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American Indian Records

Various American Indian Records

part 1
Early Court Records of Jackson County Florida

All records located in basement level, Jackson Co, Courthouse, Marianna, Florida

Nov. 1857 STATE V. GRANDISON HICKS: "Giving Liquor to a Negro" -found guilty on two charges…verdict set aside…new trial

THOMAS J. PERKINS executor of the estate of JAMES M. WILLIAMS deceased V. ELI P. MOORE


STATE V. JAMES BUTTS: "Adultery & fornication with free mulatto" -indictment quashed on motion of Defendant…questioned applicability of the law.

Dec. 1857 STATE V. GRANDISON HICKS: "Giving Liquor to a Negro" Grandison Hicks appeared to present bond…Horace Ely and Robert Dickson as sureties….state prosecutor refused to prosecute.

STATE V. ALFRED BAZZELL: "Giving Liquor to a person of color" State prosecutor refused to prosecute.

THOMAS W. GAUTIER in behalf of a man of color named DICK V. WILLIAM CLARK: "Debt"


STATE V. GRANDISON HICKS: "Giving Liquor to a slave" Found guilty….sentenced to 99 lashes on his full back.

STATE V. ALFRED BAZZELL: "Giving Liquor to person of color" Found guilty….sentenced to one month in prison.

STATE V. WASHINGTON, a slave: "assault with intent to kill a white Person"

STATE V. JOHN AMMONS: "murder" Transported to Calhoun County to hold till Court date.

STATE V. DAVID BUNCH: "carry arms secret"

July 1859 STATE V. CATO, a slave: "Rape" Transported to Calhoun County to hold till Court date.

STATE V. MARY, a slave: "Arson"

May 1860 STATE V. JOHN BOGGS: "assault with intent to kill"

STATE V. SHURARD SCOTT: "carry arms secretly" Martha E. (Scott) Hill called as witness for defense….

STATE V. AARON DAVIS: "selling spirituous liquors to a person of Color"

April 1861 STATE V. ADAM, a slave: "burning a gin house"





FOR COPIES CONTACT: Reference Services; South Carolina Dept. of Archives & History; 8301 Parklane Road; Columbia, SC 29223

Series:L10018 item:022A; Date:June 19, 1819
John Matthews and others (Indians and Free Blacks) Vs. Samuel Burger, tax collector and John Cleary, Sherrif both of Charleston District

Series:S213003 volume: 0JW page:604; Date:March 3, 1843

Ansley Davis, an Indian or the descendent of a Free Indian woman, to Joseph DeReef, bill of sale for a slave named Fanny and her children.

Series:S165005 item:67; Date:December 7, 1858
Committee on the Colored Population, report on a resolution of inquiry on imposing the capitation tax on Egyptians and Indians, as now on Free Blacks, mulattoes, and mestizoes. (4pages)

Series:S165015 item:12; Date:December 9, 1859 Edgefield District SC
Frederick Chavis and other free persons of color, petition inquiring if persons of Indian descent are considered to be free persons of color and liable for the poll tax. (2pages)
(mentions names of Frederick Chavis, Lewis Chavis, Durany Chavis, James Jones, Bartley Jones, Mary Jones, Jonathan Williams, Polly Dunn - - "Two among them, Polly Dunn and Bartley Jones, are free people of color, but their ages-sixteen and seventeen years-exclude them from being taxed. Six others do not qualify under the term "free person of color" as they are of Indian ancestry.")

Series:S165015 item:88; Date:November 20, 1828

Betty Hunter, a supposed mulatto, petition and supporting papers, since she has been compelled to pay double taxes as a free negro under a misconception, she requests a refund. (12 pages)

(mentions names of Betty Hunter, Robert Foster, Isaac Going, Rebekah Going, Absalam Bailey)

Series:S165015 item:12; Date:October 21, 1836

Sally Kelch, a supposed mulatto, petition to be refunded a double tax and questioning the applicability of the tax. (2pages)

Series:S213003 Vol:002H page:212; Date:1750
George Hunter, surveyor general of SC to Andrew Deveaux, surveyor of Indian lands in Granville County, appointment and instructions as deputy surveyor.

Series:S213003 Vol:021 page:551; Date:1753

Alexander Wood of St. James Goose Creek Parish, planter, to his half breed Indian slaves named Dukey Cox and George Cox, born of his Indian slave named Jenny, and Minerva Watkins, born of his Indian slave named Moll, manumission upon his death.

Series: S213197 Box:01 item:023; Date:1767
Robert Anderson, unrecorded plat for land not granted, 100 acres known as Indian springs, Craven County, between the Chawraws and pine tree hill, surveyed by John Wade.

