I think I'm part Cherokee

Joseph Martin

Joseph Martin was Born in 1790 in North Carolina, and died in Walker Georgia around 1847. His wife was Mary Hunt who died in 1872 in Macon County, North Carolina. Joseph was accounted for by his ancestors as being half-blood Cherokee. His children were Mary (b) 1815, Abby (b) 1820, Joseph Walker (b) 1825, Dovie Susannah (b) 1830, William Henry (b) 1839, and Mary Adaline (b) 1843.

It has been said that at some point Joseph contracted small pox and attempted to rid himself of this foreign disease by plunging into the Chattahoochee River where he drowned. His death was accounted by his son William Martin; I will give you some information which I have not given before. My Father Joseph Martin lived in Walker county Georgia and died there. He moved from Walker county Ga. To Rowan Co. NC. and lived there a short while and I was born in Rowan NC. And my father moved from Rowan County NC. back to his old home in Walker County Ga. And was drowned in the Chickamauga River.”

The Eastern Band of Cherokees is a federally recognized Native American tribe which consists of descendants of approximately 800 Cherokees who avoided the mass removal of 1838 which infamously became known as the Trail of Tears. Eight years into the Indian Removal Act many of these families felt the need to conceal their tribal affiliation in order to avoid being subjected to a forced military march across the country which lead to the deaths of thousands.

While the Indian removal act had been put into action in 1830, five years later a census was taken of all Indians who lived east of the Mississippi. Because the early Martin family avoided taking part in the 1835 census they were unable to provide proof of their association with the Eastern tribe. In later years several other Indian censuses were taken, however by this time the Martins had lived several generations intermixing with whites and living among them. Aside from the fact that they were no longer permanently attached to the tribe several members of the Martin family still associated with local tribe members.

Applications for the Eastern Band of Cherokees

The following are accounts of the many descendants of Joseph who attempted to prove their association with the tribe.

  • Lettie May (Martin) Crowe (Granddaughter of Joseph Walker Martin) – “My ancestors associated and affiliated with full blood Cherokee Indians of Macon Co. and Swain Co. I myself have associated with mix blood Cherokee Indians”
  • Richmond Martin (Son of Joseph Walker Martin) – My father and grandfather lived among the Cherokees of Macon and Swaine Counties Nc. And associated with them, I have always lived among mix blood Cherokees and associated with them.
  • Andrew Rowland (Grandson of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “My ancestors that claim the blood have always affiliated with the Cherokee Indians and ben recognized by them and with them as far back as I can remember. I have visited them and received visits with them on several occasions and taken care of one as long as he lived.”
  • Edmund Rowland (Grandson of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “I have stayed with them, been to their dances slept with them and worked with them.”
  • William Rowland and his sisters Floya and Hattie Johnson (Grandchildren of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – In regards to their affiliation with the Eastern Band stated; “I have played with them, danced with them slept with and eat with them. I have been told that my grandmother Dovie Martin helped pay the taxes on the Qualla boundary” All of the Rowland siblings made applications to the Eastern band claiming Cherokee lineage but gave no added details to their claims.

Dovie S Martin Pace/Rogers,  Born 1830 NC., Died 1889 NC.
Dovie S Martin Pace/Rogers, Born 1830 NC., Died 1889 NC.
Stephen Charles Pace, Born 1825 SC. Died 1869 TN.
Stephen Charles Pace, Born 1825 SC. Died 1869 TN.
  • Josephine Rebecca {Pace} Wilson (daughter of Dovie {Martin} Pace) - made application to the Eastern Band at the age of 70. Although no pertinent information was given by Josephine her children Melissa Coffey, Mary Trull, Ralleigh J Wilson, made similar statements concerning Dovie’s tax contributions to the Qualla boundary. They likewise provided a statement from a man named LL Matheson who said;I was personally acquainted with John Martin a brother of Joseph Martin the great grandfather of the applicant (Mellisey Coffey) and know that he claimed Cherokee Indian blood and I believe that from his personal appearance that he was at least half Cherokee blood. I have known this family and their descendants down to the present time.”
  • Ella Missouri Wilson (Granddaughter of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – I don’t know whether they were enrolled but I heard that John Martin, who was a brother of Joseph Martin, was enrolled”
  • Norma Wilson (Granddaughter of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “I don’t know whether they were enrolled or not but have heard that John Martin who was a brother of Joseph Martin was on Roll. I have been told that my grandmother paid money to one Hugh Lambert who claimed to be an Indian agent to help pay taxes on the Indian lands at Cherokee.” Additionally a statement was given by P B Tatham “I know Walker Martin, Henry Martin, and Dovie Martin Pace before the Civil War, was in the Army with Walker Martin. He claimed to be of Cherokee Indian blood and I know from his personal appearance that he had Indian blood. He looked to be fully half Cherokee. I have known this family and their descendants down to the present time. Joseph Martin was the father of Walker Martin, Henry Martin, Dovie Pace.”
  • Ollie V Wright (Granddaughter to Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “I have been told that my grandmother helped to pay taxes on the Indian lands at Cherokee North Carolina.” a gentleman by the name of J.W. Jordan gave the following testimony; “J.W. Jordan being duly sworn says that he is seventy five years old and that he has lived in Graham county NC. for sixty Four years and that he knew Joseph Walker Martin and his family. His sons were named Henry and Rowan Martin, and the girl’s name was Samantha Martin. He knew that the said Joseph Walker Martin was a quarter Cherokee Indian, and that the Cherokee Indians recognized them as their tribe. And he further knew that the said Joseph Walker Martin traded with the Cherokee Indians and associated with them. Joseph Walker Martin married Adailine Moose a daughter of Graham Moose who lived in Graham County at this time.”

