Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just When I Thought I had the Answer….Masque, Maskue, Askue, Massague, Massigay, Masagy, Maskie, Massechoes and Mashoes

by Roberta Estes
Enlightenment is where you find it..  In this case, it was laying on the steps.  I was visiting the home of Dawn Taylor and her lovely father, and I asked to use the restroom.  They directed me to the facility, which was up the stairs on the second level.  They do what we do at home, anything needing to go upstairs get stacked on the steps at the bottom and the next person to go up takes it along.  On their steps was an October 1996 edition of the Tyrrell Times, the publication of the Tyrrell County Genealogical Society.  I was immediately interested, and they loaned me the journal for a few days.  I found a very interesting article, which proved very enlightening relative to one of our Hatteras early families as well.
I thought I had this particular family figured out…..just when you think you have the answer, a left hook arrives.
In our Hatteras neighborhood project, we’ve been reconstructing the various neighborhoods from Buxton through Frisco in an effort to pinpoint the Native villages and to better understand the family relationships.  Through the joint efforts of several researchers over the past couple of years, we’ve succeeded in reconstructing these neighborhoods..  One of our mystery families, who don’t live on the Outer Banks anymore is the Joseph Maskue family.  Joseph is first found on Hatteras Island in 1757 when he receives a land grant of 300 acres “on Hatteras Banks” on the sound side near John Neals.  This was then Currituck County, later Hyde, and now Dare.
In 1767, George Masque sells the entire 300 acres patented by Joseph Masque to Benjamin Price, and the Masque (Maskie, Maskue) family disappears from the records of Hatteras Island. 
The reason this family was of particular interest is because the Maskue land abuts the land grand of William Elks, the Hatteras Indian family as reflected in the 1771 sale of part of the William Elks land.
I thought I had this family further identified.  A 1713 court record shows a Thomas Askue estate that involved Henry Davis, Patrick McKuen, John McKuen and Francis Farrow, all Hatteras men.  Henry Davis patented the land adjacent to the land that Joseph Maskue would patent in 1757.  The McKuen family were neighbors as well, and Francis Farrow, while not an adjacent neighbor, was an early island pioneer as well. 
 Admittedly, there is more than 40 years between the estate of Thomas Askue and the land grant of Joseph Masque, but the nearly exact location, the neighbors and the similarity of surnames is very certainly suggestive of a connection, especially considering that in 1713, there were very, very few families living on the Outer Banks, probably less than ten, judging from the early land grants and tax records.  Land grants on Hatteras really didn’t begin until after the Tuscarora War was resolved and it ended in 1713.
In the Tyrrell Times, James L. Liverman, wrote an article about a pair of French brothers who settled in Albemarle County at the end of the 17th century.  Unfortunately, he didn’t give specific dates, but I’ve extracted some of what he did say.
“A pair of Frenchmen came to live along the southern shore of the Albemarle Sound somewhere toward the end of the 17th century.  Probably Huguenots strayed from one of the colonies to the south.  Stephen was 25 at his first mention in the colonial records and seems to have located permanently just across the estuary from the Sand Banks in a neighborhood later to become a part of Tyrrell County, then to be lost to Dare, while the apparently more ambitious Benjamin made a claim “about 4 or 5 miles below Scuppernong River”.  This family name was variously rendered as Massague, Massigay, Masagy and other misadventures.  One clerk wrote it as Massechoes coming pretty close to the place names of Mashoes Creek and Mashoes in today’s mainland Dare County.
Legend has it that a shipwrecked Frenchman came ashore near present time Manns Harbor when that area was still completely uninhabited.  With his wife and family lost at sea, the marooned man is said to have carved the entire account of his travail onto a cedar shingle before he died of abandonment and grief.
Benjamin yclept (sic) Massenque abandoned his homestead below the Scuppernong probably at the same time he married one of the two orphaned daughters of Thomas Waller.  He then embarked on a series of lawsuits against a prominent citizen of the Albemarle by which he eventually secured custody of the other orphaned daughter and the Waller estate entire.  He was dead within the year. 
There is nothing in the surviving records about an heir, but a Peter Museos turns up in the court minutes 16 years after Benjamin’s death.  Then the name disappears from the archives, except for one trace that remains.  On the left hand side when headed out of Columbia south of NC94, you will notice in the vicinity of Ryder’s Creek the last memorial, a green placard sign that says “Pity My Shoe Road”.”
Liverman also spells the name Micheaux.
The first names don’t match.  We find Thomas Askue on Hatteras Island in 1713 and the Albemarle names were Benjamin and Peter.  The later Hatteras first names in the mid-1700s were Joseph and George.  However, the similarity between the surnames can’t be arbitrarily dismissed without further investigation.  I’d certainly appreciate any information that anyone has about these or similar surnames in this region of eastern North Carolina.

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