Series:S165005 item:036; Date:December 17, 1791
Committee report on the petition of Simeon Spring, Thomas Brown, and George Sutusky, beloved men of the Chickasaw Nation, petitioning asking that their lands on the Savannah River, which were confiscated in 1783, may be returned.

Series:S165015 item:011; Date:1820
Sally Nicholson, native of the Cherokee Nation, petition asking to be allowed to possess a certain tract of land beside the Keowee River.

Series:S165015 item:032; Date:1821
Inhabitants of SC, petition and supporting papers asking that John McKenzie be allowed to practice his method of Choctaw Indian herbal medicine. (52 pages)

Series:S108092 reel:067 frame:0455; Date:1822
Peter Harris, a Catawba Warrior, petition and supporting papers requesting a compensation for Revolutionary service.

Series:S165015 item:26; Date:1855
Trustees of the Fishing Creek Seminary, petition and supporting papers, for the payment of the tuition of George Alexander, a Catawba Indian. (8 pages)

F.P.O.C. Petitions from several States Petition Analysis Record #11085911; Location: Adams C. MS year:1859
Natchez free woman of color Agnes Eahart asks for a special license to remain in Mississippi. She is the mother of many children-Elizabeth, Andrew, Mary, Margaret, David, Napoleon, Emma, Elina, William, Almon, and Melvin-all born free; and she can post a $5,000 good behavior bond. Petition Analysis Record #11285610; Location:Northampton Co. NC year:1856
Northampton Co. residents seek a law allowing three free black families to remain in the State. They assert that Anthony Copeland, Warren Boon, and Joshua Small, moved from Virginia to NC between 1840 and 1844, married colored women from the County. Copeland, a brick layer by trade, and the other men, are industrious, honest and law abiding. The free men of color were unaware of the NC law prohibiting free blacks from entering the State. Petition Analysis Record #11279002; Location:Gates Co. NC year:1790
The petitioners request the legislature to pass a law validating acquisition of land by a group of descendants of Indians and blacks. In 1724 the Chowan Indians received 11,360 acres of land in Chowan County, later Gates Co. The Indians sold most of the land. The Indian men all died, and the women "mixed with negroes." The free blacks and their mixed-blood children served as soldiers for the colonials in the Revolution. Supported by William Lewis, Samuel Harrell, and other white men, they seek title to "small remnants of the aforesaid tract of land." Petition Analysis Record #11484304; Location:McMinn Co. TN year:1843
George Sherman arrived in the state in 1839 and now asks permission to remain in Tennessee. A certificate signed by a notary public in New York states that he is of "mulatto" complexion with wooly hair and is "an Indian, one of the Narragansett tribe." Petition Analysis Record #11678401; Location:Northampton Co, VA year:1784
A six-hundred acre Indian reservation has become "An asylum for free negro & other disorderly persons, who build huts thereon & pillage & destroy the timber without control." There are only five or six of the Gingaskin tribe left on the land. The petitioners request that the trustees be appointed to lay off "a convenient part of the said land" for the Indians while leasing out and taxing the remainder. The rents would be divided among the Gingaskin. Petition Analysis Record #11684302; Location:King William C. VA year:1843
Free holders and other white inhabitants of King William County ask the legislature to sell fifteen hundred acres on the Pamunky River and other lands that were set apart during the colonial era for the Pamunky Indians. The lands were only "set apart," not "granted away." "Now the Pamunkys form only a small remnant of the population, having so largely mingled with the negro race as to have obliterated all striking features of Indian extraction." The lands, the petitioners state, are now inhabited by two "unincorporated bands of free mulattoes in the midst of a large slave holding community."

More f.p.o.c. Petitions from various States
1723 - Virginia
"That all free Negroes, mulattos, or Indians (except tributary Indians to this government) male and female, above the age of sixteen, and all wives of such Negroes, mulattos, or Indians shall be accounted tithables"

May 28, 1745 - Louisa Co. VA
"Ordered that William Hall, Samuel Collins, Thomas Collins, William Collins, Samuel Bunch, George Gibson, Benjamin Branham, Thomas Gibson, and William Donathan be summoned to appear at the next Court to answer the presentment of the Grand jury this day made against them for concealing tithables within twelve months past."
…pled not guilty…

November 6, 1752 - Henrico Co. VA
Grand Jury presentment against Thomas Moseley, David Going, James Matthews, and William Gwinn for not listing their wives as tithables, "being mulattos". Presentment against Jane Scott, Patt Scott, Lucy Scott, Betty Scott, Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Scott, and Hannah the wife of John Scott for not listing as tithables, "being mulattos."

