Thursday, October 18, 2007

My Native American Brayboy Roots

In my veins flows the blood of several Native American tribes including that of the Lumbee and Tuscarora indians.

My ggg-grandmother was Phoebe Brayboy Morris. Her 1st husband is believed to have been William (Billie)Brayboy. Their children were Billie Brayboy, Jr., Alex Brayboy and Jane Brayboy Jefferson, my gg-grandmother.

Phoebe and Billie Brayboy were former slaves brought from Darlington County,South Carolina to Desoto Parish, Louisiana by Boykin Witherspoon.

They were of african and native american ancestry.

In researching this line of my family, I discovered that the indian tribe that they were descendents of was the Lumbee and Tuscarora indians of North Carolina.

Their surname, Brayboy originated from the surname Braveboy. I believe that over time and perhaps because of the slave and southern dialect, it became Brayboy although some still wear the name, Braveboy while others wear the name Braboy. Although the spelling has become varied over the years, I believe that most of the people descended from or wearing that name share a common ancestry and/or connection to the Lumbee and/or Tuscarora indians.

In addition, most of the Braveboy, Braboy and Brayboys that I have researched from previous years and today are listed as white, native american and african american.

So who were the Lumbee and Tuscarora indians and how did they wind up in my family and as slaves in the possesion of Boykin Witherspoon and other slavemasters?

Well briefly, the Lumbee indians originated from Robeson County, North Carolina and their tribal name originates from the Lumber River, which traverses Robeson County.

The Tuscarora indians were known as "hemp gatherers" because they used hemp to weave clothing, in particular, shirts. Their origins can be traced to Virginia and North Carolina in villages along the Neuse and Roanoke Rivers.

Well, history has it that many of the Lumbee and Tuscarora indians intermarried at some point. In fact, the name Braveboy is said to be a Tuscarora name.

Once the whites settled in that area, it was common practice for them to steal their women and children and sell them into slavery.

There was a well-documented war that took place known as the Tuscarora War of 1711–13. Most memorable, was when the Catawba indians of South Carolina led by white men including British citizens entered North Carolina and defeated the Tuscarora in two battles during 1712. The following year the South Carolinians returned, this time with more than 1,000 Catawba and Yamasee indians and quickly defeated the Tuscarora indians. Many prisoners were tortured to death, while another 400 were sold into slavery.

After the Tuscarora had left, the Catawba and Yamasee found they were subject to the same abuse that forced the Tuscarora to fight. British traders routinely seized the wives and children of Catawba warriors and sold them as slaves to pay for debts (usually whiskey). For this reason, the Catawba joined the general uprising of 1715 in the Carolinas (Yamasee War).

So that answers the question of how many of the Lumbee/Tuscarora indians among other tribes ended up as slaves. I have my own theory of how my Brayboy/Braveboy ancestors ended up in the possession of Boykin Witherpoon.

In reading Boykin Witherspoon's biogragraphy, it indicates that his maternal great
grandfather of our subject (Boykin), Samuel Boykin, an able South Carolinian, was prominent in its affairs. Prior to the Revolutionary War, he was Indian agent for the British Government, and served in the Revolutionary War as captain of a company of Catawaba Indians. I also verified through military records that Samuel Boykin was indeed an Indian Agent for the British Goverment and captain of Catawaba indians.

With this in mind, it is very likely that he was one of the men referenced in the many Tuscarora and Catawaba war accounts that was instrumental in the defeat and subsequent enslavement of surviving tribe members. Most of the historical accounts that I have read indicate that they were sold into Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

My guess is that Mr. Samuel Boykin retained some of those indian slaves himself and added to his own servant collection. I further believe that these indian slaves bred with his existing african slaves and over time, their offspring was inherited by his grandson, Boykin Witherspoon. Why were they able to retain the name, Braveboy/Brayboy? I can't say but I am glad they did because it turned out to be the only link we have to our native american ancestry.

Whether the Brayboys/Braveboys were in fact "booty" from the Tuscarora and Catawba Indian War or kidnapped like my african ancestors before or after that war, the fact remains that my line somehow ended up as slaves of the Boykin Witherspoon.

Although many Lumbees today identify ethnically as Indians, according to documentary sources they are in origin a mixture of European American, African-American, and Native American.

However, both the Tuscarora and Lumbee Tribes are recognized by the United States as a Native American Tribe.

Ancestors of the present-day Lumbee were first recognized by the State of North Carolina in 1885 as Croatan Indians, and have been requesting benefits from the federal government since 1888. In 1956, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 4656, better known as the Lumbee Act, which recognized the Lumbee as a Native American tribe.

We must remember the Braveboys/Brayboys and our native american past and preserve that history so that future generations can know the heritage in which they came from.

I will end this story with a Lumbee Indian Proverb:

"Pray to understand what a man has forgotten."

"In Memory of my Braveboy/Brayboy Ancestors"

You may have flown into the sunset many moons ago but the sun still rises on your bloodline descendants so your memory and legacies will not be forgotten.............
Karen Burney


Marcia Braveboy said...

Interesting research. I will love to meet my white relatives:

See my writings on

Be sure to email me the details of my white blood related folks...I will appreciate it much.

So what does the name "Braveboy" mean? Apart form it's origin.

Marcia Braveboy

Anonymous said...

Hello, I may be one of those "white relatives" My great grandmother was Elizabeth (Betsy) Brayboy. Her family traveled from a logging camp in North Carolina with my grandfather and his brother. She married my grandfather when the camp broke up. I have few stories and geneology one her. I have a bad photo, you cant see her face. She believed you could not have your picture taken...I do have a couple of very good pictures of her sister however. Portraits. Her name was Florence. She lived in another area of Ky...I also have deeds of their brothers or fathers...Charles is one of them. I would love to know if it is the same line. Thank you so much...I loved the way you spoke for the people. You can contact me at

Anonymous said...

I am born and rasied in South Carolina and my last name is Brayboy! My grandmother was married into the last name, but I would love to get as much info as possible on the last name! I'm just 26 yrs old. I have been in the military and was asked all my life what does the last name Brayboy mean and I have no answer to the question. At least I can get as much info as possible so that I can stand strong and answer the question. I'm going to make a lot of phone calls to get as much info as possible to help complete the family tree! My email address is! Hello to all my distant family, HELLO!