Saturday, September 15, 2012

Stuck in the Past

Melungeons, Indian Tribes, Spaniards and Portuguese     
    There are many records of "people" other than English and Indians in Colonial America. In 1608 on the 'Second Supply' in which we find the first Thomas Gibson the passengers included 'Dutch, Poles and "Others"  Hubbard Gibson (and Nathaniel Bass) is associated/neighbors of the Bland Family who were Spanish merchants.  In 1669 George 'the Spaniard' was living on Lawnes Creek, Surry County, Virginia, as was John Collins. In the Batts-Fallom Expedition in September of 1671 while at the 'Saponi town'  it was reported;  "We hence sent back a horse belonging to Mr. Thomas Wood, which was hired, by a Portugal, belonging to Major General Wood, whom we here found".  A PORTUGUESE at the SAPONI TOWN in 1671. 
In 1701 the Saponi were found living on the Yadkin River by Lawson: 

"The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 215 miles. The river becomes the Pee Dee River at the confluence of the Uwharrie River. The river flows into South Carolina near Cheraw, which is at the fall line where it becomes the Great Pee Dee River. It is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin."

These maps and testimonies below show the connections between the Indians, the Melungeon families, the Portuguese and the Indian Paths. 

1711 the Saponi were found residing near Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina where just a few months ago a map was discovered to show a Fort, possibly that of the  "Lost Colony",  so often mentioned with the Melungeons. The Bunch, Gibson, and possibly other families known as Melungeons lived in this area at one time. In fact Walter Gibson signed a Bertie County deed as a 'chieftan' of the Tuscarora

By 1714 the Saponi were found at Fort Christianna with Captain Robert Hicks/Hix who was associated with John Bunch and Gideon Gibson.

Robert K. Thomas a Cherokee Indian, professor and anthropologist researched many of these tribes and wrote; 
"In my research I find a small group of Saponi Indians in Granville County, North Carolina (now Vance County) who lived in that region between 1743 and sometime in the 1760’s. The Saponi originally lived  several miles further north on the Roanoke River in Virginia when they were contacted by early Europeans in the late 1600’s. Later, because of pressure from whites, they moved west to the Yadkin Valley, near modern Winston-Salem, North Carolina. About 1710 they were migrating east and appear to have gotten caught “in between” the whites and the hostile Tuscarora Indians. The Saponi “sat out” the war in the neutral Tuscarora country near Windsor, North Carolina.  
It appears that this band of Saponi were not the only Indians in the area (Granville County). Individual Indian families from broken tribes further east were gravitating into this same area, perhaps to attach themselves to the Saponi or perhaps just to live in an area where there were other Indians....... In the 1730’s and 40’s the Yawpim and Potoskite tribes near the coast in extreme northeastern North Carolina had lost their lands. Individual Indian families were moving to the frontier from this region. ......So that by the 1750’s there appears to have been fairly extensive number of Indian families other than Saponies in that region. Read his report here
The FREE STATE OF PATRICK site is a wealth of information on these tribes movements. If John Collins mentioned in the Orange County record in 1743 as a sundry/Saponi Indian is the ancestor of Vardy it is easy to see how his mother or grandmother may have been one of the Portuguese/Indians living along the Pee Dee River.

Vardy Collins was said to have been Portuguese and Cherokee and/or Saponi Indian over the years by many researchers. You might wonder how that could be-- but by looking at this map below you can see the Saura-Saponi Trail  as it criss-crosses the other paths and trails.

North Carolina Trading Paths 
(Click above for a larger map)

"Eighteen Indian trading paths have been identified as having lain totally or partially within the present boundaries of North Carolina, including the Unicoi Turnpike, the Catawba Trail, the Saura-Saponi Trail, and the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path prior to 1775. Many of these paths extended into the states of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, knitting the peoples of North Carolina together with those of the rest of the Southeast and North America"

Almost every Melungeon family was found living along the Indian Towns or Trading Paths before moving to the 'frontier', as did the remnant tribes. 

The 1794 Petition in Georgetown, now Marion County, South Carolina, contains the names of Bolton, Shoemake, Gibson and Oxendine, and others. The testimony in the trial in Hamilton County, Tennessee 75 years later involving the descendants of Solomon Bolton, grandchildren of Spencer Bolton named in the above petition, proved the Bolton, Shoemake, Perkins, etc., were called Melungeons and known to be Portuguese or Spaniards.

