Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I'm Still Part Redman Deep Inside

John Richard Dunham was the first cousin (3x removed) of my wife. He was born in 1871 in Lamar County Texas and died in 1955 in Springtown, Oklahoma. His connection was his mother, Annie Pittman Dunham (1833-1917) who was the sister of my wife's great grandmother Nancy Pittman Lawrence. The family has passed down a story of an Indian connection on the Pittman side of the family.
John Dunham's Affidavit
This was one of the interesting tales my wife's aunt Frances Wright Lawrence shared. Frances enjoyed researching family history and one weekend she and my wife drove all over middle Tennessee looking at old cemeteries. Frances told the story that someone had told her, that Nancy Pittman's mother was a Cherokee Indian. Several years ago another Lawrence family researcher shared with me copies of the 1907 Guion Miller application that stated how exactly the family was traced back to the Cherokee tribe in Tennessee.
At the time the paperwork available was barely legible. I recently obtained copies of the entire file which includes several affidavits with more details.

Rejection notice
 John Dunham filed the paperwork trying to obtain some of the benefits the government was giving to Native Americans. The Guion Miller application included an affidavit from his mother Annie.

Annie claimed she was enrolled as a Cherokee in 1866 at Tahlequah, Oklahoma which was the Capital of the Cherokee Nation.  
According to the Cherokee Nation tribe web page: "The Guion Miller Roll is a list of Eastern Cherokees who applied for money awarded in 1905 because of a 1902 lawsuit in which the Eastern Cherokee tribe sued the United States for funds due them under the treaties of 1835, 1836 and 1845. Claimants were asked to prove they were members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe at the time of the treaties, or descended from members who had not been affiliated with any other tribe. Guion Miller, an agent of the Interior Department, was appointed as a commissioner of the Court of Claims to compile a list of claimants. He made an extensive enrollment of the Cherokees in 1907 and 1908."

John Dunham and wife

My wife did a dna test several years ago to trace her family tree and it showed about 1% of her dna identified as Native American. Maybe not a lot, still more than mine or Elizabeth Warren's, the US Senator from Massachusetts. But it wouldn't give my kids the right claim to preferential treatment on government jobs.

John Dunham's application was denied because he couldn't prove his mother had been enrolled. They didn't have any papers and there was no record of her name on the official list.

There were a lot of people claiming to be Cherokees who weren't at the time and also a lot of Cherokees who didn't have any paperwork to prove who they were.

On John's affidavit someone has written "Slight indication of Indian Blood." above his signature. I don't know, he looks more like a Cowboy than an Indian in this photo.

Annie Pittman Dunham's Affidavit

Although I stole the title of this article from the old song by Paul Revere and the Raiders, it would've been interesting to have done a dna test on John to see what it could prove. Still the papers are a valuable insight into the family history.


marthase said...

This is the kind of thing I am looking for! Love it! My ancestors were in Tennessee before it was a state and my grandmother told me about Cherokee escaping "Deep into the Smoky Mountains where no white man had ever been nor could they find their way in or out" - about her grandmother who was a medicine woman - with whom she used to go into the mountains for plants that cured and lots of other little stories. She also said that they were so afraid to admit they were Indian, after the Trail of Tears, that some never admitted to Indian blood - so I am still searching..

Mark Green said...

Good luck with your search. More and more documents are online. Check out fold3.com if you haven't already.

Amanda Pope said...

Same here but recently found out I may be kin to someone who is native.I am from Alabama and our story was that my grandmother used to talk to the local tribe in their language and traded herbs and such.When my great grandmother would get mad she would speak the language so others wouldn't know what she was saying!Mine never registered either around the time of the removal.