Sarah O. C. (Smith) Crawford - Elizabeth Warren's Cherokee Ancestry

Started by Justin Swanstrom on Wednesday, November 29, 2017
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11/29/2017 at 2:03 PM

Is Elizabeth Warren Native American or What?

The partisan political arguments seem endless. Here's the best info I could find.

"The New England Historic Genealogical Society backtracked on Warren's ancestry in a statement Tuesday, saying the group has 'no proof that Elizabeth Warren's great-great-great-grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith either is or is not of Cherokee descent' and that the Society 'has not expressed a position on whether Mrs. Warren has Native American ancestry, nor do we possess any primary sources to prove that she is.'"

The NEHGS had been "referencing a quote by an amateur genealogist in the March 2006 Buracker & Boraker Family History Research Newsletters about an application for a marriage certificate:

"Lynda Smith said, 'When Neoma's son William J. Crawford married his second wife Mary LONG in Oklahoma, he stated on his marriage application that his parents were Johnathan Houston Crawford and O. C. Sarah Smith and that his mother was Cherokee Indian.'

"No one has surfaced that document, and there's some reason to believe it may not exist."

11/29/2017 at 2:12 PM

A good analysis here of why White Southerners claim Cherokee ancestry.

No, you are not part Cherokee. And neither is Elizabeth Warren
By Meagan Day

"First, let’s look at who claims to be Cherokee: Elizabeth Warren, Johnny Cash, Johnny Depp, Miley Cyrus, and Bill Clinton for starters."

"In a crucial moment of swelling Southern pride, pointing out that your family had been here long enough to intermarry with Cherokees was a method of staking a claim to Southern identity. Southern white identity.

"Their descendants believed them, and then they had children of their own who also believed these stories, and so on. Johnny Cash probably wasn’t faking it on purpose — he just believed his mammaw and pappaw."

11/29/2017 at 7:09 PM
11/30/2017 at 4:41 AM

Very funny thread! I can't tell you how many Southerners contact me because their DNA test results don't show their "proven" Cherokee heritage. (And no 1% doesn't count). In fact pseudo science explaining away these DNA results has become an industry. But to be fair lets not only pick on Southerners and Democrats. President Bush posted that he was a descendant of Little Dove Hyanno of the Wampanoag on supposed wife of Augustine Bearse. This assertion was debunked decades ago. But that hasn't many New Englanders making the same claim. Americans have had a long history of cult like fascination with Native Americans. Many of our great grandfathers joined societies and dressed in Native garb before it was considered "cultural appropriation."

11/30/2017 at 9:17 PM

It's not very often we see genealogy making the national news. But still. A Southerner claims Cherokee ancestry. Not a story. Show me one who doesn't. This is news only because someone is using it to make political hay.

When potential clients come to me with Cherokee stories, I shrug. Maybe it's true but unless you can find a record in the past few generations it will be a waste of time and money to look for it.

If your ancestors were Cherokee they'll be listed on one of the Cherokee rolls. It will be relatively easy to prove.

If they aren't listed, they might have had distant Cherokee ancestry but it's not likely they thought of themselves as Cherokee. It will be very difficult to prove and is probably just a family myth.

1817 Reservations Rolls - Cherokees wanting a 640 acre tract in the East
1817-1835 Emigration Rolls - Cherokees who filed to emigrate to Arkansas
1835 Henderson Roll - Cherokee Census for AL, GA, TN, NC
1848 Mullay Roll - Census for NC Cherokee remaining after removal
1851 Siler Roll - Eastern Cherokee Payment Roll
1851 Old Settlers Rolls - Cherokee Old Settlers living West prior to 1839
1852 Chapman Roll - Payment Roll based on Siler Roll
1852 Drennan Roll - First Census after Trail of Tears
1869 Swetland Roll - Authorizition of Payment for NC Cherokee
1883 Hester Roll - Eastern Cherokee Roll
1898-1914 Dawes Roll - Final Allotment Rolls
1908 Churchill Roll - Eastern Band Cherokee (Rejections etc.)
1909 Guion Miller East Roll - Eastern Cherokee Roll
1909 Guion Miller Roll - Entitlement Rolls for Allotments
1924 Baker Roll - Current Membership Roll for Eastern Cherokee

Private User
12/7/2018 at 10:46 AM

Just popping in on this year old discussion becaue I only recently read that Elizabeth Warren's DNA results have been release. They do infact, show she has Native Ancestery.

Interesting, as she had a family story or "Lore" of this but no much paper to back it. At first I was skeptical but I thought there could be something to the family stories.

Anyone want to share their thoughts on this?


12/7/2018 at 10:55 AM

According to CNN's most recent coverage:

> "And unfortunately for Warren, the video -- and the DNA test which Warren took in it -- didn't clarify much of anything. When the "wow" moment of the video is when a geneticist tells Warren "the facts suggest that you absolutely have a Native American ancestor in your pedigree," you know the attempt to button this whole controversy up has failed. Estimates that Warren possesses from 1/64th to 1/1024th Native American heritage -- and those from people who were on Warren's side! -- didn't help matters."

That's about what most genealogists expected the answer would be. She's a Southerner. It's not surprising if she has some Cherokee ancestry -- and she does, but it's not clear how much and it doesn't track to a particular line.

Private User
12/7/2018 at 11:07 AM

Hi Justin,
Thanks for the info and input.

12/7/2018 at 11:48 AM

Hoping other people will also weigh in.

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