Sunday, June 15, 2014


In the April Newsletter I wrote about our need to research some areas where our
ancestors lived prior to migrating to the Clinch River Valley beginning in 1795.
When a large group of our Melungeon Progenitors left The Pamunkey River area
of Louisa and Hanover County, Virginia they migrated to the Flat River which at
that time was Granville County, North Carolina. This research is about the Flat
River area and the people who lived here and the ones who stayed. Person
County, North Carolina is bounded on the north by Virginia, on the south by
Durham and Orange counties, on the west by Caswell, and on the east by

My wife and I visited the Flat River area in Person County, North
Carolina in 1997 and took the pictures that are in my books of the Flat River and
the Flat River Primitive Baptist Church established in 1750. This area in Person
County was then Granville County, became Orange in 1752. This was the
location of the Melungeon Progenitors after selling their land in Louisa County,
Virginia they migrated to this area and lived here for at least 17 years (1749-
1767), they were sometimes enumerated as mulatto on land records and also on
a 1755 tax list.

In this area there is a tribe of Indians and I wrote about them in the first chapter
of my book, Melungeons Footprints From the Past. In the Person County Indian
Group, a school census taken in November 1936, listed 346 persons in the
community representing 76 families and the families averaged 6 to 8 children.
(2-May 1937 Louise V. Nunn-A comparison of the social situation of two Isolated Indian
Groups in Northern North Carolina. Submitted in partial requirements for a degree of
Master of Arts, Columbia University, New York, New York-.80 pages.)

Who were the 76 families of Person County Indians and who are they today ?
By Tom MacCaughelty
Durham Morning Herald, March 21, 1948

“As Indians, they never have been positively identified. Can they be, as their tradition
holds, the long sought descendants of the friendly Indians who received the colonists of
John White? Strangely enough, among the approximately 350 people in the scattered
farming community, only six family names are represented: Johnson, Martin, Coleman,
Epps, Stewart (also spelled Stuart), and Shepherd. Stranger still, three of these names
correspond closely with those among the list of Lost Colonists: Johnson, Coleman, and
Martyn. But theirs are common English names long familiar in North Carolina, and
intermarriage with the proximity to whites would be expected to extend such names
among them. (A seventh prominent name among this group is Tally.) As far back as
anyone knows, these people have displayed the manners and customs of white settlers,
but in this they don't differ from identified Indians.”

29 March 2003 – Courier-Times
State House OKs request from
Indians of Person County to change official name to ‘Sappony’
The Indians of Person County has been recognized under North Carolina law as
the "Sappony" tribe. after the House passed a bill effecting a formal name
change for the Indians of Person County, who have been officially known by that
name for the past 90 years.

Caswell County was formed from the Northern part of Orange County, North
Carolina in 1777 it included part of the Flat River, it was bounded on the North
by Pittsylvania & Halifax Counties, Virginia. From looking at land and tax records
John Collins whose land was on the Rocky Branch of the Flat River was not part
of the Collins who later became known as Melungeons. He remained in the new
1777 list
Paul Collins 1
Martin Collins 1
Middleston Collins 1,
Obadiah Collins 1,
John Collins 1
Most of the Flat River Collins began migrated to the New River area in 1767,
both John Collins Sr. & Jr. were on the 1771 tax list of Fincastle County, Virginia.
Person County was formed from Caswell County in 1791 and the Flat River was
in the new county. I didn’t find any Collins on the 1800 census of Person County
but did find an old Thomas Gibson, Edward Goin a family of 4 free colored,
Enoch? Goin 7 free colored, Allen Goan 7 free colored. Johnson is the most
popular surname on the census and is also a name among the Person County

A Startling Discovery
I received some valuable information from Sappony tribesman Stuart who told
me there was a Rolen Collins who hung out with the Person County Indians at
Woodsdale, late 1800s. Stuart also told me several from their group migrated to
Hawkins County, Tennessee, including his great grandfather Thomas Stewart
who married Eliza Epps daughter of Peter Epps, others in this group with the
Stewarts were Johnson,Shepherds, Epps and Martin. He also told me many from
this group are buried in the Jaynes/Shepherd Cemetery near Rogersville. I found
it listed in our cemetery books at the archive. It is located off Hwy 66 on the
Webb Road in the Choptack Community near Rogersville, Tennessee. I found
the cemetery Tuesday September 7, 2010.
Thirty nine people are buried there, five in unmarked graves. 5 Shephard, 7 Stuart, 3
Martin. They migrated to Hawkins County area in 1800s, their headstones are their
witness that they died in Hawkins County: John H. Stuart b 7 April 1865, died 11 June
1898; Eliza R. Stuart born 16 March 1826, died 21 May 1893.

In my conversation with the caretaker of this cemetery, a Martin, was not aware of the
Indian connection, but he did tell me years ago when the cemetery began, the land was
owned by a Shephard family. I need to find someone in this area who knows about their
ancient Person County Indian Ancestors.

Like their website reads the Person County Indians now Sappony have never
been positively identified. And their school was equally financed by Virginia and
North Carolina. The first school was built on Green Martins land in 1888 and the
cemetery in Hawkins County is run by a Martin 122 years later. I don’t find a
connection or association between this mysterious group and the Melungeons
except for the fact they lived on the same land around the Flat River in 1750.
Maybe the answer to some of this will come from the Hawkins County
descendants as this research continues.
Jack Goins


  1. Thanks for any other great article. Where else may anyone get that kind of info in such a perfect method of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m at the search for such info.

  2. Hi Jack,
    Several days ago I spoke on the phone to David Rose out in California. He suggested I look up your site and try to contact you about Goins and Harrison DNA matches.
    We have four Harrison's that have been DNA tested - all four are haplogroup E-P277 (E1b) Sub-Saharan African. They are descendants of brothers, James Harrison(1750 VA-1830 Sumner Co, TN) and Joseph Harrison (1754 VA-1819 Adams Co, MS). I have put together an Excel spreadsheet with Goins' and Harrison DNA matches. If you have an e-mail I will send it to you as an attachment.
    I am somewhat surprised that from all of the surnames, I never saw the name Harrison - even with the very close association with the Gibson's.

    James Harrison was married to Cynthia Gibson, d/o Jordon Gibson. Joseph Harrison was married to Mary Gibson, d/o Gibeon/Gideon Gibson. Cynthia and Mary Gibson are thought to be cousins.

    Excerpt from the 'Joseph Harrison Journal'. "Joseph Harrison came to North Carolina and married into the Gibson Family. When the Gibson parents died the heirs sold the home farm and migrated first to Nashville and then to Natchez, Mississippi,(Brother James remained in Nashville).

    Following are a few dates and sources putting James Harrison, Jordon Gibson and his son Roger in Sumner Co, TN:

    Excerpt from the South-Western Monthly. Nashville, April 1852. SOURCE: Google Books. EARLY HISTORY OF THE SOUTH-WEST. INDIAN BATTLES AND MURDERS—NARRATIVE OF GENERAL HALL..

    Our two neighbors were Messrs. Gibson (Jordon) and Harrison (James) ; and the former having no white family, it was agreed that the three should combine and hire each two young men to guard the farms through the.season. (This refers to Bledsoe's Fort, Sumner Co, TN) Note: "the former having no white family" referring to Jordon Gibson, father-in-law of James Harrison by way of Jordon's daughter, Cynthia. Since James was haplogroup E1b and Cynthia was 'non-white', their descendants must have an excellent chance of carrying useful DNA info.

    1786: Roger's father, Jordan Gibson, received a land grant of 640 acres by the State of NC on 17 April 1786 on the north side of Bledsoe's Lick Creek.

    1788: Roger's father, Jordan Gibson was scalped and killed during an Indian raid on the Bledsoe's Lick Creek(now Castillian Springs, Sumner Co, TN) settlement. Jordan was reported by a Mr Harrison, presumably his son-in-law James Harrison, as being "about 80" at the time of his death. Jordan's estate was then divided into 4 portions at the request of Roger Gibson, James Harrison (husband of Cynthia Gibson), and James Odom (husband of Rhoda Gibson). The 4th portion went to the Widow Black, presumably another daughter of Jordan Gibson.

    1770-1790 Census of the Cumberland Settlements (pg 20 of 49)
    Reference to James Harrison regarding the division of Jourdan Gibson's estate.

    1791: Roger Gibson was the bondsman for the marriage of John Neely and Mary Harrison. (Mary was the d/o of James and Cynthia (Gibson) Harrison)

    1850 Federal Census, Dist 18, Henderson Co, TN, Pg 7 of 9.
    Roger Gibson, age 83, born SC

    Jack, I hope I have given you enough info to show the Harrison/Gibson connection. My Ancestry tree is Harrison Family Tree2; owner: harrisonlaw1. Happy to send you an invitation.

    Best Regards, Wayne Harrison