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Green Corn Dance Dates

Posted by chris on March 22, 2013 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (4)

The Community Green Corn Dance will be held July 7,8, and 9th. for more info please contact Chris at 918 402 3666 or cssewell71@gmail.com

2013 Indian Community Conference a success

Posted by chris on March 22, 2013 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

This years Indian community conference was a success with Debbie Hicks and Sehoy Sewell both giving presentations, and a significant delegation of the descendents of Scotts Ferry being present. Thanks to everyone for their hard work, especially Virginia Ryals and Sharron Fagan!

2013 Indian Community Conference

Posted by chris on October 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (1)

W.T.Neal Civic Center, 17773 NE Pear St, Blountstown Fl

8am - 5 pm Panhandle of Florida Geneaology Workshop, free to public

5-630 dinner

630-9pm annual Indian Community Conference

more info call Chris Scott Sewell 918 402 3666 chickeetrash@yahoo.com

 

Scotts Ferry History

Posted by chris on September 27, 2012 at 4:05 AM Comments comments (5)

Scotts Ferry History: the ‘Dead Lakes People’

For 20 years my cousin Steven Pony Hill and I have researched the origins of the mixed-blood communities our ancestors come from in the panhandle of Florida, communities which were considered “Colored” by local officials and many local Whites during the segregation era from the 1860’s to the 1960’s, and which after desegregation saw a massive decline in population. Today the descendants of these several unique communities live throughout the US, with only a small set of descendants still living in or near the original community. Some of the surnames associated with the community are Ammons, Ayers, Barnwell, Bass, Blanchard, Boggs, Brown, Bullard, Bunch, Bryant, Chason, Chavis/Chavers, Conyers, Copeland, Davis, Doyle, Goins, Hall, Harris, Hicks, Hill, Holly, Ireland, Jacobs, Johnson, Jones, Kever, Long, Lovett, Mainer, Martin, Mayo, Moses, Oxendine, Perkins, Porter, Potter, Quinn, Scott, Simmons, Smith, Stafford, Stephens, Sweat, Thomas, Whitfield, and Williams, among many.

As we documented in our book “The Indians of North Florida”, The history of the mixed-blood settlement at Scotts Ferry and nearby areas (Scott Town, Woods, Mount Zion) was that of Carolina mixed-blood Indians from among the Catawba Indians of Rock Hill in South Carolina, Robeson County North Carolina, and Sumter County South Carolina migrating to the panhandle of Florida throughout the 1800’s and into the 1900’s. These families were sometimes called the “Dead Lakes People” due to the nearness of the Dead Lakes of Wewahitchka Florida. In the Carolinas many of these families were viewed as Indian but in Florida racial identity was contentious and often community members were actively persecuted and prosecuted by authorities under the infamous ‘miscegenation” laws of the Jim Crown south.

“Anti-miscegenation laws, also known as miscegenation laws, were laws that enforced racial segregation at the level of marriage and intimate relationships by criminalizing interracial marriage and sometimes also sex between members of different races. Such laws were first introduced in North America from the late seventeenth century onwards by several of the Thirteen Colonies, and subsequently by many US states and US territories and remained in force in many US states until 1967. After the Second World War, an increasing number of states repealed their anti-miscegenation laws. In 1967, in Loving v. Virginia, the remaining anti-miscegenation laws were held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. Similar laws were also enforced in Nazi Germany as part of the Nuremberg laws, and in South Africa as part of the system of Apartheid. In the United States, interracial marriage, cohabitation and sex have been termed "miscegenation" since the term was coined in 1863. Contemporary usage of the term is less frequent, except to refer to historical laws banning the practice.”

An excerpt from our research on the origins of Scotts Ferry Community

“A settlement or Town of their own”

Scott’s Ferry

After 1850 at least six of the original fifteen Catawba households had resettled at the newly acquired land of Jacob Scott. Jacob owned and operated a ferry service and mill (just as the Catawba had done on the Catawba River), and became quite prosperous, even in comparison to his white neighbors.

The movement of the Catawba into southern Calhoun can be tracked by the written history of the local Stone family. In the book “History of Jackson County” it is recounted that:

“Lackland M. Stone, whose father was Colonel Henry D. Stone, one of

Jackson County’s first settlers, was also an Indian trader. His family

settled on the upper Chipola, near the future town of Webbville. When

the Indians were moved to Ocheesee, he followed them, as he did later

to Iola.”

The Stone family had apparently continued to carry a family legacy of Indian trading, because as early as 1691 the Council of Colonial Virginia had recorded:

“Thomas Blunt is appointed interpreter to the Indians on the south side

of the James River, David Whitley to the Indians at the head of Rapp’a

River, and William Stone to the Indians on the head of Yorke River.”

And also in 1778, The North Carolina General Assembly enacted that,

“Be it enacted, that Willaim Williams, Thomas Pugh, Willie Jones, Simon

Turner, and Zedekiah Stone, be, and they are hereby appointed

commissioners for said Indians..”

The reference to the Indians being moved to Ocheesee, does not describe any documented Creek band, as they had never maintained a village on the Chipola, did not have a village at Ocheesee, and had emigrated to Texas or Indian Territory before the Stone family moved to southern Calhoun at Iola. Bird Attaway (first husband of Elizabeth Perkins) and Horace Ely were contracted by the Jackson County Commission to build the first bridge across the Chipola at a location described as “Near Webbville.” Combine all of the above with the fact that the 1840 census of Calhoun County records Joe Scott as a family of 17 free colored persons living next to John Chason and Henry D. Stone at Iola, and there can be no doubt as to this identification of the Catawba.

The Scott’s Ferry settlement was located at Range 9 west, 2 south, section 21, adjoining the Chipola River. This was the route used to travel from any spot in eastern Jackson or Calhoun Counties along the Apalachicola over land to Port Saint Joe. The Scott’s Ferry settlement appears on the 1860 census as a clearly defined separate community, and the families living there were recorded on a special census page, though the racial identification of them was confused and clearly tainted by racial prejudice. The 1860 federal census was performed during the height of the racial tensions between the pro-slavery South and the abolitionist North. On this census families which had been previously identified as “free persons of color – non Negro” or “Mulatto” are suddenly reclassified as “free Negro” (though they were still ‘white’ or ‘free persons of color’ on local tax records).

In 1848, legislation was passed in Florida which required free Negroes to have white guardian appointed by the local Courts (no Catawba was assigned a guardian), free Negroes and mulattoes could not legally own land (Jacob Scott and Absalom Scott held clear title to their land), and in 1861, legislation passed which required free blacks to register with a probate judge or be classified as a slave and claimed by a white person. It is clear that none of these laws were ever applied to the Apalachicola Catawba. An 1840 perspective jury list included Robert and Joseph Blanchard (originally of Gates County, North Carolina), Joseph Montford, Jonathan Jones, and Robert Scott. John Chason and Jaspers Scott were called as witnesses in the Jackson County Court case, State V. James Butts in 1857 (Butts had been living with Mary Ann Jones since at least 1850), and Martha Hill Minton was reimbursed for traveling 24 miles in 1863 in order to testify for Sherrod Scott. Samuel Scott was even an eligible voter in Jackson County in 1869.

In 1860 the census reflects the Scott’s Ferry settlement as consisting of six households. Living there at that time was Jacob Scott and his nephew Joe living in one household along with Joe’s wife Sarah Brown Castelberry, and Sarah’s daughter Emiline Brown. Francis “Frank” Hill and his wife Elizabeth Perkins Attaway held one home, and William Stafford and his wife Polly Harmon Scott (former wife of Jacob Scott) held another. Jack Howard inhabited a household along with Lofty Bunch as his wife, along with his two sister-in-laws Betty Bunch and Molly Thompson (who later married Shurard Scott). Paschal Loftis and Olive Jones shared a home along with her granddaughter, Jane Scott. The last remaining household was that of Isham Scott and his wife Jane Manuel who shared their home with her father, Edmund Manuel (originally of Sampson County, North Carolina and a veteran of the Sampson County Regiment 4th Company in 1812).

