Laws of North Carolina 1827-1831

“An act concerning the lands formerly occupied by the Tuscarora tribe of Indians lying in Bertie County, on the north side of Roanoke river.

“Whereas the Tuscarora Indians have for more than a century been the firm and un-dividing friends of the white people of this country, insomuch that the people of North Carolina not only render to them full and complete Justice, but also to exercise towards them that spirit of generosity which their conduct has merited: Therefore,

Article I. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that William R. Smith of Halifax, Simon J. Barker, of Martin and William Brittin of Bertie, be, and they are hereby appointed commissioners for the purpose of advertising and selling in manner hereinafter directed, the above named tract of land bounded as follows, to wit: beginning at the mouth of Quitsnoy swamp; running up the swamp 430 poles to a scrubby oak, near the head of said swamp by a great spring; thence north 10 degrees east 850 poles, to a persimmon tree, on Raquis Swamp; thence along the swamp and Pocasin main course north 57 degrees west 2,640 poles, to a hickory on the east side of Falling Run on Deep Creek, and down the various courses of said Run to Roanoke River; then down the river to the first station.

Article II. And be it further enacted, That the title so to be sold by said commissioners shall be understood to extend only to the reversion of the State in said lands after the expiration of the lease from the Indians, under which they are now held, and after the ratification of this act, and notice thereof to the commissioners, it shall be their duty to proceed forthwith to advertise in the newspapers most convenient to the premises, and also in five of the most public places in the counties of Bertie, Halifax and Martin, including the court houses in said counties, that a sale of said lands, according to the provisions of this act, will take place on Tuesday of the ensuing March term of the Superior Court of Birtie county, that is, on the 17th day of March next; and it shall be the duty of the said commissioners to attend to the aforesaid time and place, and offer in the court house yard, at public sale to the highest bidder, the said lands, according to advertisement, subject however to the lease aforesaid, and the commissioners shall have power to continue or postpone the sale from day to day until the end of the week, and should they, by unavoidable accident or otherwise be prevented from selling all or any part of the lands during the same week, it shall be their duty to advertise in like manner, for two months next preceding the following September term of the Bertie court, and to sell at said term, as is heretofore directed, at the March term, and said commissioners shall be empowered to put up said lands in such parcels as they may deem most advantageous for selling, and that they shall give the purchasers a credit of twelve months on one-half the purchase money, and a credit of twelve months on the other half; Provided always, that the purchaser shall deliver to the commissioners bonds with good and sufficient security for the same, payable to the Governor of the State.

Article III. And be it further enacted, That should the commissioners upon offering said lands as aforesaid perceive that they were likely to be sacrificed, or to sell for an amount greatly below their value, it shall be their duty forthwith to discontinue the sale, and it shall be the duty of the commissioners after making sale, or if no sale be made, immediately after September next to make report to the public Treasurer of the State of all such proceedings that they may have had under this act and also to hand over to him all such bonds as they may have taken from purchasers; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State, upon a certificate from the Treasurer of payment of the purchase money and a certificate from the commissioners of the boundaries of the land so purchased, to grant a title of release from the State of North Carolina to such persons as may be reported purchasers by said commissioners under the act of Assembly.

Article IV. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the public Treasurer to collect the money on said lands when they shall become due and hold the same subject to the order of the Tuscarora tribe of Indians; and whenever such order shall be presented, properly and duly authenticated, by said tribe or nation of Indians, it shall be his duty to pay the same over accordingly; Provided always that upon paying such monies, the Public Treasurer shall take from said Indians or agents, a full and complete release of all such claim, pretence of title, as they now make or ever may have to the aforesaid tract of lands.

Article V. And be it further enacted, That the commissioners shall be allowed each the sum of three dollars for every day that they shall necessarily be employed in examining said lands, or in attending the sale of same, to be paid out of the funds arising from the sale.

Article VI. Be it further enacted, That if it should appear at any time thereafter that the said Indians have parted with their claims, or contracted for the same, so that in fact the benefit of the sale shall, agreeable to the provisions of this act, revert to the State.”

