genocide. Like the Jews in the concentration camps, those which became supervisors and guards to their annihilation, the Native American privileged get to aid the state in wiping themselves out. Being fooled that they are participating in implementation of reforms, the only real reform is that the state is allowing the complicity of these privileged few to maintain the blood-quantum rule and make a mockery of Native tradition and history in government paradox. If you can whittle a persons’ blood-quantum down to one sixty fourth you can re-label them as non-Natives, and thusly refuse services, restrict enrollment, and make the slice of economic entitlements larger for those left. In some cases this can apply without the blood-quantum rules. In the policy that allows tribes to set their own standards for enrollment and under the heavy hand of biased leadership, this effectually excludes the majority of the tribe.

Joane Nagels’ work, American Indian Ethnic Renewal, speaks about outspoken critics of blood-quantum and tribal sovereignty. M.A. Jaimes, in regards to blood-quantum and the American Indian Arts and Crafts Act, states that this is a “contemporary reassertion of eugenics principles”. Nagel shows that Jack D. Forbes believes it to be an “intrusion of authorities into the ethnic designation process a violation of “the human right of ethnic self-identification”. Forbes goes on to state that the authorities should not infringe upon this basic right. Nagel follows up by saying, blood-quantum “when applied by the Federal government . . . tends to heighten tension among Native Americans, creating disunity and suspicion” (Nagel 244).

Community must have real meaning whether we use its empirical definition or its abstraction. The government definition is contrary to the policies of self determination and is exclusionary to a people which it governs through the use of U.S. Code Title 25. There are portions which are contradictory with other government agency definitions. Contradictions between the Office of Federal Acknowledgments’ definitions and the U.S. Code Title 25 would be a good example. These paradoxes can be found in U.S. Code: Title 25 450b: Definitions, Part A: Indian Self Determination, and 25 CFR 83.7: Procedures for Establishing that an American Indian Group exists as an Indian Tribe (25 USCS 83.7, 25 USCS 450b, and Part A, 2008).

The definitions of community change congruently with government policy creating a definition paradox. In order to fairly assess tribal continuity the government must first utilize a more stable use of terms that incorporate context, both historical and practical. These definitions must not encumber or dismantle the communities they seek to define or acknowledge. To do so would be a logical fallacy and a further injustice. The most logical definition of community takes all definitions into account and utilizes them based on context and surrounding data. This is how the English language, and community itself, works, evolves, and survives posterity. Community is a grouping of people, animals, objects, environments, and a combination of these, which form relationships, one with the other, either in an empirical form or an abstract form giving definition to, or insight about, their classification.

Currently there are no references in published Native American histories that reflect the true scope of Saponi and Southeastern Siouan heritage. Many reference the Saponi as a side note relegating them to be classified as an extinct tribe of the Southeast. Factually, this is a misnomer and caused by the laziness of historians to do the homework necessary in telling the Southeastern Siouan tribal history. Most references state that the Saponi moved north with the Tutelo to join the Six Nations. In actuality part of the Saponi left prior to the Tutelo movement north, and it was the Tutelo alone whom joined the Six Nations.

The Collins Saponi went west into North Carolina along the Yadkin and New Rivers and from there into Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Missouri and Texas. Some Saponi stayed in the areas they had been in, moving around in familiar localities. Some of the Saponi went to the Catawba in South Carolina before making their way back up north and from thence outward into the various communities. These family groups can be traced through the official records residing in what would later be called tri-racial communities. The Occaneechi, the High Plains Sappony, and the Haliwa are Saponi groups that have state recognition. Of these, the High Plains Sappony is the group that remains in the actual historic area that the Saponi were commonly found during some of the first exploration of the interior. The Ohio Saponi, the Missouri Saponi, Saponi Descendents Association, Eastern Siouan Descendents Association, and the Fort Christanna Saponi-Occoneechee Indians are among those Saponi people that have been chewed up and spat out by the recognition process.

Although these groups do not fit the governments’ faulty criteria, they never the less have the proof in genealogy, DNA, and historical records to back their claims. There are close kinships between the Lumbee/Chowan, Waccamaw Siouan, Salyersville Indian community, Carmel Indian community, Peedee tribe, and a litany of survival descendents that make up what have come to be known as tri-racial isolate communities like the Melungeons, Brass Ankles, and the Ramapo Mountain People. Regardless of predominant phonotypical appearances, whether African, Indian, or Caucasian, these groups embrace their heritage and maintain their Indian identity in the face of skeptics and the recognition machine.

