Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 60 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 60 of 131)
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beyond the Chesapeake and some of its tributaries, as the southern Indians,
and those between that boundary and the Hudson, by the name Iroquois.
To their respective territories inland, we shall not, nor is it necessary to, fix
bounds, in our present business. We are aware that some writers suppose
that all the Indians, from the Mississippi to the vicinity of the Hudson, and
even to the Connecticut, were originally of the same stock. If this were the
case, the period is so remote when they spread themselves over the country,
that these great natural divisions had long since caused quite a difference in
the inhabitants which they separated ; and hence the propriety of noticing
them according to our plan.


It is said tliat tlie territory from the sea-coast to the River Allegheny, and
from the most southern waters of Jamea River up to Patuxent, in tJie state
of Maryland, was inhabited by three different nations, and that the language
of each differed essentially from the others. The English called these
nations by the names Powhatans, Manahoacs, and Monacans ; these were the
Tnscaroras. The Powhatans were the most powerful, and consisted of
several tribes, or communities, who possessed the country from the sea-coasi
ro the falls of the rivers.*

To give a tolerable catalogue of the names of the various nations of
Virginia, the Carolinas, and thence to the Mississippi, would far exceed 01 r
plan. We shall, therefore, pass to notice the chiefs of such of those nations
is are distinguished in history, pointing out, by the way, their localities, and
wnj.,ever shall appear necessary in way of elucidation, as we pass, and as we
have done in the preceding books.

\VI>GINA was first .known to the English voyagers Jlmidas and Barlow,
who landed in Virginia in the summer of 1584, upon an island called, by the
Indians, H'okokon. They saw none of the natives until the third day, when
three were observed in a canoe. One of them got on shore, and the English
went to him. He showed no signs of fear, "but spoke much to them," then
went boldly on board the vessels. After they had given him a shirt, hat,
wine, and some meat, "he went away, and in half an hour he had loaded his
canoe with fish," which he immediately brought, and gave to the English.

fVingina, at tin's time, was confined to his cabin from wounds he had lately
received in battle, probably in his war with Piamacum, a desperate and bloody

Upon the death of Granganemeo, in 1585, Wingina changed his name to
Pemissapan. He never had much faith in the good intentions of the English,
md to him was mainlv attributed the breaking up of the first colony which
settled in Virginia

It was upon me return to England of the Captains Jlmidas and Barlow.
from the country of Wingina, that Queen Elizabeth, from the wonderful
accounts of that fruitful and delightful place, named it, out of respect to
herself, Virginia; she being called the virgin queen, from her living unmar-
ried. But, with more honor to her, some have said, "Because it still seemed
to retain the virgin purity and plenty of the first creation, and the people
their primitive innocency of life and manners." f Waller referred to this
country when he wrote this :

" So sweet the air, so moderate the clime,
None sickly lives, or dies before his time.
Heav'n sure has kept this spot of earth uncurst,
To show how all things were created first."

Sir Richard Greenvil, stimulated by the love of gain, next intruded himself
upon the shores of Wingvna. It was he who committed the first outrage
upon the natives, which occasioned the breaking up of the colony which he
left behind him. He made but one short excursion into the country, during
which, by foolishly exposing his commodities, some native took from him a
silver cup, to revenge the loss of which, a town was burned. He left 108
men, who seated themselves upon the island of Roanoke. Ralph Lane, a
military character of note, was governor, and Captain Philip Jlmidas, lieutenant-
governor of this colony. They made various excursions about the country,
in hopes of discovering mines of precious inetals; in which they were a long-
time duped by the Indians, for their ill conduct towards them, in compelling
them to pilot them about. Wingina bore, as well as he could, the provoca-
tions of the intruders, until the death of the old chief Ensenore, his father.
Under pretence of honoring his funeral, he assembled 1800 of his people,
with the intention, as the English say, of destroying them. They, therefore,
upon the information of Skiko, son of the chief MENATONON, J fell upon them,
and, after killing five or six, the rest made their escape into the woods. This

* From a communication of Secretary TJiompson to Mr. Jefferson, and appended to the
Notes on Virginia, ed. of 1801.
t SMh, 11. \ Smith calls him the " lame king of Moratoc."


was done upon the island where Wingina lived, and the English first seized
upon the hoats of his visitants, to prevent their escape from the island, with
the intention, no doubt, of murdering them all. Not long after, " Wingina
was entrapped by the English, and slain, with eight of his chief men."