We know the Oxendine, Ivey, Linegar, Bolton,  and possibly Collins and Gibson came from South Carolina to Newman's Ridge while others traveled to other places in groups. 

The Gibsons, Oxendines, Shoemakes, Bolton and other families can be traced to Bledsoe and Overton County, Tennessee in 1830 and Taney County, Missouri in 1840.  Family stories were they were on the trail of tears and 'dropped off' in Missouri.

These families left Missouri and are found in Vineyard, Washington County, Arkansas in 1850. Delilah Bolton, born Marion County, South Carolina, daughter of Charles Oxendine and widow of Lewis Bolton, no doubt kinfolk of Solomon Bolton the Portuguese-Melungeon is found on the census. Charles Oxendine and family are listed as #97, Levi Oxendine is #98, Thomas and Morning (West) Pope are #99 and George Gibson, wife Sarah Shoemake along with Deliah Gibson are #100. Delilah is no doubt 'Delley Gibson' who signed the 1794 petition, one of the 'widows with a large family'.  She is also possibly the Delilah/Deliley Gibson who is found at the Stoney Creek Church records in 1807 as they moved over the mountains from South Carolina to Bledsoe/Overton County, Tennessee.

By 1860 these families had joined the wagon trains bound for California. These depositions in the Cherokee claim of John W. Shoemake shows these families were known as Portuguese (and Cherokee) by their neighbors.
John W. Shoemake et al vsThe Cherokee NationSeptember 22, 1882
My name is John V. Alberty, my age is about 48 years, I am a Cherokee, and reside in the Cherokee nation, Going Snake Dist.
According to the statements in the petition, I don't know anything about the claimants. I did know a family of Shoemakes. There was a man named Jim Shoemake. His brother was Tom Shoemake. Jim Shoemake married a woman by the name of Oxendine. They lived on the line there near Dutch Town, Washington Co., Ark. They lived there till about the year '58 or '59. They then went from there to California or Arizona. I have not seen them since. They called themselves Portugese. (They are also called Portuguese in the Bolton trial in 1874) They were recognized then as being different by the people of the states. They considered them as colored people and refused them the right to vote. J. W. Alberty
In the case of W. H. Shoemake and J. W. Shoemake
Cherokee Nation 
January 5, 1882
Testimony of Samuel R. Keys
Testifies he knew the applicants since they lived on Crow Creek in Jackson County, North Alabama. He was acquainted with the applicant's grandfather and grandmother who had a reservation on Crow Creek. The Shoemakes were generally recognized by all the people as Cherokee.  John A. Shoemake the father of the aplicant used to drive stock a good deal.  I used to run a ferry  boat on the Tennessee River, and he used to cross the stoc at my ferry. The reservation was located in Jackson County, Alabama. lying in the fork of of Big Crow and Little Crow Creek, ten or twelve miles from Crow Town. The applicants were the grandsons of Anna Shoemake and John A. Shoemake. 
''Before the Indians were taken to Indian Territory there was a large number of whites and Indians that fled to the mountain between Little Crow Creek and Little Coon. They built Shavis Town, cleared up about 100 or more acres and cultivated it, putting out an orchard. They raised winesap apples, peaches, corn and dug ginseng besides hunting for a living.
The older men were very religious. They were mixed with Portuguese. Willis Shavis (wife Hetty Evans was daughter of Andrew Evans and Mary E. Shoemake of Marion Co. South Carolina) named his four sons after the Apostles, Andrew, John, Peter and Nathaniel. The had two Preachers, John Pressley and Brother Forsythe, an Indian. They would preach and convert the young men and girls and bring them down to Little Crow Creek to Baptize them. They believed rightly they were to be buried in baptism in water. They knew the Bible.''
Thomas Ivey (believed to be descendant of Indian Trader Adam Ivey of Chippoakes Creek) lived in Bladen County as early as 1753 and removed to Marion County, South Carolina by the 1760s where he was known as to be of Portuguese descent.
''Depositions in an 1812 court case strongly suggest that, having disposed of his patent sometime before 1769, Thomas Ivey moved south into what became Marion District, South Carolina and died there some years later. Thomas Hagans, born about 1765 and identified as a grandson of Thomas Ivey and his wife Elizabeth, refused to pay his assessed tax as a free non-white in Marion District, South Carolina in 1809. At his trial in 1812, two white men testified on his behalf. The testimony of John Regan, a longtime neighbor of Thomas Ivey Jr., suggests that Thomas Ivey Sr. left Bladen County sometime in the late 1760s and removed to South Carolina. The testimony of Robert Coleman, a longtime resident of Marion District, suggests that Thomas and Elizabeth Ivey lived in Marion District for several years before their deaths.  Both men testified that Thomas Ivey was “understood” and “generally reputed” to be of Portuguese descent and that his wife Elizabeth was a free white woman.''
Tobias Gibson was one of the first of the 'Melungeon families' to have been documented on Newman's Ridge.  He was a 'horseback' Methodist Minister and was in Kentucky in the 1780s and from there his circuit was from Hawkins County, Tennessee to Wilkes County, North Carolina in the 1790s. The Gibsons of the Pee Dee River area which Tobias Gibson belongs matches that of the Newmans' Ridge Melungeon Gibson families.