May 1765 - Halifax Co. VA
Grand jury presentment against William Chandler, Shadrack Gowin, Peter Rickman and Phillip Dennum for concealing a tithable.
_________________________________________________ - North Carolina

"every white person male of the age of sixteen years and upwards all Negroes Mulattoes Mustees male or female and all persons of mixt blood to the fourth generation male and female of the age of twelve years and upwards shall be tithables."
1749 - Granville Co. NC

Edward Harris refused to pay the tax on his wife (the daughter of William Chavis).

August 1756 - Edgecombe Co. NC
Edward Gowen was prosecuted for concealing tithables.

1761 - Granville Co. NC
Joseph Gowen, Thomas Gowen, and Michael Gowen refused to list their wives.

1765 - Granville Co. NC
Edward Gowen refused to list his wife.

1765 - Edgecombe Co. NC
Francis Jenkins, a Mustee, indicted for failing to list his wife.

1805 - Sampson Co. NC
Petition of Stephen Carrol for services while he pursued accused murderer Johnathan Chavers, a free man of color also called John White. He finally captured Chavers and placed him in jail at Fayetteville.

1794 - South Carolina
"seeking to repeal the Act for imposing a poll tax on all free Negroes, Mustees, and Mulattoes. They wish to support the Government, but the poll tax caused great hardship among free women of color, especially widows with large families. Tax collectors hunted them down and extorted payment." Petitioners: Isaac Linagear, Isaac Mitchell, Jonathan Price, Spencer Bolton, William N. Swett, and 29 other unnamed f.p.o.c.

1806 - Richland Dist. SC
"Sundry female persons of color" resident in Richland District petitioned the Senate concerning the discriminatory tax levied on them. Petitioners: Elizabeth Harris, Dicey Nelson, Lydady Harris, Keziah Harris, Clarissa Harris, Elenor Harris, Katherine Rawlinson, Elizabeth Wilson, Jerry Sweat, Sarah Jacobs, Sarah Wilson, Sarah Holley, Edey Welsch, Sarah Bolton, Nancy Grooms, Mary Jeffers, Sarah Jeffers, Mary Jacobs, Rachel Portee, and Sarah Portee.

1809 - South Carolina
Petition to the Senate to excuse "people of color and free Negroes" who paid property tax from also having to pay the capitation tax. Petitioners: Jehu Jones, Thomas Inglis, James Mitchell, Isaac Austin, William Clark, John Livingston, William Cooper, William Pinceel, Joseph Humphries, Phillip Manuel, Robert Hopton, Corlus Huger, James Wilson, C.G. Pinceel, George Logan, Peter Robertson, Henry Chatters, Richard Holloway, William Eden, John Martin, Morris Brown, Abraham Jacobs, Ed Chrighton, George Chrigton, John Francis, Jehu Jones jr., George H. Bedon, Moses Irving.

August 1809 - Marion Dist. SC
Thomas Hagans refused to pay the levy "upon all Free Negros, Mulatoes and Mestizos," claiming he was a white man. In October 1812 the Court ruled that he was of Portuguese descent and acquitted him.

1825 - South Carolina
Free man of color, John Chavis, submitted in 1823 a petition to secure a pension for Revoluntionary War service. Although it was denied, it was only because Chavis did not have a white guardian. Chavis was killed when a tree fell on him.

Jefferson Co. MS
Petition by 12 residents regarding Malachi Hagins, was married to a white woman and the couple had 10 children. Asked Legislature to extend to Hagins and his children "all the rights, privileges and immunities of a free white person of this state."

1859 - Warren Co. MS
Warren Co. whites petition that a 60 year old free man of color names Jordan Cheever, who fought as a soldier in the War of 1812, be permitted to remain in the state.

1859 - Franklin Co. MS
Ann, Caldwell, a free woman of color, asks for a special Act to allow her to remain in the state.

1860 - Carroll Co. MS
Citizens write on behalf of Wiley Wiggins, a 22 year old free person of color, who had lived in the area 6 years.

1867 - Pike Co. MO
James Gambol, L. Davis, Joseph Montgomery, Jerry Bell and Ralph Wheeler, petition as free persons of color ask that the State remove all legal restrictions "on account of race or color.

1819 - Green Co. TN
Free man of color, Joshua Hall, paid taxes, performed military duty, participated in the War with Britain.

1819 - Cooke Co. TN
Free man of color, Obadiah Going, seeks "the privileges of a citizen." He states that it is his misfortune to be the descendant of persons of mixed race.

