Saturday, April 15, 2006

Carried Away in the Night - 1778

I do not know the author of this piece. I have had it in my files for sometime and am sharing it here with thanks to the unknown author:



On April 10, 1778, the following ad was placed in the North Carolina Gazette
by Johnson Driggers, a desparate Melungeon father:

"On Saturday night, April the 4th, broke into the house of the subscriber at
the head of Green's Creek, where I had some small property under the care of
Ann Driggers, a free negro woman, two men in disguise, with marks on their
faces and clubs in their hands, beat and wounded her terribly and carried
away four of her children, three girls and a boy, the biggest of said girls
got off in the dark and made her escape, one of the girls name is Becca, and
other is Charita, the boy is named Shadrack..."

The advertisement described a common horror inflicted on free Melungeons in
the 18th and 19th centuries. The lucrative American slave market tempted
manstealers into preying on many communities of mixed-race people. Anyone
with the slightest amount of Negro blood might be stolen in the middle of the
night regardless of their free status.

In 1834, free-born mulatto Drury Tann of the Melungeon Tann family of North
Carolina, applied for his Revolutionary War pension. In his application is
an account of his childhood.

"He, (Tann) was stolen from his parents when a small boy by persons unknown
to him, who were carrying him to sell him into Slavery, and had gotten with
him and other stolen property as far as the mountains on their way...his
parents made a complaint to a Mr. Tanner Alford who was then a magistrate in
the county of Wake State of North Carolina, to get me back from those who had
stolen me and he did pursue the rogues and overtook them at the mountains and
took me from them."

An affadavit filed by John Scott, a "free Negro" of Berkeley County, South
Carolina was found by genealogist Paul Heinegg. It notified authorities in
Orange County, North Carolina of the following on March 12, 1754:

"Joseph Deevit, Wm. Deevit, and Zachariah Martin, entered by force the house
of his daughter, Amy Hawley, and carried her off by force with her six
children, and he thinks they are taking them north to sell as slaves."

Records show only one child, "a mulatto boy Busby, alias John Scott" was
rescued and returned home from the ordeal.

By 1750, these and other free Melungeons lived in constant fear of abduction
and the loss of liberty during the long night of American slavery. The
slightest trace of African blood in a person who was essentially white, had
become a subpeona into slavery by this time. For this and other reasons the
light-skinned children of the original Angolans of the 1600s, began claiming
non-African descent. Some Melungeons argued strongly that they were of
Spanish, Portuguese or East Indian blood. They could claim Portuguese
nationality on the technicality that Angola was considered a state of
Portugal. Others resorted to other claims.

William Dowry, a grandson of Mary Dove, was detained as a slave in Maryland
in 1791 when he claimed in court of being held illegally. Witnesses on his
behalf testified that Dowry's grandmother was a granddaughter of a woman
brought into the country by the "Thomas" family, as a "Yellow Woman", said to
be either a Spanish woman named "Malaga Moll" or an East Indian. However,
records indicate the Dove family descended from John Dove, a mulatto slave of
Doctor Gustavus Brown of Charles County, Maryland.

The Perkins family of Accomack County descended from Esther Perkins who had
an illegitimate child in 1730. Joshua Perkins was taxed as a "free Negro",
but in 1858 in Tennessee, his great grandson, Jacob F. Perkins brought a
lawsuit against a man for slandering him as a "Negro". By then, the Perkins
family, after three generations of intermarriage, was white-skinned and
claimed to be of "Portuguese" descent. Witnesses were called to testify for
both parties in the lawsuit.

John E. Cossen said of the Perkins ancestors:
"Can't say whether...full blooded. The nose African. Believe they were
Africans...always claimed to be Portuguese. All married white women."

Reuben Brooks stated of the first Perkins patriarch:
"He was a very black and reverend negro..."

88-year old John Nave testified:
" man, hair nappy...Some called Jacob (his son) a Portuguese and some
a negro..."

Larkin L. White swore on the stand:
" black as any common mulatto. Hair short and curled and kinky..."

On behalf of the Perkins, several witnesses presented sometimes conflicting
testimonty of the family, but generally agreed that the Perkins were
"Portuguese" who had lived as equals among whites and who had married whites.
However, the Johnson County court ruled that Jacob F. Perkins was indeed a
"free Negro" as his neighbor had alleged.

