Gideon Gibson the Progenitor

The following information about Gideon Gibson and his black father (Gideon1 Gibson) is taken from the Ratliff-Smith Genealogy Web site, accessed Dec. 5, 2004.  See:  According to professor Lloyd Johnson (personal communication, Jan. 3, 2005), the parents of Gideon1 Gibson emigrated from England to Virginia in the early 1690s.

Gideon1 Gibson, born say 1695, settled near the Roanoke River in North Carolina about 1720. He purchased 200 acres in what was then Chowan County on the south side of the Roanoke River on 24 July 1721 [DB C-1:142]. He acquired over one thousand acres of land in present-day Halifax County, North Carolina, and on the north side of the Roanoke River in Northampton County. He married Mary Brown sometime before 22 October 1728 when they sold 150 acres "bounded according to the Will of William Brown Gentl decd..." [Bertie DB C:36]. She was under the age of eighteen when her father made his 15 December 1718 Chowan County will, proved July 1719, by which he gave her and each of her six siblings 150 acres [N.C. Archives File SS 841]. Gideon, or Gibby Gibson, must have impressed the other prosperous free African Americans in that area of North Carolina because three of them named their children after him: Gideon/Gibby Chavis, Gideon/Gibby Bunch, and Gibson Cumbo. Many of the well-to-do Gibson and Bunch families married whites and were considered white after a few generations.

He sold 108 acres of his land on the south side of the Roanoke River in the first few months of 1730 in what was then Bertie County before moving to South Carolina with several of his relatives who were living on the other side of the Roanoke River in present-day Northampton County [DB C:276]. They came to the attention of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly in 1731 when a member announced in chamber that several "free colored men with their white wives" had immigrated from Virginia with the intention of settling on the Santee River" [Jordan, White Over Black, 171]. Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina summoned Gideon Gibson and his family to explain their presence there and after meeting them reported:

I have had them before me in Council and upon Examination find that they are not Negroes nor Slaves but Free people, That the Father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his Father was also free, I have been informed by a person who has lived in Virginia that this Gibson has lived there Several Years in good Repute and by his papers that he has produced before me that his transactions there have been very regular, That he has for several years paid Taxes for two tracts of Land and had seven Negroes of his own, That he is a Carpenter by Trade and is come hither for the support of his Family. ... I have in Consideration of his Wifes being a white woman and several White women Capable of working and being Serviceable in the Country permitted him to Settle in this Country [Box 2, bundle: S.C., Minutes of House of Burgesses (1730-35), 9, Parish Transcripts, N.Y. Hist. Soc. by Jordan, White over Black, 172].

Like the early settlers of the North Carolina frontier, Governor Johnson was more concerned with the Gibsons' social class than their race.

Both Gideon Gibson and Gideon Bunch were in South Carolina when they sold their adjoining Halifax County land to Montfort Eelbeck of Halifax, and both families were taxed in 1755 as "free Molatas" in Orange County, North Carolina [N.C. Archives File T&C, box 1].

Gideon and his wife Mary recorded the birth of their child William in the Parish Register of Prince Frederick Winyaw on 9 October 1743. As "Gideon Gibson of Pe De South Carolina" he sold part of his Northampton County land on 16 November 1746 and the remainder on 15 February 1749 [DB 1:280, 383]. In South Carolina he recorded a plat for 200 acres on the northwest side of the Pee Dee River in Craven County on 13 April 1736 and 200 acres on the south side of the Pee Dee on 1 January 1746/7 [Colonial Plats 4:320, 4:397]. He petitioned the South Carolina Council on 12 November 1747 stating that he had been granted a warrant for 650 acres in the Welch Tract where he had settled fifteen years previous and had kept it as a cow pen with a servant on it for about two years. He had since settled in Persimmon Grove and had nine persons in his household: a wife, seven children and a slave [Holcomb, Petitions for Land from the South Carolina Council Journals, I:266].

On 29 November 1750 he received a grant for 450 acres in Persimmon Grove on the Little Pee Dee River in Craven County [Royal Grants 4:296]. He was granted 300 acres on the upper end of Marrs Bluff based on his petition of 4 August 1752 which stated that he had begun to cultivate land there and had two children and four slaves for which he had not been assigned any land [Holcomb, Petitions for Land III:56]. Land which had been surveyed for him in North Carolina on the north side of the Little Pee Dee River was mentioned in a 17 November 1753 Bladen County land entry [Philbeck, Land Entries: Bladen County, no. 904]. On 13 July 1755 he was granted administration on the estate of James Rowe, "late of Prince George's parish planter as greatest creditor," and on the same day he was granted administration on the estate of Matthew Driggers, also as greatest creditor [Record of Court Proceedings, 35, 97, 127].

