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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Sacred To Their Memory ~ A cemetery book by Amy Gamiel and Lois Meekins

L to R: Amy Midgett Gamiel and Lois Johnson Meekins

About a month ago, I requested of Amy Midgett Gamiel, that she write a blog for our genealogy society. Amy is co-author with Lois Johnson Meekins, of the book…Sacred to their Memory. If you live in Dare County, NC., and do any type of genealogical research, this book is a must have. I can not count the times that I have used this irreplaceable reference tool.

Written by Amy Midgett Gamiel

In October of 1999, a ten year project I began with my friend, Lois Johnson Meekins of Coinjock, came to an end as Sacred to their Memory: The Dare County Cemetery Survey, was published. We printed 1,600 copies, which have sold well around the country and continue to sell in several bookstores throughout the county. A copy can be purchased from me or Steve at Manteo Booksellers, who likes to say, “I just don’t understand it, but people are dying to get into her book”.

It all began in the 1980’s, when the archives in Raleigh had sent a request for some of the genealogical societies to document the cemeteries in their counties. In North Carolina, none of the cemeteries had been documented since the WPA, did them in the 1930’s. In 1990, Lois Meekins approached me with the idea of documenting the Dare County cemeteries. She cautioned me that is was going to be a large project requiring a lot of time and commitment. However, having spent most of my free time in these graveyards and being filled with a fascination with genealogy since childhood, I jumped at the opportunity to take on such a venture.

We began collecting our data during the winter of 1991. Lois and I would copy our information individually. She would then take home everything that she had copied and save it in her computer. After wards, she would print it out and give it to me so that I could check her information against mine. If there was a discrepancy with our data, we would go back to that cemetery to make the correction. This process would only be carried out in the winter time because we wanted to avoid any dangerous run-ins with snakes.

It had been brought to our attention as we had been involved in our own personal genealogical endeavors, that due to the lack of the 1890 census in Dare County, that it was very difficult to track the identity of the women who had gotten married within the twenty year time period. We decided that if we personally knew the maiden name of a woman buried in Dare County, we wanted to add that to our information. However, we eventually began feeling sympathetic for the women who we didn’t personally know that were also without a maiden name. We spent our summers in the courthouses tracking down the names and identities of all the women including their parents.

As this process continued, we decided it would not be fair to leave out the spouses and parental relationships of the men, so we eventually researched and included that information as well. What began as a mere list of those buried in Dare County cemeteries, soon transformed into a far more comprehensive account of not only those buried, but also their parents as well as spouses.

We soon realized that our project was not a list to be handed into a genealogical society for information to share, but rather a book in the making that needed to be published. We still satisfied the needs of the Raleigh archives, however we did not want to lay our project in the hands of someone else; we needed to publish it ourselves. This only provided one problem…money.

During the ten years that we spent collecting data, we began keeping a log of all of those we met along the way who said to us, “let me know if you ever print this out. I would like a copy.” We had been in contact with a publishing company in Maryland, named Gateway Press. My husband was very skeptical that anyone would be interested in buying a book full of tombstone information and void of pictures. Lois and I sent out letters to the people we knew were interested in purchasing such a book. When my husband saw the positive feedback from those letters, he handed over the checkbook and allowed me to make the investments needed.

Writing this book was a treasured experience to say the very least. Being a part of such a genealogical endeavor that was so close to my heart, was really a dream come true. We met a lot of very memorable people and encountered many memorable situations including a meeting with the largest black snake that I’ve ever seen, on C.C. Gray corner, in Avon. However the most memorable situation was when we went to our very first cemetery together at Shiloh Methodist Church in Stumpy Point. As is common in low lying areas, most of the graves there were covered in concrete. While we were collecting our information, Lois commented that “When the dead in Christ shall rise, the Pointers will be the last to get out !”

For the following fifteen minutes, I could not concentrate on my work because I was so concerned about what Lois had said about the Stumpy Pointers. Her comment had gone right over my head and I was convinced that she was making a comment about the morals of the people there. I finally asked her what she thought was so wrong with Stumpy Pointers, because I was convinced that there was just as many bad people there as good. At my remark, she laughed hysterically and explained that she was actually referring to the state of the grave sites in the cemetery with all the concrete. Such memories like these made the researching process a joy for me.

