Legacy of Historical Oppression
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Transcript of Legacy of Historical Oppression
Presented at The East Texas Historical AssociationSpring Program Feb 20-21, 2009by Redbone Heritage FoundationStacy R Webb, president
a recollection of the Redbone People
The origins and ancestry of Redbones continues to be debated. The families appear to have inherited English surnames both matrilineal and patrilineal. The most common surnames appear to originate via the British Isles rather than being wholly acquired on these shores. Redbones trace their families ancestral surnames back to early Virginia court, taxation and census records commonly classifying them as "African Americans", "Free people of color" as well as "mulatto", Mustee, Mixt blood, Mestizo, Caste and half caste. Colonial Taxation CasesResidents of Northampton County, Virginia, petitioned the county court on 26 November 1722, complaining, "That the great number of Free Negros Inhabiting within this County are great Grievances most particularly because the Negro Women pay no Taxes" [Orders 1719-22, 192-3]. Virginia passed a law in May 1723, "That all free negros, mulattos, or indians, (except tributary indians to this government) male and female, above the age of sixteen, and all wives of such negroes, mulattos, or indians shall be accounted tithables [Hening IV:133].A 1738 North Carolina defined tithables as, "every white Person Male of the age of Sixteen Years and upwards all Negroes Mulattoes Mustees Male or female and all Persons of Mixt Blood to the fourth Generation Male and Female of the Age of Twelve Years and upwards" http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hp/colonial/editions/Acts/tithable.htmOnly isolated Redbone cases such as Reverend Joseph Willis were ever known to have been enslaved or born into slavery. Some Redbone families are listed among Negro slave owners. The Redbone was born from the unions of native & endogenous people who mixed with and absorbed the white indentured element, runaway slaves, outcasts and other undesirable peoples upon arrival to these shores and continued into the 20th century. The Redbone people trace familial relationships to many clans and tribes including the Saponi, Oceenechi, Moors of Delaware, Cheroenhaka (Nottoway), Meherrin, Tuscarora, Brass Ankles of South Carolina, The Melungeons of Tennessee, Lumbee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, Cherokee, Shawnee and Coushatta. Redbone DNA results prove the most prevalent admixtures, Native American in varying degrees, sub-Saharan African, South Asian matches with the Rom Gypsy Hindu Kush of North India..
The Redbones have no oral tradition of Gypsy ethnicity among their people. A possible link to this heritage are the people known as Brass Ankles who are noted in the Carolinas but largely unstudied.Dr Mooney ,an ethnologist with The Smithsonian Institute took a great interest in the people circa 1890s .Hunted and haunted by their dark complexion and swarthy appearance the Redbones migrated westward into uncharted territories as encroaching European settlers pushed through the wildernesses imposing racial integrity and miscegenation laws. In an attempt to prevent the mixing of races and preserve "racial integrity" many states passed laws against racial intermarriage. Society encourages homogony (marriage between people who are alike with regard to race, ethnicity, religion social class background) through informal norms, and in some cases, formal norms (laws). Miscegenation laws also refused blacks the opportunity to attain the cultural status of whites. White colonists also were fearful of an alliance between African Americans and American Indians and the strength in numbers that such a union of oppressed peoples could produce. Whatever the motivation for miscegenation policy, in 1661 Virginia passed legislation prohibiting interracial marriage and later passed a law that prohibited ministers from marrying racially mixed couples. The fine was ten thousand pounds of tobacco. Then, in 1691, Virginia required that any white woman who bore a mulatto child pay a fine or face indentured servitude for five years for herself and thirty years for her child. Similarly, in Maryland, a woman who married a Negro slave had to serve her husbands owner for the rest of her married life. Over time, Marylands laws became increasingly strict, and in 1715 and 1717 Marylands legislature made cohabitation between any white person and a person of African descent unlawful. As the number of colonies grew, miscegenation laws became increasingly commonplace; by the time of the American Civil War, at least five states had enacted anti-miscegenation laws (7).
The Redbone who by the turn of the 19th century were well established as privateers, traders, interpreters and guides migrated from the Upper South traveling and settling in family clans. Most were seeking freedom, trade and survival. A rugged, tenacious people with a pioneering spirit and wandering nature they settled and established communities in Natchez district , Mississippi Territory, Louisiana and Spanish Texas.