Often many of the Saponi descendants have been played one against the other in a legitimacy game, a vicious cycle, played all too well by government and tribal agencies. Most of these people only seek to be recognized as the descendants of the Saponi, or other Southeastern Siouan tribes, and perhaps to seek grants for school, health care, and revitalization programs to reinforce their beleaguered cultural heritage. With the procession of time, all the tribes in the United States will, under the current system, face the same fate that the Saponi faced long ago. The Saponi lost their reservation in the middle of the 1700’s prior to the American Revolution. Once the land base was taken away, and the ethnic relabeling efforts began, the historical notation of the Saponi became a minor footnote in the history books of America.

Blood-quantum, will in time, take every tribe down the same path. What happens to one strand of the spider’s web will affect the entire web. When enough strands have been destroyed the whole web will collapse. The federal government policies, and in many cases tribal, seek to destroy the greater Native American community. The process for recognition is inadequate in serving the communities in question and alienates families. Tribal sovereignty becomes a red-herring in the survival of Native American Indians and creates an atmosphere of pernicious competition. Through racial relabeling, equivocation, blood-quantum, and recognition criteria, which is out of context; the federal government is compliant with cultural genocide. The current government and tribal systems in place for Federal recognition is inadequate, illogical, and destructive. The policies practiced destroy Native American Indian communities and families via blood quantification, tribal sovereignty, and paradoxical definitions.

Works Cited:

Barsh, Russel Lawrence, and James Youngblood Henderson. “The Road: Indian Tribes and Political Liberty.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
Carlson, Richard Allen, Jr. “Who’s Your People?: Cumulative Identity Among the
Salyersville Indian Population of Kentucky’s Appalachia and the Midwest Muckfields, 1677-2000, Vol. I.” Diss. Michigan State University, 2003.
“Community.” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. 2003.
“Community.” The American Heritage College Dictionary. 4th college ed. 2007.
Family Tree DNA. Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd. The Core Melungeon DNA Project. 2001. 7 April 2008
Hantman, Jeffrey L. “Between Powhatan and Quirank: Reconstructing Monacan Culture and History in the Context of Jamestown.” American Anthropologist 92 (1990): 660-676
Jeskie, Emily. Letter to the author. 23 August 2007.
Katel, Peter. “American Indians.” CQ Researcher, 16, 2006: 361-384.
Marieb, Elaine N., and Katja Hoehn. Human Anatomy & Physiology. 7th ed. San Francisco: Pearson, 2007: 1148-1149.
Merrell, James H. “The Catawbas.” Indians of North America. Ed. Frank W. Porter. Vol. 7. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989. 1-16.
Nagel, Joane. “American Indian Ethnic Renewal: Red Power and the Resurgence of Identity and Culture.” New York: Oxford University, 1996.
Orange County, VA. Order Book 3. 1741-1743. 309. Virginia State Archive. Orange County, VA Microfilm Reel 31, 309.
Thomas, Robert K. Letter to Kerri Conley. 12 August 1980.
Zeller, Shawn. “Tribal Wrongs? The Cherokee Raise Racial Ruckus on the Hill.” CQ Weekly 65 (2007): 3524.

Lumbee Refuge


Bladen County encompassed a portion of what is today Robeson County, and the Lumber River was at this time called by English colonials, "Drowning Creek." After the violent upheavals of the Yamasee War of 1715-1717, and the Tuscarora War of 1711-1715, families of Waccamaw Indians had left South Carolina Colony in 1718, and had very likely established a village west of present-day Pembroke, North Carolina by 1725. The “mixed crew” that Rutherford observed in 1754 were located in the same locale as the earlier Waccamaw settlement.

The research of the noted anthropologist, John R. Swanton of the Smithsonian Institution corroborates much of the oral tradition of the Lumbee Indians of Robeson County. Swanton posited that the Lumbee were the descendants of Siouan peoples of which the most prominent were the Cheraw and Keyauwee. These communities that would later comprise the Lumbee would also have included Siouan refugee groups of the Eno, Shakori, as well as coastal groups such as the Waccamaw and Cape Fear Indians. Interestingly, colonial migrants to the present-day Robeson County Lumber River basin came into contact with an acculturated population of Native Americans who reportedly spoke some English, owned European trade goods, and used primitive English-style farm tools in their agricultural pursuits. By then, English, Gaelic speaking highland Scots, and Welsh colonials had begun to make their way from present-day Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Laurinburg, North Carolina, and eventually, to Drowning Creek, or the present-day Lumber River. Critical to keep in mind is that at the same time that Native peoples were fleeing into the Robeson County region and seeking refuge from the incalculable destruction of warfare and disease, European colonials were in pursuit, attempting to gain a foothold, then wrest control of the resessed region of Robeson County.