1826 - Washington Co. TN
Free man of color, Phillip Bell, age about 22 years, complains of "many inconveniences & disadvantages" particularly his inability to "prove his accounts by his own oath." As a result he cannot collect debts owed to him by whites.

1832 - Madison Co. TN
Free man of color, Richard Matthews, seeks permission to marry a white woman. Matthews says he is "of the Portuguese Blood.

------------------------------------------------- Petition Analysis Record #11279002 - location: Gates County, North Carolina year: 1790

"The petitioners request the legislature to pass a law validating acquisition of land by a group of descendants of Indians and blacks. In 1724 the Chowan Indians recieved 11,360 acres of land in Chowan County, later Gates County. The Indians sold most of the land. The men all died, and the women mixed with negroes. The free blacks and their mixed-blood children served as soldiers for the colonials in the Revolution. Supported by William Lewis, Samuel Harrell, and other white men, they seek title to small remnants of the aforesaid tract of land."

This petition follows a pattern common among those from people attempting to acquire land set aside for Indians. Though it is obvious that the Indians still reside on the land, they infer that the remnant families have more black than Indian blood, and so, obviously do not deserve to retain title to Indian lands. This petition does go a little overboard, however, by stating that by some mysterious circumstance, all the Indian men suddenly died, and that the remaining women all mixed with negroes. Isn't it funny how they tried to make it appear they were trying to help these people by giving them title to a small piece of the land, and releasing the rest for them to grab up?

The families subject to this petition wre listed as "Other free people" in 1790 Gates Co. NC including: Abraham Reed, Benjamin Reed, Elisha Parker, George Bennett, Hardy Robbins, Hardy Reed, James Robbins, Joseph Bennett, John Cuff, Jane Reed, James Weaver, James Boon, Micajah Reed, Muney Mitchell, Rachel Reed, Seabrook Hunter, William Hunter, William Taylor, and William Jenkins.


On June 30, 1914, O.M. McPherson published the following "A Report on the Condition and Tribal Rights of the Indians of Robeson and Adjoining Counties of North Carolina" excerpts below:

- The Croatan Indians comprise a body of mixe-blood people residing chiefly in Robeson County NC. A few of the class of people reside in Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Scotland, and Hoke Counties, NC, and in Sumter, Marlboro, and Dillon Counties, SC.

- They further have had a tradition among them that their ancestors, or some of them, came from "Roanoke in Virginia"

- excerpt of letter of Hamilton McMillan of Fayetteville NC dated July 17, 1890: "The Croatan tribe lives principally in Robeson County, NC though there is quite a number of them settled in counties adjoining in North and South Carolina. In Sumter County, SC there is a branch of the tribe, and also in east Tennessee. Whereas the Indians now living in Robeson County claim to be descendants of a friendly tribe who once resided in eastern North Carolina, on the Roanoke River."

- At one time the Croatans were known as "Redbones," and there is a street in Fayetteville so called because some of them once lived on it. They are known by this name in Sumter County, SC, where they are quiet and peaceable, and have a church of their own. They are proud and high-spirited, and caste is very strong among them.

This stands as one of the earliest references to the mixed-blood settlement in Sumter County. McMillan presented himself as a person well acquainted with the Sumter Co. people, and he proposed them to be Indians, and closely related to the present-day Lumbees.


early 1700's journal of the German Graffenrield, who often traveled with John Lawson, mentions several times the names of King Taylor, and King Hantcock, who seemed to be the influential leaders of the hostile portion of the Tuscarorora allied with some of the other coastal groups (including the Eno and others) during the Tuscarora War of 1713.

King Tom Blount is mentioned as the leader of a friendly portion of the Tuscarora who were living north of the main body of Tuscarora (in the Roanoke area) and seemed to be a mixed alliance of Nansemond, Saponny, Occanechi, Hatteras, and others, who remained in the area of the Fort Christanna section and attempted to steer clear of the War.

"Recollections of Seventy Years"; Payne, Daniel Alexander (1811-1893) publishing house of the A.M.E. Sunday School Union, 1888 Nashville Tennessee:

"I was born of free parents in the city of Charleston, SC. on the 24th of February 1811....I remember my father was a man of brown is said that he was born of free parents in the State of Virginia, but, when a mere lad, was decoyed on board a ship with cakes and amused in the cabin until the vessel was out to sea. He was taken into the port of Charleston and sold as a slave to a house and sign painter. His father was an Englishman by the name of Paine."

"As far as memory serves me my mother was of light-brown complexion...she told me that her grandmother was of the tribe of Indians known in the early history of the Carolinas as the Catawba Indians, The husband of her grandmother was a black man named Alexander Goings, who was remarkable for great bodily strength and activity."

