Mattie Brewington Braswell (1883-1952) was my great-grandmother. Born in Wayne County, North Carolina to free persons of color, the only thing that I knew about her (other than her name) was that ‘she was Indian.’
My earliest Internet family history queries were to find out more about Mattie and her family. Brewington ✔️ North Carolina ✔️. I soon discovered that there are a great deal of North Carolina Brewingtons. I had to make sure that I was tracing the correct line.
Who were Mattie’s parents? What was their origin story?
In very short order, I found out that Mattie was a daughter of Joshua L. Brewington (1846-1931) and his wife, Amelia Aldridge Brewington (1855-1895). Along with Mattie, the couple had three other daughters: Tilithia (1878-1965), Bashuay (1879-1899), and Hattie Bell (1890-1981). Joshua and Mattie also had three sons: Elijah (1886-1949), Lundy (1894-1914), and Tony (1894-1973).
Mattie’s father, Joshua, was a son of Raiford Brewington (1812-1896) and Bashua (Bathsheba/Bashaby) Manuel Brewington (1818-aft. 1909). They were both from Sampson County, North Carolina. They’re my third great-grandparents and have a legacy of many, many descendants.
After I learned how I connected into the Brewington family, courtesy of my Aldridge (Mattie’s maternal family) family cousin, L.H., I was introduced to a 1916 bio-sketch of the Brewingtons and other allied families within this tri-racial isolate group called Croatan/Coharie people:
In petitioning the Sampson County Board of Education, the collective submitted their reasons and request for separate schooling for their Indian children.
Opinion aside, this booklet is a great resource for genealogical information and lore.
SKETCH OF THE BREWINGTON FAMILY
“The Brewington family is now the largest of any Indian family in Sampson County, most of which are the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even the great-great-grandchildren of the late Raford Brewington, father of Hardy A. Brewington. He had several other sons and daughters…
…Bill Brewington’s wife was a Cherokee Indian, by the name of Jane Brewington, who lived a good many years after her husband’s death. They had a daughter, Hannah Brewington, who if now living would be upwards of one hundred and forty years old. Hannah Brewington is well remembered by few of the oldest people of the county, namely John Emanuel, Jonathan Goodman, James Strickland, and others. They describe her as being a true specimen of the original Cherokee, she being of a copper-reddish hue, with prominent cheek-bones, straight black hair and black eyes. She bought land in the year of 1807, as the records in Clinton, N. C., now show, though before that time she and her people lived on the banks of Coharee, without any need of buying, as the land was held in common by the Indians of those days.
The above Hannah Brewington was the mother of Raford Brewington, who has already been mentioned in this section. She helped a poor illiterate bound white boy, who was, as we have been told, a son of a soldier who was killed during the Revolutionary War, while bearing arms for the independence of America. Soon after the death of his father his mother also died, leaving the child to provide for himself. His name was Simon, and as he was placed under the control of a man that owned a good many servants and slaves, he was given the title that has ever been known as his name, “White Simon.” Hannah Brewington proved to be a friend to this poor orphan boy, and in time, by early Indian custom, she and he were married. Soon after the marriage of this couple, Raford, a son, was born in their home. Simon having no real surname, adopted the name of his wife. Soon after the birth of the above Raford Brewington, his father left the State and went north. He has never returned, but was heard from a few times indirectly. Thus you see the beginning of the Brewington family of Sampson County…
Many thanks to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for making this work widely available.
It serves as a valuable tool in excavating our family history.
This is our situation…
The Genealogy Situation Room