By the mid-eighteenth century, Indians continued to populate the Lumber River basin area and its numerous tributaries. whites slowly moved into and established settlements, but overall, they initially lived on the periphery of those lands to which the ancestors of the Lumbee had managed to secure title with the colonial administration of North Carolina. The main Indian settlements during the late eighteenth century were Prospect and Red Banks. Individual land ownership by Native Americans had far-reaching consequences for the history of Robeson County in that Native peoples were less subject to the political and economic dominance of whites, managing to live in a homogeneous network of settlements that provided social and cultural security.,_North_Carolina#Refugees

Sunday, July 13, 2008

USA Archives for Every State

Thanks to Joy King for the following:

From Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter 7/13/08

Has URLs for the Archives of every state.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Public invited to see 500-year-old artifacts This Saturday

MORGANTON - People gathered around a woman and shouts of "hey, hey, hey" went up at the Berry archeological site on Thursday.

David Moore, lead archeologist at the site, was standing about 75 yards away. When he heard the shouts, he made his way over to the group.

What got the crowd excited was a find by Jeane Jones, of Dalton, Ga., of a tiny blue Spanish glass bead believed left behind from the first European settlement in the interior of what is now the United States.

It was the second glass bead found last week. One man found a piece of metal believed to be from the same era.

On July 12, the public will get a chance to take a look at the glass beads and other artifacts found at the site, as well as observe archaeologists at work. Archaeologists will be on hand to discuss the site and lead tours. Primitive skills experts also will demonstrate how native people crafted their weapons and tools.

Warren Wilson College and Western Piedmont Community College Archaeology Field School is sponsoring the open house.

Full Article Here:

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

If Wishes Were Ancestors

What if you could handpick the people sitting in your family tree? Would you choose rich ancestors? Beautiful ones? Ancestors who could get you the best seats at the finest restaurants or the kind whose mere mention would get you out of a parking ticket? Would healthy relatives be your choice? Great storytellers? Or would you just want to have relatives you might have had a chance to meet because they lived to be 100 years old—or more?
We challenged four family historians with the task of selecting people for their own dream trees—but we did so with a hitch: each would be relative would have to fit very specific criteria. Albuquerque Tribune columnist Mary Penner was asked to pick ancestors because of the material goods she would have inherited from each. Katherine Hope Borges, founder of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, was to select ancestors because of their DNA. Aha! Seminars president and author of The Official Guide to, George G. Morgan, was asked to pick ancestors simply based on the fact that each left a great trail of records. And Ancestry Magazine columnist Myra Vanderpool Gormley was asked to fill her family tree with people whose lives and tales would make good cocktail party conversation. So who did they choose? See for yourself.
Cont. here:
The Lost Colony DNA Project websites are:

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Persons of Mean and Vile Condition pt. 4

Bacon's Rebellion was the result of discontent among backcountry farmers who had taken the law into their own hands against government corruption and oppression. Many Virginians were debtors. Borrowing on the strength of paper money was stopped by the British Government, leading to more discontent against the merchant classes.

Historians have pointed out that one of the most important reforms made during Bacon's government was the recognition of the right to keep and bear arms, so that the common man could defend himself from hostile Indians but also to oppose a despotic regime. After Berkeley's resumption of power, this right was one of the first he repealed. Miller suggests it was Bacon's Rebellion that may have served as one of the motives for later colonists' insistence for the right to bear arms. Historian Stephen Saunders Webb suggests that Bacon's Rebellion was a revolution, with roots in the English Civil War and with consequences including the American Revolutionary War.

It was largely the indentured servants and poor farmers (most of whom were former indentured servants or their descendants) who rebelled. Before the rebellion, African slaves were rare in Virginia, chiefly due to their expense and the lack of slave traders bringing Africans to Virginia. Africans were often brought as indentured servants, becoming free after serving their term of labor. Indentured servants from Europe continued to play a role in Virginia after the rebellion. Due to the demand for labor and a decrease in immigrants from England, African slave imports grew rapidly. New Virginia laws made slavery lifelong and a status inherited by one's children, creating a racially based class system with Africans at the bottom. Even the poorest European indentured servants were above them. This broke the common interest between the poor English and Africans of Virginia which had existed during Bacon's Rebellion.

