Visible vs. Invisible Indians





Contemporary ethnic identity: Sorting it all out

Ned Heite's flash of recognition which he relates in an e-mail dated 17 Jun 1998.

A Rosetta Stone

Today in the state archives, I ran across a remarkable document....  We have been struggling with those blanket "Free Negro" identities for all nonwhites in the record. The Little Creek Hundred 1797 assessment is different. It clearly identifies people as either "mulatto" or "negro" and every entry in the assessment is signed, so we are able to tell who was literate. Moreover, all the tenants are listed, so we know where the non-landowning farmers lived.

All the people listed below were identified as mulattoes. All signed with a mark unless there is an asterisk (*) after the name.


Isaiah Durham, tenant of Benjamin Stout
Daniel Songs
John Farmer
Thomas Conselor*
William Durham, Jr., tenant of John Hamm on 136.5 acres
John Cott*
Thomas Butcher
Peregrine Jehanna*
Rachel Williams (one of two by this name, see below)
William Durham, Sr., tenant of Robert Holliday and George Wilson
Thomas Hughes
James Dean managed the land of Elijah Conselor
Elijah Conselor
John Saunders, no signature
John Johnson, cooper*
Peter Cook
Benjamin Sisco, tenant on 350 acres of Walter Williamson
George Sisco
Stephen Sparksman

The following are listed without race, usually meaning that they were regarded as white:


Charles Sisco*
Minors of John Starling
Rachel Williams, widow of Solomon, 90 1/3 acres
Minors of Solomon Williams, their guardian being rachel, 180 2/3 acres

Again in the 1819 reassessment, the assessor identified mulattoes in Little Creek Hundred, but he didn't require signatures. Here are the mulatto entries:


Benjamin Conselor
Elijah Conselor
Elias Bucher
John Cott
George Colbert
Jesse Dean
Daniel Farmer
William Holston
David Hutt
John Johnson
William Muntz
Robert Muntz
James Songo
Benjamin Sisco
John Sanders

The 1790 delinquent list for Dover, Little Creek, and Duck Creek includes people who have moved away. Basically, it was a list of people who had not paid their taxes, but the tax collector was excused by the court from attempting to tax them. Here are some names on that list:

Thomas Butcher
Ephraim Cambridge
Benjamin Cambridge
Jehu Sammons
Charles Cambridge
Henry Sammons
Ephraim Puckham
Benjamin Durham

In the 1804 Duck Creek assessment, Benjamin Sisco was tenant of William Killen on a tract with a log dwelling, 200 acres clear, 52 wooded, and 100 marsh.

There are only "n" suffixes in this list for that year.

(Note -- the 1804 assessment list parallels the 1930 census of Delaware: all persons of color have become children of Africa.)






"The History and Genealogy of the
Native American Isolate Communities
of Kent County, Delaware, and
Surrounding Areas on the Delmarva Peninsula
and Southern New Jersey"



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