Thomas Bennett, an old Indian man

YawpimTHE NAME BENNETT appears on multiple documents related to Native Americans in northeastern North Carolina. These include the following:

  • James Bennett, on the Chowan Indian land conveyances in 1733-1734
  • George and Josiah Bennett, described as Indian boys in Gates County apprenticeships in 1781
  • George and Joseph Bennett, described as “chief men and representatives of the Chowan Indians” in the 1790 sale of reservation land in Gates County in 1790
  • Billy Bennett, described as a Tuscarora chief in a 1766 letter to William Tryon

To this list can be added “Thomas Bennett, an old Indian man,” described in the following 1810 deed in Currituck County.

May 31, 1810 – I Caleb ETHERIDGE Sheriff by Writ of Fieri Facias issued out of the Court of Pleas & Quarter Session commanding me out of the goods, chattles & lands of Pleasant YOUNGHUSBAND to cause the sum of £120 with interest which was recovered by Lessdid YOUNGHUSBAND againgst him for damages also the sum of £5, 18 Shillings & 4 Pence for cost. In obedience of Writ I took into possession a tract of land which Pleasant YOUNGHUSBAND claimed on Powels Point. Beginning at Thomas WHITE land adjoining Charles GRIGGS land various courses to the land formerly belonged to Thomas BENNETT an old Indian man to the first, being the land that Thomas YOUNGHUSBAND bought of Jonathan CASE containing 50 acres. After legal notice land was exposed for sale when John WILLIAMS SEN. appeared & bid the sum of 8 Shillings per acre & was highest bid. By virtue of Writ & the sum of £22 in hand paid by John WILLIAMS SEN. I Caleb ETHERIDGE Sheriff doth convey & grant unto him the said property.  Witness: T. BAXTER, Thos. WILLIAMS; Registered Aug. 20, 1810

I decided to highlight Jonathan Case’s name in addition to Thomas Bennett’s, because in the 1790 US Federal Census of Currituck County, Thomas Bennett and Joseph Case are listed side by side.

bennett

Thomas Bennett’s name is mentioned in other deeds, yet this is the only one that specifically identifies him as Indian. He was living at Powells Point, an area that was inhabited by the “Poteskite Indians” on the 1733 Moseley Map. Families mentioned in the other deeds, such as Griggs, Ferebee, Gregory, Case, and Bright, were all found around the old Yawpim Indian Town, also depicted on the 1733 map. So here we have one family, the Bennetts, that are described as Tuscarora and Chowan in records, and are found at sites occupied by the  Yawpim and Potoskite Indians.

Interestingly, Thomas Bennett and Joseph Case are listed as white in the 1790 census, but Rachel Bennett, who is listed with Joseph Case in this 1805 Currituck deed is categorized as “other free” in the 1800 census of Currituck, as is Joseph Case.

Just another friendly reminder that those racial categories are often meaningless.

[Deed Book 9; pg. 63-64] Mar. 4, 1805 – Benjamin TAYLOR, SEN. to Charles GRIGGS, both of Currituck, for 1800 silver dollars, land in Currktuck County beginning on the North River Swamp and bounded by where Silbey BARCO now lives, Hadley WOODHOUSE, Rachel BENNETT , Joseph CASE, YOUNGHUSBAND. “To land Formerly owned by Sarah SMITH”. Bounded also by Thos. WHITEs land.  Witness Thomas POYNER; Registered July 2, 1805.

 

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