Person:Gabriel Arthur (2)

Gabriel Arthur
b.abt 1640
Facts and Events
Name Gabriel Arthur
Gender Male
Birth? abt 1640
Other? 1673 West Virginia, USAinto the southern Appalachian Mountains to make contact with Cherokee

The first European explorers of the southern Appalachian Mountains were Spanish. Hernando de Soto and his troops traversed the region in 1540 and 1541 searching for gold. He was followed by several other Spanish expeditions. The first recorded English explorations of the mountains were those of Abraham Wood, which began around 1650. Later, Wood sent exploring parties into the mountains. The Batts-Fallam expedition reached the New River Valley in 1671. In 1673, Wood sent Gabriel Arthur and James Needham to the Overhill Cherokee of modern Tennessee. The purpose was to try to make direct contact with the Cherokee for trade, so as to bypass the Ocaneechee "middlemen" traders. The expedition did reach the Overhill Cherokee area, but Needham was killed on the return. Gabriel Arthur was almost killed, but was rescued by being adopted by a Cherokee chief. For his own safety, Arthur was then sent with one of the chief's raiding parties. For about a year, he traveled with the Cherokee, throughout the Appalachians. He was probably the first European to visit modern West Virginia and cross the Cumberland Gap.[1] Wikipedia - Wilderness Road

Occhenechees Occhenechees (Akenatzy) were the middle men of the Mountain State regional trade. According to James Mooney of the Bureau of American Ethnology (Washington, D.C. 1894:54), the Occaneechi "tribal totem was a serpent." It is unknown with how many language groups this Eastern Siouan people mingled and traded. After a long visit with the Tomahitans, Gabriell Arthur was returning home and made a short stay at the village of Sarah. This was "w[h]ere ye Occhenechees weare" on May 1674. Abraham Wood writes, "when it grew prity late in ye night ye Occhenee began to worke thire plot and made an alaram by an hubbub crying out the towne was besett with in numarable company of strange Indians this puts the towne people into a sodane fright many being betweene sleepeing and wakeing, away rune ye Tomahittans and leave all behind them, and a mongst ye rest was Gabrills two pieces of gold and chaine in an Indian bagge away slipe Gabriell and ye Spanish Indian boy which he brought with him and hide themselves in ye bushes." This Abraham Wood letter does not identify the 'strange Indians'. Wikipedia Protohistory of West Virginia

Monetons Monetons traded with Tomahitans of Holston River Valley and adjoining lower Blue Ridge Mountains region. Today, there is a growing consensus that Monetons were Eastern Siouan and possibly a westerly branch of Virginia Monacan, also known as Manachee, 1669 (Mooney 1894:28). However, this theory is moderated when looking at the archaeology of Eastern Tennessee of the Yuchi (Cisca) and the late Clover Phase of West Virginia (c. 1550~1650), although the lingua franca or Virginia trade language, Occaneechi, is thought to be their primary language (Rankin 2009, WVAS). Reported by Gabriell Arthur in 1671, this acculturated multi-tribe permitted others to live with them as subordinate Siouan 'Occaneechi' . Abraham Wood in 1674 describes them, "Tomahittans keepe theire haire close cut to ye end an enime may not take an advantage to lay hold of them by it." After the Tomahitans concluded the visit with the Kanawha Valley Monetons, his host agreed to venture their explorer towards the mysterious Ohio River. An unidentified People [Calicua?] on or near the Ohio River took Gabriell Arthur captive. They were reported as traditional enemies to the Tomahitans. 'Gabriell' declared these curious people had no Europe trade metal goods, not knowing the use of guns nor metal knife among them. He gave his metal knife to their chief, telling him how much fur would trade for more items of this nature. In reciprocity as Wood writes, "[and] gave him (Gabriell) Rokahamony for his journey and soe they departed, to be short." Wikipedia Protohistory of West Virginia

  1.   Southern Indian Studies, 39:31-55, 1990.

    The Travels of James Needham and Gabriel Arthur through Virginia, North Carolina, and Beyond, 1673-1674 edited by R. P. Stephen Davis, Jr. edited version online