Cherokee Migration
after the
Trail of Tears

© 1996 Ralph Jenkins

I posted this on soc.culture.native [newsgroup] today as followup to a recent discussion on who is entitled to be called Indian. Thought the genealogical info might interest some in this group:

I would be grateful for help, e.g. additional information or comments, on some research into the migration of Cherokees from the Old Nation to the New Nation after 1838. Here are two examples of this migration. I've used Starr's tables and short biographies as a starting point, then compared that information on people who are clearly Cherokee to information in the US. population census. This shows several cases of people who were Cherokee but "passing" as white in the Federal records, then identifying themselves as Cherokee in the Nation. All readers of this board are familiar with the debate about who is and is not Cherokee. The Dawes/Millers rolls are obvious dividing lines. But I suspect the historical reality is much more complex than a binary division into Dawes/Miller certified and wannabees. Imagine the problems historians will have in a few generations trying to ascertain who is and who is not Bosnian, or Hutu, or Tutsi; when a nation and its culture are fragmented by force, with the intent to make it disappear, I doubt it fragments neatly. Who knows how many survival strategies are possible? And among them are surely deliberate cloaking of identity, "passing," partial assimilation, etc. So here are a couple of detailed examples of families who, at least for a time, appear to have "passed" and then resurfaced as Cherokee. I haven't found reference to these or to the complexity of the question in standard histories, and I hope the readers of this board can add to or correct my thought.

From Emmett Starr, History of the Cherokee Indians, ed. Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland, Fayetteville, Ark.: Indian Heritage Association:

BLYTHE/CLINGAN Starr, p. 485

Martha Blythe (b. 1812) married Alexander Clingan (b. 1801 Hawkins Co., TN). Their child Evaline Clingan, born April 13, 1835 in Bradley Co., TN, married Joseph Benson Cobb (b. 1828 Blount Co., TN).

Their children were:

  • Isabel Cobb (b. 1858, graduated Cherokee Female Seminary, Jan. 1879)
  • William Cowan (b. 1860)
  • Martha (b. 1861)
  • Joseph Benson (b. 1863)
  • Alexander (b. 1864)
  • Samuel (b. 1865)
  • Addie Malinda (b. 1870)
  • Same descent given for Addie Malinda (p. 579), educated in Cherokee National schools and Female Seminary, who married Terry Parkinson (b. 1866 KA).
  • Starr's genealogical tables show Isabel and siblings as children of Joseph Benson Cobb and Evaline Clingan, who was a fifth-generation descendant of an unknown full-blood Cherokee woman

            daughter of Alexander Clingan and Martha Blythe
               who was daughter of William Blythe and Nannie Fields
                   who was daughter of Richard Fields
                       who was son of Susannah Grant
                           who was daughter of Ludovic Grant 
                           (a Scottish trader) and a Cherokee woman. 

    Degree of blood is not given; presumably Susannah Grant's husband and Richard Fields' wife (names not given) might also have been Cherokee, as might William Blythe.

    Alexander Clingan (age 41) and Martha (age 39) are listed 1850 Bradley Co. census (p. 234) with children Elizabeth (20), Mary (19), William (17), Evaline (15), and others. Clingan listed as white, b. TN.

    Here are the census records, from National Archives microfilms M653 r.1262, M432 r.871, M653 r.1241 for Bradley Co., TN:

                        1840      1850      1860
                        p. 67     p. 234    p. 242
    Alexander A Clingan 30-40       41        59      b. 1801 (02/20)
    Martha              20-30       39        47      b. 1812 (01/31)
    Elizabeth            5-10       20                b. 1829-30
    Mary                 5-10       19                b. 1830-31
    William                <5       17                b. 1832-33
    Eveline                <5       15                b. 1835 (04/13)
    Martha                 <5       14        23      b. 1835-36
    Judge H                <5       13        22      b. 1836-37
    Adaline                <5       11        20      b. 1838-39
    Minerva                         10        18      b. 1839-40
    James                            8        16      b. 1841-42
    Alexander                        6                b. 1843-44
    Lila Ann                         3        13      b. 1846-47
    Infant/Edward E               4/12        11      b. 1850
    George W                                   9      b. 1850-51
    Franklin P                                 7      b. 1852-53
    Isabella L                                 5      b. 1854-55

    In 1850, Clingan is listed as white, born in Tennessee, as are all members of his family, owning real estate worth $2,000. In 1860, he is listed as white, born Tennessee, as are all members of the family, owning real estate worth $2,500 and personal property worth $6,000.