The rebellion strengthened the ties between Virginia south of the James River and the Albemarle Settlements in present-day North Carolina, while creating a long-lasting animosity between the two colonies' governments. The Albemarle region offered refuge for rebels in the aftermath. In the long term, North Carolina offered an alternative to colonists disenchanted with Virginia.

From Wikipedia

Bacon's Rebellion demonstrated that poor whites and poor blacks could be united in a cause. This was a great fear of the ruling class -- what would prevent the poor from uniting to fight them? This fear hastened the transition to racial slavery.

But it also led to the formation of an incubator for revolutionists. In North Carolina, these rebels joined forces and causes and their descendants would turn the tide of the American Revolution at Kings Mountain. Ragtag and undisciplined they may have been; nevertheless their highly irregular warfare tactics won the day and contributed greatly to winning the war.

Janet Crain

Persons of Mean and Vile Condition pt. 3

By Janet Crain

Where did the rebels go after Bacon's Rebellion? That is those who managed to escape their servitude and virtual enslavement. According to these articles at Wikipedia,

"A significant number of rebels fled to the Albemarle Settlements of North Carolina to an area known as Rogues Harbor."


Bacon's Rebellion Aftermath

The Declaration of the People was established, echoing the Commonwealth of England, which had ended 16 years earlier. Bacon died on October 26, 1676, of the "bloody flux" or dysentery. The rebellion continued until several well-armed London-based merchant ships, loyal to Berkeley, arrived in Virginia. These were trading ships whose captains were not aware of the rebellion until they arrived. A fleet of the Royal Navy set sail for Virginia upon hearing of the rebellion but would not arrive until several months after the merchant ships. With these merchant ships, cannon and crews, Berkeley was able to put down the rebellion. In the aftermath, before the arrival of the Royal Navy, Berkeley tried and executed many rebels in what began to resemble a reign of terror. When the Royal Navy and Royal Commissioners arrived, Berkeley's revenge campaign was halted and mass pardons were issued.

The Declaration of the People was established, echoing the Commonwealth of England, which had ended 16 years earlier. Bacon died on October 26, 1676, of the "bloody flux" or dysentery. The rebellion continued until several well-armed London-based merchant ships, loyal to Berkeley, arrived in Virginia. These were trading ships whose captains were not aware of the rebellion until they arrived. A fleet of the Royal Navy set sail for Virginia upon hearing of the rebellion but would not arrive until several months after the merchant ships. With these merchant ships, cannon and crews, Berkeley was able to put down the rebellion. In the aftermath, before the arrival of the Royal Navy, Berkeley tried and executed many rebels in what began to resemble a reign of terror. When the Royal Navy and Royal Commissioners arrived, Berkeley's revenge campaign was halted and mass pardons were issued. A significant number of rebels fled to the Albemarle Settlements of North Carolina.

Albemarle Settlements

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Albemarle Settlements were the first permanent English settlements in what is now North Carolina, made in the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River regions, beginning about the middle of the 17th century. The settlers were mainly Virginians migrating south.

Albemarle Settlement Region

In 1653, the Virginia Assembly granted one Roger Green a tract of land on Roanoke River south of Chowan, to be located "next to those persons who have had a former grant." In 1662, George Durant purchased lands from the Indians in this region and there is evidence to indicate that others had done the same.
When it was learned that the Albemarle settlements were not included in the Carolina proprietary grant of 1663, a new charter was granted in 1665 which included them. A Government was instituted in Albemarle in 1664 and within a decade settlements extended from the Chowan River to Currituck Sound.
During Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, the Albemarle Settlements offered assistance and refuge to the rebels. The rebellion's strongholds were mostly south of the James River, a region linked to the Albemarle Settlements by roads and rivers. A road linked "southside Virginia" to Edenton, North Carolina, skirting the edge of the Great Dismal Swamp. The Blackwater River of southside Virginia flowed south to the Chowan River, providing another link.

The Albemarle Settlements came to be known in Virginia as "Rogues' Harbor".[1]

Coming Next:

The conclusion of the series Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Persons of Mean and Vile Condition pt. 2

by Janet Crain

This is the second part of a series about the conditions which lead up to Bacon's Rebellion, felt by some to have precipitated the American Revolution by one hundred years.


