Lillie Bray, Yeopim

Lillie Bray on the left, my great grandfather Tom on the right.

Lillie Bray on the left, my great grandfather Tom on the right.

It came to my attention via a page called Native American Indian – Old Photos on Facebook. I was searching through images of the various tribes, looking for ones that resembled my great grandfather, and then came across one of a woman named Lillie Bray. She was described as a Yeopim woman from North Carolina, and her features seemed similar enough to Tom’s that I wanted to learn more about her. It turned out that Lillie Bray was born in about 1889 in Shiloh, Camden County, North Carolina. This is a small settlement on the east bank of the Pasquotank River. Her parents were Jacob Bray and Sarah Garrett. Both families had deep roots in Shiloh and surrounding communities and counties. One can find other Brays living up in South Mills in Camden County, and in Moyock, just across the line in Currituck County and in the vicinity of the Great Dismal Swamp. All of these families were considered to be white.

From the 1733 Moseley Map of North Carolina, Shiloh in yellow, Native settlements in red.

From the 1733 Moseley Map of North Carolina, Shiloh in yellow, Native settlements in red.

I was informed by one source that the Bray family, along with the Webb and Forbes families, was one of the core local families with Yeopim heritage. The contrast between families counted as white, and the facts that they both appeared to have indigenous heritage, and were considered by others to have this heritage, seemed to challenge the strict binary white-colored perspective that has been provided to us. It is assumed that all Indians became “free colored people” in the early years of the US censuses. This is apparently not the case. What I found more interesting was that in early Currituck County records, the family names here — Collins, Bray, Russell — all appear beside the various Yeopim and Mattamuskeet Indian deeds.

[Deed Book 3, pgs. 3-4] John SQUIRES to David JONES. April 4, 1738/39. John SQUIRES King of Arramaskeete. £50 current money of Great Brittin. Land lying at Arramuskeet…beginning at a small gut binding upon Saml. STOW & running as the main creek to a small creek called Strahorn from thence to a small servana running up to the head of the creek…250 acres. /s/ John (x) SQUIRES, Charles (x) EDEN. Wit: Nicholas LUND, Saml. STOW. Ack. April 3, 1739. Registered June 28, 1739. [Deed Book 3, pgs. 4-5] John SQUIRES to Saml. STOW. John SQUIRES King of Arramaskeet Indians & Charles EDEN. £20 Sterling. Land…on the North East side of Weesocking Creek & so along the said creek to the first gut that turns out upon the sd. Creek and from thence back to a water oake and from thence to the head of Cedar Creek including all the land within the said bounds. /s/ John (x) SQUIRES, Charles (x) EDEN. Wit: Thos. LOWTHER, Saml. SIMMONS. Ack. April 3, 1739. Reg. June 28, 1739.

[Deed Book 3, pg. 5] Thos. COLLINS to Nickles LUND. Jan. 22, 1738/9. Thos. COLLINS of the precinct of Pasquotank power of attorney to Nicklas LUND to appear at next court in Currituck and “acknowledge in my Name one certain parcell of Land called Rowly park lying on the North Banks”. /s/ Thos. (x) COLLINS. Wit: Robert (x) PAUL. Proved April 3, 1739. Registered Sept. 25, 1739. [Deed Book 3, pgs. 5-6] Thos. COLLINS to Joseph MIDYETT. Jan. 19, 1738. Thos. COLLINS of the precinct of Pasquotank…planter…£50. Land…on the North Sand Banks…Beginning at the Southern line or creek & N.E. to John ARESES line…150 acres. /s/ Thos. (x) COLLINS. Wit: Nichlas LUND, Robert (x) PAUL. Acknowledged April 3, 1739. Registered June 28, 1739.

The name Lowther here is very interesting, as a King Lowther was the leader of the Bear River Indians, who met John Lawson in 1704.  Midyett is also very interesting. It was Nathan Midyett who bought the remaining land from the Hatteras Indian Elks family in 1788. Now to search for another name, Russell.

[Deed Book 3, pgs. 24-26]  John DURANT to John CARRONE.   I John DURING King of the Opim Indians and of Currituck County for £750 starling money of Greate Brittian in hand paid to me by Capt. John CARRONE of the same province and county afsd. the recipt whereof I do hereby with consent of the governor and counsill acknowledge my self there with fully satisfied and paid. A parcell of land on the North River on the in the county afsd. begining according to the courses of the patent bearing date Oct. 1714 containing five thousand acres by the same more or less excepting fifty acres to be laid out of the said qantaty [quanity] on this corner of the eastmost line.  And I John DURANT with the consent of governor and counsell by order baring the twenty second of day Feb. 1739 for myself and the rest of the Nation do covenant promise and grant to and with the said John CARRON. /s/ John [his mark] DURANT, James [his mark] BARBER, Thos. [his mark] DURANT.  Wit: Andrew DUKE, John LURRY, Edw. COX.  Acknowledged 7 day of Oct. 1740.  Registered 9 Jan. 1740.

