TUSCARORA NATION OF NORTH CAROLINA
The Tuscarora ("hemp gatherers") are a Native American people of the Iroquoian-language. Before the arrival of Europeans in North America, the Tuscarora had migrated south and settled in the region now known as Eastern Carolina. This most numerous and powerful indigenous nation in North Carolina lived along the Roanoke, Neuse, Tar (Torhunta or Narhontes), Pamlico, and Cape Fear rivers in North Carolina. Early Europeans noted the Tuscarora in North Carolina had three tribes: Kǎ'tě’nu'ā'kā' (People of the Submerged Pine-tree, also written Kautanohakau); Akawěñtc'ākā' (doubtful, also Kauwetseka); and Skarū'ren' (hemp gatherers, also known as Tuscarora). Our Tuscarora ancestors came under the 1713-1715 Treaty of Peace and remained in North Carolina to the present day.
The Tuscarora Chief Tom Blunt occupied the area around what is present-day Bertie County, North Carolina, on the Roanoke River and parts of Virginia. Chief Hancock in the lower Tuscarora Village closer to present-day Craven County, New Bern, occupying the area south of the Pamlico River. Chief Blunt became close friends with the Blount family of the Bertie region and lived peacefully. By contrast, Chief Hancock had to deal with more numerous colonists' encroaching. They raided the villages and kidnapped the people to be sold into slavery. The colonists also transported some Tuscarora to Pennsylvania to be sold into slavery. Both groups suffered substantial population losses after exposure to Eurasian infectious diseases epidemic to Europeans. Both also suffered territorial encroachment.
By 1711, the Tuscarora War started and Chief Hancock believed he had to attack the settlers to fight back. Chief Tom Blunt did not join him in the war. The southern Tuscarora collaborated and allied with the Pamlico, the Cothechney, Coree, Woccon, Mattamuskeet and other tribes to attack the settlers in a wide range of locations within a short time period. Their principal targets were against the planters on the Roanoke, Neuse and Trent rivers, as well as the city of Bath. They attacked on September 22, 1711, beginning the Tuscarora War. The allied Indian tribes killed hundreds of settlers, including several key political figures among the colonists. Governor Edward Hyde called out the North Carolina militia and secured the assistance of South Carolina, which provided 600 militia and 360 allied Native Americans under Col. Barnwell.
In 1712, this force attacked the southern Tuscarora and other nations in Craven County at Fort Narhontes, on the banks of the Neuse River. The Tuscarora were "defeated with great slaughter; more than three hundred were killed, and one hundred were made prisoners. The governor offered Chief Blunt leadership of the entire Tuscarora Nation if he would assist in defeating Chief Hancock. Blunt succeeded in capturing Hancock, who was tried and executed by North Carolina.
In 1713, the Southern Tuscarora were defeated at their Fort Neoheroka (formerly spelled Neherooka), with 900 killed or captured in the battle. After defeat in the battle of 1713, about 250 Tuscaroras fled to New York to join the Iroquois Confederacy, while as many as 3500 additional Tuscarora sought refuge in swamps in the colony of North Carolina. For survival, some Tuscaroras accepted tributary status, but the majority of the Tuscarora remained in North Carolina and the Tuscarora King Tom Blunt signed the Treaty of Peace making all Tuscaroras to come under the white government of Gov. Thomas Pollock. In 1715, seventy of the southern Tuscarora went to South Carolina to assist against the Yamasee. Those 70 warriors later asked permission to have their wives and children join them, and settled near Port Royal, South Carolina. In 1717, Gov. Thomas Pollock established a 1717 Chowan Tax List which indicated some Tuscaroras who were under the government due to the Treaty of Peace and on the 1717 Chowan List, the Tuscarora Chief James Blount, John Braveboy, and Thomas Kersey were listed under Gov. Thomas Pollock in the 1717 Chowan Tax List under the leadership of King Tom Blunt. Because the Tuscarora King Tom Blunt remained faithful to Gov. Pollock in keeping the peace in the colony and with his Tuscaroras who remained in Chowan Precinct, in June of 1717, Pollock granted a 56,000 acres (230 km2) tract of land on the Roanoke River for Tuscaroras in what is now part of Bertie County in 1722.
