Native Americans

Extracted from Times Philadelphia May 19 1892 "Kent County's Moors"

It was in the vicinity of the village of Cheswold, in Kent County , Del., that a certain race or clan of people were heard spoken of under the name of Moors. They were described as having a light brown complexion, sharp or clean-cut features, eyes usually blue and hair in many cases of a distinctly red tinge. There was no difficulty in finding the house of one of them. The master received us civilly. He was about the color of a dark mulatto, apparently about 50 years of age, and his bushy whiskers were streaked with gray. His iron-gray hair was nearly straight, with a slight wave running through it, and his eyes were of a dull blue. Except his color he had none of the characteristics of a negro, and might otherwise have been taken for a well-bred white American.

"There are a great many of our people scattered about here," he said, "but really I don't know much about our origin. Most people call us mulattos, but we are really nothing of the sort. I don't know just what you would call us, though. My father's grandfather was a Frenchman, and his wife was an Indian squaw; my own grandfather and my father married among their own people. I never bothered about the matter myself, and never thought it made any difference to any one where we came from. But I'll tell you where you can find out as much about it as anyone knows. You go see old John Sanders. He's pretty old, and has lived about here nearly all his life, and probably he can tell you more about it than anybody else.

John Sander's house was found after a walk of about a mile over such perfectly level country as only Delaware can show. The old man was at home, and was glad to see visitors. He must have been a remarkably fine-looking man in youth, and has not yet lost all pretensions to good looks. Though he is 80 years of age, he walks as straight as ever; his eyes are clear and strong, his voice full, and his straight black hair, thick and heavy, is only slightly streaked with gray. Our modern American curse of baldness has passed him by, and he might easily pass for fifty years younger than he is. And his--(illegible)--lean face--(illegible)--forehead, high cheek bones, and prominent, thin nose with downward curve which might have been termed hooked.

"I'm afraid I can't tell you much about our people," he said, "but you are welcome the little I know. No, we are not Moors, neither are we mulattos. We are Indians, I was born in 1811, not two miles from here. My father, while a boy, was bound out to a man named Jefferson, who brought him up here from Sussex. We older ones are pure-blooded, but the younger generations have got badly mixed.

"My father and mother and all my foreparents were Indians. There are not many of the pure blood about here now, though there used to be a great many. It is strange how people have forgotten about us. Sixty years ago everyone knew who and what we were; there never was any question about it, and no one ever thought about taking us for Africans. Look at me!" said the old man as he drew himself up to his full length of six feet two inches, "Do I look like a negro?" He certainly looked like almost anything else. "Well, all our people looked like me then. None of them were ever slaves; we were as free as the whites, and every one knew it. But since that time most of the old families have either died out or moved away. The people about here now are all newcomers. Of course they know nothing about us and never troubled their heads to inquire. There were plenty of mulattos about and the newcomers thought every one with a dark skin must be a mulatto. So they took to calling us so, and do it yet--they don't know any better.

"I really don't know how we came to be called Moors. I have heard, though, that a good many years ago a family of genuine Moors settled somewhere in this part of the country, but I have never seen them, and never heard anything more about them. They certainly had no connection with our people, who are the ones usually known by that name. But if the story is true, the newcomers about here, whom I spoke of, may have got us confused with them, or attached their story to us. But I know that our last chief was buried somewhere in the neighborhood of Millsborough, in Sussex County, and I have heard that when they were building the railroad from Lewestown down to Snow Hill, in Maryland, they had to dig through the place where he was buried, so they took up what was left of his bones and buried them somewhere else. He must have died more that a hundred years ago, for we have had no chief when my father was a boy."

Note from PONY: there seems to be quite a cross-over between these people and the eastern Siouan of the VA/NC border…Harmon, Sisco, Francis, Sanders, and Driggers surnames which first appeared along the Meherrin and Roanoke Rivers, began appearing in this group in the late 1700's. These families seem to have intermarried with the pre-existing Nanticoke families already living on the reserve including the Durham, Clark, Norwood and Sockum surnames.

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

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Copyright ©2005, Stephen 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.