MENATOXOX was king of the Chawonocks, and OKISKO of the Weopo-
meokes, "a powerful nation, possessing all that country from Albemarle
Sound and Chowan River, quite to the Chesapeakes and our bay." * At this
time, Menatonon was lame, and is mentioned as the most sensible and under-
standing Indian with whom the English were at first acquainted. It was he
that made Lane and his followers believe in the existence of the mine already
mentioned. " So eager were they," says Mr. Stith, "and resolutely bent upon
this golden discovery, that they could not be persuaded to return, as long as
they had one pint of corn a man left, and two mastiff dogs, which, being
boiled with sassafras leaves, might afford them some sustenance in their way
back." After great sufferings, they arrived upon the coast again.

The reason why Menatonon deceived the English, was because they made
him a prisoner for the purpose of assisting them in making discoveries.
After he was set at liberty, he was very kind to them. Two years after,
when Governor Jf'hite was in the country, they mention his wife and child ae
belonging to Croatan, but nothing of him.

White and his company landed at Roanoke, 22 July, 1587, and sent 20 men
to Croatan, on Point Lookout, with a friendly native called MA> T TEO, to see
if any intelligence could be had of a former colony of 50 men left there by
Sir Richard Greenvil. They learned, from some natives whom they met, that
the people of Dassamonpeak, on what is now Alligator River, had attacked
them, killed one, and driven the others away, but whither they had gone
none could tell. One of their present company, a principal man of their
government, had also been killed by the same Indians. This tribe and
several others had agreed to come to Roanoke, and submit themselves to the
English ; but not coming according to appointment, gave the English an
opportunity to take revenge for former injuries. Therefore, Captain Stafford
and 24 men, with Manteo as a guide, set out upon that business. On coming
to their village, " where seeing them sit by the fire, we assaulted them. The
miserable soules amazed, fled into the reeds, where one was shot through,
and we thought to have been fully revenged, but we were deceived, for they
were our friends come from Croatan to gather their corn ! " " Being thus
disappointed of our purpose, we gathered the fruit we found ripe, left the
rest unspoiled, and took Menatonon, his wife with her child, arid the rest with
us to Roanoak."f But to return to Wingina.

While the English were upon the errand we have been speaking of, Win-
gina pretended to be their friend, but deceived them on every opportunity,
by giving notice to his countrymen of their course and purpose, and urging
them to cut them off. He thought, at one time, that the English were
destroyed, and thereupon scoffed and mocked at such a God as theirs, who
would suffer it. This caused his father, Ensenore, to join their enemies, but on
their return he was their friend again. He, and many of his people, now
believed, say the voyagers, that "we could do them more hurt being dead,
rlian liuing, and that, being an hundred myles from them, shot, and struck
iiem sick to death, and that when we die it is but for a time, then we return
u r ain." Many of the chiefs now came and submitted themselves to the Eng-
sh, and, among others, Ensenore was persuaded again to become their friend,
vho, when they were in great straits for provisions, came and planted their
fields, and made wears in the streams to catch fish, which were of infinite
benefit to them. This was in the spring of 1586, and, says Lane, "we not
having one corn till the next harvest to sustain us." What added greatly to
r heir distresses, was the death of their excellent friend Ensenore, who died
^Oth of April following. The Indians began anew their conspiracies, and the
i-olony availed themselves of the first opportunity of returning to England,

* Stith's Virginia, 14. By "our ba) " is meant James River Bay.
1 Smith's Hist. Virginia.


was in the fleet of Sir Francis Drake, which touched there in its way
from an expedition against the Spaniards in the West Indies.*