1860 CENSUS OF CALHOUN COUNTY….SCOTT’S FERRY…SPECIAL CENSUS PAGE

HOUSE # NAME: AGE: RACE: BORN IN:

165

166

167

168

169

170 SCOTT, Joe

“ “ , Sarah

“ “ , William

“ “ , Polly

“ “ , Ellen

“ “ , Jack

“ “ , Jacob

BROWN, Emiline

HILL, Frank

“ “ , Eliza

“ “ , Delila

“ “ , Ann

“ “ , Joe

“ “ , Quinn

“ “ , Bob

“ “ , Blunt

“ “ , Green

STAFFORD, William

“ “ , Polly

“ “ , Jim

HOWARD, Jack

“ “ , Lofty

BUNCH, Betty

THOMPSON, Molly

LOFTIS, Paschal

“ “ , Olive

SCOTT, Jane

SCOTT, Isham

“ “ , Jane

MANUEL, Edmund 43

36

8

6

4

8/12

60

16

43

35

16

10

8

7

6

4

1

65

55

16

26

20

23

22

60

50

20

65

45

67 MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

W

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

W

MU

MU

MU

W

W

W

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU ALA

FL

FL

FL

FL

FL

ALA

FL

ALA

FL

FL

FL

FL

FL

FL

FL

FL

NC

ALA

FL

FL

ALA

ALA

GA

NC

ALA

FL

ALA

ALA

ALA

At the bottom of this special census page, John G. Smith, the census taker, added his own personal opinion of the racial make-up of this settlement. Either Smith had never personally traveled to the settlement and gathered his information from other citizens (as was sometimes the case when census takers were trying to list far out settlements), or Smith was given misleading information by the settlement citizens themselves, because almost all of the information other than the actual names of the community members was wrong. The age and birthplace of almost every community member does not compare to that listed for the 1850 or 1870 census. The only justice performed by Smith with this document is held in the second sentence of his commentary where he bears witness that these Indians lived in a settlement separate from white or black persons:

“The Free Negroes in this county are mixed blooded almost white and have

intermarried with a low class of whites – Have no trade, occupation or

profession they live in a settlement or Town of their own their personal

property consists of Cattle & Hogs, They make no produce except corn &

peas & very little of that, They are a lazy Indolant & worthless race.”

Back on the Catawba reservation, the annual report of Catawba Agent J.R. Patton to the South Carolina Senate uses, strangely almost exactly, the same wording to describe the Indians still residing there:

“…they are a somewhat indolent & careless people living in small Log Houses

or cabins covered with boards & are not settled together in a Town or village

but scattered over a considerable portion of the land they occupy they own but

little furniture of any value a portion of them work small farms or patches of

corn but as a general thing do not make anything like a support they own some

Horses a few Cattle & some Hogs. This seems to sum up the amount of what

They possess.”

Oral history of the Apalachicola Catawba reflects that Eliza Scott Hill had been educated as a child in South Carolina, taught basic education to all the children of the Scott’s ferry community, and also traveled briefly back to “the reservation” to teach school but was not well received, and soon returned to Florida. The 1861 Annual Report of Catawba Agent J.R. Patton seems to verify this oral history as it reflects that “Eliza Scott (Indian)” was paid 20 for “Teaching” during that year.

Elsewhere in the southeast, Indian communities were being described in almost exactly the same words. In 1840, thirty-six white residence of Robeson County, North Carolina appealed to the Legislative Assembly to regulate the sale of ‘spirits’ to the Lumbee Indians (who are also of Cheraw ancestry):

“The County of Robeson is cursed with a free-coloured population that

migrated originally from the districts round the Roanoke and Neuse Rivers.

They are generally indolent, roguish, improvident, and dissipated. Having

no regard for character, they are under no restraint but what the law imposes.”

The fact that Smith classified the Catawba in Florida as “free Negroes” with no trade or occupation, and in general being lazy and worthless, betrays his racist views. He could not have been completely blind to the fact that these people operated a mill and ferry, because even Smith took note that the colony’s total worth was over $4,000 (which in 1860 made it one of the wealthiest small towns in Calhoun County).

Scott’s Ferry’s founder, Jacob Scott, passed away by 1862 and Joseph Scott held the property title. Penny Scott was taxed for 200 acres she supposedly owned across the river in what would become Liberty County. In 1858, Joseph Scott was assessed for taxes at $100 for real estate, $525 for cattle, and $30 for household furnishings.

When the War closed in 1865, the Catawba citizens apparently paid dearly for their change of sides. The local whites apparently decided that the County Court would be the vehicle they would use to facilitate their harassment. In the fall term of 1862, Francis Hill was brought up on charges of “Fornication with a Mulatto”, but was found not guilty. In 1866 a series of charges were pressed against the Catawba, beginning with Gilberry Scott being charged with “Open State of Fornication” and Sabra J. Register with “Attempting to Marry a Mulatto.” John M. Scott, a Union veteran, was also charged with “Open State of Fornication” in the fall term. All of these charges were discharged with ‘not guilty’ verdicts at the close of the fall term in 1866.

Either due to the crisis level post-War economy, or legal harassment, it is clear that the Scott’s Ferry Town had begun a downward spiral. By 1870 the total households had increased to nine, but the total worth of the settlement had decreased to $1,440.

1870 CENSUS OF CALHOUN COUNTY – PAGE # 20

HOUSE # NAME: AGE: RACE: OCCUPATION: BORN IN:

256

257

258

259

260

261

262

263

264

265 BLANCHARD, Ruben

“ “ , Eliza

“ “ , John

empty

JONES, Olive

“ “ , Martha

EMANUEL, Edmond

WILLIAMS, Thomas W.

STEVENS, Susan

SCOTT, Isham

“ “ , Jane

SCOTT, Polly

MUMFORD, Nancy

Empty

JONES, John

“ “ , Beady

“ “ , William

“ “ , Jack

“ “ , Emily

“ “ , Martha

WILLIAMS, Jane

“ “ , Delia

“ “ , William 28

23

2

65

?

70

45

24

77

34

36

14

62

26

7

6

3

1

48

22

20 M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M

M Farmer

Keeping house

At home

Farmer

Keeping house

Farmer

Keeping house

Home keeper

At home

Farmer

Keeping house

Keeping house

At home

At home ALA

FL

FL

GA

GA

NC

FL

ALA

NC

GA

GA

ALA

GA

FL

FL

FL

FL

FL

GA

FL

FL

By the time of the 1880 census, Scott’s Ferry appeared to be making a comeback. The settlement now contained eleven households and the compact town seemed to suffer some drift, as a few families were listed as living a few miles up the Chipola River in the Abe’s Springs area. This small splinter settlement contained five households beginning with the home of Henry Johnson who had W.D. Williams living there as a boarder. Penny Scott maintained a household as well as William Scott. Nancy Montford was keeping her own house now, and the final home was Enoch Wells. A significant clue as to the temporary split off of these families could be the fact that those at Abe’s Springs listed their occupation as “Logging.”

Back at the original settlement, we find eleven homes starting with Benjamin Beauchamp and his wife Ellen Scott who had his stepdaughter, Sallie Washington living as his servant, and Richard Nixon as an orphan. George Green had settled here with his wife Dora Butts. Elizabeth Scott Hill shared a home with her stepdaughter, Nancy Quinn, her son Joseph Quinn, and her son Frank Hill. William Quinn and his wife, Rena were living here, as well as Henry Johnson (this is a repeat of the Henry Johnson household from Abe’s Springs). John “Jack” Jones and his wife Beady Mainer were still here in 1880 living next to Mary Scott, who was sharing a home with her daughter-in-law, Julian Scott and her grandson, William Scott. New resident Sam Washington held a home next to Olive Scott Jones who shared her home with her daughter, Martha Jones, a servant named Mary Linton, a boarder named T.C. Shelby, and another servant named Hester Brouchard. Ruben Blanchard and his wife Jane Stone were still living at Scott’s Ferry at this time, and the final home was held by David Martin (originally from Person County, North Carolina) along with his wife Amanda Scott. Living with David Martin was a servant, Polly Gibson, and David’s daughter Mary (who would later marry Barney Locklear).

Nearly 40 years later the name of T.C.Shelby would be brought up again in reference to Scott’s Ferry, but this time in his home state of Kentucky. An excerpt of the 1918 Kentucky case of McGoodwin v. Shelby, ruled over by Judge Sampson of the Marion Circuit Court, stated that,

“In May, 1915, Miss Florrie Hood, a most eccentric and peculiar woman,

died intestate, childless,and unmarried, at her home in Lebanon, Kentucky,

she being about seventy years of age, and the owner by inheritance of several

houses and lots and some acreage property in the city of Lebanon, and quite

an amount of personal property…There were no close relatives living so far

as known, however, that one Thomas C. Shelby, a nephew of Miss Hood, had

many years before left Marion County on account of trouble and had gone

to Florida..”

After dispatching investigators throughout Florida and mailing 1,500 postcards to different post offices in search of Thomas Shelby or his descendants, the estate administrators located Shelby’s widow and two minor children—sole heirs to the Hood fortune. The problem was that Shelby’s widow “was the daughter of William Scott, and William Scott was the son of Joe Scott, and Joe Scott was supposed to be a mulatto, so that the mother of the children of Thomas C. Shelby was not a pure-blooded white woman.” This would make the parents’ marriage illegal and render the children bastards incapable of inheriting. Instead of trying to prove that the family of Shelby’s widow did, or did not, have negro blood, the parties reached an out-of-court settlement to distribute the property among themselves. The case then wound its way through the Kentucky court system for the next 3 years. First, the original probate court disallowed the agreement as “being unconscionable since the children could not be considered anything but White, their forefathers having not associated with negroes, but with Whites.” In the end, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that regardless of the ancestry of the children, all witnesses agreed they could not possibly bear enough negro blood to be considered mulatto as described by Kentucky law.