Thomas Hagans was not trying to escape slavery or slander, but taxes on "free
Negroes, Mulatoes, and Mestizos" in 1809 South Carolina, when he sued in
court claiming Portuguese ancestry. But Hagans was the great-grandson of
Thomas Ivey whose children were identified as "free Negroes and Mulattoes" in
a 1773 county census. His ancestor George Ivey had even publicly protested
against the colonial ban on black and white intermarriage after it was passed
by the legislature in the 1720s.

Melungeon ancestors with Portuguese and Spanish surnames such as Pedro,
Cumbo, Rodriggues, Manuel, Fernando, Francisco, Dial and Cottulo were
described as "Negroes" in the 17th century. Their black skin and their
Iberian names indicate they were Portuguese Angolans who had voluntarily
converted to Christianity in their native land.

Many have argued that some colonial slaves described generically as colored,
mulatto, and dark-skinned, did not arrive in Virginia directly from Africa
and therefore could have been of non-African descent. Indeed there was an
Armenian in Virginia as early as 1615, Turks by 1690 and other Mediterrenean
ethnics present in the 17th century colonies. But we know about these
exceptions precisely because they were distinguised from "Negroes" in
colonial records. No doubt some Mediterrenean non-African "coloreds" joined
African, white and Indian mixed groups like the Melungeons, and non-African
"coloreds" may have been classed as "Negro". But the largest and most
dominant "colored" group described as "Negro" were by far the
Angolan-Africans. Their surnames appear today in mixed communities such as
the Melungeons.

Angolans were found up and down the North American seaboard in the 1600s.
Sebastian Cane was a free "Negro" who came to Virginia from Dorchester, New
England. In 1656, he purchased the freedom of a slave, (believed by some to
be his sister) from Ann Keane of New England. The freed slave's name was
"Angola". During the 1600s, thousands of Africans from Angola were turning
up in England, France, the West Indies, and in Central and South America. By
the 1640s there was a discernable Angolan-Dutch population in Manhattan, New
Amsterdam (New York). During the developing period of English-American
colonies from 1610-1660, central Angola was bleeding several tens of
thousands of Africans to trans-Atlantic slavers.


There is ample evidence that the community known as Melungeon, formed much
earlier than previously thought. Records show that many descendants of 17th
century Angolan-Americans had intermarried with descendants of fellow Angolan
countrymen before 1700. Melungeon communities existed in Virginia, Maryland,
Carolina and Delaware one hundred years before the American Revolution.


The Angolan who became known as John Gowen of Virginia, was born about 1615.
Before 1775, his descendants had married into the Angolan and mixed families
of Ailstock, Bass, Chavis, Corn, Cumbo, Dungill, Findley, Hill, Jones,
Locklear, Lucas, Matthews, Mason, Miner, Mills, Patterson, Pompey, Stewart,
Simmons, Singleton, Tyre, Webb and Wilson; most of whom can also be traced to
the 17th century.

Thomas CHIVERS/CHAVIS was born in 1630. Before 1775 his Angolan descendants
had married into the families of BASS, GOWEN, LOCKLEAR, SINGLETON, STEWART,
CUMBO, MATTHEWS, and WILSON along with descendants of John Gowen. In
addition the Chivers/Chavis group intermarried with Bird, Blair, Blythe,
Brandon, Bunch, Cannady, Carter, Cypress, Drew, Earl, Evans, Francis, Gibson,
Gillet, Haithcock, Harris, Hawley, Hull, Kersey, Lowry, Manly, Manning,
Mitchell, McLin, Scott, Silvey, Smith, Snelling, Silver, Sweat, Thaxton,
Tyner, Thomerson, Taborn, Valentine, Watts and Walden; many of whom were 17th
century Africans in the British-American colonies.

The family of Eleanor EVANS, born 1660, shares with the Gowen and Chavis
families the following names: BIRD, BRANDON, CHAVIS, DUNGILL, HARRIS, KERSEY,
adition the Evans were early related to the families of Anderson, Boyd, Bee,
Blundon, Doyal, Green, Hudnall, Hunt, Jeffries, Jones, Lantern, Ledbetter,
Penn, Pettiford, Redcross, Richardson, Rowe, Sorrell, Spriddle, Tate, Thomas,
Toney and Young.

