Native American origins of
John Sanders (b 1811) of Cheswold
Excerpts of an interview with John Sanders of Cheswold, reported in the Philadelphia Times, 1892, follow.: His story is the memory of one who lived in the area of Cheswold throughout the 1800’s. (The full article, as well as other articles which try to answer the many questions about the origins of the Moors of Delaware, may be read by clicking here.)
"We are Indians, and we belong to a branch of the great Delaware Nation, which used to hold all the country from New York to Cape Charles. Down in Sussex county, on the backbone ridge of the Peninsula, the head waters of two rivers rise close together—one of them, the Nanticoke River, flows west into Chesapeake Bay, and Indian River, the other, flows east and empties into the ocean; and it was at the place where these two rivers rise that our clan had its chief seat, and it is still the centre for our people.
"In time they adopted the names of their white neighbors. They settled all over the country in squads in the same way. You can find them almost anywhere if you know how to look for them, and in Accomac and Northampton counties, Va., at the extreme lower end of the Peninsula, there are any number of them. And down there they have kept more to themselves than they have elsewhere, and they look and live more like the Indians did when I was a boy.
"I am 80 years old, and I can remember a good way back. I was born in 1811, not two miles from here. My father, while a boy, was bound out to a man named Jefferson, who brought him up here from Sussex, so that I claim kindred with the old families down there. He settled here and lived here all his life; so did I....
"My father and mother and all my foreparents were Indians. There are not many of the pure blood about here now, though there used to be a great many. It is strange how people have forgotten about us. Sixty years ago (about 1832) everyone knew who and what we were; there never was any question about it....
"I really don’t know how we came to be called Moors. I have heard, though, that a good many years ago a family of genuine Moors settled somewhere in this part of the country, but I have never seen them, and never heard anything more about them. They certainly had no connection with our people, who are the ones usually known by that name. But if the story is true, the newcomers about here, whom I spoke of, may have got us confused with them, or attached their story to us.
"There are quite a number of families by the name of Moor or Moore living about here, and this village used to be called Moorton until a few years ago. But the Moore families are mostly white people and none of them have ever been connected with us in any way, and I never heard whether the village was so named on their account or ours. Probably it was on theirs, for the settlement, the original one, is a pretty old one and have got its name long before we were ever called Moors, and while our descent was well known. In my young days we were called “planters.” We belonged to the Delaware Tribe of Indians, but I don’t know what was the name of our clan, probably nobody does now. But I know that our last chief was buried somewhere in the neighborhood of Millsborough, in Sussex County...."