''In 1856, voting by the free black people (present day RedBones) of Ten Mile Creek Precinct in what is
now Allen Parish, Louisiana, became a source of public concern. Several
were tried for illegalvotingfor free Negroes did not have the
franchise but they were acquitted when their colored ancestry could not
be proven and the judge would not permit the jury to evaluate them by
This early community
was located at the
site of the present YPSILANTI
(q.v.). The name is
taken from an old Indian
chief, Red Bone, who
was born here.
HORNELLSVILLE WEEKLY TRIBUNE [New York]
SOUTH CAROLINA’S REDBONES
There are a singular
race of people in South Carolina called the Redbones. Their origin is
unknown. They resemble in appearance the gypsies, but in complexion
they are red. They have accumulated considerable property and are
industrious and peaceable. They live in small settlements at the foot
of the mountains and associated with none but their own race. They are
a proud and high spirited people. Caste is very strong among them. They
enjoy life, visit the watering places and mountain resorts, but eat by
themselves and keep by themselves. When the war broke out several of
them enlisted in the Hampton legion, and when the legion reached
Virginia there was a great outcry among the Virginians and the troops
from other states because we had enlisted Negroes. They did not
resemble the African in the least, except in cases where Africans had
amalgamated with Indians. This intermixture, which is common in the
Carolinas, produces marvelous results. It takes the kink out of the
hair of the African, straightens his features and improve him in every
way except in temper---Interview with Senator Hampton.-------------
KILLED AND TWO OTHERS MISSING
LA., AUG 5, --About twenty miles northwest of Lake
Charles is a logging camp owned by Locke, Moore & Company, mill
men, and they have a tram railway about twenty miles long, running from
Tidewater, on the Calcasien river, out into the pinery, the outer end
of which is near Beckwith creek.
creek there are some citizens who, it is said have Indian blood in
them, and they are called " Red Bones." The men who are employed
on this loggery and the "Red Bones" from some cause hated each
other, and several times fights have occurred, but nothing serious
until last Sunday.
It is told
here and is perhaps as near correct as we can get, that on Friday the
"Red bones" ordered one Morris, on the tram road, to leave.
about 10 o’clock a.m., some of the tram road boys went to a whisky shop
about two miles from the road. There they met several "Redbones,"
and Jesse Ward, of the tram road, shot and killed Dyson, a "Red Bone."
Ward then was
killed by the "Red Bones," and firing became general. Marion
Markle and Lee Perkin, of the "Red Bones," were killed, and Willetts,
Dupree and Lecombe were wounded.
afternoon more men from the tram came out and the fight was
renewed. This time Swan, of the tram boys, and Owen Ashworth, of
the "Redbones," were killed.
Dr. Meyers and
his brother, who had come to attend the wounded, were fired on by the
tram boys but were not hurt. Every thing now is quiet.
KILLED IN A FREE FIGHT
BATTLE TAKES PLACE NEAR LAKE CHARLES, LA
Employees Get on a Spree and Raise a Disturbance Which Results in the
Killing of Several Men and the Wounding of Many More--Friends Who Come
to Attend the Wounded Fired Upon.
La., Aug . 5. --At the logging camp of Lockmore&Co., near this
place, a free fight occurred. Some of the men employed on the
little railroad running to the lumber camp went to a whisky shop where
they met several ‘red bones’ or half-breeds. Jesse Ward, one of
the railroaders, shot and killed a red bone named Dyson. Ward was
then killed by the red bones.
became general and Lee Perkins and Marion Markley of the redbones were
killed and Willets Dupree and a man named Lecomb were wounded.
Later on the
men from the tramway came out and the fight was renewed. This
time Swan of the tram boys and Owen Ashworth of the red bones were
Dr. Meyers and
his brother, who had come to attend the wounded, were fired on by the
tram boys, but were not hurt.
grand jury at Lake Charles found bills of indictment for murder against
ten persons implicated in the "Redbones" riot and killing, near Lock,
Moore & Co.’s lumber camp, some six weeks ago, to-wit; Josh
Perkins, Dempsey Dial, Austin Ainsworth and Louis Dupre, of the
Redbones, and G. Hooker Morris, Rufus Mouton, Olly Gleason, Jesse
Hilton, Wm. Yellat and Jame Bagget.
