The Indians of North Florida

Catawba Migrations to Florida


Theories concerning Catawba Migration to Florida

S. Pony Hill

I have a theory pertaining to my ancestors and their exodus from the Catawba Reservation in the time around 1825....

A 1773 report places the Catawba population at about 400..this number stayed about the same as it was reported in 1780 that they numbered about 490 souls. A report from 1784 placed their number at 250 and this corresponds to the fact that many of the women, children and elderly had travelled "up to Virginia" to seek shelter during the Rev was subsequently reported that many of the Cheraw settled in a town on the Catawba Reserve after the War....

By 1822 the number of souls on the Catawba reverve was recorded at approx. 450...this shows an outstanding maintanence of population level, giving the natural decline by war, disease, etc.

In the 1820's almost every parcel of the Resrevation had been leased to whites, and the two towns of Indians were homeless. A report of David Ivey, the agent to the Catawba, puts their number in 1826 to be an incedible 110..thats a loss of over half of the population within 4 years! Agent Ivey did not report any disease epedemics during this time, and only reported that the Indians had began to wander due to having no place to live. (Catawba Indian Britton George went as far as Smith County Tennessee, where he applied for a Rev War pension in 1822 which was given a witness affidavt by David Ivey).

A "petition of the cheifs and Headmen of the Catawba Indians, 1825" which I am received from the SC Archives listed Jacob Scott, James Scott, and William Scott as leaders during that time (so, most likely, there were at least three Scott households among the Catawba at that time). The Scott and Ayers families were described as "large and well represented" among the catawba at the turn of the century, yet the Catawba Census taken by B.B. Massey in 1847 and 1854 reported that only one catawba male carried the Scott surname (John Scott, born 1824)...where had all the rest of this "large" Scott family gone? Massey went on to reveal that 5 catawba had gone to Charleston SC in 1851 (including one of the headmen named Kegg) and had not been heard from since, that 27 Catawba were living in Haywood Co. NC among the Cherokee, and that 15 catawba had gone to Arkansas "who moved out there in 1851 never to return."

That catawba (or Cheraw from the catawba reserve, as it may be) had made it as far as Florida is well documented....In 1853, a military report from Brig. Gen. G.B. Hall to Capt. I.C. Casey reveals that "a band of eighteen Indians, all of whom claimed to be Catawbas, was reported wandering near Stockton, Alabama. Their leader was named Taylor, and the band represented two families: Taylor and Houser....They said they came from Walton County, West Florida, and were enroute to Arkansas, but were stranded for lack of money." This was the family of Richard L.Taylor (who was censused in 1850 Walton County as a 'white' family and was censused in 1860 Baldwin County (Stockton Post Office) Alabama as an "Indian" family) who settled on the Poarch Creek Reservation and joined other Cheraw Indian families already living there (including the Hathcock, Payne, Gibson, and Dease families).

Copyright ©2005, Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved.

Various Catawba Records and the Jeffries Family

S. Pony Hill

The Tyler family is well documented to descend from Priss Tyler (born about 1718) a "Catawba Indian who was induced by an Indian trader named Captain Robert Hicks to come to Virginia with him in about 1733". Hicks sold her into slavery. Her children (Joseph Tyler, Nan Tyler, Betty Tyler, Priss Tyler, Bartlett Tyler) all sued for their freedom in Louisa County Court in 1769 and 1771

Fact) There were Catawba living in Virginia in the early 1700's.

1733, some Saponie Indians, accompanied by some Cheraws, returned to Virginia from the Catawba lands, petitioned Lt. Governor Gooch for permission to settle in Virginia, which was granted (Merrell 1989:116)

1743, Governor Clarence Gooch of Virginia reported to the Colonial Office that the "Saponies and other petty Nations associated with them…are retired out of Virginia to the Catawbas" British Colonial Office 1743

Fact) Indians were traveling back and forth between Virginia and the Catawba reservation regularly in the 1730's and 1740's.

1853, The Taylor and Houser families "all of whom claimed to be Catawbas," left west Florida enroute for Indian territory but never made it further than Alabama where they took up residence on the Creek reserve lands at Atmore. Richard Taylor is censused in present-day Holmes County (no race listed) in 1850, and at the Atmore reservation in 1860 (listed as Indian). R.B.I.A., National Archives, Letters Received, Miscellaneous, 1853, A-172, Brig.-Gen. G.B. Hall to Capt. I.C. Casey about Certain Indians in his County, November 12, 1853

Fact) Catawba Indians had migrated as far south as northwest Florida prior to 1850.

