Dimery Settlement

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Horry County, South Carolina, United Statesmap
Surnames/tags: Dimery, Hatchell, Hatcher, Thompkins, Tompkins, Sellers, Cook, Cooke, Cooper, Martin, Johnson, Jordan Turner
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The Dimery Settlement was started by John Dimery leader of a group of mixed race Native Americans that settled in Horry County, South Carolina, near Dog Bluff Township. It is thought that their ancestors were Native Americans who absorbed, through intermarriage, Native Americans of various tribes, European Americans, and African Americans.



The Dimery Settlement, largely forgotten until the Waccamaw Indians finally received formal recognition from the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs on 17 February 2005, was at one time a thriving community located in Dog Bluff Township in Horry County, South Carolina.[1] Early in the 19th century the settlement caused quite a stir and was the subject of much speculation as evidenced by numerous newspaper articles. It seems the local community could not determine where its inhabitants came from.[1] There were even lawsuits alleging that members had married "outside their race." Some inhabitants looked Caucasian, some looked African American, and some Native American.[1] These lawsuits were thought to be political because they were not brought against everyone, but only a select few.

Research on the Dimery Settlement began in 1994, when a group of Native Americans obtaining a grant from the Administration for Native Americans, hired Forest Hazel to assist them with their quest for Federal Acknowledgement as the Chicora-Waccamaw Indian Tribe.[1] Several theories were advanced as to the settlement's origin: [1]

  1. They were descendants of the Waccamaw who had once inhabited Horry County.
  2. They were from a foreign race such as Spanish or Portuguese.
  3. They were a combination of Civil War deserters, escaped slaves, and Native Americans who lived in the swamps near Gunter's Island around the time of the Civil War.
  4. They were an off-shoot of the Croatan Indians (now Lumbee) of Robeson County, North Carolina.

Hint: None of these theories have been supported by historical records to date.[1]

Ethnic Groups

There were several ethnic groups encompassing people of color, as defined by anthropologists, during the colonial period in South Carolina.

Brass Ankles

The Brass Ankles, also called "Shavers," are a "tri-racial isolate" group that lived successively in Charleston (Charles Town), Berkeley, Colleton, and Orangeburg. They were migrating away from the Low Country and into the Piedmont and frontier to escape racial discrimination.[2] They were a people whose ancestry was a combination of European, African, and Native American and were free prior to the Civil War. After Reconstruction, they were subjected to the Jim Crow laws and often categorized, especially on census records as "mulatto."[2] After 1930, Congress required people to be classified as either "black" or "white." By this time most of the Southern States had passed laws whereby any person known to have black ancestry was required to be classified as "black" (one-drop rule).[2] Many of the Brass Ankles self-identified as Croatan Indian as evidenced by their death certificates. They are also represented among other mixed-race groups, such as the Melungeon in Tennessee and the Lumbee in North Carolina.[2] Over time, many of these mixed race people married into and identified with other ethnic groups so that they became part of the white, black, or the Beaver Creek Indian communities. Many of these mixed-race people would have legally been classified as "white" in the early nineteenth century. Some have maintained their cultural identity and there are many local stories about their origins.[2]

Common Surnames

  • Weatherford
  • Pratt
  • Jackson
  • Chavis
  • Bunch
  • Driggers
  • Sweat(t)
  • Williams
  • Russell
  • Goins

Red Bones

Redbone is a term used in the southern United States to denote a multiracial individual or culture.[3] While there is some controversy as to their origins, it widely thought that they originated in Marion County, South Carolina, in the Pee Dee Region (where they did not acknowledge that term) and migrated to Louisiana (where they are known as Louisiana Redbone). At one point the term "redbone" was derogatory, but it has now been embraced by their population. They are thought to be a mixture of Native American, Portuguese, and Melungeon. They deny African heritage, but there is every likelihood that they do have some African heritage.

