Beginning with the Revolutionary War, a movement began in two directions from the Greensville County area. One was southwest to form the Texas community while the other was west to Ohio and Indiana. A third migration was from the Texas community to the mountains of western North Carolina, to what became Macon County, North Carolina. Each of these will be discussed later.
On the 1790 federal census for Orange County, North Carolina (then including Alamance County, which was formed in 1849), the names of Charles Whitmore, Jesse Whitmore, and Jacob Jeffries appear (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1790). Since the 1790 census for Orange County was actually made up from a tax list of 1787, it is clear that these heads of households and their families, and possibly others, were here by that date. In 1787, the Texas community no doubt was a long day's ride from the center of government at Hillsborough, and so it is likely that there were other families there as well. It also is unlikely that the members of the community were completely trusting of these white government officials, and consequently may have actively avoided contact with them. The 1790 census does not list the race of the heads of household in Orange County. Both Whitmores are listed in 1830 as "Free Negro Heads of Households" along with numerous Jeffrieses, Corns, Burnettes, Haithcocks, Joneses, and others for the North District of Orange County. This "Free Negro" list also enumerates nearly all the families that were ancestral to present-day Indian communities in other parts of North Carolina such as the Lumbee, Coharie, and Meherrin.
By 1820, the Texas community was intact. It is not entirely clear how the original settlers acquired the large amounts of land they did. Some tracts presumably were purchased from Whites who had received land grants earlier; some tracts may have been acquired as bounty land for military service; and some may have simply been acquired by a sort of "squatter's rights" situation. In any case, a few of the families, notably the Corns (see descendant) and Jeffrieses, acquired tracts of several hundred acres, much of which is still owned by the families or their descendants (see view of Drewry Jeffries's log home).
The Texas families are almost invariably listed on official lists as "Free Colored" or "Mulatto" during the 1800s, as opposed to other families of nonwhites who are consistently listed as "Negros" or "Blacks." A notable exception is that of Abner Burnette (see descendants), who in the 1860 census for Orange County is listed as Indian; however, by the 1870 Alamance County census he is enumerated as "Mulatto." The social-racial position of the Texas people within the largely biracial society around them is unclear. Abner Burnette is also interesting because he appears several times in the court records of Orange and Alamance counties, primarily for violations of the "Black Laws." In 1855, he was indicted in Alamance County for carrying a gun, which was illegal for "Free Colored" persons. He pled guilty, was convicted, and was fined $31.00. It may be speculated that Burnette believed that the law did not apply to him inasmuch as he was not "Free Colored" in the sense of being of African ancestry. Unfortunately, the details of the trial were not recorded. In 1860, when he was again indicted for the same offense, he pled not guilty, was convicted a second time, but was fined only five cents.
As noted earlier, a group of families from the Texas community migrated to Macon County, North Carolina, in the 1820s, after that land was ceded by the Cherokee Nation. In point of fact, there were still Cherokees living in the area, not far from the settlement formed by these families from Alamance County (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1850). This settlement was called Sugar Fork, and some of the families who first settled there were Bucker and Sylvia (Jeffries) Guy, John and Aggy (Whitmore) Guy, Richard and Patsy (Whitmore) Guy, Walton Jeffries, and Hugh Gibson. This settlement remained distinct for many years, eventually being absorbed into the white population (Lawrence Woods, personal communication). The community is of particular interest, however, since it was mentioned in U.S. Senate Document #144, dated February 1897, and entitled "The Catawba Tribe of Indians" (U.S. Congress, Senate 1897). The report on this settlement says that "Dr. Joseph McDowell, of Fairmont, Ga., under date of October, 1872, stated that the Indians referred to, and asking relief of the Government, were Catawba Indians, and 81 in number." Dr. McDowell (who had married one of the Guy women and wrote at least two letters to the Indian Office on behalf of her people) also provided a list of the names and ages of the individuals whom he said wished the government to assist them in moving west to Indian Territory. The report further states that "William Guy, of Granville County, Ga. [sic], and Simon Jeffries, of Bellville, Virginia, Catawba Indians, served five years in the Army and were honorably discharged, and these people are their descendants." The error is that William Guy was from Greensville County, Virginia, although he did die in Granville County, North Carolina. The letters from Dr. McDowell are also interesting. For example, he states in his letter of October 1869, addressed to Eli Parker, U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs, that "I take the liberty of addressing to you a few lines on behalf of a remnant of the tribe of Catawba Indians. . . . Some 60 or 70 years since they left their tribe and went to Greenville County, Virginia, and then removed to Orange County, North Carolina. . . . They sold out in Orange and moved to Macon County, N.C. where they purchased land and have remained ever since."
