Monday, July 23, 2018

False Heirs: The Gardner Green Estate

In 1907, the town of Moberly, Missouri was abuzz with excitement over some of its citizens being heirs to a fortune. According to Jim Green, an heir and tonsorial artist at the Oak Barber Shop, the descendants of Gardner Green were gathering in order to try to settle an estate worth 4 1/2 million dollars that they had a claim on. He said the money was in the U.S. Treasury in Washington D.C. and they, the family, had spent several thousand dollars trying to take possession of it but had, thus far, been unsuccessful.

Moberly Weekly Democrat, Moberly, MO, July 26, 1907, p.3.
Other articles made it abundantly clear, this was the same Green family who had unsuccessfully tried to gain citizenship in the Cherokee Nation in 1896. They were trying to "take possession" of an estate they insisted belonged to their purported ancestor, a Cherokee named Gardner Green.

Moberly Weekly Democrat, Moberly, MO, August 6, 1907, p.6.

It's unclear why the Green family claimed they were heirs to such a large fortune, but their story evolved over time and changed into something more shocking and nefarious. They no longer claimed to simply be heirs to a fortune, but instead, claimed to be a tribe called the "Eastern Cherokees" and that they, the descendants of Gardner Green, alone formed what was called the "Eastern Cherokees." They also claimed Congress appropriated four and half million dollars to them for their shares of the Cherokee land taken in the east.

Moberly Weekly Monitor, Moberly, MO, August 25, 1908, p.3.

We know, for certain, that the Green family were not heirs to the money the U.S. Court of Claims awarded the "Eastern Cherokees" in 1906. That money was owed to the Cherokees for unpaid funds due them from the forced removal. Those funds were to be paid out per capita to Cherokees and/or their descendants who were entitled to them.  

To make this point perfectly clear, the money the United States paid was for the entire citizenry of the Cherokee tribe who remained in the eastern homelands until after the Treaty of New Echota. 

The term "Eastern Cherokee" did not strictly apply to the modern day Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, though it did include them. "Eastern Cherokee" certainly did not indicate descent from the Cherokee scholar named Gardner Green by the Moravians. Even if it would have, the Green family from Missouri were not his descendants.

From the first post in this series, we already know that the Gardner Green listed on the 1835 Census of the Cherokee Nation was actually Young Wolf, son of Mouse. We also know that Young Wolf died in 1837, leaving only two heirs, his wife, Aley, and young son, Ooahhusky. His estate, valued at $383.50, was divided between his two heirs in 1838. The Gardner Green Estate claimed by the Green family of Missouri was fictitious. Therefore they were false heirs.

From the second post in the series, we know that the Green family from Missouri who claimed descent from the Cherokee Gardner Green could not have descended from Young Wolf. Even though they failed in their attempt to gain citizenship in the Cherokee Nation in 1896, eleven years later, the same family again tried to claim Young Wolf as their ancestor in order to try to get money.

The next post will explore the documents filed by the Green family in their attempt to obtain their mythological fortune. Stay tuned for more on Young Wolf, his legacy, and what we can learn from it all.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Identity Fraud: Ghosting Gardiner Green

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, ghosting is "pretending to be a deceased individual for monetary gain." Fifty-nine years after his death, Young Wolf, also known as Gardiner Green, was figuratively stolen from his grave, propped up in a family tree, and ghosted, but in a different way than we see today. Instead of stealing his identity for themselves, a family stole his identity and exchanged it for the identity of their long dead grandfather in a way that might bring them personal gain.

In 1896, a Congressional Act made it possible for people not recognized as citizens of the Cherokee Nation (and the other four "Civilized Tribes") to apply to the Dawes Commission for citizenship in the Nation. The Commission then began receiving letters from all over the United States asking how people could "get on the rolls" and "get Indian land." A letter, dated July 8, 1896, with the instructions on how to apply for citizenship was published in newspapers all over the U.S.

