Cape Fear River Indians
by Phillip Garwood
Phillip Garwood, the award-winning Community College instructor has published a book about the little known tribe of native people known as the Cape Fear Indians.
Phillip Garwood also known as “Dr. Rocks” is a geology instructor at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, NC, developed the content of the book by piecing together a variety of artifacts collected throughout the region. In addition to a gallery of artifacts, the book features a timeline of Native American history in North Carolina.
Cape Fear Indians. A small tribe, possibly Siouan, formerly living near the mouth of Cape Fear River, N. C. The proper name of the tribe is unknown, this local term being applied to them by the early colonists. They were first known to the English in 1661, when a colony from New England made a settlement near the mouth of the river, and soon incurred the ill will of the Indians by seizing their children and sending them away under pretense of instructing them in the ways of civilization, resulting in the colonists being finally driven from the country.
In 1663 another party from Barbadoes purchased lands of Wat Coosa, head chief of the tribe, and made a settlement, which was abandoned a few years later. Necoes and other villages then existed on the lower part of the river. In 1665 another colony settled at the mouth of Oldtown creek in Brunswick County, on the west side of the river, on land bought of the Indians, but soon abandoned it, though the Indians were friendly.
The next mention of them is by the colonial governor, Col. Johnson, in a letter of Jan. 12, 1719 (Rivers, Early Hist. So. Car., 94, 1874), which gives a table of Indian tribes in Carolina in 1715, when their population is given as 206 in 5 villages. They probably took part in the Yamasi war of that and the following year, and suffered proportionately in consequence. They are last noticed in 1751 in the record of the Albany Conference (N. Y. Doc. Col. Hist., vi, 721, 1855) as one of the small friendly tribes with which the South Carolina government desired the Iroquois to be at peace.