The GIBSON or GIPSON family descended from Elizabeth Chavis, born in 1672,
also shares with 17th century African-Americans Gowen, Chavis, and Evans, the
surnames of BASS, BUNCH, CHAVIS, CUMBO, and SWEAT. They add Driggers, Deas,
Collins and Ridley.

The family of the Portuguese-Angolan named Emmanuel DRIGGERS, (Roddriggus)
born in 1620, also has several families in common with the Gowen, Chavis,
Evans and Gibson clans: CARTER, COLLINS, SWEAT, GIBSON and MITCHELL. In
addition the Driggers intermarried with Beckett, Beavens, Bingham, Bruinton,
Copes, Fernando, Francisco, George, Gussal, Harman, Hodgeskin, Jeffrey,
Johnson, King, Kelly Lindsey, Landrum, Liverpool, Moore, Payne, Reed and

From Margarett CORNISH, born about 1610, comes the Cornish family with ties
to GOWEN and SWEAT in addition to Shaw and Thorn.

With the CUMBO family dating back to 1644, we have links to GIBSON GOWEN,
JEFFRIES, MATTHEWS, NEWSOM, WILSON and YOUNG in addition to Hammond, Maskill,
Potter and Skipper.

The BASS family originates in 1638 America and shares several intermarriages
from that period with Gowen, Chavis, Evans, Cornish, Driggers, Cumbos and
they have the names of Farmer, Hall, Lovina, Nickens, Perkins, Pone, Price,
Roe and Roberts.

If given the space we could find complex scores of intermarriages of
Melungeon and other tri-racial surnames beginning in the 17th century of
colonial America. These common kinships of cousins show the Melungeon
society was becoming cohesive and distinctively apart in colonial America at
least one hundred years before the American Revolution. The Melungeon
community began before 1700.

For example: The BANKS family originates in 1665 colonial America with
related families of Adam, Brown, Day, Howell, Isaacs, Johnson, Lynch, Martin,
Walden, Wilson and Valentine and other Melungeon surnames.

The ARCHER family begins in 1647 America with related families; Archie, Bass,
Bunch, Heathcock, Manly, Murray, Milton, Newsom, Roberts and Weaver.

The BUNCH clan traces back to 1675 colonial America with kinship to: Bass,
Chavis, Chavers, Collins, Gibson, Griffin, Hammons, Pritchard and Summerlin.

The BECKETT family of 1655 ties to Bibbins, Beavens, Collins,Driggers,
Drighouse, Liverpool, Mongon, Morris, Moses, Nutt, Stevens and Thompson.

The family of CARTER begins in 1620 America with the related families of:
Best, Blizzard, Braveboy, Bush, Cane, Copes, Dove, Driggus, Fernando, Fenner,
Godett, George, Harmon, Howard, Jacobs, Jones, Kelly, Lowery, Moore, Norwood,
Nicken, Perkins, Rawlinson, and Spellman.

In addition to the above, other mixed families from America in the 1600s are:
Artis, Berry, Cane, Causey, Charity, Collins, Cuttilo, Dial/Dale, Hall,
Harris, Hammond, Hawley, Hilliard, Holman, Howell, Ivey, Jacobs, Jeffires,
Johnson, Jones, Mongom, Payne, Reed, Roberts, Shoecraft, Sisco, Francisco,
Stephens, Stewart, Sweat, Tann, Webb, Williams, Wilson and Young. These 17th
century mixed families are each related to a dozen or more later Melungeon
surnames with links to almost all mixed communities in America.
It might be said convincingly that there are more early 17th century American
"blue-bloods" to be found in the shanties of Appalachia than in all of Boston.

Groups like Melungeons, Brass Ankles, Redbones, Lumbees, and many others are
all connected by common blood to each other from the first two centuries of
English-American colonization. Mixed red, white, and black Melungeons can be
found in Virginia and Maryland to within one or two generations of the first
Angolan Ndongo appearance in Jamestown in 1619. The general Melungeon
community is decisively shown to be more than 350 years old in North America.

All of these families descended from 17th century Angolans in Virginia, who
began building the Melungeon community long before it appeared in Tennessee
in the 19th century.


