Andersons of Colonial N. Carolina

meant what they said, said what they meant

TTT Occoneechee Neck Indian Traders

TTT = Tracking the Traders.

I venture off into wearing my historian’s cap occassionaly… mostly with a bent to genealogy.  There is a general period of time of say 1690 to 1750 in this instance.  The Movers and Shakers of the Indian Trade went all the way to the top in England, France and Spain.

My purpose is not to lecture as a teacher (which I am not) but to share my insights as to what the “Big Picture” looked like.  To that end I note some of the articles that have helped me to better understand things.  I could easily link many articles from places such as JSTOR but the copyright issues are not worth the hassle in my case… so I try to mention the source and leave it up to you to search it out if interested.

Further, my interest is not to wring my hands in submission to modern “political correctness” or weep in baleful sorrow crying “bury my heart at Wounded Knee”.  The situations of slavery of both Blacks and Indians happened. Indians, or as I recently saw them refered to as “Naturals” would grab other Indians in a heartbeat and sell your happy ass to be carted off to Bermuda sugar cane plantations.  The problem with Indian slaves is that they simply wilted and died while under captivity… to me it seems it killed their spirit to live.   I simply Deal with it.  My perspective is to remain neutral and simply chronicle what happened in fact and try to leave my particular bias behind.  I do however quite enjoy lobbing stones at English, French and Spanish “Castletrash” as I like to call them,  In this particular time period it is worth familiarizing yourself with Iberville who was esconced in Louisiana and the Spaniards who were esconced at St. Augustine. Georgia did not exist.   The Proprieters called the shots in the Carolinas for this early period of time and these were the Big Shots pulling the puppet strings of the mere common folk.  Plus there were real Pirates stalking the coasts of the Atlantic and Gulf waters.   Blackbeard was real.   Spaniards would lob cannon balls at you.  Indians would scalp you.   Hopefully that puts us on the same page… comments are welcome and I always enjoy new insights. I don’t always check my spelling… the editor is usually drunk, so there is that.

All of these folks have stories to be told.

A good read…

James Logan Colbert of the Chickasaws…

Some background on the Robert Hicks (Hix) trading post located at modern Emporia, VA.

Some info of the Indian Trade goings on around the Blackwater River/ Chowan River area ca. early 1700s…

The William Browne who I chronicle is the son of this Nansemond, VA / Chowan County, NC Indian Trader- John Browne.

Some of my earlier work… when I was becoming VERY curious about what the hell was going on at Occoneechee Neck…

Two Nairns… One a hot shot from South Carolina. Another from Occoneechee Neck, NC.

Here is an interesting map by Thomas Nairne, 1708 or so, showing exactly what I have mentioned

before, that the boundary of the Carolinas were not even considered… they simply went to the Western


The whole enchilada is here:,-0.09,1.503,0.92,0

Thomas Nairne was one of those “larger than life” characters in my book… he matter of factly states he traveled to the Mississipi River prior to 1708. And while he was not being bothered with affairs of the Colonial Govt of South Carolina, he was, you guessed it, an Indian Trader.

John Nairn of Oconeechee Neck was slightly less well connected and so worldly traveled but then we don’t really know do we? He did find time to raise a little hell though…

I have no idea if these two were related? I am curious however…

Siouan Tribes of the East- Mooney 1894

(including a description of Occoneechee Island in Virginia)

The Roanoke River before it was dammed… showing the three islands. These islands are now submerged.

The Indian Tribes of Virginia and the Carolinas ca.1701 per James Mooney, published 1894.

The Mooney Map

Note that Mr Mooney interprets a “Sapona Town” on his map… just to the the east of modern Tarboro, NC. (not in existence in 1700) I would place it near where the historic Cashey Town was ca. 1700. (roughly midway between the Roanoke River and Chowan River). I find this fascinating because it has always been my interpretation that this area was strictly Tuscarora… and more specifically where the Tuscarora? “head man” Blount (aka Tom Blunt) resided. Note above on my map that two deeds refer to a “Totero or Tatterah fort” one is a deed for John brown in 1721… another for Barnaby Mackinie in 1723. These were just below the bend of Occoneechee Neck near Caledonia. I have been perplexed because I heretofore considered this exclusively Tuscarora land. Recall that “chief” Blount never took part in the Tuscarora “war”… which curiously, per my historical understanding, is precisely where Mooney has it mapped. Could it be that Blount was NOT Tuscarora (a sly old dog who “played” Governor Pollock?). Could it be that Blount well knew the treachery whites were capable of from the history he was familiar with as a Saponi (nee Occoneechee?) I would have to laugh, Pollock was not a friend of the Indians. Pollock was ruthless as were the Indians in their own fashion… let us not delude ourselves with our modern wishy-washy faint-hearted stupidy when it comes to actual history. Mooney evidently thought the Saponi (including the exiled remnants of the original Occoneechee Indians routed by Bacon in 1676 may have settled here for a while.) Mooney also depicts locations for the Tutelo and Saponi and Occoneechee ca 1675 near their original islands on the Roanoke River…. he then denotes where he thought they relocated to ca 1701 (see roughly around Greensboro noted as “migration”).

