Japasaw "Iopassus" Japazaw, weroance of Patawomeck and Paupauwiske

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Japasaw "Iopassus" Japazaw, weroance of Patawomeck and Paupauwiske

Also Known As: "Chief of the Powhatan", "proper name: Wahunsenacawh - paramount chief of Tsenacommacah"
Birthdate: (30)
Birthplace: Werowocomoco, VA, United States
Death: circa 1620 (26-34)
Caroline, VA, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Chief I-Opasus Mangopeesomon Winanuske, Weroance of the Powhatan; N.N., of the Patawomeck and N.N., of the Patawomeck
Husband of Paupauwiske, of the Poawomeck and Ka-Okee, of the Powhatan
Father of Chief Wahanganoche, King of Patawomke
Brother of Weroance Opitchapum; Kocoum Japasaw, of the Patawomeke and Great King of Patawomeck
Half brother of Sister of Powhatan; sister of Powhatan; Opechancanough "Mangopeesomon", paramount chief of the Powhatan; Wahunseneca, Paramount chieftan of the Powhatan; Poechananough Winanuske and 4 others

Occupation: King of the Patawomeck and Paupauwiske
Managed by: James Garlen Winningham, Jr.
Last Updated:

About Japasaw "Iopassus" Japazaw, weroance of Patawomeck and Paupauwiske

Japasaw (aka ioppasus)

King of the Patawomeck and Paupauwiske

Japasaw (aka ioppasus)is recognized as the brother of the great Chief

Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, although researchers feel he is only a half


From: THE VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBES: 17TH CENTURY, Leaflet 57, Apr 1933, 2nd Printing Sept 1940, Dept of Indian Art, Denver Art Museum, Denver Colorado: "POTOMAC or PATAWOMEKE. An important tribe in 1600's centering about a town of the same name in Stafford County, Virginia on a peninsula formed by the Potomac River. Population then about 800. Today perhaps 150 mixed bloods live in the neighborhood, about 8 miles north of Fredericksburg."

"The descendants of the Patawomeke Tribe in Stafford have always been proud of their Indian heritage and have passed down thier descent from Chief Japasaw for many generations. They have lived in the same area in and around Passapatanzy (8 miles North of Fredericksburg, VA, now on the border of Stafford and King George counties), the seat of Japasaw and his son, Wahanganoche, "King of Patomeck", since the early 1600's. footnote 8. "A Brief Outline of Recorded History of the Patawomeck Tribe" William L. Deyo, 2000.

Chief Japasaw was a brother to Chief Powhatan, the first Indian leader met by the Jamestown colonists. Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas. Pocahontas's mother was from the Patawomeck Tribe, one of the tribes in the Powhatan Confederacy.

Chief Wahanganoche, King of Patawomke, is last known to have lived at Passapatanazy in 1662 when Capt. Giles Brent and others were reprimanded for assault and false accusations against the chief. footnote 10, above source.

"The family material on the Indian annihilation goes hand in had with the recorded history of the year 1666 when the General Court of Virginia declared war on the Patawomekes and other area tribes, at which time Capt. Giles Brent and others engaged in battle against the area indians. Since he had a personal grudge against the Patawomekes, havng been reprimanded and punished for his charges and assault against Chief Wahanganoche, it is most logical that they were prime targets. This fits with the Curtis ancestor, a Patawomeke Indian girl named "Ontonah", who was orphaned after both of her parents were killed during a confrontation between the whilte settlers and the Indians. The Curtis family raised Ontonah and gave her the Christian name of "Elizabeth". Elizabeth Ontonah married one of the Curtis boys with whom she was raised. Her name was repeated among her Stafford County descendants even up to the twentieth century.

Information about the 1666 war against the Patawomeke Tribe is vital in understanding their fate. The following is taken from the Minutes of the General Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia, edited by H.R. McIlwaine.

Meeting at James City, July the 10th 1666....It is therefore ordered for revenge

of the former and for the prevention of future mischiefs that the towns of Monzation,

Nanzimond, and Port Tobacco with the whole nation of the Doegs and Potomacks be

forthwith prosecuted with war to their utter destruction if possible and that their

women and children and their goods or as much of it as shall be taken to be disposed

of according to instructions as shall be issued from the Right Honourable Governor. And

it is further ordered that the said war be managed by such officers with such numbers

of men and by such ways and means as the Governor shall think fit.

The book "Pocahontas's People", by Helen C. Rountree, states (p95) that in July 1665 (apparently this should be 1666, per the General Coucil minutes above) war was declared on the Patawomekes, and states, "The outcome of the war is uncertain, but the Patawomecks disappear from the surviving English records thereafter." On the same page it is further stated that in June 1666, the English Governor ordered the Rappahannock County militia to attack and exterminate the Indians within reach, with permission to sell captive women and children into servitude. It should be noted that the domain of the Patawomekes straddled the adjoining counties of Stafford and Rappahannock at that time.

