Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Princess Nicketti Powhatan

I'm related to a Princess? 

Author's Warning: Some readers have become quite upset by this article. If there is not a doubt in your mind that Princess Nicketti is your ancestor, and you are here to reaffirm her story, stop reading now, this is not the site you're looking for. 

If you are unsure and decide to read it, and then you think your head will explode, I have provided photos of my Daylilys to rest your eyes until you recover enough to close the page. 

You might also want to read this blogpost on Cleopatra when you're done. Or this blogpost on Trader Hughes. There is also this post on Rice/Reese/Rhys Hughes.

When I was a newbie on I was guilty, unknowingly, of contributing to one of the biggest headaches for genealogist, both amateur and professional,  today.  What was I doing that was so terrible. It was blindly copying names and dates from ancestry trees without bothering to see if the information was even remotely correct.  I did this with all my ancestors. What, or rather who,  brought that copy and pasting to an abrupt halt was a certain Princess Nicketti. 

Princess Nicketti is in dozens of trees on as well as websites and blogs like this.  She was the niece of Pocohantas and married a "white man" named Trader Hughes. Some trees even include the names of her parents. When I told my husband that he was related to an Indian Princess he looked at me like I was a nut job, and in that moment I realized he was right. Now don't get me wrong, I would be happy to have some Indian genes, to help breakup my seemingly 100% European ancestry. So I decided to see what I could find out about the Princess. 

I searched both literature and  the web for proof of Nicketti's existence and guess what, I could not find one documented fact about her or her life.  Is she only a figment of someone's, and now a lot of someones,  imagination?  The problem is that hundreds of people are happily passing on this undocumented ancestor and hundreds more are adding her to their trees everyday.  Before long, fiction becomes fact and it becomes harder and harder to correct, hence the headache for those who really want an authentic tree.

Genealogy is a science, and like all sciences it is based on provable, documented facts.  If you are interested in genealogy you cannot include Nicketti in your family tree because there is no possible way to verify her existence. If all you are interested in is family history and lore, that's another thing altogether. I think it is a great story. But the story has crossed over into a genre known as "faction". A bare bones legend is suddenly dressed up with unverifiable if not downright unproven facts.  I guess I really take issue with all those people out there who have added specific dates and places to people who may or may not have existed.  

Does this mean that the Cabells and the Floyds and all the other who claim her as their ancestor did not have a ancestor who was Native American, of course not. With so much oral history it would be hard to believe that they did not have a white/Native marriage in their tree. But, can they say for certain that the woman in question was the daughter of Opechancanough, not they cannot. 

Here are some notes I have made from my search for Nicketti:

This is a copy from the book "The Cabell's and Their Kin", published in 1895 from which this legend arises:
"Opechancanough, the celebrated chief of the Powhatans, who was brutally murdered, while a prisoner, in 1644, left a lovely young daughter, the child of his old age, the Princess Nicketti —' she sweeps the dew from the flowers.' Some years after this graceful Indian maiden had reached the years of mature womanhood, a member [the name is not given) of one of the old Cavalier families of Virginia 'fell in love with her and she with him,'and the result was a clandestine marriage, and a half-breed Indian girl who married about the year 1680 a Welshman (others say a native of Devonshire, England,) named Nathaniel Davis, an Indian trader, and, according to some accounts, a Quaker; and from this alliance many notable people in the East and in the West have descended. Their daughter, Mary Davis (born about 1685), married Samuel Burks of Hanover (the ancestorsof the Burks family of Virginia), and their daughter, Elizabeth Burks, married Capt. William Cabell, the ancestor of the Cabells; Martha Davis, another daughter, married Abraham Venable, the ancestor of the Venables. Robert Davis, Sr., a son (the ancestor of 'the black Davises' of Kentucky, and from whom Jefferson Davis descended), had a daughter, Abadiah (or Abigail) Davis, who married William Floyd, the ancestor of the Floyds of Virginia and of the West. A daughter, or granddaughter, of the Quaker, married Gen'l Evan Shelby of Maryland, the ancestor of the Shelbys of the West. Samuel and Philip Davis of the Blue Mountains were sons, and there may have been other sons and daughters. [1]
From this narrative we get the following information:
  • Princess Nicketti is the daughter of Opechanough
  • No mothers name is mentioned
  • Nicketti had to have been born prior to 1644, the year of her fathers death and the narrative says her father left a lovely young girl, not infant or baby, so many she was born even prior to 1634
  • Nicketti married a son of an old Cavalier family of Virginia, not Trader Hughes
  • The marriage results in the birth of one child a "half breed" daughter, unnamed
  • Unnamed daughter marries in 1680 a Welshman/Englishman named Nathaniel Davis, he is an Indian trader
  • Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel Davis have a daughter, b. 1685, named Mary Davis who marries Samuel Burkes.
  • Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel Davis have daughter Martha who married Abraham Venable
  • Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel have son Robert Davis who has a daughter Abadiah, she marries William Floyd
  • Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel also have sons Samuel and Phillip.
  • Unnamed daughter and Nathaniel have unnamed daughter or granddaughter who marries into the Shelby family.

From the book by N. J. Floyd, Biographical Genealogies of the Virginia-Kentucky Floyd Family published in 1912, the author takes the above story and moves it a step forward. he has found a mother for Nicketti. Her name, he says is Cleopatra. [2] The author writes that he found a petition from Thomas Rolfe to visit his mother's sister and Opechenko, to whom he is allied. More about this later. In this book the author makes the following claims/statements:
  • William Floyd married Abadiah Davis, daughter of Welshman Nathaniel Davis. Her mother is 1/2 Indian. Her grandmother was Princess Nicketti the granddaughter of Powhatan, her unknown mother, married a minor chief of the Cayuga tribe. 
  • Nicketti married a noted hunter trader of Scottish origin. They lived near Balcony Falls of James River, here Nathaniel Davis met and married a woman who was the daughter of Nicketti and Trader Hughes. 
  • Many years later the family denies Indian ancestry. The cause of their denial was the Native American warrior Cornstalk who fought in the battle of Point Pleasant. Captives told the settlers that he, Cornstalk, was a descendant of Powhatan, thereby, apparently putting off their ancestry linked to said Powhatan and through him the dreadful Cornstalk. 
  • The states that he found the petition from Thomas Rolfe to Cleopatra in the archives of the Maryland Historical Society. So it is finally in 1912 that a connection was made from Cleopatra to Nicketti and her father becomes Opechancanough. 
  • The author makes up a story of how Cleopatra arrived at her name. 
The petition of Thomas Rolfe:
On 17 December 1641, Thomas Rolfe, now aged 26, was living in Virginia. He requested to see his mother's sister Cleopatra and Opechenko, to whom I am allied. This petition is the only document in which the name Cleopatra is found. Somehow in these few short words the author leaps to the  conclusion that Cleopatra and Opechancanough are married. The original records are gone but there are two copies of this petition. One is in the Bland Manuscript, written by 1730 and the Randolph Manuscript, a 19th century copy of the Bland. The Bland manuscript is written in many hands and contains copies of the original Virginia records. Here is a picture of the petition as written in the Bland Manuscript:


Trader Hughes
I recently did a search through the internet looking for information on Trader Hughes, supposed husband of Nicketti.  I found the following information, Trader Hughes was:
  • Welsh
  • Scottish
  • An English Cavalier
  • An Aztec Indian
  • A member of Virginia society
  • His first name was John, Rees, or Rice or William, or some combination of these
  • He was born in 1615 or 1635
  • he was born in Wales but was a Scotsman
  • He was an African indentured servant Convincing Blog with evidence that Trader Hughes was an African who married Nicketti 
  • He and Nicketti had between one and twenty children
  • Trader Hughes is supposed to have established a Trading Post in Amherst County, Virginia. Traders began moving into this area of Virginia between 1710 and 1720.  If Trader Hughes was born in as late as 1635 he would have been 85 years old when he set up shop. Nicketti would also be around 80-85.  This seems highly unlikely in an time when life expectancy was less than 50 and closer to 40. 
  • A sea captain who sailed his relief ship into Jamestown and promptly married Nicketti, whisked her off to the mountains thereby becoming American's first 'mountain man.'


This is from a message board, message #10793 from the year 2003:
I have found further evidence in the early records of colonial Virginia which indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes had a wife named Susanna. These records indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes (Hoe) and his wife Susanna had an indentured servant named John Price (Prise) whom they may have either beaten or starved to death. These records also indicate that Rees/Rice Hughes bought an Indian girl, which possibly accounts for the legend that he "married" the Indian Princess Nicketti. Rees/Rice Hughes may have had children with this Indian girl, and it's possible that one of their descendants was the Trader Hughes who lived on the upper James River. I know the actual facts are not as pretty as the legend, but I think we need to be truthful about the past, no matter how reprehensible it was.  Billie Harris

John Richard Hewing

I reference John Richard above, he according, to his descendants, was an African from the Portuguese colony in Angola. He was an indentured servant, brought to Virginia possibly to grow rice. He married Princess Nicketti. 

From another reader's comment
Another reader told be that he and his family believe that the man who married Nicketti was possibly and Aztec Indian who traveled up from Mexico.  He wore gold arm bracelets with emeralds. This story had been passed down in his family for generations. 


John Dodson
This is another family story concerning Princess Nicketti.  It seems that she married John Dodson, who was one of the original Jamestown settlers. He arrived on the ship "The Susan Constant" with Captain John Smith in 1607. Many family trees say that John married the grand daughter of the Algonquin Chief Powhatan, Princess Nicketti Eagle Plume. Her parents were Chief Eagle Plume and his wife Cleopatra. The Dodson family claim that this was a story passed down by their ancestors.


Some info on Nathaniel Davis from an internet family genealogy site: Ancestors of Patrick Martin Stevens, Jr.  

It is said he came to Virginia from Wales, and was a Quaker. He is sometimes noted as Quaker Davis, but, Lorene Martens, notes that "The Complete Book of Immigrants, 1607-1776" suggests that Nathaniel was "reprieved for transportation for Barbados June 1671, London." She recalls seeing somewhere that he was jailed and transported for stealing tobacco. "On 8 June 1671 Newgate prisoners reprieved to be transported to Barbados: London." 

Notes for Hugh Ap Lewis: Perhaps he died in Barbados, say some.... Some assert (see The Reads and Their Relatives, author unknown) that Hugh Lewis and Elizabeth were of "Barbados and Virginia." In the "Venables of Virginia," 1925, Elizabeth Marshall Venable asserts that "Hugh Lewis came first with his wife and daughter, Abadiah Lewis, and lost his wife in America and returned to Britain with Abadiah, his only daughter... both returned again to America, in Virginia, with Robert Davis, who came away without the consent of his parents, and served four years in Virginia, King and Queen, for his passage, and then married Abadiah Lewis, with whom he had immigrated." (Courtesy of Leona Latham-Simonini, 2007) 
So, if I'm reading the above right, he is saying that the first Abadiah was the daughter of Hugh and Elizabeth ap Lewis.  Elizabeth dies, Hugh and Abadiah return to England, where they meet up with Robert Davis, who re-immigrates with them to Virginia.   The daughter of Robert and Abadiah Davis, also called Abadiah marries William Floyd. Hum, there seems to be two versions of Abadiah.  She is also said to be the daughter of Nathaniel Davis  and Mary Elizabeth Hughes. 


Another family tree states that Nathaniel Davis was born 17 April 1665 in St. Michael's Parish perhaps in Devonshire.  So here we are combining a very concrete date to a very indeterminate place, how the heck do you know his birthday? If he married Mary Hughes in 1680 then he would have been  15 on his wedding day. Another site says b. 1646 in Virginia, and other site even includes his middle name: Ambrose. This same site says that Nathaniel Davis' father was none other than Barnabus Davis who was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1610. Don't let the fact that Charlestown did not even exist until after 1630 stand in the way of your family tree. (FYI: there was a Barnabus Davis who immigrated to Charlestown, MA, and he did indeed have a son Nathaniel, but clearly, they are a separate family.)

What does Dr. Jay Hansford C. Vest, Professor of American Indian Studies, University of North Carolina say about Trader Hughes and Nicketti? Vest, who has studied these people extensively, calls the story of Nicketti and Trader Hughes, folklore which does not fit into the historical setting and available documentation. Nicketti, he says cannot be both the daughter of Opechancanough and the wife of a Indian Trader living in the 1720s. I suggest most sane people would not find fault with this reasoning.   

He suggests instead, that the story of a princess daughter of Opechancanough who married a son of a Cavalier family fits neatly into the the life Cockacoeske. He writes that she was the daughter of his (Opechancanough) old age, and she was the woman who had a liaison with Calalierish Colonel John West. In about 1656 she gave birth to a son who was called called Captain John West. [3] 


Here are two short articles written about Nicketti:

Title: John Smith Captures Opechancanough
Source: Encyclopedia Virginia
Princess Nicketti is the name given to a Virginia Indian woman believed by some to have been the daughter of Opechancanough, a leader of the Powhatan Indians and the brother of the paramount chief Powhatan. While the name has been referenced almost exclusively on twenty-first-century genealogy websites by people claiming family relationship, no scholarly evidence exists that Princess Nicketti ever lived. A careful search of seventeenth-century records in Virginia yields no one by that name, male or female. And no name of a child of Opechancanough was ever recorded in that century. The writings about her stem from a single published source: Alexander Brown's genealogy The Cabells and Their Kin (1939). Significantly, Brown calls Nicketti's story only a "very interesting tradition" and adds, "I cannot vouch for it[s accuracy]," but he had heard about her from several prominent Piedmont Virginia families. Subsequent writers have quoted Brown's text as fact.
Another problem with the Princess Nicketti legend is that North American Indian tribes did not have princesses in the European sense. Most tribes were relatively egalitarian, and egalitarian societies do not produce aristocracies. Even the more hierarchical Indian cultures, such as the Powhatan, did not have European-style royalty. For one thing, there was not that great a distance between a paramount chief like Powhatan and the ordinary people, which is why anthropologists have traditionally referred to Powhatan as a chief, not as a king. For another, most Woodland Indian cultures (including the Powhatan one) practiced matrilineal inheritance, at least for ruling positions. That meant that a male chief's sons were not his heirs, and his daughters' social prominence would last only until he died. The real heirs were the children of a female chief, or the elder sister of a male one.
This is not Pocahontas!

Title: Pocahontas-Rolfe 
Source: University of Virginia Special Collections

Despite the evidence against Princess Nicketti's existence, she remains a popular figure, especially among those interested in family history. As evidenced by the numerous claims of relation to Powhatan's daughter Pocahontas, and to the privileges granted those alleged relations in the Racial Integrity Acts, Virginians have long valued connections, real or mythological, to Indian "royalty." Those connections have most often been made through women, who likely are seen as less threatening than males like Opechancanough, for instance, who led Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1622-1632). Claims of ancestry through the Powhatan Indians are more common, as well, probably because it was an especially well-known tribe.
The American Indian author Vine Deloria has argued that Americans seek family connections to Indians in order to relate in a more personal way to the frontier and, perhaps, to expiate guilt related to the treatment of American Indians. Others have pointed out that during parts of the twentieth century claims of Indian ancestry sometimes exempted people from laws that segregated whites from nonwhites. For instance, in Virginia the Racial Integrity Acts, passed in the 1920s, outlawed marriage between whites and nonwhites (the latter classification included Virginia Indians, who state officials believed to be black) and required that people's racial statuses be recorded at birth; elite Virginians who claimed ancestry to Pocahontas, however, could still register as white.
"Nicketti" is not an identifiable Indian name, and is probably a corruption of some other name. It could be derived from "Necotowance," the former name of a creek in King William County, taken in turn from the personal name of Opechancanough's male successor. Nothing is known about that man except that he signed the Treaty of 1646 on behalf of many of the Powhatan tribes. He disappeared from the English records after 1649. 

[1] Alexander Brown, The Cabells And Their Kin: A Memorial Volume of History, Biography, And Genealogy, (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & co., 1895).

[2] N. J. Floyd, Biographical Genealogies of the Virginia-Kentucky Floyd Families, (Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1912).

[3] Vest, Jay Hansford C. “Mormons and Indians in Central Virginia: J. Golden Kimball and the Mason Family's Native American Origins.” Journal of Mormon History, vol. 40, no. 3, 2014, pp. 127–154. JSTOR, JSTOR,

*Rountree, Helen C. The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.

*Helen C. Rountree, Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Old Dominion University, and author of Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries (1990) and Pocahontas, Powhatan, Opechancanough: Three Indian Lives Changed by Jamestown (2005). 

Learn how to professionally cite your sources for your genealogy proof with Elizabeth Shown Mills Handy Guide to Citing Sources available by clicking this link. 


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Anonymous said...

I just stopped by to say hi and welcome to genea-blogging. It's a wonderful community of researchers who are both helpful and inspirational. You'll find me at Moultrie Creek and if there's anything I can do to help, just yell.

Hontas said...

The long and the short of what I am going to say is this, one has to use oral history with caution. Like a detective getting different eye witness accounts. Keeping the details that match while discarding the ones that don’t. In particular unrelated witnesses saying the same thing has extra weight. Through such detective work it looks likely someone real isat the heart of the Nicketti story and I have identified her in written records from the period.

The Powhatan / Pamunkey had aweroansqua known to written history as “Queen Betty”.( This Betty is the most likely candidate for being the historical basis for Nicketti. The oral histories relating Trader Hughes, oras my family called him in our variation John Richard Hewing, andNicketti all point to this person. In particular her relationship to the Powhatan "royal" family. Certainly not a mistaken identity of Nectowance , as Rountree writes, who history knows was a man.

My case hinges on the recently published oral history of the Mattaponi tribe in the form of a book"The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History" by Linwood Custalow and Angela Daniel. It contradicts "facts" reported in books by the likes of the illustrious Rountree. For example it alleges that Thomas Rolfe was the child of rape by colonial gov Thomas Dale. That John Rolfe and others conspired to poison her on the trip home etc. Check it out.

The salient facts for a discussion of Nicketti are that in the book it says that:
Uttamattamakin and Mattachanna were married.
Mattachanna was the eldest full sisterof Pocahontas.

In the book they take time to explain the names people had. The syllable ‘mat’ or ‘matt’ appears in the names of those associated with the Mattaponi tribe. Names such as Matoka, or Mattachanna or Uttamattamakin. In that sense Nicke-tt-i is consistent with other Mattaponi names. Nicketti is probably a mispronunciation of a name...but not Nectowance. After all we knowthat Nectowance was a man! (lol)
If Nicketti was Pocahontas's niece then she would likely be the daughter of her only sister of any consequence. From that we have a good idea of who her parents were.
Furthermore we have one more curious fact. Powhatan’s successors include a woman called by the English in written period records as "Queen Betty". ( Betty was the sister or niece of her predecessor Cockacoeske thewife of chief Totopotamoi (who's name is on the 1677 treaty of middle plantation.) How easy would it be to call a Indian woman named Nicketti by the name Betty? Very easy indeed.

It is much more likely that Nicketti is a more faithful pronunciation of the Powhatan successor known to history as “Queen Betty” than Nectowance. At least then their genders match up.

As your blog posting is about Nicketti I will post a longer version that addresses Trader Hughes / John Richard Hewing aspect of this ( )

The long and short of that is simply this. A family of white people and a family of free colored people told essentially the same story for generations. The odds of that happening by chance are billions to one.

Robert said...

Thank you Hontas for your reply. I will certainly look for the book "The True Story of Pocohantas". I am sure at the heart of the legend there was a man and an Indian gal who had a daughter. But, were they Nicketti and Trader Hughes/Hewing, I'm not convinced, yet.

Hontas said...

Yeah that book is really something. It differs from the English account in certain details. Yet it is the same about the broad brushstrokes. While they will not always get details right, they are rarely made up out of whole cloth.

As for 100% trusting written history and historians about this. Check into the controversy over Virginia extending recognition to the Nottoway indian bands. Rountree, the same one who writes that Nicketti couldn't exsit, wrote that the whole tribe was extinct. Yet they are back as a state recognized tribe in significant part because of their oral family traditions. ( I am not associated with them their just a good example.

Terry Chuculate said...

something to consider- tho it happened several centuries later- but evidences how the non Natives could confuse names- during the Dawes enrollment,(Cherokee/Oklahoma ab 1907) a relative on my (now deceased) husband David Chuculate was enrolled as John Roastingear- his real name was Popcorn Chuculate-and all the Chuculates knew that was his name, but the non Native enrollment person didn't quite get that... also, everyone is so hung up on this "Princess" title- perhaps that might be the way the non Natives might entitle her as they were used to that in their culture- is everyone getting all riled up over King Phillip as in King Phillip's War-alias/real name Metacom...just some "food for thought"- if you ever watch Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, you'll see how the non natives took the Native name away and substituted a "Christian" name myself, I just want to believe the story because it makes me happy! Terry Chuculate

Anonymous said...

Just a note on Nathaniel Hughes from a DNA and genealogical stand point. I don't believe the father and mother relationship from him is credible either. There are numerous DNA relationships showing up consistently in a DNA case I am working on that strongly suggest connection between Lewis Davis, Nathaniel Davis, Elizabeth Davis B. 1714 (mar. Ragland) and James Davis B1714. All born in New Hanover with many different parents - none from New Hanover, none with proof (or at least any credible proof.) I would deem highly probable these families are all from the same family group (not necessarily siblings.) More research should be done since all said they were born there to find someone that ACTUALLY lived in the are at the time of birth.

