Luther Newton of the Potomac tribe

Potomac Tribe

A small group of families, whose names are mostly Newton and Green (figs. 40, 41), represent what may be the Indians who are recorded to Potomac creek, an affluent of about eight miles north of Fredericksburg in Stafford County, Virginia. We have not, however, clear proof that these descendants are actually of Potomac identity, although they now bear the name. They are not organized definitely, nor are their numbers known, except for a rough estimate which would put them at about 150. Like most of the tidewater bands, they are engaged chiefly in fishing. Hunting has been discontinued only within the last twenty-five years by some of them who followed it as a profession. At present the Potomac group still remains unstudied. As usual, considerable folklore and some ethnological survivals may be expected to reward the labor of the patient investigator.

An interesting legend is related by the older people. A version from the lips of Luther Newton, one of the more prominent men of the band, is as follows:

One of the sons of Sir Isaac Newton was disowned by his father for social misdeeds. In consequence of his disgrace the young man came to America to seek his fortune. While passing through the newly formed settlements in Virginia, one day he found himself obliged to seek shelter and food at the home of a planter on the edge of the forest. As he rode his horse to the plantation gate a pretty little Indian girl moved forward, opened the gate, and held it for him to pass by. Struck by her beauty, he leaned forward, took a ”piece of gold money” from his wallet, and handed it to her, saying that some day he would come back and marry her. He then passed on his way. A few years later he found himself back in the same district and approaching the gate where this event had taken place. The Indian girl, now grown to young womanhood, was before him again in the yard of the plantation. She took from her dress the ”piece of gold money,” and showing it to him reminded him of his promise. Thereupon he married her, and thus he became the ancestor of the Newtons of Indian blood and their relatives and descendants.

This event was said to have taken place in Orange County, where the informant, to prove his story, asserts that a plot of land belonging to his ancestor still remains unsettled as to title.

Potomac Tribe Photo Gallery

Green, Newton,

Stafford County VA,

Speck, Frank Gouldsmith. Chapters on the ethnology of the Powhatan tribes of Virginia. Indian Notes and Monographs, vol. 1, num. 5, pp. 225-455. Editor: Hodge, F. W. Heye Foundation, Museum of the American Indian. 1928.

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