The Apalachicola River Community of Indians ARCITO

Our History chapter 7

Chapter 7“..a Large Percentage of Indian Blood”

Scott Town

 

    Just after 1860, Absalom Scott, veteran of the Seminole conflicts, acquired the help of John Chason and secured a military service land grant of 80 acres in southwestern Jackson County. Two of Absalom’s sons, Lewis and Samuel, would later be granted title to this land which would become known as “Scott Town.” Though this settlement started as quite diverse (including the Davis, Williams, Bunch, Jones, Scott & Stephens families), it would eventually narrow to represent only the Scott and Perkins lines.

 

 

1860 CENSUS OF JACKSON COUNTY.SCOTT TOWN

HOUSE #

NAME:

AGE:

RACE:

BORN IN:

 

106

 

 

107

 

 

 

 

 

108

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

109

 

 

------------

 

DAVIS, Ellis F.

“   “ , Elizabeth (Brickhouse)

 

SCOTT, Abb

“   “ , Gilly (Stephens)

“   “ , John

“   “ , Samuel

“   “ , Henry

 

WILLIAMS, John

“     “ , Vina

“     “ , Simmons

“     “ , Daniel

“     “ , John

“     “ , Benjamin

“     “ , Henry

 

BUNCH, Daniel

“     “ , Elizabeth

“     “ , Mary S.

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

 

 

46

32

 

70

43

17

14

12

 

78

37

18

16

14

11

?

 

24

21

3/12

--------

 

 

W

W

 

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

 

MU
MU
MU
MU
MU
MU
MU

 

W
W
W

-------

 

 

Mississippi

S. Carolina

 

S. Carolina

S. Carolina

FL
FL
FL

 

N. Carolina

Georgia

FL
FL
FL
FL
FL

 

Alabama

FL

FL

---------------------

 

 

1860 CENSUS OF JACKSON COUNTY.SCOTT TOWN (cont)

HOUSE #

NAME:

AGE:

RACE:

BORN IN:

 

139

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

140

 

 

 

 

 

 

141

 

 

 

142

 

 

 

 

 

143

 

 

 

------------

 

155

 

 

 

DAVIS, Emiline

STONE, Henry S.

“   “ , Mary

“   “ , Emily

“   “ , Georgia

DAVIS, Ann E.

Unnamed infant

 

DAVIS, Joseph

“   “ , Susan (Emanuel)

“   “ , Frances

“   “ , John

DeVAUGHN, Robert

ALLISON, William

 

SMITH, Joseph W.

“   “ , Elmyra J. (Padgett)

PEACOCK, Green

 

IRELAND, Samuel

“   “ , Eliza

“   “ , Harriett

“   “ , Susan

“   “ , Catherine

 

STEPHENS, Alexander

“     “ , Matilda (Scott)

“     “ , Edward

ATKINSON, William J.

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

MAYO, John P.

“   “ , Nancy

“   “ , James B.

“   “ , John H.

“   “ , Martha A.

“   “ , Nancy F.

“   “ , Elijah P.

“   “ , Ann M.F.

MAINER, Milly A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

43

23

15

7

21

31

 

28

26

17

 

70

62

19

14

11

 

32

19

14

22

---------

 

42

34

15

13

10

8

6

1

34

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

W
W
W
W
W
W

W
W
W

MU
MU
MU
MU
MU

MU
MU
MU
MU
--------

 

W
W
W
W
W
W
W
W
MU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mississippi

Georgia

FL
FL
FL
FL

 

FL
FL
Georgia

 

Maryland

N. Carolina

FL
FL
FL

FL
FL
FL
FL

---------------------

 

Georgia

N. Carolina

FL
FL
FL
FL
FL
FL
Georgia

  

            In 1860 the Scott Town community consisted of at least 10 households. The main occupation of these families was farming, and that trend has continued to the present day. The first household listed is that of Ellis Davis and his wife Elizabeth Brickhouse. Next door is Absalom Scott and his wife Gilly Stephens. John Williams kept a home with his wife Vina, and so did David Bunch and his wife Elizabeth. (note: John Williams was living in Mecklenburgh, NC in 1820 & 1830, living in Robeson NC in 1840) Living alone was James Butts Sr., and next door was John Jones Jr. who was to marry Beady Mainer in one year. Joseph Davis and his wife Susan Emanuel shared their home with Robert DeVaughn and William Allison. Joseph Smith was maintaining a homestead with his wife Elmyra Padgett, and next door was Samuel Ireland and his wife Eliza. Alexander H. Stephens and his wife Mary Matilda Scott had the last household which they shared with William J. Adkinson.

