Black Mingle Pocosin

2016-11-06ONE INTRIGUING GEOGRAPHIC feature in Gates County is Black Mingle Pocosin. This is located in the northern reaches of the county, in Haslett Township, south of the community of Drum Hill. According to colonial era maps, there was no major Indian settlement in this area. However, early records in Gates County reveal that the true name of “Black Mingle Pocosin” was actually “Black Mingo Pocosin,” and the name “Minqua Pond” is also used.

The name Mingo or Minqua is from the Algonquian word for Iroquoian-speaking peoples, mingwe. Historically,  “Black Mingos” were bands of Seneca or Cayuga in the Ohio Valley. However, the same definition was applied to bands of Iroquoians elsewhere. The Huron are referred to as “Mingos,” while the Susquehannock were similarly called “Minquas.”

I recently came across one anecdote about “Black Mingo Pocosin” that I found quite interesting.

In the Dismal Swamp region on the Virginia/North Carolina border, many slaves and indentured servants escaped to seek freedom. The area was also at the edge of a trading region. These Maroons fought many guerrilla wars to keep their freedom. The most famous was the Maroon war of 1801-1802. They attacked Norfolk, Virginia to free slaves held at the local jail and attacked the Pasquotank Militia. The leader of the Dismal Swamp Maroons at this time was named Peter the Second. He was named after Peter Legba – the Voodon messenger of the Spirits. The Maroons fought in the war of 1812 and gained a leader from a free Black community named Captain Mingo. In the swamp a community named Black Mingo Pocosin developed through his leadership. Some Tuscarora Indians lived in the village and contributed to the heritage that developed.

Given the roots of the term Mingo, it’s possible that “Black Mingo” the maroon leader was part Tuscarora himself. This does, however, place Tuscarora in the swamps of northern Gates County, adjacent to the Great Dismal Swamp, which is what several other sources have done.

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