Monday, April 22, 2013

Researching Ancestry

Lately I have been working on my ancestry....really on my father's side. I was fortunate that my aunt and cousin had done a spectacular job on my mother's side. They are making trips to Frederick, Maryland where many were buried and seeing headstones. Exploring my father's side has been difficult. Dad was born in Flomaton, Alabama to two people who were born in the nearby town of Brewton. Many of the local records were destroyed when during the Civil War the court house was burned down, not once but twice. We had to start out with family tales and work from there. My grandmother died about fifteen years ago (had Alzheimer's for five  years prior) and had never shown us family photos. I don't blame her, but myself for not asking many questions. She had told us that she Native American blood. I wanted to see if that were so. She had suggested numerous tribes. Her grandfather where this blood came from was rather quiet about this. He spoke the language fluently but refused to speak it or teach it to his children after he was threatened one night for speaking it. This was also the time (when he was older) that the Civil War was going on. My grandmother said he was in both Yankee and Confederate armies. This sounded impossible. What my research suggests was that he might have been a Yankee Scout. There were documents for the Confederate but not them. I was told that Yankee Scouts were paid in cash. Most could not read or write so no records were taken or kept.

According to a cousin Virgie my grandfather was a liberal before his time. He felt compassion for slaves and didn't want to support slavery. He had black folk in his house as guests which was frowned on by his neighbors. Native Americans had no prejudice and often married black mates. At that time there were no records kept of who was with what tribe. My grandfather was from South Carolina and I believe he was Cherokee. When he relocated to Alabama he was part of the Creek (or southeastern Muskogees. They shared their language with the Seminoles in Florida. He married a woman who it seems had some Ancestors who were at least part Creek. It is difficult because names were misspelled and often changed to other names: example Coatney and Courtney.

This has been so interesting and had led me to join a tribe. The tribe I joined is not federally recognized. This is in part because many of the members were not on the Dawes list. This is what the government went by. If you agreed to be relocated you were put on the list. My grandfather took his family and hid in the woods for a few years, along with others, who refused to be relocated. These people knew who they were, knew which of them had "Indian" heritage. Later the government agreed to come and take applications to recognize some of them. Many of those got federal benefits. I am not interested in that at all. To me, I just want the ancestral information. It's been a fascinating and at times frustrating journey but I have made strides. Best of all, I have met a wonderful group of people, members of the Perdido Bay Tribe. I love the people from the South. They are genuine. In the area that I live people are so materialistic. At one time I had the large house and shopped in Nordstrom's. Now I live in the small house and much of my income goes for medical bills. I am okay with that. I lost many "friends" when I couldn't keep up with them. Now my friends are people who struggle but will go online and spend a day helping me research. They will mail me a card when I am sick or call me on the phone. They keep in touch. They enrich my world and I am so grateful.

1 comment:


What fascinating history. You have an interesting family for sure. I too have an Indian background on my mothers side. But usually just talk about my father's Irish side.