Additional testimony of David Lunsford; “I am 92 years of age, that I moved to Macon county North Carolina in the year 1872, and immediately thereafter became immediately acquainted with Walker Martin, Henry Martin, and their sister Dovie Pace. And that I know that they and each of them claimed to be of Cherokee Indian descent of ¼ Cherokee Indian blood; I further believe that from their personal appearances, habits, etc. that they were closely related by blood to Cherokee IndiansI further know that each of them associated with the Cherokee Indians, and that said Walker Martin hunted with them, and was recognized by them as Cherokee Indian.” 25 Jan 1926.

Alexander M Pace and family. Born 1861 NC. Died 1961 NC.
Alexander M Pace and family. Born 1861 NC. Died 1961 NC.
  • Marcus Alexander Pace (Son of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “I don’t know whether they were enrolled or not but have heard that John Martin brother of Joseph Martin was on some of the early rolls.” Likewise Alex’s Children Lester, Lonnie, and Roy Pace attested to Dovie Martin’s tax payment to the establishment of Qualla. Roy, Lonnie, and Lester Pace provided witnesses who attested to their historical knowledge of the Martin family being of Cherokee descent. James Bryson, B J Derreberry, J D Parker, and J S Queen.
  • James P Pace (Son of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “One Hugh Lambert claimed that the Martins were enrolled and I understood that he was an Indian agent. He used to come to my mother’s house and collect money from her to help with the taxes on the Indian land at Cherokee.”
  • James Pace’s daughter Rosa Hardin made separate application with witness testimonials from Ollie Wright, and CA Pace.

Note: Dovie Martin’s first marriage was to David Rogers who died early on and produced two children Mary and Margaret Rogers.

  • Dovie Susannah {Henderson} Rowland (Granddaughter of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – No additional information or witnesses were provided by Susanna except for family names.
  • Sarah Elizabeth Henderson (Granddaughter of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “I was born in 1869 in Sevier county Tennessee. I was nine years old when my father, George Washington Henderson, died in Sevier County Tennessee. After his death my mother Mary Henderson nee Rogers, carried me to Cherokee county North Carolina where we resided until about 1885 when I married Bill Franklin who was also Indian of about half blood. We continued to reside as husband and wife in the Indian Territory until about 1907 when we moved to Chattooga county Ga. where we resided until about 1914when we moved to Cherokee county Alabama, resided there until about 1917 when we moved to Chattooga county GA. resided there until about 1922 when we moved to Etowah county Ala. Where we live.There was Indian blood on both paternal and maternal sides. I‘ve always heard that my great grandfather Joseph Martin was a full blood or about a full blood Indian. He married Mary Martin nee Hunt (I think) She was part Indian too I think. They became the parents of Dovie Rogers nee Martin who married Dal Rogers (after his death she married Steve Pace, and then became the parents of Mary Henderson nee Rogers, when she married George Washington Henderson and became the parents of your applicant Elizabeth Franklin nee Henderson. The best I can figure out I am at least 3/8 degree Cherokee Indian and spent most of my life on the reservation. The superintendent preceding Mr. House tried to get me to send my children to Indian School. The Superintendent who was there before Mr. House came tried to get me to let him have my children put into the school. He said he would clothe and feed them, but I just didn’t want to stay away from my children 10 months without seeing them away over at Yellow Hill.I remember when a man by the name of Hugh Lambert when I was a little girl coming around and getting names of the Indians. He said he was taking it to Qualla. That is all I know about taking names to the Indians. The Indians in the neighborhood always claimed kin with us, came to our house often, and we were known as one of them. That is all I know about it.The reason I left the Indians because a man came around there and told us we could make a fortune at the Tryon cotton mills in Chattooga County, Ga. My children don’t want to go back to the school now, they are about all grown. The Qualla boundary; it was government land, we thought. The whites come in and took lots of our land. We would get on a piece of land and get tan bark off it, and when an Indian would come he would just cabbage it. We would go the big Indian dances, drink whiskey and have the finest time. One night we had a gallon of peach and a gallon of corn and supper all night. We had a law suit with the whites, something about the white men trying to make the Indian not get tan bark.

Martha Rogers Garrish. Daughter of Dovie Martin, Born 1841 NC. Died 1924 NC.
Martha Rogers Garrish. Daughter of Dovie Martin, Born 1841 NC. Died 1924 NC.
  • Martha {Rogers} Garrish/Rowland (Daughter of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “I am 56 years of age and live in Cherokee Co., Nc. I claim my Indian descent through my mother; My father was a white man. My mother’s father Joseph Martin claimed to be Indian. All of my other grandparents were white people. My mother was born in Georgia, Walker Co. – I think. She was in her seventies when she died. Her mother brought her to Cherokee Co., Nc. When her father died- when she was small, about 15 years before the war. Joseph Martin was drowned in the Chickamauga river. He always lived in Nc. and Ga. He never went west. My mother and Joseph Martin were never on any roll that I know of. They lived among the Indians here in Cherokee Co., Nc. but I don’t think they ever lived with the Indians. My mother nor her father never received any money or land from the government. My mother was recognized as a white woman; I am recognized as a white woman. All of my brothers and sisters married white people. My great grandfather John Martin was on a roll. I don’t know what roll it was nor when it was made. I don’t know when he was born or when he died. Never heard that he received any money from the government. Don’t know whether he was living in 1835 or not, and if he was living I suppose he was in Ga. He had no brothers that I know of unless it was Bill Martin. I have heard of a Bill Martin but I don’t know what relation it was. My grandfather never came to Nc. with my father. John Martin died before Joseph Martin, I guess. I don’t know for sure. Don’t know whether John lived with the Indians or not. In Ga. Joseph Martin was living on the Chickamauga river. My mother was ¼ Cherokee. Don’t know why my mother or grandfather were never enrolled. About 20 years ago my mother filed a claim in Cherokee Co., Nc. but never got anything. Hugh Lambert and Jim Taylor tried to get the claim there. My mother paid money to fix up the claim. “


  • Stephen Rowland (Grandson of Dovie {Martin} Pace) – “Do not know whether they were enrolled or not, but have been told that John Martin who was a brother to Joseph Martin was on some of the early rolls. Dovie Martin Pace associated with the Indians, and visited the Indians. I have associated with William Henry Martin who was a brother to my grandmother. Also his brother Walker Martin has visited them and lived among them. I have been told that my grandmother contributed money to help pay taxes on the Indian lands at Cherokee Nc.” Stephen Rowland provided a written testimonial from his cousin Columbus Rowland as a witness to his Cherokee lineage.
  • William Henry “Spotted Buck” Martin (Son of Joseph Martin) – Made application on Guion Miller rolls, identified his parents as Joseph “Nun Nihau” Martin and Mary E Hunt. Claimed that his father was half-blood Cherokee Indian. The word Nun Nihau does not seem to have any meaning in the Cherokee language, however the word Nûñnë'hï (The Immortals) does have meaning. The typical applications made on Cherokee rolls in which family members are listed with names unique to the Cherokee language the people writing it in English would have to, and at times unskillfully, attempt to spell it phonetically since there was no standardized way of converting Cherokee to English. In this instance the double vowel in the word “Nunnehi” was cause to separate it into two words.


