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.

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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

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