Tuesday, November 03, 2009

John Brooks II of Currituck Co, NC

John Brooks II
b.c 1698 Currituck Co, NC
d. by 1790, prob. c1770 Pitt Co, NC
m. Elizabeth Rigney
Joseph Brooks b. c1750
How old is this John Brooks? That’s a very good question. We are fairly certain that he is the John Brooks, Jr. referred to in the 1708 will of John Brooks of Currituck Co, NC. And we assume that that John Brooks was born no later than c1650, putting the most likely birth date for his son at 1670-1680. Judging from records that we have for him, his death was before the 1790 census and after his appearance in the 1763 Pitt Co. tax records. That’s almost a thirty year range! Also, he doesn’t appear to be on his own until after the death of his father, getting a deed for land in 1709.
Maybe John Brooks II was living at home when he was 28, maybe 38. That seems logical for most Outer Bankers with limited natural resources. Still, it could be that he was born later, say around 1690. That fits better with the known facts of him later in life anyway. He is around for the 1763 Pitt Co, NC tax list and most people in this time don’t live too far past 73 years old.
There is a theory that he lived (in his early life) in one of the “hidden” Indian communities of now Tyrrell Co, NC, just a half-hour through the swamps from Lake Mattamuskeet where he eventually ends up after the signing of the peace treaty with the colonists in 1714. If John Brooks II was indeed the product of European and Indian ancestry, then it wouldn’t be hard to imagine him hiding in “Beechland” or “Gum Neck” with his relatives, surrounded by swamps that protected them from the European (in previous years) and enemy tribes of Indians, which were threatening both the early Europeans and their Croatoan allies with destruction. Reference the Lost Colony.
What do we know of him? Well, we have his mention in the will of his father in 1708. In 1709, he buys land from Benjamin Tull(e):
[Deed Book 3, pg. 97] Benj. TULLE to John BROOKS, JUN. July 26, 1709. I Benj. TULLE of Currituck in No. Carolina do by virtue of these present assign over unto John BROOKS JUNR. of the province afsd. all my right title and intrest of this within mentioned patent as large as to me was granted or assigned. /s/ Benj. TULLE Wit: Thos. TAYLOR, Thos. VANDERMULER. Registered August 6, 1709.
It is still possible that he lived south of Roanoke Island along the Outer Banks. The town of Salvo on Hatteras Island is situated midway between Clark’s Bay to the south and Midgett’s Cove & Midgett’s Island both to the north. Salvo is directly east of Lake Mattamuskeet. The map below was overlaid with the county boundaries as they existed in 1741, to illustrate the relationship of the eastern side of Lake Mattamuskeet where the Indian Reservation was and how it was once a part of Currituck Co, NC. Brooks Creek is located off “Middletown Anchorage” of Pamlico Sound, directly east of Lake Mattamuskeet.
This would make it easy to understand the Brooks here. They didn’t really move around that much but, being seamen, would travel about the sound from the barrier islands to the mainland… between points within the same county (until 1745). Hopefully, it would also provide us with a model for how John Brooks might have lived in these places and where he would go to wind up where we find him in 1755, Beaufort Co, NC (later Pitt Co, NC).
First thing I noticed in the early Currituck records was this:
[Deed Book 3, pgs. 41-42] Saml. SIMMONS to Henry SIMMONS. Sept. 29, 1736. Samuel SIMMONS of the prect. of Currituck in the county of Albemarl in the province of North Carolina Eldest son and heir of Saml. SIMMONS late Currituck afsd. decsd. of one part and Henry SIMMONS of the prect. of Currituck and county and province afsd. of the other part. for the sum of 15 current money of Virginia. Land containing by estimation one hundred acres situate lying and being in the prect of Currituck in the county of Albemarl and in the province of North Carolina the said bargained premises commonly called and known by the name of Brooks Ridge being part of a certain tract of land surved and patenred by Saml. SIMMONS Decd. binding on the grate swamp and joining on the end of a certain ridge commonly known by the name of gum ridge. /s/ Samuel SIMMONS. Wit: Moses LINTON, Wm. GLASCOE.