The fate of Chief Wahanganoche, King of the Patawomeke was as follows: He was taken to Williamsburg, Va in 1662 and tried by the court there on charges brought against him and others by Capt. Giles Brent. He was acquitted of all charges and was allowed to return home. Chief Wahanganoche was apparently given a silver medallion during this time, by the Virginia Assembly. (Henings Statutes, vol 2 p 142) After the trial, Chief Wahanganoche and his company headed back to Passipatanzy, but the old chief never made it back home. Chief Wahanganoche's silver medallion was unearthed in Caroline County in the early 1860's, in a area that was logically in the path of the chief on his way home from Williamsburg. A letter written on 1 April 1664 by Col John Catlett to his cousin in England, telling of the events of the past year, told of the capture and trial of the "King of Potomek", indicating that he was, in Catlett's belief, unjustly acquited. He told of the death of the chief on his way home after his release and believed that he got what he deserved. Chief Wahanganoche's death is not described, and it is not clear whether it was natural or by murder.

When the English colonists settled Jamestown in 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was a very large tribe of the Powhatan Federation. They quickly made friends with the English colonists and eventually even became their allies, refusing to help the leader of the Powhatan Federation, Chief Opechancanough, younger brother of Powhatan, who tried to obliterate the English in the great massacres of 1622 and 1644. Without the help of the Patawomeck Tribe, the settlement of Jamestown would almost certainly have failed to survive. The Patawomecks supplied the Jamestown settlement with corn and other food when they were starving. In 1607, the Patawomeck Tribe was settled in the areas we now know as Stafford and King George counties. The English pronounced the name of the tribe as “Potomac,” from which the Potomac River derived its name. Their chief, called the “Great King of Potomac” by the English, appears to have married the sister of the Great Chief Powhatan. The Great King’s next younger brother, I-Oppassus, or “Japasaw,” as the English called him, was the Lesser Chief of the Tribe. Japasaw was known as “Chief Passapatanzy,” as that was where he made his home. Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan, was visiting Japasaw’s family at the time that she was taken captive by the English, who had hoped to use her as a bargaining chip to force her father to release the English captives that he had. Pocahontas had many family ties to the Patawomecks. Her mother has long been thought by historians to have been a member of the Patawomeck Tribe. Also, one of Japasaw’s two wives was a sister of Pocahontas, and the first husband of Pocahontas was Kocoum, the younger brother of Japasaw. The rule of the Patawomeck Tribe eventually fell to Japasaw’s son, Wahanganoche, sometimes called “Whipsewasin” by the English. Those were very troubled times for the Patawomecks, as several influential colonists tried to take away the land of the chief by making false accusations against the tribe for the murders of certain colonists. Chief Wahanganoche was taken prisoner by the English and was forced to stand trial in Williamsburg. The chief was acquitted of any wrong doing, much to the dismay of the greedy colonists who wanted his land. In 1663, on his way home from Williamsburg, Chief Wahanganoche lost his life. From implications in a letter written by Col. John Catlett, it appears that the chief was ambushed and murdered in Caroline County near the Camden Plantation. It is ironic that his silver badge, given to him in Williamsburg by authority of the King of England, for safe passage over English territory, was found 200 years later at Camden, where it had apparently been lost as a result of the chief’s murder. Shortly after the death of the chief, in 1666, the English launched a full-scale massacre against the Patawomecks and other area Virginia Indian tribes. Most of the men of the Patawomeck Tribe were killed, and the women and children were placed in servitude. Two of the chief’s sons made it across the river to Maryland but were captured by an enemy tribe and were turned over to the English. A few of the Patawomeck children, who were orphaned by the 1666 massacre, were taken in by area colonists. Chief Wahanganoche was very shrewd in allowing a number of his daughters to marry well-to-do English colonists in the area. He must have been careful to instruct them to pass on the Indian ways to their children. It is because of the children of those daughters and some of the orphan children of 1666, who also married English colonists that the Patawomeck Indians and their culture survived. The descendants of these Patawomeck children intermarried with each other, and many of their descendants have continued to marry cousins of Patawomeck descent to keep the blood strong. They passed on the Indian ways of agriculture and of hunting and fishing that have been used up to the present day in Stafford County. Some of the current tribal members are still able to construct the intricate eel baskets just like their Patawomeck ancestors did more than 400 years ago. The descendants of the Patawomeck Tribe banded together in the 1700s in the White Oak area of Stafford, which was in King George County until the county boundaries changed in the late 1770s. This was in walking distance from the Passapatanzy area, where many of the descendants still live today. -- Written by Bill Deyo, Patawomeck Tribal Historian For more information about the Patawomeck Indians of Virginia, go to http://www.patawomeckindians.org/index.html.

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Japasaw "Iopassus" Japazaw, weroance of Patawomeck and Paupauwiske's Timeline

VA, United States
Age 30
(current Stafford County, Virginia)
Age 30
Caroline, VA, United States