The identification of these Indians as Catawba presents a dilemma in that anyone familiar with historic Catawba surnames will readily recognize that the names of these families are not traditional Catawba names. It is this fact that led Chapman Milling (1940:260) to note "The petition, in fact, bears all the earmarks of white effort to collect Indian revenue." Common Catawba surnames such as Blue, Head, Harris, Kegg, or Ayers are conspicuous in the Macon County community by their absence. Why then are these people (as well as the Indians who moved from the Texas community to Ohio) identified as Catawba? The Cherokee name would have been a much better known one, if a name was simply to be chosen out of the air to give credence to claims of Indian ancestry. Witness today the existence of groups of "Cherokees" living from Pennsylvania to Florida, including two groups in North Carolina besides the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.
The only plausible explanation based on the information at hand is that these Indian people, although not Catawba in the strict sense of the word, were aware of the relationship their people once had with the Catawba, and so used that name to identify themselves. Even as the Occaneechi and others came to identify themselves by the name of Saponi, so too, it appears, did the Saponi come to call themselves Catawba, although they were never absorbed by the Catawba Nation as were other small tribes. It is also likely that some of the Saponi who returned to Virginia from the Catawba Nation took with them Catawba spouses, so William Guy, Simon Jeffries, and others who were identified in the 1880s as Catawba may well have actually possessed some Catawba blood.
The other out-migration of Indians from the Texas community occurred from the 1820s to 1840s, when a number of families moved to Greene County, Ohio (with some later moving on to Rush and Whitley counties, Indiana). It is clear that when the Indians arrived in Greene County, Ohio, there was some degree of uncertainty among the Whites as to their ethnic background. This was also true when some of them moved on to Indiana. Their uncertain racial status resulted in 13 separate court cases involving members of the Jeffries or related families.
The first, an Ohio Supreme Court case, occurred in 1842 in Greene County, Ohio, when Parker Jeffries was refused the right to vote by the officials of Xenia Township because "they were of the opinion, as they said, that he was a person of color and not entitled to vote" (Greene County Clerk of Courts 1842). The jury, however, found "that the plaintiff (Jeffries) is of the Indian race, the illegitimate son of a White man and a woman of the Indian race, and that he has not more than one fourth of the Indian blood in his veins." On this basis, Jeffries was awarded six cents and allowed to vote thereafter. Few other details are given in the court records concerning evidence presented or information about Parker Jeffries's mother.
The second case occurred in 1866 in Whitley County, Indiana, and is referred to as Jeffries vs. Smith et al. In substance, it was similar to the Parker Jeffries case. The facts were that Mortimer Jeffries had attempted to vote in 1864 and that the defendants "with knowledge of all the facts concerning the plaintiff's pedigree and blood, willfully refused to receive his vote on account of his color" (Kaler and Maring 1907). According to court records, Mortimer Jeffries was the son of a quarter-blood Indian father and a white mother, making him white within the scope of the law. The Indiana Supreme Court found in favor of Jeffries. A history of Whitley County, Indiana, gives some additional information about the trial and about Mortimer Jeffries. His father, Herbert Jeffries, was a native of Greensville County, Virginia, who married a woman, supposedly of French descent, in North Carolina. It further states that "Herbert was of French and Indian extraction and his children in this township have always claimed to be free from African blood, which their stature and physiognomy does not belie." During the trial, an alleged expert witness was called by the defense to examine a lock of Jeffries's hair, the witness supposedly being able to determine African ancestry by examination of a person's hair. Unbeknownst to the witness, however, Jeffries's lawyer submitted a lock of hair from the presiding judge, which was duly found to be from an individual of African ancestry. The judge was not amused, and Jeffries won his case "and was granted suffrage for himself and brothers, which they afterwards exercised undisputed under the scornful eyes of some of their neighbors."
The third and final case, Jeffries vs. O'Brien Guinn et al. (Rush County Clerk of Courts 1869), is the most detailed of the three, and provides more information about the situation of the Indian people while they were living in the Greensville County, Virginia, area. This information is contained in the depositions of four witnesses called by William M. Jeffries to give evidence as to the race and background of his parents. Four persons gave depositions; three of them appear to have been white while the fourth, Shadrack Jeffries, was an Indian and a relative of William Jeffries. All agreed that: (1) Jeffries mother was of Indian and white ancestry; (2) she was born in Northampton County, North Carolina, near the Virginia line; (3) she did not associate with blacks; (4) his father was Macklin Jeffries, of Greensville County, Virginia; and (5) Macklin Jeffries was a mixed-blood Indian. The testimony of Susan Wooten is particularly interesting in that she states that "Jeffries' mother associated with White people and those who had Indian blood with regard to her Indian blood. She descended from an old Indian settlement in that neighborhood." This indicates that: (1) there were a fair number of these Indian people in the area who had social (as well as kinship and marriage) ties; and (2) they stayed in some distinct geographic location. Jeffries's mother, who was named Mary Turner, could have been Nottoway, Saponi, Meherrin, or a member of some other tribe. All three of these tribes lived in that general area and, although the Turner name was found among the Nottoway prior to their absorption into the general population, the "settlement" may also have been that of the Saponi of Greensville County, Virginia, or the so-called Portuguese settlement near Gaston, in Northampton County, North Carolina, where the Turner name also occurs. It may also refer to another settlement entirely. Susan Wooten was born, by her reckoning, in 1799, so the settlement she refers to could have dated to the mid-1700s, if she thinks of it as an "old" settlement. It could conceivably even refer to Junkatapurse, which may have been inhabited until the 1740s.
