AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Re: Assumptions about the racial origins of "fpoc"
In Response To: Re: Assumptions about the racial origins of "fpoc" ()
I understand from your postings as well as what I have read from some historians that there was quite a difference between what was called the “Upper South” and the “Lower South.” For example, it was quite rare in the Upper South for white men to openly have mixed-race mistresses. In the few cases I have seen of this in Virginia the couple was indicted by the court.
For the Lumbee it is not a matter of their overstating their Indian ancestry. I would not be surprised if DNA testing showed they have next to zero Indian ancestry. All their families came there from Virginia where most have proved white and African ancestry:
In 1754 the Governor of North Carolina ordered all counties to report the number of Indians in their areas. Colonial Bladen County which encompassed present-day Robeson and surrounding counties reported there were none in the county.
The Bladen colonial tax lists contain the “Molato” familes Hayes, Cumbo, Johnston, Overton, Carter, Goan, Walden, Ivey, Lamb, Wilkins, Sweat, Braveboy, Kersey, Clark, Cheeves (Chavis), Hammons, Groom, Locklear, and Lowry. There is one Indian taxable in 1768: Thomas Britt. The Britt family is neither one of the present-day nor colonial Lumbee families. There is no other mention of the word “Indian” in the entire colonial and state records of Robeson County up to the Civil War.
In 1773 the county reported that there were a bunch of “free Negors and Mullatus” rogues living on the Kings land. (They all had patents for the land). They were led by Captain James Ivey and Joseph Ivey. The Ivey family, which is today considered white, have done DNA testing and found they descend from a West African man.
The Lumbee “sold out” to whites in 1885 and voted for the Jim Crow party in exchange for separate “Indian” schools, so they would not have to attend school with the former slaves. Once Jim Crow laws were passed and the former slaves disenfranchised, the whites had no further use for the Lumbees and treated them as a caste just above African Americans. So they lived like English colonials for most of their history but have had an Indian identity for the past 100 years.
Many internet sites seem to have picked up on Jack Forbes’s claims that “Mulatto” often meant Indian and white. However, I have not seen any evidence of this in the thousands of colonial and early state court records I have read in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland or Delaware. But, yes, Indians did become “Mulattos” when they mixed with African Americans.
Historians say our memories and thoughts are changed by their passage through the times we live in. The concept of white-Indian communities developed, as one might expect, in the Jim Crow period. Somehow, light skin and straight hair equates to Indian ancestry. I will have to have my middle daughter apply for membership in some tribe!
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