We’re All Family: Trader John Hughes,The Big Cornstalk and Pocahontas

  First White Man Trading Post

Vol 2


Trudging along on this genealogy adventure of 2020 for my family and that of my wife, I have stumbled upon some really interesting stories. Here is one of those. 

This takes place in Linda’s maternal side of her family. Her parents are Paul and Donna (Callaway) Meeker and living in Manito, Illinois. Grandma on her mother’s side was Bertha (Hughes) Callaway. This is all the current information you will get for now as we jump many, many generations for our story of Trader John Hughes and his life. 


John Rice (Rees) Hughes was born in 1615 in Anglesey, Wales. Historical records have not been able to locate his parents names. John cme over to the United States at a young age and loved to hunt, fish and trap. His first real job was as a ship captain that brought immigrants from other countries to the United States. He would get the government to deed land to him and then when he got to the US, that land was divided among the parties on the ship. 

In the mid-1600s, Captain John Rice Hughes, a Welshman known in the area simply as “Trader” Hughes, established a trading post at Jamestown, Virginia, in order to trade primarily with the Powhatan Indians in the area.  It has been said that if the Jamestown colony had not been trading with the Native Americans in the area, they would not have survived their first winter.  

It is here that Hughes met a beautiful woman of the Powhatan tribe known as Nicketti or ‘She-Sweeps-the-Dew-from-the-Flowers” as she is known by her tribe members. There is contention about whether John Hughes married her or not. According to historians, white men didn’t marry Indian girls as a rule. It was forbidden in the white world. Whatever. More on that later. 


Nicketti and Her Family

Everyone has heard of Pocahontas of course. our ancestor was a niece of Pocahantas. In English she was called Nicketti. But because of her great beauty she was called ‘She Who Sweeps Dew From Flowers’ in the Algonquin tongue. She was the daughter of Cleopatra (so named as the suggestion of John Smith whom Pocohantas has saved from death earlier), a younger sister of Pocahontis.

Pocahontas was the princess daughter of Powhatan the powerful chieftain whom was the first Indian leader in America to deal with the Europeans. Cleopatra was married to Opechancanough, the brother of Powhatan. Opechancanough succeeded Powhatan as chief or their tribe and a large coalition of neighboring tribes. Opechancanough was much more warlike than his brother. In 1640 he initiated a sustained war against the whites. Although almost half the whites died, Opechancanough was finally forced to give it up.

Nicketti, his daughter even married an Englishman in the end. The first of many unions of Europeans and Native Americans began with Pocahontas and John Rolfe. Our ancestors must have certainly been amongst the very earliest.

He was Capt John Rice “Trader” Hughes. He sailed a supply ship to the Jamestown settlement. After he sold the ship, he found and married the princess Nicketti, moved them up into the mountains as yet never entered by the whites, built a cabin which served as a home and trading center. There they had their children and raised them amongst the Indians. Even during the big uprising of 1640 when half the whites were killed, the Capt. & Nicketti lived without troubles.


We start with Chief Morning Ripple of the Powhatan Tribe who was born in 1410 in Werowocomoco, Powhatan/Orapax Nation, Pre-Colonial Jamestown, Virginia. He died in 1495 in Powhatan, Virginia, having lived a long life of 85 years.

His son, also known as Morning Ripple was born in 1389. He married Ripple on an unknown date. He died in 1470 before his father. 

In 1440, they had a daughter, Murmuring Stream who was born in 1440 in Virginia, her father, Chief, was 51, and her mother, Ripple, was 28. She had one son with Chief Dashing Stream–Great Chief Powhatan (father of Emperior Wahunsonacock Powhatan) in 1517. She died in 1525 in her hometown, having lived a long life of 85 years.

Their son, Great Chief Running Stream Mamanatowick Ensenore Don Luis Velasco of the Iroquois Powhatan was born on June 3, 1517, in Staunton River, Virginia, his father, Chief, was 43 and his mother, Murmuring, was 77. He married Amopotuskee Nonoma Scent Flower Amonsoquath Winanske of the Algonkian in 1547 in Powhatan, Virginia. He died in April 1570 in Jamestown, Virginia, at the age of 52.