Gideon Gibson: originally from the NC/VA border-Roanoke River area- names as administrator of the estate of Matthew Driggers on July 13, 1755. Gideon moved to SC in the 1730's and caused oncern among the white inhabitants because in 1731he came to the attention of the SC Commons House of Assembly when a member announced in chamber that several "free colored men with their white wives had immigrated from Virginia with the intention of settling on the Santee River." Gov. Robert Johnson of SC summoned Gideon and his family to explian their presence there and after meeting them reported:

"I have had them before me in council and upon examination find that they are not Negroes nor slaves but Free People, that the father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his father was also free, I have been informed by a person who has lived in Virginia that this Gibson has lived there several years in good repute and by his papers that he produced before me that his transactions there have been very regular. That he has for several years paid taxes for two tracts of land and had seven Negroes of his own, That he is a carpenter by trade and is come hither for the support of his family...I have in consideration of his wifes being a white woman and several white women capable of working and being servicable in the country permitted him to settle in this country."

Gideon's son, Gideon Gibson (II) was living on the south side of the PeeDee River at a place called Duck Pond. On July 25, 1767 as a leader of the Regulators, Gideon was involved in a skirmish with a constable's party near Marr's Bluff on the Pee Dee River. The South Carolina Gazette reported in 15 Aug 1768 that Gibson's band of Regulator's was composed of;

"gang of banditi, a numerous collection of outcast Mulattos, Mustees, Free Negroes, etc. all horse theives from the borders of Virginia and other northern Colonies...headed by one Gideon Gibson..."

Henry Laurens, a prominent Charleston Merchant, described Gideon in this way;

"Reasoning from the colour carries no conviction...Gideon Gibson escaped the penalties of the Negro law by producing upon comparison more of the red and white in his face than can be discovered in the faces of half the descendants of the French refugees in our House of Assembly..."

Thomas Ivey; on 14 Aug 1809 in Marion District SC, Thomas Hagan refused to pay the tax on "all Free Negroes, Mulattoes and Mestizos" claiming that he was a white man. Two white men, Robert Coleman and John Regan testified that they were acquantied with with Thomas Hagans grandfather, Thomas Ivey when he had been living on Drowning Creek in NC. They stated that Ivey was "of Portuguese descent, that his complexion was swarthy, his hair black and strait - that his wife Elizabeth was a free white woman, very clear complexion." They testified that Thomas Ivey's daughter Kesiah Ivey married Zachariah Hagan and they were the parents of Thiomas Hagan.

for an excellent website which details the early history of the eastern Siouan peoples and some of their modern day descendants in the NC/VA border refer to: look under the history portion.... PONY HILL

The information I have gathered on the so-called "Turks" is due to an attempt to locate the original ancestors of my Indian community here in northwest florida. An Isham Scott (born 1790's) moved down here in 1828 from Sumter SC.

The true history of the "Turks", which can be verified by historical documentation, is that they are of American Indian ancestry from a group of Algonquin and Siouan speaking remnants who gathered at Fort Christianna on the Virginia/North Carolina border.

A group of these English speakin, Christianized Indian-White mixed-bloods was living in Halifax North Carolina at the time of the Revolutionary War, and also maintained a village among the Catawba at the NC/SC border (this village was called TURKEY TOWN). There were several families identified as Indian including Jacob Scott, Isham Scott etc.

When Thomas Sumter's home in Sumter was burned by British forces attempting to capture him, he headed NORTH (not to the coast as some have said) into the North Carolina frontier to muster men to form militias. IT was here that Sumter first linked up with these Indian mixed-bloods who readily joined his cause and caused much ruckus.

By 1810 Halifax county was begining to fill up with white people, and the Catawba tribe had leased off almost all of its land, and so, some of these Indians moved down to Sumter at the invitation of General Sumter. Scott, Benenhaley, Driggers, Oxendine, etc. Indian families first appear on the records of South Carolina in 1810.

The Benenhaley surname remains spelled almost exactly the same back to its roots among the Eastern Shore Algonquin speaking Indians of Maryland who joined the Fort Christianna Indians in the 1780's. The fictional story of the "Turks" descending from pirates, Arabs, Turkish sailors, etc. all appears to have begun with the 1930's publications of several ethnologists like Brewton Berry who interviewed local white people about their theories as to where the "Turk" label originated. These fancyful romanticized legends recounted by local townsfolk have since been recounted as fact by present-day historians.) The most plausable theory as to where the "Turk" label originated was from "Turkey Town Indians" shortened over time to "Turkey Indians" to "Turks".