            By the time of the 1870 census some fairly significant events had taken place at Scott Town. After going A.W.O.L. from Confederate service, Daniel Bunch did not return to Jackson County. Alexander H. Stephens was kept from ever returning by a fatal disease, and in a strange twist of fate, John T. Scott was killed by Confederate fire during his service in the U.S. Cavalry. John would leave behind an Indian bride, Mary Attaway (daughter of Betsy Perkins), who would become a long-lived family leader at Scott Town.

 After returning from the War, John Williams and John ‘Jack’ Jones had moved down to Scott’s Ferry along with their wives and children. Mary Attaway was the daughter of Betsy Perkins, an Indian born between 1822 and 1825 in North Carolina, and Bird B. Attaway, a white riverboat captain working on the Chipola River. Betsy is listed on the 1838 local census of Jackson County as being the head of a household of 4 ‘free persons of color’.

              Scott Town, as it appears on the 1870 census, is composed of 7 households all employed in farming. The first appearing is the home of James William Perkins and his wife Mary Matilda Scott (the widow of Alexander H. Stephens). Living in the Perkins home was Mary’s four children by Alexander and her two sons by William. Next was the home of Confederate and Union veteran Samuel Scott along with his wife Jane Ayers. Living next door was Lewis Scott and his wife Elizabeth Isabella Davis, as well as Henry Scott and his wife Sarah Ayers. Still maintaining a household was Absalom Scott along with his new wife Julie A. Bell. The next home was that of Mary L. Chason, orphaned daughter of John Chason. The final household was that of Mary Attaway Scott, the widow of John T. Scott, who shared her home with her mother Betsy Perkins.

 

1870 CENSUS OF JACKSON COUNTY.SCOTT TOWN

HOUSE #

NAME:

AGE:

RACE:

BORN IN:

 

37

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40

 

 

 

41

 

 

 

 

42

 

 

 

43

 

 

 

 

45

 

 

 

------------

 

52

 

PERKINS, William

“   “ , Matlida (Scott)

STEPHENS, Edwin

“     “ , Gideon E.

“     “ , George W.

“     “ , Susan M.

PERKINS, James

“  “ , John W.

 

SCOTT, Samuel

“   “ , Jane (Ayers)

BASSETT, John

 

SCOTT, Louis

“   “ , Isabella (Davis)

“   “ , Vina

“   “ , Louis

 

SCOTT, Henry

“   “ , Sarah (Ayers)

“   “ , Henry A.

 

SCOTT, Absalom

“    “ , Julie A. (Bell)

“    “ , William S.

“    “ , James W.

 

CHASON, Mary L.

“  “ , Sarah A.

“  “ , Elizabeth

“  “ , Matilda

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

SCOTT, Mary (Attaway)

“   “ , Willie Ann

“   “ , Bell

PERKINS, Betsy

 

 

 

30

29

11

9

7

5

4

1

 

24

24

19

 

27

30

5

4

 

22

19

4

 

78

44

4

7

 

34

29

25

22

--------

 

25

9

6

40

 

MU
MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

MU

 

MU

W

MU

 

B

B

MU

MU

 

MU

W

MU

 

MU

W

MU

MU

 

W

W

W

W

-------

 

MU

MU

MU

MU

 

FL

Georgia

FL

FL
FL
FL
FL
FL

 

FL

Georgia

FL

 

Alabama

Mississippi

FL

FL

 

FL

Georgia

FL

 

Georgia

Alabama

FL

FL

 

FL

FL
FL
FL

----------------------

 

FL

FL

FL

N. Carolina

  

            In 1880 the settlement had continued to decrease, now containing only six homes. Appearing on the census was the household of Lewis Scott and his wife Isabella Davis, while next door was the home of Matilda Davis (sister of Isabella) which she shared with her niece and nephew, Viney Robinson and Washington Boggs. Living alone was John Miller who reported that his father was born in Sweden. Ezekiel Goodson maintained a home which he shared with his Indian wife Rebecca Goins. Living next door was James William Perkins and his wife Matilda Scott Stephens. Henry A. Scott, the son of Henry Scott and Sarah Ayers, had been living with them in 1870, but was now living in the household of his uncle, James Perkins. Still unmarried, Mary Attaway Scott was still keeping her own household along with her daughters William Ann and Rosabella, except that now she also had a son, Mathias, whom had been fathered by a local white man of the Porter family.

