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Susan Powhattan Bigby
Posted by: jerry l. clark Date: January 23, 2002 at 04:20:45
  of 193

On Oct. 23, 1863 during the Civil War, Capt. Goldman Bryson, leader of a Unionist guerrilla band known as "Bryson's Boys," was killed in a skirmish with Cherokee Indian Confederate soldiers, commanded by Capt. James Madison Taylor and his brother Lt. Campbell Harrison Taylor (who fired the fatal shot). Accounts of this episode state that Bryson and the Taylors were kinfolk, perhaps even first cousins. How were they related? While there does not appear to be any connection between the Bryson and Taylor families, Bryson's wife Susanna Payne may have been a cousin of the Taylor brothers.

Susanna Payne was a daughter of John Carroll Payne and Susan Jane Walls; her brother Benjamin Franklin Payne married Jane Bryson (sister of Goldman Bryson). In his application to the 1908 Eastern Cherokee Roll, Benjamin Franklin Payne said that Susan Jane Walls' parents were J. Henry Walls and "a Cherokee squaw" named Susan Powhattan Bigby Watters. However, since Susan Powhattan was not listed on any tribal rolls, Benjamin F. Payne and his relatives were rejected by government official Guion Miller for the Eastern Cherokee payment. Many researchers have mistakenly identified this Susan Bigby with Susan, daughter of the Cherokee James Bigby and Catherine Foreman (who were grandparents of James Taylor and Campbell Taylor). The following speculative senario would explain a possible kinship between the Taylor brothers and Mrs. Goldman Bryson:

Susan Bigby (born ca. 1777) was perhaps called "Powhattan" simply to identify her as an Indian, married 1st, a Mr. Watters (Waters?) and 2nd, J. Henry Walls. It is impossible for her to be a daughter of the famous Powhattan, the sachem or headman of a confederation of Algonquin (an entirely separate people from the Cherokees) tribes in Virginia that encountered the English Jamestown coloney nearly 200 years earlier (Shakespeare may have seen Powhattan's daughter Pocahontas in London in 1620). Susan Bigby's age suggests that she may have been a sister of James Bigby (born 1778), whose mother (name presently unknown) was a sister of Charles Renatus Hicks (Cherokee Principal Chief in 1827), William Abraham Hicks (temporary Chief after his brother's death), Sarah Hicks (mother-in-law of Chief James Vann), and Elizabeth Hicks. All were the offspring of white Indian trader Nathan Hicks and his Cherokee wife (possibly named Nancy Wolf).

In 1805 a white man named Samuel Bigby visited the Moravian missionaries at Spring Place, GA, acting as an agent for William Hicks concerning William's son George Hicks, a student in the Spring Place school. Since James Bigby was a nephew of William Hicks, it is plausable that Samuel Bigby was the father of James. I have not found any further information about Samuel Bigby, presumebly born ca. 1750 and a Loyalist (or Tory) during the American Revolution. It is suggestive that well-known Tory named Dr. Francis Begbie signed a document during the Revolutionary War for another Loyalist, Col. Thomas Waters (who had a Cherokee wife).

James Bigby's family resided at Candy's Creek, TN in the 1820's, where a Presbyterian missionary recorded Bigby's children as 3/8 and grandchildren as 3/16 degree of Indian blood, meaning that one parent was 1/4 (James) and the other 1/2 (Catherine Foreman) [see Emmet Starr, p. 363]. Their daughter Polly (Mary) Ann Bigby married a white man David Taylor; they had 13 children (each 3/16 Indian), including James Madison Taylor and Campbell Harrison Taylor (the killer of Goldman Bryson). Another daughter Jennie Bigby married Andrew Taylor (my ancestors), David Taylor's brother. Under my reconstruction, Polly Ann Taylor (nee Bigby) would have been the first cousin of Susan Jane Payne (nee Walls), and Susanna Bryson (nee Payne) would have been the second cousin to James and Campbell Taylor.


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