1888, "Recollections of Seventy Years"; Payne, Daniel Alexander (1811-1893) publishing house of the A.M.E. Sunday School Union Nashville Tenn.

"I was born of free parents in the city of Charleston, SC, on the 24th of Feb. 1811….As far as memory serves me my mother was of light-brown complexion…she told me that her grandmother was of a tribe of Indians known in the early history of the Carolinas as the Catawba Indians. The husband of her grandmother was a black man named Alexander Goings, who was remarkable for great bodily strength and activity."

Fact) The Goings family of SC had an oral history prior to 1900 of descent from Catawba Indians.


From Catawba Nation to Virginia to Florida

The earliest records of this family record them as 'Indians' living in Northampton County, NC (just south of Greensville Co. VA) in the early 1700's. (Northampton County Orders 1729-32; Bell, Northampton County Taxables) They may possibly have been some of the Indians migrating up from the Catawba reservation mentioned in the petitions to Governor Gooch. The Jeffries family lived at 'Indiantown' on the former Gingaskin reservation land along with the POOL, FISHERMAN, LANG, JACOBS, COLLINS, CARTER & DRIGGERS families.

1736 to 1742 - Will Jeffries listed as an Indian student at the Brafferton Indian school at William & Mary….his tribe is not specified.

28 Jan 1790, Andrew "Drury" Jeffries married Silvia Scott (Greensville Co. bond, Minister's Returns, p.19) His father, Andrew Jeffries sr. (grandfather of Parker Jeffries) was bondsman. Andrew "Drury" Jeffries jr. filed a deposition of Rev War service in Orange Co. NC in 1833 where he stated that he was born in Brunswick County, VA about 1766 (note: Greensville was formed from part of Brunswick), resided there until 1813 when he moved to Orange Co. NC.

Andrew 'Drury' Jeffries and Silvia Scott were the parents of Richard Jeffries.

1834, Richard Jeffries appears in Jackson County Florida tax records, listed as a free man of color alongside Jacob Scott, Joseph Scott, Absalom Scott, John Jones & Martin Brooks.

1842, Greene County, Ohio, an Ohio Supreme Court case occurred when Parker Jeffries was refused the right to vote. The jury found "that the plaintiff 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."

1881, R.F. Dill's History of Greene County, Ohio….contains short biographies of prominent persons, and gives the following information about "James Jeffreys, furniture manufacturer….was born in Greeneville, 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 Jeffreys….born in Cedarville (Ohio) September 8, 1835, and is the son of Uriah and Caroline Jeffreys, who were born in North Carolina, and came to this county about 1830. Uriah was a descendant of the tribe of Catawba Indians."

Feb. 1897, U.S. Senate Document #144, entitled "The Catawba Tribe of Indians", the report 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 NC), and Simon Jeffries, of Bellville, Virginia, Catawba Indians, served five years in the Army and were honorably discharged, and these people are their descendants." He further 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 remained every since."

Fact) This corresponds to the report that the majority of the Catawba tribe had left the reservation during the Rev War and traveled north to Virginia for safety.

Fact) the Jeffreys/Jeffries family has historically documented Catawba ancestry.

Fact) Families of documented Catawba ancestry migrated to Florida 1820-1840 (including Richard L.Taylor, Richard Jeffries & Rebecca Goings)

Fact) Upon migrating to Florida from the VA/NC border, Richard Jeffries lived in close proximity to the Scott family (and may possibly have been related).

Fact) The surnames Scott, Stephens, Ayers & Brown were commonly documented among the Catawba Nation in the years 1790-1830.

Fact) The founders of the mixed-blood populace at Scott's Ferry and Scott Town had the surnames of Scott, Stephens, Ayers & Brown.

Fact) Prior to 1800 the Scott family was described as "a large and prominent family" among the Catawba.

Fact) After the arrival of the Scott family in Florida, only one Scott man is listed in the entire Catawba Nation.

Fact) Four of the eldest members that founded the Florida community were named Joseph Scott, Jacob Scott, John 'Captain Jack' Ayers, and Elizabeth Scott. All of these names appear on documents relating to Catawba lands being leased and annuity payments owed to Catawba Indians in the era 1820-1840.

Copyright ©2005, Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved. this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same without written permission of the author.