The Mattamuskeet Documents
A Study in Social History
By Patrick H. Garrow


The Reservation Period

The Post Reservation Period (1761 - 1792)

The Reservation Period

The last phase of the Tuscarora War ended in 1715 when the Colonial Council made peace with the warring Indians. The surviving fragments of the shattered coastal tribes were given permission to settle in the Lake Mattamuskeet area. The Council position was reiterated in 1718 when it ordered illegal settlers on Indian land to leave (Johnson 1972, 211-212).

Settlement pressure by whites was the greatest problem that the Indians at Mattamuskeet faced after the Tuscarora War. King Squires and King Mackey of Mattamuskeet requested that their lands be surveyed and conveyed as a formal grant to the group in 1724. The Colonial Council concurred with this request, and ordered the surveyor general to survey a four mile square area for the reservation (Johnson 1972, 212). The land grant was not formally approved by the Council until 1 April 1727, and it is apparent from the wording of the grant that the reservation had not been surveyed as ordered by the Council (see appendices 3 and 4).

The original grant document for the reservation has survived, and is currently on file in the Land Grant Library in the North Carolina Secretary of State's office. According to this document, the reservation began, "... at the Mouth of Old Mattamuskeet creek, runing up that creek and the Northern most branch of it to the head thereof, thence to the Lake SoWs _____ (gap) pole, then along the Lake Southerly to Matchapungo Bluff Woods, then NoEs to Pamlicoe sound, from thence along Pamlicoe sound to the first Station... (see appendix 4)." Careful study of subsequent deeds and historical maps on file with the North Carolina Archives indicates that the reservation ran from modern Engelhard on the north, to below Wyesocking Bay on the south. The Reservation included the land from Pamlico Sound to Lake Mattamuskeet between those two points. If this reconstruction is correct, the reservation measured approximately five by nine miles, well over twice the 10,240 acres mentioned in the original grant. This error is hardly surprising considering the roughness of the terrain, the isolation of the area, and the lack of an actual survey. The 1727 land grant indicates that "King Squires", and King Squires alone, was the chief of the Indians at Mattamuskeet. The reservation was given to the Indians in exchange for two buckskins and an annual quitrent of one shilling per one hundred acres. The Colonial Council granted all rights of the land with the exception of half the value of all gold and silver mines that might be discovered (see appendix 4).

The Indians at Mattamuskeet had begun selling land even before receipt of the formal grant from the Council. The Beaufort County Records contain a notation concerning a land sale as early as 1717 between the chief of the Mattamuskeets and a white settler named Richard Jasper (see appendix 2). Land sales began in earnest in 1731. Twenty-nine deeds were entered on reservation lands in the Hyde County Records between that time and 8 June 1761. It is probable that a number of additional deeds were drawn up and land sales completed during that period since several deeds were entered in neighboring Currituck County. The Currituck County Records have not survived intact, and the surviving records were not thoroughly checked during this research. The available deeds offer valuable insights concerning the Mattamuskeet Reservation, and make possible a limited reconstruction of the social structure that was present.

The population on the Mattamuskeet Reservation was apparently never very large. The main groups that made up the reservation in 1715 were the Coree and Machapunga - groups that had long been enemies. There is no evidence that the Coree group remained at Mattamuskeet for any length of time, and it is probably safe to assume that the Coree rejoined their traditional allies, the Tuscarora, at the earliest opportunity. The documents do not indicate the size of the group prior to 1731, but Governor Burrington indicated that about twenty families resided on the reservation in that year (Johnson 1972, 212). The Colonial records state that only eight or ten people lived on the reservation in 1755 (Johnson 1972, 212), and the 1761 deed which terminated the reservation contained the signatures of only six adult males.

Relatively few surnames occur on the Mattamuskeet land deeds. The surnames Squires, Mackey, Long Tom, and Russell are present. It is likely that the single individual with the Russell surname was in actuality a Mackey. The Squires family was presumably the largest one on the reservation. Five different individuals with the surname Squires were represented on deeds from 1731 to 1761. Two individuals with the Long Tom surname signed deeds during this period. Although there are slight differences in the way the name appears, it is apparent from documents after the Reservation period that Long Tom was the proper surname for these individuals (see the 1792 deed, appendix 34, as an example). The Mackey surname was represented by at least one, and in all probability, three individuals. There is some confusion concerning one of the individuals, as he was called "Joseph Russell Mackey" on a deed dated 1748/49, and Joseph Russell on deeds dated 1747, 1746, and 1761 (see appendices 16, 14, 27, and 33). The Squires, Mackey and Long Tom surnames were not represented among the early white settlers in Hyde County.

Leadership on the reservation from at least 1718 to 1746 was provided by John Squires. He is described in the documents as being the "chief" or "king" of the group. He was apparently assisted in this role by at least two advisors. A 1731 deed infers that John Mackey and Long Tom acted as his advisors, but none of the deeds indicate that this was a formal arrangement (see appendix 5). The deeds convey the impression that the reservation was largely held together by the leadership of John Squires during his lifetime, but offer few insights into his nature. The Beaufort County Records contain a will prepared by John Squires and entered into the records in 1723. The will reads as though it was written by a missionary and is not very specific. The will left his entire worldly estate to his wife, Mary Squires (see appendix 1). John Squires took a direct role in all of the recorded land sales on the reservation until 1746. John Squires apparently died in late spring or summer, 1746. This is deduced from the fact that he was indirectly involved in a land sale on 22 April of that year, but was not mentioned in a land sale concluded on 20 August 1746 (see appendices 12 & 13). Subsequent references to John Squires in deeds indicate that he was deceased.

Charles Squires, son of John Squires, was described as "King of the Arromoskeet Indians" on a deed dated 24 February 1747/8 (see appendix 15). His title was listed as "Proprietor of Arromuskeet" in a 1749 deed (see appendix 18). Charles Squires retained that title until at least 1752, when he attempted two deeds of sale, and one lease for the entire reservation (see appendices 21, 22, and 23). The deeds do not reflect a clearcut leader on the reservation between 1752 and 1760. A deed drawn up 15 September 1760, indicated that George Squires, brother of Charles Squires and son of John Squires, shared the title of chief with James Tom (see appendix 30). This is the only deed after 1752 which gives insight into the leadership of the group. The general impression conveyed by the documents is that the group lacked cohesion and meaningful leadership during the latter stages of the reservation period. The entire reservation was sold in 1761 to three white settlers. The deed was apparently signed by all of the heads of household residing on the reservation at that time. A total of six individuals signed that deed (see appendix 33).

The leadership pattern suggested by the deeds gives only a superficial insight into the powers of the leader of the Mattamuskeet during the Reservation period. The leader at that time did not have the power or support accorded chiefs of the area in earlier times. The chief no longer resided in a village that was the center of religious and political activity. Also, there is no evidence that the members of the group provided the chief with his means of support. There is no indication that the position was inherited through the mother as Haag (1958, 17) and others have implied. It is apparent that the population simply was not large enough to sustain the leadership structure as it had been constituted in earlier times.

The major role of the chief of the Mattamuskeet appears to have been to act as a representative from the group to the white authorities. John Squires represented the interests of the group in land sales during his lifetime, and probably acted as an arbitrator of disputes within the group. Charles Squires appears to have alienated his own people with his attempted land dealings. The two 1752 attempted sales of the reservation were not signed by all of the individuals listed on the deed. Although these were the only deeds of sale made from 1731 to 1761 that were entered in the Land Grants Office, the sales were rejected by the group. The rejection of these deeds of sale and the lease which accompanied them (see Appendices 21, 22, and 23) was also a rejection of Charles Squires' position of leadership. The events which followed indicated that the group was neither large enough nor cohesive enough to cope with that crisis.

The settlement pattern depicted by the Mattamuskeet deeds was one of dispersed homesteads located primarily along the major creeks on the Reservation. The home of John Squires was located at the mouth of New Mattamuskeet Creek (Middle Creek, currently called Middletown Creek). His "plantation" was a tract of 150 acres which ran for 291.5 yards at the mouth of the creek, and south for a mile along the high land facing the marsh at the edge of Pamlico Sound. This homestead was the most centrally located tract on the reservation in terms of water travel. John Squires sold his "plantation" to Francis Credle, a white settler, in 1742 for 100 North Carolina Pounds (see appendix 11). Long Tom's homestead was seemingly located west of John Squires' home and on the shore of Lake Mattamuskeet. His homestead was called "Long Tom's rice patch," and consisted of sixty-five acres. Long Tom sold his homestead to Casson Brinson, a white settler, in 1746 for six Pounds Virginia Currency (see appendix 12). John Mackey, Joseph Russell Mackey, and George Squires had their homesteads along Wiasocken Creek. A deed drawn in 1748 indicates that the homesteads of John Mackey and George Squires were probably on adjoining tracts (see appendix 17). Joseph Russell Mackey's homestead was evidently located on a one hundred-acre tract that he purchased from John Mackey in 1748/49 (see appendix 16). That tract was across Wiasocken Creek from John Mackey's homestead. It was not possible to pinpoint the homesteads of the remaining Mattamuskeets, but the distribution of those tracts probably reflected the pattern outlined above.