By 1885 the timber industry had taken root along the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers, and had assisted the Scott’s Ferry settlement to swell to seventeen households. Eight persons listed their occupation as “logman”, seven as “farmer”, and three as “laborer.” The drift present in 1880 is not noticed in 1885, and most of the families had returned to the original settlement site. The town still consisted of Scott, Quinn, Williams, Hill, Green, Johnson, and Martin households, but also now held the homes of Edmon Davis, Henry Mainer, and William Perkins (son of Elizabeth Perkins and half brother of Mary Attaway Scott) who had been living in Jackson County.

 

Logging operation on the Apalachicola River, 1896

Some surviving court records from this time period provide an excellent example of the depth of interrelation and cooperation that existed in the settlement at this time. When Louvinia Martin Brown (wife of Tom) was charged in 1904 with “Assault With Intent to Murder” and “Carrying Winchester Rifle Without Permit,” her defense witnesses included Thomas Ash, Dave Martin and Linnie Davis. Henry Atkins was charged with “Murder” in 1907 and Wesley Williams, M. Mainer, Tom Scott and Jeff Scott were called as witnesses to the event. Reuben Blanchard, Bill Jones, Mary Blanchard, and Rosa Quinn were brought to court to answer charges of “Larceny of a Bateau” (bateaus are small carved wooden boats, the name and original design of which was founded on the James and Roanoke Rivers in the early 1700’s and are stilled referred to as such in the Florida Catawba language). After the death of Martha Jones, Thomas Butts was appointed administrator of her estate and most of her property was distributed between John Howard, Rueben G. Blanchard, and George Green. When John Howard was appointed guardian of Margaret Bunch in 1890, John Williams was appointed as surety. Thomas M. Scott was left parentless in 1893, George Green was appointed guardian of the 15 year-old boy, and Francis M. Williams and Joseph Quinn were sureties. In 1894 Beady Mainer Jones approached the Court to administer the estate of her deceased husband, Jack Jones. William Quinn was listed as her surety while J.W. Blanchard was appointed by the Court to appraise Jack Jones’ personal property. When David Martin was appointed legal guardian of his half brother’s and sisters (after the death of his mother, Annie Scott Hunter), Sandy Davis was listed as surety.

After 1910, Catawba citizens began to make claims for pensions based on their Confederate service. Letters from other settlement members supported almost all of the Catawba in Calhoun County who filed their claims. Rueben G. Blanchard enlisted the support of W.M. Ayers, Elizabeth McDaniel Jones had help from Lawrence and Sarah Williams, and Charles E. Scott received support from Nathaniel Scott, J.M. Atkins, and Cornelius Stephens.

The 1917 Civilian Draft Registrations provide as much, if not more, valuable information as the earlier Civil War records. At least nine individuals within Calhoun County were listed as “White-Indian Citizen.” These included members of the Whitfield family (descendants of George Whitfield who married a Scott woman), Herbert Boone (son of Henry Boone and Anna Scott), Lemuel Moses, and John Moses (relatives of Elizabeth Moses Conyers). Another individual, Willie Porter (son of Mathias Porter of Scott Town) was recorded as being “Indian Creole” and described as having blue eyes and light colored hair. General Quinn of Scott’s Ferry was listed as self-employed in farming, having a dependent mother, and also described as having blue eyes and light colored hair. No race was listed for Quinn, however his death certificate issued in Bay County stated that the mortician considered him to be “White.”

The year 1917 also marked a series of yearly floods on the Chipola and Apalachicola Rivers, which caused the abandonment of the original settlement site. Later census records show that community members had established home sites due northwest of the Scott’s Ferry site, at an area now known as Marysville. Land titles to the original settlement were maintained, however, as was the old cemetery.

 

Flooded farm on the Chipola, 1917. Pictured also is

a bateau piloted in the rear by Dave Martin.

In October of 1920, Samuel F. Scott and Elizabeth Scott were both recorded as “C.I.” in the race category on the Shiloh District voter’s registry book for Calhoun County. This is the same Samuel and Elizabeth Scott who appear on the 1920 census of Shiloh Precinct, Marysville to Scott’s Ferry Road. Samuel Frank Scott was the son of Samuel Scott and Jane Ayers of Scott Town settlement in Jackson County. Samuel Scott senior was the son of Absolom Scott and Gilly Stephens, the founders of Scott Town. In 1929, Samuel F. Scott was appointed as executor of the estate of his cousin, John Williams, in Calhoun County.

Education for their children would also force the Catawba out of their self-imposed isolation, and provide for the only documents pertaining to them during this time period. In 1938 David Martin, trustee for the Marysville school, had a letter written to Calhoun County Clerk of Court J.A. Peacock which stated:

“There are men who would knife us out of having our own school

saying that we are negroe. You know our character that we are

of white and Indian blood…”

In reference to a 1944 investigation by the Jackson County School Board, the Board members made inquiry regarding “Sweetie Blanchard from Scott’s Ferry”, whose sons were the students whose ancestry had been called into question. The Board members solved the dispute by suggesting that the two Johnson boys should attend school in Calhoun County.

Some more recent documents continue to identify a community of persons living within Calhoun County who had a strong Indian identity. In the 1948 annual report of the Smithsonian Institution, William Harlen Gilbert Jr. published a compilation entitled “Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States.” Though Gilbert never visited north Florida himself, he did visit the so-called “Creeks” at Atmore, Alabama (whose Hathcock, Gibson, Allen, and Taylor ancestors were Cheraw). It is apparent that during one of these trips to Alabama Gilbert gathered second hand information regarding a group of mixed-blooded Indian persons in Calhoun (Daisy Porter Nichols was living in Flomaton near the Creek reservation at that time, and may have been the source of this information). In the last paragraph of the Florida section of Gilbert’s report he states:

“Aside from the Seminoles there are other small mixed groups of possible

Indian descent in Florida. Around Pensacola are to be found the Creole

mixed people of Escambia County and in the same area are certain groups

of Creeks from across the border in Alabama. Some 100 miles to the east

near Blountstown in Calhoun County there is said to be a colony of

Melungeons from Tennessee.”

The “Melungeons from Tennessee” of whom Gilbert speaks are an ethnic group of mixed-blood persons in the area of eastern Tennessee whose main family surnames were Gibson, Collins, Goins, and Bunch. These persons also descended from Siouan Indian ancestors who had spread westward from the Virginia/North Carolina border. Since none of the Apalachicola Catawba reported Tennessee as their birthplace, and they were not locally known as ‘melungeon’, Gilbert either relied on a second hand opinion, or maybe even made his own personal judgment based on the Bunch and Goins ancestors of some of the Florida Catawba. Gilbert did do justice, however, by identifying the fact that the Apalachicola River Catawba lived in a colony, separate from their white and black neighbors, well into the mid 20th Century.

The identification of a separate Indian community in the area of Calhoun and Jackson County of northwest Florida was repeated by Brewton Berry in his book “Almost White” published in 1963.

 

Copyright ©2006 by Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved.

References to Scotts Ferry/Dead Lakes People

 The group in Gulf and Calhoun counties, Florida, was called Melungeon as long as they were identified as a separate group but was also known as the Dead Lake People. This last group does not trace back to the North Carolina - Virginia border, but to a very similar mixed race group in South Carolina, probably the Brass Ankles or the Red Bones. Each group has its own history and its own special mix of new additions

http://www.whatisamelungeon.webs.com/

 ” The Dead Lake People of the Florida panhandle (Wewahitchka-Blountstown) have been called Melungeons and identified with them, and the Redbones of Louisiana do partly derive from this range. http://www.geocities.com/melungeonorigin/maomg2.html”

http://bakerblockmuseum.org/maresources.htm

Melungeons viewed as related to our people generally

Posted by chris on September 27, 2012 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (1)

What is a Melungeon?

by

Mike Nassau

 

Arch Goins and family, Graysville Melungeons

Photo from the 1920's, from a great-nephew in Chattanooga,

provided by and used with the permission of Barbara Goins.

A Melungeon (during the formative period from about 1700 to 1860) was someone who was free but thought not to be pure White in the area where the word was used - northern North Carolina, southern and western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, southern Ohio, western Louisiana, the eastern edge of Texas, the panhandle of Florida, and northern Alabama. The person might actually be White, but of a darker strain like a Greek or Portuguese. The person might be mixed White and Black, White and Indian or all three. The White might be northern European or Mediterranean or both. A few people may have been of other races, such as South Asian (Tzigane, Asian Indian, etc.).