South Carolina’s "Red Bones."
Have you ever
heard of a class of people called "red bones?" said Lewis Marshall, of
Charlston, S. C. "They are the most peculiar people in the United
States. No one living absolutely knows the race from which they
sprang or whence the original settlers came. They live very
nearly on the boundary line between South Carolina and Georgia, in the
northwesternn part of
thefirst-names State. They are very clannish, mix very little
with people not of their race, and in a manner are quite thrifty.
I am of the opinion that they are descendants of the Basques of
Southern France. They do now lack courage, for a company of them
served in Hampton’s legion during the late Civil War, and bore
themselves bravely at the first Manassas. Their skin is of a
swarthy red, resembling that of the Indian, but at that point all
resemblance ceases, except to be that they are very hot of
temper. I have often wondered why the ethnologists of this
country have not studied these people. Surely a monograph on them
would be highly interesting."
17, 1893 Mr. McDonald Furman
My Dear Sir
Yours of 13th inst is before
me and in reply let me say that I not only appreciate
your laudable desire to rescue the traditions of an obscure race, sometimes
wronged, from oblivion, but to call the public mind to a number of important
facts of our brief history, both secular and religious, which in the eager
haste of this fast age, our people are liable to forget. Your brief, but
important, communication to the public press calling attention to things
of this sort have always interested one reader at least. You will permit me
to thank you very sincerely, that you, young man, as you are, have respect
to the days, and the men of "auld lang syne" and can find interest and
worth, if not beauty and charms amid the bygone years. And I trust that if
the response of your contemporaries is not always as generous as your
fond wishes may desire, that still your inquiries may bring to light facts and
principles, that shall gratify and profit your own mind, and help your
generation, and those who shall come after.
The question now upon your
mind, of which you write me is not unworthy your
research. And I wish that I were able to give you more information than I can. Of
course the people of "mixed breed," that we have among us in Marlborough
are not known as "Redbones," and not until recently have they been
called "Croatans," a name which some of them are now adopting. For generations,
they have claimed to have been of "Portuguese" extraction, while commonly
the white people have thought them mulattos. Since the "Revolutionary War"
the Quicks and a few other names connected with them, have enjoyed the
respect of white people; and all the privileges of citizenship were accorded
them in consideration of "distinguished services," they rendered to
the cause of independence. And the consequence has been that their
complexion, their circumstances and general character has wonderfully improved,
until now they are scarcely recognized as having "mixed blood" in their veins.
You can see how on account of the special favor shown this family,
other men of "mixed breed" would naturally claim and seek alliances with them:
and so it came to pass in the years "before the war between the states,"
that questions would sometimes arise as to the citizenship of parties making
the claim as only free whites were so accounted and many a long
controversy arose in the courts over such "points in law." Judge Hudsen, was
attorney in a case of this sort, and made a very thorough investigation of the
question of descent and has told me more than once that he was satisfied
that "several of the larger families of this color, were free from Negro
blood." He says that "they have a well authenticated claim that they
sprang from a parentage that came from the south of Europe, Spain or
Portugal, and that with this European blood was probably some Moorish, but no
evidence of Negro." Other families claim affinity with the American
Indian and there can be little doubt but that their claim is just, as they
have the natural characteristic marks of that aboriginal people clearly
developed. While everybody believes, that some who claim to be Indian, or
Moor, are unquestionably mixed with Negro.
You ask me if we have "any
Chavis" in Marlborough? They are here, and have been
for two or three generations, and are among the best known people we have
after the Quicks. And it is very likely that they have intermarried. Why, Sir,
if you were here to accompany me to one of my appointments next Sunday, and
take a seat in the "a.... corner," [might be Arian!] just about the hour
for the service to commence, looking through the window blinds, you might see
a "covered buggy with two horses (or mules) drive up, and presently a
young man about "six foot three" would enter the door, lift his beaver, and
with slow and courtly tread walk down the aisle, "straight as an arrow, raven
locks, prominent raised cheeks, complexion brownish red," and take a
seat about mid way the house, and if you were not looking for "Redbones," you
might ask, "what fine looking well behaved young man is that," well that is
"Lewis Chavis." He has a valuable farm, a "good bank account," his mother
owns a fine place, and valuable mortgages, and he has a younger brother just as
good looking, only not quite so tall. And has some cousins that are
enterprising valuable citizens. But there are others of the name, not so well to
do, and not so well received in social circles. These better ones however
when they open their lips, betray their origins as they tell you of the
"housens"and "chillens," etc.
