Descendants of the Great Dismal

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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 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

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

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

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