Fort Island

THIS FROM A NOTE in Forest Hazel’s paper “Looking for Indian Town: The Dispersal of the Chowan Indian Tribe in Eastern North Carolina 1780-1915.”

There may have been other Chowan, or perhaps Meherrin, living in Gates County.  F. Roy Johnson notes the tradition regarding Fort Island that “People of full Indian blood lived upon this island until a few decades before the Civil War”, in his 1965 book Tales From Old Carolina (p. 23), but he provides no details on surnames or tribal affiliation.

It seems from the earliest records that the Russells were living in the same area, and one even puts Charles Russell’s property directly on the Chowan River. If there were Indian people living there, then perhaps they were Meherrin, as the Meherrin are shown in that area in the 1733 Moseley Map.

X marks the spot.

X marks the spot.

UPDATE … Those two deeds

14 Feb 1777 – John HARRELL of Hertford Co. To Jesse HARRELL … 20 pds … 100 acres, plantation of which is father, John HARRELL, was possessed in Fort Island in Hertford Co. … main river pocosin to Charles RUSSELL’s line … his line to James BRADY’s … part of a patent granted to John Ross 1 May 1668.

19 Dec 1788 – Charles RUSSELL of Johnston Co., to Samuel BROWN of Southampton County, Va 75 pounds, 175 acres formerly belonging to his father Charles Russell and given to him in a deed of gift 17 Feb 1769 on North side of Chowan River in Fort Island

This last deed shows that the Charles Russell who bought the original land in Fort Island gifted much of to his son Charles, who moved to Johnston County and sold it later to Samuel Brown.

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5 Responses to Fort Island

  1. Do you have a copy of the 1777 deed of sale by John Harrell of Hertford, son of John? Was it registered in Chowan?

    • I think it wound up in the Gates deed books. There are some deeds that were carried over, even though they predated the formation of the county. There was a war going on then, so …

      • Barbara B. Harrell says:

        Hi again, Justin

        I obtained the microfilm at LDS – Gates Deed Book A 1776-1784, number 40. Unfortunately (for me) the seller wasn’t John Harrell, he was Jesse Worrell. Here’s the sequence as far as Jesse Harrell’s ownership of this tract on Fort Island:

        No. 40 Jesse Warrell of Hertford Co to Jesse Harrell of same 14 Feb 1777 [before part of Hertford became Gates]

        for 70 pds proc money, ~100-acre tract of his father John Warrell “lying in a place called the Cart Island in Heartsford County” on the main river pocosin adj Charles Russell and James Bradey [definitely not an F or an O in Cart, but called Fort Island in Jesse Harrell’s subsequent deeds of sale]

        wit: Thomas Harrell, Lemuell Harrell, Rebackah [x] Harrell

        No. 94 Jesse Harrell to Ezeciah Jones, both of Gates, 3 Aug 1781

        “for and in consideration of the serving three months in Militia service by the said Ezeciah Jones…” [also Ezekiah here] “a certain tract or plantation of land situate lying and being (in Gates) commonly called and is known by the name of Fort Island, adj “main Desert,” Doctor Brown…” consisting of 50 acres from a patent to John Rawls dated 1 May 1660

        wit John [x] Carter, Elisha Ellis, Moses Jones jurat

        No. 104 Stephen Eure to Lamuell Keen, both of Gates, 24 Feb 1782

        50 acres on Fort Island adj Samuel Harrell, William Righter/Ratter, part of a patent to John Webb from 1723

        wit Jesse Harrell, James [x] Keen

        next book (not identified in original), no. 58

        Jesse Harrell to William Crafford both of Gates, 26 Feb 1783

        50 acres on Fort Island adj patent line and main Desert, Ezeciah Jones, James Bradey, part of John Rawls patent

        wit James Parker, Isaac Fryer Jr


      • Amazing. I wish I had access to that. I would look up Collins and Russell. There is an 1803 deed from John Lang to Sarah Butler witnessed by Thomas Collins I am very interested in.

      • FYI, I have pinned down the exact location of Scratch Hall Branch, based on the three adjacent William Horne patents from 1718/9. I’ve labeled it on a pdf of a topoquest map. Don’t imagine it will reproduce here. You can see it on page 37 of the link I entered below.

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