Saturday, January 7, 2012

This Is How We Do It! (Cherokee Wannabe Genealogy)

First, some music to get you in the mood to do some Cherokee Wannabe Genealogy!

Whew! Got so busy shaking my hind-end that I almost forgot what I was writing about today. As I wipe the sweat from my brow, I'll tell you how to do wannabe genealogy! 

Step 1 - Grab a real name from your real family tree. 
---For our example, we will use a white family tree and we will use the name John Keith.

Step 2 - Figure out some information on said real person from your family tree. (Don't worry about learning very much. You are just going to swap him out in a bit anyway.)
---White John Keith was the son of Cornelius Keith and Mary LaFoone.

Step 3 - Find a Cherokee who has the same name as your said ancestor. 
---For our example, we will use a Cherokee John Keath/Keith.

Step 4 -Learn a little about the real Cherokee. 
(Don't worry about learning too much about the Cherokee because all you need is the name and one or two details about him to make it look good. You are going to change everything else. After all, you have to make your family fit in his tree 'cause you wannabe a Cherokee!)
---John Keath/Keith was the father of a woman named Betsy. Betsy married Caleb Starr. And they were the parents of a James Starr. (Ok, that is enough to make it look good. I think we can fool them now!)

Step 5 - Mix and match the information for both people.
Hmmm......let's see, we will say this, "James Starr was the son of Caleb Starr and Betsy Keith. Betsy was the daughter of John Keith and Polly A-S-DU-I-S-DI. This John was the son of Cornelius Keith and Mary LaFoone."

Step 6 - Now build a good story around it connecting the person from your family tree to your ancestor. 
---"James Starr said his mother was a full blood, so that means both her parents were full bloods. Since John was her father, that means he was a full blood, therefore, his parents were full bloods. This John Keith was the nephew of my ancestor, Samuel or Lemuel or whatever the heck we are calling him today, so since John was a full blood Cherokee, that means my ancestor was at least part Indian!"

Step 7 - Step back and revel in your success at making yourself a Cherokee. 
(Boy, that is some slick stuff. You'll probably get away with it unless that "bee", Polly's Granddaughter, gets written to by an enraged reader asking her to explain how you managed to steal their ancestor.)

Step 8 - Have your story debunked.
(Crap! Someone emailed her!)

Yes, someone emailed me. I would post their message here, but because of the curse words in the message, it is probably best I don't. We try to keep this family friendly! :) Anyway...

It doesn't take much to debunk this one. John Keith, the son of Cornelius Keith and Mary LaFoone, was the husband of a woman named Jane or Mary Jane Mackey. Their family is pretty well documented and he had no daughter named Betsy. He is found living with his daughter, Mary E. Keith, and her husband Noble Glenn, in Eastern Division, Pickens, South Carolina in 1850. He died in South Carolina in 1853 and is buried the Oolenoy Baptist Church Cemetery in Pumpkintown, Pickens County, South Carolina. The family is repeatedly found in United States records and always listed as white.

The Cherokee John Keith, son of Du-dee-guah-na-guh and Too-nah-ye, was living in Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory in 1851 with his wife and younger children. (Betsy already had her own household.) His descendants all testified he was born east of the Mississippi River. There is a John Keith listed as living in Georgia on the 1835 census of the Cherokee Nation. The family is repeatedly found in records of the Cherokees -- 1880 and 1890 censuses, service with the Indian Home Guard (side note - John's son, George was in the same company as my 4x great grandpa, Mike Carey), etc...

So what we actually have is a white John Keith who lived and died in South Carolina and a Cherokee John Keith who lived in the old Cherokee Nation and then removed to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears in 1838. They clearly were not the same man.

To my enraged reader, it will be okay. The truth always prevails, so I guess we should be singing something about debunking myths, huh? Come on, sing it with me.....this is how we do it...........

Those are my thoughts for today.
Thanks for reading.

copyright 2012, Polly's Granddaughter - TCB



  1. Excellent detective work! And it is so obvious to those who actually know Cherokee genealogy and history. It's too bad this person embrace their own ancestor. No, it's SOOOO MUCH BETTER that they turn him into an ancestor they'd be prouder of, someone they can hawk off of to get recognition for something they are NOT.

  2. Hilarious! I no longer post any of my Cherokee info on-line. Had some wannabee latch onto something I posted years ago, invented a sister to go with my ggg-grandfather, and kept hounding me to recognize him as my relative. My family is very well-documented and he wanted to join.
    He was so desperate to be Cherokee that he ended up joining one of those fake Cherokee groups in Kansas or Missouri (I forget which.)
    Lesson learned. I won't post the genealogy info because I refuse to feed other people's delusions.
    Keep up the good work, Twila!

  3. Karen and lagirl,

    Glad you enjoyed the post. It was a lot of fun to write. I am sure my "muse" will give me much more inspiration as time goes on! :)

    Thanks for reading! I write for us, so if you ever have any suggestions or experiences you want to share, inbox me.


Your comments are welcome!