It was a complex chain of oppression in Virginia. The Indians were plundered by white frontiersmen, who were taxed and controlled by the Jamestown elite. And the whole colony was being exploited by England, which bought the colonists' tobacco at prices it dictated and made 100,000 pounds a year for the King. Berkeley himself, returning to England years earlier to protest the English Navigation Acts, which gave English merchants a monopoly of the colonial trade, had said:

... we cannot but resent, that forty thousand people should be impoverish'd to enrich little more than forty Merchants, who being the only buyers of our Tobacco, give us what they please for it, and after it is here, sell it how they please; and indeed have forty thousand servants in us at cheaper rates, than any other men have slaves....
From the testimony of the governor himself, the rebellion against him had the overwhelming support of the Virginia population. A member of his Council reported that the defection was "almost general" and laid it to "the Lewd dispositions of some Persons of desperate Fortunes" who had "the Vaine hopes of takeing the Countrey wholley out of his Majesty's handes into their owne." Another member of the Governor's Council, Richard Lee, noted that Bacon's Rebellion had started over Indian policy. But the "zealous inclination of the multitude" to support Bacon was due, he said, to "hopes of levelling."

"Levelling" meant equalizing the wealth. Levelling was to be behind countless actions of poor whites against the rich in all the English colonies, in the century and a half before the Revolution.
The servants who joined Bacon's Rebellion were part of a large underclass of miserably poor whites who came to the North American colonies from European cities whose governments were anxious to be rid of them. In England, the development of commerce and capitalism in the 1500s and 1600s, the enclosing of land for the production of wool, filled the cities with vagrant poor, and from the reign of Elizabeth on, laws were passed to punish them, imprison them in workhouses, or exile them. The Elizabethan definition of "rogues and vagabonds" included:
... All persons calling themselves Schollers going about begging, all Seafaring men pretending losses of their Shippes or goods on the sea going about the Country begging, all idle persons going about in any Country either begging or using any subtile crafte or unlawful Games ... comon Players of Interludes and Minstrells wandring abroade ... all wandering persons and comon Labourers being persons able in bodye using loytering and refusing to worke for such reasonable wages as is taxed or commonly given....
Such persons found begging could be stripped to the waist and whipped bloody, could be sent out of the city, sent to workhouses, or transported out of the country.

In the 1600s and 1700s, by forced exile, by lures, promises, and lies, by kidnapping, by their urgent need to escape the living conditions of the home country, poor people wanting to go to America became commodities of profit for merchants, traders, ship captains, and eventually their masters in America. Abbot Smith, in his study of indentured servitude, Colonists in Bondage, writes: "From the complex pattern of forces producing emigration to the American colonies one stands out clearly as most powerful in causing the movement of servants. This was the pecuniary profit to be made by shipping them."

After signing the indenture, in which the immigrants agreed to pay their cost of passage by working for a master for five or seven years, they were often imprisoned until the ship sailed, to make sure they did not run away. In the year 1619, the Virginia House of Burgesses, born that year as the first representative assembly in America (it was also the year of the first importation of black slaves), provided for the recording and enforcing of contracts between servants and masters. As in any contract between unequal powers, the parties appeared on paper as equals, but enforcement was far easier for master than for servant.

The voyage to America lasted eight, ten, or twelve weeks, and the servants were packed into ships with the same fanatic concern for profits that marked the slave ships. If the weather was bad, and the trip took too long, they ran out of food. The sloop Sea-Flower, leaving Belfast in 1741, was at sea sixteen weeks, and when it arrived in Boston, forty-six of its 106 passengers were dead of starvation, six of them eaten by the survivors. On another trip, thirty-two children died of hunger and disease and were thrown into the ocean. Gottlieb Mittelberger, a musician, traveling from Germany to America around 1750, wrote about his voyage:
During the journey the ship is full of pitiful signs of distress-smells, fumes, horrors, vomiting, various kinds of sea sickness, fever, dysentery, headaches, heat, constipation, boils, scurvy, cancer, mouth-rot, and similar afflictions, all of them caused by the age and the high salted state of the food, especially of the meat, as well as by the very bad and filthy water.. .. Add to all that shortage of food, hunger, thirst, frost, heat, dampness, fear, misery, vexation, and lamentation as well as other troubles.... On board our ship, on a day on which we had a great storm, a woman ahout to give birth and unable to deliver under the circumstances, was pushed through one of the portholes into the sea....
Indentured servants were bought and sold like slaves. An announcement in the Virginia Gazette, March 28, 1771, read:
Just arrived at Leedstown, the Ship Justitia, with about one Hundred Healthy Servants, Men Women & Boys... . The Sale will commence on Tuesday the 2nd of April.
Against the rosy accounts of better living standards in the Americas one must place many others, like one immigrant's letter from America: "Whoever is well off in Europe better remain there. Here is misery and distress, same as everywhere, and for certain persons and conditions incomparably more than in Europe."