 [Deed Book 3, pg. 93] William RUSSELL to William LURRY.  July 27, 1708.  I William RUSSELL of the prect. of Currituck in North Carolina for the sum of £15 sterling have granted assigned and sett over unto William LURRY his heirs and assigns as well this present indenture and all the messuage tenement and hereditaments to be dimised as also my estate title right and intrest of and unto the same estate by force virtue or means of this present indenture or other wise in as full and ample manner as the same was to me granted or intended warranting the sale of the same to the said LURRY.  /s/ William (x) RUSSELL. Witnesses: Edwd. TAYLOR and Joseph SANDERSON.  At court 27 July 1708 William RUSSELL personal appeared and acknowledged the above assignment to Wm. Lurry.

Barber is also mentioned as an Indian family. See this record, “Know all men by these presents that wee John DURANT King of the eopim Indians and Thos. DURANT my son and James BARBER Indian of the same Nation.” I also found this record, which I found quite interesting.

These are in the name of his Excel. the Palatine and rest of the true and absolute Lords Proprietors, to will and require you to Survey and lay out for Henry KEATON of our sd. ye. County of Albemarle two hundred acres of land wch. is due to him for the transportacon of four psons into this County whose names are under written and make returne of this Warrant wth. the Survey to ye. Secretarys Office fail not as you will answer the contrary. Given under our hands and Seal of the County the 3d. day of March Ano. Dm. 1693. . . . Lawrence KEETON, Ruth his Wife and a New England Indian due by a former Warrant and Mary KEETON her freedom.

And then this.

http://lvaimage.lib.va.us/cgi-bin/GetLONN.pl?first=201&last=&g_p=P9&co llection=LO Patent Title Keaton, Mary. Publication 6 June 1699. Other Format Available on microfilm. Virginia State Land Office. Patents 1-42, reels 1-41. Note Location: Nansemond County. Description: 297 acres on the eastward side of a swamp called Summerton Swamp. Beg.g &c. standing in a swamp called the Knuckle. Source: Land Office Patents No. 9, 1697-1706 (v.1 & 2 p.1-742), p. 201 (Reel 9).

Somerton Swamp, also from the 1733 Moseley map, with Nansemond and Meherrin villages marked.

Somerton Swamp, also from the 1733 Moseley map, with Nansemond and Meherrin villages marked.

So, some of the mixed families from Currituck Precinct were moving into Nansemond County. Speaking of which, we also see a family called Sears in these documents. Sears is a family of interest, because my ancestor William Collins witnessed Henry Eborn Sears’ will in Gates County in 1806, and Lamuel Collins witnessed a Sears deed in Gates 20 years earlier. The name Eborn is of interest because it was a landowning family in Hyde County.

[Deed Book 3, pgs. 76-77]  John SQUIRES to William SPENCER JUNR.& Henry GIBBS.  May 14, 1737.  John SQUIRES King of the Aromattskeet Indians and with the and consent of John MACKIE and long TOM in the prect. of old Currituck and in the county of Albemarle and in the province of North Carolina of the one parties and Wm. SPENCER and Henry GIBBS of the prect. and county and province above said of the other part.  We afsd. John SQUIRES King with John MACKIE and long TOM for the sum of £20 of good and lawfull money of North Carloina. Land situate lying and being in the provnce of North Carolina and on the north side of new aromattskeet creek begining at a marked gum standing near the head of the said creek and runing from thence north 320 perches then east 320 then south 320 perches to the said creek then runing up along with the said creek containing by estimation six hundred and forty acres be the same more or less.  John SQUIRES, John MACKIE and long TOM their heirs doth covenant and agree to and with him the said Wm. SPENCER and Henry GIBBS his heirs exec. and assigns forever in the full and just sum of £180 good lawfull money of North Carolina to be paid on demand on the nonperformance of this present writing indenture. /s/ John [his mark] SQUIRES.  Wit: John TAYLOR, Henry GIBBS JUNR.  In Court Tuesday, July 5, 1737.

[Deed Book 3, pg. 77]  Thos. & Barbery SEARS to John HUGHES.  April 5, 1738.  Thos. & Barbery SEARS both of the prect. of Currituck and province of No. Carolina for the sum of £40 sterling paid by John HUGHES of the said prect. and province afsd. Land situate and joyning on the said land of Wm. ELLIS decd containing fifty acres more or less.  /s/ Thos. SAYRS, Barbery [x] SAYRS.  Wit: Andw. DUKE, John HUGHES, Danl. DUKE.

And then there is this grant, from many years later.