Next in line is Chief Running Stream Wahunsonacock Kocoum Powhatan of the Patawomeck Tribe and he was born on June 17, 1545, in Village, Virginia, his father, Great, was 28 and his mother, Amopotuskee, was 28. He had one child with Matatishe Winanuske Nonoma Powhatan and children with Matatishe Pocahon Morning Flower Nonoma Powhatan. He died in April 1618 in King William, Virginia, at the age of 72.

They had a daughter Scent Flower Powhatan Cornstalk was born on June 3, 1517, in Staunton, Virginia. She married Running Stream in 1520. She died in 1600 in Virginia having lived a long life of 83 years.

OK, here we go. 

The Great Cornstalk enters the family. Chief Opechan Stream Cornstalk (Opechancanough) Powhatan was born on June 17, 1545, in Virginia, He married Cleopatra Shawano Powhatan in his hometown. He died on October 5, 1644, in Jamestown, Virginia, at the impressive age of 99.

Here is where we find that Cleopatra was younger sister (by 17 years) to Pocahontas. Yes, that one. The John Smith one that eventually married John Rolfe. Pocahontas was only 27 when she died in the arms of her husband as she was leaving Britain to return to Virginia.  They had just sailed away and were leaving the Thames estuary when she became very sick and the ship pulled to shore where she died. Some people claim she was killed or poisoned. There are many stories about Pocahontas, many of the popular stories that everyone assumes are true are not.  The real story is much darker.

Previous to her marriage to Rolfe, Pocahontas had been married (very, very young) to Kocoum, a Patawomeck chief (the English called him a “private captaine”) who was killed by the Jamestown settlers when they captured Pocahontas in 1613. They had a daughter, Ka-Okee, who was left behind to be raised by the tribe. Ka-Okee was regarded as Native American royalty and she married the high-born Englishman, Thomas Pettus. 

Now back on track.

Cleopatra had several children but for our purpose we focus on Nicketti that was mentioned above. He married Trader John Hughes and built a cabin deep in the woods on the Indian territory. 

Hughes was the first permanent settler in Amherst Co. Va. He and his Indian wife established a trading post on the north side of the James River, west of the Tobacco Row Mountains (circa late 1600’s). His wife was a niece to Pocahontas.

Traders began to move their goods along the upper James River around 1720. According to Alexander Brown in his 1895 book, …”Cabells and Their Kin”…, Hughes was the first known white man to open a post for Indian trade above …the falls…. He built his cabin deep in the silent forests along the Blue Ridge. Hughes traded with the local Monacan Indians and was accepted by them because of his wife’s heritage

Tracing back quickly we find Mathias Hughes-Samuel Hughes-Aram Hughes-John Taylor Hughes Sr.-John Taylor and now I slow down as the family moves to Illinois.

2nd Great Grandfather of my wife

When John Demoss Hughes was born on October 9, 1819, in Holmes, Ohio, his father, Taylor, was 27 and his mother, Mary, was 21. He married Minerva Jane Snodgrass. He died on January 29, 1905, in Fulton, Illinois, having lived a long life of 85 years.

When Benjamin Scott Hughes was born on August 31, 1855, in Fulton, Illinois, his father, John, was 35 and his mother, Minerva, was 35. He had one daughter with Jennie Bailey in 1905. He died on October 21, 1928, in Pekin, Illinois, at the age of 73.

Linda’s Grandmother

When Bertha Hughes was born on January 22, 1904, in Easton, Illinois, her father, Benjamin, was 48, and her mother, Jennie, was 31. She married Elmor Clyde Callaway on August 4, 1923. She died on August 30, 1979, in Pekin, Illinois, at the age of 75.

One of Elmor (which everyone called him Clyde) and Bertha’s daughters is Donna Lee Callaway and she married Paul Meeker which are my wife’s parents.


Now we can apply for minority scholarships with Indian blood. 

We are back to where we began!


Hope you enjoyed the trek.


Please feel free to share! 

Volume 1- The Covingtons


This is an installment into my search of the genealogy of my family and that of my wife. There will be tons of stories that I will write about after searching. Keep in mind I have tried to get all correct information but I can guarantee you there will be mistake and they are unintentional. Enjoy these and please let others know about my search.