The conduct of Lane and his company in this fruitless attempt to establish
themsehes in Virginia, was, in the highest degree, reprehensible. They put
to deatli SOUK- of the natives on the most frivolous charges, and no wonder
they were driven out of the country, as they ought to have been, f While
they w< re then 1 , they became acquainted with the use of tobacco, and, taking
it to Kngjand, its introduction into general use soon rendered it a great article
of commerce. And here it will not be improper to notice how many different
persons have had the credit, or, perhaps, I should say discredit, of introducing
this "Indian weed" into England ; as, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Ralegh,
Ralph Lane, and some others. Now, as some writer observes, the reader may
tin her it upon whom he pleases, as it is evident Sir Francis Drake took Ralph
Lane and tobacco both together into England ; and no one will dispute the
agency of the gallant knight, Sir Walter Ralegh, for he sent out Lane in his
employ. Mr. John Josselyn, in his "Two Voyages to N. England," has this
passage : " Others will have tobacco to be first brought into England from
Peru, by Sir Francis Drake's mariners."

There were many who affected a violent disgust towards the use of tobac-
co ; the most conspicuous was King James, whose mind seems to have been
just weak enough to fight windmills. He even wrote a book denouncing its
use in the severest terms he could command. It grew spontaneously in WID-
gandacoa, (Virginia,) and the natives called it Uppowoc. It is generally sup-
posed to be called tobacco from the island Tobago, but this derivation is much
questioned. J

GRANGANEMEO was a chief very favorably spoken of. As soon as the arrival
of the English was made known to him, he visited them with about 40 of his
men, who were very civil, and of a remarkably robust and fine appearance.
When they had left their boat, and came upon the shore near the ship,
Granganemeo spread a mat and sat down upon it. The English went to him
armed, but lie discovered no fear, and invited them to sit down ; after which
he performed some tokens of friendship ; then making a speech to them, they
presented him with some toys. None but four of his people spoke a word,
or sat down, but maintained the most perfect silence. On being shown a
pewter dish, he was much pleased with it, and purchased it with 20 deer-
skins, which were worth, in England, one hundred shillings sterling! ! The
dish he used as an ornament, making a hole through it, and wearing it about
his neck. While here, the English entertained him, w r ith his wife and
children, on board their ship. His wife had in her ears bracelets of pearl,
which reached to her middle. Shortly after, many of the people came out of
the country to trade, " but when Granganemeo was present, none durst trade
but himself, and them that wore red copper on their heads as he did." He
was remarkably exact in keeping his promise, " for oft we trusted him, and
he would come within his day to keep his word." And these voyagers further
report, that "commonly he sent them every day a brace of bucks, conies,
hares, and fish, and sometimes melons, walnuts, cucumbers, pease, and divers

In their wanderings, Captain Amidas and seven others visited the island of
Roanoake, where they found the family of Granganemeo living in great com-
fort and plenty, in a little town of nine houses. The chief w r as not at home,
" but his wife entertained them with wonderful courtesy and kindness. She
made some of her people draw their boat up, to prevent its being injured by
the beating of the surge ; some she ordered to bring them ashore on their
backs, and others to carry their oars to the house, for fear of being stole.
When they came into the house, she took off' their cloathes and stockings.
and washed them, as likewise their feet in warm water. When their dinner
was ready, they were conducted into an inner room, (for there were five in

* Relation of Lane, printed in Smith's Virginia.

t Herriot's Observations, (one of Lane's company,) printed 'n Smith.

| Stith's Hist. Virginia, 19. See Book ii. Chap. ii.

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the house, divided by mats,) where they found hominy,* boiled venison) and
roasted fish ; and, as a desert, melons, boiled roots, and fruits of various sorts.
While they were at meat, two or three of her men came in with their bows
?nd arrows, which made the English take to their arms. But she, perceiving
their distrust, ordered their bows and arrows to be broken, and themselves to
be beaten out of the gate. In the evening, the English returned to their boat ;
and, putting a little off from shore, lay at anchor ; at which she was much
concerned, and brought their supper, half boiled, pots and all to the shore :
and, seeing their jealousy, she ordered several men, and 30 women, to sit all
night upon the shore, as a guard ; and sent five mats to cover them from the
weather." f Well hath the poet demanded, "Call ye them savage?" If the
wife of Granganemeo was savage, in the common acceptation of the term,
where shall we look for civilization ?