Port Gibson, Miss., May 17, 1878
Dear sir:
There were three branches of the Gibson connexion which settled in Mississippi at an early day: The parents of Rev. Randall Gibson near Natchez about where the old town of Washington now stands; the family of Samuel Gibson - the founder of the Town of Port Gibson, in this vicinity; and that of Rev. Tobias Gibson in what is now Warren county in the vicinity of Warrenrtown. So far as I know these families all came from the valley of the Great Pee Dee river in South Carolina. Some time in the sixteenth century three ship loads of Portuguese Hugenots voluntarily exiled themselves from Portugal rather than renounce their Protestant faith, and settled in South Carolina, then the Colony of Carolina, in the very region of county where our Gibsons are first found,  and, from their elevated intellectuality, morality, religion and enterprise, I have long believed that they were the descendants of those refugee Huguenots, though I do not remember ever to have heard but one of the connexion refer to this as a tradition of the family. I wish we now had the means of demonstrating this theory.
It would take many pages, almost a book, to tie all these families together with all the evidence we have to date.  DNA may change things, and it may also  prove or disprove some of the Portuguese/Indian stories eventually. Everyday books, rare books, newspapers, wills, probates, deeds etc., are finding their way online.  We must not get 'stuck in the past' relying on books and papers printed 15-20 years ago.  We must continually re-examine the evidence, old and new, so we can give a proper history to these most interesting families. 


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  2. Iam a descendant of Valentine Collins and Wife Dicey Price Gibson, They came from N.C with their Son in Law a Cherokee named Chief Che-noska (Cole)He was married to Obedia Collins He would be my 4 Grandfather. Settled in Magoffin Cnty KY. All my life I have heard from Grandparents and GGrandparents we were Indians but they could not say they were anything but White because of the Revenue Men. With the Exception of Cole he would say he was Indian but was called Mullato on some Census records and on others the family was labled Melungeon. Edward Barnett

    1. I have been doing some research and it looks like he might also be a forefather of ours. We have his wife's name as either "Obediance" or "Obedience" though. I also have him written down with an English name, as well. His full name was "William Che-Noska Cole." Does that sound like it could be right? I have been trying to track which tribe he could have been a part of originally, and evidence comes up for both Cherokee and Choctaw so far. Do you happen to know which it is (or if he was both)?

      - Jessica

    2. I am also looking into the same thing myself. Looks like we are all cousins. Hopefully we can all help each other out. My 3rd great grand father James G. Cole applied for the Final Dawes Roll but never made it on the Roll. It seams weird that he was denied when his Grandfather William was a Chief. I trying so hard to Find William or Che-Noska on anything that would link him to the Cherokee especially since at his time was the Trail of Tears. You guys can email me at or
      ~Sara Renkert

    3. I have been researching Valentine Cole who was married to Jamima Cole from Magoffin. They had a son John Wesley Cole. From 1860 to 1880 on the census they are listed as Mulatto but in 1900-1910 they are called American Native Indian. John Wesley's daughter Izania married William Barnett in 1911. By 1920 she is married to Wick Kendall Cole and Izania calls herself White have you found what the true race is? Please email me at

    4. Well looks like we all come from the same grand parents. A really good book is Who's your people by Rich Carlson. You can still get the book.

