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Old 08-29-2011, 09:00 PM
 
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I'm curious. Several people I know or have known who are from Kentucky and other people from Appalachia and the upland south (KY, Tennessee, and W. Virginia), (including borderland areas in S. Indiana and S. Illinois)

have slight facial features and complexions that hint of a touch native American, and a couple of them said that they have a bit of Cherokee in them.

I would imagine back in the day, it probably benefited the Scots-Irish migrants in the 1700s to learn from and live with the native Cherokee.

Were mixed marriages common in the mountains way back in the day?
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Old 08-30-2011, 05:51 PM
 
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Back before the late 18th century, when the Southern Appalachians were still lightly settled by people of European background, many French, Scots and Ulster Scots traders had Cherokee wives. The traders traveled into the mountains alone or occasionally in pairs, bought furs and medicinal plants, and brought blankets, iron tools, firearms, beads, mirrors, and other trade items to the people living in the Cherokee towns. As these men were mostly youngish single guys (or at least were minus wives and families anywhere close by), romances with Cherokee young women were common, and marriages resulted. There are many descendents of these marriages, and a look at 19th century Cherokee history will reveal that many Cherokee leaders were part-blood, with mostly Scottish and French admixtures.

After most of the Cherokees were forced west on the Trail of Tears, intermarriage continued, with many present-day Oklahomans and Arkansans having part-Cherokee heritage as a result. Other tribes were also forced to what's now Oklahoma and also have many mixed-blood descendents: Choctaws, Chickasaws, etc.

And - any assimilated part-blood family which could hide its Indian background during the time of the Removals did so, resulting in family legends of hidden part-Cherokee blood - legends which cannot be proved or disproved, short of DNA testing, as these people do not appear on the later Cherokee rolls, yet have female lines which stop short around 1750.

My maternal g-grandmother's family is one of these them: they were in the right place (SE Tennessee) at the right time (prior to, during, and after the Removal), never moved, have physical traits which might or might not be due to Indian heritage, and have a mysterious family member with a French-sounding maiden name who cannot be traced farther back than a reported SC birth. Yet the other lines of this family are extremely well-documented. It's said that these families often gave their children hyper-patriotic names to avoid suspicion: "George Washington (surname)", etc. In my g-grandmother's family this seems to have manifested in naming their daughters after European queens: Victoria, Mary Caroline, Isabella, etc. Their one brother was named for his father, James (also a royal name). Nothing at all Cherokee about those given names...

It's an interesting topic and one which is fairly well documented, yet little known to the general public these days. However, there are a number of online forums for people who are part-blood or who think they might be part-blood - look around, as you might find them of interest.
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Old 08-31-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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Thanks. That was really interesting!
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Old 08-31-2011, 09:37 AM
 
Location: New Albany, Indiana (Greater Louisville)
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You have to remember that millions of Kentuckians share only a few hundred ancestors in common. Therefore just a few dozen white men with Indian wives 200 years ago means that many Kentuckians today have Indian ancestry. Just from doing my own genealogy I know that half of all Maggards in KY have Cherokee in them (2 Maggards came to KY, one had a Cherokee wife). My lone Indian ancestor comes from the Clarkston's.

I am fortunate to have a picture (actually a charcoal sketch) of my lone Cherokee ancestor, Ellender "Nellie" Feathers. Based on the picture of my g grandfather - and her grandson - I don't have any doubt that the photo is authentic

Do you think the guy on the right looks a little Indian? That's my g grandfather, Henry Morris (1871 - 1952, or Harlan Co KY)

http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s720x720/293562_875462624104_38316642_39984191_8227036_n.jp g (broken link)
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:25 AM
 
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I would say quite a few native Kentuckians have some Native American heritage. I have some on my father's side of the family. You can really see it in some of his siblings and my grandmother. Loretta Lynn is said to be part Cherokee. You can see it in her and her sister Crystal Gail actually.
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Old 09-01-2011, 03:13 AM
 
Location: Hawaii
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My great great great grandmother (on my mama's side) was full blooded cherokee indian. Her name was Mint. They came from the Virginia mountains trying to get over to Kentucky, but stopped in West Virginia where my grandmother was born. My grandmother eventually moved to Kentucky and that's where she was til she passed away. I also heard that Loretta Lynn is part Cherokee, on her mama's side.
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:40 AM
 
Location: New Albany, Indiana (Greater Louisville)
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Actually I would think as many Kentuckians have Melungeon ancestry as Cherokee. However finding Melugeon ancestry is much harder since they often tried to merge into Anglo Celtic society. Of course many of them had Euro ancestry anyway, from Spain and Portugal
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by censusdata View Post
Actually I would think as many Kentuckians have Melungeon ancestry as Cherokee. However finding Melugeon ancestry is much harder since they often tried to merge into Anglo Celtic society. Of course many of them had Euro ancestry anyway, from Spain and Portugal

Most of those are restricted to Eastern Kentucky, East Tennessee, and Southwest Virginia. Also, recent DNA testing has shown that, at least for those tested, they contain a mix of European and Sub-Saharan African DNA. Apparently no Native American DNA was found in those that were tested.

Also, apparently only 200 groups of Melungeon have been identified so far. So they don't appear to be a significant portion of the population.
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Old 09-01-2011, 01:12 PM
 
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There are a number of surnames associated with Melungeon ancestry and a number of good Melungeon genealogy sites. Many of the names are quite common in eastern Kentucky. Not everyone with these names has Melungeon background, but many do, and of course people are quite mobile nowadays and like everyone else, those with Melungeon heritage are no longer restricted to their ancestral eastern Kentucky, Tennessee, and western Virginia but can be found anywhere. Most people with Melungeon background have other ethnicities represented in their heritage due to intermarriage, just as is true of almost all Americans whose ancestors have been here for several generations.
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Old 09-01-2011, 05:22 PM
 
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Considering the DNA evidence, I don't see how this group can be considered to be a distinct ethnic group, particularly since the DNA shows it to be a mix of European and African lineage, which is quite common throughout the world.
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