There are many records of "people" other than English and Indians in Colonial America. In 1608 on the 'Second Supply' in which we find the first Thomas Gibson the passengers included 'Dutch, Poles and "Others" Hubbard Gibson (and Nathaniel Bass) is associated/neighbors of the Bland Family who were Spanish merchants. In 1669 George 'the Spaniard' was living on Lawnes Creek, Surry County, Virginia, as was John Collins. In the Batts-Fallom Expedition in September of 1671 while at the 'Saponi town' it was reported; "We hence sent back a horse belonging to Mr. Thomas Wood, which was hired, by a Portugal, belonging to Major General Wood, whom we here found". A PORTUGUESE at the SAPONI TOWN in 1671.
In 1701 the Saponi were found living on the Yadkin River by Lawson:
"The Yadkin River is one of the longest rivers in North Carolina, flowing 215 miles. The river becomes the Pee Dee River at the confluence of the Uwharrie River. The river flows into South Carolina near Cheraw, which is at the fall line where it becomes the Great Pee Dee River. It is part of the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin."
These maps and testimonies below show the connections between the Indians, the Melungeon families, the Portuguese and the Indian Paths.
1711 the Saponi were found residing near Windsor, Bertie County, North Carolina where just a few months ago a map was discovered to show a Fort, possibly that of the "Lost Colony", so often mentioned with the Melungeons. The Bunch, Gibson, and possibly other families known as Melungeons lived in this area at one time. In fact Walter Gibson signed a Bertie County deed as a 'chieftan' of the Tuscarora.
By 1714 the Saponi were found at Fort Christianna with Captain Robert Hicks/Hix who was associated with John Bunch and Gideon Gibson.
Robert K. Thomas a Cherokee Indian, professor and anthropologist researched many of these tribes and wrote;
"In my research I find a small group of Saponi Indians in Granville County, North Carolina (now Vance County) who lived in that region between 1743 and sometime in the 1760’s. The Saponi originally lived several miles further north on the Roanoke River in Virginia when they were contacted by early Europeans in the late 1600’s. Later, because of pressure from whites, they moved west to the Yadkin Valley, near modern Winston-Salem, North Carolina. About 1710 they were migrating east and appear to have gotten caught “in between” the whites and the hostile Tuscarora Indians. The Saponi “sat out” the war in the neutral Tuscarora country near Windsor, North Carolina.
It appears that this band of Saponi were not the only Indians in the area (Granville County). Individual Indian families from broken tribes further east were gravitating into this same area, perhaps to attach themselves to the Saponi or perhaps just to live in an area where there were other Indians....... In the 1730’s and 40’s the Yawpim and Potoskite tribes near the coast in extreme northeastern North Carolina had lost their lands. Individual Indian families were moving to the frontier from this region. ......So that by the 1750’s there appears to have been fairly extensive number of Indian families other than Saponies in that region. Read his report here
(Click above for a larger map)
"Eighteen Indian trading paths have been identified as having lain totally or partially within the present boundaries of North Carolina, including the Unicoi Turnpike, the Catawba Trail, the Saura-Saponi Trail, and the Lower Cherokee Traders' Path prior to 1775. Many of these paths extended into the states of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, knitting the peoples of North Carolina together with those of the rest of the Southeast and North America"
Almost every Melungeon family was found living along the Indian Towns or Trading Paths before moving to the 'frontier', as did the remnant tribes.
The 1794 Petition in Georgetown, now Marion County, South Carolina, contains the names of Bolton, Shoemake, Gibson and Oxendine, and others. The testimony in the trial in Hamilton County, Tennessee 75 years later involving the descendants of Solomon Bolton, grandchildren of Spencer Bolton named in the above petition, proved the Bolton, Shoemake, Perkins, etc., were called Melungeons and known to be Portuguese or Spaniards.
We know the Oxendine, Ivey, Linegar, Bolton, and possibly Collins and Gibson came from South Carolina to Newman's Ridge while others traveled to other places in groups.
The Gibsons, Oxendines, Shoemakes, Bolton and other families can be traced to Bledsoe and Overton County, Tennessee in 1830 and Taney County, Missouri in 1840. Family stories were they were on the trail of tears and 'dropped off' in Missouri.
These families left Missouri and are found in Vineyard, Washington County, Arkansas in 1850. Delilah Bolton, born Marion County, South Carolina, daughter of Charles Oxendine and widow of Lewis Bolton, no doubt kinfolk of Solomon Bolton the Portuguese-Melungeon is found on the census. Charles Oxendine and family are listed as #97, Levi Oxendine is #98, Thomas and Morning (West) Pope are #99 and George Gibson, wife Sarah Shoemake along with Deliah Gibson are #100. Delilah is no doubt 'Delley Gibson' who signed the 1794 petition, one of the 'widows with a large family'. She is also possibly the Delilah/Deliley Gibson who is found at the Stoney Creek Church records in 1807 as they moved over the mountains from South Carolina to Bledsoe/Overton County, Tennessee.
By 1860 these families had joined the wagon trains bound for California. These depositions in the Cherokee claim of John W. Shoemake shows these families were known as Portuguese (and Cherokee) by their neighbors.