Most historical accounts I have researched considered the Occoneechee island (in Virginian not North Carolina) to be the Major trading place of the mid to latter 1600s. For good or ill… Bacon led to their downfall… they never recovered from his attack in 1676. But it seems apparent that the traders from North Carolina held it in high enough esteem to name their area Occoneechee Neck ca 1700 or so.

My hat is tipped to Mr Mooney and this 1894 map… I am awed by his insights.

Another account by John Barnwell mentions the “Remnants” of the Tuskaroroes and where they were settled in a map dated ca. 1721, ten years after the fact of the “war” of 1711/12. The map and a close up shown below.

Thomas C. Parramore gives what I consider to be a “contrarian” account of the events as related by John Barnwell of the Tuscarora “War” in an interesting article entitled “With Tuscarora Jack on the Back Path to Bath”.

The North Carolina Historical ReviewVol. 64, No. 2 (APRIL 1987), pp. 115-138 (24 pages)Published by: North Carolina Office of Archives and History

I have read a bit here and there concerning the “Chickasaw Traders” coming out of Occoneechee Neck. So I am researching the lead… this is interesting. Recall that the Chickasaw were from roughly Northern Mississippi and Alabama… what would they be doing getting within range of the Occoneechee traders?

Beginning in 1699, France established a presence on the Gulf of Mexico coast and supplied the Choctaws with guns, thus ending the Chickasaw captive raids. The Chickasaws hoped to trade with France too, but the French did not have enough supplies to trade with every Indian group in the southeast and they decided to make the Choctaws their principal allies at the expense of the Chickasaws and other native groups. Partly for this reason, around 200 Chickasaws, led by the chief called Squirrel King, relocated farther east to the Savannah River in the 1720s to be nearer the English and their trade goods.

The Chickasaw-French wars

In two periods, 1720-1725 and 1733-1743, the Chickasaws fought against France and her allies the Choctaws. French officials distrusted the strong relationship between the Carolina English and the Chickasaws because every time that France and England were at war the Chickasaws harassed French shipping on the Mississippi River, which disrupted the Louisiana colony’s ties with its sister colonies in Canada. The Chickasaws provided the spark for the first war in 1720 by killing a French fur trader who they and the English accused of being a spy. In retaliation, the French gave more guns and ammunition to the Choctaws and encouraged them to attack the Chickasaws, but the Chickasaws repulsed all of the Choctaw assaults on their villages. The Chickasaws then went on the offensive and effectively cut off all French shipping on the Mississippi River. The Chickasaws and Choctaws then settled on peace starting in 1724 and the French were forced to abide by the new peace agreement in 1725.”

The Chickasaw, it seems apparent, were no one to trifle with… (note the dates I highlighted above)

The American Revolution

With their ally and long-time trading partner the English in control of much of the eastern territory of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River area after 1763, the Chickasaws experienced few threats to their existence. That agreeable situation ended when the American Revolution erupted in 1776. The Chickasaws tried to remain neutral but they felt most committed to the British cause because of the long history between the two nations. In May 1779, the Chickasaws received a written threat from the new state of Virginia warning them to remain neutral or risk being invaded. Chickasaw chiefs responded in kind, showing they were not afraid of any nation. They wrote the Virginia government full of swagger and daring:

“We desire no other friendship of you but only desire you will inform us when you are Comeing and we will save you the trouble of Coming quite here for we will meet you half Way, for we have heard so much of it that it makes our heads Ach, Take care that we don’t serve you as we have served the French before with all their Indians, [and] send you back without your heads. We are a Nation that fears or Values no Nation as long as our Great Father King George stands by us for you may depend as long as life lasts with us we will hold him fast by the Hand.”

The only battle between the Chickasaws and Americans during the war occurred in 1780 when the Chickasaws briefly attacked George Roger Clark’s Fort Jefferson in western Kentucky. After the American Revolution, the Chickasaws quickly established relations with the United States and with Spain (Spain now controlled the entire gulf coast from Florida to Texas).”

I am in awe of that taunt… I do not recall ever hearing such a brazen, fearless and in your face taunt ever… did I say ever? Ever!

From another source… and for a practicable reason…

In nearly all the articles of the Indian trade the goods which
the English offered were more highly esteemed by the Indians, for
quality and price, than the corresponding products of their rivals.
The fundamental reason for the success of the English in the tor-
tuous politics of the wilderness was concisely expressed by the first
Indian agent of South Carolina. In 1708 Thomas Nairne asserted
that “the English trade for cloath always atracts and maintains the
obedience and friendship of the Indians, they Effect them most who
sell best cheap “
The Southern Frontier in Queen Annes’s War, Verner W. Crane

From his own accounts and brags… and as noted on his map, Thomas Nairne obviously visited with and traded with the Chickasaws.

As an aside… (my apologies, I “aside” a lot) there is another forgotten old colonial town called Cashy. I think it is linked to the “skin” trade of the folks of Occoneechee Neck. Several landowners also had dealings in Cashy. Here is a link if you are interested…

More to follow… I’m off on a beer run.

Written by anderson1951

June 5, 2021 at 4:03 am

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