After becoming a Melungeon by coming to live in one of these areas, these persons tended to intermarry and produce a more uniform mixed population. People who were definitely considered to be Black or Indian or were members of a Black or Indian group probably would not be counted as Melungeon unless they joined or married into a Melungeon group. There are many members of Black and Indian communities who have a lot of Melungeon ancestry and even with Melungeon names, and some are gradually coming to think of themselves as Melungeons. Today, most Melungeons have quite a little of both northern European and Mediterranean white, some Black and at least a trace of American Indian. But anyone who traces back to someone considered Melungeon before the Civil War is definitely Melungeon, and that is many thousands and a very diverse group.

Perhaps the most important element in the formation of the Melungeons was the descendants of Indian groups which were no longer racially mostly Indian. Indian groups were genetically swamped in many cases due to their susceptibility to diseases which were brought to America from Europe and Africa. This particularly worked by the survival of children who had better immunity due to non-Indian ancestry. In an Indian village, the child of one Indian and one non-Indian parent was much more likely to reach reproductive age than one with both parents being pure Indian. Likewise, one with a mixed parent and a non-Indian parent (one quarter Indian) was more likely to survive than one who was half Indian. During the Seventeenth Century, most of the Indian groups of Virginia and North Carolina either simply died out from the imported diseases or were genetically swamped by mixing with non-Indians coupled with this selection for better disease immunity. The Indians incorporated genetic input from many groups very early in Virginia. Probably the biggest single input was from free Mulattos actually joining the Indian groups. English and Mediterranean settlers, soldiers and seamen contributed a large input even earlier, and, with the Tidewater Algonquians, were a major factor. Brent Kennedy has been investigating the contribution of certain Mediterranean groups.

The Spanish were colonizing the Southeast before the English got there. The most northwestern fort of Spanish Florida was near Knoxville, Tennessee. The coast of Georgia and both North and South Carolina had several Spanish settlements. Santa Elena (Parris Island) was the largest and is being excavated at the present time. Most of the colonial population was not ethnically Spanish, but was drawn from other groups. Marrano Jews (Jews pretending to be Catholic in order to escape persecution), Moriscos (Moorish Arabs and Berbers who joined the Catholic Church to avoid the Inquisition), Portuguese (Portugal was ruled by Spain for a while at this time), and Catalans from Minorca (an island in the Mediterranean) were all important elements in the colonists. Since many of the Jews and Moors were from Portugal, they were frequently called Portuguese. The Spanish also had many slaves in their colonies, who were mostly Muslim prisoners captured from Moorish and Ottoman ships. While their presence in Spanish Florida in large numbers is not known, there must be some reason why the Indians of the Southeast went from wearing almost no clothing but decorating themselves with tattoos to wearing elaborate, woven clothing with bright colors, including sashes and turbans, seemingly in imitation of Ottoman and Moorish styles. When the Spanish withdrew from North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia under British pressure, they left behind many part Indian children and probably quite a few Jews, Moors and Muslim slaves.

Francis Drake stopped at Roanoke for some months on his way back from raiding Spanish colonies in the Caribbean. He had several hundred Muslim seamen with him who had been freed from the Spanish and were being returned to Morocco and the Ottoman Empire. These would definitely include Berbers and Maghrebine Arabs from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, and Greeks, Armenians, Albanians, Bosnians, Kurds and Turks from Anatolia and the Balkans, and other Ottoman peoples such as Syrians, Egyptians, Georgians, Circassians, etc. During several months spent ashore in Virginia, they must have left progeny among the local Indian population. Some of them may have stayed and actually joined the Indians. Shipwrecked sailors may have been contributing to the population even earlier. Portuguese would probably be the earliest and maybe the largest component. Their ships from anywhere in the Americas usually followed the coast north to around Cape Hatteras to take advantage of the Trade Winds from there to the Azores and back to Portugal. Spanish, English and French ships also wrecked on these coasts, of course.

These mixed Mediterranean and Indian people formed or contributed to mixed groups. South of the Melungeons there are many groups such as the Brass Ankles, Red Bones and Turks of South Carolina who claim to have Mediterranean ancestry. Members of these other mixed groups joined the Melungeons. Many part Mediterranean people were incorporated into the Indians of eastern Virginia and the mixed race communities along the NC-VA border which became the Melungeons.

Donald Ball has given a good short history of the origins of the Melungeon groups in the paper which he presented at the Melungeon Third Union in Wise, VA, in June, 2000. The formative area was a strip of land which was disputed between the colonies of Virginia and North Carolina because it was given to both by British Royal Grant. This strip is now the northern tier of counties of North Carolina. Since it was a no-man's land claimed by both colonies but administered by neither, it attracted people who didn't want to have government supervision. That included many mixed race people who didn't fit in White society but were neither part of Indian or Black society. This included many people from the Indian groups which had been genetically swamped by people from across the Atlantic and many people who were free but part Black. The free Mulattos have traditionally been thought to be the children of slave owners with their slave mistresses, who were frequently raised free and who would join the Indians or mixed communities. Dennis Maggard recently pointed out that Paul Heinegg's study of the records of colonial Virginia shows that most of them were actually the children of indentured White women by Black slave men. The owners were mostly English whereas the indentured servants were more frequently Irish, so this finding indicates a larger Irish component than previously thought.

As Donald Ball pointed out, the history of the Melungeons starts with these free Mulattos, the status of the Melungeons as Free People of Color resulted from their African ancestry and not from a small amount of Indian, Portuguese, Moorish, or Ottoman ancestry, and the presence of large numbers of free Mulattos very early in the formative groups means that they are in the ancestry of all Melungeons. The Indians in the ancestry of the Melungeons were very mixed with a lot of both Black and White in them, one cannot claim Indian ancestry from eastern or central Virginia and North Carolina without including the very large Black element in these Indians. Any Melungeon who tries to deny African ancestry is not only perpetuating the racism which removed the Melungeons from White society, but is deluding himself as well.

The principal groups of Indians contributing to the Melungeons were the Siouans of the Virginian and North Carolina Piedmont (mainly the Saponi or Eastern Blackfoot), the Algonquians of the Coastal region of these states (Powhatan, Pamunkey, Nansemond, etc.), and the Appalachian tribes, Southern Iroquoian (Cherokee and Tuskarora) and the Yuchi (Yuchean language is related to the Siouan languages, but not considered close enough to actually be called Siouan). The Indians of the Coastal and Piedmont regions were the mixed groups that formed the original mixed race groups that became the Melungeons and several remnant groups which still identify themselves as Indian. Appalachian Indians were less mixed with Black and White, but they did not become involved with the Melungeons until the Melungeons had already formed and moved from the Virginia - North Carolina border in the Piedmont to the Appalachia area. The Cherokee particularly inter-married with the Graysville Melungeons of the Tennessee River Valley. The Saponi are probably the most important Indian element in most groups of Melungeons. As they broke up and scattered, they were generally known as Blackfoot. That is the name used for them in the Melungeons of Appalachia, the Cherokee and in the Black community. There are many Blackfoot descendants in all three of these groups.

After the formative period along the North Carolina - Virginia border, there were many movements and different groups formed. Some have been known by other names. The original group in Henry and Patrick counties, Virginia, and Rockingham, Stokes and Surry counties, North Carolina, has been called the Goinstown Indians. As they moved west, in Surry, Yadkin, Wilkes, Alleghany and Ashe counties, they were called Melungeons. Some have always been called Melungeon, like the community in Hancock, Hawkins and Grainger counties of Tennessee and the one in Wise, Scott and Lee counties of Virginia and the one in Letcher county, Kentucky. The one in Person County, North Carolina, has been called the Person County Indians (they are somewhat organized under that name) and earlier the Cubans. The group in Rhea, Roane and Hamilton counties,Tennessee, are called the Goins locally, but have long been identified as Melungeons by people from the rest of Tennessee. The group in Magoffin and Floyd counties, Kentucky, and Highland county, Ohio, has been called the Magoffin County People in Kentucky and the Carmel Indians in Ohio, and have only recently been called Melungeons. The group in western Louisiana and adjacent Texas is known as the Redbones (not to be confused with the Red Bones of South Carolina) or the Louisiana Melungeons. The group in Gulf and Calhoun counties, Florida, was called Melungeon as long as they were identified as a separate group but was also known as the Dead Lake People. This last group does not trace back to the North Carolina - Virginia border, but to a very similar mixed race group in South Carolina, probably the Brass Ankles or the Red Bones. Each group has its own history and its own special mix of new additions. Ulster Scots (Scots-Irish) is a large addition to many. Cherokees and part Cherokees have joined some groups. Individual families have married to introduce many different elements to the Melungeon mix. Black Dutch and Black Irish are sometimes just euphemisms for Melungeon and sometimes describe people joining the Melungeons. Welsh, English, Scots, Irish, Jewish, Tzigane, Dutch, German and French are claimed by many. The unifying factor is a history of someone in the family who was too dark to be accepted as White without some doubts.

