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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: Reuben Benjamin Mason Family, Fairfield County

I am the director of the Fairfield County Museum in Winnsboro, SC, and in googling for something else, came across your inquiry. I have a friend who is doing some seminal research on African American Fairfield County families for our museum records and she has not seen anything on Masons of that period. We will certainly keep an eye out for this name, although because this was a mixed blood family, sometimes they kept under the radar in order to avoid the conflict of this particular period.
Many people use the word "princess" to describe a Native American ancestor due to family traditions in describing physical attributes, family associations, etc. There were mixings of Catawba and Cherokee (along with small numbers from other tribes) blood within both black and white races here from early exploration times onward, but by the late 1800s, folks hid this connection to racial mixing because of the socio-political atmosphere (KKK, etc.) of that period. So much of our family history in regards to intermarriages was obscured and usually lost because of this.
If you read the history of the Catawba peoples, you find that there is a good likelihood that they migrated from the NY and upper New England areas previous to white settlement times, displaced for reasons of wars or other pressures. Their language is of the Siouian branch of languages and this strengthens the explanation of the tribe's prehistorical connections to New York.
Another resource you may want to look into is the SC Department of Archives and History in Columbia, SC. I have not personally researched through their historical research department, but you can explore their services at or call them for help. As you mentioned that your ancestor was a craftsman (cobbler/carpenter) they may have some sort of listings for free persons (or slaves?) with such skills. I would also google the genealogical society in York County, SC (Rock Hill is in York) for help in researching Catawba family history, or look up the adress for the York County Culture and Heritage Commission's McElvey History Center. Also, a genealogist named Teresa Hicks wrote a book on Native American and mixed-blood family names in SC. I don't have a copy, but you can google her name for information on that and on other publications she has done.
I hope this is helpful...
-Pelham Lyles

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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