LOOKING THROUGH the militia list of Capt. James Arline in Gates County, I kept an eye out for others listed with no property. Two of my ancestors, Thomas Collins and George Russell, are on this list.
Another name that appears on the same list with no property listed is “John West.” He appears to be another one of these shadow people. There is no ‘John West’ listed in the 1790 US Federal Census of Gates County. And, like Thomas Collins, he is not listed in the 1786 North Carolina State Census, even though the militia lists show that both men were in the county that year.
This name is interesting for two reasons. One, there is a “John West, Indian” listed in the 1694 will of George Fleming in Pasquotank Precinct, North Carolina. Recall the name John Fleming on the 1791 estate record of George Russell in Gates County. Recall the name William Flemmons on the 1733 land conveyance of Chowanoke Chief Thomas Hoyter to Henry Hill.
Some researchers believe that “John West” of Chowan County is the same “John West” who was listed as a son of Cockacoeskie, Queen of Pamunkey, in colonial Virginia records. They believe that this Pamunkey John West fled to North Carolina along with other refugees from Bacon’s Rebellion.
It’s clear that there was a Pamunkey Indian named John West, and it’s clear that there was another Indian named John West living in Chowan County by 1694. It is also clear that there was a man, likely Indian given his exclusion from the 1786 and 1790 censuses, who was also named John West, living in Gates County in 1785. The occurrence of names from the Pamunkey area in reference to these individuals lends additional support to the idea that some of the Indians living in Gates County had roots among the Native Americans of Pamunkey Neck. You can see the 1785 list that contains John West’s name here: