Wednesday, December 17, 2008
A New Look at the Tuscarora War
On the Trail of Tom,
or A New Look at the Tuscarora War
by Sara Whitford
©2006-2007 All Rights Reserved.
The following publication examines some new and exciting questions relating to Tuscarora history and the Tuscarora war. First things first: I must give credit where credit is due, as elements of this paper stem from ideas suggested by Charles Shephard and Fred Willard, two individuals with whom I spent many hours doing research relating to early colonial Indian history in past years.
When I first met Fred back in 2004, he opened up an entire new world of research for me by drawing my attention to the old Mattamuskeet reservation of Hyde County. What made the topic even more fascinating were the names in my own family tree that he was so excited to learn I descend from—names that come right off of the known names from Mattamuskeet.
Over many conversations with Fred and Charles, anecdotal bits and pieces of research would come up seeming something like puzzle pieces that unfortunately we did not have a picture to go by in order to solve.
One such subject that offered a few puzzle pieces is that relating to the possibility that Core Tom, a prominent figure in the history of the Tuscarora War, is one and the same as Long Tom of the Mattamuskeet reservation. Fred, Charles and myself had all found various historical records that all mentioned some deviant character named Tom. Loose theories were bounced around, "I wonder if it's possible that they're all the same person?" There were even a few instances outside of North Carolina.
Despite the fact that such a theory, if true, would be intriguing, to be perfectly honest, I was quite skeptical of the whole thing. I always kept my eyes open, though, just in case something compelling came up.
Although the three of us had each come across items regarding rogue Toms, we never got around to actually putting our notes together to try to make anything of it. In 2006, however, I started researching specific elements of the Tuscarora war and the activity of Iroquois in the Carolina territory preceding the war. While doing that research, I stumbled upon the 1697 case and the 1704 case that I cite in this paper. I had seen those before, but had just mentally filed them away to look into at some future time.