i'm finally reading 'the history of bucks county,' one of the resources i downloaded in the past two and a half years since i've begun researching my mother's family's background. my great-great-great grandfather, william whittingham, is listed on the 1790 census as residing in bucks county. his wife, rebecca livezey, is a descendent of the original Quaker Thomas Livezey, through his son Jonathan, who were 'First Proprietors' in Pennsylvania, so the history of bucks county is partially my family's history as well. i'm interested in their history, and especially in the intersection with the local native american people which occurred, at the very least, when my great-grandfather, Alfred, married Mary Carney, a 'Moor' in 1872. his parents were both deceased at that time, but alfred's brother refused to visit the home of alfred and mary, according to the civil war pension deposition filed on her behalf.
the so-called moor indians are usually given very little credence even for having existed in the past, so i've found it interesting to look into it a little. i've found evidence for their existence in brewton berry's 1961 classic 'Almost White,' and also in 'Delaware's Forgotten Folk' by C.A. Weslager. Weslager also wrote a book called 'The Delaware Indians' and in that book he states that the southernmost clans and bands, who spoke a Lenape (Algonquian) dialect similar to Unami, disappeared early by being absorbed into 'many peoples.' In 'Delaware's Forgotten Folk,' Weslager makes the educated guess that the Moors were actually a remnant of the Lenape (Delaware) Indians, and I would assume he means the southern people, the Unalachtigo. So, why was this remnant population known as 'the Moors'?
keeping all this in mind, it's interesting to read in different sources that there was a fairly strong Spanish presence all along the eastern coast of North America, at least as far north as the Hudson River as early as 1513 and throughout the 1500's. In most of the American historical tradition and literature, a claim is made for the pre-eminent presence of the Dutch and English in these areas, but as we say, history is written by the victors, and I guess that's how the English wanted it to look. An anti-Spanish, pro-Anglo bias has dominated American culture up until very recently, so I think it's important to keep that bias in mind. Apparently, the Spanish - and their 'Moors' - were more present in the middle-Atlantic states than has been acknowledged up til now.
Paula Gunn Allen writes that Jamestown was situated 40 miles up-river in order to avoid Spanish ships as late as 1609. According to the 'History of Bucks County,' the mouth of the Hudson River was first glimpsed by Verrazana in 1513, also a few years later by Stephanus Gomez who called it 'Rio de Gomez.' "Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the service of the Dutch East-India company, discovered [for the English] Delaware bay August 28, 1609, but he made no attempt to ascend the river. Captain Cornelius Jacobson May ascended the river some distance in 1614, and two years afterwards Captain Hendrickson discovered the Schuylkill. In 1616 three Dutch traders struck across to the headwaters of the Delaware, down which they traveled to the Schuylkill. Here they were captured by the Minquas (Susquehannas) but were rescued by Captain Hendrickson at the mouth of that river." All of this takes place a full hundred years after the Spanish first began exploring the region. The Spanish also had two aborted colonies in the Chesapeake Bay region in the 1500's.
Historical record shows that many people came to the area and it is likely that there were more whose recorded names have been lost to the corrosive effects of time or who were never noted down in records to begin with. The people we have records of are mostly those who were associated with one of the big trading companies who were all excellent record-keepers. "About 1624-25 the West India company established a trading house on a small island (in the Delaware River) just below Trenton Falls, and located upon it three or four families of French Walloons. The post was broken up about 1627, and the Walloons returned to New York. In March 1685 Peter Lawrensen stated in a deposition that he came into that provice a servant of the West India company in 1628 (and) that in 1631, he, with seven others, was sent into the Delaware, where the company had a traditing house, with ten or twelve servants attached to it; that he saw them settled there. A considerable body of Waldenses and Huguenots were sent to the Delaware in 1656-1663, but it is not known what became of them." These are just people we can keep some kind of track of, thanks to the written record of these trading companies, but how likely is it that there were more who did not come under the auspices of an official institution?
For example, between 1623 and 1634 there was a group known as "The Albion Knights" who settled along the Delaware. "Colonists were actually introduced and made their homes on the Delaware, but neither the number nor exact location can be told." (p.9) This group is sometimes referred to as 'Plowden's Colony.' William Rawle, who has studied the colony, "believed that some of those who welcomed Penn to the shores of the Delaware, were the survivors of the Albion Knights." (p.10)
It's no secret that these early Europeans started mixing their stock in with the Indians. "During the early period, the river of the Sickoneysincks at Lewes, Delaware, received a new and vulgar name - Hoeren Kill (Whore's Creek), "From the liberality of the Indians in generously volunteering their wives or daughters to our Netherlanders at that place." (p. 294, Weslager, Dutch Explorers) "Evidence of miscegenation was soon to be seen in some of the Delaware villages when dusky-skinned females gave birth to lighter-complexioned, blue-eyed infants. The process of Europeanizing the Indians had a subtle beginning, and unplanned cross-breeding preceded the technological changes." (p.109 Weslager, The Delaware Indians) This sharing of the bed was part of Indian hospitality. The Europeans were, by and large, Christian men (with the exception of the early Moors in America) and due to Christianity's emphasis on the sacredness of virginity, and their patriarchal slant on monogamy, there was very little understanding of a society where sexuality could be more liberally shared. Certainly such an offer implied a very close tie, a real acceptance of the Dutch or the Moors into the tribal network, and not just 'casual sex' which was more likely to have been the assumption made by many of the sailors or their captains. The name the Dutch gave to Lewes reflects their distorted view of what was going on. But the subject of sexual distortions in Christian society could be a lengthy discussion, as we all know by now.
If people-making was happening among the Dutch, why not also with the Moors?