When I cracked open my very first copy, I wanted most to see Austin Cemetery in Kitty Hawk, because it is the resting place of my maternal grandparents but the community that I am most proud of in the book is Buxton. I was very disappointed that my paternal grandmother was not alive to see the accomplishment because my grandmother and grandfather and their ancestors were buried all over Buxton. That cover that was opened long ago is now looking rather worn. It continues to be a valuable tool even for my own genealogy. I love that there is so much information provided under one cover.

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Keepers of Little Kinnakeet

There is a special place in the hearts of most Hatteras Islanders, for the Little Kinnakeet Life Saving Station. Just about every person with island ancestry, can claim a connection to this historic structure that stands just 3.5 miles north of present day Avon, NC. With that said…and the fact that HIGS just loves a new project…we thought we’d start one with those who served there, in mind.

What HIGS is looking for…

We are in the midst of forming a collection that consist of the service records of all men who served at Little Kinnakeet. Through our HIGS Facebook Group, we are already aware that several people have acquired records of their Fathers, Grandfathers, and so on. For those who don’t have a clue as where to begin to find such…we’re here to help. The National Archives has copies of most military service personnel files. You will find the link below. And if you need any assistance on our end, please just send us an email. We are always glad to help.

Here is a list of known service men and keepers that were stationed at Little Kinnakeet.

Gilbert B. Midgett 1891 ~ Homer W. Midgett 1891 ~ Cyrus H. Gray 1892 – 1894 ~ Rasmus Midgett Jr. 1893-1896 ~ William S. Midgett 1895-1896 ~ Edward L. Midgett 1897-1901 ~ William G. Midgett 1897-1905 ~ Davis L. Gray Jr. 1897-1913 ~ Roswell D. Gray 1901 & 1905-1913 ~ Little L. Gray 1902-1913 ~ Fabios F. Dailey 1903-1904 ~ John G. Midgett 1906-1913 ~ Ignatius S. Midgett 1913-1914 ~ Warren R. Midgett 1914

Keepers :
John Allen Midgett 1874-1882 ~ Edward O. Hooper 1883-1909 ~ Edward S. Midgett 1910-1914

No. 1 Surfmen:
D.W. Barnett 1879-1880 ~ Edward O. Hooper 1881-1882 ~ H.C. Willis 1883 ~ I.L. Hooper 1884-1890 ~ William B. Midgett 1893-1898
Nasa W. Dailey 1891-1892 & 1899-1903 ~ Oliver J. Gray 1904- 1914

Surfmen:
F.L. Scarborough 1879-1882 ~ Jethro W. Midgett 1879

George Harrison Meekins 1928-29 ~ James W. Scarborough ? – 1944 (waiting on service records)

 

What HIGS is up to these days…

Devaney F. and Devaney E. Jennette

They always say that grass never grows on a busy street. And boy, if that is the case…HIGS has been doing their part in proving that point. Within the past couple of weeks, we have added several new board members and will soon announce another exciting new venture that we are in the midst of planning and sorting out all the details. I keep telling people that “We are not your Grandmother’s genealogy society”. This is so true. And very shortly…you will see why.

As most of you are aware, HIGS has a group page on Facebook. It is used as a forum, event planner, and photo archive. In the past year that we have been online, we have realized that our group’s page has become a very valuable tool. First, it has been a gathering place for those who are from, or had ancestors from, Hatteras Island. People share. People discuss. People connect. It is such an awesome thing. Just shows that today’s technology can be used in a very positive way. With over 480 group members…we stand as a testament to that.

Lately though, with all the changes and projects that the HIGS Board Members, have found themselves facing…our online time has become limited. Just bare with us as we tidy things up and get organized, so that our members will soon be able to join in and truly become a more active and “hands on” society through the projects that we are planning.

And for those who read our blog and post comments…”Thank you”. We love the feedback and will do our best to reply a.s.a.p 🙂

Dawn F. Taylor

 

Native blood…

Island Native ?

Written by Roberta Estes. Co-Founder of the Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research Group.

During our work with the Hatteras neighborhood project last year, we discovered a wonderful mystery. You may have the answer, and the answer could be extremely important.