    [NOTE From Jerry Wright Jordan: Also see this family in Chapman Roll of Eastern
    Cherokees (1851)Bradley Co., TN]

    ADAIR - Starr, p. 505

    Starr reports: "Edward Alexander, son of John and Ann Berry (Graham) Adair was born at Dalton, Georgia, February 25, 1847, was a member of Company C, Edmundson's Battalion, Georgia Confederate service. Married in October 1867 to Narcissa M. Harrison, born December 25, 1846, in Murray County, Georgia. He was elected sheriff of Cooweescoowee District August 5, 1889 and was elected Councilor from the same District August 7, 1899. He was killed by runaway team December 3, 1901 and Mrs. Adair lives at Adair, Oklahoma."

    Starr's genealogical tables show Edward's parents to be Edward Adair and Martha Ritchie Adair; the senior Edward was son of Ga-ho-ga and John Adair, whose father is listed as _____ Adair. (pp. 403-408). Edward the elder is listed as second child.

    His siblings, thus uncles and aunts of Edward Alexander Adair, are:

  • Benjamin Franklin (m. Mary Adair)
  • Narcena (m. Collins McDonald)
  • Sarah Ann (m. Calvin Price Guthrie)
  • Calvin (m. Lucinda Miller).
  • Benjamin Franklin's wife Mary Adair is the daughter of Samuel Adair (brother of the elder Edward) and Mary Hughes, thus Benjamin F's first cousin.
  • In the U.S.Census for Georgia 1840 (M704 r.38), sheet 105, in 849th District, Cass Co., these are listed in this order:

    Samuel Adair, age 60-70, head of household consisting of one female 40-50, two females 15-20, two males 10-15.

    B.F. Adair, age 50-60, head of household consisting of one female 20-30, one male 20-30, one female 5-10, one female under 5, one male under 5.

    Edward Adair, age 40-50, head of household consisting of one female 40-50, one male 20-30, three males 15-20, one female 10-15.

    On sheet 83, in same district, same county,

    Charles D. Adair, age 30-40, head of household consisting of one female 30-40, one male 15-20, three females under 5.

    In 1840, Cass County (no longer extant) overlapped the present Gordon and Bartow Counties; its northern border was the Coosawatee River, south of which lay New Echota; it contained the present-day Adairsville and Calhoun.

    In the U.S.Census for Georgia 1850 (M432 r.78), sheet 257, in Murray County, lists these:

    family 1514
    Edward Adair, age 60, white, farmer, real estate $3,000, born Georgia
    Martha, age 60, born North Carolina

    family 1515
    John Adair, age 39, white, farmer, real estate $950, born Georgia
    Ann B., age 35, born North Carolina
    Mildred, age 10, born Georgia
    Virgil, age 8, born Georgia
    Edward, age 3, born Georgia

    family 1516
    Benjamin F. Adair, age 40, white, farmer, real estate $1,250, born South Carolina
    Mary, age 35, born Georgia
    Martha J, age 19, born Georgia
    James B, age 14, born Georgia
    Mary E, age 12, born Georgia
    Rachal, age 10, born Georgia
    Benjamin, age 8, born Georgia

    These are the elder Edward and his two sons, Benjamin and John; Edward the son of John is the Edward Alexander of Starr's sketch. Edward the elder is either half or three-quarter blood Cherokee; depending on the ancestry of his wife Martha Ritchie, the children Benjamin and John are more or less the same. Samuel of the 1840 census, the older brother of the elder Edward, thus father of Mary, and thus Benjamin Franklin's uncle and father-in-law, has probably died, at age 65-70.

