How many of you have searched for any kind of photo of an Ancestor and you weren’t able to find one? Especially for one who lived before photography was invented? Have you ever looked through documents like wills, or marriage licenses and you discover that your 3x Great Grandpa had signed it? This signature is a little piece of him that was left behind. By posting it online we can preserve it for future generations.
Back in the first part of April, I wrote a blog about being Melungeon. I discovered this while researching my 5x Great Grandfather Walter Gibson. A Melungeon was considered by outsiders to have a mixture of European, Native American, and African ancestry. Researchers have referred to Melungeons and similar groups as “tri-racial isolates.”.
I have been searching to see if I could find any proof that Walter was indeed part Native American. It isn’t easy as there really isn’t much information on the Tuscarora tribe. What I do know is they are loosely connected to the Iroquoian Tribe and they spoke a derivative of their language. The Tuscarora, one of the most prominent tribes of eastern North Carolina at the time of European settlement, was a well-developed tribe. The tribe established communities on the Roanoke, Tar, and Neuse Rivers, growing crops such as corn, picked berries and nuts, and the Tuscarora were “hemp gatherers”. They also hunted big game such as deer and bears. Despite the tribe’s size and numerous warriors, the Tuscarora War (1711-1713) led to the migration of the tribe to New York and the near vanishing of the tribe from North Carolina.
What is now Carteret, Pamlico, Craven, Lenoir, Jones, Beaufort, and Pitt Counties was a terrifying place to live. North Carolinians and the Yamasee waged war against the Tuscarora. Many colonists’ settlements were burned and the Tuscarora ax indiscriminately fell upon men, women, and children. In the end, English colonists prevailed. Captured Tuscarora was sold into slavery and those that escaped northward joined the Iroquois League.
I also found the following that was extracted from the Bertie County Book of Deeds.
Here Walter Gibson is mentioned as being a Chieftain of the Tuscarora Indians. I know this is not definitive proof, however, the time frame and location does line up with Walter. I have not looked into the Iroquoian Tribe, Sometime in the early 1800s the two tribes joined together and I am hoping they retained some of this history in their records or traditions.
My dilemma is I can’t for the life of me think of where else I can search. I am officially a full-time caregiver for my husband and some days my brain doesn’t function as well as it used to. Thanks in advance!
I was born in Missouri, but my parents moved our family to Arizona when I was 11 months old. They bought a house outside the Tucson City limits in a new sub-division just north of the Papago (Tohono O’odham) Indian Reservation. I attended the newly built Mary Lynn Elementary School that was about 3 blocks from our home. It was a very diverse school, as a matter of fact, White kids were the minority. I grew up with friends of Native American, Hispanic, African American, Chinese, and Anglo ethnicity. We all got along very well.
At least that was at school. At home, I experienced a totally different atmosphere. Both of my parents were born and raised in Missouri. I do not know what may have happened in their lives to make them this way, but they both were the most racist people I ever knew! Every joke told at home was racist. Remarks were made about people in the grocery store or at the gas station who was “different” from us. I was so confused. According to my parents, ¾ of my friends were sub-human, but according to my experiences, 100% of them were MY friends! It was very frustrating.
A couple of weeks ago I received an invitation on my Authors’ Facebook page to join the “Gibson Genealogy Group”. My first thought was “How did they know I had Gibson’s in my trees?” then I realized I have had that page for over 6 years and I probably wrote something about my Gibson ancestors. So, I joined the group and responded to the survey of who my Gibson’s were. Walter Gibson (1718-1782), my 5x Great Grandfather is one of my brick walls. Thanks to this group I now know why I couldn’t find information on Walter. He was a Melungeon! I know, my first thought was probably just like yours “a what?”. A Melungeon was considered by outsiders to have a mixture of European, Native American, and African ancestry. Researchers have referred to Melungeons and similar groups as “tri-racial isolates,” and Melungeons have faced discrimination, both legal and social because they did not fit into America’s accepted racial categories. I can’t help thinking about how upset my parents would be to find out that my dad wasn’t all Anglo!
I want to share these experiences with future generations because I believe I have learned a valuable lesson in having to make the decision to not accept my parent’s racists views. I understand that try as we might, we cannot legislate tolerance or acceptance. It has to be a change of the heart and a love for our fellow man, no matter what their ancestry is. This stance has not always gone over well, especially with my mother. 34 years ago, after I became a widow with 3 children, she disowned me because I married a Hispanic man. We are still married, and I do not regret the decision I made. I now have 9 beautiful grandchildren, 3 of them are white, 2 are half-black and 4 are half gypsy. We are one, very happy, loving family!
Now I will spend time researching my Melungeon roots, hoping to discover where this part of me comes from. I can’t wait to share this with my family. I can hear my youngest Grandson say “Grandma, that’s just FREAKY!”