These same family members who remained in Robeson, Warren, and Halifax counties NC are now known as "Lumbee" and "Haliwa-Saponi" Indians. Those of us who moved down here to Florida in 1828 are known as "Cheraw-Saponi" Indians. In 1857 several families from here (northwest Florida) joined a 'wagon train' for Louisianna and these families are now known as "RedBones". Though we have all been labeled differently by our white and black neighbors, we all descend from the same Indians.
-------------------------------------------------The actual documentation does not directly disagree with the oral tradition (though the oral tradition should also be suspect unless it pre-dates 1900, as family members seperated from the Sumter core groups often read articles which "explained" their history - this was common among Melungen descendants who lived away from Tennessee, read newspaper articles about their relatives, then would "testify" that they descended from Portuguese, when the Tennessee group kept saying "We are Indians")

From what I can gather the Benehaleys of Sumter all descend from Jose Benenhaley who married Elizabeth Oxendine in Halifax (most Likely). I cannot support any serious connection between the Scott family and Benenhaley family prior to 1900, as both families lived on opposit ends of Providence district (there was never fewer that 100 households between them). IT was possible that after these families started attending the seperate "Turk" school, that a connection was assumed. The Scott family descended from Isham SCott who resided in Halifax NC and married Rebecca James.

I did find the following documentation that seems to support a Maryland origin for the Benenhaleys:

- In 1790 a "Sam Ben" (who is censused 10 years later as "Sam'l Benhnally") is censused as an "other free person" in Queen Annes, Maryland. (along with William Mahnor, George Sparks, Charles Stewart, etc.)

- IN 1800 a "John P. Benaley" is censused as a white family with 2 "other free persons" in Mid Neck-Cecil County-Maryland (along with John Stephens, Jason Ballard, Sam Lyons, James Mackey, Ben York, Will Atkin, etc.)

- In 1810 a "Joses Ben" is censused as exempt from the personal tax and taxed for 2 slaves, in Pasquotank, North Carolina.

- In 1820 a "Jose Benanhale" is censused as 4 white males, 8 white females, in Sumter District SC.

- In 1820 a "Jabez Benenhaley" is censused as 1 white male, 1 white female, in Worcester, Maryland

-In 1830 a "Elizabeth Benenhaly" is censused as 3 free colored males, 5 free colored females, in Sumter SC.

-IN 1840 a "Elizabeth, Jos, and Sylvander Benenhale" are censused as Free colored persons in Sumter SC.


I would have to question the "oral tradition" about Joseph Benenhaley for several reasons. Is this oral tradition from a family who still remains in Sumter and "this is what the old people said", or is it from a removed family whose information stems from genealogy, books, and newspaper articles?

The grandson of General Sumter refererred to Benenhaly as "Joseph Benenhaly" and that the General had enlisted him as a scout after "finding him in the wilderness". I could not fathom why Sumter would have enlisted a supposed Arab sailor (pirate) to scout for his militia in the North/South Carolina interior forests and swamps. Many of these "Tories and Indians" continued their outlaw ways after the War and this may have sprung the notion that they were 'pirates' (my own g-g-g-grandfather had a bounty on his head in Bladen NC for his actions during and after the Rev War, and there is a strong oral tradition in my family of them being "Indian Outlaws"). Sumter, who grew up with Joe's children, never referred to him as "Yusef Ben Ali"

The name "Yusef Ben Ali" appears to have been a fairly recent invention. In all the pre 1900 documentation he appears as "Joseph" or "Joe" "Benenhale", "Benenhaile".

Brewton Berry referred to an incident prior to 1830 where local Sumter whites had tried to challenge wether "Joe Benenhaley" could legally register to vote. Berry mentions that General Sumter testified on Joe's behalf and explained that he was a "Mestizo" (white-Indian, possibly Spanish white-Indian". If someone could get ahold of the actual documentation of this incident, it would be the best evidence of the Benenhaley origin, as there would be many first-hand accounts, as Joseph himself gave testimony.

As I mentioned before, I would question anything written or said about the "Turks" after 1900. All the evidence that I have seen is that these families from Sumter always claimed Indian origins, and nothing else. It was always the white "historians" who tried to give them some exotic ancestry. It is my opinion that "Joe" or "Joseph" "Benenhaly" was always known by that name, and this "Yusef Ben-Ali" is a recent invention, a result of good intentioned ethnologists in the 1930's.

Side note: There are many local "historians" here who would gladly testify in court that they had grown up with my grandparents and give "oral testimony" that they were "Creek Indians who hid out in the swamps to avoid the trail of tears" though all our ancestors originate on the Virginia/North Carolina border (far from the CReeks). Even my own grandmother would testify with a tear in her eye that "my grandmother left on the trail of tears", when in reality, her grandmother (Nora Bass) was living in Thomas County Georgia in 1900 and died there at an early age.