The greatest price for Melungeon freedom from chattel slavery was usually
paid by women; white European women of English, Scottish and Irish ancestry,
who married or cohabited with newly arrived black West African slaves. From
1660-1720, most English-American colonies forbade black and white marriages.
Refused the protection of legal unions, interracial couples were hauled into
court on morals-related charges. In such cases the man sometimes
disappeared, leaving the woman holding the interracial child alone. Often
the woman would refuse to name the father. Faced with the prospect of a
single parent child dependant upon the welfare of the county, the colonial
legislators imposed severe penalties upon mother and child hoping to send a
message. Fatherless mulattos were often bound out in slavery for up to 30
years, and the mother usually had additonal years added to her original term
of servitude.

In other cases, the man would finally get his freedom with the opportunity to
move away and purchase new frontier land. However, his wife might still be
bound for several years. The man would take his freeborn children and
abandon his indentured wife. These were the tragedies facing the early
ancestors of Melungeons.

Before the restrictions against interracial unions in America, there were
many legitimate black and white marriages sanctioned by the church. Paul
Heinegg cites the 1681 case of Elizabeth Shorter who married a "negro man"
named Little Robin in nuptials administered by Nicholas Geulick, a priest.
They had three mulatto daughters in St. Mary's County. But gradually,
colonial society turned on the mixed unions it had previously allowed.

After 1720 in Northampton County, Virginia, Tamar Smith had to serve half a
year in prison and pay a ten pound fine to marry Major Hitchens.

On August 16, 1705, a "Mulatto" named John Bunch and a white woman named
Sarah Slayden, appealed to the Council of Virginia to permit them to be
married after such a request had been denied by the Blisland Parish minister.
The Council countered that the "intent of the Law (was) to prevent Negroes
and White Persons intermarrying".

The matriarch of the Welch family was Mary. In 1728 in Maryland, she
testified that she had born a mulatto child. Her original term of servitude
to Thomas Harwood was lengthened by seven years and her two-month old son
Henry was bound to Harwood for 31 years.

Mary Wise, the servant of a man named Wells admitted in 1732 to having a
mulatto child in Prince George County. The court sold her nine week old
daughter Becky into 31 years servitude for 1,500 pounds of tobacco.

In Delaware, Mary Plowman was charged in 1704 of giving birth to a child by a
"Negro" slave named Frank. The court gave her 21 lashes and an additional
term of servitude to her master. Her mulatto daughter Rose was bound until
the age of twenty-one.

In Kent County, Delaware, 17 year old Eleanor Price admitted to "Fornication
with a Negro Man named Peter" in 1703. She received twenty-one lashes and an
extended period of 18 months servitude. Her daughter was bound to the
children of her master until the age of twenty-one.

In Accomack County, Virginia in 1721, Ann Shepherd, a "Christian white woman"
was presented for having an illegitimate child. Pressured to name the
father, she first indicted one "Indian Edmund", but later admitted the father
was a mulatto, Henry Jackson. Ann was sold for a five year term.

In Virginia in 1716, Elizabeth Bartlett was ordered to pay 1,200 pounds of
tobacco to her mistress Mary Bailey, for eloping with the mistress' Negro
slave James.

Sarah Dawson was a white servant girl who endured twenty-one lashes in
Virginia in 1784 for having three illegitimate children by her master's
servant Peter Beckett whom she later married.

In Lancaster County in 1703, Elizabeth Bell ran away from her master and was
lashed twenty times at the county whipping post. A year later she was
indentured to another master during which time she had a child by a black
man. Five years were added to her sentence.

The case of Alice Bryan is also cited by Heinegg. Alice confessed to bearing
a "bastard Molattoe Child" by a "Negro man Called Jack." Thirty-nine lashes
and an extra two years indenture was the sentence of the court. Her mulatto
son Peter was bound out for 31 years and her daughter Elizabeth was enslaved
for 18 years.

Color-conscious American society tried to overturn stubborn customs
previously practiced by earlier settlers who had lived in a time when
frontier life was hard and the skin color of a helpful neighbor was
irrelevent. The new laws against people of color were not always respected
by old-time whites. In the words of one old white man, Daniel Stout of
Tennessee, who, when called to testify in court in 1858 as to the race of a
grandfather of a free African-American, said:

"Never heard him called a Negro. People in those days said nothing about
such things."


No comments: