Genealogists vs. the historians

Texas history. Genealogy. Goins, Goyens, Goings, Harmon, Petty, Sinclair, Jackson, Stark, Mize, Gibson, Simmons, Cofer, Haddock, Hooker, Jordan, Murchison, Talbot/Talbert, Melungeon, Lumbee, Croatan, Redbone, Brass Ankles, Black Ankle, Native American heritage.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

William Goyens, Jr of Nacogdoches, TX

William Goyens, Jr. Nacogdoches, TX (1794-1856)

It was quite a romantic picture to grab Goyens' story and put him up in Texas history as an icon. Without researching his past, historians have consistently portrayed him as a runaway slave from South Carolina who escaped bondage and was able to build a fortune in Texas. If any of them would have taken a field trip to Moore county, North Carolina and learned about his family there, they would have questioned such claims.

Goyens, born 1794, was not born in Africa. He was not born into slavery.. He was born to free persons of color in Moore County, North Carolina. His father, William Goings, Sr. purchased the land in Pocket Creek in 1764, therefore, dismissing the myth that his father earned the land with manumission for serving in the Revolutionary War.  They were Free Persons of Color in Colonial America.  Goyens' sister, Leah Goins and her children have consistently been enumerated as Croatan, Lumbee o Mulatto.  Goyens' grandfather was John Harmon, a native of Portugal and this multi-ethnic heritage is important in American history as most Portuguese/Spanish colonization efforts take the back seat to Britain's colonization efforts in the text books.  

Ancestors Speak

When we go looking for our ancestors, we may not find them in the fine cemeteries with finely engraved gravestones. Often our ancestors were buried in small family cemeteries, some now reclaimed by the wild woodlands. Some with only hand-scratched stones, telling us who they were and why they were buried as they were.In one such case, a Goins descendant in Moore County, North Carolina is buried among other family members deep in the woods. They were buried there, because they were not allowed to be buried in a public Anglo-White cemetery. They were considered too "dark" to be buried near the White citizens in the area. Yet, the family members buried their loved one in a way so future generations - who knew where to look- would have a clue to who they were and why they lived as they did. On the footstone of the grave was a crudely scratched figure of a person with three long lines underneath. It was a local gravedigger who told me that he had once unknowingly dug into a grave of these people. He said the body was buried erect, supported by timbers, with their head facing toward the sky, and their feet touching the earth. It was a Native American practice of some of the indigenous peoples of Moore County, North Carolina. It is an indication that the Redbone, Melungeon, Lumbee peoples are of complex heritage. Anyone who tries to simplify their culture into a single Black or White answer, will be disappointed. The answer is not so simple, nor were the lives that the Redbone ancestors lived.Some may wonder why I post to the Redbone site. They may say - oh she is another mixed blood person. She is Croatan. She is Lumbee. She is Melungeon. Yet, my heritage is complex and my ancestors migrated South and Westward. I have a death certificate that states my g-g-g-grandmother, Leah Goins was Croatan. But I have family stories that she had sons who left Moore County, North Carolina and settled in Mississippi or Louisiana. Did these brothers take their culture with them? I'm sure they did. It was who they were. Would they seek out others like them? Yes. It was their way to be clannish and they would be attracted to others who were like them. Will we someday find a link between the Melungeons, the Redbones and the Lumbee?

I think we will.


Karen said...

I agree with you Cyndie. My great-grandmother appears to have been a Delaware Moor. The names are often repeated elsewhere among the Melungeons, Lumbees, etc, and the people originated in the same general area,some moved north, south or west, some stayed where they were. I think there's much more connection than people may think. I'm so glad to have found your site! ~ Karen

Chana said...

Good post.