We have located the land of three Indian villages on Hatteras Island. Two of those villages are very important to the Lost Colony and the Croatoan/Hatteras Indians as well. One of the villages was abandoned, we believe, by 1760. The other village, however, was not, and a deed was actually granted to William Elks and the Hatteras Indians for a parcel of land which contained the remaining Indian village…

We recreated this neighborhood using land grants, deeds and wills. In doing so, we made an extremely interesting discovery. Keep in mind that in North Carolina in the 1700s, it was illegal for a white person to marry a ‘person of color’, which included Indians as well as mixed race individuals who were then called mulattoes. Some of the property owners whose land abutted that of William Elks had some very unusual wills.

In 1782, the will of Josiah Basnett leaves to his son, Alexander Scarborough, 100 acres of land, to daughters Nancy Scarborough and Cassia Scarborough personal belongings, and then to Letishy Scarborough, 15 hogs. Letishy is actually mentioned first in the location in the will normally occupied by a wife. Later in the will, Josiah Basnett appoints Letishy Scarborough and William Scarborough, Sr. as the executors of his estate.

In 1790, there are two Basnett individuals who are shown in the census as heads of individual households, Robert and Mary, and both are free people of color. Mary lives beside William Scarborough.

In light of the will of Josiah Basnett, and the law preventing the marriage of white people to people of color, this strongly suggests that Josiah Basnett too was likely a person of color, and therefore could not marry Letishy Scarborough. But he could own land and he could leave his worldly belongings to Letishy and his children by her.

The Basnett and the Scarborough families both abutted the land held by the Hatteras Indians. Were the Basnetts Native, or part native? If so, not all Basnett lines may be Native. After all, Native people had to adopt surnames at some point, and many adopted the surnames of their neighbors, people they admired, or white people that had a kinship with, either blood or via a marital relationship.

In 1791, the will of John Whidbee leaves to his son, Elijah Basnett, land joining Robert Basnett’s line. Again, we have a situation where a man leaves to a Basnett land. In this case, it would appear that John Whidbee is white and Elihah Basnett’s mother may not be. If this is the case, this certainly suggests, twice, that the Basnett family is considered “of color”, and that heritage is not just in the current generation, but stretches back at least one generation in order for 4 individuals in the current generation to be considered of color. Elijah may be the son of Mary Basnett, shown as a head of household in the 1790 census.

Just a few doors away from the Scarborough and Basnett families we find an Elizabeth Whidby, so we know the family was living in the neighborhood. There is a John Whidbey shown in Perquimans County. Later this land owned by Elijah Basnett is shown to abut the land of Robert Basnett, so apparently John Whidbee was an adjoining neighbor to Robert Basnett. It causes one to wonder if that is where Mary Basnett was living, on John Whidbee’s land. By leaving his land to his son, he would assure his son’s mother a place to live for the duration of her life.

The first evidence of Basnett, by any spelling, is an entry for both a Joseph Basnett and a Robert Basnite on the 1779 Currituck tax list. Josiah was shown as “single”, which, were he living unmarried with a female, he would be considered as single.

John Whidbee is listed on the 1755 tax list and is involved with the families who live in the neighborhood with the Basnett family before 1768. He also has another son, Major Whidbee (Whidbey), who he also remembers in his will.

So what we have here is a Scarborough male, Alexander, who is apparently a Basnett genetically. However, he may have at some point in his life decided to use his father’s name, so we might be looking for an Alexander Basnett.

We also have a Basnett, Elijah, who is probably a Whidbee genetically. Similarly, he could have at some point decided to use the Whidbee surname, so we might be looking for Elijah Whidbee. I have seen this situation before, but at least in the case of Elijah Basnett, we know he sold land and had children, one of which was Willoughby, and that his children used the Basnett name.

We have not been able to track Alexander Scarborough forward in time, so we don’t know much about his line.

If you descend from any Whidbee, Scarborough, or Basnett…this is the story of your family on Hatteras Island. Do you have any information that might help unravel this story? It’s very likely that the Basnett line (not genetically Scarborough or Whidbee) is admixed in some way. Interestingly enough, the only other “person of color” household in the area is another neighbor, Percival Dring, who owned land, made his will in 1807 and died in 1814. He had witnessed the will of Josiah Basnett. Willoughby Basnett, son of Robert Basnett, witnessed the will of Percival Dring.

We very much would like to find descendants of the Whidbee, Basnett and Scarborough families to DNA test. The answer to the questions of who might be Native is held in the DNA.