This deed is remarkable for the simple fact that it refers to certain ridges surrounded by swamp. Where is this? Well, they currently concerned with certain ridges of land in the swamps of present Tyrrell & Dare Counties named Gum Neck, Beechland, Sandy Ridge, Laurel Bay & Brier Hall. Looking at any map will show this area directly west of Roanoke Island thus, the subsequent theory that the Lost Colonists had moved this way. Also, many Indians lived in this area in virtual anonymity until about 1775.
Map showing Roanoke Island, modern Dare County on
The east side of Alligator River and Tyrrell County on the west.
Gum neck is close to the northern border of Hyde County.
These are former “hiding spots” for local Indians making
Raids against the English settlers before about 1714 &
Also the possible home of the Roanoke colonists after 1587.
So, where did this “Saml. Simmons, Decd.” Get this land? Is “Gum Ridge” somehow related to “Gum Neck” in these swamps? Well, it might “commonly” be called “Gum Ridge” but I couldn’t find where anyone commonly called it that. It will have to remain conjecture on my part for now. But, if it should pan out that this Saml. Simmons patented his land in this particular area, then we can prove that someone named Brooks once lived there at or before 1736. John Brooks II and Stephen Brooks I would be the only Brooks old enough that I know of. And that would relate that particular Brooks to the Mattamuskeet with certainty and make it much more possible for him to be a descendant of the Lost Colony.
In light of the tendency to misspell names and the reference to a “Brooks Ridge” in proximity to “Gum Ridge”, my research came across this reference to research (from www.lost-colony.com ) into the Elks family… particularly as the Elks sold off Indian territory in Northern Hyde or Southern Tyrrell and moved to Chocowinity in Beaufort:
Samuel Elks purchased the land called Buck Ridge near the headwaters of the Alligator River, in Tyrrell County, NC. This land was sold in 1777 to an ancestor of one of the primary informants of our research, Mr. Buddy Brickhouse, who now lives a few miles from Buck Ridge in Tyrrell County, North Carolina. The Buck Ridge site has been registered as a possible Indian site by the Lost Colony Center, but it has not been scientifically confirmed at this time. The grandparents of the people that now live near Buck Ridge, in the community called Gum Neck, told their grandchildren that they had ancestors who had lived on Buck Ridge and they were Indians (they report that the last Indians moved "up country" about 1885).
One reference to Stephen Brooks noted him as “Stephen Brucks”… another one called him “Bruck” and yet another Brooks reference came up “Bucks”. Could “Brooks Ridge” refer to “Buck Ridge” and “Gum Ridge” be “Gum Neck”? And, if so… which came first? The reference to “Buck Ridge” or “Brooks Ridge”? This would be important for my research in particular because if “Brooks Ridge” is simply a perversion of “Buck Ridge” then it wouldn’t necessarily mean that a Brooks was cached away with other former Croatans there on the Alligator River. But, if the name was originally “Brooks Ridge” then it could imply that the Buck family & the Brooks are mutually identifiable. This could change matters considerably. Conjecture is fun, huh? “Buck Ridge” is very probably a reference to a deer and has nothing to do with the Brooks family, but due to their proximity to this area, I will keep my mind open. Another reference to a “Brooks Ridge” would seriously reduce the chances of coincidence in this “wild” theory. I don’t believe it coincidence that the Elks family and John Brooks II all wound up in Beaufort County.
