Melungeon-L ArchivesArchiver > Melungeon > 2007-09 > 1189217141
Subject: [MELUNGEON] "Brandywine People" southern Maryland (aka "Wesorts" orPiscattaway Indians)
Date: Fri, 7 Sep 2007 22:05:41 EDT
Many universities, colleges, community colleges, and some public libraries
and a few high schools may be able to help you locate this article. There is
a link with a list once you get to this listing.
This group, is a truly mixed group with white, black and Indian components.
I have read that some of them are now emphasizing their Piscattaway Indian
background. They vary in skin ,eye , and color and
texture and degree of curliness or straightness. Some reportedly are
recognizably African, yet others are quite fair with blonde hair. They tend to have
health problems from being inbred inasmuch as there were only about ten
families that intermarried with each other. They nearly all follow the paradigm
of white indentured servant women marrying black or mixed men and in this
group's case, of their being convicted of having illegitimate chlidren. The
article references the early 1700's when a "bastardy" law was passed making it a
crime to have a child out of wedlock and imposing "a stiff fine or
Also noted, is the passage of a similar law outlawing a white woman from
marrying anyone but another white. Seven years as an indentured servant was the
penalty for marring an Indian or Black. The article goes on to say that by
the mid-1700's, many white servants with Wesort names had married Indians,
according to a Catholic University Report. "When the first U.S. Census was taken
in 1790, 54 families in Charles County bore the names
(seven of the strongest names amongst the top ten surnames used.) According
to this article, the few newcomers after that point were assimilated by 1900.
Thus the original mix has survived in large part intact. A Father Harte
found that 9/10 marriages were between people with the same surname as their
spouse. They have to petition the government to be allowed to marry, therefore.
They were reportedly living between Waldorf and Bel Alton near U.S. 301 at
the time of the article's publishing in 1979.
The article notes that they also live in southern Prince George County,
Other articles I have read mentioned that they also lived in surrounding
southern Virginia areas including St. Mary's County.
They were Catholics. According to the Rev. John Hardy in Peter Ruehl's this
"Brandywine People" article, many of this group can trace their ancestry back
to the fist Indians converted to Catholicism by Jesuits who came before
white settlers. If a chief converted to Catholicism, so did the rest of the
tribe., he maintained.
Amongst the earliest white settlers in the area were the several PROCTORS
and SWANNS. Many of the PROCTORS and SWANNS were found guilty of marrying
Indians or Blacks. The Potomac River separates them from Virginia. At the time of
this article, 1979, many were laborer or truck drivers.
Like Melungeons and many other Indians, the Wesorts (they prefer to be
called Pisacattaway Indians I have read), in pre-integration times when eparation
of white and black schools was the norm, chose bit to go to school at all
rather than attend black schools. They were not allowed to attend white schools
even if they were blonde and blue eyed if they were known to be "Wesorts."
In church, by custom now rather than now, the "Wesorts" sit in the middle with
blacks at the back and whites in the front.
Supposedly, that has finally changed. They are considered industrious and
shun state aide.
Source for background to the books below, SOCIAL ORIGINS OF THE BRANDYWINE
POPULATION: "Brandywine People - mixed heritage, proud race," Peter RUEH,
Evening Sun, Dec 18, 1979, 2pages, includes map. Copied by Enoch Pratt Free
Library in Baltimore. Found in Afro-American Collection VF.
Summarized and posted by Victoria B. with comments.
Social Origins of the Brandywine Population
Thomas J. Harte
Phylon (1960-), Vol. 24, No. 4 (4th Qtr., 1963), pp. 369-378
This article consists of 10 page(s).
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