This was the area occupied by Chief Blunt and his people. The colonies of Virginia and North Carolina both recognized Tom Blunt, who had taken the last name Blount, as "King Tom Blount" of the Tuscarora. Both colonies agreed to consider as friendly only those Tuscarora who accepted Blount's leadership. The remaining Southern Tuscarora were forced to remove from their villages on the Pamlico River and relocate to the villages of Ooneroy and Resootskeh in Bertie County, while the lower Tuscarora remained in their hunting territory villages on the Cape Fear and Neuse Rivers
In 1722, the Bertie County Tuscarora Reservation, which officially later become known as "Indian Woods," was chartered by the colony, but later was leased illegally. Due to continuous encroachment, abuse, enslavement, and harassment after the Tuscarora War of 1711-1713, about 250 Tuscaroras began migrating north to join the Five Nations Confederacy in New York while others removed to swamps lands just south of the Neuse and Cape Fear River settling on Drowning Creek and Saddle Tree in Bladen County, now Robeson County, North Carolina. Over the next several decades the colonial government continually reduced the Tuscarora tract, forcing land cessions of the encroaching settlers. They sold off portions of the land in deals often designed to take advantage of the Tuscarora.
According to the 1725 John Herbert Map, "A new map of his majesty's flourishing province of South Carolina," confirms the direct proximity of the TNNC Tuscarora ancestors who remained, in addition to, another historical map known as the 1733 Edward Moseley Map of North Carolina also confirms the exact location of Robert Locklear, John Locklear, and Major Locklear, the Tuscarora ancestors of TNNC in Bertie County on Tuscarora Reservation lands prior to migration their to Bladen County, North Carolina in 1755 according to colonial records. A number of Tuscaroras decided to leave their traditional homelands because of the abuse of white settlers taking the land and enslaving Tuscarora children. Many of the Southern Tuscarora who remained acquired land patents from King George III and moved into their other known Tuscarora Territory hunting grounds surrounding the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, primarily in New Hanover and Bladen County, which in part later became Robeson County.
In late 17th and early 18th-century North Carolina, European colonists reported two primary branches of the Tuscarora: a northern group led by Chief Tom Blunt (King Blount), and a southern group led by Chief Hancock. Varying accounts circa 1708-1710, estimated the number of Tuscarora warriors as from 1200 to 6000. Historians estimate their total population may have been three to four times that number.
The Tuscarora traditionally were said to occupy the "country lying between the sea shores and the mountains, which divide the Atlantic states," in which they had twenty four large towns, which contain the villages for over 6,000 warriors. Because of Tuscarora numbers and their reputation as fierce warriors, Tuscarora leaders were "courted" for their help even during the attempted French invasion. The letter below from George Washington shows they were sought after for military prowess.
As decades have passed, the struggle for Indigenous rights has been never ending. As the new counties of North Carolina were being established in the 1700s from the parent county of Bertie Precinct, the Tuscarora people survived and remained in the traditional hunting and fishing hunting grounds of the Tuscarora Nation between the Neuse and Cape Rivers of the Tuscarora Nation and formed isolated settlements with land obtained under the protection of Royal Crown King George II and King George III.
In 1731, Thomas Kearsey, Tuscarora, died in Bertie County as he left his Will indicating his wife and all his children as he lived in the Cashie lands and River on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation. After the death of Thomas Kearsey, his sons John and Thomas Kearsey migrated to Bladen County and secured land from King on Drowning Creek.
Exhibit 1: 1725 John Herbert Map
Credits: University of Georgia Hargrett Rare Map Collection
In 1738, Robert Locklear, the father of Major and John "Locka" Locklear, obtained land on the North Side of Fishing Creek which adjoined the land of Tuscarora Chief Cain and Chief Pugh in the Bertie Precinct of Edgecombe County. Major and John Locklear were born on the Tuscarora Reservation and according to the 1738 Will of Benjamin Rawlings, Robert Locklear's land is confirmed on the 1733 Edward Mosley Map with the area called N. Fishing Creek which he lived and his sons John Locklear and Major Locklear were born in the same proximity of the Tuscarora Chief Hancock which also contained 26 Tuscarora Villages. In 1741, the Locklear family and other Tuscarora Indians were now part of both boundaries in the Bertie Precinct and Edgecombe County that was newly annexed from Bertie. On May 24, 1749, Robert Locklear died in Bertie on the Roanoke and left his Will Estate Deed indicating his children; specifically his oldest son, John Locklear, and Major Locklear, along with his daughters; however, his son Randall Locklear, was serving in the 1749-1750 Edgecombe Militia with James Lowry under the autonomy of several Tuscarora Chiefs.
In 1751, Chief James Blount is listed in Bertie County and directly under him was again John Braveboy. According to Colonial Records, John Braveboy and John Combo was listed in Chief James Blount's Tuscarora Village. John Braveboy was also listed with the ancestors of the New York Tuscarora. Even though it was Tuscarora Reservation, the British taxed the Indian land according to the King George II Records. It was at this time that, many of the Tuscarora started to acquire under deeds to their land to escape the abuse, whippings for hunting on their land and the harassment of settlers. In 1753, the Tuscarora Chief William Pugh and other Chiefs secured their Tuscarora lands by King George II in Drowning Creek and the Saddle Tree Swamps in Bladen County. At that point in 1754, Chief James Blount and John Braveboy were still in Bertie County on the Tuscarora Reservation indicated by the tax list. Also in 1754, the North Carolina Governor Arthur Dobbs received a report from his agent, Col. Rutherford, head of a Bladen County Militia, that a "mixed crew" of 50 families were living along Drowning Creek. Apparently, the Tuscarora Chief William Pugh was among the mixed crew of 50 families on the Drowning Creek according to his 1753 land grant in Bladen County, since he was the Tuscarora Chief and that his mother, Mary Scott, Tuscarora Indian, and his father was Thomas Pugh, Sr., the state appointed Commissioner for Tuscaroras. The communication also reported the shooting of a surveyor who entered the area "to view vacant lands."
With this land secured land of the Tuscarora Chiefs from Bertie County who migrated to Bladen County now part of Robeson County, North Carolina, these Chiefs created a traditional land base with over 10,000 acres for other Tuscarora Indians from Bertie, Craven, Edgecombe to live in Bladen-Robeson Counties and for them to survive in isolated settlements to the present day.
In 1755, John Locklear and Major Locklear left Bertie Precinct of Edgecombe County and migrated to the Cumberland County side of Drowning Creek and settled on Chief William Pugh's land which was obtained through the King in 1753. In the same year of 1755, Chief James Blount and John Braveboy left Tyrrell County, but John Braveboy left his wife Mary Braveboy and very young children in Bertie County, while Chief James Blount and he started their tribal migration and obtained various land patents from King George II in Bladen County on Drowning Creek, Back Swamp, and Flowers Swamp which adjoined lands to 1753 Chief William Pugh according to the colonial state records.
In 1756, the Tuscarora Chief James Blount secured his land on Back Swamp in Bladen-Robeson County which was approved in the Court of May 1757. Accordingly, just four months later, on September 25, 1757, the Tuscarora Chief James Blount petitioned the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Governor to grant a patent or some better title for Tuscarora Lands on behalf of the Tuscarora Nation due to the settler abuse in Bertie and Chief Blount removed some of his band of Tuscaroras to the same land which was approved on Back Swamp in Robeson County in the North Carolina Colonial Court in May of 1757.
In 1760, the land that was approved by the North Carolina General Assembly and the North Carolina Governor by and through the Tuscarora Chief James Blount started the formal tribal migration for Tuscaroras to Bladen, Cumberland Duplin, Robeson and which allowed his band of Tuscaroras to adjoin their lands to his on Back Swamp, Saddle Tree and Drowning Creek forming a large isolated settlement of about 100 families in total and increased over the years. In 1761, David Braveboy adjoined his land to the Tuscarora Chief Pugh's land in 7 Miles Swamp-Saddle Tree which is presently located in Lumberton, North Carolina.
According to the 1763 Bladen County Tax List, the Tuscarora Chief James Blount, John Braveboy, David Braveboy, Joshua Braveboy, Chief William Cain are present with other Tuscaroras such as John Locklear, Major Locklear, Thomas Kersey, Jr. and others.
Exh 2. 1733 Edward Moseley's Map Close Up showing Tuscarora Indians and Villages.
Credits: ECU Maps
In 1764, by and through the Tuscarora Chief William Pugh and Chief James Blount, certain paternal ancestors; John Braveboy, David Braveboy, Joshua Braveboy, John Locklear, and Major Locklear with their families secured adjoining lands to their Tuscarora Chiefs Pugh and Blount's land in Back Swamp, Saddle Tree, Drowning Creek and Flowers Swamp in Robeson County, North Carolina. In 1766, many of the Tuscarora Chiefs signed agreements for the Tuscarora land leases with the North Carolina General Assembly; however, these 36 Tuscarora chiefs did not indicate the names of their wives and children in Bertie County, but according to 1766 Bertie Colonial Tax List indicates some of the Tuscarora Chiefs and John Braveboy, Sr., Mary Braveboy, and John Braveboy, Jr., and apparently, John Braveboy left Bladen County after the War and went back to Bertie County to be with his wife Mary and youngest son, while his other sons stayed in Bladen County.