Common Surnames

  • Ashworth
  • Dial/Dyal/Doyle
  • Goins
  • Johnson
  • Perkins
  • Sweat
  • Buxton
  • Bass
  • Bunch
  • Drake
  • Nash
  • Willis


The Lumbees are centered on Robeson County in North Carolina.[4] They descend from the Hatteras tribe of Algonquin Indians from the coast. This is the same group credited with possibly absorbing the "Lost Colony" of English at Roanoke Island.[4] They are presumed to have absorbed the remnants of the Cheraw tribe as well as other Siouan Native Americans. They also absorbed free mulattos, runaway slaves, and renegade whites.[4]This tribe gets it's name from the Lumberton River. They were also called Croatan for many years.[4] They are culturally the most Native American of the Mestee groups and are accepted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[4] They are not recognized as descended by any particular tribe and therefore have been denied all benefits.[4]

Common Names

  • Chavis (from Brass Ankles of SC)
  • Locklear (Lumbee origin)
  • Oxendine (Lumbee origin)


The name Melungeon comes from the word melange and was given to them by French traders coming up the river from Louisiana.[4] They are an ethnic group out of the mountains of northeastern Tennessee. Racially, they are a mix of black, white, and Native American.[4] They were founded by free mulattos and mestees from North Carolina.[4] They arrived in what would become Hancock County before the whites.[4] They self-describe as "Cherokee," but are probably Saponi and Tutelo.[4]

Common Names

  • Collins
  • Mullins
  • Gipson
  • Gibson
  • Sexton
  • Goins
  • Price


The Turks were an ethnic group found mostly around Sumter County, South Carolina.[4] Although this group has less European ancestry than either Red Bones or High Yellow, they were recognized as white. This is because General Sumpter hired some of those who had served under him in the Revolutionary War and found them to be good workers. He was afraid they would leave due to unhappiness of their treatment by neighboring whites.[4] So he prepared an affidavit stating that they were indeed Turks that he had personally contracted from the Ottoman Empire to work for him.[4] He presented this document to authorities, despite the fact that they did not speak Turkish, they were not Muslims, and the Turks were the rulers of the Ottoman Empire and thus not likely to hire themselves out as laborers.[4] In actuality, the Turks were mostly members of the Lumbee tribe.[4]

Common Names

  • Oxendine
  • Benenhaley

High Yellow

This was a term in common usage at the end of the 19th and in the early 20th century to denote a person with light skin tone and of mixed white and black ancestry.[5] The term could also be used to accentuate the colorism of the time whereby those who appeared to have more white ancestry were of a higher social class than people who appeared more brown.[5] According to Edward Ball in his The Sweet Hell Inside: The Rise of an Elite Black Family in hte Segregated South:

"Members of the colored elite were called 'high yellow' for their shade of skin, as well as a slang terms meaning snobbish."[5]


The Smilings were a group of Native Americans of North and South Carolina, distinct from the Lumbee, Cherokee, Catawba, and Creek of the area.[6]

Common Names

  • Smiling
  • Chavis
  • Goins
  • Hunt
  • Oxendine
  • Epps


In 1809, Marion County, South Carolina, John Dimery married Elizabeth Hardwick. By 1813 they removed to Horry County where he purchased 300 acres of land. This tract of land was described as being "in Gunter's Islands" and is located on the east side of the Little Pee Dee River, probably north of Brunson Swamp. [1] More land was acquired by John Dimery and his sons, and this formed the heart of the Dimery Settlement.[1] There is speculation that the money he used to purchase the land was pooled by all those who formed the Dimery Settlement, not just John Dimery. It has also been put about that John Dimery only adopted a non-Indian name to allow him to purchase the property, since that was a requirement. John Dimery appears on the US Federal Census in Horry County in 1820 as a "free person of color."[1] This term was applied to everyone nonwhite, not just to those of African heritage. The same could be said of the term "mulatto." This was in some cases a deliberate attempt to thwart any efforts by Native Americans to reclaim land and also to signify that people had adopted European lifestyles and not following their traditional culture.

It is not known if there were other Native peoples living in the Dog Bluff area when John Dimery bought land there and likewise, we don't know if his ancestors had lived their previously and he was seeking to return.[1]

By 1850, the Dimery Settlement consisted of at least four families and twenty-seven individuals:[1]

  • John Dimery
  • Willis Thompkins
  • Cockran Thompkins
  • Sara Cook

By 1870 there was a need for a community church.[1] A wooden church was built in 1886 and called Dimery's Church. It was soon renamed Bethel or Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. It had a membership of 100 when it burned down in 1983.[1] There is an adjoining cemetery.