Beatings and whippings were common. Servant women were raped. One observer testified: "I have seen an Overseer beat a Servant with a cane about the head till the blood has followed, for a fault that is not worth the speaking of...." The Maryland court records showed many servant suicides. In 1671, Governor Berkeley of Virginia reported that in previous years four of five servants died of disease after their arrival. Many were poor children, gathered up by the hundreds on the streets of English cities and sent to Virginia to work.

The master tried to control completely the sexual lives of the servants. It was in his economic interest to keep women servants from marrying or from having sexual relations, because childbearing would interfere with work. Benjamin Franklin, writing as "Poor Richard" in 1736, gave advice to his readers: "Let thy maidservant be faithful, strong and homely."

Servants could not marry without permission, could be separated from their families, could be whipped for various offenses. Pennsylvania law in the seventeenth century said that marriage of servants "without the consent of the Masters .. . shall be proceeded against as for Adultery, or fornication, and Children to be reputed as Bastards."

Although colonial laws existed to stop excesses against servants, they were not very well enforced, we learn from Richard Morris's comprehensive study of early court records in Government and Labor in Early America. Servants did not participate in juries. Masters did. (And being propertyless, servants did not vote.) In 1666, a New England court accused a couple of the death of a servant after the mistress had cut off the servant's toes. The jury voted acquittal. In Virginia in the 1660s, a master was convicted of raping two women servants. He also was known to beat his own wife and children; he had whipped and chained another servant until he died. The master was berated by the court, but specifically cleared on the rape charge, despite overwhelming evidence.

Sometimes servants organized rebellions, but one did not find on the mainland the kind of large- scale conspiracies of servants that existed, for instance, on Barbados in the West Indies. (Abbot Smith suggests this was because there was more chance of success on a small island.)

However, in York County, Virginia, in 1661, a servant named Isaac Friend proposed to another, after much dissatisfaction with the food, that they "get a matter of Forty of them together, and get Gunnes & hee would be the first & lead them and cry as they went along, 'who would be for Liberty, and free from bondage', & that there would enough come to them and they would goe through the Countrey and kill those that made any opposition and that they would either be free or dye for it." The scheme was never carried out, but two years later, in Gloucester County, servants again planned a general uprising. One of them gave the plot away, and four were executed. The informer was given his freedom and 5,000 pounds of tobacco. Despite the rarity of servants' rebellions, the threat was always there, and masters were fearful.

Finding their situation intolerable, and rebellion impractical in an increasingly organized society, servants reacted in individual ways. The files of the county courts in New England show that one servant struck at his master with a pitchfork. An apprentice servant was accused of "laying violent hands upon his ... master, and throwing him downe twice and feching bloud of him, threatening to breake his necke, running at his face with a chayre...." One maidservant was brought into court for being "bad, unruly, sulen, careles, destructive, and disobedient."

After the participation of servants in Bacon's Rebellion, the Virginia legislature passed laws to punish servants who rebelled. The preamble to the act said:
Whereas many evil disposed servants in these late tymes of horrid rebellion taking advantage of the loosnes and liberty of the tyme, did depart from their service, and followed the rebells in rebellion, wholy neglecting their masters imploymcnt whereby the said masters have suffered great damage and injury....
Two companies of English soldiers remained in Virginia to guard against future trouble, and their presence was defended in a report to the Lords of Trade and Plantation saying: "Virginia is at present poor and more populous than ever. There is great apprehension of a rising among the servants, owing to their great necessities and want of clothes; they may plunder the storehouses and ships."

Escape was easier than rebellion. "Numerous instances of mass desertions by white servants took place in the Southern colonies," reports Richard Morris, on the basis of an inspection of colonial newspapers in the 1700s. "The atmosphere of seventeenth-century Virginia," he says, "was charged with plots and rumors of combinations of servants to run away." The Maryland court records show, in the 1650s, a conspiracy of a dozen servants to seize a boat and to resist with arms if intercepted. They were captured and whipped.