Other local histories refer to the Indian blood of the Jeffrieses. R. F. Dill's History of Greene County, Ohio (Dill 1881) contains short biographies of prominent persons, and gives the following information about James Jeffries: "James Jeffries, Furniture Manufacturer . . . was born in Greenville County, Virginia, January 30, 1821 . . . son of Silas and Susan (Pruitt) Jeffries. Silas was a descendant of the Catawba tribe of Indians." Similar information is given for Mason Jeffries, son of Uriah Jeffries, of Greensville County, Virginia, who is also said to be a descendant of the Catawba tribe.
The Indian people who moved to Indiana and Ohio appear to have been absorbed into the general population, but as late as 1910, the U.S. Census listed some families of Jeffrieses in the Whitley County area as Indian (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1910), showing that the awareness of their heritage may still not have died out completely.
In 1904, the Eastern Band of Cherokee won a settlement with the U.S. government based on violations of earlier treaties. This meant that thousands of persons of Eastern Cherokee ancestry were eligible for part of the settlement, and many of these people applied to the U.S. Court of Claims for a share (Jordan 1987-1990). It is interesting to read these applications, since a significant percentage of applicants were not Eastern Cherokee, but members of other tribes. These persons would now be identified as Lumbee, Alabama Creek, Meherrin, Haliwa, and Occaneechi (Saponi), along with a number of individuals who probably were of unmixed white or black ancestry.
At least 20 Occaneechi descendants also applied; all were rejected by the commission as not being of Eastern Cherokee ancestry. Among these were Aaron Thomas Guy, born in Caswell County, North Carolina, the son of Henry Guy and grandson of Henry Guy. Henry Guy, Sr., was the brother of Richard Guy, Buckner Guy, and others who moved to Macon County, North Carolina, from the Texas community in the 1820s. Aaron Guy stated that his mother was a free woman of color, born free and raised by the Quakers in Guilford County, North Carolina. There is also testimony from a former slave who knew Henry Guy, Jr., to the effect that he was an Indian, married to a colored woman. Aaron Guy was living in Indiana at the time of his application.
William C. Wilson, from Wichita, Kansas, also applied. He stated that he was born near Hendersonville, North Carolina, and was the son of Sam Wilson, a "half Cherokee," and Julian Guy. Julian Guy was the daughter of Richard Guy and Martha Whitmore, and Martha's mother was Lottie Jeffries. Wilson claimed that his grandfather, Richard Guy, was a white man, although the Macon County records list him as a "Free Colored head of Household." He also stated that his father, Sam Wilson, could speak the Indian language. Assuming he was not exaggerating to impress the government man, William Wilson's father may have spoken the old Saponi language, or he may have learned Cherokee from his neighbors in Macon County.
William and Joe Gibson, from Murphy, North Carolina, applied, and the note "Probably Negros" was written on their application. William Gibson stated that his parents "passed as part Indian. No Negro blood in them." He further stated that his father spoke the Indian language. On the bottom of his testimony is a note, presumably written by the agent, which says, "This applicant shows the Indian so does his brother now with him. However, their ancestors were never enrolled." These Gibsons, who lived at various times in Tennessee and North Carolina, probably were also related to the Gibsons found in the so-called Melungeon groups of eastern Tennessee and western Virginia, which appear to have originated in the early mixed-blood populations of the North Carolina Piedmont area.
For the Indian people who remained in the Texas community, life was not too different for them from that of their non-Indian neighbors. For the most part, they farmed their own land, which enabled them to remain relatively self-sufficient and less dependent on whites than their black counterparts. Although much of the traditional culture had been lost by the time of the Civil War, some traditions, particularly ones dealing with food gathering and wild plant use, continued. The art of basket-making had died out only in the last generation; previously, baskets used both for containers and as fishing implements were woven out of oak splints. Herbal remedies were widely used, and many are still remembered. Sassafras, ground ivy, mint, ratbane, pinetops, plantain, and wild cherry were but a few of the plants used for medicinal purposes, and some members of the community were widely known for their use of roots and herbs to heal the sick. Fishing was done both with baskets or with nets woven by some of the older men, and small animals were trapped in so-called rabbit gums, originally made out of hollow logs.