MOST INDIANS in eastern North Carolina in the 19th century were designated as anything other than Native American. Typically “mulatto,” sometimes black, on occasion white, their Indian identity was, with few exceptions, obscured by census takers.
Somebody in the Currituck township of Hyde County in 1850 made a mistake however. The data collected there shows that families were identified first as “I” and then had this overwritten with either “Mulattor” or M.” This error, visible to the naked eye, is invaluable to researchers who try to piece together the story of eastern North Carolina’s Indian families in the 19th century.
As seen in these two pages below, members of the Barber, Barrow, Braddock, Chance, Clayton, Collins, Coval, Freeman, Garner, Hill, King, Longtom, Mackey, Powers, Reid, and Tyson are all first designated as Indian, then “corrected” to Mulatto.
Some of these names should be familiar to researchers. Barber, Longtom, and Mackey, are all named on deeds related to the Mattamuskeet Indian Reservation. A Collins is named as Indian in a 1765 Hyde County court record. But other families were obviously there too. Freeman and Reid are families found in Gates County among the Chowanoke population. All together, a very rich discovery, thanks to a census taker (“D. Murray”) who was a bit too honest in his work.