Actually my whole legal name is "Steven Pony Hill", I was named after my grandmothers brother "Albert Pony Hill" is o.k. with me to be quoted.

The only 'oral tradition' that exists in my family is that we originated from Indians. No one ever mentions our white ancestors (though its obvious that we are far from full-bloods). I descend from the Isham Scott family and the James Moses family who lived in Sumter from 1810 to about 1820, after moving down from Halifax and then moving on to Florida. the Moses family lived about 10 households down from the Benenhaleys in Providence, Sumter.

As far as the "Yusef Ben Ali" reference, I can find no documentation of this earlier than Brewton Berry. I believe it originated with him, and even he said "Joseph Benenhaly...possibly Yusef Ben Ali" as he tried to make a case for possible arab ancstry to justify the Turk label. If his name had actually been "Yusef Ben Ali" I believe it would have appeared as such on some, if not all, of the documentation (census, court, land etc.) Brewton Berry also misrepresented that the 1790 petition of "Sundry Free Moors"came from the Turks (which it did not...I have also seen this falsehood recounted in other books, and on the net as truth) and Berry mentioned the old 1820's case invlolving the voting dispute and refered to him as "Joseph Benenhaley". I'm sure if those old records had mentioned Joseph claiming his name was originally "Yusef" and he was Arabic, that Berry would have surely quoted it. (someone needs to get a look at these old records and end this debate).

I live in Florida. The Bass side of my family (Alexander Bass) also lived in Thomas County GA prior to the Civil War, then moved down to the Ocala area (Marion Co.) then back up to Thomas Co. Ga by 1900, then back down to FL by 1920. Alexander was a documented descendant of the Nansemond (Bass) and Saponi (Goins) Indians and his wife (Nora Holly) was tradionally a full-blooded Indian as well.
-------------------------------------------------Jan. 2005

From what I have seen, and I believe what you will find, is a reaccuring theme in regards to these descendants of mixed-blood christianized Indians from the Virginia/Carolina border:

Someone questions the ancestry of one of these people, families, groups, etc. and it starts up some kind of investigation (school enrollment, tax status, voting priviledges, etc.).

Local white people are brought in to testify and they say some variance of the same theme "I have known the insert name here family all my life. Their skin is dark like a colored person, though their hair is different. It is said that there is Negro in their blood, but they don't associate with Negroes."

The people in question themselves always testify to some variation of the same thing...."My grandfather insert name here was a white man and served in the (Revolutionary/Civil/etc) War...his wife was insert name here and she was a full blooded Indian. There is only White and Indian blood in my veins and no other."

Before long, some well-meaning historian, Professor, Anthropologist, etc. appears and says "You silly back woods country people, these people are not mullatoes...they are a tri-racial isolate...the reason they don't look like the stereotype of the Western Indian is because they are the grandchildren of Portuguese sailors/Moorish pirates/shipwrecked Italians/lost colony of Roanoke/etc."

Generations later, historians, book writers, genealogists, etc. look at these records to get information and recount any one of the above theories to explain the "proof" of the origins of this "mysterious group of people". Even the descendants of the people themselves gradually pick up the popular explanation and pass it on as "Oral tradition".

You can find a variation of the above with any remnant group in the south-east; Melungeons in Tennessee, RedBones in Louisianna, Lumbees, Issues, Red Legs, Brass Ankles, POnd Shiners, Domminickers, and yes, even Turks. The best advice a descendant of one of these groups can get is to not listen to the stories,legends, exotic origin theories, etc. that are thrown out by local people, historians, etc. Look for the actual documented evidence, census records, and when it all boils down listen to what your grandparents and their parents said that their roots were.
The "Free Moor" petition was credited to the Turks by Brewton Berry in his book "Almost White" in the 1960's, where he quoted Anne King Gregorie in her 1950's book "History of Sumter County SC" and this misinformation has been repeated in countless newspaper, magazine, and of course internet accounts. As far as I can tell, no one has ever done the 'on the ground' hard core research on the "Turks" (actually going to Sumter and looking at old court cases, land records, interviewing elders, etc.)
First off let me say this, I have no doubt that prior to the Civil War that the community of mixed-blood persons residing in Sumter County were probably referred to as "Turks". That this label was meant to define a Turkish origin for the group, I do not believe. In other areas at the same time, people of the same mixed-blood were called "Portugeuse" and "Moors" yet their ancestors are not from Portugal or the coast of Africa. 'Turk' was used the same way 'Melungeon' was used in Tennessee...not to explain the origin of a people, just to give a label to a mixed-blood community in order to differentiate it from the whites and blacks around them.