It is my goal to keep the Knuppel search and the Sawrey search ongoing. Those are from my dads side and my moms side. Along with that, I will be looking into my wifes family with searches of the Meeker family and the Callaway family.

But these on this website are just a Fork in the Road. What that means is I have gone off the beaten path a bit, but still a direct descendant and looked for stories. As an example, it might be the 5th great-grandfathers wife side that I found something interesting. After all, it is the family of my 5th great-grandmother!


The Covingtons

my 9th great-grandfather



The Covington family can be traced back in Harrold, England to Elizabethan times when William Covington was born in the village in around 1593. There were Covingtons in other parts of North Bedfordshire, including Bedford and nearby Turvey and, of course, in the village of Covington just across the county border in the Kimbolton part of Huntingdonshire.

Where is Harrold?

Harrold is a civil parish and electoral ward in the Borough of Bedford within Bedfordshire, England, around nine miles north-west of Bedford. The village is on the north bank of the River Great Ouse, and is the site of an ancient bridge, linking the village with Carlton with Chellington on the south bank.


We know little of the early life of William in Harrold or of his wife, but a son George was born in 1617 and sadly died that same year. In November 1618 a second son William was born and eventually there were three more children, Joan, Hannah and Robert. The family all grew up in Harrold and in 1639 William was married in nearby Pavenham to Ann. Within the first few years of this marriage Ann died and, sometime in the 1640s, William emigrated to America (this coincided with The English Civil War).

We know that he was transported to Virginia as an indentured emigrant and that his transportation had been arranged by brothers John and George Mott. He arrived in Old Rappahannock County of the colony of Virginia (now known as Essex County). The Mott brothers were agents in recruiting and shipping colonists for Virginia and for this service they received a patent for 15,564 acres of land on waters draining into the Rappahannock River on 17 October, 1670.

This was for 313 indentured workers known as “headrights”. William’s name was on that list and so too was the name of Thomas Howerton (born in England around 1640 and shipped to Virginia in the 1660s. Thomas and William became partners and William subsequently married Dorothy Howerton who was probably Thomas’s sister.

William and Dorothy Covington raised a family. Thomas and William were obviously involved in the tobacco trade because in 1670 they purchased a small part of the Mott plantation for 3,000 pounds of tobacco. Originally this was for 300 acres, but by 1683 the partners had together acquired 1000 acres and they then divided this up by an “Agreement between Howerton and Covington to divide land from Mr. Mott. Howerton to have land on the south side and Covington to have land on the north side of Dragon Swamp”( 4th April 1683).

The Dragon Swamp is also Known as the Dragon Run; it is a stream which flows into a tidal tributary of Chesapeake Bay. In 1607 it was first explored by Captain John Smith and became a popular area for settlement in the 1640s by what are still referred to in Virginia as the Cavaliers.

William Covington’s will was made in 1696 and proved the next year when he died at the age of 77. He left the plantation, which by then included a mill known as Covington’s Mill, to his three sons. A daughter and a grand-daughter each received a cow.

William Covington was probably the first person from Harrold to set foot in the New World. His arrival in the 1640s was just over 20 years after the Pilgrim Fathers had made their epic journey to New England and when settlement in Virginia was in its infancy. Other members of the Covington family later came from England. Nehemiah Covington from the Huntingdonshire village of that name arrived in the 1660s.

Today there are more than a thousand names of the direct descendants of the Harrold branch stemming from “William Covington the Immigrant”.

Genealogical records based on primary sources such as wills, land registration, state and county records and family bibles, etc. show the spread of these Covingtons through the states of the USA over 13 generations. A random sample of 62 of these Harrold descendants (all those named William Covington) have revealed that they were born in 12 states of the USA:

Within this single branch of a family is the story of the making of America – early settlements in Virginia and the Carolinas, wagon train migration to Tennessee and to Missouri, and military involvement in the Revolutionary War the Mexican War, the American Civil War (on both sides) and two world wars. Between these major events ordinary people were involved in farming, setting up businesses, missionary involvement in the churches, public service, academic life and, even, rocket science. The Harrold branch of the Covingtons certainly played its part in the foundation of modern America.