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The Lost Colony Research Group

Genealogy ~ DNA ~ Archaeology




July 2011


Following the Croatoan

In the 1730s and 1740s, the Farrow and other Hatteras families including the Gibbs, Spencers, Stows, Jones and Walls were purchasing land around Lake Mattamuskeet from the Mattamuskeet Indians.  In 1740, two transactions took place on the same day, although they were not stated to be a trade.


Currituck Deed Book 3 Deed 632, page 22 - April 2, 1740 recorded June 26, 1740 -Charles Squires, Indian, to Jacob Farrow, 100# NC money, land, [no acreage mentioned], in Aramoskeet adjoining William Browning, Joshua Wallis line, Syrpis Swamp, with Cornelius Jones, Thomas Dudley, signed John S: Squires (sic).  [S: appears to be his mark]

Currituck Deed Book 3 Deed 635, page 24 April 2, 1740 recorded Aug. 22, 1740 - Jacob Farrow to Charles Squires, Indian, of Arromuskeet in Currituck County, 100#, 200 acres on Hatteras Banks beginning a the north side of Cutting Sedge Marsh, by a house that Vallentine Wallis built, the sound side, Callises Dreen, sea side, witness Cornelius Jones, Thomas Dudley, signed Jacob Farrow.

The land purchased by Charles Squires is never found being sold.  It may have been lost for taxes, but it has been located at being in the Buxton area based on the location of Cutting Sedge from Baylus Brooks' "Hatteras Place Name" map.



In the book Villany Often Goes Unpunished, Indian Records from the North Carolina General Assembly Sessions 1675-1789 by William L. Byrd III, he transcribed the following 1756 entry: 


"Job Carr about Hatteras Indian lands.  I have made diligent inquiry as to the complaint of Thomas Elks indian and I find the greatest part to be erroneous…the complaint of sundry persons that came and indeavor to disposess him and the rest of the indians which is a small number for there is but (faded) man beside himself and one small boy of he male I (faded) and I have strickly examined he said Thomas Elks what pers (faded) there were that I  (faded) the indians and he answere me none but Thomas Robb Junor and demanded of he said Robb Junor his reason of his encroachment uppon the Indian Land and Robb denied he had done it or intended to do it for he dsered no more than his one and according produced a plot and pattin for a pece of land containing 320 acres which was surveyed to his grandfather Mr. Henry Dayvis in yr 17?6 [1716] beginning at the Indian Town and rainging to the northward and for the better clearning up the matter I caused Mr Hezeciah Farrow and Capt Jacob Farrow to examine the indian boundary line...for the said indians never had any grant or patting [patent] for it as ever they were acquainted with or had any knowledg of so that I conceive they have no right to compaine seaing they have no grant or patting for any lands neither is Thomas Elks intiteled to the royelty for he is but a son in law to the late King Elks desesed and part of the Maromosceat line of indians for the tru line of the Hatteras Indians are mostly dead.  Job Carr"


In 1759, William Elks and the Hatteras Indians are granted 200 acres on Hatteras Banks that includes the Indian Town.


In John Swanton's "Indians of North America", he tells us that in 1761, the Rev. Alex. Stewart baptized 7 Indians and mixed-blood children of the "Attamuskeet, Hatteras, and Roanoke" tribes and 2 years later he baptized 21 more.  Reverend Stewart goes on to say that the "Hatteras and Roanoke Indians" are "newly arrived from Roanoke Island" to live with the Mattamsukeet.


In 1770 William Elks of Hatteras sells to Isaac Farrow 100 acres and in 1771, he sells 50 acres on Hatteras Banks to George Clark. 


In 1788, Mary and Elizabeth Elks sell 200 acres of land bounded by the old Indian Town to Nathan Midgett.  It does not say it includes the Indian Town.


At this point the amount of land sold by the Elks family equals 350 acres and the land granted totals 200 acres.  We don't know how much was left in the deed to Nathan Pinkham, below.  I expect that this was the deed for the actual "Indian Town" itself, that Mary lived there until her death.


In 1802 Elizabeth Elks pens a deed to Nathan Pinkham for the "Indian lands" if her son does not reach the age of 21.  In 1823, Nathan Pinkham files that deed and margin notes indicate that all other parties are dead. 


With that, the curtain closes on the records we have concerning the Croatoan Indians.