Melungeons today may identify themselves as Mestee (triracial or multiracial), White, Black or Indian. They may be found anywhere, but many are still in the states of NC, VA, TN, KY, OH, WV, AL, LA, TX, AR, MO and FL. The Melungeons formed in the Piedmont of Virginia and North Carolina, not in the Appalachian Mountains, and three of the main groups never were in the Appalachians, the original Goinstown group, the Graysville Melungeons and the Person County group, so those definitions that describe the Melungeons as Appalachian are wrong. Of course, many Melungeons did and do live in the Appalachians, and that is where the word Melungeon was popularized. Of the eleven separate groups identified as Melungeon, five are in the Appalachians and six are not.

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For the online book Melungeons and Other Mestee Groups,

go to http://www.melungeonmestee.webs.com

This is strictly my personal definition, my best statement at this moment in time. See the Melungeon Definition 2000, put together by a committee collected by Karlton Douglas, at http://www.geocities.com/mikenassau/definition.htm for another view of this subject.

To see the older definition that was at this site until July 15, 2001, with statements from Martha Short and Nancy Morrison attached, click http://www.geocities.com/mikenassau/oldwhat.htm. This reflects my thinking during the period of 1996 to 1998. Much has been learned since.

For a list of many sites with information on the Melungeons and related topics like the Saponi, Black Irish, Black Dutch, and other Mestees such as the Red Bones, Brass Ankles, Ramapo Mountain People, etc., see the Open Directory list of Melungeon sites at http://dmoz.org/Society/Ethnicity/The_Americas/Melungeon/. Click on "Top" in the upper left corner to see the whole directory.

Mike Nassau, July 15, 2001

Open Directory Editor for Melungeon and related topics.

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Mestee, Mêtis, or Mestizo

There are three words in use for mixed race groups of people, Mestee, Mêtis and Mestizo. Mestee is the English, Mêtis the French and Mestizo the Spanish derivitive of the same Latin root for mixture. I think Mestee is the best for Anglo-America, Mêtis for Francophone areas and Mestizo for Latino groups. I got the word Mestee from Jack Forbes’ book. It is an English spelling of the Middle French Mestis. Mestis became Mêtis in modern French. The circumflex over the e is not an accent mark, it does not change the pronunciation. It represents the lost s that was there in Middle French. Août (August) is a good example. English stage is French êtage, this is a regular change. All Latin words which started in est- stay est- in Spanish, drop the e in English, and drop the s in French. Estado, state, êtat; Esteban, Steven, Êtienne, etc. Mestee fell into disuse because of the one-drop rule after the Civil War, but we are trying to go back to the pre-Civil War view that one can be part Black without being Black, so reviving the old word makes perfect sense to me. If Louisiana Cajuns and Alabama Creoles want to use Mêtis, with their French background, that is fine with me. But with Melungeons having mostly British origin names and speaking English for so long now, I think Mestee is the word of choice.

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The Original Melungeon Home Area

As Donald Ball explained so well at the Melungeon Third Union in Wise, Virginia, and as set forth in his and Kessler’s book and paper (the paper is on-line at the Melungeon Heritage Association website), the beginning of the formation of the Melungeon people was the aggregation of various people, mostly already of mixed ancestry, in a no-man’s area along the frontier between the colonies of North Carolina and Virginia. This no-man’s land was created by over-lapping royal grants to the two colonies. The area where they gathered is now the counties of Henry and Patrick in Virginia and Rockingham, Stokes and Surry in North Carolina. They have been know locally as the Goinstown Indians after the community in the northwest corner of Rockingham county. The old Goins school there was the center of this community, it is still standing, but deserted and in need of repair. Pretty much all the Melungeons of northeastern Tennessee (Hancock county, etc.), western Virginia and eastern Kentucky descend at least in part from Melungeons who moved from this Melungeon homeland. They have contributed some to all the groups called Melungeon except the Florida Melungeons, as can be seen in the frequency of the name Goins. Dr G. C. Waldrep III has done a lot of research on this original Melungeon community and the migrations from it into Hancock and Hawkins counties, TN, and Scott and Wise counties, VA.

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From Alan Ross' mirror site, http://www.rossmusic.net/what_is_a_melungeon.htm

Mike Nassau is a retired librarian who lives in Legazpi City, Albay Province, Bicol Region, Philippines by way of Gainesville, FL. He is married to Emma Espartinez Suruiz and lives with her and their three children, Jefferson, Jereco and Julie May. Ethnically, he is Melungeon. He authored a collection of class notes for an anthropology class on Melungeons and other old mixed race groups of eastern United States, titled "Melungeons and Other Mestee Groups" in 1994. He claims this work is very dated, much of it he no longer believes to be true, but it does have an extensive annotated bibliography.In addition, it contains a lot of Nassau’s wry wit which he says “some enjoy and by which some are deeply offended.” The collection has been posted on-line by the Multiracial Activist. The link is below.

http://www.multiracial.com/readers/nassau.html

 

2008 DISCLAIMER

The current crisis in the Melungeon community over the question

of a special connection between Melungeons and Turks needs to

be clarified. It is now known that Drake did not abandon any Turks

in Virginia. Of course, a few Turks who came to America other ways

might have made their way into the very mixed ancestry of the

Melungeons, but certainly not as much as several other Mediteranean

ethnicities. Not a significant amount, not a basis for any special

identification or relationship. The claim that Melungeons are

Turkish-Americans is ludicrous. To assert that Melungeons support

the Turkish denial of the Armenian Genocide is not only false and

dishonest, it is very insulting. Mike Nassau, March 12, 2008

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For more information on Melungeons, please click the links below.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MelungeonOrigin

http://mikenassau.freehomepage.com/melungeonpage.html

http://dmoz.org/Society/Ethnicity/The_Americas/Melungeon/

http://www.multiracial.com/readers/nassau.html

Mike Nassau mikemelungeon@yahoo.com

Salinas, CA. February 8, 2008

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MelungeonOrigin

 

communbity members are setting up for interviews for march community research week

Posted by chris on September 27, 2012 at 2:20 AM Comments comments (1)

Wanda Stewart (thomas/bland lines) of the Mt. Zion (Holmes county Dominickers) descendents is setting up for interviews with her and other families  from the MZ community for our research week in march in conjunction with the indian community conference.

Sharron Fagan is gathering together contacts for the descendents of the Scotts Ferry community for interviews as well, and wed like to set up  for meeting with individuals/families at their homes who cant come to the conference in blountstown.

if you descend from any of the Scott town, Scotts ferry, Woods, or Mount Zion communities please let me know, we are planning an intense 7 day research trip during the week before/after the conference in March and want to include you and your families memories, documents, photos, and ideas.

 if youd like to be included for interviews or a meeting at your home or community please let me know and well add you to the growing list. 918 402 3666 chickeetrash@yahoo.com northfloridaindian.org

Dominicker Life: A Cousins Reflections on Growing up in North Florida

Posted by chris on September 27, 2012 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (3)

Dominicker Life: A Cousins Reflections on Growing up in North Florida

my cousin emailed me this:

While sitting here reading an article in the Huffington Post about Senator Scott Brown and his mean spirited attacks against Elizabeth Warren, I realized this country is in serious trouble. Senator Brown can be seen and heard stating that Elizabeth Warren is not a person of color/Native American because she does not look like it. That statement hit home for me. Growing up in a family full of mixed race people led me to a life of comic relief. When most people would get upset at the name calling it actually made me laugh. Why you ask? Here are a few examples of my reason to laugh. Well dang gone it my own Daddy called me half-breed so much, everytime I heard Cher singing “Half-Breed”I sang along too (never knew it was not a nice word) my son still calls me that to remind me of my Daddy. And that is a good thing for me. Then along comes integration and we were plopped down in the middle of an all-white school I was called the “N” word (trying to remain politically correct here) and all I could think was man they are just as confused as I am. I didn’t know what I was myself so being called the infamous “N” word really made me laugh. Talk about an identity crisis. On the ride home from the previous all-white school I got another sucker punch-your Momma is half-white-well at least the person saying it thought she had it right but man oh man was she ever wrong. My Mom’s younger sister ventured to my house once after Thanksgiving to retrieve her dinner that I had left for her. I put the key over the door for her (forgot she was only two feet tall) and went on my merry way to work-well so much for knowing your neighbors-I received a call at my job from the police asking that I come home immediately, there seemed to have been some sort of break-in at my house-I get home to find that yes my home at been entered by some strange white woman that my neighbor observed crawl through a window-what a shock to see my Aunt handcuffed along with her friend sitting in the backseat of a patrol car. I informed the officer on scene that they were mistaken, the person they had handcuffed was not a criminal-she was in fact my Aunt. My Dad was also on the scene and to my Aunt’s dismay he was no help as he was on the ground laughing hysterically. The officer did not believe me-all he kept saying was look this lady is white and you are black she is not your mother’s sister-it took me a while to convince the officer that she was truly my aunt and indeed my mother’s sister, finally he apologized and released the both of them. Needless to say my poor neighbor needed a drink! These are just a few of the incidents I experienced growing up, maybe just maybe one day people will realize you truly can’t judge a book by its cover. According to Scott Brown’s analysis, I can’t be Native American. I simply don’t look it!

