Background Data

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© 1986 by Mary Evelyn Rogers and 1998 by Edward Andrew Rogers. All rights reserved.

A Brief History of The Cherokees: 1540-1906 (With Epilogue to 1985)

Referenced Sources


Author's Family Genealogy

This is essentially a private endeavor, which grew out of my effort to find events and dates in Cherokee history for my research on my family genealogy. I first made a short list of events by year, and, by the time I had expanded it for the third time, I tried to find a single book which would cover all of the Cherokee history in one volume in order of date. The books I researched seldom covered the span of Cherokee history, never covered all segments of the tribe (Eastern, Western, Texan, and Eastern Band), and were only in general chronological order, i.e., episodes were in chronological order, but beginning and ending events or comments referred to earlier or later times. Failing to find the book I wanted, I decided to try to write a brief, chronological history for myself and my immediate family. I believed it would consist of only 100 pages, undocumented, which I planned to xerox for my close family members. At the insistence of my brother and sister-in-law, (Thomas Joseph and Celestine Wilson Rogers, to whom I have dedicated this book), that I treat it with at least the respect of a college theme, I have documented my sources, and, also at their insistence, have decided on a limited formal publication.

The method I followed in compiling the original yearly events, and, ultimately, this history, was as follows: Taking Emmet Starr's History as a beginning guide, I prepared a frame-work of events; into this I inserted data from Grace Steele Woodward's "The Cherokees" (which also gives facts ranging over the entire period); then followed with information from John P. Brown's "Old Frontiers," and other works on short periods and selected topics. I resolved discrepancies to the best of my ability, based on the documentation furnished by the authors. When I was unable to resolve a difference, I mentioned the conflicting data.

I naturally came to rely on the accounts of some authors more than others. In fact, some of the material I read was so discrepant with the majority of reliable sources that I did not use the work in this book. In some cases, I tried to evaluate the author's background in using his work. For example, in using material from James Adair, I took into consideration that he was a Chickasaw trader (not a Cherokee trader), that he believed the Indians were the Lost Tribes of Israel, and that he tended to regard all Indians as alike, i.e., he made statements about one tribe which he illustrated with actions of another. I did not use much of the work of James Mooney, since he appeared to have concentrated his research primarily among the Eastern Band Cherokees, an offshoot of the tribe. I do not believe the Eastern Band in 1899 represented either the old, pre-White culture, nor the mainstream of Cherokee culture. By the 1830's, according to John R. Finger, they were living much like their poor, white neighbors, and were turning away from the matriarchal practices and feminine equality of the early Cherokees.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people apparently believed, and believe, Sir Alexander Cuming's self-aggrandizing account, even though they admit it reflects an almost unbelievable success among the Cherokees. Just like modern confidence schemes, when anything sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Both Ludovick Grant's Memorial of January 1756, and the fact that the British subsequently made treaties for land (indicating Cuming's "treaty" was invalid) clearly show the unreliability of Cuming's claims.

In preparing this work, my two most difficult challenges were: The fixing of dates; and paraphrasing accounts of events without distortion.

I feel the dates are in reasonable order, altho some may be off by a year or two. Some of the source material was not dated (even by a footnote), and had to be judged by the probable sequence of its content. Other events were identified by "Winter" only, which could mean the last of one year, or the first of the next.

I take issue with some of the writers who assumed that the large number of mixed-bloods in the western Cherokee Nation meant a lessening of their Cherokee heritage. White genes did not carry white culture, and outward adaptation to white civilization did not carry with it the abandonment of the Cherokee outlook. My father was of mixed-blood, and officially only 3/4 Cherokee. He was raised as a Cherokee, and didn't speak any other language when he was a boy.

Background data has been furnished as a preface to the history in order to establish a background for the historical events and to avoid interruptions in the historical narrative.

Even though they may prove disruptive, the history is interspersed with short biographical sketches of selected persons, in order that their place in the history may be more readily apparent. These are sometimes extremely short. In the case of Chief John Ross, I did not feel it was necessary to "introduce" him to the reader, nor to repeat facts that are contained in the history.

The Index contains selected events, as well as every name appearing in the History section.

The Genealogy, which has been included at the back of the book, is just a brief listing of names and dates, and is not the comprehensive family genealogy on which I am working.(a comprehensive family genealogy can be found now on WWW)

For those who are interested, I started this work in May 1984, and essentially completed the text in June 1985. The remainder of the time has been devoted to indexing and typing it for publication. I, therefore, have to take responsibility for errors both in fact and execution.

I want to thank James O. Sanders for the information he furnished about Nancy Ward from the Draper Manuscripts, and Don Shadburn, County Historian of Forsyth County, GA., for his helpful information in connection with my genealogical research.

I also want to thank the authors, whose works I have consulted, for amassing the facts on which this book is based. Readers of this work may wish to obtain the referenced sources for the wealth of additional data, and the authors' personal slant on Cherokee history.

Mary Evelyn Rogers - September 16, 1985

Edward Andrew Rogers - June 23, 1998