Stories about Indian ancestors in the family tree are common among both black and white families whose roots go deep into the American Southeast, especially those with links to the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole (the Five Civilized Tribes). If the accounts of family elders can be believed, those ancestors lived in the not-too-distant past. Yet despite the strength of family convictions–and the prized portraits of forebears whose features suggest Indian heritage–most researchers who pursue these traditions feel they are chasing a phantom.
This work, Tracing Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes, is designed to eliminate speculation and help you determine the truth about your Indian ancestry. It focuses on the toughest period to research–the century or so prior to the removal of the Southeastern nations to Indian Territory, the point at which records were regularly maintained. It provides the cultural, genealogical, and historical background needed to turn family stories into proved lineages. And it outlines a method of research that can carry you from the colonial period to the great tribal rolls of the mid-to-late nineteenth century, using the unique records kept by American, English, French, and Spanish governments.
Rachal Mills Lennon traces nineteen branches of her family tree through five North American Indian tribes, although one of her more intriguing ancestors–the “Choctaw Princess” of family lore–remains a shadow among the pines at Dancing Rabbit Creek. She has been a Certified Genealogical Records Specialist since 1985 and is the author, editor, and compiler of five books, including Some Southern Balls and Florida’s Unfortunates, as well as Southeastern ethnic case studies in the major genealogical periodicals.