THE LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA has made a lot of colonial documents available online and, even better, they’ve been transcribed. I managed to find some references to Indians living in the border region and discovered a few records that were new at least to me. Individuals named include:
- John Querro, named as a Meherrin Indian in a 30 January 1712 deposition. (Notes: the deposition references a party of Seneca Indians and also noted “the Meherrin and Nansemond Indians are very often passing Moratoke (Roanoke) river.”
- Haweesaris (also known as Basket), and Narviakkos (also known as George), Tuscarora Indians named in a 1715 deposition
- Mr. Thomas, a Meherrin Indian, named in the same deposition
- A number of Nottoway Indians are also named. They are: The King Ouraguero; Jemmy; Carthooktera or William; Quaneeghho; Toughkarehooktie; A Onghkekera; Taontaughkie; and Sonughehre
- A number of Meherrins are named as well. These are Cayahouts; Connasquitugh; Caweeougko; Tarari; Noantah; Tayasherattou; Tackararis; Rarionte; Suntrihoughket; Cannaghskura; Ferattawasa; and Cannaughskoora (Note: I am not a linguist, but the Nottoway and Meherrin names appear to be Iroquoian names and are similar to named I have seen recorded for Tuscarora. Also, the two respondents are Tuscarora headmen, but they speak on behalf of the Meherrins)
Some additional notes. There appears to have been some interrelationship between the Meherrin, Nottoway, and Nansemond Indians. A ” Petition from the Meherrin Indians” from 1723 is actually on behalf of “wee poore Ingnes of nancy- mun town.” Likewise, a similar petition from the Nansemond Indians from the same year is actually “a petshen from the Mehren Engnes.” Above, you see that John Querro is listed as a Meherrin Indian, and the Nottoway King is named Ouraguero. Note, in the 1677 Treaty of Middle Plantation, one of the Meherrin signatories is Ununtequero. It’s possible that “quero” might have just meant headman. Since there was a Meherrin Town called Unote, his name might have been Unote-quero.
Here I have to point out that “Querro” and the Powhatan wero (as in weroance, “he is rich”) sound quite similar. Given the tight relationship between the Meherrin and Nansemond Indians, so that they were often referred to by the other name, Querro in this case, might have an Algonquian origin. But this is purely speculative. Whatever its origin, it seems to be a common suffix in the language.
Compare some of the names recorded for local Algonquians and you will at least notice some difference. The names of four weroances of the Nansemond were recorded in the early 17th century: Weyhohomo, Amapetough, Weyongopo, and Tirchtough. In the deeds with settler George Durant (who is my ancestor, by the way) with the Yeopim in the 1660s, two head men were named, Kilcocanen and Ciskentando. But by this time, the 1710s, there are few, if any, recorded instances of local Algonquians using indigenous names in public documents.
The identity of these bands of people, most of them refugees out of Virginia, intrigues me. I try to keep in mind that it Tom Step, a Nottoway in the mid 18th century, was recorded as knowing three Indian languages. It seems they all knew the local Iroquoian language. But that didn’t make them all allies or friends.
In the 1720s, there was a very real conflict between the Saponis, Nottoways and Meherrins. A 1727 document about such troubles references a number of individuals.
- Capt. Roger, the chief man of the Meherrin
- Robin King, a Meherrin great man, whose “boy” was captured by the Saponis
This is probably the same attack referenced by William Byrd in his History of the Dividing Line. There are constant references to attacks, either between Indians, or with settlers. A 1707 petition from the Tuscarora mentions an Indian named Porridge who was killed in such an attack.
Indians did not vanish from Virginia after the mid-18th century. A 1769 ferry pass mentions an Indian named Elie Quaker. Another 1769 ferry pass references “School Robin & four of the the Nansemond Indians.” Forty years later, “Littleton Scholar” is named on the 1808 census of the Nottoway in Southampton County. In fact, many of the names at Nottoway Town were also found among the Nansemond Indians. It was the Turners and Rogers who signed away the Nansemond Reservation. And, most interestingly, these names existed among the potential Nansemond enclave in southern Norfolk and Princess Anne County in Virginia. Nicholas Turner of Princess Anne County married Alice Collins in 1814, Aaron Rogers security.
As noted, it’s been difficult, if not impossible to ascribe certain family names to individual nations. These names are spread around groups in the region. In addition, there was apparently a lot of movement of bands or individuals (note the Meherrin and Nansemond frequently crossing the Roanoke).