Anonymous said...

It can be helpful to take a step back and consider why writings were done at all in colonial times. It certainly was not to record Pamunkey genealogy, but often, using scarce paper, ink, and someone who could spell or read, in order: to record mundane matters necessary within the life of any English settlement, to record conflicts that might linger as a warning, and to send embellished reports to England to justify funds desired and acknowledge receipt or good use. Pamunkey and other tribes of the so-called Powhatan Confederacy already had experienced the Spanish presence years before and likely had Spanish names at some point, too.

Accordingly, written accounts were in English for the English and often contradict themselves. I, too, have questioned what to call the one known as "Nicketti," especially since other relatives had obvious European monikers, like "Cleopatra." None of the shortcomings in record keeping categorically dismiss the existence of someone known as "Nicketti" or her relationships to others. Nor does the lack of a Pamunkey-English translators to specify names in an orderly, English way.

If the same criteria to dismiss applied to me, I would be fictional, too, since my name is not originally English and my mother's name has never been confirmed, due to a problem with her birth certificate that remained unresolved until her death. We don't exist, either, but are certainly non-fiction.

"Can't prove to someone's criteria" does not equal "does not exist"

Dan Culp said...

One thing that you didn't mention which is worth mentioning is that, even if she is entirely myth, Nicketti was a known figure among her proposed descendants at least as early as 1819, when then-Congressman and future Virginia Governor John Floyd named a daughter Nicketti.

So while she may be a myth and certainly her details can't be verified, she's at the very least a much older myth than the mentioned 20th century books, in one form or another. Further, since Floyd's father (the namesake of Floyd County, KY and possibly also Indiana) had been killed by Indians, you wouldn't think he'd go out of his way to give his daughter a presumed Native American name without a good reason. If my calculations are correct, the legendary Nikketti would John Floyd Jr.'s 3x great grandmother. That's on the fringe of living memory, potentially. I mean I'm in my mid-30s, and my grandma is still alive and can tell me stories about 2 or 3 of my 3x great grandparents. As a prominent family, one would think they probably were literate and had a family bible, as well.

I do think there is decent evidence to support, if not exactly prove, that the Floyds had an Indian ancestress likely named Nicketti or some variation. Whether she was a close relative of Pocahontas and her immediate family, I would say, is less certain.

I am not a known descendant of any of the families whose historians have written about her, but I do have a theory that might suggest descent from Rice Hughes. Howard Hughes, the famous billionaire, descends from a 18th-century Virginian by that name (that's where my potential connection comes from, as I am a likely distant cousin of Howard Hughes), and with such an uncommon name, you would think he might have been a namesake. But that's just my theory.

Lynn said...

Regarding the above....the same thing was apart of my family story of my Virginia ancestors. These included Veneables, Reads, Davis, Dryden, Craig, Berry, Singleton and others. The story comes from my 5th great grandmother Barbara Berry Dryden 1746-1811 to my 4th great grandmother, Margaret Craig Dryden 1793-1878...passed to her grand-daughter, Mary Singleton Hogue 1841-1932 to her granddaughter, my mother Jacqueline Kerkhoff McCurdy 1923-1999. However, I haven’t a drop of Native American DNA in me. As an anthropologist, I believe in the tradition of family stories and on the rank of believability depends on the initial story. I believe my ancestors sat around and discussed genealogy quite a bit in the evening, as was told to me by my grandmother. There was little else to do in the early colonies. They could recite each cousin, each great uncle and aunt and maybe even that there was an “Indian” Princess in the family...and with each generation, that story maybe got bigger and bigger. We have a bit of a mystery. Maybe science will be able to be solve the mystery of Nicketti.

Anonymous said...

Greetings, Jeanie -

In my line, it's the phantasmagorical "Hattie Nickerson", ghost wife of William Lord (1616 England-1678 Connecticut). She pops up on Ancestry and on the internet faster than mold in an abandoned building! Even with my list of proofs of her non-existence, people who have put her into their tree are reluctant to cut her loose. So, she proliferates.


Unknown said...

Not saying Nicketti was real or unreal, but another source reports her as 'the daughter of Powhatan and sister of Pocahontas'
The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge, Volume 22
Page 724 "PRYOR, Nathaniel, American soldier, trader and explorer: b. (probably) Amherst County, VA about 1785; d. Los Angeles, CA, 1850. He was a great grandson of Nicketti, daughter of Powhatan and sister of Pocahontas.."

Unknown said...

Hi, my name is Doug Powers, and I've been doing genealogy for over forty years. And my family had the many stories of Natives in the family line. The DNA tests of Ancestry, 23andme, LivingDNA, and FamilyTreeDNA showed none on mine, a miniscule amount on my father's . GEDMatch did show a very small amount.
I descend from the mysterious Trader Hughes and "Nicketti" through their daughter's marriage to Nathaniel Davis and that daughter's marriage to a Robert Pollard.
I absolutely do not believe there was a person named Nicketti and that she was some kind of "royalty" related to Pocahontas. I think, quite honestly, that is absurd.
BUT .... I do believe there was a Powhatan woman in this line. One thing I've discovered in my genealogy research (I've even taken a course from Boston University) is that family lore is like playing a game of telephone. The story starts out one way and ends up another. The thing I've discovered in working with Native lines, especially for those of us who go back to the Colonies, is that the Native ancestry is much farther back than the stories go. I've discovered that in the only real line of Native ancestry I've discovered. I was told my g grandfather was 1/4 Cherokee, he was actually something like 1/64 Tuscarora. But thanks for this article, and thank you for fighting for accuracy. OH, and BTW, I'm very intrigued by the theory that Trader Hughes might have been African.

Mrdonkey2u said...

Hello, what about her marrying Gabriel Arthur? That's in my tree. It shows her name as Hannah Rebecca Nikitie.

DeeComposed said...

I have stumbled into the Nicketti hit as well, through the Davis family and the mysterious “Trader Hughes” . While looking through all the profiles and searching online, my first thought was, these people were of African orgins and wanting to keep their land made this story up of being Native American as well as possibly creating this Hughes I’m glad I’m not the only one that has had this thought. I mean even the names Cleopatra and Nicketti what seems a lot like Nefertiti. Also as far as life expectancy’s, I though all the people back in the day didn’t live long but damn! all of my ancestors, who were multi generational mountain people, lived to be Old!!! in their 70s and 80s as a norm.

greg said...

Jean, I could read your posts all day. I love the amount of effort you have brought to the research and that you are sharing this with us. As some of the prior commenters have stated you have clearly demonstrated the advantages and disadvantages of oral tradition and the need, when one wishes to trace one's ancestry, of being skeptical of every turn and dig for actual documents. Thank you.

ValBurks said...

I've really enjoyed reading this. And your right about your daylillies, but there should be a few more :) I took a hiatus in researching my husbands family history for about 14 years. The content on the web today is more overwhelming than it was before. My eyes are now open in a new perspective

amanda said...

Some of my cousins have done this exact thing with their ancestry trees- blindly copying/pasting incorrect info and attaching photos of people who aren't the right person (same name, different family!) I think they want to believe so badly that the photo is their ancestor, that no amount of proof will convince them otherwise. I've given up on correcting them! It's too frustrating! Glad i'm not the only one who's felt like this (but sorry any of us do!)

Anonymous said...

Yeah the newbie to tripped up all the professional genealogist, historians(Bill Deyo) and Dr. Linwood "Little Bear" Custalow who's got cultural anthropological field works with the Mattaponi Indians. Dr. Custalow was a doctor to the Mattaponi Indians and recorded their sacred oral tradition which confirms without a doubt that Pocahontas and Kocoum had a child. Yet somehow in her mind she's above them all. How did this happen? With your nursing school degree from St. Thomas University nursing school with it's national accreditation? Your credentials to be so uppity and challenging to historians and field researchers are lacking. Are you aware we wouldn't have the Bible if it wasn't for sacred oral tradition that was eventually written down? Are you aware we wouldn't have the first written works of western literature the Illiad and Odyssey if it wasn't for sacred oral tradition that was eventually written down? Even today in Turkey the Illiad and Odyssey are sung by bards before crowds because of sacred oral tradition. Sacred oral tradition is scientific evidence and has been considered scientific evidence in cultural anthropology for a long time. You might know that if you had taken some cultural anthropology and history classes at a regionally accredited university.

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