    On sheet 256, family 1508:
    Charles Adair, age 47, white, farmer, real estate $1,750, born South Carolina
    Sarah, age 42, born South Carolina
    Martha, age 14, born Georgia
    Nancy, age 12, born Georgia
    Margaret, age 10, born Georgia
    Sarah, age 8, born Georgia
    Mary, age 6, born Georgia
    John T., born Georgia
    Elizabeth, age 3/12, born Georgia
    John Wells, age 21, born North Carolina

    This appears to be Charles Duncan Adair, the younger brother of Edward the elder in Starr, p. 403.
    [NOTE From Jerry Wright Jordan: Charles Adair does not appear on either the Henderson, Siler or Chapman Rolls.]

    Nearby, on sheet 250, family 1412, another possible Cherokee family:
    Elijah Hicks, white, age 60, farmer, real estate $1,000, born North Carolina
    Elizabeth, age 50, born North Carolina
    Samuel A.J., age 26, born North Carolina
    William H., age 23, born North Carolina
    Margaert J., age 19, born North Carolina
    Amanda, age 17, born North Carolina
    Edwin P., age 15, born North Carolina
    Augustin, age 13, born North Carolina
    Albert M., age 10, born North Carolina
    Sarah A., age 9, born Virginia
    Elizabeth, age 7,, born Virginia
    This I find interesting--appears as if Hicks removed to Virginia from North Carolina about 1839-1840, stayed for three or more years, then returned to the old Nation.
    [NOTE From Jerry Wright Jordan: There was an Elijah Hicks, GA on the Henderson Roll 1835 but not on Siler or Chapman rolls]

    On sheet 249, family 1406:
    John Lowery, age 30, white, farmer, no real estate, born Tennessee
    Mary, age 33, born North Carolina
    Richard, age 13, born Tennessee
    Adam, age 12, born Tennessee
    Noah, age 10, born Tennessee
    Elizabeth, age 8, born Tennessee
    Sarah K., age 6, born Tennessee
    Samuel, age 4, born Georgia
    Absalom, age 1, born Georgia
    Ann Vernon, age 80, born North Carolina (Mary's mother?)
    [NOTE From Jerry Wright Jordan: Does not appear on either Siler or Chapman Rolls]

    In the 1860 Georgia Census for Murray Co. (M653 r. 132), Post Office Fancy Hill, p. 103, residence 727, family 690:
    John Adair, 48, white, farmer, real estate $1500, personal property 400, b. Georgia
    Ann B., age 42, born North Carolina Mildred T., 18, born Georgia
    Virgil B., 17, born Georgia
    Edward A., 16, born Georgia
    Margaret M., 9, born Georgia
    Narcena A., 8, born Georgia
    William T., 1, born Georgia

    Page 103, residence 731, family 694:
    C. D. Adair, age 57, white, farmer, real estate $2500, personal property 400, born South Carolina Sarah, 52, born South Carolina
    Nancy C., 22, born Georgia
    Sarah M., 17, born Georgia
    Mary E., 15, born Georgia
    John T., 13, born Georgia
    Elizabeth H., born Georgia

    Nearby are Christopher and Susannah Rider, and Salomon and Minerva Trout.

    This pattern suggests that Elijah died between 1850 and 1860; Benjamin may have left Georgia (I didn't find him in Murray County); John and Charles Duncan remained. Starr's sketch shows Edward Alexander remaining through the Civil War and marrying in 1867 to a Murray County native, Narcissa M. Harrison. Then he becomes Sheriff of Cooweescoowee District 1889. The move must have happened sometime after 1870. Also suggests that either the Harrisons were Cherokee or that they did not mind the daughter marrying into a Cherokee family, or that, if they did, that might have precipitated the move.

    Ralph Jenkins

    Originally posted to INDIAN-ROOTS Mon 18 Nov 1996, reprinted here by permission of Ralph Jenkins.

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