Haag, in his discussion of the settlement pattern of the Algonkian groups in the general area, pointed out that ethnographic accounts described a pattern of dispersed homesteads located around central villages. The villages were small, and were inhabited by members of the leadership structure. Individuals who were not members of the leadership structure lived on homesteads placed in areas that could sustain the form of agriculture practiced. Haag stated that his survey reflected this settlement pattern for northeast North Carolina (1958, 16).

Within the perspective of the early ethnographic accounts and the validation of those accounts by Haag, the Mattamuskeet settlement pattern assumes new meaning. John Squires' homestead replaced the central village present in earlier times. The group size was simply too small for the central village structure to have survived. The remainder of the group lived dispersed throughout the reservation on tracts that were suited for their form of agriculture. The Mattamuskeet settlement pattern was perhaps a variation of an earlier pattern, and was at least partially the product of restricted group size and constricted territory.

The subsistence pattern of the Mattamuskeets during the Reservation period could not be adequately reconstructed from the available data. The individual "plantations": mentioned in the deed allows the inference that agriculture on some scale was practiced on the reservation. The term "Long Tom's rice patch" used on the 22 April 1746 deed implies this crops was grown, but that could not be determined with certainty (see appendix 12). Several deeds use terms like "houses Orchards & Gardens fenses" when referring to what may be improvements on those tracts, but that may have been a legal convention rather than an attempt to describe what was present. Charles Squires did retain the hunting rights on the reservation for the Mattamuskeets in his attempted 1752 lease document (see appendix 22). This may indicate that hunting was still an important pursuit on the reservation, but equally, it may reflect Charles Squires' major subsistence pursuit or other factors.

A full description of the subsistence pattern of the Mattamuskeets in the Reservation period must await the results of future archaeological research in that area. This is also true of data on the degree of acculturation of the group in that period, and the specifics of the material culture. It is unfortunate that no Mattamuskeet estate inventories were found in the Hyde County Records, but these questions can, and hopefully will, be answered by archaeological research in the future.

The final sale of the reservation in 1761 was the product of several factors. Population decline probably played a major role, as did the-lack of adequate leadership. The population of the Mattamuskeet reservation had never been very large. Governor Burrington indicated that twenty families lived there in 1731 (Johnson 1972,1 212), but that number had fallen to six families in 1761. Also, the individuals who made up the original leadership of the group had all died before the final land sale. As previously mentioned, John Squires apparently died in 1746. Long Tom, who acted as one of two advisors to John Squires, did not appear on any deed after 1746, and probably died around that time. John Mackey, who was probably the son of the John Mackey mentioned on the 1724 request to the Colonial Council for a formal survey of Mattamuskeet lands (Johnson 1972, 212), did not appear on land deeds after 1755. John Mackey had served as the other advisor to John Squires, and had assumed a rather important role in land transactions after his death. The death of John Mackey appears to have removed the last obstacle to the sale of the reservation, since he was the last of the old leadership remaining on the reservation.

There is some indication from the deeds that the Squires family began to break up after the death of John Squires. George Squires, son of John Squires, was listed as living in Tyrrell County on deeds dated 1755 and 1756 (see appendices 24 & 28). George Squires returned to Hyde County in 1760, but the deeds leave the impression that he returned mainly to dispose of land. The Squires family evidently left the Mattamuskeet area completely after the sale of the reservation, and were not mentioned in any type of document from the area after that time. The entire reservation was sold to Thomas Jones, William Cummings, and Bartholomew Coin in 1761 for 100 Pounds Sterling. The deed transferred the reservation basically as described in the 1727 Land Grant, although a major part of the land had already been sold between 1731 and 1761. Certainly the most desirable land had been sold prior to 1761. The purchase price indicates that the 1761 buyers were aware of that factor. Six individuals signed the 1761 deed. They were probably the male heads of households remaining on the reservation. Those individuals were: Charles Squires, George Squires, Timothy Squires, James Tom, John Squires, and Joses Russell. James Tom was probably related to Long Tom. If so, the correct surname should have been Long Tom. Joses Russell appears to have been Joseph Russell Mackey. The Mackey surname still present in Hyde County was probably passed on through that individual (see appendix 33).