Muskogee Phoenix, July 16, 1896

According to Kent Carter's The Dawes Commission and the Allotment of the Five Civilized Tribes, 1893 - 1914, applications poured into the Commission and "...there were thousands of people who were very interested in the citizenship process; the July 8 circular produced a tidal wave of paper that overwhelmed the commission's three clerks. Many local lawyers had application blanks printed and charged their clients whatever they could to present them to the commission. In a classic understatement, [one commissioner] reported that the amount of "work has exceeded all expectations" and required "an immense amount of clerical work in correspondence, filing papers, numbering and indexing cases, and putting in form for permanent record and preservation all the proceedings pertaining to each case.""

In simple terms, there were a lot of people trying to gain citizenship in the Five Civilized Tribes, many more than anyone expected, and it was nearly impossible to process all of the applications by the deadlines set by Congress. 

One of the cases, Squire Green et al, was for the Green family of Missouri with most of the applicants living in Boone County. Their case included no evidence other than notarized statements by family members who swore their ancestor, Gardner Green, was on the 1835 Census of the Cherokee Nation.

One testimony, the first in the long file, claimed Gardner Green was the son of Benjamin Green and brother of James Green, the ancestor of all the claimants. It is unclear how this witness, TBH Green, is connected to the Green family of Missouri, but he insists they are his relation and that he knew Benjamin Shadrick Green, who was a Cherokee Indian. His testimony has the characteristics of those given by professional witnesses (paid witnesses who testified to whatever one wanted in a citizenship case.)

Squire Green et al, 1896 Citizenship application
Squire Green et al, 1896 Citizenship application

If this testimony were true (it's not), the Greens would not have been eligible because one had to be a direct descendant of a Cherokee.

The remainder of the applications, if any written testimony was given, suggested Gardner Green was the father of Benjamin Green who was the father of James Green, the ancestor of all the claimants.

Squire Green et al, 1896 Citizenship application

Every applicant claimed they were "Cherokee Indian by blood deriving the same from" Gardner Green who lived on Rockey Creek, Murray County, in the state of Georgia.

Squire Green et al, 1896 Citizenship application

There were 29 applications for approximately one hundred people. Those applications were filed by:

Names in red are the purported great grandchildren of Young Wolf, aka Gardiner Green

Their family tree from Gardner Green to the five living children of James Green that filed applications in 1896 (there were others living who did not file) would look like this:
There was only one Gardner Green listed on the 1835 Census of the Cherokee Nation. That man was Young Wolf, son of Mouse. As explained in this post, he was born in 1809 and was, at most, 28 years old when he died in 1837. He only had two heirs when he died, his wife, Aley, and his son, Ooahhusky who was born c. 1831.

In order for the Green family claimants to have been descendants of the "Gardner Green" on the 1835 roll, they would have had to descend through Young Wolf's only child, Ooahhusky. If the claim the Greens made was factual, then Ooahhusky would have been the father of James and the grandfather of Nancy, Squire, Louisa, Eli, and Margret. As you can see by the dates, the claim cannot be true. 

Ooahhusky was born two years AFTER Nancy Green, his purported granddaughter, and one year before Squire Green, his purported grandson.  He was born 42 years AFTER his purported son, James Green, was born. It is physically impossible for Ooahhusky to have been the father of James or grandfather of Nancy, Squire, Eli, Louisa, and Margret. None of these Green claimants descended from Ooahhusky or Young Wolf, aka Gardiner Green. 

So how did the Green claimants know "Gardner Green" was on the 1835 roll if they did not descend from him? It's simple. They, or someone they knew, looked at the roll and noticed  there was a Green on it. There were copies of the 1835 roll available for people to review. Thomas Skaggs, the notary public on nearly all of the 1896 claims the Green family filed, was also a claimant for citizenship in 1896, but through a different Cherokee. In a letter he wrote to Guion Miller years later, Skaggs said he was the one who found out about the "...Gardner Green decendants being entitled."

Eastern Cherokee Application, Thomas M. Skaggs, 36571

Also, on an Eastern Cherokee application filed years later by Green claimant, Martha Rosana Brown, the applicant wrote "gardner greens name is on page 188th of the roll 1835 taken in the state of georgia" in a response to Guion Miller when he needed additional information to process her claim.

