Monday, April 14, 2008

Rockingham North Carolina, Early Records

From Lumbee Indians and Goins Family Blog

Collection of Records posted by Cindy Young.


Rockingham County was organized in 1785 with land from Guilford County. It adjoined Henry County, Virginia and Pitt¬sylvania County, Virginia on the south, and the settlers moved freely back and forth the state line as if in one community. Rockingham County was in the heart of Melungeon country in North Carolina.
Jim Hall wrote August 18, 1999 regarding Goinstown, North Carolina:

"There exists no formal or legal designation for the Goinstown area that I have found. There are no "Goinstown" road signs to guide you or to let you know when you are there. There is no "Goinstown" on any map that I found. There is no town of Goinstown. There is a rural area which is referred to as Goinstown. The Goinstown area still exists in Rockingham County today but I doubt that anyone could say with any accuracy where it begins or ends. So let me tell you in general terms where I think "Goinstown" was and is.

From my research I think that the area came to be referred to as Goinstown in the mid to late 1800s. But the seeds for Goinstown were planted in the 1700s. My opinion is that Goinstown historically included the NW corner of Rockingham County, NC, the NE corner of Stokes County, NC, and the southern portions of Henry County, VA, and Patrick County, VA. Many of the early Goins, Moore, Gibson and Harris families (whose descendants were listed as mulatto on later census records) lived along Buffalo Creek and Hickory Creek which runs east and west across the county line of present day Rockingham and Stokes County.

Today, Goinstown is an area referred to almost exclusively as being in NW Rockingham County [Madison Township]. Goinstown Road still runs through NE Stokes County and changes to Schoolhouse Road at the Rockingham County line. The Goinstown Road is still a dirt road.

Many of these mulatto families [Goins, Moore, Gibson, Harris] lived close to the NC/VA border and moved across the state line often leading to research confusion. I think that sometimes it was easier to travel to the county seat in Martinsville, Henry Co., VA, than to the county seat in NC.

Many of these families migrated west in the first half of the 1800s century. Some moved to Scott and Hancock County VA. Others moved to eastern KY, primarily Floyd County.

However, if you drive through the area [there are only a few paved roads as this is still one of the poorest areas of the county], you will find many Goins, Gibson and Harris mailboxes. Most of the mulatto Moores moved away by 1860.

I found the old Gibson and Harris Cemetaries. In both cemetaries there appeared to be more Goins grave markers that any other family, some dating to the early 1800s.

In the 1800s some of these families also moved south and east in the county. Some lived along the Mayo River others moved to Stoneville and Madison. I am not sure where these families migrated from. John Moore, the earliest of my Moores that I have verified, was born in Orange County, NC, in 1758. But Orange County at that time included part of present day Rockingham County so the Moores may have been in this area at the time of John's birth. Many mulatto Gibson families also lived in Orange County, NC. in the 1750s. I don't know where the Goins families migrated from. They may have migrated south from VA.

One of the few written articles that I have found about Goinstown is an article in in the book, "The Heritage of Rockingham County," by the Rockingham County Historical Society, published in 1983. It is a very short article written by Zelma Joyce Scott. The introduction written by the editor reads as follows:

'Goinstown as a community has a special story to tell. Mysterious in it's origin, it's natives tend to insulate themselves against intrusion. The roots of that clannishness may be found in the process of acculturation forced on the Indian society of North America. Historically the repeated choice for the Indian has been to join another still functioning Indian group elsewhere or merge within the conventions and associations of either the white or black man's way of life. Many of the families of Goinstown consider themselves Indian. A letter written by Douglas Rights, a noted authority on North Carolina Indians, which is preserved in the Smithsonian Institute archives, speaks of Goinstown as a mixed blood settlement in Rockingham. He points out that among the principal families are Harris, Goins and Hickman, and that Harris is one of the most familiar surviving family names among the Catawba Indians. A member of the Harris family of Goinstown had told Dr. Rights that his people had drifted off in two directions, the lighter color drifting out and associating with the whites, and the darker taking places in Negro society.'

In the article Ms. Scott states, 'These people have many features of Indian, Portuguese and other nationalities. Some local people believe they are part of the Lost Colony of Manteo....'

I talked to Ms. Scott in an attempt to get more information but she couldn't give any more details than was given in the article.

During the 1930s one of the WPA projects was to preserve old cemetery inscriptions by recording information on grave markers. Some WPA workers recorded information on the markers in the John Foy Cemetery located three miles west of Madison. This information can be found in WPA Pre-1914 Cemetery Inscriptions. I have looked at all the cards and found no other useful information. One of the typewritten cards pertains to the Walker I. Gibson family. Walker Gibson was probably in C.S.A. but his widow could not get a pension as he was regarded as a Negro.

All this family of Gibson were up to about 1895 listed by tax listers as Negroes; they called themselves East Indians [from the Indies or Indians from the East], else assumed by some to be Melanoe."

Louise Nunn, candidate for a master's degree, wrote in 1937 "A Comparison of the Social Situation of Two Isolated Indian Groups in Northern North Carolina." In her dissertation, she described a Rockingham County group that showed on the tax rolls of the county as "9 Goins families, 3 Harris families and 2 Richardson families." The group was concentrated around "Gointown, North Carolina."

Miss Nunn wrote that the Rockingham group was very unstable in 1937. The white-appearing part of the group was trying to exclude the children of dark-appearing part of the group from attending the special "Indian School" that had been built for them. She reported a definite Negroid appearance in the darker children.
"The Goinstown community is located in the northwest corner of Rockingham County, North Carolina, on the border with Stokes County. The prominent family names are Goins, Hickman, Harris, Richardson, and Kimmons. These related families can be traced back at least to the early 1800s in the area as free colored persons. The tradition is that they are descended either from 'Croatan' Indians [there was a period in the 1930s and 1940s when it was popular to describe any group of Indian people of uncertain origin as descendants of the 'Croatans'] or from remnants of the Saura tribe who mixed with non-Indians in the area. The community had a school until the early 1960s that was officially classed as Indian and has gradually merged with the white community. There is still a perception among the local whites that the Goinstown people are of Indian descent. With the location of the old Saura Town nearby on the Dan River, it is possible that these people possess, to some degree, Saura ancestry.

continue here


Anonymous said...

Can the author of this post provide a citation to the "East Indian" or "Melanoes" reference?

History Chasers said...