north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Marker Text:

Essay:
     Tuscarora Indians in eastern North Carolina were divided into two factions in the early eighteenth century. The Northern Tuscarora or Upper Towns were led by Chief Tom Blunt and the Southern or Lower Towns by Chief Hancock. When European settlers began entering the Tuscarora territory, they brought disease and often engaged in trade which was unfair to the native people, some of whom they enslaved. Chief Hancock grew tired of being exploited. In early September 1711 the Tuscarora captured the organizers of the settlement at New Bern, Christopher von Graffenried, John Lawson, and two of their slaves. Lawson was tortured and murdered. Graffenreid was released because the Tuscarora believed that he was the governor of the colony.

     Later that month Chief Hancock led his people into white settlements along the Trent and Pamlico rivers and massacred white men, women, and children, launching the Tuscarora War. The colonial government of North Carolina was aided by Virginia and South Carolina. Indians in surrounding areas who had been enemies of Hancock and his tribe came to his side. The decisive battle came in March 1713 at the Tuscarora stronghold of Nooherooka in what is now Greene County. The war ended in 1717.

     Chief Tom Blunt and the Northern Tuscarora tribe were rewarded for helping the white settlers during the war and for capturing Chief Hancock. The colonial government gave Chief Blunt a tract of 53,000 acres, on the north side of the Roanoke River in what is now southwestern Bertie County. The area came to be known as Indian Woods. Indians declining to settle on the tract left North Carolina and settled in Niagara County, New York. They eventually joined the Five Nations of Indians in the area.

     In 1828, the Tuscarora still remaining in North Carolina gave up their title and rights to Indian Woods. Around 645 Tuscarora families remained and moved to other parts of North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina.


References:
Walter Clark and William L. Saunders, eds., The Colonial Records of North Carolina and The State Records of North Carolina, II, VI, VII, XXIII
Alan D. Watson, Bertie County: A Brief History (1982)
Theda Perdue, Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina (1985)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 185-186—sketch of Thomas Blunt by F. Roy Johnson (2006)
Frederick Webb Hodge, Handbook of American Indians, North of Mexico (1910)
Bertie County Deed Books, North Carolina State Archives
Arwin D. Smallwood, “A History of Three Cultures: Indian Woods, North Carolina, 1585 to 1995” (Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1998)
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