The mechanism of control was formidable. Strangers had to show passports or certificates to prove they were free men. Agreements among the colonies provided for the extradition of fugitive servants- these became the basis of the clause in the U.S. Constitution that persons "held to Service or Labor in one State ... escaping into another ... shall be delivered up...."

Sometimes, servants went on strike. One Maryland master complained to the Provincial Court in 1663 that his servants did "peremptorily and positively refuse to goe and doe their ordinary labor." The servants responded that they were fed only "Beanes and Bread" and they were "soe weake, wee are not able to perform the imploym'ts hee puts us uppon." They were given thirty lashes by the court.

More than half the colonists who came to the North American shores in the colonial period came as servants. They were mostly English in the seventeenth century, Irish and German in the eighteenth century. More and more, slaves replaced them, as they ran away to freedom or finished their time, but as late as 1755, white servants made up 10 percent of the population of Maryland.

What happened to these servants after they became free? There are cheerful accounts in which they rise to prosperity, becoming landowners and important figures. But Abbot Smith, after a careful study, concludes that colonial society "was not democratic and certainly not equalitarian; it was dominated by men who had money enough to make others work for them." And: "Few of these men were descended from indentured servants, and practically none had themselves been of that class."

After we make our way through Abbot Smith's disdain for the servants, as "men and women who were dirty and lazy, rough, ignorant, lewd, and often criminal," who "thieved and wandered, had bastard children, and corrupted society with loathsome diseases," we find that "about one in ten was a sound and solid individual, who would if fortunate survive his 'seasoning,' work out his time, take up land, and wax decently prosperous." Perhaps another one in ten would become an artisan or an overseer. The rest, 80 percent, who were "certainly ... shiftless, hopeless, ruined individuals," either "died during their servitude, returned to England after it was over, or became 'poor whites.'"

Friday, July 4, 2008

Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

By Janet Crain

Many people do not know what it really meant to be an indentured servant when this country was a British colony. They imagine an agreement was made between two adults that in return for the cost of transportation here, the indentured servant would work a period of time, usually 7 years, in return for his or her debt. At first a small acreage was even awarded along with a sum of money and suit of clothes. That was soon phased out. There were many opportunities for the exploitation of this system and most were employed. It became common for people including children to be kidnapped (kid nabbed). The courts sent many persons convicted of crimes large and small to the colonies. Poor children were sent so that they not be a burden on the government. Young women and men were tricked aboard or knocked in the head and carried on board. It made no difference once the ship set sail. They were cut off forever from their friends and families.

Conditions on board were terrible. The ship's captains transported as many as possible, as cheaply as possible, and sold their indentureships once in the colonies. No attempt was made to keep families together. Conditions in the new country were so horrible that as many as 4 out of 5 soon died.

Eventually conditions became so bad that some of these people banded together and rebelled. It was called "Bacon's Rebellion".

Some call this the first stirrings of the eventual American Revolution.

Persons of Mean and Vile Condition

by Howard Zinn

In 1676, seventy years after Virginia was founded, a hundred years before it supplied leadership for the American Revolution, that colony faced a rebellion of white frontiersmen, joined by slaves and servants, a rebellion so threatening that the governor had to flee the burning capital of Jamestown, and England decided to send a thousand soldiers across the Atlantic, hoping to maintain order among forty thousand colonists. This was Bacon's Rebellion. After the uprising was suppressed, its leader, Nathaniel Bacon, dead, and his associates hanged, Bacon was described in a Royal Commission report:
He was said to be about four or five and thirty years of age, indifferent tall but slender, black-hair'd and of an ominous, pensive, melancholly Aspect, of a pestilent and prevalent Logical discourse tending to atheisme... . He seduced the Vulgar and most ignorant people to believe (two thirds of each county being of that Sort) Soc that their whole hearts and hopes were set now upon Bacon. Next he charges the Governour as negligent and wicked, treacherous and incapable, the Lawes and Taxes as unjust and oppressive and cryes up absolute necessity of redress. Thus Bacon encouraged the Tumult and as the unquiet crowd follow and adhere to him, he listeth them as they come in upon a large paper, writing their name circular wise, that their Ringleaders might not be found out. Having connur'd them into this circle, given them Brandy to wind up the charme, and enjoyned them by an oath to stick fast together and to him and the oath being administered, he went and infected New Kent County ripe for Rebellion.
Bacon's Rebellion began with conflict over how to deal with the Indians, who were close by, on the western frontier, constantly threatening. Whites who had been ignored when huge land grants around Jamestown were given away had gone west to find land, and there they encountered Indians. Were those frontier Virginians resentful that the politicos and landed aristocrats who controlled the colony's government in Jamestown first pushed them westward into Indian territory, and then seemed indecisive in fighting the Indians? That might explain the character of their rebellion, not easily classifiable as either antiaristocrat or anti-Indian, because it was both.