Many commercial activities for these early seamen probably took them from Hyde & Currituck Counties across the sound to Beaufort, Craven & Carteret Counties. And, interestingly enough, one small stretch of barrier island, on Okracoke Island, no less (Blackbeard’s usual haunt) wasn’t a part of any county until 1770. Note the small stretch of Okracoke Island just south of the green-shaded area on the map above. Carteret Co, NC would lay claim to this area by 1770, but as you can see by the dashed line across Pamlico Sound on the map, it didn’t have jurisdiction in 1741. This island was the original home of the Croatoan Indians in 1587, although Currituck has jurisdiction over the northern or eastern part where the main Croatoan villages were located then. By the 1700’s though, logging and shipbuilding industries had pretty much dominated the Outer Banks and most of the residents worked for those industries. Many of them had been labeled “farmers” or “planters” in the deeds, but it is likely that they owed part of their personal income to one or both of these occupations.
Getting to lands around the sounds couldn’t be done except by boat. Coastal North Carolina wriggles around like convolutions in the human brain. I imagine that there must have been ferry landings all along the coast ready to take the early settler, his wagon and goods across the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. Of course, for a family used to sea travel and working the shipbuilding industry, sound travel should not have been much of a problem.
Another factor in play here was certainly the Indian connection. The Mattamuskeets had been involved in an early 18th century attack on the whites (Tuscarora War) and there may very well have been some ill-will in the local white residents. For the most part, though, Indians lived in relative harmony with their white neighbors. After a few generations, they were no longer distinguishable. It could also be that being “Indian” here was fairly normal. Most of the early settlers had married Indian wives and the apparent “European” population would be, at least, part native.
[Deed Book 3, pg. 1] John SQUIRES to George TURNER. April 9, 1739. £20. Land on Marrismonkeete on the No. side of Weesockin Creek...500 acres...Beg. at a gut on David JONES' line rinning up the main creek to the head from thence a North course to a sweet gum thence an easterly to the back of a Grate Savanah then to the first station. /s/ John (x) SQUIRES, Charles (x) EDEN. Wit: Saml. STOW, James (x) POYNER, John BROOKS. Acknowledged in open court by John SQUIRES Indian King with Charles EDEN unto George TURNER. Registered June 21, 1739.
[Deed Book 3, pgs. 15-16] Luke & Margret WHITE of Currituck County to William WHITE of Currituck County. We Luke and Margaret WHITE for divers consideration here unto moving but more especially the pertickuler love and natural we have and bear unto our loving son William WHITE, a deed of gift of that plantation of ours joying on the south side of a plantation now James POYNERs with two hundred and thirteen acres of land joying to the same according to the bounds here after expreict sittuate lying and being in the county province a for said on the west side of Currituck bay Begining at the bay side in the line parting the premises and a for said James POYNER land then westerly to the head line then southerly with the line as fare as will make up the a for said two hundred and thirteen acres then down as that course to the bay side then down the bay norwardly to the first being two hundred and thirteen acres of land as the same now is or forever here after shall be it being part of a grate tract of land formerly taken and patented by Richard COMMINFORD late of the county and province decd. /s/ Luke WHITE, Margret [her mark] WHITE. Wit: Elizabeth WHITE, John BROOKS. This above deed was acknowledged in open court by Luke WHITE and his wife Margrett unto their son William WHITE the 3 day of Jan. 1739 and was ordered to be registered. Registered 10 day of June 1739.
Stephen Brooks is found abundantly in Hyde & Currituck Co’s, NC. And, some of his progeny join their cousins in Pitt Co, NC about the time of the Federal Censuses c1790 (or, in the post-Revolutionary period). However, we do not have many records there for John Brooks II. But, a “John Brooks” is found on various deed records just to the south in present Pamlico Co, NC (at the time, Craven Co, NC):
In 1728 John Ives acquired from Robert Stanton 100 acres of the patent of Col John Worsley. The property was located between the north shore of the Lower Broad and the mouth of the Neuse and adjacent to Mr. Harford.
witesses included Job Ives and John Brooks
1733 John Brooks witness to deed of Wm Carruthers to Sol Witherenton of 150a s
side of Bay River part of 1220 acre grant to Neal O'Neale, and he dying, the
same was taken by Daniel Shine by an escheat patent dated 14 Nov. 1739 other
wits were Joseph Pleger and Benj Rice.