Eastern Cherokee application, Martha Rosana Brown, 2033

If those pieces of evidence are not enough to convince you they looked at the roll and picked a name, there are also the 1896 claims themselves. Remember in school when kids would get caught copying each other? They never got caught if they got the answers right. It was copying a wrong answer that doomed them. That is what dooms the Green claimants as well.

There are a couple of things on the 1835 roll concerning Gardiner Green that they did not know. First, his name is spelled incorrectly. The census taker left out the letter "I". After his name change to Gardiner Green, Young Wolf's name was always spelled with an "I" by the Moravians. Not one self proclaimed descendant spelled his name with an "I". Instead they spelled it exactly as it was recorded on the 1835 roll.

The other thing the claimants didn't realize is that Young Wolf lived on ROCK Creek, not Rocky Creek. The only record that lists him as living on Rocky Creek is the 1835 roll. The other records of him made during his lifetime list him as living on ROCK Creek. Again, it appears the self proclaimed descendants copied where he lived as it was recorded on the 1835 roll rather than actually knowing where he lived.

Clearly this Green family claim was not a legitimate claim.

The Cherokee Nation attorneys correctly responded to the Green applicants' file with the following:

"Respondent not waiving his aforesaid demurrer, but insisting upon the same for answer to said application, says that Gardner Green through whom the petitioner claims to derive his right to citizenship in the Cherokee Nation, is not now, and has not been a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, since the removal of the said Nation, west to the Indian Territory as at present located and defined; that his name does not appear on any of the authenticated rolls of said Nation; that he nor any of his ancestors now reside, or ever have resided in the Cherokee Nation and Indian Territory, as citizens thereof."

Squire Green et al, 1896 Citizenship application

The Greens did not obtain their desired citizenship.

One might hope that would have been the end of it and Young Wolf could have been left alone to rest in peace. Sadly that is not the case. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Stay tuned for the next post about Young Wolf, his legacy, and what we can learn from it all.
Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

Click on images to enlarge.

For additional information on Young Wolf, Son of Mouse, please click here.

copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Young Wolf, Son of Mouse

In April 1820, while on his way back to the Moravian mission school at Springplace after visiting his family, a Cherokee boy and the relative accompanying him were met by a white man in the woods. The man appeared angry and pulled a knife on them. Terrified, the two Cherokees retreated into the woods and found a different route back to the school. The boy was only eleven years old. His name was Young Wolf and he was the son of Mouse from Rock Creek near Rabbit Trap in the Coosawattee district of the old Cherokee Nation in the east.

Young Wolf entered the mission school at Springplace on February 2, 1819 when he was ten years old. The missionaries wrote that despite his name, he had the appearance and behavior of a sheep rather than a wolf. Mouse and his wife visited at the end of the month and expressed gratitude for the love the missionaries showed their son. His parents obviously loved him very much because that was the first of several visits they made to the school over the following years. 

By the end of 1822, Young Wolf had left the school due to lack of clothing. Shortly after his departure, an anonymous donor from Boston contacted the Moravians with an offer of $25 per year (equal to approximately $566 today) for the support and education of an Indian boy with the conditions the boy would be named Gardiner Green and raised for service. The Moravians struggled with the issue of giving a child a new name. Because there were both ethical and financial implications, the decision to accept the donation was not one they took lightly. The donor inquired about his offer at least twice after he made it because the missionaries had not made the decision to accept it yet.

Gardiner Greene, Merchant: Probable anonymous benefactor from Boston

Young Wolf returned to school in December 1823 and was welcomed back with joy by the missionaries. Because his parents were "blood poor" and because he had to completely support himself, early in 1824 the donor's offer was accepted and the financial support was applied to Young Wolf. The missionaries justified their decision to the donor by describing Young Wolf as always being orderly and eager to learn as well as showing love for the Savior. To accommodate the donor's wishes, Young Wolf's name was changed to Gardiner Green.