Sir R. Greenvil, having arrived on the coast in 1585, anchored off the island
Wokokon, 26 May, and, by means of Manteo, had some intercourse with the
inhabitants. At Hatteras, where they staid a short time, soon after, Gran-
ganemeo, with Manteo y went on board their ships. This was the last visit 1;;:
made to the English, for he died veiy soon after.

This must close our account of the excellent family of Granganemeo* and
would that the account of the English would balance as well, but they exhibit
their own, and one item more from it, and we close the comparison. For a
small kettle they took 50 skins, worth in England 12 10s. sterling. f
We have now arrived at the most interesting article in Virginia history.
POWHATAN was, of all the chiefs of his age, the most famous in the regions
of Virginia. The English supposed, at first, that his was the name of the
country ; a common error, as we have seen in several cases in the previous
books of our biography, but, in this case, unlike the others, the error pre-
vailed, and a part of his people, ever after the settlement of the English, were
called the Powhatans. A great river, since called the James, and a bay re-
ceived his name also. He had three brothers, Opitchepan, Opekankanouglt,
and Catatanughj and two sisters. His principal residence was at a place
called IVerowocomoco, when the English came into the countiy ; which was
upon the north side of what is now York River, in the county of Gloucester,
nearly opposite the mouth of Queen's Creek, and about 25 miles beloAV the
fork of the river. || He lived here until the English began to intrude them-
selves into his vicinity, when he took up his residence at Orakakes.

Powhatan was not his Indian name, or rather original name ; that was
Wahunsonacock. He is described as tall and well-proportioned bearing an
aspect of sadness exceedingly vigorous, and possessing a body capable of
sustaining great hardships. He was, in 1607, about 60 $ r ears of age, and his
hair was considerably gray, which gave him a majestic appearance. At his
residence, he had a kind of wooden form to sit upon, and his ornamental
robe was of raccoon skins, and his head-dress was composed of many feath-
ers wrought into a kind of crown. He swayed many nations upon the great
rivers and bays, the chief of whom he had conquered. He originally claimed
only the places called Powhatan, (since named Haddihaddocks,) ArrohattocK
(now Appomattox,) Youghtanund, Pamunky, Mattapony, Werowocomoco.
and Kiskiak ; at which time, his chief seat was at Powhatan, near the falls of
James River. But when he had extended his conquests a great way north,
he removed to Werowocomoco, as a more commodious situation.

At the termination of his warlike career, the countiy upon James River,
from its mouth to the falls, and all its branches, was the boundary of his
L-ountry, southerly and so across the country, " nearly as high as the falls of
ill the great rivers, over Potowmack, even to Patuxent, in Maryland," ami

* " A food made of Indian corn, or maize, beaten and carefully husked, something like
urmety in England ; and is an excellent dish various ways."

t Stith's Hist. Virginia, 10, 11. t Smith's Hist. Virginia.

These, according to Heckewelder, Philos. Trans. 31, should have been called Powhathan,
" which would signify the river of progeny, fruitfulness, the fruitful river."

|| About two miles below where Richmond now stands. The farm of a gentleman of the
mine of Mayo included the site of a part of his town, in 1813. Campbell's Virginia.


some of the nations on the north shore of the Chesapeake. His dominion:-,
according to his law of succession, did not fall to his children, Imt to hi-
brothers, afid then to his sisters, (the oldest first,) thence to the heirs of the
oldest ; hut never to the heirs of the males.

He usually kept a guard of 40 or 50 of the most resolute and well-formed
men ahont him, especially when he slept; hut, after the English came into his
country, he increased them to ahont 200. He had as many, and such women
as he pleased ; and, when he slept, one sat at his head and another at his feet.
When he was tired of any of his wives, he bestowed them upon such of I; is
men as most pleased him. Like the New England chiefs, he had many plaei s
where he passed certain seasons of the year; at some of which he had ven
spacious wigwams, 30 or 40 yards in extent, where he had victuals provided
against his coming.