Thesis Prospectus for 2013 Thesis Project, TU Masters in Anthropology

Posted by chris on September 25, 2012 at 3:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Christopher Scott Sewell

Cultural Anthropology Masters Candidate Thesis Prospectus

“Self-Identification versus Social Identity of a Hybrid Community in the Florida Panhandle”

Rationale

This research thesis is important for two reasons. One is that unlike several of the larger and more well-known “hybrid communities” researched for a century now, such as the Wesorts of Maryland , Melungeons in Tennessee , Lumbee and related populations in North Carolina , and Redbones of Louisiana , the “Dominickers” (aka “Dead Lakes People”) of north Florida are less well documented. In fact, outside of several commentaries by passing visitors in the 1930’s and 40’s, there has been little inquiry into the origins, history, and social circumstances of the Dominickers groups of the Florida panhandle . Once known as “Tri-racial Isolates”, “Little Races”, and “Racial islands”, three of the four above mentioned groups have all had recent genetic sampling projects conducted within their communities to theoretically establish the approximate degrees of admixture within key “founding” populations to each group, and all three have had very similar results. Recent scholarship into the mid-eighteenth century beginnings of many of these groups document origins that has paralleled the preliminary genetic findings; that most of these (historically inter-related) groups originating families were formed during a narrow window of time in the early to mid-1700s when a significant hybrid population was created out of the social interactions of European women who were indentured servants and with no social standing and the earliest waves of African men brought to the colonies, but before the hardening of the correlation between African ancestry and slave status, with subsequent limited intermarriage with select remnant Indian individuals in some cases.

Many of the families born from these unions then migrated to little settled regions of the Virginia and Carolina wilderness and established settlements, some of which led to intermarriage, on a very limited scale according to the genetic markers analyzed, with local Native Americans who were survivors of the native population collapse in the Piedmont and coastal regions of the area. The resulting communities would in many cases thrive and be well established and secure in their often remote and geographically isolated settlements when Euro-American culture and governmental and institutional social structure arrived. In some cases such as the Lumbee groups in and around Robeson County, North Carolina, the settlements of families such as the Locklear, Oxendine, Lowery, Jacobs, Goins, Scott, and others predate written records for these regions, and whose identity is still hotly debated especially as to their founding populations racial composition.

While these groups in their dozens in the Carolinas and Virginia and their nineteenth century migrant offshoots in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee today maintain an American Indian origination and self-identification for the most part, many are beginning to re-evaluate this as recent genetic sampling done, publicly and privately, are showing African ancestry to be much more significant, if not solely present, amid their usually majority European markers in the genetic sampling done thus far . Only particular families, few in number, amid the much larger ‘defined’ tribal communities show any greater admixture of American Indian beyond that that is to be expected in the general population of the American South, a region with a statistically more African ad-mixed “White” population than other parts of the country .

The Florida Dominickers, outside of an individual here and there, have not been sampled, and scholarly inquiry still has much to be written and researched. Since the arrival of founding families in 1811 in the Florida panhandle from three inter-related groups, originating in Sumter County, South Carolina (aka Sumter Turks), Robeson County, North Carolina (aka Lumbee Cheraw Indians), and Catawba Indians from the Rock Hill Reservation in South Carolina, there has been a steady synthesis within and between the four settlements established upon arrival.

These settlements of Scott Town (Jackson County), Scotts Ferry (Calhoun County), Mount Zion (Holmes County), and Woods (Liberty County) all have significant historical documentary evidence throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a separate and racially-identifiable group that can only be described as ambiguous, with some records and sometimes the same records such as tax, court, school and military records identifying members of the group as Indian, Indian-Creole, White, Negroe, and other terms. The 1860 Federal Census of the Scotts Ferry settlement is one example. While court cases from the same decade identify the same community members as “Catawba Indian”, the census taker wrote a small descriptive narrative directly onto his enumeration form which states;

“The free negroes in this county are mixed-blood, almost white and are intermarried with a low class of whites – Have no trade, occupation or profession they live in a settlement or Town of their own their personal property consists of Cattle & Hogs, They make no produce except corn & peas & very little of that, They are a lazy Indolent & worthless race.”

(Transcribed from the 1860 Federal Census of Calhoun County, Florida 2002)

This is one of the many records found which indicate the ambiguous status of these communities in the overarching White/Black social structure of the post reconstruction south. An excerpt from a series of letters held by the Calhoun County Education Department spanning a century document the racial limbo that the community experienced, with Scotts Ferry School (Marysville) being funded and listed as a “Negro School” but the correspondence between the Trustee of the school and the Clerk of Court (and school board in others) showing that no actual African-American community members were “welcomed” by the often clannish and tight-knit and intermarried Scotts Ferry Community members. One excerpt from 1938 reads:

“There are men who would knife us out of having our own school

saying that we are negroe. You know our character that we are

of white and Indian blood…”

(-Scotts Ferry School Trustee Dave Martin to Calhoun County Clerk of Court-1938, from the Calhoun County Clerk of Court Records Room, Calhoun County Courthouse Rm310 Blountstown Florida, transcribed 2002)

As I have investigated the origins and history of these unique panhandle settlements in the past, following in the footsteps of Calvin Beal, Brewton Berry, and others who have investigated the “Little Races” as they were once called in the south, two things are easily distinguished over time, especially around periods of intense interaction between the communities and outside authorities and events such as the Civil War, World War I and World War II. One is that the members of the group self-identified as racially Indian on whatever occasions they could, and on several occasions in local court cases spanning more than a century were so identified as Indian, and yet were unwaveringly socially viewed by their neighbors and local authorities such as the school board, the sheriff, and local people as “mulatto’, and “negro”.

With the coming of desegregation most families originating in these communities were absorbed into the White community within a generation, with a few intermarrying with local Blacks, and a half dozen core families continuing to identify as Indian through the second half of the twentieth century, mainly through interaction with and identifying as “Poarch Creek”, a nearby group of Muscogee Creek descendants federally recognized in 1985 as a tribe by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The above quick overview of the “Dominicker groups” of the panhandle relates to history and the reality of the past that documentary evidence was the only real way of shedding light onto the origins of any group, but this has all changed during the decade past. With advances in the technologies of genetics, and a subsequent fall in price for the test kits, many new aspects of identity are now available through this powerful tool. As I mentioned earlier, several of the hybrid groups that were once thought to have “mysterious” and unknowable origins, many of which were theoretically unlikely but none the less entertaining, had the theories of being “lost Israelites”, Egyptians, Turkish, Welshman who predated Columbus, and other such tall-tales of their genesis come to an end with the genetic revelations that they, like all communities in America were really just the results of the process of social evolution that’s been playing out across the Americas for centuries.

It is social evolution that various communities arise from social circumstances and fade due to the same process. If this were only a tale of communities past I would wonder about its relevance and import to today’s dynamic and increasingly-changing American identity. But though a story of the past, the last half century of struggle by the community defined as Dominickers and dead Lakes People during segregation to accommodate the more recent changes since desegregation are reflective of a growing experience in many communities: that of grappling for a sense of identity in a society of growing complexity in regard to racial, social and linguistic identities.

Therefore another reason this research should be pursued is the growing diversity of the general population, and the increasing breadth of what “American” really means becoming more of a crucial factor in multiple areas of the American experience. The communal journey of these small “hybrid” communities from their origination in the dynamic social environment of the opening days of the unique American identity, to their century long isolation under Jim Crow segregation, and ultimately culminating in today’s growing propensity for many of these hybrid groups to identify as “politically” American Indian and leading in some cases to legal claims to treaty rights and Casinos, and demands for a place at the table and a cut of the federal funding pie allocated for Native Americans, for all these reasons, this thesis research is necessary.

Increasingly, a person’s “Identity” as an individual and as a member of various social circles is becoming an important factor in the life of many Americans as never before, and unique and hitherto unknown and currently emerging and modern “hybrid” identities ( Crypto-Jews of New Mexico, New-Yorican, Chicanos, Hmong, Neo-Creole, “Taino” of New York, and hybrid-individuals like our president Barack Obama and golfer Tiger Woods for example) continue to appear as social and economic forces world-wide bring new “Americans” to these shores even as it did in 1750, persons which often originate from different parts of the world than their predecessors in immigration, and who help create newly emerging communities as they merge with the American ‘mainstream’. Academic inquiries into the forces that create, maintain, and ultimately disperse any community are as important as anytime in the past, I feel.