The affection between Green and the missionaries was strong as shown in March 1824 when Green gave them a new water pail he had made completely by himself. In return, they gave him a calf whose mother had died of horn disease shortly after its birth. The Moravians also appeared to believe Green was dependable and could be trusted with important tasks. It was not uncommon for them to send him to deliver letters or messages on their behalf. In June, 1824, Green helped disseminate the cowpox  vaccine near his home with the hope it would stop the smallpox epidemic that was raging in the Cherokee Nation at that time.

In the spring and fall each year, the older boys at the Springplace Mission often returned home to help their families during the times of planting and harvesting. Green was no exception and in the spring of 1825,  he was home for nearly a month. During that time at home, three of his toes had nearly been chopped off.

While it is unknown how much of Green's education and upbringing at the mission school caused him to have internal conflict between his formal education and his traditional ways, as he got older, communications from the Moravians revealed there were some difficulties. From a letter dated July 8, 1825, "Gardiner Green is still here, but we do not know for how long, since he is already 16 years old and can soon be a help to his parents. He is a very orderly boy and also has learned to read and write very nicely, but we cannot get him to speak English." [Emphasis mine.]

As Cherokee boys grew older, it was expected that they would begin to participate in ball games with the men. This tradition likely caused additional conflict for Green. The missionaries did not approve of the Cherokee ballplay, viewing it as "an unholy thing." Traditional Cherokees viewed ballplay, the Little Brother of War, as necessary, a rite of passage so to speak, and a way for a boy to learn the art of war, thus becoming a man.

Signage at the New Echota Historic Site in Georgia.
Twice the Moravians made reference to Green's participation in ball games:
  • "Today we heard that our scholar Gardiner Green, who was taken home for a visit some weeks ago, was forced by his father to participate in a ballplay where he was hit with the ball stick by an Indian and trampled so that from noon until sundown he just lay there completely lifeless. But, he finally came to himself again and was taken home on a horse by his father." (August 1825)
  • "Our scholar Gardiner Green allowed himself to be talked into going to another ballplay, where he twisted his leg." (September 27, 1825)
Despite having a benefactor and changing his name to satisfy that benefactor, Green continued to struggle to meet his basic needs at school. In a letter dated January 18, 1826, it was noted that the students had not been receiving clothing from the friends of the scholars. Green owed for 3 frocks, 3 pairs of overalls, and 3 shirts. He eventually left school for the final time later that summer on August 14, 1826 when he was about 17 years old.

Green returned to Rock Creek after he left school and eventually married Aley, a full blood Cherokee. They welcomed a son, Ooahhusky, about 1831. The family was listed on the 1835 Henderson Roll as living near his father "Rat" (Mouse and Rat are the same in Cherokee) on "Rocky Creek" in an area that later become Murray County, Georgia. The household of "Gardner Green" included one male under 18 (Ooahhusky), one male over 18 (Gardiner), and one female over 16 (Aley.) All three were listed as full bloods. They had one farm with ten acres in cultivation. One person in the household was a reader of English. Two were readers of Cherokee.

In the spring of 1835, Green was dispossessed of four acres of land by a United States citizen. The compensation for "rent" on those four acres was included in his valuation of property recorded when the U.S. government was preparing to remove the Cherokees from their homeland.

Property Valuation - Young Wolf/Gardner Green
Unfortunately, when the Cherokees were removed to the west, Green did not make the trip with his family. According to testimony given by Ellis Harlin in 1838, Green died in the fall of 1837 leaving a wife and child, Aley and Ooahhusky, as "...his only heirs." [Emphasis mine.]

Register of Payments - Young Wolf/Gardiner Green/Heirs
Harlin testimony - Click to enlarge

At the time of his death, Young Wolf, aka Gardiner Green, was, at most, 28 years old. He left behind only two heirs to his estate that was valued at $383.50. Though his life ended in 1837, his death was far from the end of his story. Stay tuned for more posts on Young Wolf, his legacy, and what we can learn from it all.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

  • The Moravian Springplace Mission to the Cherokees, Vol. I & II, Edited/Introduction by Rowena McClinton
  • Records of the Moravians Among the Cherokees, Vol. 5-7, Edited by C. Daniel Crews & Richard W. Starbuck
  • Record Group 75: Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1793 - 1999
  • Private collection(s)
copyright 2018, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB