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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
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Diary of August Gottlieb Spangenberg during his journey to North Carolina [Translation] [Extracts]
Spangenberg, August Gottlieb, 1704-1792
September 1752
Volume 04, Pages 1311-1314

[Translated from the original in the archives of the Moravian Church,
Salem, N. C.]

Letter from Bishop Spangenburg.


Edenton Sept 12th 1752

Were I to tell you how I found it in N. C. I must say it is all in confusion. The Counties are in conflict with one another, so that not only is the authority of the Legislature weakened, but also that of the magistrates.

The cause of this as well as I can learn from both sides, seems to be the following.

When the colony was still small and weak the older counties were allowed to send five men to the Assembly. This arrangement continued a long time. When the colony had grown much stronger, each county was allowed to send only 2 men apiece to the Assembly. The Counties affected by this law, increased in number until they had a majority in the assembly and then they passed a law bringing the older counties under the same arrangement with themselves, viz, two men only to represent the county. The older counties hereupon much irritated, refused to send any representatives at all, but dispatched an agent to England with a view of haveing their rights restored to them. Meanwhile untill this matter is decided they will not acknowledge any act of the assembly. There is therefore in the older counties a perfect anarchy. As a result, crimes are of frequent occurrence, such as murder robbery &c.

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But the criminals cannot be brought to justice The citizens do not appear as jurors, and if court is held to decide such criminal matters no one is present. If any one is imprisoned the prison is broken open and no justice administered. In short most matters are decided by blows. Still the County Courts are held regularly and what belongs to their jurisdiction receives the customary attention.

The Inhabitants of North Carolina may be divided into two classes. Some are natives of the State, these can endure the climate pretty well, but are naturally indolent and sluggish. Others have come here from England, Scotland, & from the Northern Colonies some have settled here on account of poverty as they wished to own land & were too poor to buy in Pennsylvania or New Jersey Others there are again who are refugees from justice or have fled from debt; or have left a wife & children elsewhere,—or possibly to escape the penalty of some other crime; under the impression that they could remain here unmolested & with impunity.

Bands of horse thieves have been infesting portions of the State & pursuing their nefarious calling a long time.

This is the reason North Carolina has such an unenviable reputation among the neighbouring provinces. Now there are many people coming here because they are informed that stock does not require to be fed in the Winter Season.

Numbers of Irish have therefore moved in, but they will find themselves deceived because if they do not feed their stock in the winter they will find to their cost that they will perish.

We are how ever informed that in other localities people of quite a different character are to be met with—efficient and energetic & industrious in their habits. Of this we shall know more by & by.

P. S. [1753] After having traversed the length & breadth of N. C. we have ascertained that towards the Western mountains, there are plenty of people who have come from Virginia Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Even from New England.

Even in this year more than 400 families with horses wagons, & cattle have migrated to this State & among them are good farmers & very worthy people who will no doubt be of great advantage to the State.

We have had opportunity to see the main streams in that part of N. C. which belongs to Lord Granville. We have not found one which may strictly be termed navigable. The Chowan & Roanoke are large and deep but have no tide water and only “freshets” They are furthermore so winding and have such high banks that sails cannot well be used here. Hence they can only use small craft for navigation and with great toil and labor ascend the stream and in the event of high water and rain they

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must remain where they are until the water subsides. The reason these streams have no tide water is the great Sand Banks which lie east of the State which impede the rivers in their “exit” to the sea and prevent the tide from comeing in. Sometimes too they change the narrow entrances which the ships use for entering the rivers.

These causes operate to make it difficult to reach N. C. by sea. If the Captain is unfamiliar with this coast he may easily strike a sand bank & he may do so even if he is acquainted & experienced as the sands are shifted by wind & sea.

We paid a visit to the Tuscarora Indians who live on the Roanoke. They live upon a tract of very good land secured to them by act of Assembly. I suppose it contains from 20 to 30,000 acres of land. It is 12 miles long, but not broad.

The Interpreter Mr. Thomas Whitemeal [Whitmele] was kind enough to go with us showed us all their land and made us acquainted with them. He has been a trader among them, understands their language and speaks it quite fluently. Now he is one of the wealthiest men about here and has an excellent character among all classes. The Indians have no King but a Captain whom the whites select from their midst. There are also some individuals who live among them as chiefs.

Their number is small; they side with the Six Nations against the Catawbas, but suffer from this relationship very much. They are very poor and are oppressed by the whites. Mr. Whitemeal is their agent and advocate and is much respected by them. No efforts have as yet been made to christianize them.

They gave us a message to the Catawbas (not knowing that they had made peace with the Six Nations) should we see them, “that there were enough young men among them who knew the way to the Catawba Town. They could come and go there in 20 days; that they had remained very quiet and not molested the Catawbas except to hunt a little and they should remain quiet as long as the Catawbas did. Should they however become troublesome the way to the Catawba Town could soon be found.”

Tis worthy of remark that the conduct of the Indians here is quite different from that in Pennsylvania. There the Indians are not feared at all unless they are drunk. Here they conduct themselves in such a way that the whites are afraid of them. If they enter a house & the man is not at home they become insolent & the poor woman must do as they command.

Sometimes they come in such large Companies that even the man is sorely put to it if compelled to deal with them. Sometimes men do

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like Andrew Lambert who found traces of Seneca Indians on his land & in his corn & found they had killed & eaten some of his cattle. He called his dogs which he used for bear hunting some 8 or 10 in number & with his rifle in hand, he drove them out like sheep before him & thus rid himself of the nuisance.

This is difficult when people live alone in the woods about here; they are in danger of getting into unpleasant relations with the Indians. North Carolina waged war with the Indians, in time the latter became worsted & in consequence lost their land. This created a bad feeling not only among those tribes immediately concerned but with all the rest. This feeling of animosity will not speedily die out. This asserts itself on all occasions & it has come so far in N. C. that not only did the Indians rob the people of their stock, but in some cases even killed some of them.