Statistical reports confront us annually with increasing issues relating to crime, economic inequalities, social alienation, family dysfunction, and substance abuse growing within many communities, (especially so in “marginalized” communities like American Indian reservations and enclaves). It is more important than ever to delve into the experiences of (often little known) communities which have been dealing with this “marginalization” for a much longer period (and for the most part without federal over sight or support from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and in the face of local persecution). The experiences of these communities have in the past and continue to this day, to teach us about the complexities of the intersecting threads of race, language, class, culture, and identity in the tapestry of the American experience, they in many cases serve as precursors to the present reality of quickly disappearing White/Black poles of racial identity.

Review of the Scholarship

The most recent source of information relating to the Florida Dominicker settlements is several site visits by Calvin Beale in 1956. As well there have been several other reports regarding visits or inquiries with local officials and a trove of letters regarding the Scott Town settlement are present from the Jackson and Calhoun County courthouses and educational records repositories. A large supply of records at University of North Carolina relating to Dominicker students attending the Cherokee Indian Normal School in Robeson County, NC still need to be inventoried and applied to the case. I will make a research trip to collect these in the spring. There are hundreds of additional documentary sources to access for this project and I am in the process of compiling these now, with the anticipated help of several experts in the area including Dr. Melinda Maynor-Lowery at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Moore at University of Florida, and Professor Sweet at the same. Dr. Andrew Ramsey, a 40 year leader among the dead Lakes group of Dominicker people is also assisting with collection of data relevant to this report, and S. Pony Hill a leading lay researcher into hybrid population’s origins and histories. As well recently published materials relating to several of these populations, as well as political movements for federal recognition by the Bureau of Indian Affairs of several, make updating the evolving social situation important.

I will be using a large amount of research relating to the two main parent communities of the Dominickers, namely the Lumbee population clusters in and around Robeson County, NC, and the so-called “Turk” population of Sumter County, SC (recently recognized by the state of South Carolina as “The Sumter Band of Cheraw Indians”). These two populations contributed the majority of migrants to the panhandles Dominicker settlements in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Method

I will be utilizing two main sources for my data, which this study seeks to synthesize into a whole which draws a clearer picture of the actual origins of the current group. These two sources are the historical documentary record consisting mainly of federal and state census records, tax, court, and local educational records, and military and tribal records; and the results of ‘Direct-To-Consumer’ genetic testing kit collections of individuals representative of the founding and consistently associated families. The recently published “Melungeon DNA Project”, which documents a similar endeavor conducted among the Melungeon hybrid group in Tennessee utilized and was supported by Family tree DNA, one of the largest and most well respected genetic testing companies in the country. They have agreed to provide me with half priced testing kits and technical support, considering this is an academically oriented project.

The Dominicker community holds an annual social gathering each year in Blountstown, Florida in March, and I spoke at last year’s conference to survey the possibility of the support of the community elders for such a research project and was approached by many from key families in the community such as the Oxendines, Jacobs, Scotts, and Porters, to take part. Many knew of the (then unpublished) study going on in the Melungeon communities in Tennessee (a related population through several of the families ancestral ties to Robeson County NC) and were enthusiastic in their desire to take part.

Though the Melungeon project was participated in by over 40 individuals who all paid for their test kits themselves, I anticipate a smaller more anecdotal survey of a half dozen to a dozen key individuals who represent various founding ancestral persons, and propose to compare and contrast what the historic documentary evidence suggests abound these families and the community versus the genetic results gathered.

Study Outline

I will collect and synthesis relevant scholarly works and significant records relating to documentary history of the families tested in the Project and compare and contrast what the genetic “evidence” suggests in light of the social and legal history as contained in the documentary record. I will looking to see what degree there is of similarities to and difference from what is emerging from similar research in other related communities such as the Melungeon (TN), Lumbee (NC), and Redbone groups (LA).

Bibliography

This bibliography is growing daily as I continue to compile sources and will anticipate its being significantly longer than this by the time the writing is in process.

Berry, B. (1963). Almost White. New York. The McMillan Press

Blu, K. (1980). The Lumbee Problem: The Making of an American Indian People. Lincoln. The University of Nebraska Press

Burt, J. & Ferguson R.E. (1973) Indians of the Southeast: Then and Now. New York. Abingdon Press

Calloway, C.G. (2008) First Peoples: A Documentary Survey of American Indian History. Boston, New York. Bedford/St Martins

Cotterill, R.S. (1954) The Southern Indians: The Story of the Civilized Tribes Before Removal. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press

Debo, A. (1941) The Road to Disappearance. Norman. University of Oklahoma Press

Doster, J.F. (1974) The Creek Indians and Their Florida Lands: 1740-1823. Two Volumes: Volume I, 1740-1805; Volume II, 1806-1823. New York & London: Garland Publishers Inc

Ellsworth, L.F. & Dysart, J.E. (1981) Northwest Florida’s Forgotten People: The Creek Indians from 1830 to 1970. The Florida Historical Quarterly. (April) p.422-39

Gallagher, C. A. (1999) Rethinking the Color Line. New York. McGraw-Hill

Gilbert, W.H. Jr. (1949) “Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States”. In the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution, (1948). P. 407-38

Green, D.E. (1973) The Creek People. Phoenix. Indian Tribal Series

Hudson, C. (1976). The Southeastern Indians. Memphis: University of Tennessee Press

Johnson, T.R. (1999) Contemporary Native American Political Issues. Walnut Creek, Lanham, New York, Oxford. Alta Mira Press

Kein, S. (2000) Creole: The History and Legacy of Louisiana’s Free People of Color. Baton Rogue. Louisiana State University Press

Matte, A.M. (2002). They Say the Wind is Red: Alabama Choctaw Lost in Their Own Land. Montgomery: New South Books

McFarland, R. (no date) Headstones and Heritages: Cemeteries of Escambia County Alabama.

Nichols, R.L. & Adams, R. A. (1971) The American Indian: Past and Present. New York. John Wiley and Sons

Parades, J.A. (1972) {unpublished} Southeastern Indian Oral History Project, Florida State Museum, University of Florida. (interviews with community members and others)

Parades, J.A. (1974) “The Emergence of Contemporary Eastern Creek Indian Identity.” In Social and Cultural Identity. Southern Anthropological Society Proceedings No. 8. Athens. University of Georgia Press.

Parades, J.A. “The Origin and Development of the Alabama Creek Indian Community.” Paper presented at the Southern Historical Association 1975 Annual Meeting, Washington DC, November 14. Subsequently published in expanded and revised form as “Back from Disappearance: The Alabama Creek Indian Community”. Southeastern Indians since the Removal Era. Athens. University of Georgia Press

Parades, J.A. (1981) “Kinship and Descent in the Ethnic Reassertion of the Eastern Creek Indians.” The Versatility of Kinship. Stephen Beckerman & Linda Cordell. New York. Academic Press

Sider, G. (1993) Living Indian Histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora People in North Carolina. Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina Press

Speck, F.G. Notes on Social and Economic Conditions Among the Creek Indians of Alabama in 1941” American Indigena. Vol. vii, no. 3 July 1947

Speck, F.G. The Road to Disappearance: Creek Indians Surviving in Alabama, A Mixed Cultural Community. American Anthropologist. Vol. 51 p.681-82

U.S, Department of the Interior. Bureau of Indian Affairs (1983). Recommendation and summary of evidence for proposed finding for federal acknowledgement of the Poarch Band of Creeks of Alabama pursuant to 25 CFR 83.

Vickery, L. & Travis, S. (2009). The Rise of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Atmore: Upward Press

2012 apalachicola river community indian conference

Posted by chris on March 26, 2012 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (2)

this years conference was a great success with over 60 people from a dozen indian organizations attending, thanks to chief andrew ramsey, scott mcnutt, rodney ryals and especially educator virginia ryals all of whom gave strong words to the people...mvtoooooo

 

The Future of the Apalachicola River Community (ARC) of Indians of Florida

Posted by chris on January 29, 2012 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (3)

As the generation of North Florida Indians who themselves or whose parents attended the Jim Crow era “Indian Schools” at Scott Town and Scott’s Ferry pass on, the need for these individuals, families, and community organizations to step forward in a greater capacity to secure a place at the table of Florida and Southeastern Indian affairs grows. Unlike the trend of the last few decades where being Indian is popular and tens of thousands of descendants of individual Creek Indians in the 1830’s have emerged to populate the powwows and roadside Indian exhibits in north Florida, the Eastern-Siouan (Catawba/Cheraw) people of the Scott Town and Scott’s Ferry settlements have remained in the social shadows. Though individuals from several families have become deeply involved in Creek politics over the last several decades, the larger community of ARC families has languished in a voluntary cultural and social amnesia.

The elders are, in some cases, unwilling to speak of their struggles and suffering, even to close family members. The poverty, disenfranchisement, and blatant racism experienced by the elder generation during the past have led to a very present psychological barrier to anything to do with the in-common community past. We have found in the 15 years of doing interviews and meetings with ARC tribal elders that at least half have significantly been affected by their childhood experiences in very negative ways that continue to affect them and their descendants. Many still feel great shame and can verbalize their feelings only with great effort, if at all. Deep and sometimes unexpected emotional responses have been very common as we have opened doors in their memories and hearts that they have kept shut for many decades.

