Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Was your Granny a Redbone Portuguese Indian Princess? No? What about your Redbone Turkish or Irish Indian Princess? Not sure? Read on!

In the 1800's, about all you could say for "Free Persons of Color" was they were free, and they were of "colored peoples." What color, has never been explained -- those folks were simply placed in the coffee can of history and filed away. If they were White enough, had money and could speak good English, they climbed out of the can.

How come our census' lacked a column for Irish, Portuguese, Scot, Turk, German, Italian, Moors, French, Chinese or Jamaican? Those folks were in this country early on -- came right through the Port of New Orleans they did. Oh sure, some made the trek from the East Coast and the original colonies and others trickled down the Mississippi from Canada. Were Redbones some of these folks? You bet they were and many of the ones from Carolina brought the word "Redbone" with them. It simply meant they were carrying Indian Blood -- assimilated civilized Indians with a European mix!

You can find census records in Louisiana for Free People of Color (FPC), but those records do not go any further than that -- I lament, who were the Free People of Color? Think about it.

You had a great deal of detail, for the day -- White population age brackets and a column for "slaves" (be they Black or be they Indian slaves), but nothing to describe Free People of Color? Where was the record for Mediterranean peoples? They were either White enough or they were "Colored Peoples."

Sure, the expression "Free People of Color" could have meant "Free Africans" as well -- surely there were some, but again, what about the so called shipwrecked Portuguese (which was really an Atlantic coastal story rather than a Gulf of Mexico one, but it could have happened) or the landed Mediterranean peoples in New Orleans?

The answer of course is no one had the time to unravel this tangle, and it was far easier to put them in the can and forget them -- they were of no consequence. Our governments simply did not have a way to record or keep a record of these mixes of humanity.

From census records, the core Redbone families, the heads of households, without much exception, claim the Carolina's as their place of birth. Some spouses seem to be scattered out from the Carolina's to Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi. So we can say that not many, if any, landed by ship in New Orleans -- unless they came from the Carolina's. But, without much exception, they were known as Free People of Color in 1810 -- in Louisiana at least -- it may not have been so in the Carolina's where they had other names such as Redbone.

Not all of these Louisiana Redbone families left the Carolina's and not all of these families arrived intact in Louisiana. It was not at all like closing up one community, climbing en mass onto an airliner and getting off in Lake Charles. Some parents, brothers, sisters, cousins and other "Redbone family surnames" never made the trip just as some never migrated to Houston, Texas; San Antonio, Texas or Tishimingo, Oklahoma. That's right, some Redbone families surely never migrated.

There are also bits and pieces scattered along the migration trail giving some clues to who the Redbones were, and some of the pieces are beginning to provide a more complete picture. Land titles, land passports, town census', marriage records and other civil records.

With DNA, some of these pieces are beginning to show some promise, yet the clues showing up are not all the same but of different family lines, and they should be.

We've always known from whence they came, and they were still the same people in Louisiana/ Texas as they were in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Spanish Florida. There are still fragments of the name Redbone on Church's, Creeks, Cemeteries and other place names along their suspected route's of migration. So that in itself is telling.

So the remaining question is, and the answers are still out there for anyone to see -- who were the Redbones? I say they were mixed blooded European Peoples with a large percentage of North American Indian Blood migrating Westward with everyone else, THEY WERE NOT AMERICAN GYPSIES!

Gary J. Gabehart, Mishiho (Mish-eh-ho)

No comments: