Saturday, May 31, 2008

Uh, dad?... Guess what. We're Native Americans.

A couple months ago when we were in West KY I posted some pictures of the grave markers of my ancestors, namely Eli Tapp. The Tapps are fortunate to have extensive genealogical work done on the family line. In the 1970s, a very large volume was published that was considered to be a pretty complete history going back to the 1600s.

Reading the history of my line in the book, Eli's grandfather went by the name of William Taptico, (as did William's father). He was listed in some court documents as Lord of the Wicocomico indian tribe of Virginia. The 1970 genealogists assumed that William was related to other Tapps in Virginia at the time and that Taptico was an honorary title given to him by local indians who he had befriended.

It was stated that the Tapps that William descended from originated in England. I grew up pretty proud of my English heritage, and kept a keychain of a Coat of Arms registered in England by a Tapp. My family just took it at face value and never thought about it.

However, recently more research has been done correcting the previous work and going deeper. Visiting Eli's grave caused me to see what other info was out there. There's a nice website that maintains much of the genealogical work. It turns out that William Taptico really was a full-blooded Wicocomico Indian, and the last Chief of the Wicocomicos. There is actually quite a bit documented about his life and possessions. His tribe had almost completely died out and he apparently had been pretty well-assimilated into English culture.

Upon William II's death, his wife Elizabeth, who was also very likely full-blooded indian (as it was illegal for intermarriage at that time) began settling William's estate under the name Taptico and ended by signing her name Elizabeth Tapp.

Someone began a DNA project to test and see if the descendants of William Taptico were indeed Native Americans. I recently submitted my DNA to the project, hosted by Family Tree DNA, and have just gotten my results back that I am indeed related to other Tapps who claim descent from William Taptico, the last Chief of the Wicocomicos, and that my haplogroup is Native American and not European.

For more history on the Wicocomico's and the history, here's a website devoted to them. There is recorded history of John Smith encountering the tribe in Virginia back in 1608.

The great mystery is why Elizabeth would change her name to Tapp. There were English Tapps in Virginia at the time, maybe she knew some of them, maybe she just knew it was a similar name. The world will probably never know.

But, I can now know for certain that I'm descended from full-blooded Native Americans. When Elias does Thanksgiving plays at school and they talk about Native Americans, I can tell them that his ancestor was an Indian chief.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Interesting!! There's Native American blood through John's side, too, though we don't know any of the history. Maybe you could find some info with the little information we have...