The Hatteras Indian tribe appears to be extinct as a tribe, and was nearly so by 1756.  The last remnant appearance that we can trace is the 1823 deed filing.  Based on the 1756 legislative entry, it would appear that the last of the Hatteras married into the Mattamuskeet Indians and the tribal remnants may have gone to live among them based on Stewart's 1761 entry.  It also appears that they were significantly admixed by this time as well and as early as 1710 based on Irmstone's letter and as early as 1701 based on Lawson's observations.

Are the Hatteras really extinct, or was the tribal identity actually the only thing "dead"?  Had the balance of the Hatteras assimilated into either the European or the Mattamuskeet populations, or both?  If the Hatteras were already admixed with the colonists, as reported by Lawson in 1701, their complete assimilation, meaning when they were no longer able to be identified visually as Indians, would have happened rather quickly.  Did they move to join their kin at Mattamuskeet?   Are there any discernable remnants left?  Research is underway to answer those questions.  



Port O’ Plymouth Roanoke River Museum Records

Hold Surprise for Martin County Genealogist

We Southerners have heard the expression “Damn Yankee” all our lives.  But Jennifer Shephard, like many Southerners, never dreamed it could correctly be applied to any of her ancestors.  Discovering the service records of your ancestors is an integral part of your genealogy research.  Here's Jennifer's story of finding.....

One Yankee in a Family of Rebels!

The first military service record I received was when I was living in California.  A professional researcher I hired found it in Washington, DC.  That particular ancestor was Ashley Modlin of Martin County who served in Co. H, 1st North Carolina Infantry.  Directly under the company, in which he served were the words (Confederate) plain as day, consequently there was no question as to which side he fought on.

After that, I began to order my own Military Service records directly from the National Archives, using the form required for that purpose. As I obtained service record after service marked (Confederate) I became just a little bit proud.  I was born and raised in the South and had always considered myself somewhat of a Rebel.

Each time I sent for and received copies of Civil War Service Records of my ancestors, I got very excited. Needless to say, the excitement has never waned. I still become as excited as ever at finding information on my ancestor that I could get from no other records.

About six years ago, I sent for and received Civil War Service Records on my ancestor Samuel Stillman of Washington County, NC.  On 12 Apr 1992, I attended the reenactment of the Battle of Plymouth, in Plymouth, NC.  I have attended only one other reenactment, the one at Ft Branch, Hamilton, NC. I was not prepared for the emotions I felt while watching these reenactments. Everyone should experience at least one Civil War reenactment. Even if you are not a Civil War buff, it gives you a different perspective of what your ancestors lived through during the War Between the States.

While waiting for the battle of Plymouth to begin, I overheard a conversation between Jimmy Hardison, one of the reenactors, and a spectator.  They were discussing the battle and the fact that the Port O’Plymouth Roanoke River Museum had a computer print-out of the names of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Plymouth.   I told Jimmy I had a Civil War ancestor named Samuel Stillman and that he was from Washington County. Jimmy said he had seen that name on a list. I immediately  made plans to visit the museum, talk to Patricia Monte, the Curator, and get a look at that list of soldiers.

The following Thursday, I made the trip to the Museum in Plymouth where I  met Patricia Monte. She was very helpful and quite knowledgeable about Washington County history, although she is not a native of Washington County. Right away I got busy looking for Samuel Stillman’s name. I had no problem finding it, there it was among the other union soldiers, listed under Co. C., 1st North Carolina Infantry.  I just sat there in shock; my Samuel Stillman had fought for the North not the South as my other ancestors had. I also learned his company was not involved in the Battle of Plymouth. 

Shortly afterwards, Jimmy Hardison walked into the museum and asked me how I was doing.  I said “I’m not sure, I just found out my Samuel Stillman was a Yankee!  Jimmy responded, “I knew that and I assumed you did”.  Well I didn’t know it!  As I picked up Samuel’s service record I asked Jimmy, “How can you tell if they fought for the North?”  Before the words were out of my mouth, I noticed the words (Confederate) were not in parenthesis under the Company in which Samuel fought.

I had had those military service records in my possession for several years and had not read them thoroughly enough to know I had one Union Soldier among all my Confederates. I felt really stupid to have worked in genealogy since 1974 and not known that I had a Yankee among my ancestors; especially when I had the paperwork in my files to prove it! The lesson I learned?  Read all of the documents you obtain while researching your families and don’t stop there; be sure you review them from time to time.  You will see things you didn’t see the first or second time you read them. You want to be sure you understand all the information you have possession of, so that you can include it in your family history. 