That your ancestor referred to himself as a "Turk" when he lived away from Sumter as a way of explaining his dark skin, is no surprise. In his mind, i suppose, it was a way to explain his racial origin, "I'm not full-blooded Indian, I'm not part Black, I'm a Turk from Sumter County" The fact that he applied for Indian land (it was not freely offered, an individual had to apply) but was turned down because he was a 'Turk' (which at the time was known to the Indian Office as mixed-blood persons of Indian descent but of unknown tribal origin-see below-) should be evident that he at least believed he had some Indian blood. However, at the time, persons called 'Turk' in Sumter were very offended by that label. When a class action suit was filed to allow 'Turk' children into white schools it was very clear that "you do not call them Turk to their face", and it was also noted by historians and ethnologists in the 1930's and 1940's that these people would get fighting mad if you called them Turk. I also have no doubt that there are probably people who now proudly claim to be 'Turk', there are people now who proudly claim to be 'Melungeon', but this is now a more racially tolerant South....prior to World War 2, a sure way to get a black eye was to go to Sumter and call someone a 'Turk' or go to Tennessee and call someone a 'Melungeon'.

Before his death in the early 1800's, Joe Benenhaley was the subject of a court case in Sumter where citizens were objecting to his right to vote. Dr. Brewton Berry made note of this incident in his 1940's book "Almost White". Berry notes that Benenhaley was called to testfiy as to his racial origin. (an important note here is that Berry recounts the testimony as that Benenahley was a 'mestizo' but no mention of 'Turk'..Tom Sumter, the General's grandson, also called Benenhaley a "mestizo" in his history book but made no mention of Turkish origin) While Benenhaley was testifying, General Sumter stormed into the Courtroom, walked up to the witness stand and firmly shook Benenhaley's hand. (it was well known in the South at that time that no respectful Southern gentleman would shake a Negroes hand) This was all the judge needed to see, and the case was promptly dismissed.

In the 1930's, a court case was pressed to allow 'Turk' children to attend white schools. Reports from this case reveal that all the children subject to the proceedings (including Benehaley, Scott, Ellison, Tidwell, Deas families) were presently attending a special 'Indian School' and all the grandparents claimed to be "of Indian ancestry".

Here are a few historical references as to the racial origin of the 'Turks':

-"The Croatan Indians comprise a body of mixed-blood people residing chiefly in Robeson County, NC. A few of the same class of people reside in Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Scotland, and Hoke Counties, NC, and in Sumter, Marlboro, and Dillon Counties, SC. 1914 letter from special Indian agent O.M. McPherson to Commissioner of Indian Affairs

-"The Croatan tribe lives principally in Robeson County, NC, though there is quite a number of them settled in counties adjoining in North and South Carolina. In Sumter County, SC, there is a branch of the tribe, and also in east Tennessee. Those living in east Tennessee are called "Melungeans", a name also retained by them here, which is a corruption of "Melange", a name given them by early settlers (French), which means mixed." 1888 pamphlet published by Mr. Hamilton McMillan of Fayetteville, NC.

-"At one time the Croatans were known as "Redbones," and there is still a street in Fayetteville so called because some of them once lived on it. They are known by this name in Sumter County, SC, where they are a quiet and peaceable people, and have a church of their own. They are proud and high-spirited, and caste is very strong among them."1891 article of Dr. William T. Harris, Papers American Historical Association.

-It is well known that for the majority of the War, General Sumter camped on the Indian lands which were inhabited by the confederated Cheraw and Catawba tribe. Every able-bodied male Indian of that group was enlisted as scouts and warriors under various captains who served under Sumter's command. Sumter never approached the coast, and there are almost entire libraries of writings about Sumter's campaigns which were written by people who witnessed the battles. I'm sure that if Sumter had a Turkish guide during the War, someone would have noted it (why would Gen. Sumter, a man familiar with the area, retain a 'guide' from Turkey?). The only written record states that Sumter used Indian guides, scouts, spys, and warriors extensively.

A South Carolinian advertised in the North Carolina Central and Fayetteville Gazette on July 25th, 1795 for the return of his servant Nancy Oxendine;

"$10 reward to deliver to the subscriber in Georgetown, a mustie servant woman named Nancy Oxendine, she is a stout wench, of a light complexion about 30 years old. It is supposed she has been taken away by her brother and sister, the later lives in Fayetteville."

A "mustie" was a person with one white parent and one Indian parent.
Part I

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