And the governor, William Berkeley, and his Jamestown crowd-were they more conciliatory to the Indians (they wooed certain of them as spies and allies) now that they had monopolized the land in the East, could use frontier whites as a buffer, and needed peace? The desperation of the government in suppressing the rebellion seemed to have a double motive: developing an Indian policy which would divide Indians in order to control them (in New England at this very time, Massasoit's son Metacom was threatening to unite Indian tribes, and had done frightening damage to Puritan settlements in "King Philip's War"); and teaching the poor whites of Virginia that rebellion did not pay-by a show of superior force, by calling for troops from England itself, by mass hanging.

Violence had escalated on the frontier before the rebellion. Some Doeg Indians took a few hogs to redress a debt, and whites, retrieving the hogs, murdered two Indians. The Doegs then sent out a war party to kill a white herdsman, after which a white militia company killed twenty-four Indians. This led to a series of Indian raids, with the Indians, outnumbered, turning to guerrilla warfare. The House of Burgesses in Jamestown declared war on the Indians, but proposed to exempt those Indians who cooperated. This seemed to anger the frontiers people, who wanted total war but also resented the high taxes assessed to pay for the war.

Times were hard in 1676. "There was genuine distress, genuine poverty.... All contemporary sources speak of the great mass of people as living in severe economic straits," writes Wilcomb Washburn, who, using British colonial records, has done an exhaustive study of Bacon's Rebellion. It was a dry summer, ruining the corn crop, which was needed for food, and the tobacco crop, needed for export. Governor Berkeley, in his seventies, tired of holding office, wrote wearily about his situation: "How miserable that man is that Governes a People where six parts of seaven at least are Poore Endebted Discontented and Armed."

His phrase "six parts of seaven" suggests the existence of an upper class not so impoverished. In fact, there was such a class already developed in Virginia. Bacon himself came from this class, had a good bit of land, and was probably more enthusiastic about killing Indians than about redressing the grievances of the poor. But he became a symbol of mass resentment against the Virginia establishment, and was elected in the spring of 1676 to the House of Burgesses. When he insisted on organizing armed detachments to fight the Indians, outside official control, Berkeley proclaimed him a rebel and had him captured, whereupon two thousand Virginians marched into Jamestown to support him. Berkeley let Bacon go, in return for an apology, but Bacon went off, gathered his militia, and began raiding the Indians.

Bacon's "Declaration of the People" of July 1676 shows a mixture of populist resentment against the rich and frontier hatred of the Indians. It indicted the Berkeley administration for unjust taxes, for putting favorites in high positions, for monopolizing the beaver trade, and for not protecting the western formers from the Indians. Then Bacon went out to attack the friendly Pamunkey Indians, killing eight, taking others prisoner, plundering their possessions.
There is evidence that the rank and file of both Bacon's rebel army and Berkeley's official army were not as enthusiastic as their leaders. There were mass desertions on both sides, according to Washburn. In the fall, Bacon, aged twenty-nine, fell sick and died, because of, as a contemporary put it, "swarmes of Vermyn that bred in his body." A minister, apparently not a sympathizer, wrote this epitaph:
Bacon is Dead I am sorry at my heart,
That lice and flux should take the hangmans part.
The rebellion didn't last long after that. A ship armed with thirty guns, cruising the York River, became the base for securing order, and its captain, Thomas Grantham, used force and deception to disarm the last rebel forces. Coming upon the chief garrison of the rebellion, he found four hundred armed Englishmen and Negroes, a mixture of free men, servants, and slaves. He promised to pardon everyone, to give freedom to slaves and servants, whereupon they surrendered their arms and dispersed, except for eighty Negroes and twenty English who insisted on keeping their arms. Grantham promised to take them to a garrison down the river, but when they got into the boat, he trained his big guns on them, disarmed them, and eventually delivered the slaves and servants to their masters. The remaining garrisons were overcome one by one. Twenty-three rebel leaders were hanged.

To be Cont.