An analysis of a 'Croatan' community

Record Number: 

Smith, Elizabeth. "An analysis of a 'Croatan' community." Unpublished report. 1925 . 10 pages.


The author of this typescript, according to a note typed in on the title page, was "now living in Jamison, Penna. 1966." No other identifying information is given.

As would be expected, based on its inclusion in Estabrook's papers, this report displays the racial attitudes of the eugenics movement of its time.The Croatan community Smith describes is located, as she explains, "in the Northern end of Marlboro County, South Carolina" (p. [1]) and "in the 'sand hill' district of the county between two highways" (p. 2). Croatans sometimes take trips to "Cheraw, a nearby town" (p. 9).

Smith begins the report by stating that the Croatan Indians here "claim their Indian blood from the Cheraw Indians, a branch of the Cherokee Indians, that live in and around Roberson [sic] County, North Carolina" (p. [1]). The isolated community is made up of about thirty families.The bulk of the report describes external and internal forces that, in Smith's view, based on months of work with the community, create difficulties for the Croatans.

She describes prejudice against them by "outsiders" in other areas of Marlboro County (most of which is handed down, rather than based on first-hand contact); the Croatans' prejudices against those who come into the county (for example, teachers sent by the county's superintendent of education to staff the community's one school); and racial prejudices of Croatans against each other. She describes problems created by the minister of the one church in the community, a Methodist church that was part of a circuit. She reports that because of his dislike of the health education being taught at the community's sole, six-month school, the fact that the teacher was an "outsider," and his own opposition to high school education, the minister convinced several parents to keep their children from attending school.In a section she calls "political corruption," Smith explains that the Croatans were well known for selling their votes for fifty cents or a dollar. Older men in the community told her that in an earlier election, everyone decided not to sell votes and to vote for a candidate for county road supervisor who promised to fix a road in their communty in exchange for their support. The candidate was elected but did not fix the road. The Croatans built their own sand and gravel road. Henceforth, they routinely sold their votes, believing this to be the only way they would gain any benefit from voting.

Smith also observes that most of the families are very large (with nine children on average), make their living from farming, and seldom leave the community. Most of their needs for supplies are filled by one large store. In discussing what she calls the "low mobility rate" (p. 9), she opines that "the shifting of 'Croatan' from one 'Croatan' community to another takes place very seldom" and that the nearest Croatan community is in Roberson [sic] County, North Carolina (p. 9).

First Appeared in 1994 Book?: 
Other Features of Work: 
Included Included in the Arthur H. Estabrook Papers and listed in the inventory for that collection. See ESTA001 in The Lumbee Indians: An annotated bibliography