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Ethnology of the Powhatan Tribes of Virginia

In the Ethnology of the Powhatan Tribes Frank Speck completed the third of a series of monographs dealing with the modern cultural life of communities of descendants tracing their origin from the tribes inhabiting the Chesapeake tidewater area. The future student of American folk-communities of Indian descent will find here new tribes with new trait-complexes to analyze and interpret. These contributions represent some culture aspects of the humble groups who were at the time of writing of this paper, at a climax and turning point in their history. Replete with over 100 photographs and maps, and at least that many surnames, this paper proves its value to both the historic researcher and the genealogist.

Chronology of Early Virginia History 1607-1715

1607 – Jamestown colony founded. 1609 – Based on the voyage of Henry Hudson, the Netherlands claimed the region in what are now the Middle Atlantic States. Their claim extended from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Massachusetts Bay.1 First Powhatan War (1610 to 1614) coincides with secret Dutch explorations. (See further: The Indian Wars of the Colonists of Virginia) 1611-1614 – The Admiralty of Amsterdam sent four covert voyages to North America.  The ships were captained by Jan Cornelisz Mey and Symon Willemsz Cat.2 The area between present-day Maryland and Massachusetts was explored, surveyed, and charted. 1613 – “Regular Joes” were seldom recorded by history, especially in an era where nations were ruled by kings and nobility.  There is an exception in the history of New York City.3 Dominican trader Juan Rodriguez hitched a ride on a sailing ship and then was dropped off at Manhattan Island. He was born in Santo Domingo of Portuguese and African descent. During the winter of 1613-1614, he trapped animals for pelts and traded with the local Natives.  He became the first non-Native American to live in New York. There is a high probability that if a Dominican would sail all the way to chilly Manhattan to live in a wilderness claimed by the Netherlands, many more freelance entrepreneurs from the Caribbean Basin made their way to the wilderness north of La Florida.  The region was claimed by both France and Spain, but neither nation established formal government there. Discover your family's story. Enter a grandparent's name to get started. choose a state: Any AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE...

Potomac Tribe

A small group of families, whose names are mostly Newton and Green (figs. 40, 41), represent what may be the Indians who are recorded to Potomac creek, an affluent of about eight miles north of Fredericksburg in Stafford County, Virginia. We have not, however, clear proof that these descendants are actually of Potomac identity, although they now bear the name. They are not organized definitely, nor are their numbers known, except for a rough estimate which would put them at about 150. Like most of the tidewater bands, they are engaged chiefly in fishing. Hunting has been discontinued only within the last twenty-five years by some of them who followed it as a profession. At present the Potomac group still remains unstudied. As usual, considerable folklore and some ethnological survivals may be expected to reward the labor of the patient investigator. An interesting legend is related by the older people. A version from the lips of Luther Newton, one of the more prominent men of the band, is as follows: One of the sons of Sir Isaac Newton was disowned by his father for social misdeeds. In consequence of his disgrace the young man came to America to seek his fortune. While passing through the newly formed settlements in Virginia, one day he found himself obliged to seek shelter and food at the home of a planter on the edge of the forest. As he rode his horse to the plantation gate a pretty little Indian girl moved forward, opened the gate, and held it for him to pass by. Struck by her beauty, he leaned forward, took a...

Powhatan Confederacy Burial Customs

It is to be regretted that more is not known concerning the burial customs of the Algonquian tribes of Virginia, those who constituted the Powhatan confederacy, people with whom the Jamestown Colonists came in contact during the spring of 1607. Several accounts are preserved, but unfortunately all are lacking in detail. Capt. Smith included burial customs under the general caption of their Religion, and in 1612 wrote: ” But their chiefe God they worship is the Divell. Him they call Oke and serve him more of feare than love.. They say they have conference with him, and fashion themselves as neare to his shape as they can imagine. In their Temples, they have his image evill favouredly carved, and then painted and adorned with chaines, copper, and beads; and covered with a skin, in such manner as the deformity may well suit with such a God. By him is commonly the sepulcher of their kings. Their bodies are first bowelled, then dryed upon hurdles till they bee verie dry, and so about the most of their jointer and necke they hang bracelets or chaines of copper, pearle, and such like, as they use to weare : their inwards they stuffe with copper beads and cover with a skin, hatchets, and such trash. Then lappe they them very carefully in white skins, and so rowle them in mats for their winding sheetes. And in the Tombe, which is an arch made of mats, they lay them orderly. What remaineth of this kinde of wealth their kings have., they set at their feet in baskets. These Temples and bodies are kept...

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