Chowan Indian Town, 1830


Some potential Chowanoke characters from the 1830 US Federal Census of Gates County, North Carolina, with explanations. All of the following individuals are listed as heads of free colored households, with the exception of the Goodmans, who have mixed households. The 1830 census is unique in that it is the first that is not alphabetized by name.

  • James Bell  – (James Bell also used the name James Bell Robbins, and was descended from the same James Robbins who signed the final Chowan Indian land conveyances in 1790)
  • George Bennett – (George Bennett was descended from the same Bennetts who appear on the Chowan Indian land conveyances in the 18th century)
  • Mason Butler – (Mason Butler was related to Martha Butler, head of a household of 8 other free in 1820, and descended from Sarah Butler. Both names, Martha Butler and Sarah Butler, were found previously in Bertie County among the local Tuscarora population. Some current Butler descendants claim Indian ancestry)
  • Mary Goodman – (The Goodmans are an interesting case. I cannot find a record that identifies them as Indian, yet they consistently had free people of color in their households and lived near the Chowan Indian population).
  • Whitmell Goodman – (Two of Whitmell Goodman’s children were listed as mulatto in the 1850 census.)
  • James Gordon – (A free colored Henry Gordon was listed living beside Samuel Robbins, Rachel Bennett, and Sarah Smith in the 1800 US Federal Census for Currituck County)
  • Jethro Martin – (Jethro Martin married Nancy Robbins in 1806)
  • Bryant Mitchell – (James and Billy Mitchell are both listed on the Tuscarora Indian Woods deeds in Bertie County. A Mimey (Jemima) Mitchell is listed in the 1790 US Federal Census for Gates County, and later in Nansemond County, Virginia. This could be evidence of Tuscarora living at Chowan Indian town).
  • William Morris – (The Morrises living near Chowan Indian town are typically listed as white. In the 1830 census, though, William Morris is the head of a household of four free colored persons. Morris is a surname that also appeared among the Mattamuskeet Indians in Hyde County.)
  • Riddick Pierce – (Pierce appears to be another name found in Coastal Algonquian populations. Israel Pierce was widely considered to be a Machapunga Indian. Like the Morris family, these Pierces were designated as white in future records).
  • Jesse Reed – (The Reed family, like the Rooks family, married into the Robbins family. It’s possible these two families were also Chowanoke Indian, at least in part. Sealy Robbins married James Reed in 1808, for instance.)
  • Micajah Reed – (See entry for Jesse Reed.)
  • Noah Robbins – (See entry for James Bell.)
  • Nancy Robbins – (See entry for James Bell.)
  • David Rooks  – (See entry for Jesse Reed.)
  • Huldy Smith – (Huldy Smith lived alongside the Robbinses and Bennetts in Gates County, and their descendants intermarried. She may have descended from the same Algonquian Smith family that was found beside the same families in Currituck)
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