[Deed Book 3, pg. 139]  Grant to Thomas BRAY.  Dec. 5, 1800.  State of NC #205–We for the sum of fifty shillings for every 100 acres hereby granted paid into our treasury by Thomas BRAY have given and granted land containing 9 acres lying and being in Currituck County near the launch, beginning at a gum Caleb SEARS corner in Hanson BRIGHTs line, then along his line north twenty one west 1 chains ninety links to a gum north twenty eight west two and a half chains north thirty seven east two chains north forty one west three chains to a white oak Wallis BRAYs corner, then along his line south sixty four west five chains and sixty links to a red oak south sixty eight west two and a half chains to red oak in a pond inn Holo. WILLIAMS line along his line south eight and a half chains to Caleb SEARS line then along his line to the beginning.  Entered 1 Mar. 1800.  To Thomas BRAY paying to us such sums of money yearly or otherwise as our general assembly from time may direct provided always that the said grantee shall cause this grant to be registered in the registers office of our said county of Currituck within twelve months from the date hereof otherwise the same shall be void and of no effect.  /s/ Benjamin WILLIAM.  Notice the red oak in a pond in Holo. WILLIAMS line is a mistake it is a pine which the register will pleas to take notice of.  /s/ S. FEREBEE.  The afsd. patent is registered June 2, 1801.

As you can see, the Brays, Russells, Collinses, and Sears, were neighbors in Currituck Precinct, and neighbors to the Mattamuskeet and Yeopim Indians as well. What is really interesting are these deeds.

[Deed Book 3, pgs. 32-33]  John SQUIRES & Charles EDEN to Joseph PERSONS.  Apr. 3, 1739.  We John Squires King of Aromoskeet Indians and Charles Eden for the sum of £11 lawfull money of North Carolina to us paid by Joseph PESSONS [sic], for two hundred acres of land and bounded, begining at marked pine upon a ridge called Mountplesent so runing across the ridge to a marked sweet gum then runing from the said sweet gum a south east corse to complete two hundred acres.  /s/ John [his mark] SQUIRES, Charles [his S mark] EDEN.  Wit: T. LOWTHER, Saml. STOW.  Acknowledged 3 day of April 1739.   Registered 28 day of June 1739.

[Deed Book 3, pg. 33]  Thos. COLLINGS to Nickolas LUND.  Jan. 19, 1738/39.  Thos. COLLINGS of the Prect. of Pasquotank and in the province of North Carolina by these presents make ordain apoynt my friend Nickolas LUND of Currituck prect. in province of North Carolina my true and lawfull attorney for me and in my name and stead to appear for me at our next court held for this prect. Currituck after the date here of and ther to acknowledge in my name a deed for land lying on the Banks in Currituck prect. called Rowsepock. Granting unto my said attorney authority.  /s/ Thos. [his mark] COLLINGS. Wit: Joseph MIDGETT.  Registered 13 Sept. 1739.

I checked out this name, Rowsepock. It turns out that it was the old Indian name for Kill Devil Hills. So Collins was selling the barrier islands themselves. Where did he get titles to the barrier islands? I should probably add that both Collins and Russell were names associated with the Mattamuskeet Indians.

March 1765: Cate COLLINGS (COLLINS) , an “Indian Woman” servant of William GIBBS, Constable of Arrowmuskeet. March 1765 Hyde County Court Minutes and Orphans Book 2, on motion of Patrick Gordon ordered that Wm. GIBBS “shew” cause if he has any, why Cate COLLINGS (COLLINS) an Indian woman, now in his service should not be set free. June Court 1765 – ordered that Wm. GIBBS have timely notice that he show cause why Cate COLLINGS (COLLINS), an Indian woman be not set at liberty.

And this …

Deed Abstract; 25 April 1756: Hyde County Deeds, Vol. A, Part II, pp. 538-540. … this twenty fifth day of April In the year of Our Lord God One thousand Seven hundred and fifty_Six… by us Joseph Russell Indian living on Arromeskeet in Hyde County… and George Turner of Living in the aforesaid County… in Consideration of ten pounds proclamation Money… One Piece of the Land Situate Lying and being in the County and Province Aforesaid and Upon the west side of Wasoiken Creek Begining at a gut a little below John Marrows house So Runing No. up the Creek 80 pole and from thence Out and Variable Coruse to the first Station So that it Shall Amount to 40 Acres more or less of Land the Reversion and remainder of all and Singular… with there and every Rite and Member and appurtenance whatsoever, together with all houses orchards gardens fences woods waters high Ground Savanners Marshes and all appurtenances thereunto Belonging…. witnesses Signed J. Dawsson Joseph (his mark) Russell

Which brings us back to the beginning, in Currituck County …

[Deed Book 3, pg. 1] John SQUIRES to George TURNER. April 9, 1739. £20. Land on Marrismonkeete on the No. side of Weesockin Creek…500 acres…Beg. at a gut on David JONES’ line rinning up the main creek to the head from thence a North course to a sweet gum thence an easterly to the back of a Grate Savanah then to the first station. /s/ John (x) SQUIRES, Charles (x) EDEN. Wit: Saml. STOW, James (x) POYNER, John BROOKS. Acknowledged in open court by John SQUIRES Indian King with Charles EDEN unto George TURNER. Registered June 21, 1739.

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