Freaky Friday ~ “We Were Cherokee”

ff imageGrowing up I was always told that we were part Native American. On my mothers’ side, I was supposedly Creek and on my dads’ side, I was supposedly Osage, Cheyenne, and Cherokee. For my mothers’ side, I can find no proof of being Creek. My Great Grandfather was our link to this bloodline, but unfortunately, he is also one of my solid brick walls, and the few documents I do have give absolutely no indication that he was. All of the “proof” we had were the far fetched stories my mother told us.

Now, on my dad’s side, there is no proof whatsoever that we have a drop of Native can you prove it questionblood in us. However, every cousin I have ever talked to or corresponded with swears we are Cherokee. So, for over 20 years I have searched the archives for any proof. When genealogy made it easier to find documents etc, I spent a multitude of hours researching. Still nothing. I had one cousin tell me that I apparently am not smart enough to figure out that we are Cherokee. I just laughed. I guess he didn’t realize that the fact that most people in our family have high cheekbones is not proof enough to claim we are.

A few months ago, I decided to revisit the rumors of our Native Heritage. I started with my oldest Hughes ancestor and began to slowly go over all of my documents and notes. I spent a couple of days making my way forward hoping to find one little hint. I took a break and called one of my two living first cousins to try to get more information about why the family believed the story. He told me that my Grandmother Hughes had told him when he was a young boy that we were Cherokee and that it came from our Hayes side a couple of generations back from her. He is the only living cousin who met our Grandmother, so who was I to doubt it?

George W Hayes Finished pic 2I returned to the search determined to find something. I abandoned my search of the Hughes’ and switched to the Hayes’. I was determined to find a link to our story. It didn’t take long. My 2x Great Grandfather, George W. Hayes (1817-1898) was where I found my answer. He was a wealthy man and during the Civil War, he provided aid by way of finances and supplies to the Confederate Army in North Carolina. In Burke County, North Carolina they had a unit called “Company A the Cherokee Rangers”. Although George never joined the army nor fought in any battles he was made an honorary Captain in the unit.

I can see how the “story” may have gotten started. He or his wife could have told a telephone-gamechild or grandchild that he had been in the Cherokee Rangers and just like the “game of telephone” each time the story is passed to another person part of it is changed. So, I can see why we came to believe that we were Cherokee. This whole concept is kind of Freaky because it makes one wonder what other family stories have been changed this drastically?


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Fresh Start ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks


I decided to participate in the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge this year. I tried it a few years ago and although I enjoyed it I didn’t complete it. Let’s see how far I get this time!

The theme for this week is “Fresh Start”. I have hundreds of Ancestors who had fresh starts. Many came to Colonial America looking for a better life, and many more of my family moved west for the same reason.  Some remarried after the death of a spouse. So, the problem was, which one should I write about? After much thought, I decided to take a different look at a “Fresh Start”.

You see, I have one brick wall in my maternal line that has driven me batty since I first began researching my lineage. I have tried every method that could find and I did make a few minor finds, but I still only have minimal information on him.


I decided to make a “Fresh Start” in the hunt for my Great Grandfather, Pleasant/Plesent Smith born February 14, 1853, in Hazel Hill. Missouri. My goal is to revisit all the information I currently have and to start thinking outside the box, looking for new ways to obtain what I need.

I have also made the decision to release my quest for trying to verify the family lore concerning him. I believe this may be what is hindering my searching.  The following is the story my mother told us about him when we were young children.

creek indianPleasant Smith was a Creek Indian Chief who left the tribe to marry my Great Grandmother Sarah Jane Page. They had one son John Pleasant Smith. Sometime after this, he was found murdered. His body was discovered dismembered and placed on the railroad tracks to make it look like he had been hit by a train. He was found before the train was to pass through town. The murderers were never found. A few years after his death my Great Grandmother received a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Pleasant Smith, but she never opened it. She sent it back to the addressee.

Let the journey to find the real Pleasant Smith begin!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

This Is So Frustrating!

FrustratedHave you ever been frustrated trying to find information on a critical ancestor? I have. I am also surprised that I can find 10+ documents/sources on an ancestor who came to America in the early 1600’s but I can only find 3 on my Great Grandfather who was born February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Missouri. Oh, but his wife, my Great Grandmother, has over 20 documents/sources!

I have been searching for information on Pleasant (Plesent) Smith for over 20 years. pleasant ml 2Here is what I have found thus far. He married Sarah Jane Page (McDowell, Farris/Parris) on April 13, 1882. She had been married twice before Pleasant and once after. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8th, 1882 so apparently, she was pregnant before they got married. I have John’s Social Security Application and he states that Plesent and Sarah were his parents and it has their dates of birth. I also have a Census Record which I will explain about later.

I can find no birth or death records. In John’s 1920 Census he states his Father was born in Texas. I know this information can vary depending on who answered the door and gave the it. So, there is no proof of where he was born. In my baby book the date and place of birth was given as stated above but again no solid proof.

The legend or oral history passed down from my Mother was that Pleasant was a Creek Indian. He had deserted his tribe and married Sarah. Sometime after the marriage some of the tribesmen found him, killed him and dismembered his body. They then placed the parts on the railroad tracks, so it would appear the train ran over him. A gentleman found the body before the train came. This occurred sometime between 1882 and before 1894. My Mother also told me that some after Sarah married her last husband James Newhouse in 1894 that Sarah got a letter from the Creek Tribe addressed to Chief (she couldn’t remember the name). She said Sarah sent the letter back unopened. Does this prove that he was Creek Indian? I don’t think so.

census 2On Sarah’s marriage license to James it lists her last name Parris/Farres. So where is the name Smith? This brings me to the Census record I mentioned above. In the 1870 Census it has a Pleasant Parris working on the farm of Norman Wyckoff in Lincoln, Putnam, Missouri. He was 17 years old same as my Pleasant. The last name matches the marriage license. So, could it be that this is my Pleasant?

Does anyone have any wisdom, ideas or good advice of where I can go from here? No wonder my hair is turning white and I am getting black rings under my eyes.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.


Including Family Traditions

In Genealogy circles the term “traditions” means oral accounts of usually unsubstantiated stories of our family history. An example of this is my Great Grandfather Pleasant Smith. According to the information written in my baby book he was born on February 14, 1853 in Hazel Hill, Johnson County, Missouri. I have not been able to find any documentation to prove this other than this entry. He married Sarah Jane Page on April 13, 1882 in Lafayette County, Missouri. I have found this record. My Grandfather, John Pleasant Smith was born September 8, 1882. I have records for this.  My Great Grandmother Sarah married James Newhouse on February 27, 1894. I have this record. What happened to Pleasant Smith? There is no record of him after the birth of his son. Sometime between this and Sarah’s new marriage he disappeared.

The Tradition in our family is that he was a Creek Indian in a high position in the tribe. He deserted the tribe and lived in hiding from them. Sometime after my Grandfather was born members of that tribe found him, murdered him, cut him into pieces and placed his remains on the railroad track. They did this shortly before the train was to come by. Someone found his body before the train came. Supposedly a few years after this occurred Sarah received a letter addressed to Pleasant which included the name of the position he held among the tribe. She never opened the letter and sent it back to the sender.

I have no proof that this Tradition ever happened. So, the question is, do I include this in my Family History or just pass it on orally like it was given to me? I have decided that, although I love genealogy and enjoy the research it entails, I need to be honest with myself that no one else in my immediate family has any interest (yet) in it. I often wonder if this tradition may pass away with me.

As a result, I am now including all the family traditions I have heard of. I write out the story as completely as I can and then include all documentation I have on this particular person. I make sure that anyone reading it will understand that further research needs to be done to make it a “fact”. Who knows, many years from now one of my Grandchildren may discover proof of this and my recording the story helped them find it!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on and You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

The “Jealous” Genealogist

jealousyI am very thankful for all of the Ancestors that I have been blessed to come to know because of Genealogy. 90% of them were unknown to me a mere 15 years ago. The other 10% were just distant acquaintances. I have spent untold hours researching their lives, writing their stories and bringing them back to life.

Now it is confession time. Hello, my name is Valerie and I am a “Jealous Genealogist”. I don’t want to be, I hate that I feel that way and I sometimes question why I am like this. I honestly am excited when others find that Ancestor they have been looking for over many years. I have even cried tears of joy when a friend broke through a solid brick wall and added dozens of Ancestors to her tree. But, in the back of my heart the jealousy creeps in.

Today I was absolutely shocked that not only did that old “Green eyed” monster present itself once again, but it did so in a ella barnett picvery inconvenient place. In Church! I know …I am ashamed; it just snuck up on me. Let me explain. During the service a woman named Ella sang a song. She and I had talked a few weeks before and I discovered that she was a Creek Indian. I was so thrilled to meet another Creek because the tradition in my family is that my maternal great Grandfather was a Creek Indian. Before she began Ella gave a little background about the song she was going to perform in her Native Creek language. It was one that her 5 times great Grandmother had sung while walking the Trail of Tears from Georgia to Oklahoma back in 1836. She explained that the dress she was wearing was one her 5x great Grandmother would have worn and she showed us her bare feet and told us that when the soldiers came to force them to begin the long walk her 5x great Grandmother had Trail of Tearsbeen without shoes and the soldiers would not let her go get them. Ella spoke with such love and respect for her Ancestors that when she started to sing I began to cry. Although I was trying to fight back the tears I lost that battle and soon my entire face was wet from wiping away the flood of water coming from my eyes. Although I did not understand one word she sang it was extremely moving.

Then it happened, the envy that Ella knew all of this about her Ancestors, not from countless hours of research but from her family passing down their stories, and it began to grip my heart. She had heard these accounts directly from her great Grandmother who had heard them directly from her own great Grandmother. I felt like the lowest of the low because I was so jealous.

We all have those brick walls that we are desperate to break through. Some of us have spent years and tremendous amounts of money on documents and research trips trying to find that one little nugget that will remove the first brick of the wall. I think, no I know that jealousy is a natural, normal human emotion that we all feel at one time or another. So I am going to stop being jealous over others success in finding their “nuggets”. Oh who am I kidding? I know I will probably continue to get jealous when someone acquires that old family diary, or when they discover the photo of their 3x great Grandparents.

I will however continue to be happy for them as well and I will be thankful for each and every discovery that I make on my hope 2own tree. Hearing about other people’s successes in their research gives me hope that one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will finally break through all of my unmovable walls. Until then just remember, when you share the great news of your fantastic discoveries there is at least one “Jealous Genealogist” out there who is turning green with envy!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.