Olde Towne Portsmouth Photo Gallery

This is my photo collection from Olde Towne Portsmouth on the first day of summer—June 20, 2020. Ten days earlier, the Confederate Monument at the town square was overthrown amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests and I was struck by the sight of revolutionary signage displayed on several Federal and Greek Revival style townhouses in the community.

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The Firebird Legend

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 […]

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Real Nansemond Names

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 […]

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The Sawyers of River Bridge

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 […]

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The Quarter: A Nickens Nucleus

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 […]

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Charles Gardner Trafton (b. 1760)

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 […]

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Nansemond Natural History & Cultural Reclamation

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 […]

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David Leary Pritchard (b. 1807)

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 […]

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The Indian Trail That Became “Old Swamp Road”

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 […]

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Joseph Bass (b. 1766-1784) of Arenuse Creek

Camden, NC Courthouse

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 […]

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