1734 John Brooks of Craven proved sale of Robert Stanton (In 1733 we have
will of Jonathan Stanton, ship-carpenter in Kent Do., DE.)
1738 John Brooks had patent for 110 acres in Beaufort (now Pamlico) County on
N side of lower Broad Cr. adj. Wm Carruthers1, a Branch, and a Small Creek.. (BCBNOTE: The sequence of procedures for a grant or patent for King's land in Colonial
North Carolina was (1) Entry, (2) Petition for Warrant, (3) Survey, (4) Surveyor's
plat filed with Surveyor General, and (5) Issuance of Grant. There were fees to be
paid for each step. The patent for John Brooks’ 110 acres was still a petition as of 29th June 1738 in Colonial Records. By 2nd March, 1739, John Brooks is requesting an alteration of his patent from “No 15 W” to “No 15 E”… this is the Whortonville area patent for John Brooks)
1738 John Brooks patent e side of Browns Cr. adj Wm Carruthers. 110 acres.
(Same as the one above n side of Lower Broad?)
1741 John Brooks, with Robt Spring, Nichs Purify and Thos Fulcher took the
oath of allegiance and subscribed to 39 articles of Religion, dissenting from
36th and latter part of 27th.
1745 John Brooks sold 100 acres on north side of Lower Broad Cr. to Charles
Howard. (patented 1736)
1Incidentally, “Carruthers” is another Indian surname.
Another John Brooks is in Craven Co, NC at about this time:
DB: 3-225 17 Oct 1745. John Brooks & Wife Cathron (C), Craven Co. Planter to John Maxwell, 200 A in Craven Co. on the N. side of Neuse River & on the upper side of the Little Cr. Beginning at a Spanish Oak at the mouth of the Ruddy Branch & runs N40oW to a Hickory then S30oW to a Pine by the creek then along the creek to the beginning which land is the plantation whereon Jeremiah Legget formerly lived on… sd. Maxwell paying to the King 4S fee rent p:100 A… Wit: Jer. Leggett, Thos (+) McClendon (J), John (x) Miller, Jun Ct 1746. Jno. Rice Dept. Regr.
DB: 3-226 17 Oct 1745. John Brooks & Wife Cathron, Craven Co. Planter to Joseph Miller, same Planter, for one Negro Child. 200 A in Craven Co. on the N side of Neuse River between Thomas McClendon & Little Cr. Beginning at a Hickory by the creek & runs N56oW to a Red Oak then S45oW to a White Oak then along the creek to the beginning which land is the plantation whereon we now live… sd. Miller paying to the King the fee Rent of 4S p:100 A… Wit: Jer. Leggett, Thos (T) McClendon (j). Jun Ct. 1746. Jno. Rice Dept. Regr.
This John Brooks, at present is a mystery to me. I have yet to find enough evidence to connect him to this Brooks family but, it’s a possibility. The difficulty is that people were being “dropped off” in America on a constant basis and the only way to show possible familial connection is sometimes through similar family occupation or through mere geography.
Ruddy Branch, today runs through Columbus Co, NC and is nowhere near Neuse River, however a “Little River” (Little Creek?) branches off the Neuse at the town of Goldsboro and would have been in Craven County in 1745. This is now a part of Wayne Co, NC. This doesn’t necessarily exclude this John Brooks from the Pitt County group, it just puts him further west than the rest. It could be that he’s from another family from the north, the usual migration pattern for most of Johnston & Wayne counties. Still, Jesse Midgette and Sarah Brooks left Hyde for Johnston County, so…
Back to John Brooks II…
The location where we find John Brooks II in Beaufort/Craven/Pamlico County, today is known just as “Broad Creek” and Brown Creek branches off to the north from it. This is near the present town of Whortonsville. Notice that this location is also on the water… or larger body of water of the Pamlico Sound, a likely place for a seafaring family. It’s only later, c1745 that John Brooks, now in his mid-50’s decides to move inland near Washington, NC… just west of the town in what would later (1761) become Pitt Co, NC. Perhaps John Brooks gave up the sea at this point… still, he lives by an inland waterway from the Pamlico Sound that he must have loved so much.
