I want to say a bit about the official identity of Indians of Occoneechee Neck, home of ancient Pates in Northampton County (Old Bertie Precinct), North Carolina. I will be most conservative in my discussion of Native Americans there. My source for description of these people (spelled Ocaneechee by Swanton) will be John R. Swanton’s massive official anthropological authority, The Indian Tribes Of North America, Bulletin 145, of the Smithsonian Institution Bureau Of American Ethnology, published by the Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C., in 1952 (ISBN 0-87474-179-3).
The Native American genetic moiety of the people of Occoneechee Neck is the Ocaneechee Siouan stock, historically related to the Saponi, Tutelo , and related tribes. They were historically centered on islands in the Roanoke River in area of the present Clarksville, Virginia, just east of the Pascal settlement of Harris, Peete, Powel, and associated, families:
“When first met by Lederer in 1670 at the spot above mentioned, the Ocaneechee were noted throughout the region as traders, and their language is said to have been the common speech of both trade and religion over a considerable area. Between 1670 and 1676 the Ocaneechee had been joined by the Tutelo and Saponi, who had settled upon two neighboring islands. In the latter year the Conestoga sought refuge among them, and were hospitably received, but, attempting to dispossess their benefactors, they were driven away. Later harassed by the Iroquois and English, the Ocaneechee fled south, and in 1701 Lawson found them on the Eno River…..Later they united with the Tutelo and Saponi.”
Swanton goes on to note the Ocaneechee later united with the Shakori, Siouan people also officially identified as the Coree and Saxapawhaw. My great great great grandmother Christian Ammons Pate declared herself to be a Coree Indian. When Christian (Christo) Pate died, she was in possession of a pot of old European coins known in the Pate family as the Coree treasure.
The Occoneechee Neck of Northampton County, North Carolina, is about ten miles from The Albamarle Highway (U.S. Hiway 301, the Albemarle allusion being to George Monk, the Earl of Alemarle, the English Admiral-General who shared the blame for the Medway River naval fiasco that ruined the famous Pett shipbuilding family in England), where the Albemarle Highway goes through Garysburg.
In Garysburg a faith-based social services organization has much confused the location of the original Mud Castle in Northampton County, by taking the name for its own. The real Mud Castle is on the north side of the junction of Occoneechee Road and Barrow Mill Road, at the bridge over Occoneechee Swamp Creek. It is my studied conclusion that there was, at one time, an Indian funerary temple on an earthen mound there.
This contention is somewhat sustained by the great volume of Indian artifacts have been recovered from the site--without archaeological siting and cataloguing. There is much the archaeologists will not learn from their best digs.
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