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



Marker Text:

      Like the Tuscarora and the Nottoway, the Meherrin were one of several Iroquoian tribes native to the coastal plain of Virginia and North Carolina. Their first contact with Europeans came in 1650 when Englishman Edward Bland visited their settlement near present-day Emporia, Virginia. Bland demonstrated his gun, startling the villagers. The Meherrin remained on “old fields” along the Meherrin River in Virginia through most of the 1600s.

      Around 1691 they moved down the river into present North Carolina settling at the mouth of the Meherrin River. The exact location of the village is unknown; however, the general location can be established from written records. The Meherrin assisted the Tuscarora in the Tuscarora War of 1711-1715. Baron Christoph von de Graffenreid claimed that a Meherrin was among the party responsible for the slaying of John Lawson. In the 1720s the Meherrin complained to the Council in North Carolina about encroachment upon their lands by white settlers. The Council in 1726 and again in 1729 assigned them lands extending in a northwesterly direction from the confluence of the Meherrin and Chowan Rivers but, by the 1730s, the remaining Meherrin, reduced in number to less than twenty families, lived east of the Chowan with the Tuscaroras. Bishop August Spangenberg reported in 1752 that the Meherrin were “reduced to a mere handful.”

      The site in question, extending for a mile westward from Parker’s Ferry at the mouth of the Meherrin River, was among the sites investigated by archaeologist Lewis R. Binford in the course of his dissertation research. He found remains assignable to the Meherrin occupation and recorded that local people refer to this site as “Old Town” and that all argue that it was the Meherrin settlement. The site, Binford wrote, has been frequented by local collectors.

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, esp. II, 642-645
Lewis R. Binford, “Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Investigation of Cultural Diversity and Progressive Development Among Aboriginal Cultures of Coastal Virginia and North Carolina” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 1964)
Lewis R. Binford, “An Ethnohistory of the Nottoway, Meherrin and Weanock Indians of Southeastern Virginia,” Ethnohistory 14, nos. 3-4 (1967), 103-218
F. Roy Johnson, The Algonquians, Vol. 20: History and Traditions (1972)
William C. Sturdevant, ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15: Northeast (Smithsonian, 1978)
Moseley map (1733)
Collet map (1770)
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources