Friday, October 12, 2012

Smiling Indians of Sumter County

After dealing with a virus for the past couple of months, each time thinking I had rid my computer of it - alas my computer crashed two weeks ago. The nice young man at Office Depot informed me he really tried to recover my files, but, well he was really sorry.

So after handing him over a Ben Franklin and some change I took my computer home and that is when I realized what a nightmare really was.  I have been installing, reinstalling and uninstalling for the past three days and still not half way through back up CDs, etc., and it looks like I may never find some of my research.  In the meantime I will share one of the older articles from the website, hope you don't mind the 'rerun' -- be back soon.

Smiling Indians of Sumter County

"1910 the federal census listed 126 American Indians in Privateer Township, ...
between Maxton and Rowland, where they became known as the Smiling Indians

Indians of the Southeastern United States in the Late 20th Century - Page 76
by James Anthony Paredes


"I, LI Parrott, clerk of the court for Sumter County, said state, do hereby
certify that the families of Smilings and Goins of this county have been
known as "Red Bones" ever since I have been acquainted with the peopole. Mr.
McDonald Furman, now deceased, took a great deal of trouble several years ago
to establish the fact that they were...of the Indian race...they are looked
upon as a separate race, neither white nor negro."

"I know William Goins, father of these parties. I visited them in South Carolina once about 6 years ago. The general reputation I got down there was that they were indian people. They were supposed to be indians. I have lived in robeson county all my life and i am perfectly familiar with the indian people up here. from my association, being in the home of old man goins and
his family and from the investigation i have made of the people there, my opinion is that on the mother's side plaintiffs are indians and on the father's side malungeans. the rev william goins is not a typical indian by feature, he is a mixture between white and indian."

"I am a sister of the plaintiffs. been living at pates in robeson county for five years. i was raised in sumter county sc. my boy goes to the public indian school at pates. he has also gone to the normal school. we are
indians in the North, but they gave us the name of "red bones" down here."

Hamilton McMillan, witness for the defendants:

"I am a resident of Robeson County; I am now 78 years of age. I represented Robeson County in the state legislature in 1885 and 1887. I am familiar with the Act of 1885 designating certain indians of Robeson as Croatan Indians; I introduced the bill myself. I was acquainted with the Indians of Robeson County at the time the Act of 1885 was passsed designating them as croatan indians. I had been investigating their history for several years before that. I have them the designation of croatan indians in the Act. I wanted to give them some designation. There was a tribe known as croatan tribe on croatan island, it was an honorable name and it was a complete designation...The indians designated as croatan indians were living in Robeson County...none of them lived in sumter sc as far as i know. I had the Act of 1887 passed to establish a normal school for the croatan indians of Robeson County...

"Question by the court to McMillan: Do these people here call themselves
Answer: No sir, they call themselves malungeans.

Question: Were they never called croatans until this Act was introduced in
Answer: No sir.
Question: Where were they from anyway?
Answer: The traditions all point to the resident west of Pamlico Sound,
beyond Cape Hatteras.

The testimony given in this case, like almost all of the cases dealing with the people called 'free people of color' was both pro and con. However there were at least three 'men of the cloth' who testified these people had always been known as Indians. They won this case - and it was upheld on appeal.

The News and Courier

May 25, 1897
The "Redbones of Sumter
A Sketch of James Edward Smiling,

his Career and his Family Connections.

Privateer, Sumter County

Special: Living in the southeastern part of this township is an aged man of nearly four-score, with silvery hair and yellow complexion. A man not unlike the celebrated Frederick Douglas. This venerable man is James Edward Smiling, "the patriarch of the Privateer Redbones." A man whose personal history and family connections make him a person of rather unique interest to the local historian.

Jim Smiling is now about 77 years old. In 1838 he became a carpenter, which trade he followed until a few years ago. He has also followed the profession of a Baptist minister. Fifty-six years ago he was married to a cousin of his- a member of the Goins family. His wife is now an old woman of about 71 years, and in considerably mixed with Indian: her face is not unlike one of that race. Including children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, this venerable couple have over fifty living descendants; these have intermarried with the Chavises, Goinses, Sweats, and other families belonging to the interesting "old issue," or, properly speaking, "Redbone" people.

Smiling is the owner of considerably over two hundred acres of land. For fifty-two years he has been living in the house he now occupies. This settlement is in a clearing, which is in a swampy, very out of the way and rather wild part of the township. Not far from the front of the house is one of those swamps which are known throughout this section of country as "bays," and which covers several hundred acres.

This venerable man has considerable intelligence for one in his station, and is an interesting person to talk with. During reconstruction times he was a person of some prominence in the political affairs of Sumter County: in 1868 he was elected a member of the Legislature. He was magistrate under governor Scott, and has also been trial justice.

Like people of his peculiar racial condition Smiling had guardians before the war. At the commencement of the war he gave a horse, bride. saddle and spur to one of the military companies of this county.

The Redbone people, with whom Smiling is identified, while they are colored, are nearly a distinct people from the "old time free negroes" proper. I have often talked with this old man about his people, concerning whom he has given me a good deal of information .

McDonald Furman

The Name of Goins

A Family Name Found

Scattered About in the United States

and Borne by a mixed Race of People

To the Editor of The News and Courier.