I can’t really explain how I felt when I discovered my Union Soldier. My feelings were definitely mixed and I knew I could visit the National Archives again and look for a pension application that Sam would have filed. My friend, Luella, had found some very interesting information on her Yankee ancestors during our previous trips to the National Archives. Well, now it was my turn to find out some things about Samuel; information I could find from no other source.

While I sat there in the museum thinking about Samuel, I began to view the situation from a different perspective. I did not know, before my visit to the reenactment, that Plymouth citizens were Union sympathizers and that there was a Union Garrison in Plymouth.

When I later visited the National Archives in Washington, DC,  I located Samuel’s pension records.  Those records revealed that Samuel was married before he  married my 2rd Great Grand-mother, that all his children by his first wife had died at birth or at a young age.

Samuel’s first wife became ill with typhoid fever during their stay in Beaufort and died while they were there. In addition to this type of information, there is extensive information on the condition of his health and affidavits by neighbors (to prove he was indeed who he said he was), for the purpose of receiving a pension for his injuries.

Upon Samuel’s return [to Plymouth] he filed a claim for the loss of his horse, which was confiscated by the Union Army during the conflict.  He was paid $100.00 for it.  After his return he met my 2nd Great Grandmother, Mary Emily Modlin. They were married on 20 Jan 1867.  Included in his pension records were the names and birth dates (day, month and year) of all of their children.  This information was quite a find.  It is something you won’t find anywhere else in NC.  They didn’t begin keeping vital records until after 1913 so there are no birth or death records for anyone before that date.  Samuel’s records also revealed he suffered from “gravel” the old term for kidney stones and heart palpitations, both of which I evidently inherited from him.  Thanks a lot Grandpa. 

Reading Samuel’s application records enabled me to gain more insight into the situation Samuel and his family, as well as other families in the area, faced during the Civil War. Those families were uprooted from their homes and sent to Beaufort, NC to live under the protection of Federal Troops. How sad that they had to leave their homes and most of their possessions for the duration of the war. They probably had little left when they returned, as quite a number of farms and buildings sustained damage (some irreparable) during the conflict.

One of the documents found among Samuel’s papers was a letter written in his own handwriting.  Only a genealogist or historian can appreciate the value of such an item.  This is what he said in his letter:  “Dear Sir: In reply to your inquiry in regards to writing my name.  Yes I can write my name but some times I get people to write when I have not got my glasses.  My eyesight is very bad and I am a poor penman any way.  When I did not sign my name I made my mark.  I have stated the reason why I have made my mark at any time.  Hoping this explanation may be sufficient.  I am yours Truly, Samuel Stillman”.  This letter indicates he was well educated for his day and time.

Can you imagine having to leave your home and all your belongings, here in the US and having to live under protective custody?  I certainly can’t.  Although I’m a true southerner I hold no animosity toward my ancestor; he was brave enough to fight for what he believed in, just as my Confederate ancestors did.  He was willing to give his life if necessary for that cause.  Fortunately, he didn’t have to make the ultimate sacrifice.  On 5 Feb. 1920, he died at the age of 83 of paralysis and stroke, preceding his wife, Mary Emily by only 9 months and 7 days.  This is probably the best discovery I’ve made thus far in my genealogy research.  Not because I discovered a Union ancestor, but because his pension records revealed so much information about his family, particularly the complete dates of the children’s births.


Book Review

Grenville and the Lost Colony of Roanoke 

by Andrew Thomas Powell

By Jennifer Sheppard


Mr. Powell is in the distinctive position to have written this book as he not only lives in England but is the retired Mayor of Bideford with access to never before published information regarding the voyages. He also possesses firsthand knowledge of “Croatoan” having spent time where the colonists were said to have settled. This gives him a unique perspective on America’s greatest unsolved mystery.


I must confess, household chores and the like suffered greatly while I was reading this book because it was virtually impossible to put down! This work is concisely written, easy to read, brilliantly shared and exciting to say the least.   


The introduction of the book sums it up beautifully, from which I quote: “The story of the first attempt to colonize America by the English nation is a story of extraordinary courage, despair, misfortune, joy and simple wonder……..prepare for an adventure no Hollywood producer could hope to conjure in their wildest dreams, and remember, as you read, that this is a true story.” 


Mr. Powell leads us step by step, through the entire sequence of events undertaken to plant a permanent English settlement in what was to become the USA. He begins his book with a short biography of Sir Richard Grenville, the “unsung hero” that is “unsung” no more. Some may not be aware that Grenville made more than one voyage to what was to become America and also served as “onetime Lord of the Manor of Bideford and was almost exclusively known for being the subject of an Alfred, Lord Tennyson poem…..”