And then we have a large
family of Locklears, another of Jacob Turners (?), in
making a society and class of their own, who do not seem to aspire to anything
higher. Poor pitiable creatures, they scorn (?) to associate with Negroes,
cannot with the better class of whites, and yet many of them are good people,
industrious, honest, humble citizens. Of course you will find vicious,
envious, worthless fellows among them, but no more than many a "pale face"
or "black skin." They have two Baptist churches in Marlborough, one
of them located near the little town of Clio, where they have a large
congregation, and well behaved. And the existence of the church, and a
comfortable framed building to worship in, makes them a fixture in the community, and
an advantage in the way of farm laborers. The other is in the upper part of
the county and is not doing so well, I judge mainly for lack of a sensible
pastor. The young man who does most of their preaching, being a noisy,
ignorant sort of fellow, and yet sharp enough to keep his place among them.
This latter church is known, in doctrine and practice, as badly mixed as
the blood of its members. Feet washing, free will, immersionists. And yet
the leading people of the community, who are mostly Methodists, enjoy
having the church among them because it moralizes and improves the character,
as well as settles and fixes laborers on their farms.
Now I have filled up my
space, and fear that with it all I have not met your
wishes, as I certainly desired to do. If however from what I have written you
shall suppose that I may yet help you in the way of information you will
not hesitate to command me. With the kindest regards to your excellent
father and profound veneration for your honored name through three
generations, I am yours with great respect
J.A.W. Thomas =============================== James Mooney, with the Bureau
of Ethnology, Smithsonian Institute, wrote in, "The Handy Book of
American Indians North of Mexico, "That, he thought the Indians of
Robeson County ,NorthCarolina, (Croatan/Lumbees) combine in themselves
the blood of the wasted tribes, the early colonists of forest rivers,
runaway slaves, or other Negroes, and probably stray seaman of Latin
races from coasting vessels from the West Indies or Brazilian trade.”
In 1897, Mr. Mooney wrote to Charles McDonald Furman that, "He felt
that the Croatans, Redbones, Melungeons, Moors, and Portuguese were all
local names for mixed Indian races along the Atlantic seaboard, with
westward drift into the mountains." And stated, "It would be worth
while of local investigators to go into the subject systematically. I
think possibly the Indian remnants may have married with the convict
apprentice importation of early colony days as well as with the free
Negro element." Mr. Furman was considered by Mooney and other officials
as the most informed person on the Redbones and Catawba Indians in
Privateer Township, Sumter County, South Carolina. He had tried in vain
to get the state of South Carolina to study the Redbones, and chastised
state officials for being interested in exotic peoples in other
countries, but ignoring a most unusual people right here at home.
Furman could not define the Redbones and he believed them a separate
race of their own.
The 1907 Smithsonian
Institute's Bureau of Ethnology's, "Handy Book of American Indians,"
defined the Melungeons of Hancock County, Tennessee, formerly of North
Carolina, as, "Said to be a mixture of white, Indian and Negro.” "The
American Heritage Dictionary" and the "Dictionary of English Language"
both state, "Origin unknown for the Appalachia Melungeons." These early
authorities knew of no other people here but the free person of color,
Anglo, Negro, and Indian. They were as mystified as we were about them.
Their assumptions of, "I see them, said to be, felt they were, think
they are," as well as "unknown," now appear to be construed to mean
tri-racial, and to be the true facts. By 1981, these guesses had become
fact for the Webster's "Third New International Dictionary." They
confidently defined the Melungeons as, "One of a small group of dark
skinned people of mixed Indian, White and Negro ancestry in Southern
Appalachians of Eastern Tennessee."