Governor John Owen, Esq., appointed as commissioners, William R. Smith, of Halifax; Simon J. Baker, of Martin; and William Brittain, of Birtie; to sell the Tuscarora lands in pursuance to the lease effected by the help of the General Assembly, Nov. 17, 1823, of which they reported to William Roberts, Public Treasurer in bonds the sum of $2977.87, payable in installments of one and two years from the 17th day of March, 1829, which are on file in the Public Treasurer’s Office. And on Nov. 21, 1831, William S. Mahon, the Public Treasarer, re-reported cash in bonds for sale of Tuscarora lands


Principle…………………………. $1400.27.

Interest………………………….. 30.74. Total……………………………..



Another report of the same man January, 1832, that all has been collected, and remains in the treasury, subject to the order of the Indians.


Paid on May 3ist, 1831, and found on file.

“For this amount paid Bates Cooke, being their agent to receive the same under the Act of Assembly of 1828, $3,220.71-1/4.”

In about the year 1818, the New York Indians, (which includes the Tuscarora), were engaged in a stipulation, to buy a tract of land from the Menomonee and Winnebago, which was questioned in Congress about the validity of a contract on purchases of lands between Indian nations. But Congress did concur in the stipulation made between the New York Indians of the first part, and the Menomonees and Winnebago of the second part, for lands lying in Green Bay, Wisconsin, bought and paid for by the former according to the stipulation concluded in the year 1822.

For the payment of the said land above, I can only speak for the Tuscarora. The precise amount paid I am unable to state. But a tax was made on the nation; children paid twenty-five cents each, adults paid more according to their ability; the amount obtained in this way I am unable to state. They also gave their annuities of two years, which they drew from the government, and also two hundred dollars in money which they loaned from the Oneida Indians (which they afterwards refunded).

All those goods and moneys were paid to the Menomonee and Winnebago, as their part of the Green Bay lands. These facts I obtained of the widow of Jonathan Print up, an honorable chief of the Tuscarora nation, by whom was entrusted with the goods and money for the payment of said lands, which he faithfully performed, and was accompanied as delegates by Dr. John Patterson and James Cusick, who were appointed to the honorable office of purchasing a tract of land for a future home of their people. I am indebted to the widow of Dr. John Patterson, and also his brother Harry, for information which corroborates with that of the widow above mentioned, and also of other old people.

In a short time afterwards, the Menomonee denied the contract in various ways, they denied the efficiency of the Chiefs who signed the treaty, and also denied of having received any payment, and also denied the boundary of the land ceded. This naturally created difficulty and discord between them, and kept growing worse from year to year. But the Winnebago never denied any of the denials of the Menomonee.

In a treaty of the United States and the Menomonee and Winnebago, of Feb. 6th, 1826, in Article 8th, it was acknowledged that there existed some uncertainty in consequence of the cession made by the tribes upon Fox River and Green Bay, to the New York Indians. Finally the Menomonee made their complaint before the President, concerning the New York Indians, which has reference to the case, in the treaty by the United States, with the several tribes of Green Bay on Feb. 23rd, 1829, in Article 2nd, which read as follows, viz:

“Much difficulty having arising from the negotiations between the Menomonee and Winnebago tribes and the various tribes and portions of tribes of Indian of the State of New York, and the claims of the respective parties being much contested, as well with relation to the tenure and boundaries of the two tracts claimed by the New York Indians, west of Lake Michigan, as to the authority of the persons who signed the agreement on the part of the Menomonee, and the whole subject having been fully examined at the council this day concluded, and the allegations, proofs, and statements of the respective parties having been entered upon the Journal of the commissioners, so that the same can be decided by the President of the United States, it is agreed by the Menomonee and Winnebago, that so far as respects their interests in the premises, the whole matter shall be referred to the President of the United States, whose decision shall be final. And the President is authorized, on the parts, to establish such boundaries between them and the New York Indians as he may consider equitable and just.”

Bertie County NC,

Johnson, Elias. Legends, Traditions, and Laws of the Iroquois, or Six Nations and History of the Tuscarora Indians. Lockport, New York: Union Printing and Publishing Co. 1881.

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