1803 Louisiana Purchase. The Neutral Territory or No Mans Land Before there was a Texas, both France and Spain claimed the region on both sides of the Sabine River--an area known as the "neutral ground, "no man's land or Sabine Free State because of early explorations by both nations. French explorers claimed all land drained by the Mississippi River and its tributaries as Louisiana Territory. Spain claimed all southern lands beginning with the first watershed west of the Mississippi. The dispute arose over claims that the "first watershed" was the Sabine or the Atchafalaya River. As a result the land between the two rivers was claimed by both nations. When the U.S. purchased the Louisiana territory in 1803 and inherited France's claims, the U.S. and Spain agreed that the disputed strip would be neutral territory until an agreement could be reached by the two nations. Men of intrigue, desperation or adventure came to the neutral ground for their various purposes. The strip soon became a refuge for outlaws and deserters seeking to avoid the laws of any government, leading to the violent Regulator-Moderator War in Shelby and surrounding counties. GTT Gone To Texas was a contemporary term for fugitives from justice. 1807 Thomas Nash aka Ash progenitor of many Redbones settled in Nuetral Zone or No Mans Land, Rio Hondo Lands Joseph Grubb of Thomas Nash on Bayou Kisatchi.1826 Atascosita District of Austin's Colony, Mexico 1826 militia against insurgents at Nacagdoches.
In 1721 a group of Cherokees moved west to the Rocky mountains., after a tribal disagreement. Many years later this dislocated branch of the Cherokees began appearing in the Neutral Zone and by 1820 they moved into Spanish held Texas. The Sabine Free State was settled in part the mixed-race people known as Redbones. The Adams-Ons Treaty, signed in 1819 and ratified in 1821, recognized the U.S. claim, setting the border at the Sabine River. Spain surrendered any claim to the area. (Two years after the treaty was negotiated, New Spain won its independence as the Mexican Empire.) Even after the treaty, however, the Neutral Ground and the adjacent part of East Texas remained largely lawless. The Regulator-Moderator War in East Texas in 1839-44 had its roots in the earlier anarchy of the Neutral Ground. Along with the Cherokee, several other tribes from the Southeastern United States also moved into this region of Texas. These were the Alabama, the Coushatta, the Shawnee, the Biloxi, some Creek Indians and a few other smaller groups.1817-1820 -- Jean Laffite occupied Galveston Island and used it as a base for his smuggling and privateering operation. 1820 William Goyens, Jr arrived in Texas. 1821. George Orr , a prominent Redbone familiy moved from Louisiana to the Atascosito District of southeast Texas. He had previously served as a captain in the Magee-Gutierez expedition against Spanish held Texas in 1813, which was an attempt by a private paramilitary group to wrest Texas from Spain. 1822 Rebecca Nash daughter of Wm Nash, granddaughter of the most prominent Redbone progenitor, Thomas Nash/Ash with hr husband, William H Taylor migrate to Texas, DeWitt Colony where their 3rd child Feliciana is born. 3 January 1823 -- Stephen F. Austin received a grant from the Mexican government and began colonization in the region of the Brazos River.
1826 The Atascosita District bounded on the west by Austins Colony by the north Nacogdoches, on the east by reserved lands on the Sabine, on the south by by the Gulf of Mexico including all Islands and Bays within 3 leagues of sea shore. Listed as inhabitants include Redbone families, Benjamin, Micheal, Thomas & William Nash families, George Orr, John & William Cherry, James Griffin, John Cotton, James Drake William H Taylor, George White, WM, Hugh B & John Johnson.1827 Joseph Willis, Apostle The Apostle to the Opelousas, The First Baptist Preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ West of the Mississippi River. He went "far and wide" establishing a church October 21, 1827, just seventeen miles from Orange, Texas, and the Texas State line near Edgerly, Louisiana named Antioch Primitive Baptist Church. April 1830--Relations between the Texans and Mexico reached a new low when Mexico forbid further emigration into Texas by settlers from the United States. 1830 A large group of Redbones settled on the west side of the Sabine River in what is today Newton County, Texas. Some of the family names in that area were Adams, Bass, Bennett, Bond, Brack, Brown, Clark, Coleman, Cole, Collins, Davis, Droddy, Hall, Harper, Hart, James, Johnson, Knight, Lee, Lewis, Martin, Mattox, Moore, Nash, Page, Parker, Perkins, Powell, Smith, Stringer, Taylor, Thompson, Weeks, West, White, Willis, Williams, Woods, Wright, and Young.1831 William Ashworth had emigrated from Louisiana and many of his Redbone famil