Hamilton McMillan

Malungeons, Redbones and Croatans

 

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Red Springs, NC

Oct 12, 1889

Mr McDonald Furman

Dear Sir

Your favor of receipt date on hand - I was much pleased in reading the slips sent me. The exodus of the Croatans English Colonists from Roanoke Island after the departure of Gov. Whte took place under the leadership of a Croatan chief, whose name was Ey-an-ac (or something like that) as appears from ancient maps discovered recently in Europe. The route as laid down on the maps which bear date of 1608 and 1610, was aross Croatan Sound and up the Roanoke River to an Indian Village - thence Southward around Pamlico Sound to a Croatan settlement on the Neuse River. From this settlement began the second exodus of the Indians and Whites or half breeds to a place on the Coharies in what is now Sampson County and to the Lumbee River and Pee Dee.

The time of their second exodus is uncertain, perhaps as late as 1650. The early immigrants to Eastern Carolina according to tradition, intermarried with the Croatans and to this fact is to be ascribed; the frequency of German, English and Irish and French ------? among these people today.

I think the name Oxendine was originally Ockenstein a German name. The families of that name show many German pecularities. The name Dial or Dole was I think Doyle an Irish name, Goins was O'Guinn (not D'Guin)Leary was O'Leary and so on.

The name among them of Blanx or Blanc is French. The early Huguenot emigrants of that name came from the Department of the Mosell and those of the family who changed the Blanc to White, its English synonym, was designated as the 'Mosell" Whites and the name is now changed to Musslewhite. The French name of Bressi is now Bracy and Turbeville is now Troublefield. The Braceys and Troublefields live on the border of North Carolina and South Carolina and never intermarried with the Croatans or "Melange".

Henry Berry Lowrie takes his Christian name from Henry Berry one of the lost colonists of Roanoke as you will see by -------? to list in pamphlet. Many of the Lowrie's settled in Robeson - others went to the French Broad in Western N.C., and those in Robeson claim that David Lowrie Swain Ex Gov. and James Lowrie Robinson late Lt Gov of this State were of their stock. The tribe once stretched from Cape Fear to Pee Dee and the Redbones of your section are a part of the tribe as are the "Melungeons" of East Tennessee. The French immigrants callled the half breeds Melange or Mixed and the term evidently has been changed to "Melungeons".

The wife of Henry Berry Lowrie was Rhoda Strong (not Oxendine) her brothers Andrew Strong and Bass Strong belonged to the outlaws. This band of outlaws was organized by a Naval Officer who escaped from Florence prison and took refuge among these people. The Confederate Soldiers on their return from the war shot old Allen Lowrie the father of Henry Berry Lowrie as stolen goods were found in his possession. This made bad blood. After peace Henry Berry Lowrie was for a time a fireman on the Carolina Central Railway till he was outlawed for some crime. Then came the reorganization of the outlaws. There was one white man Zack McLauchlin, two negroes Applewhite and "Shoemaker John" and 5 of the Croatans viz Henry Berry, Stephen and Tom Lowrie. There was an additon to the gang in the person of Henderson Oxendine who was hung.

The report of the correspondent of the Macon Telegraph that Lowrie is still living is false. There is not a bit of truth in it. He was killed at the house of Tom Lowrie. His widow soon after married again and is living in this county.

The tradition here as to the name Braboy is that it was originally 'Brave Boy" and was given by a man named "Bonnul" to one of the tribe. Bonnul was evidently Colonel Barnwell who came to our state with troops from S.C. during the war with the Tuscaroras.

The history of the people has interested me in days past but of late I have had my attentions directed almost entirely to other matters. The History of Education in N.C. I have read - Chavis, I think was of Indian stock. He was naturalized which has led some to think he was from the West Indies. He was disenfranchised in 1835 and the convention of that year his naturalization papers it is said, were exhibited to the Convention of that year. We have a Normal School for education of Croatan teachers in this county conducted by Prof. Bauder of Va. We have also a school fund for the Public Croatan Schools separate and apart from other races. Separate School ditrict and separate school committeemen.

What effect education will have on the race is a problem yet to be solved.

I am writing you at a high rate of speed but I hope you can read these lines and understand my meaning. I will be pleased to hear form you at any time.

With my best regards

I am yours truly

Hamilton MCMillan


NOTE:  This letter was written in October of 1889, the same date Dr. Swan Burnett's article was published in which he wrote that since his reading in February he had been in contact with Hamilton McMillan and now believed the origin of the Melungeons was the Drowning Creek - Pee Dee River area where the 'Croatan and Redbones' were found. Dr. Burnett mentions he will publish his findings at a later date but none have been found as yet.   Dr. C. A. Petersen mentioned this work of Burnett's when he wrote;  "Dr. Swan M. Burnett, a distinguished scholar and scientist- the husband, by the way, of Mrs. Francis Hodgson Burnett, the novelist has traced by family names  the connection between the Melungeons and the Croatans.

Hamilton McMillan, Dr. C.A. Petersen, McDonald Furman, Swan Burnett, Stephen B. Weeks and others all agreed the Redbones and Malungeons, as well as other remnant tribes were a branch of the 'Croatan" Indians.

 


 

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