Little has survived in the records concerning the Mattamuskeets from 1761 to 1792. Rev. Alexander Stewart visited the Mattamuskeets in 1761 and 1763, and left brief accounts of his visits. Stewart reported after his 1761 visit that the Mattamuskeets were residing with a few Roanoke and Hatteras Indians who had moved to their area. He notes the baptismal of two men, three women, and two children during that visit. Stewart established a school at Mattamuskeet when he returned in 1763. He baptized six adults and fifteen children at that time. Stewart remarked that the Indians at Mattamuskeet had mixed with whites, but did not indicate whether this mixture was residential or racial (Johnson 1972, 213).

The Post Reservation Period (1761 - 1792)

The Mattamuskeets were, as indicated previously, joined by Indians from Roanoke and Hatteras Island by 1761. The names of these individuals were not identified on any of the extant deeds. This could mean the Indians from those areas moved to the Mattamuskeet area at a period later than that covered by the available records. Individuals with Mattamuskeet surnames do not occur in the Hyde County Records from 1761 to 1792. In fact, there is reference to only a single Indian during that time. This reference appeared in the Hyde County Court Minutes of 1765. It called for William Gibbs to show cause why an Indian woman named Cati Collins should not be set free. It is not clear from the reference whether William Gibbs was holding Cati Collins as an apprentice or a slave. The outcome of the show cause order could not be determined due to a break in the County Court Minutes from 1765 to 1767 (see appendix 35). Cati Collins may have been a member of one of the groups that moved to the area from Roanoke and Hatteras Islands.

This document is particularly significant since the Collins family's later history closely paralleled that of the individuals with Mattamuskeet surnames. Also, the Collins descendants now residing in Hyde County are thought to be of at least partially Indian descent.

The only other reference to Indians in the area that could be located during this research was a notation in a book by David Stick (1958, 73). According to Stick, an Indian woman named Mary Elks sold the site of the Indian town of Hatteras to a white settler named Nathan Midyett in 1788. Individuals with the Elks surname do occur in the Hyde County Records as "free persons of color" during the nineteenth century. This surname has apparently disappeared from Hyde County.

The last reference to the Indians at Mattamuskeet as a group was on a deed of sale dated 2l November 1792 (see appendix 34). According to this document, a group of seven Mattamuskeets sold the entire original reservation to a white resident named Hutchens Selby for 50 Pounds. It is quite obvious that the group sold land that they did not own, but the deed was accepted by the Hyde County Court, and was entered in the Hyde County Record of Deeds by the Registrar on 9 April 1793. The description of the tract was essentially the same as given on the original Land Grant of 1727, and the original grant was referenced by data in this deed. There is no subsequent mention of this deed in the Hyde County Records and it is evident that Hutchens Selby did not pursue his claim.

The 1792 deed was signed by five females and two males. The position of the signatures of the two males on the deed, and subsequent documents, indicates that the two were children. One of the female signers also appears to have been a child. The four adults who signed the deed were: Patience McKey (Mackey), Mary Longtom, Jean Longtom, and Marthey Longtom. The children were Tabithy and Timothy McKey (Mackey) and John Longtom.

The absence of adult males on the 1792 deed is difficult to explain. It is possible that adult male heads of family were present and simply did not take part in the sale, but that does not appear to be very likely. It is more likely that the households were headed by females, and that the male-oriented nuclear family arrangement inferred on the earlier deeds had broken down. This impression is confirmed to a degree by supportive documents for apprentice bonds drawn up in 1804 (see appendix 36). A possible explanation for this situation is that the 1792 group reflected the end product of movement away from Hyde County by the Mattamuskeet descendants. The males in the group would have been a bit more mobile than the female group members, since it would have been somewhat easier for them to make a living in the larger society of that day. Under this interpretation, at least some of the females in the group were simply left behind in this out migration. Whatever the reason, the 1792 deed pictures a group in the final stages of social disintegration. Thus, the tendency towards social breakdown noted in the later deeds from the 1731-1761 period had culminated in virtual disappearance of the group by 1792. The Mattamuskeet descendants still retained an awareness of their heritage in 1792. Even that would disappear in the century that followed.

Copyright 2001
Carolina Algonkian Project