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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

Re: The Generic "Free Negro" in early Virginia

Ethnic non-whites became white, American Indian, Gypsy, "Mulatto", and "Free Negro" through the process of intermarriage into other ethnic groups. This was true of virtually every group in early America, and is demonstrably true of the Weavers. The statement that " East Indians became part of the African American community" is incomplete at best and disingenuous at worst.

Genealogical investigation into the multiethnic populations of the southeastern United States has uniformly revealed a minimum of four, and often five ethnic contributors. While the role of the Gypsy in Virginia history has escaped notice, the role of the Asian Indian did not.

The anthropologist Helen Rountree cited an observation made by Hugh Jones in his 1724 publication "The Present State of Virginia". Speaking of Virginia Indians, Jones observed that “they seem to like the East Indian”. No family more clearly demonstrates the accuracy of Jones observation than the Weaver family.

In this regard the history of the Weaver family in Virginia is most instructive. Investigators have demonstrated a persistent preference for ignoring these records. Nevertheless these records are most revealing.

The Weavers, descendant from Indian Will, John Weaver, and Richard Weaver demonstrate the integration of the Asian Indian into the culture of the American Indian. Intermarriage within the Cherokee, Choctaw, Meherrin, Nansemond, and Rappahannock Tribes solidified American Indian status. In Norfolk County, Virginia the Weaver families occur in various records as Indian from 1833 to the 1930 census - not mulatto or free Negro, but Indian, even as "Indians not taxed. These records include the Special U.S. Indian Census taken in 1900 and 1910. In this regard they mirror the Nansemond Indian Bass family.

James Nickens

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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