As tragically, we have found in these interviews with several generations within a family group that many of the younger generation are sometimes unaware of many of the traumatic experiences had by their elders. The disconnect experienced between the younger generations and the elders who lived under segregation has led to many of the younger people attaching themselves to the Creek identities of Indians around them, often times at the expense of the oral history of elders and certainly at the expense of the larger Eastern-Siouan (Catawba/Cheraw) community and its ability to organize and act as a group.

As a student of psychology as well as sociology, I have personally witnessed the presence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among some elders and families, and the generational spreading of dysfunctional culture ensuing from it affects non-federally recognized Indian people just as it does the populations of Indian reservations with high rates of alcoholism, domestic abuse and the entire range found in many Indian reservation communities. For many outsiders, academics and lay people alike, the very existence of the several still socially-active Indian enclaves and families is unknown. Not all faded into the fabric of the post segregation rural white population, as some have put forward in academic circles, some did hold on to their Native identity. In conversations with a few members of the local Jackson County area descendants of the Scott Town settlement, they stated that they are happy to be considered “white’ by their neighbors and “the guv’ment”.

There are many who have no expressed interest in their families’ American Indian roots or in the social experiences of their parents and grandparents. “Why do ya’ll care about that ole stuff?” said one resident of Scott Town Road, who appeared to be phenotypically full-blood Indian. The general body language when these statements were said indicated uncertainty of neighbors’ opinions if certain subjects such as race were discussed. This is a common courtesy in southern culture today, to avoid the topic of race with those one isn’t certain of socially. It seemed in the process of dozens of interviews with individuals and families that the closer we were to the physical location of the old Scott Town settlement, with its weed-strewn cemetery and the rotting and derelict carcass of the Indian school house, the more our interviewees were uncomfortable and reticent to discuss the past. This is understandable with the racial climate of Jackson County still hostile to many.

For the dozen or so families who still live in the vicinity of the now nearly-empty Scott Town settlement located down an at times dusty Scott’s Church Road, the past is very present, and so is the fear, pain, and uncertainty connected to it. For other families, especially those who have intermarried since the end of Jim Crow with other Indian, Hispanic, and Creole families in the panhandle, and have established family based settlements in other places, the need for a sense of community and honoring of the struggles of the elders is a compulsion that has increased with each generation. In years past, under the leadership of S. Pony Hill of the Apalachicola River Community Indian Tribal Organization (ARCITO), several professors from Universities have taken some interest in the ARC (Catawba/Cheraw) community and have participated in efforts to document the historical experience of Eastern Siouan descended Indian people in north Florida, most especially Professor Moore.

Despite the difficulties in holding onto an obscure tribal identity in a sea of “Creek” political, cultural, and social affairs, the Florida ARC Indians continue to persevere. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to the ARC people in Florida has been the lack of a commonly held name for the tribal ancestry, even among the closely intermarried and related families. As with other issues, a similar challenge is found among Indians in the Carolinas. Especially for the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw Indians in North Carolina, who are genealogically Florida ARC (hence the Cheraw in the Catawba/Cheraw description of our peoples ancestry) kinsman, this question has loomed large, and has only become “somewhat” settled in the last generation or two, though there are still many groups who are outside the Lumbee Tribe political orbit but who descend from the same early families.

Much like the Lumbee, who were originally labeled as “Croatans”, later as “Cherokee Indians of Robeson County”, and eventually came to be called Lumbee, the Florida ARC people have struggled with each other and with other Florida and Alabama Indian people over their actual tribal origins and name. I have personally heard many Creek leaders over the last 20 years refer to families of Catawba/Cheraw people as “those Lumbees in (such and such county) are really just mulattos”, and other similar statements. In the last two decades several attempts at Cheraw tribal organizations have come and gone.

Attempts to establish a unified identity and tribal government for the several groups born from the historic settlements at Scott Town and Scotts Ferry (post-Jim Crow) diaspora have to date have been unsuccessful. Whether among Blountstown Indian Community people, the Lakeland settlement, Scott Town descendant families living in Escambia County, or the Holmes County area Cheraw people who descend from the Mount Zion Community called by some “Dominickers”, all have been unable to permanently establish a viable framework for directed political action. For some the alternative has been political or social alliances with the Creek power structures whether at Poarch or Bruce, for others it has meant a retreat into the traditional culture of the Southeastern Stomp Dance traditions, and for a few the alternatives of genealogical connections and enrollment with Carolina based groups seems best.

Some members of the Jacobs family from Woods are enrolled with the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina, while other families from the same settlement participate with the Sumter Band of Cheraws in South Carolina, while a third family are members of a Creek Nation (Oklahoma) tribal town

Part of the reason for of this narrative is to help these Indian to look long and hard at themselves, their families, and their ideas of community. There is a greater need than ever for the Eastern-Siouan diaspora ARC people in the panhandle of Florida (not mention the several families and hundreds of individuals living on or near the Poarch Creek Indian reservation in Atmore Alabama) to exert great effort in accepting the social realities they and their families live in daily. For many the old social isolation of past generations has been replaced by another type of social isolation, a self-induced Amnesia relating to their own history. On the one hand, so many speak of their pride in Indian blood yet are bested by the shame of the treatment of and identification as colored of family members. A reckoning on the community level must occur that will not let the generational cycle of poverty, substance abuse, and dysfunction that is present in the lives of many of the Cheraw families continue.

The surge of political activity in recent years by the many Cheraw communities throughout the Carolinas has led to interest, talk, and hope around the kitchen tables, church pews, and stomp dance fires of the Florida people. The Catawba Nation’s success of securing restoration of their federal recognition in the 1990’s and the renewal of their institutions and tribal cultural heritage has not gone unnoticed by Florida Cheraw leaders. Efforts by the Branham family and others at the Rock Hill Catawba reservation to restore the Green Corn Dance and traditional culture to the Catawba people are applauded by Florida Cheraw, most of which have blood ties in South Carolina. Efforts in this movement have been difficult and are ongoing, despite continual upheaval politically due to the Catawba tribal reorganization. Recent activities by some South Carolina Cheraw people to go to the Creek Nation in Oklahoma and learn the ways of the old southeastern culture have led to the return after many generations of absence of the Stomp dance, Green Corn ceremonials and many cultural practices that are aspects of tradition that make southeastern Indian people unique among American Indians. Catawba, Edisto, and Santee tribal members have all been working at this the last few years especially. Well documented by academic circles was the Poarch Creek efforts to restore this ceremonialism to their tribe during the 1990’s and its eventual success with the re- establishment of a sacred fire at the Hassossa Tallahassee Ceremonial Grounds in 2001 by Dave Lewis, one of the principal medicine persons in Creek Nation in Oklahoma. Less well investigated by interested academicians have been the stomp dances and stickball games held in Blountstown among ARC Indian families since the late 1960’s. Without federal recognition there is no money and without money there is often little interest or care by government, academicians, or outsiders in the welfare of Indians.

The many trips to the west taken by several ceremonial leaders in the process of restoring a knowledgeable group of practitioners of Southeastern ceremonial traditions during the last 30 years have borne fruit for this small group of traditionalist. Most of all, in conversations with several “Old Heads” as the elderly family leaders who are ultimately the final authorities in the Indian community in Florida and Alabama are called, is a watchfulness of the political fortunes of Carolina Cheraws like the Lumbee, and more recently, the state-recognized South Carolina tribes of Cheraw origins. For all Indian communities in the south who originate in that long ago social milieu that was the Carolina frontier of the 1700’s, the common assault on their identities as Indians has been unrelenting. Where many Florida ARC grandparents living now once faced accusations of “really being mulatto”, and having to attend schools designated as “colored”, their own grandchildren are now accused of “really being white”, or “wannabe” Indians. Where was this long line of critics during the Jim Crow years?

The criticism has been often and steady, despite each generation’s common insistence to any who took the time to listen to their quiet but firm statement “We are Indian”, in the words of Tom Scott. The paranoia of the “wannabe” accusation from the Florida Governors Council of Indian Affairs , federally recognized Indians such as the Seminole and Miccosukee, and the general Academic community, have led some of the Florida Indians we have interviewed for the recently released “Indians of North Florida” book to state their discomfort with ANY public presence as an “organized” Indian group. It seems that among some of those now coming into their own as leaders of ARC families, they don’t question their community-based tribal identity or its meaning to them, but do question what it appears to them many “outsiders” consider being Indian. The time has come for the ARC people to unite and as our Lumbee cousins in Robison County NC have done recently, set up one tribal government to represent all who descend from Scott Town, Scotts Ferry, Woods, and Mount Zion. All are invited to come and present your ideas and concerns at the 15th Annual Apalachicola River Community Indian Community Conference in Blountstown on March 17th 2012!


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