Native Americans of South Carolina

Effect of Mining on Eastern Siouan

I'm sure everyone is familiar with the story of Gov. Spotswood and Ft. Christana. Most of the eastern siouan had settled there by 1714, and were readily learning english and converting to Christianity. A previously unrecognized aspect of this acculturation was tradework. The 1714 "Act for the Better Regulation of the Indian Trade" included that "Indians who receive an education at William & Mary or at Christanna might be admitted to any place of trust or profit under the company." This act provided for the legalization of "The Virginia Indian Company" which was to continue a complete monopoly of the Indian Trade for another 20 years.

Gov. Spotswood, the true 'mover and shaker' of this company, was not primarily interested in the fur trade, but was motivated by a much more earthly interest....mining. A letter from Spottswood to the Council of Trade on 26 July 1712 stated.."I have, since the return of the Baron de Graffenried from Potomac, discoursed him concerning the probability of mines these parts, he says, though he has no doubts of finding such from the accounts he received from one Mr. Mitchell, a Swiss gentleman who went on the discovery some years ago. (on the possibility of making a mining profit for the Crown, Mr. Mitchell reported) "he says it is a matter not new to him, there having been mines of the like nature found on his father's lands in Switzerland..." (one would have to wonder, given the proliferation of the surname 'Mitchell' among the NC/VA border country mixed-bloods, wether Mitchell had half-breed children, or wether some of Mitchell's Indian miners assumed his surname)

It is a well-known fact that Gov. Spottswood was the first man to build an operating iron furnace in Virginia. Spotswood's iron mining operation was quite large within a few years given a report in 1723 that the ship Greyhound bound for Bristol carried 10 tons of Spotswood's iron. Moseley's Map of the 1730's/40's shows the position of many mines possibly still operational.

Another interesting note is that that same ship (the Greyhound) carried 182 slaves to Virginia in 1718, 170 in 1719, 222 in 1721, and 166 in 1722. Many of these slaves were used to support the mining activities, and in this activity, it is most probable that Africans and Native Americans most likely had extensive contact and interaction.

I find it reasonable to assume that many of the Christianized, educated, english speaking Indians of the Fort Christana era ( called "diggers of the earth" by Algonkians) indebted to the Virginia Indian Company, also were employed in some aspect of this mining operation. From my own experience, i found it interesting that Jacob Scott (born 1797), the founder of the Indian Community at Scott's Ferry here in northwest Florida, was listed by occupation as a "Smith", and was the only person i could find listed as such in a 4 county area.

Northampton Co., NC Census

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Copyright ©2005, Steven 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.