There is an old Indian legend about a Firebird who lived in the center of the Great Dismal Swamp, a territory shared by surrounding tribes for thousands of years. The fearsome creature formed its nest (at the site of Lake Drummond) through a vast wildfire, killing countless Indian families as it burned a hole into the ground. According to the legend, an Indian hunter killed the Firebird’s babies within the nest and… Read More

As a Bass, I was born with one of the most recognizable “Nansemond names.” However, the Bass name was not associated with Nansemond ancestry until John Bass(e) (b. 1616), an English minister, married Elizabeth (b. 1618), a Nansemond woman and daughter of a Nansemond Chief, in 1638. Descendants of Elizabeth (my 9th great grandmother) have become some of the most researched Nansemond people; however, she was one of over a thousand who were… Read More

Pharoah and Joel Sawyer have been a part of my Camden County, NC research for years. They were adjoining land owners to my ancestor William Bass and they ultimately bought all of his land. I followed the stories of William Bass’ descendants; however, I failed to recognize the importance of including Pharoah and Joel Sawyer’s descendants in my research until recently. On 10 April 1801, William Bass bought 125 acres of land (formerly owned by Thomas… Read More

Jarvis Jones (originally of Norfolk County, VA) was a man of great influence in Pasquotank County, NC. In 1754 he was a field officer in the Pasquotank County Militia at the onset of the French and Indian War and his brother (?) Nehemiah Jones was captain of the third company “on the Fork Creek on the North side of the Pasquotank River and on the upper of said county.” The third company included South Mills,… Read More

I am a Trafton descendant through my third great grandmother Eliza Trafton (b. 1820). Eliza was born free which is evident through her presence in the 1850 Federal Census (as the wife of Henry Newsom); however, little is known about her early life. In an effort to learn about Eliza’s lineage, I have begun to research the Trafton family of Camden County, NC. This article is an introduction to the patriarch, Charles Gardner Trafton, and… Read More

In genealogy, much of one’s time is spent learning the geographical and historical details of ancestral communities. I have written many articles about life on the Virginia/North Carolina state line, lifestyles, and infrastructure development that transformed the region–but researching these details was merely part of capturing evidence (knowing where to look and what type of records to look for). Throughout this process, I have learned many other details of personal importance that… Read More

In this article, I present the story of David Leary Pritchard—a man whose life served as a perfect cross-section of early 19th century South Mills (Camden County, NC)—as an example of how one can learn more about ancestors of color through their white neighbors (who were sometimes relatives). David Leary (also spelled Lurry) Pritchard was born on February 13, 1807—the youngest child of Joseph Pritchard (b. 1756-1774) and Chloe Leary/Lurry (b. 1756-1774)…. Read More

Recently I stumbled upon a newspaper article so valuable I had to share it here (as an image and with full transcription). I have written extensively about several of the references within this article so I have added hyperlinks to related content. Old Swamp Road in Camden County Editor Economist, Dear Sir: I have been requested by my neighbor, Mr. J. S. McCoy, to write you a short account of the “Old… Read More

Alchemy has a specific meaning in chemistry but, in a more general sense, it is the “process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value.” This post will provide insight into how to turn records, seemingly of little value (i.e., those that do not explicitly state relationships), into genealogical breakthroughs. I have written several posts about William Bass (b. 1755), who was my ancestor and the first… Read More

When I first started researching my Camden County, NC ancestors it was clear that they had connections to the Nansemond community in Norfolk County, VA but it seemed like an impossible feat to demonstrate how the two groups of people were related. There were numerous individuals with the same names, same general places of birth and residence, and even the same approximate ages. Despite this complexity, I eventually learned to individuate conflated… Read More