This is the location where we find him for the first time with his son, James Brooks… the young man who started all this genealogical study and is so well known today.
When John Brooks Ist died in 1708, his son, John Brooks II probably remained in “Currituck” or nearby. By 1745, understand that any reference to “Currituck”, in regards to this family, would probably mean on Cape Hatteras since Hyde Co. took over the former mainland portion of Currituck that year.
In 1755, John’s son, William apparently lives in the part of Beaufort that remained in Beaufort when Pitt County was cut off from it in 1761 for he appears on the 1764 Beaufort Tax list while his father and younger brother, James appear on the Pitt County Tax list for 1762 & 1763. His probable younger son, John Brooks III would later travel back to Broad Creek and Carteret Co, NC (south side of Broad Creek) to become a part of the shipbuilding industry there. It is fairly certain, though, that much of his boyhood would have been spent in Beaufort/Pitt Co, NC.
A John Brooks appears on the 1790 Pitt Co, NC census but, it is not likely to be this one. He would be 100 years old and while that’s not impossible, it is improbable. Although there is a family tradition that states James Brooks to be over 100 years old. James probably doesn’t live past 69 or 70 but, the legend could have been started from confusion with his father. Well, this question ultimately will have to rest with the individual researcher unless more evidence comes to light.
When John Brooks II married is another question that we may find difficult to answer. It is fairly certain that Elizabeth Rigney is John Brooks II’s wife and that she is the mother of at least most of his children. They might have married c1725 in Currituck Co, NC before the name change to Hyde in 1745. Then again, the Rigney’s seem to located a little more south where we find John Brooks II later. John Rigney of Beaufort Precinct of Bath Co, NC sells acreage in Hyde:
March 28, 1717 - John RIGNEY, Bath Co., Power of Attorney to "well-beloved friend,"
Benjn. SANDERSON, and to acknowledge to Samuel SLADE 640 acres lying on South side
Pamtico River on Blount's Creek.
Proved July Court, 1717
Page 332
Oct. 4, 1720 - John RIGNEY, Beaufort Precinct. Bath Co., Planter, to John GIDDINGS,
"Hide" Precinct, Bath Co., cooper - 30 pounds - 430 acres in Hyde Precinct beginning
fork in Oyster Shell Creek in Matchapungo River.
In 1720, the territory south and to southwest of Currituck Co, NC was referred to as “Bath Co, NC” and that area called “Beaufort Precinct” also included the northern part of then Craven Co, NC, now Pamlico Co, NC. John Brooks II may already have been in current Pamlico Co, NC when he married Elizabeth.
Will records from Beaufort Co, NC show:
1763 Beaufort Co, NC Will of James Rigney, chil. Rebecca, Hannah, Elizabeth
1766 Beaufort Co, NC Will of Hannah Rigney mentions “cousin James Brooks"
Elizabeth Rigney’s likely brother dies in 1763, showing a daughter, Hannah who also later dies and mentions her cousin “James Brooks” in her will, indicating that at least he is a son of John and Elizabeth Rigney Brooks. James Brooks lives there in Beaufort Co, NC and after the 1761 formation of Pitt Co, NC on land bordering Swift Creek, a branch of the Neuse River.
This location is very likely where John Brooks II meets his natural end… the location of modern Washington, NC or just west of there. Incidentally, there’s a small town just to the east of Washington called Chocowinity that has also stirred up some recent interest. And John Rigney’s land on Blount’s Creek was practically on top of Chocowinity. Interesting that the Brooks seem to be following the same paths as the remnants of the Lost Colony.

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