Next, Andrew Powell covers “The Voyage of Amadas and Barlowe 1584 and The Voyage of Grenville 1585.”  He moves on to include The Military Colony of 1585, Parts One and Two. Then he covers the “Voyages of 1586, The “Planters’ Colony of 1587,” “The Voyages of 1588,” “The deposition of Pedro Diaz 1585-1589,” “Raleigh’s Assignment of 1589,” and ends the transcriptions with “The Voyage of 1590.  Subsequently he includes information unknown to have been published on the “ships and captains of England” involved in these voyages, without whose participation this amazing adventure would not have been possible. 


And last but not least, Mr. Powell shares his own thoughts and analysis on “The Colonists,” including the types of  expertise the people considered for this exploration, would have had to possess in order to survive and to thrive in their new lives in an unknown wilderness. 


In the next chapter “Questions, Answers; Answers, Questions, he summarizes the “If Only’s’” revealing the possible “near misses” and “close encounters” that may have designated Croatoan as the first permanent English settlement in America rather than Jamestown.  Mr. Powell ends his work with “The Hunt for The Lost Colony” wherein he provides never before published information uncovered by The Lost Colony Research Group, Professor Mark Horton of Bristol University and the author himself, Andrew Powell. 


The footnotes containing detailed explanations of unfamiliar terms and words, found in the transcription of the original documents, are invaluable and much appreciated by the reader. This enables the reader to understand obsolete terms/words found in the journals he meticulously transcribed. As a genealogist who insists on working with primary sources whenever possible, this is certainly a plus and the fact that it is a true and accurate account of what actually happened makes it a terrific read.


I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the study of the so called “Lost Colony” and to those who truly enjoy reading a good non-fiction story which just happens to be some heretofore unknown history of what would one day become the United States of America!


The book is 302 pages,  measures 8 X 5 inches, ISBN-10: 1848765967; ISBN-13: 978-1848765962 (Troubador Publishing Ltd © 2011, 5 Weir Road, Kibworth Beauchamp, Leicester, LE8 OLQ, WW.TROUBADOR.CO.UK). The book is also available at for $16.78.  


Little Joshua Gray Tombstone Returned

"LITTLE J. GRAY BORN FEBr 13 Day 1808, DIED DED. 24, 1891, AGED 83 Yrs 10 MO and 12 DaYs" is what the marker said.  But this marker was not on the grave of the person it memorialized, it was in Sandwich, Massachusetts.  And so the mystery begins, or maybe more to the point, began to end.

Little Joshua Gray was buried to one side or the other of his daughter, Bethany, in the Grey family cemetery near the Little Kinnakeet Lifesaving Station.  But his marker was no place there to be found. 

No one knows how the marker got to Massachusetts, or when, but someone there was cleaning out a house and found it.  They took it to the police department.  The dispatcher there, a history buff, attempted to see who it belonged to, determining it was not local.  From there it went to the Town Clerk, who also had no luck with a local identification, and from there to the Sandwich Heritage Museum and Gardens.  In an attempt to find its owner, they published the information in a newsletter for the Association for Gravestone Studies.  The President of the Chesterfield Virginia Historical Society saw the article and got online and found Little Joshua, contacting the Hatteras Island Historical Society founder, Dawn Taylor. 

What you may not know is that Dawn and I with assistance from historian Kay Lynn Sheppard have been compiling a Hatteras Island Families Data Base to use as a part of the Hatteras Families DNA project.  The Hatteras Families DNA project is focused towards determining if any of the colonists survived there, and to see if we can also find some evidence of the Hatteras Indians remaining in the population. 

With the information in the data base, were immediately able to document Little Joshua's identity, birth and death, from the information on the marker, and Dawn was able to arrange for the marker to be shipped home.  The single slab of thick oak arrived back on Hatteras Island in the middle of February.  Wanda O'Neal, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Little Joshua welcomed the marker and is shown here holding it, with a little help from a friend who is probably descended from Little Joshua Gray's cat.

Dawn would like to see the marker returned to the Gray family cemetery where it belongs, but erosion is an issue as well as the fact that the grave marker would soon meet the fate of the other wooden grave markers on Hatteras Island - total decay. 

For now, the marker will be housed at the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station in Rodanthe, NC which opens April 18th for the season.  The marker will be able to be viewed there.  The Hatteras Island Genealogy Society will be raising funds to place a permanent marker of similar design on the grave.  If you'd like to participate, or to just keep up with the saga of this well traveled marker, visit the Hatteras Island Genealogy Society blog at













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