Monday, October 5, 2015

From Sequoyah to Sequoyah: The Lineage of a Cherokee Family Pt 2

In Part 1 of From Sequoyah to Sequoyah: The Lineage of a Cherokee Family, the ancestry of Sequoyah Guess, born c. 1890, was traced back through his father, David Guess; to his grandfather, William Big Money Guess; and to his great grandfather, Big Money Guess. In part 2, the ancestry from William back to his grandfather will be traced.

William Big Money Guess had two children living at the time of the Eastern Cherokee applications as well as several grandchildren. He also had numerous living nieces and nephews who were children of his three siblings; Robert, Moses and Nancy. A review of their applications offered additional information on Big Money Guess, the father of William and his siblings.

Click to enlarge

In English, the name given for the father of William (and his siblings) varied greatly. At least one person in each family group reported the name Guess as an English name used by their grandfather. Three of the four family groups also reported the name Sequoyah as an English name used by their grandfather. Furthermore, two of the four family groups reported the name Big Money as an English name used by their grandfather which means that name was not exclusive to Alice Beamer's knowledge.

Though there were many similar answers given in the reporting of the English name used by William's father, the results of the research were too inconsistent to make a sound conclusion. Fortunately, many of the descendants included the Cherokee name used by William's father - Ah de le quah. Though the spelling varied from application to application, it's the same name. Because most of the descendants did not read or write in English, someone else filled out the applications from the verbal answers given to the questions. Those people wrote what they heard, therefore, while the English spelling of the name varied slightly from application to application, phonetically, when pronounced, the Cherokee names reported were nearly identical. 

In their own language, encompassing the entire family, the name reported for William's father was remarkably consistent. It was only when the descendants were asked to report the name used in English, a language some didn't speak, that the inconsistency occurred. Evaluations of both the English and Cherokee names were required to conclusively determine all the descendants were connected through their grandfather and that the grandfather, Ah de le quah, was also known by a variety of names in English, including George Guess, Sequoyah Guess, and Big Money.

The names George Guess and Sequoyah are the same names used by the Cherokee who invented the syllabary, a way of writing the Cherokee language. The father of William Big Money Guess cannot be that George Guess or Sequoyah. William's father was considered an Emigrant Cherokee while the famous George Guess or Sequoyah, inventor of the syllabary, was an Old Settler Cherokee. 

However, the famous Sequoyah or George Guess did have a son with the name George who was documented by Emmet Starr as George Guess. Though Starr stated the son, George (Jr), had no descendants, that belief appears to have been flawed. 

Nancy Nolen, niece of William Big Money Guess, said her grandfather's name in English was George Guess. Nancy's sister, Betsy Ketcher, said the same grandfather's name was Big Money in English. That information connected the two names George Guess and Big Money, conclusively, to the same man. In addition to Nancy's report of her grandfather's name, she offered another piece of vital information in her Eastern Cherokee application. On line 21, where applicants were asked to name their ancestors back to 1835, Nancy said,"George Guess or Sequoyah  Old Settler." Cherokee applications
There was only one George Guess or Sequoyah who was an Old Settler. That was the famous Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. Documentation indicates he was Nancy Nolen's great grandfather, therefore, her Uncle William's grandfather.

Sometimes, to go forward, you have to go backward. This was the case in the research of this family. Though we had the names of all but the final generation, it would have been impossible to have conclusively connected this family to the famous Sequoyah without going back to the Eastern Cherokee applications and looking for additional information provided by other members of the family. By doing an exhaustive search, we were able to learn that William's father, George Big Money Guess, was the same man recorded by Starr as George Guess (Jr.), and therefore, that William's grandfather was the famous Cherokee known as Sequoyah.

The line from the young Sequoyah on Dawes to his famous ancestor, Sequoyah, inventor of the syllabary is:

Child - Sequoyah Guess (born c. 1890)
Father - David Guess
Grandfather - William "Big Money" Guess
Great-Grandfather - George "Big Money" Guess Jr.
Great-Great-Grandfather - George Guess or Sequoyah

This is a highly condensed version of the research that went into this family. There are numerous documents available on the descendants of George "Big Money" Guess Jr. Like many other Cherokee families, this one had both triumphs and tragedies. Though descended from a famous ancestor, the stories of this family are similar to the stories of many other Cherokee families. 