These Tuscarora Chiefs: James Blount, William Pugh, William Mitchell, Samuel Bridgers, John Rogers, William King were was also confirmed as being Tuscarora Chieftains on the Tuscarora Reservation Land in Bertie County, North Carolina according to North Carolina State Colonial Records in years of 1748, 1757,1766, 1777, and 1782. Many Tuscaroras remained on their Chief's land in Bladen-Robeson County but also had family members in other counties prior to the creation of North Carolina counties which was taken from the original 1717 and 1748 Tuscarora lands boundaries after the reservation was created.
After the French and Indian Wars ended, many Tuscaroras settled in the lower southeastern part of North Carolina as they obtained lands from the Royal Crown King George and maintained their blood kinship ties with other Tuscaroras in Bertie, Brunswick, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Bladen, Columbus, New Hanover and Robeson County, North Carolina, Sampson, and New Hanover Counties in North Carolina for decades. It was noted that Chief William Pugh's father, Thomas Pugh (non-Indian), along with his mother, Mary Scott, Tuscarora Indian, and obtained land in 1749 and 1778 in Duplin County at Six Run, on the Cape Fear River now part of Sampson County.
The land grant by King George indicated that Abraham Jacobs and Thomas Jacobs was present in 1764 in Duplin County along with Thomas Pugh and his wife Mary Scott. Thomas Pugh was same the non Indian Trader, Tuscarora Land Trustee Commissioner and Interpreter in Bertie County Tuscarora Reservation. Tribal Historians have noted that the Jacobs surname is highly recognized as Tuscarora in New York and it's obvious that Abraham Jacobs and Thomas Jacobs were part of the Tuscaroras who remained. Also in the same year of 1764, Thomas Green married Mary Hunt in Bertie County, proving that the New York Tuscaroras with the surname of Green descend from this matrimony. John Hunt and William Hunt were also in Bertie County and were Tuscaroras. In 1769, Chief James Blount also obtained lands in Duplin County, which adjoined to the lands of Pugh and Jacobs.
A number of Tuscaroras decided to leave their traditional homelands in Bertie County, North Carolina to Bladen County. In 1773, many of the leading of the ancestors were identified in a petition as Mob List of Rogues. In 1775, the Tuscarora Chief Samuel Bridgers and William Pugh signed for Tuscarora land lease in Bertie County. In November of 1777, the Tuscarora Chief Samuel Bridgers left Bertie County after he signed his last Tuscarora Land lease, and migrated to Bladen-Robeson County in January of 1778 with his sons Samuel Bridgers, Jr., Sampson Bridgers and obtained lands on Drowning Creek in Bladen and Robeson Counties which adjoined to the prior Tuscarora Chief William Pugh and Chief James Blount's land which was obtained in 1753 and 1756. In 1778, John Locklear, the son of Robert Locklear who was born on the Tuscarora Reservation died in Bladen County, which later became Robeson County in 1787.
In 1781, some the Tuscarora Chiefs who migrated from Bertie County to Bladen County are identified as "Tax Exempt," which also indicated James Lowry.
Many of the Southern Tuscarora who remained in North Carolina acquired land patents from King George II and moved into their traditional hunting grounds surrounding the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, primarily in New Hanover and Bladen County, which later became part of Robeson County. Several Tuscarora Indians were able to regain their land back from the Royal British Crown through land patents before July 4, 1776, the Declaration Day of Independence and on June 21, 1788, when the U.S. Constitution became a law in the State of North Carolina.
The tribal migration continued for years until the late 1780s, and many historical colonial records indicates the same Tuscarora Chiefs and families that left Bertie and Edgecombe Counties, are listed in the years of 1763 through 1790 Bladen County Tax Lists and the U.S. Census which confirms how the Tuscaroras who remained in North Carolina survived under the control and autonomy of the Tuscarora Chiefs, the Tuscarora bloodlines, and tribal migration of the Tuscarora ancestors to the present day Indian settlements on the Drowning Creek, Back Swamp, Flowers Swamp, and Saddle Tree area in Robeson County, North Carolina.
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