Cape Fear Indians

Cape Fear Tribe: Named from Cape Fear, their native designation being unknown or indeed whether they were an independent tribe or a part of some other.

Cape Fear Connections. No words of the language of the Cape Fear Indians have been preserved, but early references clearly associate them with the eastern Siouan tribes, and they may have been a part of the Waccamaw, since Waccamaw River heads close to Cape Fear. They would then have been connected with the Siouan linguistic family and probably with the southern Atlantic division of which Catawba is the typical member.

Cape Fear Location. On Cape Fear River, as above stated. (See also South Carolina.)

Cape Fear Villages. The only village mentioned by name is Necoes, about 20 miles from the mouth of Cape Fear River, probably in Brunswick County. In 1715 five villages were reported.

Cape Fear History. While the Cape Fear Indians were probably met by several of the early voyagers, our first specific notice of them comes from the narratives of a New England colony planted on Cape Fear River in 1661. These settlers seized some of the Indian children and sent them away under pretense of instructing them in the ways of civilization and were themselves in consequence driven off. In 1663 a colony from Barbadoes settled here but soon left. In 1665 a third colony established itself at the mouth of Oldtown Creek in Brunswick County, on the south side of the river, on land bought from the Indians, but, though the latter were friendly, like the others this attempt at settlement was soon abandoned. They were visited by Capt. William Hilton in 1663. In 1695 they asked to be taken under the protection of Governor Archdale. The protection was granted and shortly afterward they rescued 52 passengers from a wrecked New England vessel who formed the nucleus of Christ Church Parish north of Cooper River. A few Cape Fear Indians accompanied Barnwell on his Tuscarora expedition in 1711-12. They were active in his behalf as scouts and also guarded the region around Port Royal. After the Yamasee War they were removed to South Carolina and settled inland from Charleston, probably in Williamsburg County (Milling. 1940). In the latter part of the eighteenth century, a remnant of this tribe and the Pedee lived in the Parishes of St. Stephens and St. Johns under a chief called King John. By 1808 only a half-breed woman remained of these two tribes, though others may have removed to the Catawba.

Cape Fear Population. Mooney (1928) estimates a population of 1,000 Cape Fear Indians in 1600. The census of 1715, above mentioned, gives 206. In 1808 White neighbors remembered when as many as 30 Pedee and Cape Fear Indians lived in their old territories.

Cape Fear, Siouan,

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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