The mid 1600s was a transformational period for the Nansemond people. After a series of violent conflicts between the Powhatan Chiefdom and English colonists, the Nansemond community was divided between those who chose to assimilate to a “Christianized” lifestyle and those who chose to remain “traditional.”1 As Nansemond people were displaced from their ancestral land (along the Nansemond River in present day Suffolk) through encroachment, the “Christianized” Nansemond shifted east toward Norfolk… Read More

The 29th Annual Nansemond Pow Wow is just a few days away and, though most Nansemond research is focused on the 1600s through the 1800s, I thought this would be a great time to share some insight on recent Nansemond history and the people, both inside and outside the community, who have been influential in the formation of the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association (NITA). This article will include detail on Nansemond leaders,… Read More

Camden County was formed from the northeastern section of Pasquotank County in 1777. The county seat was originally located at “Jonesborough” (in present day Courthouse), a waterfront settlement on the Camden side of the Pasquotank River. The name was in reference to Joseph Jones, a local statesman who was the primary advocate for the creation of Camden County. A stagecoach route from Princess Anne County, VA to Chowan County, NC changed horses… Read More

When your ancestors were common people from a small, rural area, you learn to set modest record expectations. I have few wills, few church records, few family bibles, and few family graveyards to walk through. Record scarcity can be discouraging but it is a normal part of genealogy and it encourages creativity and relationship building with other researchers. Your chances of finding obscure records are much better as part of an active research community than… Read More

The Great Dismal Swamp and its surrounding communities have an incredibly diverse history. As a near coastal region with numerous inland waterways, many different types of people traveled through, settled in, and migrated out of the area—including multiple indigenous groups and people from throughout Europe and Africa. Prior to the influx of newcomers, the identities of indigenous people were self-controlled. There were tribal differences between natives but there was no need for… Read More

On my first research trip to North Carolina, I went to the Camden County Register of Deeds and searched for one surname—Bass. I am a Bass and I had a list of verified Bass ancestors, so it was the natural thing for a new genealogist to do. As I processed the information from deeds (i.e., grantees, grantors, witnesses, and adjoining landowners), certain people were noted as neighbors over and over again. I soon realized… Read More

Paul Heinegg’s website is frequently used as a genealogical reference but it also contains a collection of invaluable narrative history. Recently I stumbled upon the autobiography of Thomas P. Weaver, born in Guilford County, NC in 1841. The awe-inspiring account of his life as a pioneer from North Carolina to Indiana covers more than eighty years of American history. While Weaver’s experiences were unique, I was fascinated by their similarity to those… Read More

The Nansemond are a Native American tribe whose ancestral land surrounds the Nansemond River in southeastern Virginia. During the early 1600s, the tribe was briefly part of the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom along with approximately thirty other Algonquian-speaking tribes in the area. The arrival of English settlers and the subsequent Anglo-Powhatan Wars led to land loss and displacement for thousands of native people. The majority of the tribe’s present membership traces its ancestry to the early intermarriage… Read More

In my early research, the life of Joel Newsom (b. 1818) was on the periphery. As the suspected brother of my third great grandfather, Henry Newsom (b. 1812), he was always a person of interest but never the focal point. After collecting a wide variety of records and slowly integrating decades of information, I came to see the life of Joel Newsom as the clearest path to the probable father of all the… Read More

In genealogy, the last will and testament is a fundamental record. It generally names an individual’s spouse, children, and sometimes other relatives and friends. Unfortunately, many more people die intestate (without will) than testate (with will)—forcing genealogists to search for other types of evidence to prove familial relationships. So, what is the next best thing to a last will and testament? In the case of the Newsom family (and many others), the… Read More