e-mailed Ned Heite email@example.com
23 Aug 2001 who forwarded Mr. Schwalm's message to the Mitsawokett
...I am historian
at the University of Iowa working on a project that concerns African
Americans in Iowa in the nineteenth century.
In the course
of my research I came across an extended family, the Sammons, who
came to eastern Iowa in 1840 from Sussex Co., Delaware. (Smaller families
also came at that time from the same area--Perkins and Townsends).
Although the sources (and the prevalence of the name) make it difficult
to be certain, it seems that the four eldest Sammons family members
to come to Iowa appear in the 1830 Sussex Co. census as free "mulattos"
(Joseph, b. 1794, Nehemiah, b. 1810, Zachariah, b. 1789, Solomon,
b. 1799). I've been trying to find out a bit more about this family,
mostly because it is so unusual to see a migration of this distance
at this time period, particularly among free blacks.
through your material on the website (and it certainly seems that
you would rank as the leading authority on this subject), I now see
that this may very well have been a family of Indian people rather
than free blacks. I am certain they were light-skinned, in any case,
as the census enumerators varied in their assignment of racial category
to some of the family members.
you can direct me to some secondary source that will help me get a
fuller understanding of the likely origins of this family, their ancestry,
and the community from which they migrated. I know from reading William
Williams' book on slavery in Delaware that the state legislature was
making life increasingly difficult for free people of color in the
early and mid-nineteenth century, and I assume that the Sammons, whether
free blacks or Indian people, were subjected to these legal restrictions.
Yet why would they have chosen Iowa as their destination, given the
state's own laws circumscribing the rights of free blacks (and assuming
the Sammons would have been identified and treated as such in Iowa,
which had less than 200 black residents in 1840)?
From your own
understanding, how did the Indian people of this region (Sussex Co.,
Nanticoke) self-identify? Did they maintain tribal identities into
the mid-19th century? Did they regard themselves as "free people
of color," and was it likely that Indians intermarried with the
large population of slaves and free blacks in the area? Any research
advice you can impart would be greatly appreciated. And, thank heavens
for the Mitsawokett website--a real gem.
firstname.lastname@example.org replied to
the Mitsawokett List 24 Aug 2001 --
---I am just
excited to find someone who cares about this Sammons family in Iowa
that I have been searching for 30 years. ...I know one of these years
I will connect my Joseph with all the Sammons who are still around
there and we will all be cousins!
) has some theories but I still am missing the links. I will
send the professor what I know about the Iowa families, but would
appreciate receiving copies of anything any of you might theorize
in answer to any of his questions. -- Sue Grable in South Dakota
added 24 Aug 2001 --
... I may possible
be related to the Sammon's but have not yet connected it.
Sue Grable email@example.com
added 24 Aug 2001 --
Marie, I believe
I noticed a while back that you have a Lankford in your surname list.
Now you mention a Sammons connection. My Joseph Sammons who went to
Iowa from Delaware in 1840 married, in Iowa, 1847, Catharine Lankford.
This Catharine stated in census records that she was born in Virginia,
about 1813-1816. When she arrived in Iowa in 1846 she had with her
7 minor children, so I am assuming she was a widow and her maiden
name was not Lankford. By 1850 only two of the Lankford children were
living with her and her husband Joseph Sammons, Jane and John, born
1842 and 1843 in Ohio. Do you see any connections with these names,