              Very little information is available for the 20 year time period between 1880 and 1900. The 1885 regular census completely omitted Scott Town, and these individuals were probably recorded on a separate Indian schedule which has been lost or misplaced. The settlement continued its steady decline and the 1900 census reflects only four homes present. Mary Attaway Scott, now the eldest of the community and a strong family leader, shared her house with eldest daughter William Ann (who never married but had a house full of children). Next door was Mary’s younger daughter, Bell Scott, who also never married but shared her home with a boarder, Ed Stephens, the son of Alexander H. Stephens and Matilda Scott. Maude E. Perkins was also maintaining a household as well as Mathias Scott Porter and his wife Louella Goodson (daughter of Rebecca Goins).

            In October 1903 concerned white Jackson County citizens began a petition which would affect both the Scott Town and Scott’s Ferry inhabitants. To quote the book “History of Jackson County” by J. Randall Stanley;

 

 

 

   “There were the children of families whose Caucasian purety was questionable.  Motives behind petitions to bar children of these families from white schools had to be scrutinized carefully, as it was a problem which might lead to considerable embarrassment, if not actual trouble. In October, 1903, a petition was presented to the Board to bar the children of two families from white schools.  The Board entered an order prohibiting them from attending white schools until further notice. The Board stated it was inclined to believe they are entitled to the benefits of the school, they having heretofore attended without complaint and the complaint is not general.”

 

              Though the School Board eventually voted to allow the Scott and Perkins children to attend white schools it was of little importance to them as they had already taken steps to solve the problem. Mary Scott pooled the settlement’s resources and had a building constructed for use as a schoolhouse. This one room building eventually was used as both a school and a church. The “Scott Church” building still stands today, though it is in great disrepair. The involvement of America in World War One caused a new viewpoint to be presented on the racial makeup of the Scott Town people. All of the male children of William Ann and Bell Scott are represented within the civil enlistment records on 1917, and all are recorded as “Caucasian-Indian.” The five men listed as being of Caucasian and Indian race were Samuel ‘Sandy’ Scott, Thomas F. Scott, Jesse Scott, Jimmie Scott, and George Scott. George was actually inducted into service as a private in the Army and in the race section the inductor crossed through the ‘White’ and ‘Colored’ and wrote in the word ‘Indian.’ Also inducted into the Army was Sanders S. Scott (sic Samuel) who was listed as “white.”

               The 1920 census showed nine homes at Scott Town, and all apparently on land owned by Mary Attaway Scott. The first of these homes was that of widower Mathias Scott Porter. Living next door was Mathias’ son Willie Porter (who had been listed as “Indian Creole” on WWI civil enlistment for Scott’s Ferry). The next household was that of Cromes Rainey, a Negro employee of Mary Scott. William Ann Scott was now head of her own household which she shared with her children, three grandchildren (Jonas Thomas, Paul Porter & Loula Bell Porter – Paul and Loula attended school at Scott’s Ferry) and a lodger, Ed Quinn, formerly of Scott’s Ferry. Samuel ‘Sandy’ Scott had the next house, and next door was Kate Scott.

William ‘Bill’ Scott (son of Joe Scott of Scott’s Ferry), who had been working at Scott’s Ferry since at least 1885, was now back living at Scott Town and sharing a home with the elderly Mary Attaway Scott. The next home was kept by Beasley Bullard, a Lumbee Indian from Robeson County, North Carolina, who along with his wife Loula Scott, shared their home with Earl Batson, a hired hand (Earl Batson would later marry Mary Dasher of Woods). The last household is that of Thomas F. Scott and his wife Daisy Porter. The inhabitants of Scott Town seemed content to live out their quiet faming lives, and under the direction of community leaders such as Mary Scott, William Ann Scott and Tom Scott, they were able to go on farming, turpentining, hunting and fishing with little interference or contact with the outside world.

It was only in 1939, due to the ambition of a bright young girl, that new information surfaces.  Mary Francis Porter was born the daughter of Bessie Porter Copeland in the Scott Town settlement. Bessie was the daughter of Mathias Porter and Louella Goodson (the daughter of Ezekiel Goodson and Rebecca Goins). According to her mother, Mary Francis was the illegitimate child of Whit Wells, a white man. Mary Francis was apparently not satisfied with ending her education at the last grade offered at the little one room Scott School, and she left Florida to receive higher training at the Cherokee Indian Normal School at Pembroke, North Carolina. This school was founded in 1887 as the Croatan Normal School, and in the nineteen teens was changed to the Cherokee Indian Normal School.

