Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Madness - The Cherokee Carey Surname

Cherokee families did not always have surnames, so figuring out why they sometimes have a particular surname can be a rather daunting task. The origin of my Cherokee family surname Carey is no different. Though many times, a white man would marry into the tribe and his descendants would take his surname, this does not seem to be the case with my Careys. I am not saying it isn't a possibility, I am just saying at this point in time, documentation does not suggest that is the way the family came to have that name.

Of course, we have a family story about why our Indian family came to have an Irish surname, but I do not base my genealogy on family stories, so I have put that aside and I depend on what I can find as evidence through documentation and other sources. And, of course, as sometimes the fact with any genealogical research, it has only served to drive me crazy or "mad". I often feel as if I am dancing around in a circle, and the answer is just out of my reach. The answer is there and I am close, but I just can't put my finger on it yet. UGH..............

What I know about this Cherokee Carey family and surname is IF you descend from anyone who was considered a full blood and a Cherokee Carey at the time of Dawes, then you are a descendant of Mike Carey and his wife, Nancy Tucker. There is no doubt about this. All evidence and documentation of these Careys leads back to those two people. There is a mixed blood Cherokee Carey line who got their surname from a white man, but there is no known connection between that family and mine.

I also know that all of the full blood Cherokee Careys originate, at least at the time of the Dawes Roll, from the 14 Mile Creek/Melvin/Lost City area in Oklahoma. The descendant lines may have moved around a bit, but the origins of their family came from those areas along 14 Mile Creek.

Mike Carey, the first I have found to have used the surname Carey, arrived in Indian Territory as part of one of the removal detachments. I don't know when he arrived or who he traveled with, but know he traveled the infamous "Trail of Tears" because he is listed on the 1852 Drennen Roll. By 1852, he was an adult with his own family, so I am not able to connect him with his parents through that roll. Per one of his children's Guion Miller applications, he was born in North Carolina. Though interesting and nice to know, that information has not yet allowed me to connect him to his parents and I don't know if it ever will. One child of his listed a paternal grandfather named Dick Ah-cawk on his Miller app, but that "name" offers little in solving the mystery of who the parents were of Mike Carey or how our surname came to be.

At this point in time, it seems Mike Carey might have been the first of my Cherokee ancestors in that line to have used the surname Carey, since this surname associated with my line of Careys seems to (going backward) stop with him. Some evidence I have found suggests his siblings took different surnames which were used by their descendants. This would mean I could have many collateral lines that have never been connected to my family yet. It also might give some evidence which would suggest this Cherokee Carey surname family story might be true. But, without further evidence or documenation, I am not ready to say that yet.

I just thought I would share a part of my genealogy research that is driving me "mad". Cherokee genealogy, like any other, is not always easy and we don't find the answers overnight, but with patience and thorough research, the truth can be found. And as lovely and as heartwarming as family stories can be, remember what they say - genealogy without proof is mythology! As interesting as my family story is and as easy as it would be to just accept it as true, it would be a disservice to my descendants to pass such information to them without some type of documentation or evidence to verify it.

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thank you for reading.

The Granddaughter

copyright 2009, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB

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