In 1909 a school was built for the community's children. It was originally called the Dimery School, but today it is called Pine Level School.[1] There was controversy regarding the classification of the school. Some in the neighboring communities wanted the school classified as a "colored" school, but several parents objected since they were whites who had intermarried with Dimery inhabitants. Eventually, it was classified as a "white" school.


  • At least four cases out of South Carolina laws prohibiting miscegenation (marrying outside one's race).[1]
(1) Daniel Alford (1908), a white man was prosecuted for marrying Susie Dimery, a Negro woman
(2) Furman Hughes (1921), another white man prosecuted for marrying Patty Dimery, a Negro woman.
(3) W. I. Hatcher (1908), was charged with being a Negro and marrying a white woman, Manda Mishoe
(4) Julius Hatcher (1905), charge with being a Negro and marrying a white woman, Martha Mishoe

Only Furman Hughes was convicted, and that because he pled guilty.[1] He was sentenced to one year at hard labor and a fine of $500.[1] None of the others were convicted. In the newspapers, it was said that the Hatchers were "dark-skinned people, but if there is any Negro blood in them, no one knows when or whence it got there - if anything it may be Indian or Spaniard."[1]

Sources and Resources

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 Hazel, Forest. "The Dimery Settlement; Indian Descendants in the South Carolina Low Country," Horry County Historical Society (http://hchsonline.org/places/dimery.html) 1966-2014; citing it's publication in The Independent Republic Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4; Fall 1995; pg. 32-36.
    • Conway Horry Herald (Conway, South Carolina), Thursday, 28 April 1921.
    • Conway Horry Herald (Conway, South Carolina), Thursday, 24 March 1921.
    • Conway Horry Herald (Conway, South Carolina), Thursday, 10 May 1906.
    • Conway Horry Herald (Conway, South Carolina), Thursday, 27 June 1912.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Wikipedia contributors, "Brass Ankles," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Brass_Ankles&oldid=859298274 : accessed June 29, 2019).
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Redbone (ethnicity)," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Redbone_(ethnicity)&oldid=899865113 : accessed June 29, 2019).
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 Nassau, Mike. Melungeons and Other Mestee Groups, online book <https://melungeonmestee.webs.com/>, 1994 (updated 22 October 1999). NOTE: The author changed his name in 1997 from McGlothlen. This book may be copied in whole or in part if properly cited.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Wikipedia contributors, "High yellow," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=High_yellow&oldid=1140969702 : accessed October 12, 2023).
  6. "The Case of the Smilings: Smiling, Chavis, Goins, Hunt, Oxendine, Epps," indianancestry101, online article based on the book by Gerald M. Sider, Living Indian Histories: Lumbee and Tuscarora people in North Carolina, 22 February 2014 (https://indianancestry101.com : accessed 11 October 2023).

See also:

  • Ball, Bonnie Sage. 1969. Melungeons: Their Origin and Kin. Bonnie Ball. (Contains interesting anecdotes of her personal contact with Melungeons, gives more information on the communities in Virginia.)
  • Ball, Donald B. 1976. A Bibliography of Tennessee Anthropology including Cherokee, Chickasaw and Melungeon Studies. Tennessee Anthropological Association.
  • Barr, Phyllis. 1965. The Melungeons of Newman's Ridge. East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. (Gives condensed versions of 'folklore' from a Melungeon family named Sexton. All excitement and interest lost.)
  • Beale, Calvin Lunsford. 1990. A Taste of the Country: A Collection of Calvin Beale's Writings. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA. (Reprints articles on Melungeons, Haliwa Indians, Eastern Creeks and other Mestee groups. One of the main sources on Mestee groups.)
  • Beale, Calvin. 1957. "American Triracial Isolates, Their Status and Pertinence to Genetic Research." Eugenics Quarterly 4(4):187-196.
  • Beale, Calvin. 1972. "An Overview of the Phenomenon of Mixed Race Isolates in the United States." American Anthropologist 74:704-710.
  • Berry, Brewton. 1963. Almost White. Macmillan, New York. (The classic, comprehensive book on the Mestee groups. Does not identify which group is being described in many instances, tends to generalize from one or a few groups to all Mestees. Extensive bibliography is prime guide to the literature to this date.)
  • Berry, Brewton. 1960. "The Mestizos of South Carolina." American Journal of Sociology 51(1):34-41.
  • Berry, Brewton. 1972. "America's Mestizos." In Blending of Races: Marginality and Identity in World Perspective edited by Noel Gist and Anthony Dworkin. Wiley, New York. (Mainly repeats material in Almost White.)
  • Bible, Jean Patterson. 1975. Melungeons Yesterday and Today. East Tennessee Printing Company, Rogersville, Tennessee. (The most comprehensive study of the Melungeons, this book is still in print. See note at end of the bibliography.)
  • Blu, Karen. 1980. The Lumbee Problem: The Making of an Indian People. Cambridge University Press, New York. (Interesting study of the Lumbee and the development of their group identity.)
  • Burt, Jesse, and Robert Ferguson. 1973. Indians of the Southeast: Then and Now. Abingdon Press, Nashville. (Contains much material and several pictures on the Lumbee.)
  • Callahan, North. 1952. "The Melungeons" in Smoky Mountain Country by North Callahan (edited by Erskine Caldwell). Little, Brown & Co. Boston. (Biased, racist and unpleasant but informative.)
  • Cohen, David S. 1974. The Ramapo Mountain People. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey. (Very comprehensive treatment of this group).
  • Daniel, G. Reginald. 1992. "Passers and pluralists: subverting the racial divide." In Racially Mixed People in America, edited by Maria Root. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California. (Interesting current view of the identity question facing Mestees, from a mainly black perspective.)
  • Davis, Floyd J. 1991. Who Is Black? Pennsylvania University Press, Newbury Park, Pennsylvania. (Outstanding book on the problem of racial identification in America, only treats Mestees in passing.)
  • Davis, Louise. 1976. "The mystery of the Melungeons." In Frontier Tales of Tennessee. Pelican, Gretna, LA. (Contains some interesting anecdotes of personal contact with Melungeons.)
  • Dial, Adolph, and David Eliades. 1975. The Only Land I Know: A History of the Lumbee Indians. Indian Historical Press, San Francisco. (The basic book describing the Lumbees and their history.)
  • Dial, Adolph L. 1993. The Lumbee. Chelsea House, New York. (Update of previous book, intended for young people.)
  • Dominguez, Virginia. 1986. White by Definition: Social Classification in Creole Louisiana. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, NJ. (A lot of information on both the 'white' and the 'colored' Creoles of Louisiana.)
  • Evans, W. McKee. 1971. To Die Game: The Story of the Lowry Band, Indian Guerrillas of Reconstruction. Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. (History of Henry Berry Lowry and the Lowry [Lowrie] family, the Lumbee people and their insurrection. Also includes an account of the Lumbee rout of the Klan in 1958.)
  • Feest, Christian F. 1989. The Powhattan Tribes. Chelsea House, New York. (Notes the absorption of black and white by these groups and the mixed nature of their descendants at present. Also the treatment and legal problems of these groups resulting from their mixed nature.)
  • Fetterman, John. 1970. "The Mystery of Newman's Ridge." Life Magazine, June 26. [Not in all editions.]
  • Forbes, Jack. 1988. Black Africans and Native Americans. Backwell, New York. (Outstanding book detailing the relationship between blacks and Indians, particularly during the time when both groups were enslaved in Virginia and the Carolinas. A must for understanding the origin of the Mestees. Little actually said about the Mestees, but the Saponi and Powhattan are identified as the Indians in the ancestry of the Melungeons in two places.)
  • Foster, John. 1985. "Some questions and perspectives on the problem of metis roots." In The New Peoples: Being and Becoming Metis in North America. University of Manitoba Press. (Gives much information on the origin of the Metis of Canada and neighboring areas of the United States where French Canadian and Metis traders and trappers penetrated before the Anglo-American arrival.)
  • Gilbert, William Harlen, Jr. 1946. "Memorandum concerning the characteristics of the larger mixed-blood racial islands of the eastern United States." Social Forces 21(4):438-447. (Contains much of the information found in his next publication, cited below.)
  • Gilbert, William Harlen. 1947. Synoptic Survey of Data on the Survival of Indian and Part-Indian Blood in the Eastern United States. Library of Congress. Also printed as "Surviving Indian Groups of the Eastern United States," pages 407-438 in Annual Report of the Board of Regents of The Smithsonian Institution, 1948. (Gives numbers, locations and common family names for the principal Mestee groups. This major source is copied as an appendix to this document.) Now online at: http://www.geocities.com/mikenassau/gilbert.htm .

Also at http://www.gilbert1948.webs.com .

  • Hall, Christine C. Iijima. 1992. "Please choose one: ethnic identity choices for biracial individuals." In Racially Mixed People in America, edited by Maria Root. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California. (Not about Mestees, but very pertinent in stating the identity problems of mixed people.)
  • Kahn, Kathy. 1973. Hillbilly Women. Doubleday, Garden City, New York.
  • Livingstone, Frank. Polygenic models for the evolution of human skin color differences. Human Biology 41:480-493.
  • Mangum, Charles. 1940. The Legal Status of the Negro. University of North Carolina Press. (Overview of discriminatory laws. Gives information on the laws defining who could be white in different states.)
  • Matthews, Denise, and Vinny Jones. 1991. The Black Warriors of the Seminole. Video program shown on PBS TV stations. WUFT, Gainesville, FL.
  • Merrell, James. 1989. The Catawbas. Chelsea House, New York. (Includes information on the absorption of remnants of other tribes by the Catawba.)
  • Pollitzer, William S., and William H. Brown. 1969. Survey of demography, anthropology, and genetics in Melungeons of Tennessee: an isolate of hybrid origin in process of dissolution. Human Biology 41:388-400.
  • Pollitzer, William S. 1972. The physical anthropology and genetics of marginal people of the southeastern United States. American Anthropolgist 74:719-734.
  • Price, Edward Thomas, Jr. 1950. Mixed Blood Racial Islands of Eastern United States as to Origin, Localizations and Persistence. University of California, Berkeley. (The definitive study of the Melungeons and some other Mestee groups. The following three articles are based on this dissertation.)
  • Price, Edward. 1950. "The Mixed-Blood Racial Strain of Carmel, Ohio, and Magoffin County, Kentucky." Ohio Journal of Science 50(6):281-290. (Photocopy included as an appendix to this document.) Online at https://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/1811/3790/1/V50N06_281.pdf
  • Price, Edward. 1951. "The Melungeons: A Mixed-Blood Strain of the Southern Appalachians." Geographical Review 41(2):256-271. (Photocopy included as an appendix to this document.) Available online for fee at http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0016-7428%28195104%2941%3A2%3C256%3ATMAMSO%3E2.0.CO%3B2-L (first page free)
  • Price, Edward. 1953. "A geographical analysis of White-Negro-Indian racial mixtures in eastern United States." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 43(2):138-155. (Photocopy included as an appendix to this document.) Online at Melungeon Heritage Association at http://www.melungeon.org/node/94
  • Price, Henry R. 1966. Melungeons: The Vanishing Colony of Newman's Ridge. Hancock County Drama Association, Sneedville, TN. (Much detail on the early history of the Melungeons. Includes the records of land ownership by early Melungeons. Was used as the information brochure for the outdoor drama Walk Toward the Sunset.)
  • Reuter, Edward. 1918. The Mulatto in the United States. Gorham Press, Boston. (Gives a wealth of information on part-white blacks up to this time, and the great contribution which they made to the black community.)
  • Wilkins. 1992. Triracial Isolates. Unpublished paper cited by Terry Wilson and Reginald Daniel. Not seen by author.
  • Williamson, Joel. 1980. New People: Miscegenation and Mulattoes in the United States. Free Press, New York.
  • Wilson, Terry P. 1992. "Blood quantum: Native American mixed bloods." In Racially Mixed People in America, edited by Maria Root. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California. (Interesting current view of the identity question facing Mestees, from a mainly Indian perspective.)
  • Worden, W.L. 1947. "Sons of the Legend." Saturday Evening Post, October 18.

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