Blackwater Swamp

blackwater-swampI WAS ABLE to get a hold of Pocahontas’s People, Helen Rountree’s 1990 book on the Powhatan Indians of Virginia. This is a highly influential book, because in it she creates the narrative of the “Christianized Nansemond” (in reality, the extended Bass family), and the traditionalist Nansemond, also called the “Pochick.”

The link between the “Pochick Nansemond” and the “Christianized Nansemond” is rather key in establishing the link between the Native people of Hertford County and Norfolk County. For those who use surnames as tags, there was a definite flow of people between these sites. Names like Weaver, Hall, and Nickens, are found in both locations.

At the same time, I wanted to see the original source material on which Rountree based her narrative. In this 1707 deposition of local planter Benjamin Harrison, it is made clear that the Pochicks and the Nansemond are the same people.

1707 1

I find this fascinating because it shows that Tuscarora were also in the Chowan River area in 1707. This is four years before the Tuscarora War. It gives the location of the last settlement of the Wyanoke Indians as being in the Blackwater Swamp. There is actually a place called Wyanoke in the general area of this last settlement. I have yet to visit it. I have been to the Sandbanks, just south of that area. It is wild and remote to this day. Apparently, it was the site of some pretty brutal turf wars among refugee Indians.

wyanoke

So here we have, in a 1707 document, information that shows that the Pochick and Nansemond were the same people. The Nansemond Indians of this region later had surnames like Turner and Rogers, the names found on the sale of their reservation in 1786. Recall that the name Turner was also found at Princess Anne County linked to the Poteskeet or Yeopim Indians. It’s these kinds of connections that show the real link between the Hertford and Norfolk Indians was between the “Pochick” and “Poteskeet.”

As such, one might claim that the Nansemond, Pochick, Poteskeet, and Yeopim, were all, more or less, the same group of Indians. They had also allied themselves with the Nottoway, Meherrin, and Tuscarora, which, as it seems, was a pretty smart thing to do. Unless you wanted to wind up like the Wyanoke. There was some more interesting information packed in those 1707 depositions related to the border question.

1707 4

This is related to the incursion of the Meherrin Indians, Iroquoian speakers from Virginia, into the Meherrin River area. It states that that area where they settled, on the west bank of the Chowan River, “a long time before the memory of man … in ye right full possession of the Chowanohs Indians, by virtue of a grant from the Yampims Indians and no other Indians (as plainly appears by Successive Treaties of that nation).”

This shows that the Yeopim-Poteskeet-Pochick-Nansemond people had allowed the Chowanoke to settle in the river basin that to this day bears their name, at some point in the past. It lends a bit more evidence to my theory that the Yeopim & associated nations, were Wabanaki people, kin to the Wampanoag of Massachusetts and Abenaki of Maine, and originally settled this part of North Carolina and Virginia, and that the Chowanokes were actually Shawnee people who had arrived to the area at some later date.

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1 Response to Blackwater Swamp

  1. Have enjoyed reading your posts. Keep sharing.

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