  3. I am a descendant of Nathan Perry (b. approx 1800-1809 in North Carolina) married Mary Collins, daughter of Griffith Collins and Martha Massey Collins in 1833 in Grainger County, TN. They moved to Wise County, VA via Russell County, VA. Any paper trail other than marriage record would be appreciated. Nathan, Griffith and Martha all claimed to have been born in North Carolina. Mary was born in Grainger, TN. My father is in his 80s and we are having his DNA tested to try and see if their is a Melungeon connection. We can find NOTHING about Nathan other than what was listed in censuses.

  4. I am a descendent of Nathan Perry (Born approx 1800-1809 in North Carolina) and Mary Collins daughter of Griffith Collins Sr., and Martha Massey Collins. Nathan and Mary were married in 1833 in Grainger County, TN. Mary's parents both were born in North Carolina but she was born in Grainger County according to census records. They left Grainger County and moved first to Russell County, VA and then to Wise County, VA. I have no paper trail for Nathan earlier than his marriage to Mary. My father is in his 80s and we are having DNA tests done to see if he has connection to Melungeon. Any info prior to Nathan's marriage would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Lewis Bolton and Deliah Oxendine were my grgrgrgr grandparents. I am a descendent of the Bolton and Oxendine family. Reading this history is awesome!
    I've heard stories in my family but now this proves it.
    Thank you

  6. Charles Picket Oxendine was my 4 GR uncle, his sister, Deliah, was my 4 GR grandmother. I found the grave stone of Charles P. It states he is Cherokee. Is he or any other Oxendine's on indian rolls?

    1. Yes, The Eastern Band of Cherokee. The only difference is the spelling Oxindines (Oxendine). They are on both records Eastern and Westren Band of Cherokee.

      Beverly Collins Hall wind in her hair

  7. Do you know the names of the family that traveled to california and Arizona?

  8. The Shoemake and Oxendine. They were known as Cherokee in California. Part of the family filed Cherokee applications but the Cherokee testified they knew them as "Portuguese" not Cherokee.

  9. looking for connection to Tabitha Kee and John Farmer who were married 1821 Grayson Co., Va.

  10. My great great grandmother a woman named Rachel Davis was a Santee woman from the region but is only listed as mulatto along with husband Adam singleton also native but tribal affiliation is unknown

  11. My great great grandmother a woman named Rachel Davis was a Santee woman from the region but is only listed as mulatto along with husband Adam singleton also native but tribal affiliation is unknown

  12. Regarding the Shoemake/Shumake family -- I'd like to point out there is more than one family by this name. The information taken from the Cherokee citizenship court about William H. Shoemake and his brother, John W. [1882) should be read carefully. Alberty says he does not know anything about the claimants (the claimants are W. H. Shoemake and John W. Shoemake); then he goes on to say that he did know of a family of Shoemakes in Arkansas (Jim and Tom) and that they went to California. That is correct, but these Shoemakes are not related to each other by any way that I have been able to determined after many years of research. The claimants in this Cherokee citizenship case, were the sons of a John (called Jack) Shoemake, who took the surname of his STEPFATHER, John Shoemake, a mulatto who was born in SC. They are Cherokee through their grandmother, Anna [nee Thorn] who was 1/2 blood and a white man whose surname is said to be JONES (but so far, unproven about him).
    The Jim (James) Shoemake who lived in Washington County, Arkansas in 1850, claimed to have been born in TN or NC and married a Susan; they went to California and are there by 1860 in Stanislaus County. This James Shoemake died after 1920 and can be followed through the California censuses, Great Registers and other records.

    "My name is John V. Alberty, my age is about 48 years, I am a Cherokee, and reside in the Cherokee nation, Going Snake Dist.
    According to the statements in the petition, I don't know anything about the claimants. I did know a family of Shoemakes. There was a man named Jim Shoemake. His brother was Tom Shoemake. Jim Shoemake married a woman by the name of Oxendine. They lived on the line there near Dutch Town, Washington Co., Ark. They lived there till about the year '58 or '59. They then went from there to California or Arizona. I have not seen them since."

  13. my ancestry runs through Lucretia Emorcille Elizabeth Bolton 1858-1926), who is my maternal great grandmother. she is listed in the 1850 census records from Rhea Co TN, in the 1860 census records of Bledsoe Co TN. she married my g grandfather John Waller Overton 21 Sep 1879 in Grundy Co TN. Her father as listed in census records is Geo. Washington Spencer Bolton b 1828 in NC. census records show the family as mulatto.


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