John W. Shoemake et al vsThe Cherokee NationSeptember 22, 1882In the case of W. H. Shoemake and J. W. Shoemake
My name is John V. Alberty, my age is about 48 years, I am a Cherokee, and reside in the Cherokee nation, Going Snake Dist.
According to the statements in the petition, I don't know anything about the claimants. I did know a family of Shoemakes. There was a man named Jim Shoemake. His brother was Tom Shoemake. Jim Shoemake married a woman by the name of Oxendine. They lived on the line there near Dutch Town, Washington Co., Ark. They lived there till about the year '58 or '59. They then went from there to California or Arizona. I have not seen them since. They called themselves Portugese. (They are also called Portuguese in the Bolton trial in 1874) They were recognized then as being different by the people of the states. They considered them as colored people and refused them the right to vote. J. W. Alberty
January 5, 1882
Testimony of Samuel R. Keys
Testifies he knew the applicants since they lived on Crow Creek in Jackson County, North Alabama. He was acquainted with the applicant's grandfather and grandmother who had a reservation on Crow Creek. The Shoemakes were generally recognized by all the people as Cherokee. John A. Shoemake the father of the aplicant used to drive stock a good deal. I used to run a ferry boat on the Tennessee River, and he used to cross the stoc at my ferry. The reservation was located in Jackson County, Alabama. lying in the fork of of Big Crow and Little Crow Creek, ten or twelve miles from Crow Town. The applicants were the grandsons of Anna Shoemake and John A. Shoemake.HISTORY OF THE PIONEERS AND INDIANS OF CROW CREEK
''Before the Indians were taken to Indian Territory there was a large number of whites and Indians that fled to the mountain between Little Crow Creek and Little Coon. They built Shavis Town, cleared up about 100 or more acres and cultivated it, putting out an orchard. They raised winesap apples, peaches, corn and dug ginseng besides hunting for a living.
The older men were very religious. They were mixed with Portuguese. Willis Shavis (wife Hetty Evans was daughter of Andrew Evans and Mary E. Shoemake of Marion Co. South Carolina) named his four sons after the Apostles, Andrew, John, Peter and Nathaniel. The had two Preachers, John Pressley and Brother Forsythe, an Indian. They would preach and convert the young men and girls and bring them down to Little Crow Creek to Baptize them. They believed rightly they were to be buried in baptism in water. They knew the Bible.''Thomas Ivey (believed to be descendant of Indian Trader Adam Ivey of Chippoakes Creek) lived in Bladen County as early as 1753 and removed to Marion County, South Carolina by the 1760s where he was known as to be of Portuguese descent.
''Depositions in an 1812 court case strongly suggest that, having disposed of his patent sometime before 1769, Thomas Ivey moved south into what became Marion District, South Carolina and died there some years later. Thomas Hagans, born about 1765 and identified as a grandson of Thomas Ivey and his wife Elizabeth, refused to pay his assessed tax as a free non-white in Marion District, South Carolina in 1809. At his trial in 1812, two white men testified on his behalf. The testimony of John Regan, a longtime neighbor of Thomas Ivey Jr., suggests that Thomas Ivey Sr. left Bladen County sometime in the late 1760s and removed to South Carolina. The testimony of Robert Coleman, a longtime resident of Marion District, suggests that Thomas and Elizabeth Ivey lived in Marion District for several years before their deaths. Both men testified that Thomas Ivey was “understood” and “generally reputed” to be of Portuguese descent and that his wife Elizabeth was a free white woman.''Tobias Gibson was one of the first of the 'Melungeon families' to have been documented on Newman's Ridge. He was a 'horseback' Methodist Minister and was in Kentucky in the 1780s and from there his circuit was from Hawkins County, Tennessee to Wilkes County, North Carolina in the 1790s. The Gibsons of the Pee Dee River area which Tobias Gibson belongs matches that of the Newmans' Ridge Melungeon Gibson families.
1878 --LETTER FROM REV. J. G. JONES TO McKINLEY
Port Gibson, Miss., May 17, 1878It would take many pages, almost a book, to tie all these families together with all the evidence we have to date. DNA may change things, and it may also prove or disprove some of the Portuguese/Indian stories eventually. Everyday books, rare books, newspapers, wills, probates, deeds etc., are finding their way online. We must not get 'stuck in the past' relying on books and papers printed 15-20 years ago. We must continually re-examine the evidence, old and new, so we can give a proper history to these most interesting families.
There were three branches of the Gibson connexion which settled in Mississippi at an early day: The parents of Rev. Randall Gibson near Natchez about where the old town of Washington now stands; the family of Samuel Gibson - the founder of the Town of Port Gibson, in this vicinity; and that of Rev. Tobias Gibson in what is now Warren county in the vicinity of Warrenrtown. So far as I know these families all came from the valley of the Great Pee Dee river in South Carolina. Some time in the sixteenth century three ship loads of Portuguese Hugenots voluntarily exiled themselves from Portugal rather than renounce their Protestant faith, and settled in South Carolina, then the Colony of Carolina, in the very region of county where our Gibsons are first found, and, from their elevated intellectuality, morality, religion and enterprise, I have long believed that they were the descendants of those refugee Huguenots, though I do not remember ever to have heard but one of the connexion refer to this as a tradition of the family. I wish we now had the means of demonstrating this theory.