 It was funded by the state of North Carolina for the education of Indian students of the area. Perhaps inspired by Beasley Bullard and his wife Loula Scott moving to Robeson in the late 1920’s, several other Porter family members were also living in Robeson in 1930 (Dock Porter and his wife Pearly Blanchard; and Coy Porter and his wife Daisy Blanchard, all recorded as “Indian” on the Robeson County census). Apparently not having any knowledge of Indians from Northwest Florida, the school officials requested additional information from the Jackson County School Superintendent, and thus began a series of letters which gives a wealth of information as to the genealogy of the Scott Town mixed-bloods, their racial self-identification, and also the attitude of local whites towards them.  

On October 13, 1938, J.R. Lowry, a Lumbee Indian and Dean of the Cherokee Indian Normal School, inquired of the Jackson County post master,

 

     “Is there a school in your town or county by the name of ‘Scott’s School’? If you do, please send me the name of the principal or head of the School. For what race is it maintained? (White or Colored).”

 

The postmaster forwarded the request to C.P. Finlayson, Superintendent of Public Instruction for Jackson County. Finlayson responded to Lowry,

 

    In the community of the school there are several families of Scotts who from appearance can very easily be considered as belonging to the white race. However, it is generally believed in this county that they have some negro blood in them and for that reason they attend a negro school. It is of course possible that they might have a large percentage of Indian blood but I have no information or knowledge as to their ancestry.”

 

 

The information regarding negro ancestry inspired Mary’s teacher, Mrs. G. Revels, to write a personal letter to Finlayson where she states,

 

    ..to write back immediately and answer the questions which I have asked you. It’s a shame for Mary to have to miss school when I am certain that she has not a bit of colored blood. She is one of the best students in her class…Please let me hear from you at once regarding this matter.”

 

Indeed, even Mary Francis herself felt it was necessary to write Finlayson to receive fair treatment,

 

   “If you will go out among my people you will find that none of them has had ambition to get out to school for an education and for that simple cause I would like to bring a light to them in that instance…I cannot help the situation among my people and yet I know that a drop of negro blood is not within me.”

 

               Finlayson, obviously moved by Mary’s letter, started an investigation into the issue. On February 28, 1939, he returned a letter to Mrs. Revels,

 

“In an effort to learn the true facts I made three visits to the community in which the Scott school is located and in spite of this effort I am still unable to give you any official statement as to her ancestors.”

   

Finlayson goes on to state that white citizens of the county believed them to have negro blood, but very little. Finlayson himself was unable to substantiate that claim, and further states,

 

    “The mother and grandfather with whom I talked claim there was no negro blood  in their veins but there was Indian blood. This I was of course unable to substantiate by any official records since there seem to be no records.”

 

In this letter Finlayson included two hand drawn family trees outlining the ancestry of Mary Francis Porter that were provided to him by Bessie Copeland and Mathias Porter. According to these notes Mary Francis was the great-granddaughter of Rebecca Goins Goodson who was ½ Indian and ½ white, and the great-granddaughter of Mary Attaway Scott who was also ½ Indian and ½ white.

            Mary Francis’ half-brother, Armond Copeland, also kindled a series of letters when he was employed at the U.S. Naval Ordinance Plant in Macon, Georgia. In March and April of 1945, inquiries were made as to Copeland’s ancestry and the Jackson County School Superintendent at the time, J.D. Milton, obviously referred directly to the Mary Francis letters as he replied,

 

“Some of the forefathers claim there was no negro blood, but there was Indian blood. This, we are unable to substantiate by any official records.”

 

            In 1944 another case came before the Jackson County School Board much like the one that had surfaced in 1903. In this case the School Board would come to a conclusion which had much less backbone. Two Johnson children had been barred from the Grand Ridge School because of questions as to their ancestry. Notes from the Board’s investigation reveal that the boys were children of Sweetie Blanchard of Scott’s Ferry. The Board interviewed Woodie Staley, a black man living at Scott Town, and several white citizens. The Board was trying to determine the eligibility of the boys to attend Grand Ridge School based on whether their relatives attended white or colored schools in other areas. The Board was at a total loss when it discovered that relatives of the Johnson boys attended school at Marysville/Scott’s Ferry, a separate school, and at Woods, also a separate school. Unable to come to any conclusion, Board member Bishop “advised them to quit Grand Ridge School due to ‘crowded conditions’ and attend in Calhoun County.”