Among that isolated and mixed breed people of Privateer Township who are classed as colored but who should properly be known as "Redbone" is found the name of Goins. the founder of this family so I have been told was a "yellow man" whose wife was a mixed breed Indian. Vicey Goins the daughter in law of this couple lived to a great age, and died in 1887. Her son, Wade Goins, is one of the old people among the privateer Redbones and his features and copper-colored skin show the presence of Indian blood in his veins. Another descendant of the first Goins couple is Tom Gibbes, pastor of the little church in Southeastern Privateer, which is attended by the Redbone people, and which I may remark is a member of the Colored Wateree Baptist Association, lower division. I think Gibbes shows his Indian blood. He and Uncle Wade are both honest worthy men. While it would greatly puzzle an ethnologist to determine what percent of white, negro and Indian blood flows in their veins I think they are at least a sixth part Indian if not more.

It is interesting to see over what a large area the name of Goins is found. This name is (or was) found among that peculiar people, the Croatans, of North Carolina, which unique race is believe by historical investigators to be descendants of Sir Walter Raleigh's famous "lost colony." Henry Berry Lowrie so celebrated in the post bellum annals of North Carolina as a bold and daring outlaw, was of the Croatan race. It is evident that the "old issues," or properly speaking, "Redbones," who are found scattered about in South Carolina, are in part a branch of the Croatans.

"Redbones are found in Louisiana. In the spring of 1893 I wrote to one of the parish officials inquiring about them and I received an interesting letter in reply. Among the Redbone family names mentioned in it was that of Goins.

In a short magazine article last summer Mr. James Mooney, one of the leading ethnological writers in the United States gave an account of the two Goins brothers he formerly knew in Indians "who although associating by necessity with negroes, always insisted that they were not of that race or of slave ancestry. they had a physical appearance of half-blood Indians.

There are Goinses in Georgia who aer a branch of the Privateer stock.

McDonald Furman
Ramsey, Privateer Township
April 20, 1897

Memories of the Past

To the Editor of The State

In the southeastern part of the township there there is an old muster group and it is suggestive of memories of long ago. This place covers about 10 or 12 acres. The Wilson and Sumter railroad runs through the grounds a third of which is cleared: the rest is now covered with old-field pines and the grove is quite a pretty one for there is not a great deal of undergrowth and what there is adds to the picturesqueness of the grove.
This old muster ground is situated in a section locally known as "Timmonstown," in about a mile from the Clarendon county line and on the Georgetown public road. Not far below the gfround the road forks and one branch leads to the old city of Charleston. The old muster ground is owned by Caleb Neal a worthy "late freedman," and a full blooded negro. This section is not uninteresting to the student of local history; In d the surrounding country will be found families of that isolated people the "old issues," or properly speaking the "Redbones" - the Chavises and the Goinses, the Smilings and the Gibbeses, the Sweats and the Griffins. The little church attended by these people is at the forks of the road below the old muster ground and the pastor of this church, the Rev. Tom Gibbes, now an elderly man of somewhat Indian like appearance lives near the ground. I have been by this ground several times, and on a delightful afternoon last month I paid a special visit here. At my request I was accompanied by "Uncle Smiling" the Redbone patriarch of the township whose years are not far from fourscore, and who, with two other Redbones, used to play in a band at the muster. I asked the old man about those almost forgotten times, and as he talked I took down his remarks, which I give below and I try to do so in his own language as much as possible. The account is interesting as the story of an old man who took part in the old musters:
"They used to muster about two or three times a year - have these musters here. My people were called pioneers, and used to clean off the grounds. I was the fifer, Wade beat the kittle drum, and West beat the bass drum. We played all during the muster time, on the big muster day our people would clean off the grounds one day and the big muster would take place the next. All the men part of -- people used to clean off the ground. I couldn't tell how many men used to muster here. Many times carts would come here with cakes or watermelons and we would have a lovely time. these old fields would be illuminated with people, men and women- the people would just be out here in quantities. another muster ground was below Tindal's mill, in Clarendon, and my crowd used to clean the grounds there too and our band played down there. When the soldiers were performing on these grounds the souls of their horses hoofs could be heard far off."
McDonald Furman
Ramsey, Privateer Township
May 1, 1899

May 9, 1898

"Old Issue"

Information Sought About
a Unique Name and Race
James E. Smiling the patriarch of a branch of these people found in Privateer Township and a Republican ex member of the Legislature, told me this two years ago:
"I can't tell where the name "Old Issue" started from - never heard it until since the warr, we don't accept the name. The first way in which I heard the name "Old Issue' is through the late freedman, and we take it as a slur."
Nelson Chavis another member of this race in the township told me this last March:
"I can't remember hearing anything about the name 'Old Issue' until since the war. I don't think the name is becoming. We used to be called pioneers at the time we used to cleaned muster grounds. I thought the name 'Old Issue' was only here with us. I thought the name was some kind of a slang and I thought maybe we were called so as the late freedmen might be "new issues."
The Hampton correspondent of the News and Courier in June 1894 writing about one of these people in that county named Candey Mims spoke of him as "one of a rather peculiar race of people who live in the river section of this county, locally known as 'Old Issue." They are a mixed race and have never been slaves. They are supposed to be descendants of Indians and negores, but nothing is definitely known of their origin."
Some year ago a gentleman of Aiken county, writing to me about people of this sort found in that county, stated that they were "classed as 'Old Issue freedmen."
I don't mean to say that all people of this kind are called "Old Issue" but as will be seen, the name is found over a considerable area. These people in Privateer Township are mixed with the white, the negro and the Indian races and are classed as colored.
McDonald Furman
Ramsey, Privateer Township

excerpt of an interview: “Beccie Jacobs [a White woman] told me – August 26, 1893 – that Edie Goins said she came from the Cawtaba tribe.”

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