In 1(508, he surprised the people of Payankatank, who were his neighbor-
and subjects. Captain Smith, in the account, "writ with his own hand" says,
" the occasion was to vs vnknowne, but the manner was thus." He sent sev-
eral of his men to lodge with them the night on which he meant to fall upon
them; then, secretly surrounding them in their wigwams, commenced a horrid
slaughter. They killed 24 men, took off their scalps, and, with the women
and children prisoners, returned to the sachem's village. The scalps they
exhibited upon a line between two trees, as a trophy, and the werowance, (their
name of a chief) and his wife Powhatan made his servants.

Up to the year 1607, every attempt to settle a colony in Virginia had failed;
and, at this time, would have failed also, but for the unexampled perseverance
of one man. I need but pronounce the name of Captain JOHX SMITH. The
colony with which he came did not arrive until the planting season was over ;
and, in a short time, they found themselves in a suffering condition, from want
nf suitable provisions. Smith, therefore, undertook to gain a supply by traffick-
ing with the Indians back in the country, who, being acquainted with his
situation, insulted him and his men wherever they came ; offering him but a
handful of corn, or a piece of bread, for a gun or a sword. "But seeing by
t.-ade and courtesie there was nothing to be had, he made bold to try such
conclusions as necessitie inforced, though contrary to his commission." So
!.e fired upon them, and drove them into the woods. He then marched
to their village. There they found corn in abundance, which, after some
manoeuvring, he succeeded in trading for, and returned with a supply to

Smith, soon after, proceeded to discover the source of the Chikahamania.
When he had passed up as far as it was navigable for his barge, he left it in a
wide place, at a safe*, distance from the shore, and ordered his men not to go
on shore on any condition. Taking two of his own men and two Indians, he
proceeded to complete his discovery. As soon as he was gone, his men went
on shore ; one was killed, and the rest hardly escaped. Smith was now 20
miles into the wilderness. Opekankanough, with 300 warriors, having learned,
from the men they had just taken, which way he was gone, followed after him,
and came upon the two Englishmen belonging to his company, and killed
them both while asleep, he being absent to shoot some fowls for provisions ;
they then continued their pursuit after him. He was not far from his canoe,
and endeavored to retreat to it, but, being hard pressed, made a shield of one
of his Indians, and, in this manner, fought upon the retreat, until he had killed
three, and wounded divers others. Being obliged to give all his attention to
his pursuers, he accidentally fell into a creek, where the mud was so deep that
he could not extricate himself. Even now, none dared to lay hands upon him :
and those whom their own numbers forced nearest to him, were observed to
tremble with fear. The Indian he had bound to his arm with his garters,
doubtless saved him from being killed by their arrows, from which, owing to
his Indian shield, he received but very little hurt, except a wound in his
thigh, though his clothes were shot full of them.

When he could stand no longer in the rnire, without perishing with cold,
he threw away his arms, and suffered them to come and take him. After
pulling him out of the mire, they took him to the place where his men had
just been killed, where there was a fire. They now showed him kindness


rubbing his benumbed limbs, and warming him by the fire. He asked for
their chief, and Opekankanough appeared, to whom he gave a small compass.
This amused them exceedingly. "Much they marvelled at the playing of the
fly and needle, which they could see so plainly, and yet not touch it, because
of the glass that covered them. But when he demonstrated, by that globe-like
iewell, the roundnesse of the earth, and skies, the spheare of the smme, and
moono, and starres, and how the sunne did chase the night round about the
world, continually the greatnesse of the land and sea, the diversity of the
nations, varietie of complexions, and how we were to them antipodes, and
many other such like matters, they all stood as amazed with admiration ! "
Yet, notwithstanding he had such success in explaining to them his knowledge
of geography and astronomy, (how much of it they understood we will not
undertake to say,) within an hour after, they tied him to a tree, and a multitude
of them seemed prepared to shoot him. But when their bows were bent,
Opekankanough held up his compass, and they all laid down their weapons.
They now led him to Orapakas, or Orakakes, a temporary seat of Poivhatan.
on the north side of Chikahominy swamp, in what is now Gloucester county
on York river.* Here they feasted him, and treated him wjl.

Wh^n they marched him, they drew themselves up in a row, with their
chief in the midst, before whom the guns and swords they had taken from the
English were borne. Smith came next, led by three great men hold of each
arm, and on each side six more, with their arrows notched, and ready, if he

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 60 of 131)