  • Massena (Martin) Melton (Daughter of William Henry Martin) - “When I was a child full blood Indians often visited with my father and hunted with him. I associated with full bloods and have always associated with mix bloods.” Messena also mentioned that she had an uncle named George Martin whom no other family member mentioned.
  • Lillie (Melton) Davis (Daughter of Massena, great granddaughter of Joseph Martin) - “My ancestors associated and affiliated with full blood Indians, My G-Grandfather could speak their language.”
  • John Franklin (Son of Adeline [Martin] Franklin) – I understand that John Martin who was a brother of Joseph Martin was enrolled as an Eastern Cherokee. Once Hugh Lambert claimed that the Martins were enrolled. I understand that he was an Indian agent. He used to come to the Martins and collect money from them to help collect money on the Indian lands.”
  • William Henry Franklin (son of Adaline {Martin} Franklin) – I was born near Duck Town, and my Father Jake Franklin and mother Adaline Franklin, carried me while I was a little feller, to Macon NC. There was Indian blood on both paternal and maternal sides. I’ve always heard that my grandfather Joseph Martin was a full blooded Cherokee Indian, my mother was ¾ Indian. Joseph Martin married Mary Martin, nee Hunt (I think) and became the parents of Adaline Franklin. I was born and raised among the Indians. They treated me as an Indian and was kin folks with them. When we had a dance we had one Indian named Steve Byrd where we had the dance at his home. Mike walking stick would sit in a chair in the center of the room and beat a calf hide while we sang and danced around, and as one of the Indians passed in front of him he would hit the calf hide. I don’t know whether my folks payed any taxes or not. My folks didn’t have to pay no taxes that I can remember, they said it was theirs and they was not going to pay no taxes on it. We would get tan bark and cross ties off of it. I got on me a 7 or 8 acre down in a cove and raised corn, and cabbage, and beans, and Irish Potatoes. When I got on it I built a little house of logs, two room house. The superintendent told me to stay on it and if I moved to let him before I moved. But when I moved I heard he was gone and didn’t know him. I left the place when I came to Chattooga county GA. The name of the cove is Cow Mar ranch near Colbert’s Mill Creek.

Cora (Franklin) Dockery and George Franklin. Children of James Harley Franklin.
Cora (Franklin) Dockery and George Franklin. Children of James Harley Franklin.
  • James Harley Franklin (Grandson of Adeline {Martin} Franklin) – “We was supposed to be on the roll at the time we lived on the reservation. The Indian’s names were taken sometimes, and my parents understand that they were on the roll at Qualla. I was born among the Indians. My father and mother are Indians of the said band. So far as they know they and all their ancestors have been enrolled with the said band at all times. All of us are Eastern Band Cherokee Indians, so known and regarded while living on the reservation in Cherokee NC. My father took part in their social functions, intermarried with them and was one of them. They affiliated with my parents and my parents with them.Understood by my people that their names are on the Roll at Qualla. The superintendent tried to get Cora {Franklin} Dockery and George Franklin us enrolled in the school at Yellow Hill but my (Children of James Harley Franklin) mother wouldn’t let us be gone for ten months at a time without seeing us and we didn’t get off to the school.”
  • Charles Monroe Franklin (Grandson of Adeline {Martin} Franklin “They [his Parents] Married in Cherokee County NC. in 1885, and continued to reside on the Cherokee Indian reservation until about 1907 when they moved to Chattooga County GA. where they resided until about 1914…. We were supposed to have been on the roll at the time we lived on the reservation. The Indian’s names were taken sometime and my parents understand they are on the roll at Qualla.”“I do not know whether my ancestors helped pay for the alnd or not. They recall having a lawsuit with the white folks who were trying to take the land away from them. But it is understood that they beat the white folks in the law suit. We would get on us as good a spot of ground as we could get, build a shack on it and claim the land as our own.”
  • Mamie {Franklin} Lawson (Granddaughter of Adaline {Martin} Franklin) - “There was Indian blood on both paternal and maternal sides. I’ve always heard that my great grandfather Joseph Martin was a full blooded Cherokee Indian. I was born among the Indians, I was 3 years old when my parents moved with us to Alabama. All of us Eastern Cherokee Indians, so known and regarded while living on the Qualla lands, my parents taking part in the social functions, intermarried with them and was one of themthey claiming kinship with my parents and my parents claiming kinship with them, and likewise I as one of their children. We live on a plot of ground of 7 or 8 acres in “Cow Mire Cove” Branch near Colbert’s Mill Creek, on Indian Lands. I myself certainly lived 13 years with them, being one of them, claiming kinship with them, visiting among them attending their functions.
  • Grady Balus Franklin (Grandson of Adaline {Martin} Franklin) - “They [his Parents] Married in Cherokee County NC. in 1885, and continued to reside on the Indian Lands until about 1909 when they moved to Chattooga County GA. where they resided until about 1914…. I was 10 years old when my parents brought me off the reservation to Chattooga County GA. I was an Indian, associated and visited with the Indians, I claiming kinship and they claiming kinship. My parents also affiliated with them and we were Eastern Band Cherokee Indians with them. We had a plot of ground all our own by right of possession. Lived on the common lands.

A Nunnehi warrior
A Nunnehi warrior

Joseph Nûñnë'hï Martin

Joseph Martin whose family began in the 1830's and expanded throughout the decade of the Indian Removal Act was among those few who successfully avoided a terrible fate. However he made this possible whether it be that they (being of "mixed blood") passed off as whites, made arrangement with the local government to stay, or simply hid themselves in the mountains, yet the folklore of the Cherokee alluded to a more miraculous rendition of events.

The Nunnehi Were a race of immortal spirit people who often warned the Cherokee of impending danger and protected them in times of need. One of the most well-known stories about the Nunnehi makes an account of how they helped the Cherokee before their Removal in 1838, when the Cherokee's of the Appalachians were forced to leave their homeland and resettle in Oklahoma. According to the story, the Nunnehi came to a Cherokee village and told the people to pack up their belongings and to be prepared to leave in seven days to come live with the Nunnehi, for a great catastrophe was about to happen, worse than anything that had ever before happened to the Cherokee. After seven days, the Nunnehi returned for the Cherokee and led them to a large stone deep into the mountains. As the Cherokee watched, the stone rolled away, revealing an entrance into the mountain. Inside the mountain was the most beautiful place the Cherokee had ever seen, and many families rushed into the mountain without ever looking back. However, some of the people refused to enter, and instead chose to stay outside and face whatever was about to happen to them. The people who remained outside were later forced to leave their homes and resettle in Oklahoma. The people who chose to live with the Nunnehi escaped the fate of their fellow Cherokee. According to the story, it is from this group of Cherokee that the small number of modern Cherokee who still live on their native land is descended.

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10 comments

JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 4 months ago from Jaipur

Thanks for a detailed article on this topic.


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 4 months ago from washington Author

Thanks for reading!


PAINTDRIPS profile image

PAINTDRIPS 4 months ago from Fresno CA

Fascinating. According to family lore, I also have some Cherokee blood but I have never been able to find any proof of it including the name of the Cherokee woman who married into the family. Only the ancient family Bible had a name listed but was later blacked out. If some avoided the census as you say, maybe that explains why I've had such a hard time finding listing of my ancestor.

Blessings,

Denise


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 4 months ago from washington Author

It's likely. Although there might have been some relative that made a similar application. The best sources are the Guion Miller roll, and the Baker roll.


PAINTDRIPS profile image

PAINTDRIPS 4 months ago from Fresno CA

From what little I can tell, they had to have met and married in either West Virginia or southern Indiana. Is that even possible? Seems far from the typical area where the Cherokee usually were, right?


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 4 months ago from washington Author

Yeah, sounds a little off. They are historically from Georgia, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. Tough to prove. But good luck in trying.


KJ 3 months ago

Dovey Susannah Martin is my 3rd-great-grandmother. I have known about this family history of claiming Native American blood. I recently had the DNA test, and not a trace of Native American blood was shown. In the other descendants that I have found matches with, none of them have a trace of Native American DNA either. I can only think at this point that the claim has been a family myth.


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 3 months ago from washington Author

Interesting, the Ancestry DNA test is not entirely accurate according to many sources. As I understand it the further back it goes down the line the less likely it is to make such a connection. John Martin (the one that they all claimed was full blooded Cherokee) was my 7th great grandfather. That is quite a way back! Yet the fact that the people claimed a percentage of Cherokee lineage in a particular ancestor does not necessarily reflect the reality. It could have been more, it could have been less.

Something to consider; over 50 people claimed that their father, grandfather, and great grandfather was at least part Cherokee Indian. Many of them claimed that his children spoke the language fluently, lived among and hunted with them, were given names unique to the language, and several people associated with the tribe claimed that they knew him and attested to the fact that he was a member of the Eastern Cherokee tribe.


dianetrotter profile image

dianetrotter 3 months ago from Fontana

Wow! The detail! I'm doing my family tree on ancestry. I'm told my grandfather, James Gillespie, was Native American. Is there a way to trace last names to specific tribes?


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 3 months ago from washington Author

Diane thanks for reading, Last name is not going to be secluded to a specific tribe. For instance If James was a Mississippi Choctaw through his mother's family, they will have another name. Most people are not as much of a percentage of Native American as they might think. Also keep in mind that many Indian applications were rejected through disassociation with the tribe, and not through lack of evidence by blood.

I'd be happy to help you look for them if you need.

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