He purchased two slaves (a boy named An[s?]lls and a girl named Hannah) from Sarah Sweat of North Carolina for 500 pounds on 28 November 1764, purchased seven slaves (Rillis, Benjamin, Lucey, Pleasants, Cander, Hannah and Nell) from John and Agnes Gibson (his son and daughter) on 7 April 1766, made a deed of gift of three slaves (Achilles, Pleasant, and Pleasant's youngest daughter Judith) to John and Agnes Gibson's children on 24 August 1767, and made a deed of gift to Mary Holland (his daughter?), wife of Joseph Holland, for 50 head of cattle, 50 hogs, 8 horses, and 10 sheep on his plantation at Marrs Bluff Ferry on 8 January 1770 [Miscellaneous Record Books MM:302-3, 371-2; OO:91-2, 222-3]. He was the father of...

Gideon2 Gibson, born say 1721 {1731?}, had been a resident of South Carolina for fifteen years on 12 December 1746 when he was granted a warrant for 50 acres at a place called Duck Pond on the south side of the Pee Dee River where he was then residing. He called himself Gideon Gibson, Jr., on the same day when he petitioned the South Carolina Council for 200 acres at Duck Pond for himself, his wife and two children [Holcomb, Petitions for Land from the South Carolina Council Journals, I:266]. He and his wife Martha were the parents of Sarah Gibson whose birth (on 29 July 1745) and baptism were registered in the parish of Prince Frederick Winyaw [NSCDA, Parish Register of Prince Frederick Winyaw, 15, 20]. On 2 September 1755 he recorded a plat for 200 acres on the southwest side of the Pee Dee River adjoining Jordan Gibson [Colonial Plats 6:45].

On 15 January 1760 he was paid 343 pounds by the Public Treasurer for supplying the militia in the campaign against the Cherokees [Clark, Colonial Soldiers of the South, 936]. On 15 February 1765 he was granted administration on the estate of John Herring and appointed guardian to John, Peter, Mary, and Hester G___eys of Prince George's Parish [Record of Court Proceedings, 97].

On 25 July 1767 as a leader of the Regulators, Gideon was involved in a skirmish with a constable's party near Marrs Bluff on the Pee Dee River. The incident brought matters between the Governor and the Regulators to a head. The South Carolina Gazette, which like the government was far removed from the location, reported in the 15 August 1768 edition that there were two parties of Regulators. One was made up of people of good principle and property, and the other made up of a gang of banditi, a numerous collection of outcast Mulattos, Mustees, Free Negroes, etc. all horse thieves from the borders of Virginia and other Northern Colonies ... headed by one Gideon Gibson...

Perhaps in a move to divide the two parties, Governor Bull pardoned all those involved except those persons concerned with the outrages and daring violences committed by Gideon Gibson and others upon George Thompson, a lawful constable, and his party, in the actual execution of a legal warrant, at or near Marrs Bluff, in Craven County, upon the 25th day of July last. ... 6 August 1768 [Council Journal, no. 34, 208-211].

Colonel Gabriel Powell, sent to arrest Gideon, arrived with 300 men, but to his utter humiliation, his men sided with Gideon saying he was "one of them" [Hooker, The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution, 177]. Powell resigned his commission and made a racist attack on Gideon Gibson in a discussion of the incident on the floor of Commons. Apparently, he fared little better amongst his colleagues of the Commons than he had in the back country. There are no minutes of the session, but a prominent Charleston merchant, Henry Laurens, was present and described the discussion years later in a letter to England:

Reasoning from the colour carries no conviction ... Gideon Gibson escaped the penalties of the negro law by producing upon comparison more red and white in his face than could be discovered in the faces of half the descendants of the French refugees in our House of Assembly... [Wallace, David Duncan, The Life of Henry Laurens, (N.Y. and London, 1915) by Jordan, White over Black].

Gideon was described by Gregg as a man of very marked character, of commanding influence, and prominently connected with the leading events of the region in which he lived. He was shot dead by his nephew, Colonel Maurice Murphy, during an argument over Murphy's mistreatment of an elderly Tory during the Revolutionary War [Gregg, History of the Old Cheraws, 354]. His children were... {Text truncated here - Tulanelink}

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