Stay tuned for a glimpse into the lives of George "Big Money" Guess Jr. and some of his descendants. Their stories are our stories and those stories need to be told.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

*There were two Cherokee men who used the name William Guess during the same time frame. One sometimes went by William Big Money while the other sometimes went by William Coon. William Big Money is the William Guess from the George Guess Jr family. William Coon will be discussed later, in the branch of the Guess family that descends from Richard Guess, brother to George Guess Jr.

copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Monday, September 28, 2015

From Sequoyah to Sequoyah: The Lineage of a Cherokee Family - Pt 1

Sequoyah Guess was about 10 years old when his father died in 1900. His father's death left him an orphan because his mother died the previous year. He was too young to enroll himself on Dawes, but that didn't mean he wasn't enrolled. As was common for those who couldn't or wouldn't enroll themselves, an informant who knew the family gave their information. 

Per the testimony of Tom Smith in Dawes Packet 8338, Sequoyah was the son of Dave and Nancy (Ooskoony Young Pig) Guess. Packets

The accuracy of that testimony was validated by information found on the rolls taken in the Cherokee Nation during the years 1890, 1893, and 1896, where Sequoyah is listed with David/Dave and Nancy Guess.

Sequoyah in 1890, 3 months old. - and Indian Territory, Indian Census Rolls, 1851-1959
Sequoyah in 1893, 3 years old. - and Indian Territory, Indian Census Rolls, 1851-1959
Sequoyah in 1896, 6 years old. - and Indian Territory, Indian Census Rolls, 1851-1959
After a reasonably exhaustive search, it was not difficult to conclude that David and Nancy Guess were the parents of Sequoyah. All the documentation found supported that determination, including the Eastern Cherokee Application filed for Sequoyah (17322) by his aunt, Alice Beamer. Though the application listed his English name as Tom Guess, his Indian name was listed as Sequoyah. His parents were listed as Dave Guess and Oo sgoo ne, which matched the names given for his parents in his Dawes application. Cherokee applications

The second page of Sequoyah's Eastern Cherokee application listed the names of his grandparents. While written in the opposite sections, his grandfathers were listed as Will Bigmoney aka Guess and Runabout Youngpig. Cherokee applications

Sequoyah's aunt, Alice, likely spoke little to no English because she gave additional testimony through an interpreter. Maybe Alice had the names put in the wrong columns or there was a clerical error, but later, in her testimony, she made it clear that Will Big Money was the paternal grandfather of Sequoyah. She also said Ah-del-a-guah was Will Big Money's father. (Note the name Dah-ya-nih listed as her father's "mother mother". That is likely a typo and should probably be "mother" meaning Will Big Money's mother was Dah-ya-nih.) Cherokee applications

Because Alice Beamer was Sequoyah's paternal aunt, her paternal grandparents were Sequoyah's paternal great-grandparents. On the first page of her Eastern Cherokee application (8045), Alice reported that her father was Bill Big Money and that his father (described as her father's father) was Big Money Guess. Cherokee applications

The second page of Alice's Eastern Cherokee application included the names of her paternal grandparents (and Sequoyah's paternal great-grandparents) as Big Money Guess or Ah-de-le-gua and Da-ye-ni. (Similar to Dah-ya-nih from above, isn't it? Remember that name. It's important.) Cherokee applications

At this point in this research, the names of Sequoyah's parents, paternal grandparents and paternal great-grandparents have been discovered. The lineage is:

Child - Sequoyah Guess
Father - David/Dave Guess
Paternal Grandfather - Will/Bill Big Money aka Guess
Paternal Great-Grandfather - Big Money Guess or  Ah-de-le-gua/Ah-del-a-guah
Paternal Great-Grandmother -  Da-ye-ni/Dah-ya-nih

All those names are important in the next installment of this series where we will explore the older Cherokee records, including some from the pre-removal era. This will be a great opportunity to learn about the variety of records available on Cherokees during that time period.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thoughts and Prayers for the family of Jess Sixkiller

Cherokee Nation citizen and American Indian civil rights activist, Jess Sixkiller, was killed early Friday morning in Phoenix, Arizona during a home invasion. 

Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this difficult time.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2015, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB